Thursday, August 31, 2006


I did it! For the first time in my life I read the sports page of the newspaper. "So what’s the big deal," you might want to ask. "It’s not like you’re blazing new trails here. Some women have been enjoying the latest in sports news for some time now. What took you so long?”

It would be easy to blame my lack of exposure on my husband. In the mornings, he’d rather know where the sports page is than his first cup of coffee. But I have to be real honest here - one can’t be too careful when it comes to lying to the public - it just never entered my mind that I could or should know any more about baseball than the names of the two teams playing for the Series win.

I grew up in an era during which certain distinctions between men and women were clearly defined. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending the era or the distinction. Just stating the facts. It was a time when women knew where we were supposed to stand even if we didn't want to. Especially about sports.

Men were expected to be obsessed with sports. All kinds of sports. They played. They watched. They discussed. They read. They argued. They played some more. And during play-off seasons, they disappeared into black holes with TV screens, bean-dip and beer. Or at least they tried to.

Women, on the other hand, were expected to be obsessed with their husbands’ obsession with sports. Women were supposed to complain about all the hours spent on a field or in front of the television. They were to shake their heads woefully as Frank argued with the guy next door about which team had the best defense in the NFL. And women were NEVER, EVER, to touch the sports page in the newspaper.

It was sort of a twist on the idea that Real Men don’t eat quiche. Real Women don't read sports.

As a fairly malleable creature at the time, I didn’t fuss about all that. It was kind of fun to share "football widow” stories with my friends, and we could always find something else to do while the guys were whooping it up in front of the TV. But all that changed when we moved to Texas.

Suddenly, I didn’t have those friends to occupy my time on Sunday afternoon, and my husband needed someone to help him yell at the referee. The game just isn’t the same unless there’s another warm body throwing shoes at the screen and loudly suggesting an eye-exam for the idiot who couldn’t recognize pass interference when it jumped off the turf and bit him.

So I started watching football. And then I started liking football. Then I started loving football.
Not any old football, mind you. COWBOY FOOTBALL.

This, of course, was during the era of Superbowls, Roger the Dodger, and Hail Mary passes - what wasn't there to love?

But I still didn't read the sports page. And since I’m being perfectly honest here, I can't come up with a reason why. My husband was at that point, perfectly willing to share. I just automatically handed that section to him every morning and never bothered to pick it up when he was finished.

And I can’t really say that my recent break in tradition was predicated on one significant incident.

The lapse could be partially blamed on a serious case of boredom. I’d read everything else in the paper - even the business section – and one cannot finish breakfast without something to read. Or maybe it was the headline HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS.

Cowboy Fever has been known to do strange things.

Anyway, I let my eyes wander across a few lines here and there and I said to my dog, "Hey, this is good stuff."

The stories weren’t beyond my comprehension, as had been insinuated in the past. They weren't dull, or boring. In fact, they were quite interesting with some of the best writing I’d enjoyed in a long time. I felt like a kid who’d just discovered a new pile of sand.

It was a great, wonderful place to play for a while, and definitely worth going back to. I will, however, be kind to my husband and continue to let him have the shovel and pail first.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who Did It?

On any number of occasions, mothers are faced with asking their kids a certain type of unanswerable question such as; who ate the last cookie and put the empty package back in the cabinet? Or who took the quarter off the counter? Or who wrote the dirty words on the wallpaper in the kitchen?

Getting a straight answer can prove to be more complicated and frustrating than trying to establish peace in the Mid-East. In fact, when my kids were young, I'd've tackled global peacekeeping any day over "Who took the gum out of my purse."

When I had to ask the "who did" question, my kids would react in one of two ways. Either they'd be stricken with some kind of mental dysfunction that rendered them speechless, or they'd cast about for someone they might possibly get away with blaming.

I think this is a talent that kids are born with that may hearken back to some instinct for survival and some are much better at it than others.

While I had a certain maternal pride in the abilities of my kids to find a 'scapegoat,' they had a long way to go to match the aplomb of a friend's three year-old. One day he'd been out playing with his older brother, and when he came back in my friend noticed a particular odor as he passed by.

As delicately as possible she asked, "Did you have an accident in your pants?"

"No. John did it."

Now that's quick thinking at its best.

In fact, this kid had such a reputation no one believed him. Not even when he insisted for an entire day that he had not eaten his older sister's candybar. "It was Mommy. I swear."

"Sure," the sister said. "Like Mom would really do that."

