Wild Life Of A Little Monster

Others are scared of me because of all the fun I have. Considered a vigilante by my Eponine.

Wherefore Art Thou

William ... I may have a tale to share with you. It very well could be about a little beast. Wandering the open fields. Moving along the trails. Occasionally resting its head under a shade tree. Visiting with a few folks along the way. Searching for a place to call its own. Maybe looking for a pardner. A cowboy?

Or it might be a story about a little furry monster that's had a tough life and that's why it is wandering. Just headed to a new home. Much like Parker the creature might be travelin' through. On the road, seeing some sites, taking some serious cat naps, and enjoying some treats. Fattening up until arriving at the new home.

But what is home? Sometimes home is just a place that is comfortable, has food to fill our bellies and has a warm, dry place to sleep. If there is a human in that home that loves us that's a bonus. A big bonus. The tale could take one of those slants.

It could even be a story full of excitement, fun and frolic. And include a tail. Just like the Meezers have. You just never know!

I bet the tale likely has a guy that finds himself missing a companion as he pets the furry beast. Nurturing and caring for the tiny creature's less-than-four-pound bony frame. The dude probably is fascinated by the talkative little thing, that paws at him when he's on the computer. He may even find himself wondering what it might be like. Feeling truly tempted to share his home again.

Can't quite tell you, William, for certain which version of the tale is there yet. But can promise you that it is developing. Slowly but surely. A great story will be the result. Maybe even one that lasts nine lives.

No Taxes And A Laceless Need

This weekend, Aug. 3-5, is a tax-free weekend for many cities and counties in Missouri. The tax holiday is designed to aid in preparation with back-to-school items as well as to help retailers with end-of-the-summer business. The feel-good results also likely keep some politicians elected.

Not everything is exempt from sales taxes. Just stuff that has been defined as back-to-school items.

The skinny: Missouri's Tax-Free Shopping Dates are Aug. 3-5. Applies to clothing under $100, school supplies under $50, computer software under $350, computers/computer equipment under $3,500.

As alluded to in the first paragraph above, not all Missouri cities and counties have elected to participate. Details are on the Missouri Department of Revenue's website.

If you don't have anyone in your family needing back-to-school stuff, this always is a good time to remember a child less fortunate. As a kid, I clearly remember stressing out knowing that I was going to have to wear filthy sneakers on the first day back or old clothes. I'd pray that Dad would send Mom a check or that the step-monster would call saying she was going to take my baby sister and I shopping. Often, Mom somehow worked a miracle.

A sharp, new pencil, clean jeans, white sneakers, a new shirt ... even just one of these items can go a long way at establishing beginning-of-the-year confidence.

Saw a story the other day on Fox 4 about the special need Marillac has. Laceless shoes are requested for the children at this residential treatment center.

Lower Prices Bring Smiles

At least for this consumer, dropping gasoline prices puts a smile across the face. If only we could get back and stay under two bucks. On the commute Monday morning, the lowest price I saw was $2.79 a gallon. Maybe it'll be $2.75 on the way home!

Even more smiles are likely when the MMcB has her Kansas City home sold. Although it has been nice that the home and getting it ready to be placed on the market are excuses for her to make a regular southbound journey on 29, it has meant a bunch of work for me.

Despite my he-man qualities, my arms and other body parts are a little sore from all the yard work. She had me outside for hours and hours on Sunday. Wouldn't even allow a break. Her dad stopped by to say hello and she even put him to work. She's tough. Plus, this is the second Sunday in a row she's forced this labor camp.

Seriously, it has been a fun time and the home is looking stellar. On curbside appeal alone I am certain the home will sell quickly.

Let The Games Begin

This weekend marks the beginning of auditions for the seventh season of American Idol. Just once I would like someone I know to audition. Some of my friends' kids are almost old enough. Even if they're bad, I think it would be a riot.

Be sure to let me know if you know anyone auditioning. Maybe they'll be the next winner!

This year's audition cities:
San Diego, Qualcomm Stadium, July 30, 2007
Dallas, Texas Stadium, August 6, 2007
Omaha, Qwest Center, August 10, 2007
Atlanta, Georgia Dome, August 14, 2007
Charleston, North Charleston Coliseum, August 18, 2007
Miami, American Airlines Arena, August 22, 2007
Philadelphia, Wachovia Center, August 27, 2007

Now that MMcB is living in Omaha, maybe she'll run by the Qwest Center and snap a picture of Paula, Randy or Simon. Or Ryan. It would get posted, for sure! Hope I don't have to remind her that she's too old to audition. She let that opportunity sail on by already.

