Saturday, May 26, 2007

What it is with the gas cans... Part I

A long, long, long, long, long time ago I lived on a reservation for 8 months. I got there entirely by accident. I was living in Peoria at the time. My first marriage was in major trouble and so I took off for a two week camping trip with a girlfriend, Kathy. She wanted to check out two universities to see which one would be better for grad school: the University of South Dakota, or the University of Colorado. We threw a bunch of camping stuff in the back of her car, some books to read (I had Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown), and I took my journal and some art supplies and we were off.

We were pretty heedless and happy go lucky. We camped at an abandoned farm the first night. The guy whose land it was dropped by. He was nice and told us we were welcome to stay, and he thot we'd be safe. The second day, we hit Vermillion, SD, where USD is. Kathy went to check out whatever program it was, and I wandered the halls, looking at the flyers on the walls. There was a really interesting one for a little college in Rosebud, Sinte Gleska, which had a summer studies program that looked kinda interesting. Since we were sort of just bombing around with no agenda other than checking out the two universities, and since Rosebud was kinda on the way to Boulder, we went.

I don't think many white people dropped into SG asking about the summer studies program, but they were very polite and handed us flyers and we took off. We were planning on going to Wounded Knee, because it was pretty famous at the time - just two years after the occupation. On the way we passed by Ft Robinson, NE, where Crazy Horse was killed. I'd just read about it in the book, and was telling Kathy about it, and, foop! There it was.

And that was it. We spent the rest of the time driving around visiting places in the book, except for a quick dash down to Boulder, which took us by Ft Laramie (very impt in the book!) and back. We had a lot of amazing adventures. They could each be a blog. My brain's exploding... But, back to the story about the gas can. (This IS a story about a gas can.)

So. We eventually returned to Peoria. Absence had NOT made the heart grow fonder, and so I separated from my husband, took one of our cars, and drove back to Rosebud to attend the summer studies institute. I enrolled in four courses, I think. Lakota Thought, Lakota Medicine, Lakota Song and Dance, and, umm, something else. I can't even begin to tell you all the cool things that happened that summer, but by the end of it, I was working for the Media Services division at the library taking pictures and videos of whatever people wanted documented. Mostly I got stuck doing the monthly meetings of the National Indian Alcoholism Task Force. These were in Lakota, which is unlike any European language, and has sounds that are really difficult to make unless you grow up making them. Then you can do them without spitting. Watch Dances With Wolves, if you want to hear people speaking Lakota.

The infamous incident at Oglala happened when I was on the reservation. The politics on Pine Ridge, and, to some extent, on Rosebud in those days have filled several books. They were over my head at the time, and probably still are. Let's just say it could be a pretty dangerous place. But it was also a wonderful place... A magical place... An ancient place. It was just a fairly violent wonderful magical ancient place.

For one thing, everything out there is really far apart. I ended up living in Valentine, NE, and driving up to Mission to work every day. That was 42 miles one way. And usually during the day I had to drive to Rosebud, and then I'd drive home through Kilgore, a notorious town just off the Rez, where the bars were. All told that's about 100 miles round-about, and that doesn't count going out for lunch or anything.

One night I was driving home really late from Rosebud down through Kilgore. This was a little bitty road, dangerous at night, 'cos folks coming back from the bars in Kilgore wouldn't always remember to turn on their lights. And this was winter, and it's fuckin' cold there in the winter. I saw a car in the ditch on the side of the road. In those parts you're kinda honor-bound to stop for cars in ditches. People could freeze to death. It was kinda spooky, but valor got the better of me, and I stopped. There were two people in the car: an older man and a young girl... A really young girl, like teens. The man was loud and drunk. He told me he was a tribal policeman and he'd run outta gas. I was to take him to Kilgore and a friend there with a gas station would sell him gas and I could bring him back and he could be on his way.

I had about enough gas in my own car, a school bus yellow VW Rabbit, to make it to Valentine, and told him so, but he seemed to think his friend would sell me enough gas to make it back up the road and then back down to Kilgore and home again. I was not relishing the thot, because, among other things, this guy was obnoxious. Really fucking obnoxious. He sat in the front and the girl sat in the back. I couldn't see much, but she seemed to be toying with something.