Can you imagine how embarrassing it is to admit to your six year-old that you needed a sudden chocolate fix and hers was the only candy in the house?

Luckily, my daughter never asked what happened to the last piece of candy from her first-grade Valentine's party.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Since the state of Texas is barely a blip in the wide world of the Internet, there are some people who might not be aware that we are having a serious drought here and are facing some scary prospects for a future water supply. But it’s true. My little patch of East Texas is shriveling up, and when my horse walks across the pasture, so much dust billows up I’m reminded of pictures of the terrible Dustbowl.

It’s not just here, though. The entire state is dryer than normal, with the exception of El Paso that had flooding recently, and many cities and counties have severe water restrictions.

Meanwhile, the richest people in the Dallas area are pumping millions of gallons of water on lawns and landscaping. The hay farmers have no crops this year, but Harlan Crow has seven acres of beautiful lawn. According to a story in The Dallas Morning News, Harlan Crow uses 1.8 million gallons of water a month. That’s equivalent to the total usage for 217 homes in Dallas based on an average of 8,300 gallons a month per house.

And the cost of the water that Mr. Crow is pouring on his expansive lawn? $5,859. Yikes! That’s more than twice our monthly budget. Just because money is not an issue for that family, is that a justification for such incredible waste? And remember, it’s not just an issue of wasting money.

An editorial in the same issue of The Dallas Morning News addressed the concerns over the drought and the long-term outlook for water availability in Texas. It was pretty bleak.

If the drought continues, the major lakes serving the Dallas Metroplex will have no water source by 2007. (Anyone who has driven past Lake Lavon can attest to that. It’s not a lake. It’s a puddle.) In the next four years Texas will need a 20% increase in water sources to meet the estimated growth. The editorial writer also cited a prediction that by the year 2060, the demand for water in Texas will rise by 27%, while supplies decrease by 18%. If that gap does not close, 85% of Texans will lack sufficient water.

Many of us won’t be around by then, and some people use that fact to justify ravaging the earth’s natural resources today. I’m going to have that Hummer and I don’t care how much gas it guzzles. I can afford it. Turn off my car when I go into the store? Heaven forbid I should come out to a hot car. Let my lawn go dry so we have enough water to drink next year? Naw, someone else will come up with a solution to the problem, so I don’t have to concern myself with it.

Well, folks, here’s the deal. If we don’t concern ourselves, we’re leaving a terrible future for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Sometimes I wonder if there will even be a world for them if more people don’t get into a conservation frame of mind. There are so many ways we can save energy and water and not have to sacrifice greatly to do it.

It just means we have to think beyond the moment and our immediate wants and decide what we can live without. Maybe we don’t really need seven acres of lush grass just to look at. Maybe we can trim five minutes off our daily shower. Maybe we can drive a more fuel efficient car. Maybe we can skip one non-essential trip to the store or the mall.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to take my horse to Mr. Crow's yard to graze.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


In all honesty, most of us will have to admit to being overcome with childish fits of temper at one time or another in our lives. Whether it be frequently, occasionally, or twice a day, we have all given in to the urge to throw something across the room and watch it smash into a million pieces.

Although we all fall prey to this type of behavior, it really takes a big person to admit it, and that being the case, I'm going to tell you what this friend of ours once did.

(I certainly wouldn't want to destroy my image by letting you know some of the things I've done.)

This friend, who shall remain nameless, got mad at his telephone one day. He was so mad that just slamming the receiver back in place was not enough to satisfy the primal urge, so he ripped it off the wall.

Then he threw it down on the floor and jumped on it a few times.

Then he kicked it around a bit, kind of stirring up the little pieces.

Then he picked up all the pieces and put them in a brown paper bag before he went to the neighbor's house to call the telephone company. This was back in the days when the phone companies still owned the actual instruments and he was calling to report that his was broken. It was also back in the days before cell phones.

The girl in the service department told him she would have someone check the lines and get back to him.

"You don't understand," my friend said. "There's no trouble on the lines. My telephone is broken."

"Sir, do you mean the instrument itself is broken?"


"If you could be more specific, the repairman can bring the appropriate replacement parts."

"Trust me. He really needs to bring a whole new unit."

At this point, I would have skipped town and let someone else greet the repairman, but this friend is given to great shows of bravery in addition to his terrific temper tantrums. He acted as if it were nothing out of the ordinary to hand a repairman a bag of junk that used to be a telephone and tell him that a Mack truck ran over it.

Pretty good trick for a wall phone, but the repairman didn't even ask.