In The Navy

Recently learned that the nephew has been stationed in Iraq. He's hopping around in 100-degree-plus weather taking care of stuff. Years ago he came from North Carolina to live with his favorite uncle for a bit. That's me. Just in case that wasn't clear to you. With all my expectations, he thought living with me was quite an undertaking. It likely just better prepared him for other challenges.

Oh, it's actually the Air Force for him, but I didn't know of an air force song that would make for a good title of a blog post.

I'm told the guys were "showing off" these weapons. They weren't headed out to a battle. No matter. The pic still made my heart hurt. I pray for a safe journey for him and all of those with him. And that they come home soon.


What the heck are these crazy-looking things?

July 25

For those of us inclined to celebrate Christmas, today is an important day. We have five months until Santa's arrival.

The holiday season shouldn't be a stressful time. And the best way to reduce the stress is to plan ahead!

For instance, many of us get paid twice monthly. That means many of us have essentially 10 paychecks until Christmas. Now figure out an approximate dollar amount you plan to spend on gifts. Next step is to budget. Planning on a $100 gift for your honey? Well, that's just $10 a paycheck. Planning on spending $600 total for everyone on your list? Well, that's $60 a paycheck.

Even better, make out your holiday gift list and start buying gifts now. Get all that shopping done over the next three or four months so that December is spent doing nothing but going to parties, visiting with friends, celebrating the season and reading "Wild Life." :)

Remembering Dad

Today is my father's birthday. I think he would've been 80. But there is a plus-or-minus-one year error of margin. It seems the records we have on dad are inconsistent. In any case, it is hard to believe that it already has been 2 1/2 years since he passed away.

Sent the step monster a note about a month ago. Just to say hello and let her know I had thought of her. She wrote back a very kind letter. Was glad to report she had just acquired a second Yorkie.

The Spiral Staircase

Meant to post more Santa Fe pics quite some time ago. Will try to pick out some faves and post them from time to time. Just to mix things up a bit.

These are from Loretto Chapel. It's a small chapel in downtown, the older part of Santa Fe. It's a museum now and you have to pay to stroll through it. I thoroughly enjoyed. Found it beautiful and peaceful. It also has a magical staircase (see last pic below). There's more on it on the chapel's website. Or google "Loretto Chapel."

I remember my Grandpa Fred and Grandma Reta taking me to this chapel when I was a young'un. Many, many, many years ago.

I'll Fly Away

Because I like to acknowledge stuff like this and because I am catching up on my past-due blog posts, just had to post a memorial to Lady Bird Johnson and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner.

I was in elementary school when I was assigned President Johnson for my report about U.S. Presidents. Miss Kates seated her pupils alphabetically and assigned the presidents to us consecutively. Thomas, I can't remember his last name but I remember it started with an A, got Mr. Carter, Gina Curtis had Mr. Ford, Mr. Nixon was assigned to Mark Dixon and then yours truly received Mr. Johnson. I know, Cowboy comes before Curtis, but I had a different name back then.

It was fun learning about Lyndon and Lady Bird and how everything on their ranch was named with an L, B and a J. I learned that he often was mean, had involvement with the Vietnam Conflict, became president because of Mr. Kennedy's death, and was from Texas. I learned that she focused on beautification projects. Also, in the '80s when I interned in D.C., I learned about the Johnson Memorial along the Washington Parkway next to the Potomac on the way to/from Washington Reagan Airport. I still glance over at it now when on work trip to D.C.

Didn't have cable television as a kid. We of course had regular television, but I was addicted to Christian radio. I listened to it every chance I had. Just obsessed with it. I liked praise and worship music before it was the "in thing."

Each evening, the station in Tulsa (I think it was called KXOJ) would air the PTL Club. I'd lie in bed listening to the show and loving every moment. Singing along, praying and listening intently. Their radio show calmed me with all my teen angst and difficulties and made me feel very close to God. I actually enjoyed listening to Tammy sing.