We got to the 'friend's' house and the guy got out and went and pounded on the door. No one answered. He started yelling and pounding on the door and kept it up... Which was a good thing, because the minute he got out of the car the girl started talking a blue streak. This man, she said, had murdered his father and was going to rape her. Please, please, please, she begged me, do NOT leave me alone with this man. The thing she was toying with was a small, metal nail file. She said she would stab the man with the nail file if he tried to rape her. She was desperate. She was earnest. She was very, very scared. I was, too, because the man was coming back to the car, cussing a blue streak at the guy who wouldn't get out of bed.

"Take us to Valentine," he commanded me, "I'll get us a hotel room there and get a ride back in the morning." The girl was staring at me in the rear view mirror.

We drove on to Valentine, another twenty some miles. I was really worried about gas myself. The man was telling me what a piece of shit my car was, not like a good American car. I told him he'd better quit cussing my car. It got about three times as many miles per gallon as his car, and if we were in his car we'd all be walking. He just talked right over me.

I was trying to figure out what to do. Before I did anything, I needed gas, which I could get at the Home Cafe and truck stop. Then I'd drive to the motel in town, and let the guy out of the car, and shoot off with the girl still inside. I mean, this guy's a cop, right, so I'm wondering... Does he have a gun? Will he shoot me? I have no clue.

We get to the Home Cafe, and the guy, thank goodness, goes in to pee, while I fill up. I explain my brilliant plan to the girl. She looks doubtful, but I tell her just to lock her door, so he can't open it from the outside, and we'll wing it. He gets back in, directs me to the motel - "They know me here," he said. "Uhh huh, I bet they do," I thot... - and gets out. He doesn't thank me or anything, just tries to yank the back door open. And with his hand still on the handle, I pushed the pedal down, made a U turn and screeched out the motel's parking lot.

We'd made it! We were laughing! We were free. I was also really, really tired. It was after midnight and I really didn't want to drive back to the Rez. "You wouldn't want to stay at my place for the night, would you, and drive back in the morning?" The happiness went out of her face like a light turned off. "No, I thot not," I said. I told her I'd drive her home. She lived in St Francis, which I knew pretty well, as it was where I first stayed on the Rez. I asked if she'd left anything in the car. Well, there WAS a case of beer in it, she said. Did she want to drive by the car and see if it was still there? Seemed like a good idea to her.

So. That's what we did. We drove to the car, got the beer, and then I drove her home. When she got out, she told me her name.

Now that might seem like a kinda normal thing to you and me. You meet someone, you tell them your name. But it's not on the Rez. These people have lived with each other for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. They KNOW each other's names. They know each other's parents names, and sister's and brother's names, and grandparent's names and great-great's names and what have you. And if you don't know their name, well then you're not one of them... And if you're not one of them, then you must be... The Enemy. So introducing yourself to someone is like saying, "Hi, I'm you're enemy!" It's not something you do, unless you have to or want someone to know your name. So I felt really honored that she told me her name.

Now, I must admit I did wonder if the girl's story was true. You know, the part about this guy murdering her father. And I knew someone who would know: a friend who worked for county assistance. I called her the next morning and asked her. And, the story was true. She filled in all the details, which I have forgotten now. Just the main parts stand out...

And that's the first part of the story...

Friday, May 25, 2007

gas cans, part 2

In the new year (1976), I left the Rez. It wasn't any one thing... It was a whole buncha things, like the weather. On the Fourth of July, it had been 117. On the fourth of January, it got down to -30. See that was the whole thing: everything was extreme, and all of a sudden I just felt like I could use a good dose of subtlety. It's a rare thing for me, and, when it comes upon me, I try to listen. So I packed up my trusty '75 school bus yellow VW Rabbit and headed east... To Yellow Springs, OH.

My stepbrother, Steve, was going to school there. For a free place to live, he managed some apartments, and was renovating them. He had a little construction company, the Fly By Night Construction Company (it had a little flying angel logo, like a Playboy bunny with wings), and I became an employee. I shared a two-room apartment (living room and kitchen) with two ladies and a baby. I'm not sure where we all slept, but we were young and communes were cool, so we called ourselves the 'Kitchen Kommune.' Spelling things with a 'k' was also very cool. And, boy, howdy, did we think we were kool.

Ok... I was basically drifting. My Aunt Anne, my Dad's sister, was going to the family cabin in Phoenicia, NY, for the summer and invited me to stay with her, so I drove up in late May and spent the summer and early fall there. In June, I got a call from the guy I'd worked for on the Rez, John. How would I like to spend a week in Washinton, DC, helping with the tribe's exhibit on the Mall? It was the Bicentennial, and the government wanted to invite all the tribes, First Nations, Indians or whatever you want to call them, to come show off their cultures... Those very cultures that the government had done so much to destroy and undermine years before. John had a bunch of tapes we'd made of dances and ceremonies and stuff and basically needed someone to babysit the machines with him and another guy so that we could all go visit everyone else's displays. I'd get gas money, a place to crash and a hundred bucks. Such a deal!

