Saturday, September 29, 2007

white house
White house

Friday, September 28, 2007

X-XXXX, Gentilly
"X XXXX", Gentilly

Bumpkin-Boarding

We've completed our comparative analysis of suburban vs. "urban" skateboarding. But there's another oft overlooked genre, rural skateboarding (hick-boarding, bumpkin-boarding, hillbilly surfing*) of which I was a youthful practitioner.



Back in Possum Holler** where I came up, we didn't have fancy skate parks or empty swimming pools or ramps or stairs or rails or sidewalks or smoothly paved roads. But we had hills and we had gumption.

Having mastered the smaller slopes, I decided to tackle the "big hill". I made the long, slow trudge up, reached the crest, and turned to survey the great expanse before me. Donning my father's old motorcycle helmet (a fortuitous if dorky decision), I planted my feet and began the descent.

The pines rolled by. The breeze blew cool on my face. The sun shone bright on Appleberry Mountain. I gathered speed. The pines blurred. The asphalt raced beneath my feet. I accelerated. The wind stung my eyes. I was flying!

Then it started, a subtle wiggle in the board that rapidly amplified in wider and wider oscillations until, suddenly, the board was gone. Wipe out. I was flying.

I landed with an unpleasant thud on my (mercifully cushioned) noggin and skidded to a stop on the coarse gravel. Standing up, I saw the patches of missing skin on my hip and elbow. (I still have a scar.) Gazing up at the mighty hill, my vanquisher, I vowed never to ride it again. I, Hillbilly Icarus, had flown too high and paid the price.

My bloodied limbs swung heavy on the slow walk home.

Reading comprehension:

Is this narrative an example of:
a) man against man?

b) man against nature?

c) man against the bone-headed idiocy of youth?
Explain your answer.

* I made those up. Shh...

** That's actually true.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We're back!
"We're Back!", Gentilly

Coiffreedom

Would it be fair to say we're living in an era of unparalleled era of coiffure-liberty?* Short 'dos from the fifties, long hair from the sixties and seventies, punkish / new wave shenanigans—it's all available in our cumulative buffet of contemporary options:





So elderly maw maws sculpt and color their hair into all manner of strange constructions. Mohawks are mainstream. Mullets? cornrows?—not worth a mention. Where, then, is the new hair-frontier? What's next for the 'do avant-gardist?

Tangential Pop-Quiz: What kind of sunglasses would each of the above hair-dos be wearing?

* The snobbish aesthete in me sometimes wonders if this is a good thing. Plenty of folks have taken that freedom and made a beeline straight to Really-Bizarre-Bad-Hair-Choice-Ville. (But then I say, "coiffe and let coiffe." It ain't my head.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

milk

Stuff I'm Liking: The Balfa Brothers

I'm adoring the Balfa Brothers,* old-school Cajun music at it's best. I don't know much about them; I just know they deliver magnificent, doleful harmonies, wailing fiddles, and thumping rhythms** that make me shudder with plaintive delight. Raw*** and glorious.

* Thanks, Zack (our dear, displaced Cajun).

** Leave it to the Cajuns to take a reputedly simpy instrument like the triangle and make it completely bad-ass.

*** I love a lot of old American music. I dislike many contemporary reinterpretations of old American music. They so frequently comes out all soft and mellifluous. But it's precisely the gutbucket ka-chang ka-chang of the old stuff that makes it so great. Soft mellifluity be damned!

Monday, September 24, 2007

by the river
By the river

Squirrel Nutkin

June likes to horde things. Anything compact and totable, she'll whisk it away and stash it in some secret burrow. Today we noticed the cantaloupe had gone missing. We asked her about it. She scurried upstairs and retrieved it from her box of dress-up clothes.*

* Other items that have caught her horde-fancy include my yoga blocks, my hair goop, Sarah's jewelry, books, remote controls, CDs, batteries, and a variety of other food items: peanut butter, a persimmon (which we never found), cans of beans...

