It's all a matter of perspective.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Got a call about 10:00 this morning that someone wanted to look at the house at 1:00. I have for the most part been spared the loathing leading up to a showing. Most of the visits happen during the week and I am at work. Miss J has had to be the one to clean up the place and make it presentable. Well, let me tell you, I ran around here freaking out from 10:00 until 12:30. I straightened and cleaned every room. I swept the entire house, washed the dishes, took out the trash, and sprayed Lysol all about. When all of that was done, I went to Wylie’s room. He had been asked to stay in there and play while I was doing all of my cleaning, and apparently it took every toy in his possession to entertain him for that two-hour period. It must have taken all of his toys, because they were all in the middle of his floor. But he helped me clean up and we got it looking nice and got out of the house just in time.

And then comes the dilemma. Where do we go? I asked Wylie what he wanted to do to kill time while people looked at our house, and he said, “I want to go to Wal-Mart, and then to school.”

I asked him how about the park, and he said that would be just fine. So we went down to Allsopp Park, about three miles from our house. We had to drive right by two other parks to get there, but it is the cleanest in the city. They have a nice new playground that he loves to climb around on. A little sleepy, rocky creek flows through the center of the park. There is also a pavilion. I have never been to Allsopp Park when there was not a family reunion or a company picnic going on. This provides other kids for Wylie to chase around and he loves that. The last time we went down there, an older boy in a Batman costume was sneaking up behind all of the other kids and growling, "I'm BATMAN!" Wylie though this was the coolest thing ever. Now, every time the park comes up in conversation he says, “Maybe Batman will be there!”

Well, no Batman today, but the gathering at the pavilion did have a fire engine. At one point all of the kids loaded in to the back of the big red truck and went for a ride around the block. The fireman at the helm drove fast and turned on the siren, just like you should when there are thirty kids holding on to the back. Wylie stopped himself midway down the slide when the fire truck went by. He grabbed the side rails, squeaked to a halt, and sat reverently at attention. This is the only park for us.

After the fire truck left, we went down and waded in the small, rocky brook. He enjoyed that very much too, and we would have stayed longer, but finally, inevitably, he slipped on a mossy rock and plunked his bottom into the water. I did not have a change of clothes, but I did have a towel in the truck. Wylie did not want to leave. He did not see why he could not do some heavy splashing, now that he was wet anyway. But I talked him into leaving by promising him that we could go to Wal-Mart.

About half way across town I looked over and his head was giving it the after lunch bob-and-weave. I said, “Wylie, do you think you can stay awake long enough to go to the store?”

He said, “But I don’t want to go to the store, I want to go back to the park and play baseball.”

“Maybe another day, we have already left the park and we’re not going back today.”

“Well then,” he replied, “Let’s go home and take a nap.”

You got it buddy. He was asleep within thirty seconds. We got home at 1:45 and our visitors had already come and gone. All that was left from their walk-through was a business card of the realtor on our TV cabinet. I carried Wylie in and laid him on his bed. He never flinched.
Miss J is working this weekend. That is a good thing! Paying gigs for her have not been as regular as we would like. She has a function to decorate for, and an art show to help set up for, and a meeting with a couple whose wedding she is doing, so Wylie and me are on our own this weekend.

The money is extra nice because we are headed to Alaska one week from Tuesday.

Oh, and did I mention that we are trying to sell our house right now. We love this place, but we have outgrown it. Our beautiful midtown haunt is only 954 square feet. We have that in collectable junk from thrift stores. The realtor is doing an open house Sunday afternoon. There is that to get ready for.

But today Wylie and me are going to have as much fun as we can. This morning it has been pancakes and Bugs Bunny. This afternoon we are going to have to find some time for a trip to the park and some baseball. Tomorrow, during the open house, we are going to have to get lost for a few hours. Perhaps we will make Wylie’s first ever trip to a movie theater. He is nearly three; I think he can handle it. If the movie is good enough to hold his attention, that is.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Jimmie Lee Herringbone woke up with the distinct knowledge that his alarm clock had been going off for a long time. He woke up, but he did not open his eyes. If he were to open his eyes then he would see the clock on the nightstand at eye level and he was not ready to know how late he was for work just yet. He was already disappointed in himself. He knew that the alarm had been going off for a while; indeed he suspected that he might have hit the snooze button a time or two. There was enough light making it through his eyelids that it had to be well into the morning. Perhaps it would be best to slip into this a little easier, one clue at a time. With that, Jimmie Lee decided to roll over and open his eyes facing the other direction, to let them get used to the light without having to start the inevitable morning rush.

Suddenly Jimmie Lee realized that the alarm clock was still offering the shrill, rhythmic tri-tone, and he had most definitely been asleep since he rolled over to face away from it. He blinked his eyes open into the sunlit and quickly warming room to see that the ice was not completely melted in the lead crystal tumbler he had brought back to bed with him last night. This was a very bad sign - he had stayed up way too late and had not gotten much sleep. Or was it a good sign? Perhaps he would still be able to make it to work.