Other than that, the only thing I did that summer was to write and produce a cookbook for the little colony of cabins that we belong to. My aunt and my friend, Susie, helped and we did a lot of cooking and eating and general fun stuff.

In the fall, I headed off to Madison, WI, to share a place with my best friend from high school, Michael. Actually, I have two best friends from high school, Michael and Nancy, whom I refer to as my BFFHS(M) and BFFHS(F). So, just in case you need me to connect the dots, Michael is my BFFHS(M). We lived on Williamson St in Madison, in between the old Willy Street Coop and the Crystal Corner Bar. It was a great place, but October is NOT the time of year to move to fucking Wisconsin if you hate cold weather.

I started looking for work, and had applications in all over the place when I got a call from John on the Rez. He had another pick-up job for me... It would pay a couple of hundred bucks. I could come visit his family for Thanksgiving. Sounded cool.

So I got into my '75 school bus yellow Rabbit - notice how I left the word 'trusty' off? That's a CLUE! - which was acting up. The clutch was funky. It wouldn't work when I would first start the car, but by the time I would get to a mechanic, it would be working fine. The mechanics would send me off on my merry way figuring I was just another crazy woman who didn't know shit about cars. Hell, back then, women couldn't even buy cars on their own if they were married, without the husband having his name on the title, too. Wasn't legal, 'cos, you know, women are such twits. I found a couple folks to pay for gas on the way out if I'd drive thru Minneapolis St Paul. Since what they were willing to pay was the cost of the whole drive out to Valentine, I was willing to take a detour. Most of the time, I would have driven US 18 across from Madison into Valentine, but if you're going through Mpls, you have to drive IH 90. Which was just as well, because the first winter blizzard hit as we were leaving...

The clutch was acting really cranky. Essentially, I had two gears, 4th and reverse. When you're driving in the snow and ice, this isn't totally bad; you can't accelerate too fast in 4th gear, so you have a better chance of not spinning your tires. Kinda made it an 'Indian car,' which was what all the held-together-with-gum-and-baling-wire cars on the Rez were called.

I dropped my riders off and continued on, stopping only for gas. It was snowy, but not too bad until I got to US 83 between Mission and Valentine. And, then the road just disappeared.

I guess they were fixing it, but you couldn't tell where you were supposed to drive. It was darkish... And snowing. And the road and the fields looked just about the same. So, I just tried to keep all the earthmoving equipment on my right, and that worked. I was pretty damned glad when I came over the bluff and could see the lights of Valentine on the other side of the Niobrara River. It was probably the last time I was glad about anything for over a week.

The job had evaporated. John, the guy I was visiting, was having family and financial problems. My car was fucked. I thot about going to North Platte, about 100 miles south, to the VW dealers to see if they could fix the clutch. But when I talked to them on the phone, they said they had no clue how to fix a Rabbit. They were terrified of 'em. "Honey, you bring that car down here and you'll see grown men running from a Rabbit," they told me on the phone. Guess not...

I had about $17 to my name, which was enough to get back to Madison and then some... If nothing went wrong... Every day I stayed my money seemed to dwindle, so I decided just to drive... The day after the second blizzard... The one that closed the Interstate. Only I didn't watch TV, so I didn't know about that.

I drove north on 83 and stopped at Murdo for gas and a cup of coffee. It had taken me about three hours to go 77 miles. I definitely needed a cup of coffee and I had ten cents. I went in to the truck stop and ordered my coffee. As I sat drinking it, staring into the blackness of my cup (free refills), the hair on the back of my neck started to stand up. Someone was watching me. Now, I'm NOT dumb (really) (foolhardy, yes; guilty of wishful thinking, yes; but dumb, no) (although I can see why you might have your doubts) so I didn't just turn around and scan the room. No, I've been to the movies; I looked in the mirror behind the counter. And there he was, staring at me. Did I panic? Yes, but very, very quietly. He was just your average youngish white guy dressed in winter clothes. Nothing remarkable about him, except he was making my hair stand on end. So I got up off my stool, left a nickle tip, and went to the restroom. Although some of my best thinking is done in the rest room, (hey, guys, it's where we women communicate with the mother ship) no great ideas came to me. Maybe he'll be gone, I thot.