Pie in the Sky

Apologies to the far-flung, but today's survey is shamelessly regional:
What is your favorite Hubig's pie flavor?
Mine is coconut. (Lemon is a distant second.)*

* But the question was prompted by today's discovery/consumption of a blackberry Hubig's. I'd never seen one before. I suspect there are an infinite number of Hubig's flavors, but the rarest are distributed with infinite infrequency.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

porch swing
Porch swing

Shu-Shu

So the whole city watched the weather with extra intensity last week as a vague, storm-ish thing lurked in the Gulf and our PTSD-bones tingled ominously. But it drifted elsewhere, and the weekend was clear and lovely. Annou described it as a "shu-shu".
shu-shu
n.
a fire-cracker that quietly goes "pfft" instead of "bang"
I'd never heard the word, and Google reveals nothing. She thought it might be local but couldn't say for sure. But etymology be damned, I like it—shu-shu.

And, in this particular case, I was perfectly content with a shu-shu. What obscure linguistic oddities do you have in your bag of verbal tricks?

Friday, September 21, 2007


I adore this house—an old corner store.

Bright, Shiny Future-Mobile

So last week, when the wheel sort-of-fell-off my honorable-but-aged vehicle for the sort-of-second time in recent months, and I was left waiting for a cab on a funky stretch of Broad at eleven-thirty at night as addle-eyed dudes in giant t-shirts slinked in and out of the darkness to offer me their services, and the next morning we came back to tow it, and somebody had sawed the catalytic converter out from underneath (apparently there's good money in those), and though the wheel was easy enough to fix, the muffler's now sitting in the trunk and the thing rumbles like a pack of Harleys and stinks like an oil fire—when all that happened, I decided it was time for a new car.

I got one today, and it's new new—a bright, shiny future-mobile. I've never had my own bright, shiny future-mobile, and I don't feel quite worthy—like I should brush my teeth extra vigorously in the morning and maybe use a lint brush before I get in.

But the kids will funk it up soon enough. Then it'll feel like mine.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

chocolate shake
Chocolate shake

Chillin' Out, Maxin', Relaxin' All Cool

The youthful attire in our neighborhood has typically run toward a stripped down hip-hop uniform—giant white or black tees, ultra-baggy jeans or khakis. In the past year, though, prep has swept through, and it's now common to see kids in bright pastels and madras shorts.

But nothing prepared us for the spectacle we witnessed the other day—two guys strolling by in tapered jeans, neon shirts, and straight-up Kid 'N Play flat-top fades.* The neighbor-kid muttered something about the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". We gawked in silence.

I'd have sworn they'd just fallen out of the bottom the spaceship that abducted them twenty years ago, yet they knew where they were going and seemed unfazed by the sleek cars and rounded hair-dos of this modern world. Strange business...

* You can throw on some retro-clothes for a costume party, but the haircuts...?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sarah, front yard
Sarah, front yard. (Our weeping willow is growing like crazy.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Straight Scoop

To find out more about what the Rock-a-Fellas and -Ladies are up to, go here. (My gal gets a mention.)

Grandpa Willie

I dreamt last night that we befriended Willie Nelson, and he became a sort of quirky stoner extra grandad to our kids. ("Me and Paul" played as a constant soundtrack.)

Do you think he'll remember them in his will?*

* Does he actually have any money? How'd that whole tax thing work out?
my-lin street
MY-lin St.

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Form of... a Rock-A-Lady-Fellow!"

So the lady officially started her dynamic fellowship/job duo today. And she looked pretty sharp heading out the door in her Rock-a-lady-fellow save-the-city supersuit. (I couldn't pull it off, but the cape works for her.)
That girl's done me proud.*
* Though Lord! we're going to be busy now.

House of Bricks

Dr. Treadway's former office

Our kitchen window looks out onto Dr. Treadway's former office—or it did until today. Dr. Treadway was the beloved pediatrician of countless New Orleans children, but several weeks after the storm, with his business and his home in flooded ruins, he killed himself. For two years, the modest brick building has stood empty, and the weeds have grown tall around it.

This morning, the family watched from across the street as the backhoe, with amazing violence, smashed its first blow into the roof, then another, and another. It surged forward, mounting the wreckage to demolish more, churning through the rooms. In ten minutes, it was over. The building was a mound of debris. The driver turned off his engine, took one last swig of Coke, and tossed the empty can on the heap. In the new silence, each family member stepped forward and took a keepsake brick.

