Monday, March 24, 2008

My Town Monday: Fort Woof

This weekend in my hometown, I attended a real live dog show, courtesy of the Fort Worth Kennel Club. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. After watching Christopher Guest's brutally funny Best In Show, I was hoping for, well, the best. Dear readers, I am thrilled to say I was not disappointed. They seemed like character actors, those soft-shoed trainers intensely jogging along pedigree dogs. The ponytails in scrunchies. The occasional glittery headband. The loose sport coats and anxious expressions. It was hard to focus on the canines. Honestly, I could have sat there for hours, just watching the trainers interact with the dogs, clicking and feeding treats, and of course, doing the Hush Puppy victory laps. I wondered where they buy the shoes, and if wearing nude pantyhose with taupe knee-length suits is contractual.

Of course the dogs were wonderful, too. Great Danes and Portugese Water Dogs, Irish Setters and Boxers, basically name a breed and it was there in all its hairy glory. I was rooting for a white Chihuahua in the toy category, but the Shi Tsu pulled out the win. We would have stayed the afternoon, but the Amon Carter exhibit hall was icycold (perhaps to stave off the puppy smell?). Still, we got a good look at this guy on the way out. Tell me that face doesn't make your day.

I came home with appreciation for my two Chihuahuas: Rosie who tucks her hind leg when she runs and Zorro with the obsessive/compulsive eating disorder. See their pics here.

They may not be show winners, but they're mine. Plus, I can wear whatever kind of shoes I want.

Christopher Guest fan? What's your favorite?

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Break & Two by Two Thursday

Spring Break changes the older I get, and I think both of us are getting better with the years. I spent my morning in the backyard catching up on some reading for class. Loving the sunshine, even as I sat under an umbrella with unembarrassed old-ladiness. I'm not a fan of the skin cancer, and I've had two friends with close brushes the past two years. No thank you, melanoma.

I remember as a kid my mom would take us to the beach for Spring Break. (I say "beach" even though I mean Galveston with its murky brown water and its surprisingly dead sea life washed up on gelatinous sand.) My mother has olive earth-goddess skin that goes from pale to bronze, zero to sixty with barely a pause. My skin is more of the balded chicken variety, that goes from ghostly white to freckled to fried. After a day at the beach, my mom would come home looking like a Coppertone ad and I'd be sunsick and shivering, my skin the color of a fresh boiled lobster. So, these days I wear hats, SPF 50, and stay in the shade except when I'm swimming. And for Spring Break, I read, go to museums, and watch movies. Cause I'm cool like that.

Here's this week's two-by-two.

"That is, with due respect to Shakespeare and others, we want our girls to communicate freely with the live world around them rather than plunge into musty old books. We are still groping perhaps, but we grope intelligently, like a gynecologist feeling a tumor." -- Nabokov's Lolita

"We'll be fine. Maybe we can have green pancakes & bacon for dinner." -- in a text message to Kern on St. Patrick's day

For new readers of the blog, Two by Two Thursday shares two sentences read (from any source) and two sentences written (to any source.) Feel free to share yours.

Have Spring Break plans this year?


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Town (belated) Monday: Last Meal

Last night we celebrated a family birthday by immersing ourselves in fried chicken at the famouse Babe's Chicken Dinner House at the original location in Roanoke, Texas. It's the kind of place where none of the chairs match, the roof leaks when it rains (like last night), and the entire interior is coated with a fine sheen of fryer grease. Babe's makes annual "Best of" lists around the country for its delectable fried chicken, one of only two available entrees on the menu. The other option is chicken fried steak, and I've had both. Go for the chicken. It comes with an all-lettuce salad, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fresh biscuits. Definitely a comfort food lovefest. We figured that since yesterday north Texas was under flash flood warnings and heavy thunderstorms, we'd have the place to ourselves. No such luck--the place was packed wall to drippy wall with ecstatic, rain-gear wearing diners. Babies crawling under tables, small-town waitresses doing the hokey-pokey mid-aisle, and adults with six-packs of BYOB. We waited our turn, got seated at an uneven table listing hard to the port side, and happily ponied up the ten bucks a pop to treat ourselves to one of the best meals I've ever eaten, in my town or otherwise.