Writing all this, I realize, just only further reinforces my nerd quotient. I'm sure even more evidence will be provided next week or shortly thereafter.

It was later in high school while visiting a friend's home who had cable tv that I saw Jim and Tammy Faye for the first time. Although shocked with the eye makeup, I didn't think it was that bizarre. It was the '80s. First time I saw her crying with all that stuff running down her face I was shocked. And was convinced it was all an act. It was like a car crash, so hard to turn away from and quit staring.

Although my perspectives and life had changed much, I was sad as the story unfolded and the PTL show and everything around it was destroyed. I was even more sad when their church essentially disowned the couple. But she rebuilt herself and started over. From what I understand, he has too. That's one thing I think is very different with today's "iconic-like" folks. They make so much money quickly then they don't stick around. They don't keep working, reinventing, correcting mistakes and trying something different.

The interesting, at least to me, twist to the story is that Tammy and husband just recently moved to Kansas City. She did her Larry King Live interview from here on Thursday night and then passed away Friday morning.

May they both rest in peace and long be remembered.

Partying With The SAK

SAK hosted a Harry Potter party last Wednesday. She has hosted a party on the movie premiere day for each of the Potter movies. She always decks out the whole home and this year was no exception.

Each room had a different theme or task. There even was a pupil fortune reader, candy store, butter beer station, and the dining room had a Potter quiz and an opportunity to make your guess on what would happen in book 7. Because all good finales include a wedding, my prediction was that Harry would marry. I haven't read the book -- was I right?

I manned the temporary tattoo booth in the living room. That meant carefully placing lightning bolt tats on the foreheads of many children and a few adults. There also were several forearms and a few calves involved. It was fun.

I skipped out on the movie, though. SAK reports it is good and she wants to go see again. So, I should still have an opportunity. My day at the job had been long, plus the "check engine" light was coming on. Instead, met up with Joy later that evening and she followed me to the mechanic to drop off the PT.

Because I am writing this post much after the fact, I already know that Harry worked no magic. Although the car was fixed and it is back to running like new, it still was another $850 that seem to vanish just like that. If only good (me, the driver who never wants his car to break down) would really prevail over evil (the dealer mechanic who fixes my car wonderfully, but refuses to repair it for free). Curses.

Stretching That Dollar

Saw that hotwire.com recently released its rankings of the top U.S. cities for value vacations. No. 1 is Atlanta. Kansas City placed fifth, up from 14th the year prior.

The complete list (and sorry MMcB, Omaha didn't make it):
1. Atlanta
2. Dallas-Fort Worth
3. Raleigh-Durham
4. Orlando-Daytona Beach
5. Kansas City!!!
6. Denver (No. 1 in 2006)
7. Los Angeles
8. Chicago
9. Cleveland
10. Washington, D.C.


Do you know why the cowboy got a weiner dog?

Because he kept hearing everyone advise: "Get a long little doggie."

Heard that joke Monday night at Westport Flea Market's open mic nite for comedians. Have told a few people the joke since then and they all tell me it is an old joke and is about second grade level. No wonder I like it so much!

By the way, Daphne is staying with me through Saturday while her humans are in Hawaii. We've been having a good time.

Birthday Celebrations

LL, LMc, The Sis and O all celebrate birthdays in early to mid-July. If they came to my home to celebrate, I'd be sure to make them a birthday cupcake. Or at least purchase one of those fancy cupcakes at Westport Flea Market. Until that day, I'll just mail them a card. Happy birthday!

Governing From Missouri

Mormon Temple in Salt Lake CityTwo pics from the Salt Lake trip. Walked around the Mormon Square, actually, I think it's called Temple Square. The hotel was few blocks from it. It was a pretty day, making the scenery around the building very nice. Colors around dusk always are so vibrant. Even saw a bride and groom posing for pics.
Donny and Marie picture in Salt Lake's Hard Rock
From there, walked all the way - quite a hike - to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a cool one in a neat area. I was surprised with the number of homeless-looking folks scattered about along my path. Took the light rail back to the hotel. An interesting area, I enjoyed Salt Lake.

The pic of Donny and Marie was at the Hard Rock. Original Osmond items were on display everywhere, including costumes. Very fun. I'm a child of that era obviously.