It was one of the saddest things I've seen in a while.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

La Ti Da

There are times in this great shiny thing called life, this madcap whirligig dance, this beneficent feast of glories, when we find ourselves wondrously busy with a plethora of sundries. During such times, we don't blog much.

But time always passes. Nature finds its course. And the posts, pictures, and pointless ephemera bubble forth once again.

Until the flipside, la ti da...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Louise on the porch

Scissor Sister

Yesterday, Louise gave herself a haircut.* She tried to keep it a secret (she even swept up all the clippings) but, in the end, couldn't hide the obvious absence of hair. It actually looks pretty good—sort of sassy layered bangs—especially considering she didn't use a mirror.

She made us promise not to tell her teacher.

* Is that a right of passage for all young ladies? We have a friend who, as a girl, spontaneously lopped off one of her braids in the middle of class. But when she saw the look of horror on the teacher's face, she panicked and blamed the boy behind her. (She never 'fessed up. What will her punishment in purgatory be?)

Cynthia Vleck


Cynthia Vleck
Has a very long neck,
But what's she to do?
It's just simply true?

Junie Is a Punk Rocker

June has developed a penchant for raucous rock n' roll—The Cramps in particular—and likes to holler from her car seat, "Play the punkin'* rock! Play the punkin' rock!"

* June-speak for "pumpkin".

Saturday, September 08, 2007

big, weird cricket (and Delilah)
Delilah eyes a huge, weird cricket that found its way on to our balcony. (Our House-A-Day series seems to have waned, but I still like the idea of posting a photo a day...ish...ish. So welcome to the first installment in our Photo-A-Day-ish-ish series. And I'm sure some houses will still find their way into the mix.)

Expressions I'm Liking: "...in a Snowstorm"

As we meandered glassy-eyed through the housewares and accessories section of the Ikea outside Austin, a matronly lady inspected a vivid green throw-pillow and declared (in thick Texas-twang):
"...wouldn't lose that in a snowstorm."
I like it. What are you liking?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Down in New Orleans

Our dear friend Billy has written a book. And it's been published. And it's called Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City:

Cover: Down in New Orleans

And smart people like Dave Eggers say nice things about it like:
"As much as Down in New Orleans is a damning account of everything that went wrong after Katrina struck, it's also a deeply soulful and eloquent tribute—part paean and part eulogy—to a place [Sothern] loves almost despite himself. It's essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the past, present and future of this indispensable city."
I, for one, am very much looking forward to getting a copy, which I will do tonight at his premiere reading/signing at Octavia Books at 6 pm here in our fair/bedraggled city. (But if you live in the Great Shiny Above Sea-Level Beyond and can't catch a flight in time, don't despair; it's also available on the world wide web—or hopefully in an enlightened bookstore near you).

See you there.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Stick a Fork in Our Insurance Claim...

...it's done. Insurance is done! Two years! (And a week.) All the claims and supplementals and lawsuits and lawyers* and how many adjusters?—I lost track, six? eight?—and thirty page claim summaries in eight-point type listing lathe-board and Sheetrock demolition rates calculated by the square foot and broken out by room plus dumpster expenses by the day and of course none of it in any way matches how contractors or any sane human actually tabulates things but you're somehow supposed to make it all line up—it's all done. All the climbing around in the back yard looking for rusty serial numbers on puke-a-licious dead appliances and the mind-numbing spreadsheets cross-referenced by claim number plus cost-of-living and contents and the interminable navigations through Kafka-esque bureaucracies and the fear of financial ruin—it's all done.

The case is closed. The lawyer's paid. And—after much fretting and phoning and hassling—it all seems to have more or less sort of worked out. (Now if we can just get that Road Home nonsense straightened out.) I think it's time for a Sazerac.**

* Yeah, I never mentioned the lawsuit. Be grateful. It was boring.

** And as a side note, the lady and I have been married nine years today. Make that two Sazeracs.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Austin... Check

June on the Zilker Zephyr
June seriously contemplates her ride on the Zilker Zephyr

Austin has done been did: Barton Springs, small trains, heaping mounds of barbecue, friends, kolachkes, not enough sleep, way too much bad roadside coffee. All just as it should be.

I need a nap.