Going To The Kimball

June 29, 2010

I don’t know about you but I enjoy going to art museums.  You see the works  by famous artists and  consider what the pictures might meant outside of the obvious images before your eyes.  After a trip  to the Kimball, here are somethings I realized.  This is from the upcoming”Days Remembered” of course.

We went to the Kimball museum more than once you know. Both of us liked art and enjoyed going to Fort Worth’s museum district to visit the Kimball and the Amon Carter which was my favorite.

 I am not some art “nut” but I do like looking at pictures.  Having good art myself, something other than pictures of sports or girls in bikinis, I appreciated and enjoyed looking at works by great and famous artists.

 The exhibit I remember the most seeing with you was the impressionist show. Works by Monet, Van Gogh, and others adorned the walls of the museum with their splendor.  I always liked art like that since it reminded me of abstract painting which my mom had when I grew up.  The soft colors and less defined shapes gave those paintings a dream like quality which always appealed to me.  

 We went to the Kimball that Sunday with throngs of other art lovers to see the works inside. We walked from picture to picture and gazed at them all.  You were wearing a pair of the headphones the museum rented which played explanations of the paintings.  As we walked by one framed image you would repeat to me some of what they were saying.  We took a bit more than an hour to look at them all, not lingering on a particular painting like some of the patrons did.  Even though our time there was short it was fun and refreshing to see the works therein.

 After the Kimball we went downtown to the Flying Saucer and had a couple of beers and sat and talked about stuff going on.  We strolled around Sundance Square and went into the Sid Richardson gallery to look at their western art since we did not go to the Amon Carter that day. Couldn’t forget those Remington and Russell’s’ can we?  After a while there we were ready to go home and call it a day. We drove back to the house, our minds filled with images of great paintings of the masters of the past.

 That day was very good with you. It was a fun and intellectual time together.  We did things like that more than once since you and I did have that in common.  Things sometimes not well liked by the mainstream however.  We were a little different than most folks in that way.  Our hobbies and life philosophies were sometimes out on the edge of the bell curve of possibilities but neither of us ever had an issue with that.  The interests we had sometimes were the same and when they were not at least we could appreciate what the other liked or thought.

 Some couples argue about things like hobbies or what to watch on TV but we never did that.  Instead we argued about other things that in the end hurt us both.  We should have remembered the times we had at places like the Kimball. Both of us should have strived to imitate the grace and beauty in the museum pictures in our life together.  If we had done that the canvas of our memories would have been painted with far brighter colors than they were in the end.


Shopping For Clothes At Sears

June 25, 2010

Like most men I despise going shopping unless it is something “fun” like going to the liquor store or the like.  However, one Saturday at Sears provided another perspective on this……

One of the funniest things we ever did was be in the dressing room together at the Sears at Ridgmar Mall.  I dare say not too many husbands do that with their wives.  But we weren’t like most couples were we?  

 So one Saturday you wanted to go shopping for clothes and as usual I actually went with you.  We drove over to the west side of town to Ridgmar Mall and went into Sears.  We went up the escalator to the women’s clothes department and you started looking for things you wanted to try on. While that went on I simply sat down someplace and watched people go by.

 After a while you came by where I was with an arm full of outfits to try on. Without thinking I followed you into the dressing room and shut the door.  I did not notice that there were people around who saw us go in there.  I just sat down and watched you try on all of those outfits and giving you my opinion of them when you asked.  Of course seeing you half-naked in your panties and bra was hardly something to complain about either. It certainly made me think of doing things with you other than shopping, but I digress.

 When you finished going through the outfits you gathered them up and we opened the dressing room door and stepped out.  We paused as we suddenly saw the people outside looking at us with smiles or a questioning look. A man and women coming out of a dressing room together is not something you see every day.

We both got a kick out of that when we realized what they were reacting to.  Indeed we did something funny without even trying.  And that is what made that little moment in time so memorable.  Sometimes the best things come about when you are not trying to find them.  Without trying an event arises that creates a brief, intense moment of pleasure, joy, or humor that can make a regular day special.  And that day in the dressing room was one of those times for us.

Toby The Cat

June 18, 2010

I am not that big of a pet person but I have always enjoyed cats.  This Note from “Days Remembered” is about a very wonderful tom cat named Toby who touched my heart.

When we were kids did you watch Felix the Cat?  Do you remember the lyrics to his carton theme?

 “Felix the Cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat

 Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks  

 You’ll laugh so much your sides will ache

 Your heart will go pitter pat

 Watching Felix, the wonderful cat”. 

In our case the name of the wonderful, wonderful cat was not named Felix but was Toby “Tobias” Turner.  Yes Toby it was.  In your efforts to fight the emotions of your empty nest syndrome you finally convinced me to get a pet, a cat, specifically, since I did not want a dog in the house and don’t really like most dogs.  Thus, finding a kitten was an answer to your needs.  And it was also a good compromise between us since I never had a pet when I was single.