Fat chance. When I came out, he was still there. Damn. I thot about going into the gas station part and, umm, like reporting him to someone, but it seemed much more likely that he would know the people in the truck stop than I would. So I didn't. I just got into my school bus yellow 1975 VW Rabbit and drove off... Very, very slowly in 4th gear. And the guy got into a blue-ish pick up truck and drove off behind me.

The interstate was closed. There was a BIG sign saying 'CLOSED,' but people were driving on it, anyway, in the one lane that was ice-rutted but driveable. I guess they put those 'CLOSED' signs up just to let you know that if anything happens, well, it's your own damn fault. They told you the road was closed, but, no, you drove on it anyway. And there I was driving on it, with the asshole who scared the shit out of me tailgating me. Then, he passed me, which was no easy feat. I thot he was trying to run me off of the road. So, the minute he got beside me, I took my foot off the gas and then he was in front of me. I slowed down. He slowed down. We came to an exit and he started signaling. Hope grew in my heart! He was leaving the interstate! But, no, he was just trying to let me know that I, we, whatever, should pull over.

Honey, the thot didn't even cross my mind. I had managed to write down his license plate number on a couple of pieces of paper. I stuck them under the seat, in the glove compartment, shit, anyplace I could think. If the motherfucker got me, I wanted his ass caught!

We drove along that way for about 200 miles... At 30 mph. That's right, for seven fucking hours I drove with this fucking asshole. Sometimes he'd pull in front and do the signal thing. Sometimes he'd drive behind me and tailgate. It was grey. It was well below freezing. It was getting late.

And then, miraculously, as I neared the state border, he went away. I kept driving, but he wasn't behind me. I thot he might have taken another route to come upon me unawares in the night, so I went north about 60 miles to drive east on US 14 for awhile. I thot I had enough gas to make it in to New Ulm, but I didn't. I ran out just inside the city limits. I could see a fucking gas station, an open fucking gas station, but I was going to have to walk to it. I got out of my car for the first time in hours. It was cold and black with little stars shining very far away. And then a car pulled up behind me.

It was an older, brownish station wagon. "What now," I thot, as a man got out. "Hi," he said, "You look like you might need some help!" Truer words were never spoken. He didn't come up close to me but stood back at his car. He looked ok. My hair was not standing on end. I exhaled and said "I've run out of gas."

"No problem," he says, "I can drive you to that gas station over there and we'll get ya going in no time! Get on in!" I thot of the girl I'd picked up between St Francis and Kilgore about a year before; the girl who'd sat in the back seat of my car with a small, metal nail file clutched in her hands. Shit. I didn't even have a nail file... But I got in the car. Amazingly, the man drove me to the gas station. And that was where my next troubles began.

They wanted a $10 deposit for the gas can. I had a bit less than that, and, if I gave them everything I had in my wallet, I wouldn't have any money to put any gas in the gas can. I explained this very calmly to the attendant. "Gas can's $10," he said.

It had been a really long day... A really hard day... I was emotionally a bit on edge, and in a bind, and this motherfucker was not going to let me give him all the money I had on me, plus my drivers license and walk out with a gas can. I couldn't help it. I started to cry. He was totally and completely unmoved. "Gas can's $10," he repeated.

The guy who'd picked me up came in. He said "What's the problem?" The attendant told him the gas can was $10. The guy who'd picked me up handed him a $20. "That should take care of it," he said, "Give the young lady the gas can." So I got the gas can. It was a big one. I was just going to put a gallon in it, but my guy said to fill it up, so I did. We got back into his car and drove to my car. On the way I told him a little bit about my day. "Wow," he said.

When we got to my car he helped me fill it. "I guess I'll see you back at the gas station," I said, as I got in my car. He said he wasn't going back to the gas station. "But you have to get your $20 deposit," I said.

"That's your money," he told me. "You take the can back and fill up your car and go on to Madison. You get something to eat if you need it... And make sure he gives you the change!" (Those were the days!)

I asked him for his card so I could send him the money back. "I have a daughter about your age; if something like this ever happened to her, I'd want someone to help her out," he told me. He was a nice man. He was an insurance agent from New Ulm, MN. He saved my life.

It's not just that he bought me gas on a cold and starry night. On that cold and starry night he gave me my belief back. It's probably a belief I shouldn't have: you know, that the universe is a nice place. 'Cos it isn't... But I'm not sure you're better off if you go around believing that it isn't a nice place.