In fact, I had to choose my last meal (in a Dead Man Walking world), mine would be Babe's, hands down. What about you?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chef Fauxhawks and Two by Two

Now that the season is over, I'm transferring my Project Runway obsession to another Bravo show: Top Chef. So far my favorite character is Erik, the tall tattooed fellow who wants to use the 100K prize money to buy floral shirts and cook on the beach in Hawaii. Call me a cynic, but I think he's gonna need more than 100 grand for that. His cheese souffle fell flat before judges Padma, Tom, Rocco and Anthony Bourdain, but he gained respect when he admitted, "I made glorified nachos. I'm not proud of it."

Another (un)quotable line: Andrew in his extreme excitement over the posh Chicago digs-- "Yo. Casa, motherf%@#$s!!!" I wasn't sorry to see melancholy Nimma pack up her knives after she emphasized for the umpteenth time that she wasn't on the show to have fun and put herself to bed. I know it's not Project Runway, but she should have been auffed straightaway for that purple headband. And the trio of fauxhawks (Richard, Jennifer and [smaller, but there] Dale) should help end a haircut that went out with David Beckham. Plus, who dressed Padma in that unflattering olive green dress? If you can make a stunner like Padma look dumpy, no matter the camera angle, perhaps you're in the wrong career.

Here are my two sentences for Two by Two Thursday (two sentences read, two sentences written from the past week):

"It's only my sister, she thinks, but still, after all this time, after everything that's happened, she wants to inspire in Vanessa a certain surprised admiration. Still she wants her sister to think, 'The goat's looking rather well, isn't she?'" --from Michael Cunningham's The Hours.

"The inside of Brody's Bait 'n More smelled of earthworms, stale frying oil, and musty equipment. Nestled into the crook of the lake off the main highway, it served as a local fishing supply and watering hole--nicknamed Grody Brody's by spurned teenagers trying to score cheap cases of beer." -- from my novel in progress

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Monday, March 10, 2008

My Town Monday: It's Not Easy Being Green

My town, Fort Worth, is ranked the 15th greenest city in the nation, according to Popular Science magazine. This is a pleasant surprise for a couple reasons, mostly that I read an article in Popular Science magazine. The article lists cities based on renewable energy use, public transportation, green buildings, availability of parks and recycling.

I have to say I'm proud of my city for making the list, and more, for the way Fort Worth has changed my carbon-footprint habits. Before we moved here, I never thought about recycling or watching our energy consumption. Our diaper contributions to the landfills alone should put us on the green blacklist. But Fort Worth makes it easy: when we moved in we received two plastic trash cans for the weekly haul, one for trash and the other for recycling. How simple is that? Now we have a weekly competition between the two, and more often than not the recycling bin fills quicker.

Other ways we've gone green:

* Thermostat 68 in winter/76 in summer. When the kids get cold, we quote Garrison Keillor: "You're not special. Go put on a sweater."
* Fluorescent lightbulbs. Yes, they look like crazy corkscrews and take a few extra milliseconds to light. We chalk it up to ambiance.
* Trading in our gas-guzzling SUV for a lean, mean station wagon. I'll let Kern weigh in on that--it was his decision, and he asserts he has no problem blending in with soccer moms. I got to keep my zippy 5-speed, which makes me inordinately happy.
* Taking the heat cycle off the dishwasher.
* Watering outside peak hours.

Ways I stay stubbornly carbon-cantankerous:

* Paper napkins. No way am I doing ANYTHING to add to our mammoth laundry mountain.
* Bottled water. I recycle the bottles, but I can't go with the carry-your-own refillable glass. I bought a cute green one to take to school, but the mouth on it is too wide and more than once I've ended up with a streak of water down my shirt, mid-class.
* Not carpooling/taking public transportation. I'm open to discussion on this, but I'm surprised Fort Worth scored in this category. While there's a plethora of options between FW and Dallas, for transportation going north to Denton, it's me and my wheels. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (See zippy 5-speed, above.)