So one Saturday you went down the street to the nearby animal shelter.  You brought home a beautiful little grey striped boy kitten.  His stripes were unusual and very striking: he would grow up into a very nice looking grown up tom cat later.  You named him Toby at the shelter even as other people were also thinking about getting him.  You said, however, that you had never had tom cats before, only mama cats, and while you thought he was lovely you were concerned about some of his future adult habits like marking his territory.  You were certainly wrong on that fear as we all saw him grow up into a very good adult tom cat.

When you got home with him he was of course hesitant about his new, unknown place of residence.  But he warmed up to us pretty fast.  I remember the first night he was there and we put him in the bed with us, on a towel between us in case he had some accident and to keep him warm.  In the morning he was still there where we put him, seemingly comfortable and at ease.  That pattern continued as he never strayed far from us even when he was grown. While not a lap cat he was loving and affectionate all the same. While sometimes aloof like many cats, he always liked being part of what we were doing.

He loved us both but over time I seemed to become his favorite.  When I was in my recliner at night he would jump on top of the chair and just sit there behind my head content as I rocked watching TV with you.  In the morning when I got up he would follow me into the kitchen and jump up on the counter to watch what I was doing.  And best of all you always said he would go to the front door and meow and whine when I left before you.  He did love you too, but I was perhaps his parent.  At least that is what you thought he was doing.  Maybe so, but that is how he behaved.  I liked him too you know.  I must confess as someone who had never really cared for pets I did love him and missed him when you left. 

While he loved us both he also did not know what it was like to be a cat.  That is until your son moved in with us and brought his cat Slinkster with him. Those two cats fought some but in the end learned to peacefully co-exist with one another. A feline détente if you will.  One thing I saw in Toby was that after The Slink was around he was a bit more aloof and independent than he used to be which is the way most cats are.  But that was OK since his other good habits remained like his affectionate nature and his desire to be around us.  He always was that way with all of us including the kids.

 In retrospect he was the best cat I had ever had in so many ways.  I trust to this day he acts the same way and is a fat, happy, and content tom cat. That is how it should be for a wonderful, wonderful cat named Toby who was loved by all and also loved his family.  I will never forget him and how happy he made me feel.

Touring The County Jail And Homicide Night

June 16, 2010

Most of you have no idea about what law enforcement deals with on a daily basis.  We got a taste of that by attending Citizens Police Academy.  This Note from “Days Remembered” recounts some of the content that was, shall we say, more memorable…..

Do you remember the Citizen’s Police Academy class?  Being in CERT we got to sign up for that class and learn more about the training Fort Worth Police officers received and the things they do in their jobs.  The topics we were exposed to varied from firearms to traffic operations and other things as well.  But the two nights we found most interesting, and shocking too, were the evenings for the Tarrant County Jail tour and Homicide Night.

Now, dear readers if you can’t stand graphic or gross things please go on to the next Note.  What I am about tell you is 100% true but also might make you ill.  So be warned.

 Touring the jail was something else indeed.  We took Police vans up to the jail and assembled in a room.  A Deputy then prepared us for the tour. The lecture was simple enough but the real horrors were not seen until we were deep in the bowels of the jail. And horror is the word that applies to some of the things we learned.

As we walked through the old and new parts of the jail we were told that the prisoners would throw their feces on the guards, try to stab them, and eat cockroaches crawling on the floor. One Deputy said it still made him sick to recall the crunching sound of the cockroaches being chewed.  Next we learned of the “crapper phone”, the way prisoners talked to each other through the commode and the pipes like a telephone.  Using that calling plan had the added bonus of getting infections by contacting the bottom of the bowl.  Next was the tale of the female inmates ingesting sausages with an orifice other than their mouth, again getting an added bonus of an infection too (the kitchen was told to chop up the links).  Then, there was the black prisoner masturbating in front of the ladies as we all walked by, thank God I missed that display.  All the while we were expressly told NOT to touch the walls of the jails for fear of contaminates there. In short the tour was informative and also horrific at the same time.  It made you swear that you would never have to go there under arrest.

After the delights of the jail we next encountered the joys of Homicide Night where FWPD Detectives showed real pictures of victims of murder and manslaughter both.  All in living color to boot.  We saw things you would expect, spouses blown asunder by shotgun blasts of their mates, people sliced apart by knives and machetes, people stabbed so many times they looked like human Swiss cheese, and other evidence of real crimes in our city. 

But the topic that got most people’s goat was the nurse who died while masturbating in her shower.  She strangled herself to death the way the actor David Caradine did.  The detectives talked about this with no emotion as they showed us the slides, the nurse sitting slumped over straddling her bathtub, with a noose around her neck, and a large red self pleasuring device protruding from her loins.  All in a day’s work they said.  “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts”. They showed little emotion while they showed us their job.