I don't know where evil comes from, but when it's here on earth, it's manifested by men. Or women. But I do know this. The good on this earth, that's manifested by men and women too. And that's why I carry a gas can... And jumper cables. And why I'll buy you a gallon of gas, if you need it.

You betcha. Small price to pay.

No caffeine...

There is no caffeine in my coffee... I guess I need to say that louder. THERE IS NO CAFFEINE IN MY COFFEE! This is because there is no caffeine in my house; there's only de-caffeine and it just doesn't cut it. Normally I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do (well, almost) is make a pot of coffee. I use Central Market's Double French Roast and Double French Roast Decaf. I use mostly leaded, but I throw in some of the unleaded just to prove I am NOT an addict.

I ran out of leaded yesterday morning, actually, but did I remember to go to the store and buy some? No. I did not. Instead, I went to lunch downtown at the Moonshine Grill with Aline. A lady in Ricë's yoga class had told Ricë about it and Ricë asked me if I'd been there, and I said, no, at least not since it's been the Moonshine. It used to be a restaurant called Emilia's, and I'd been there (at least once with Aline, come to think of it, along with Ray and Anne and Gus), but I'd never been to Moonshine.

Ricë's friend had told her that something there was 'FABulous,' but I couldn't remember what it was. So before I get to the restaurant, I called Ricë to find out what was fabulous, and damned if she could remember. "Honey, I can't remember what I ate yesterday, let alone what someone else ate two months ago!" I was on my own.

Well, except that I was with Aline, and she got there first and had already ordered the corn dog shrimp, which is exactly that: big shrimp, skewered, battered in corn dog batter and deep-fat fried. (Of course I could just say fried, but 'deep-fat fried' is so much more euphonious, is it not?) (See what happens when I don't have caffeine? Words like 'euphonious' start popping out of my hands before 7:30 in the morning!) Next we had fish: the Broiled Rainbow Trout for Aline, and the Horseradish Crusted Salmon for me. These came with vegetables (carrots, al dente, and lovely summer squash and zuccini) plus a side. Aline got the polenta and I got the sweet potatoes. I was, of course, very tempted by the Coffee and Ancho Rubbed Half Chicken, too.

It's not that we weren't full, but when you're trying a new restaurant, you should always have dessert. So we had the Signature Skillet Apple Pie. The menu says "It's Big!" and boy, howdy, they aren't kidding! We left half of it, not because it wasn't good, but because we were already pretty full, and, umm, it's big! And we had coffee (two cups for me) and then we were ready to leave.

Aline had valet-parked, but I had opted for the free parking down the street. So I mosied down the street just in time to see a woman pushing an older car around the corner... By herself... Holding the steering wheel in one hand while pushing the car.

I quickly dumped the stuff I was carrying in the front seat of Yax, my trusty little '95 Honda Civic, and went to help. Another guy saw her, too, and the two of us managed to push her car into a parking space while she actually sat inside it and steered. She was already cussing a blue streak, and I was having a little trouble understanding her, but I think what she told me that she had borrowed the car from her boyfriend to go visit him and run out of gas. This made no sense to me, but she still needed gas, and a gas can, and I can do that. So Julia and I set out for the gas station a few blocks away.

I really was having trouble understanding her. She was telling me about her boyfriend telling her to 'shut up,' and how she told him he had to say it louder, because she couldn't hear bad talk and he'd better not be talking any... And there was something about an old lady in her neighborhood who told her that he was "A wannabe that don't know how-to-be." Yeah! We filled up my gas can and drove back to her car and I left her and the gas can beside the road, cursing. Not at me, of course, but at the boyfriend for lending her a car with no gas in it.

I could've waited to get the gas can back, but handing out gas cans to people in distress is a mission I have taken on in life. It has to do with someone saving my life once, but that's a whole 'nuther post.

Or a sermon, if you're a Unitarian. I've already subjected Ricë's Unitarian fellowship to it, and, no doubt in time, I'll subject others. You may be next. Unitarian or not... Be warned.

Monday, May 14, 2007


'Sorry, friends... I've been on vacation... Or what passes for a vacation when your parents are, ummmm, older. Twice a year my Dad and stepmom go to the beach. This is somewhat difficult 'cos my Dad's in a wheelchair, one of those hulking electric things that weigh 300 lbs when you aren't sitting in them. The chair is, of course, a very cool thing because it allows him to be pretty mobile without anyone having to push him, and his shoulders are too arthritic for him to push himself.