Going green? Waving the "global warming is a myth" flag? Do tell...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Project Runway and Two by Two Thursday

Congrats to Christian on winning Project Runway, and for finding his style soulmate in Posh Beckham. Honestly, no matter how annoying Christian can be with his wiry arrogance, I thought his lip-trembling humility on the runway rather touching. Of course he sprang back to uber-confidence faster than you can say "fierce" after he won. I liked his designs: the drama, the frills, the palette, but if I were to buy one dress, it would have been Rami's intricately ruffled black evening dress (minus the pone-highlighting side panels) or that creamy-tan number with less regal shoulder accents. I actually thought Rami's black evening gown similar in tone to Jennifer Garner's fabulous gown from the Oscars.

On another note, I'm picking up a cue from the Women of Mystery (and by extension, Travis) and joining in their Two Sentence Tuesday. Except it's Thursday because I'm not sure I'm with it enough to blog thematically on Monday (My Town Monday) AND Tuesday. So, I'll shoot for Two by Two Thursday. Catch the Noah's ark spin? I like the thought of those sentences marching together, toward a grand adventure.

The idea is to post two sentences you've read and two sentences you've written from that week. The reading sources can be from all over the place: the newspaper, a blog, a tabloid, a book. The writing can be from a work in progress, a snippet of your journal, an email, an essay for class, a reminder to your kids, a signed confessional, whatever. I think it's a great idea, and user friendly since most of us read and write at least two sentences a week.

Here are my first two:

"Be careful there. When we're indecisive, the wishes of others gain." -- from Shirley Hazzard's National Book Award Winner The Great Fire

"He'd administered her shots, prescribed antibiotics when she got ear infections. He also performed an in-office urine extraction, an embarrassing apex of Dorie's adolescence when she had a bladder infection in fourth grade and was too nervous to pee in the cup." -- from my novel in progress

Sentences to share? Let me know and I'll link you...

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Monday, March 03, 2008

My Town Monday--Hot Dogs and Hot Votes

Texas, as many of you know, is weird. This weekend we were out in the garden planting zinnia and marigold seeds, pruning the rose bushes for spring. In shorts.
This guy (left) was hanging out on our brick wall, soaking up some sunshine.

Kern even whipped up some gourmet grilled hot dogs with whole wheat buns and a variety of peppers--which looked like this. Can't you smell them?

I don't know what it is, but to me a grilled hot dog, with peppers and spicy mustard (and the occasional jalapeno) is one of the best things on earth. (Almost makes me forget those horrific meat scenes from Sinclair's The Jungle.)

Today, it's frigid and raining and I'm in two layers of clothes hoping my plants don't freeze to death. I'd say it's odd, but given this is Texas, it's pretty normal.

Even though the weathers pulled a chilly snap, the political races are heating up huge in my town, as the primaries and caucuses are held in Texas tomorrow, March 4th. There are signs on almost every available corner, with Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Barak Obama and Ron Paul (bless his heart) vying for roadside visibility. Candidates have cruised through our area, pulling in huge crowds in Fort Worth (and our neighbor to the east, Dallas) as well as other cities throughout the state. Our daily paper has new photo ops with grinning politicians, shaking hands and asking for votes. Almost every day we have messages from council leaders, our governor with the good hair, Rick Perry, and taped messages from the candidates themselves.

Do I mind the political flurry? Not one bit. Because I'm an American and the right to vote isn't one I take lightly. Plus, it's exciting to see the political pundits focused on my home state, knowing that the races aren't over until somebody nabs Texas. No matter how weird we are.

So, here's my two cents: get out and vote. Exercise your right and let your voice be heard. Take your kids, visit with your neighbors in line--and do the right thing. I'll be out there, and afterward I may just treat myself to a hot dog. It's just so American.