Indeed so, all of these scenes show things our first responders deal with each and every day.  They get paid less than many of us do but deal with blatant evil and acts of human depravity few us will ever see.  But amidst these horrors and wickedness they remain human just like we do.  They do their job, tend to their families, and walk their dog.  And somehow put away the evil they see so they can remain normal like the rest of us.

In that they are perhaps our society’s greatest citizens.  They put up with so much but receive so little just so citizens like us can go to a class, see the immorality and crime we refuse to deal with unless we are a victim of, and return to our quiet homes in the nicer parts of town.  Perhaps only hearing the wailing sirens of their work in the distance late at night when we are safe in our warm little beds.  We sleep safely due to their tireless efforts. We should be thankful for their work so that we only see the filth they deal with in a class.

A Trip To Laredo

June 11, 2010

This Note from “Days Remembered” is both a travelogue and a comment on current events.  It is a tale from Laredo and Nuevo Laredo which we visited more than once. In it you will see the usual desrciption of a border town but also signs of the drug violence which is still ongoing.

Laredo, Laredo. Laredo. Your favorite place on Earth to visit it seemed.  For most of your adult years you had gone there and also Nuevo Laredo across the Rio Grande. You were enthralled with the city and its Mexican sister.  However I was not so enthralled with it but I went with you there because you liked it.

 Yes I should not be critical of the place per se since like all cities and towns it has something that draws folks to it and makes its natives stay there for lifetimes or return to it at some point to live once more.  Like many border areas it certainly has a split personality.  One side of the river you have a pretty typical American town with an Interstate, a mall, and the usual things like grocery stores, churches, and houses. However across the Rio Grande you had the usual squalor of a Mexican border town filled with shops for the tourists, people trying to sell you stuff, and other modern oddities like the many pharmacies most of which prey on the unwary Gringos who were looking for cheap medicine or medical treatments.  Thus the area truly has two opposite sides. 

Preferring the American way of doing things I never felt comfortable across the river and certainly did not enjoy being over there.  Being bilingual you certainly were more comfortable there even though you were wary of possible miscreants around us.  But what really got me thinking about never going there again was the day we were there and the Ejercito Mexicano lined the main drag.  That is, the Mexican Regular Army was there.

Do you remember me asking the soldier in my bad Spanish if he was regular army or not?  He said he was as he had his assault rifle slung over his shoulder. The Mexican Army was there, with Hummers and “Deuce And A Halfs”, as a result of the drug cartel wars which of course had spilled onto the streets of Nuevo Laredo resulting in murder and mayhem.  The Mexican government brought in their Army and Federal Police, the so-called Federales, to calm things down. Gunfire or the threat of it is bad for tourism you see.  Regardless of the effects light infantry forces on Main Street is not a good thing for “norteamericanos” to see if you want lots of them to cross the bridge and buy stuff at the Mercado on Guererro.  

And on top of that do you remember the US Army OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter hovering on the US side with its front pointed to the Mexican side?  This was not some helo that just flew around but was the type with a “spy ball” on top of the rotor with targeting lasers that would have been used to paint a vehicle so it could be blasted by some guided munition like a 155MM Copperhead artillery round or Hellfire missile.  It seems we were sending some unofficial message to the folks on the Mexican side by its presence.  Their military knew what was hovering across the river, don’t think they didn’t.

The whole situation that day did not make me feel like going back there.  You did not think it was that major especially since your family friend Dr. Rubio told us it was not that big of a deal.  Well regardless of what the good and respected doctor said having your military on your streets to help police the place is not a good thing. And don’t forget the “Federales” were also out in their grey uniforms riding around in black pickups with their military grade rifles visible.

In short there were some interesting and good things about Laredo and even Nuevo Laredo but I never felt at ease when we were across the river.  Certainly that shows that a place can be interesting and even beautiful to one person but the complete opposite to someone else. This proves the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Indeed the Laredo/Nuevo Laredo area, called El Dos Laredos by some there, was a place that you thought had beauty and art, seen in its streets, neighborhoods, and people. To you even the poverty and squalor on the Mexican side had some intrinsic quality that appealed to you. I of course saw mostly the opposite even though Laredo, Texas itself is not a bad place.  

I guess that told the story of who we both are in some ways didn’t it?  You saw one thing in a place and I saw something totally different.  You saw something positive in the decay and poverty and I saw the squalor itself without some redeeming, artistic quality. You saw the rainbow and I saw the black and white in other words.  

This dichotomy also confirms another old saying. The one that says it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. And so it does and so it was with us on the streets of Laredo that spring day.