The folks live at a retirement village in North Carolina. They have their 'own' duplex, but the place also has assisted living apts, and a health center where they do long-term nursing care. It's a very nice place. You get one meal fixed for you a day (you fix the others yourself in your very own kitchen) and the food choices are good. There are maids. There's a pool with a wheelchair ramp (very groovy!). Of course, it's hideously expensive by my standards, but Dad worked backed when there was retirement, so they can afford it. (Retirement! What a concept!)

This winter, Dad got a cold, which turned into pneumonia, which meant he had to stay in the health center for fourteen weeks. He got a bedsore on his heel and it's not been responding quickly to treatment. Which means that he still has it, and, in order to take him on vacation, someone (that would be me) had to learn the 'protocol' for dressing the wound twice a day. Sounds like a vacation already, huh?

We always take a LOT of stuff to the beach. We go to Bald Head Island, which is where Cape Fear is. It is nothing like the movie, Cape Fear, but it is a lot like the sixties TV show, The Prisoner, with Patrick McGoohan. I guess part of it is that you're only allowed to drive around in a golf cart when you're on the island... (Unless, of course, you're a contractor, putting up another multi-million dollar house on the protected sand dunes...) (Protected from people walking on them, that is... Not from houses dropping on them...) There's a store on the island, but things there are expensive, and they don't know how to store wine, so we take our own... Here's a partial list of what we take:

- a couple cases of wine (important things first)
- food
- Dad's medical stuff... this year it was about four boxes full...
- suitcases
- rubber boats
- dvds... Hey, you never know what the weather's going to be like!
- a regular wheelchair

This year the weather sucked. Let's be up front about it. It was rainy, cold, windy and buggy... North Carolina has a lot of mosquitoes and they all decided to go to the beach at the same time we did. They also have 'no see ums,' and ticks. The two days it was sunny, it was incredibly windy, but there were no bugs (except the ticks) and the sky was a beautiful blue. The palm and palmetto leaves whipped in the wind making a kind of clacking sound...

Dad likes to swim. Since it's really hard to cross sand in a wheelchair, we take him to a pool. It took four people to get him from the 'push' wheelchair into the pool, which we accomplished by having him sit on the edge of the pool on a towel and then picking up its sides and carrying him down to the next step. Now, that's a workout! Once in the water my Dad can run around and do exercises and all sorts of stuff. He can't really swim anymore 'cos of the arthritis, but he tries anyway.

There are marvellous birds on the island because the back side of it is a tidal marsh formed by the Cape Fear River. There are ibises (ibi?), egrets, herons, clapper rails, and this year, for the first time in my life, I saw a painted bunting. I thot for a minute I was having a flashback, but, no, it was a bird. I did not see any alligators this year, but I saw a lot of turtles.

Since it rained a lot, we watched dvds. My sister Leslie had brought along the first season of Supernatural. Now, I admit it, I'm a weanie. I hate being scared. I do yoga and tai chi so I can maintain my calm demeanor in public. And to me, these shows were terrifying. I mean why oh why on earth would any two people enter a haunted house, armed only with a fluttering candle and then split up when they hear clanking chains? Not that the boys in Supernatural are that stupid... No, they have a complete arsenal of things designed to kill the bad guys which they keep in the trunk of their car (a '67 Chevy Impala) and they listen to anthem rock, which was what made the show for me personally... AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foreigner, Bad Company, and Blue Oyster Cult, whose logo features in one of the shows, (and is the clue that lets our boys figure out what is going on).

I have to tell you I don't watch a lot of tv. Hell, I don't even own a tv! I mostly watch things on my computer if I need to or wait 'til the famdamily goes to the beach. That's how I found out about Firefly, which I absolutely loved. So it's odd that I mention three tv shows in one post. Get your fill... It probably won't happen again!

We also go around and look at the houses... My sister, Pam, takes pictures of the birds and lizards and other wildlife. We read, mostly trashy mysteries (hey! we're at the beach!) except Dad, who only reads fiction in Spanish and is stuck in the middle of the Alatriste books by Perez-Reverte.

So one of my favorite things about going on vacation is flying. I love looking at clouds from above and landforms. (I like looking at clouds from below as long as there's blue space between the clouds.) This year when I flew home, we flew over thunderstorms as the sun was setting. It was very beautiful. My camera was in my suitcase, but I have my trusty new cellphone, a Motorola RAZr phone (their spelling, not mine), which takes pretty good pictures and has a zoom function! The pic at the top of the page is the view from my window...