I am supposed to be there by 7:30, but no one will notice if I get there by 7:40 or so. I have to have a shower, because I smell like booze-sweat. That will take five minutes. I will have to have something on my stomach to settle it – a hunk of that cornbread with some butter and a cup of milk will do. I can eat that in the truck. Ten minutes to drive to work . . . if it is no later than about 7:15, then I can make it.

With that he rose, turned, and open-hand-slapped the alarm clock silent. It was 7:50.

Jimmie Lee has a hard time going to sleep when Betsy and the boy are out of town. Scratch that, he has a hard time making himself go to bed. Every Tuesday Betsy takes the Boy to see her momma down in Subtle County, about an hour away. They stay that night and are back home by the time Jimmie Lee gets home from work on Wednesday. Tuesday nights might not seem like a good night for a working man to stay up late and have a little too much to drink, but Tuesday nights are the only night each week that Jimmie is without a family, without responsibility.

If he had his druthers, Jimmie Lee would prefer that Betsy and the Boy stay around home every night. He likes it best when they all stay home and he and Betsy collaborate on dinner while the Boy watches his shows on TV. On those nights they all sit around the table and join hands and pray. They smile and wink at each other while they eat their meals. Jimmie Lee knows how to put a good scald on some meat over a fire, and Betsy is coming along in the kitchen. The dinner is always quite fit to eat.

Afterwards one of them will bathe the Boy and put him down. The other one will clean the kitchen. They finish the night off with him in his chair, her on the couch, trading off the remote control. She picks reruns of a sitcom or some decorating show. He goes with cable news or baseball. As far a Jimmie Lee is concerned, that is the way the rich folks live.

But Betsy likes to take the boy to see his granny, and Jimmie understands that. He knows that she needs the help one day a week. He works himself silly down at the sawmill, but he would not trade for her job at home with the boy (and the dishes and the laundry) for anything. So he takes his Tuesday nights for what they are and tries to play that up. A night alone. A night with no family, no real responsibilities. A night to act like he is young and single, living the highlife.

Yesterday he left work and went straight to the grocery store where he bought a twelve pack of cheap beer and a hunk of salt pork. The Lakeview Grocery by his house rents videos too, so he swung through the Action aisle (Betsy hates guy movies and would leave the room if he put one on while she was around, so he saves them for Tuesdays) and picked up the latest shoot ‘em up.

Back home, he changed into some shorts and a t-shirt and went out to the garden. He picked a basket full of mustard greens and collards while he slammed back the first two beers. Then he went in to the kitchen and stirred up a pone of cornbread, threw it in the oven, and cooked up the greens with the salt pork. After dinner was ready, he put on the movie and ate in front of the TV.

At some point he got tired of the beer and dug a bottle of green label Evan Williams out from under the sink. The last thing he can remember is sitting in under the covers in his bed, totally nude and half asleep, with the lights off, a glass rattling in his hand and Fox News way too loud on the bedroom TV. He said out loud, “What possible reason could there possibly be for me to still need to be awake, possibly?” He put the glass on the nightstand, smacked the remote control, and closed his eyes.

Jimmie Lee figures this would be the highlife for a single workingman

Monday, June 23, 2003

This has Dan written all over it!

Good with locks? CIA wants you

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Know your way around a lock? The CIA wants you.
"The Central Intelligence Agency is seeking locksmiths to work with the best minds in the country while performing a mission critical to our nation," the CIA said in a recent job posting on its Web site

Locksmiths, who in spy agency lingo are called technical operations officers, are needed for such tasks as to "familiarise non-technical people with technical capabilities; do hands-on work; and travel worldwide."

The skill to fabricate lock parts was an asset for prospective CIA locksmiths.

"Knowledge of electronic and manual safe lock servicing, electricity, and alarms is ideal. Knowing how to operate machinery to fabricate lock parts and tools will be beneficial," the CIA job posting said.

Applicants must be willing to travel domestically and overseas.

"There is a wide range of requirements that the agency would have for which individuals with locksmith capabilities could be utilised, but what they do and how they do it is not something we're going to be able to discuss publicly," CIA spokesman Tom Crispell said.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The summer time in Arkansas is the time of the fly. They show up sometime in April or May and by the end of June, flies are everywhere. They follow you in your home through the front door or exploit holes in your window screens, or come pouring in when the kids leave the door open. They land on your food at dinnertime. They land on the screen while you are watching TV. At night, they buzz your head in the dark and keep you awake.

I just had one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. I was walking in to the bathroom to check a leak. As I passed through the door one of the little flying nuisances buzzed in front of my face. I quickly reached up and snatched the little guy out of the air. Then I walked over to the toilette, threw him (still alive) into the water, peed on his little head, and flushed him, flopping and kicking, into the sewer to die.

That’ll teach the little bastards! Let that be an example to flies around the world.