Napping At The Symphony

June 10, 2010

Here is another Note from “Days Remembered” that has a funny side to it.  Imagine the effects of a few drinks while watching the symphony….

Going to the Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth is something one does with an amount of décor since it is not some place for a happy hour or a noisy sports bar filled with drunks.  Instead people who enjoy the arts gather for the quite enjoyment of the symphony or a play. We had done that before, going there with the “upper crust” to watch musicals and the like. We wore something other than a t-shirt with some beer brand on it and sat in our seats and applauded when it was considered polite to do so. It was something you enjoyed and a thing I had learned to sometimes like too.

And so I bought tickets to see the symphony of some sort for you and we went there. But while there I committed an unforgiveable sin in the eyes of the fete set who frequented the place. I remember it well. The performance was on a Saturday afternoon. I ate lunch but I also had a few drinks before we left. I had hoped the booze would enable me to endure the music better. Not liking symphonic music I knew I would be bored stiff. Thus I consumed some vodka and tonics to take the edge off of the upcoming acoustic torture. After lunch we got dressed and drove downtown to the Great Hall and went inside.  

We took our seats and the lights dimmed low. The music began which to me was worse than someone running their fingernails down a blackboard or some tom cat howling and screeching at midnight. But I said nothing since the show was for you and I listened with great discomfort.

The darkness however was my undoing. I started to feel sleepy and then off I dozed. But that was not my real crime against the arts; my snoring was the abomination, especially to the elderly lady next to you who you said gave me a dirty look. That was in contrast to the young couple behind us who laughed at the whole shameful affair you said.

I awoke nonetheless refreshed and was able to withstand more of the music. Thankfully the performance ended and we were able to leave the beautiful and truly grand Bass Performance Hall to go have some drinks, a dirty martini at the nearby 8.0 Bar. Regardless of what the orchestra was playing my nap and snoring were the real performance noticed with chagrin by some art lovers that day. I trust the loyal patrons around us enjoyed my spontaneous nasal, narcoleptic recital and will remember it with great fondness each day. I know I will.

The Day It Rained Green Chicken

June 8, 2010

You might think everything I write about is serious and thoughtful.  But not so.  Some of the pieces in “Days Remembered” will be funny.  The one below is my favorite funny tale involving some green parrots.  Be warned, if you don’t like gross humor skip  this one.  I will also say that like all of the tales I write about it is true. This really happened in 2007 and was mentioned on the local news.

Like most guys I truly enjoy gross humor. The day you told me about the parrot mass extinction at Kimmel was a day that should be recorded in the history of such humor.

To begin this tale let us paint the picture of the scene that day.  Years ago a pair of parrots escaped from someone’s house into the neighborhood around the school.  Big green parrots that started breeding.  These non-native birds lived in communal nests that sometimes contained dozens of birds of all ages and rose vertically up utility poles.  These nests became more numerous as did the birds.  The school adopted them as unofficial mascots.  No one harmed the birds and they blended into the surroundings and no one cared.  But one day that did changed rather explosively.

The nests being populated with large numbers of the transplanted avians were filled with their excrement and waste.  These fluids of course will conduct electricity.  And that they did in that nest on the pole that fed power to the school.  A short occurred early one morning and thousands of volts of electricity flashed into the nest teeming with birds just as kids and teachers arrived at school for classes.  The intense heat flashed the fluids in the nest and the birds themselves into steam making the nest explode outward onto the grounds of the school’s east side.  Birds were cast outward with the debris for several yards.  Many lay dead and literally smoking, some twitched in their death agony flash fried by the electrical bolts, while others were simply in pieces all over the parking lot.

Amidst this sudden scene of carnage little kids were walking through the debris along with their teachers in shock.  The school building was dark, the power cut by the explosion.  Some of the kids were upset seeing their school mascots laying about them roasted alive like fried chicken at some restaurant.  I still remember your description of the field of dead birds and debris, some of the poor creatures still smoking and scattered around the school.  Later the school district called in people from maintenance to clean up the mess and the many parrot corpses.  The kids got sent home.  While this event made the news there are not any known photos or videos of the aftermath. Only the memories of those present that day can now recount this unusual tale.

When you told me all of this I thought that when I was a kid we would have loved this as opposed to being upset like many of the kids were that day. All of us would have been overjoyed and would have been bursting out with laughter at the sight of the blasted birds and especially the darkened school.  So what if dozens of birds died to free us from classes?   It seems kids these days are more sensitive to things like that than we ever were.

So a darkened school surrounded by a lot of cooked parrots was the scene that day. What is really funny given the way the birds died is the fact that residents in that area trap and eat the parrots calling them “green chicken”. Some of your students described that culinary fact to you one day.  So a new way to cook green chicken was found, albeit using a recipe that would be very hard to repeat. But is a dish worth remembering by people who enjoy weird humor created on The Day It Rained Green Chicken.