Here's a link to an NPR/All Things Considered story about Mormonism. Melissa Block interviewed a gentleman named Richard Bushman. He is a religious history expert and evidently a Mormon. I learned much when I heard the story (it aired July 5) and learned even more re-reading the text.

Whether Or Not

Regardless if you liked her, hated her, agreed or disagreed with her, it was a historical moment when President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court. He nominated her, an Arizona judge, on July 7, 1981 and she later became the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Considering she only in the last year or so retired from the court, I guess 07/07/81 was a fairly lucky day for her. I hope 07/07/07 is for all those that planned to do something special on that day.

I may have mentioned before how fascinating I think the current U.S. Presidential race might be. With the current "media-dubbed" top contenders being a woman, a Mormon, an African-American, and a thrice-divorced, gay-friendly, abortion unclear Republican, it also could be pretty historical. We still have more than a year to go. No telling what might happen between now and then.

On a somewhat related note, a study, actually a "Rasmussen Poll" indicated that 78 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats said that "faith" was an important consideration to them when voting for president. However, 65 percent of Republicans said they would not vote for a Mormon. The same article that cited this Rasmussen Poll also noted that a recent "Pew Survey" determined that 85 percent of Mormons that voted in the last presidential election voted for President Bush.

When I completed an exit interview after the last presidential race, I pointed out that my decision was heavily influenced on moral reasons.

That reminds me ... I don't think I ever posted a few pics from my Salt Lake City visit. I'll do that next.

I Guess That's Why They Call It

A day off in the middle of the week is sweet. Did things inside the home this morning and then worked outside the home all afternoon. Daphne is here. She enjoyed all the action with me. It was funny to watch her tear out barking and acting all tough as neighborhood kids exploded 'crackers.

She and I mowed, walked, trimmed the shrubs, pulled weeds, raked and several other things. Tonight we did some laundry, had dinner and watched special Fourth celebrations on public television. It was very nice. The day was hot, 90ish, with about an hour rain storm around 4:30 p.m.

As the day ends, it feels like a Sunday night. That means tomorrow feels like a Monday. Another Monday. Two in one week. That means the blues and the anxiety typically felt on a Sunday night have arrived. I'll be up all night.

The Total Of My Sense

Continued the July Fourth tradition and dumped the coin jar. Just finished counting it all out.

My booty fell short of the goal I set last year. The jump was just under 30 percent (29.97) from last year's total. The goal for 2008 is for another 30 percent gain.

It's getting tougher to gather that loose change. I'm having fewer and fewer cash transactions. It's the debit card for everything -- $3.93 at McDonald's, $100 at Price Chopper, and anything and everything in between. Except for gasoline (even though it is an urban legend) and a few other places that do authorizations for more than the purchase and then settle up later.

Just two or three years ago the checking account statement would arrive and there would be two or three pages of the little cancelled check copies. Now there's only five or so checks a month. And yes, I still get a printed copy of my check statement delivered via U.S. Mail.

I used to be anti-debit card. I saw them as a bank's ploy to issue secured credit cards. My opinion hasn't changed, but the cards have become so common. Where would I be without one? Interesting how quickly our minds can change and determine that some things just make sense. It will be interesting to see how the debit-like credit cards that Wal-Mart or H & R Block's bank plan to lower-income folks will work.

Here's to hoping that your celebration for the Fourth of July was splendid.

More Missouri Stats

It's actually information about Kansas City. Useless information to you, but some I wanted to share nonetheless.

According to The Kansas City Star, the Kansas City area (including the Kansas side of the metro) is close to reaching its saturation point when it comes to banks. During the last 12 months, 198 bank branches have opened. The paper reported that there's 156 separate banks in the metro area. That compares to 157 in the Boston area or 158 in Philadelphia. The report also indicated that there's 743 bank branches. That compares to 671 in Denver or 583 in San Diego. Only two cities, Indianapolis and Louisville, have lower deposits per branch than Kansas City among the 50 largest markets.

A Different State Of Mind

Came across a statistic declaring Missouri on top of all 50 with regard to the most number of meth lab incidents in 2006. Something to brag about, huh? We not only lead, we lead handily. Second place is not presenting any competition. I hope it is a situation that Missouri is able to solve.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the top five are as follows:
1. Missouri - 1, 288 incidents
2. Illinois - 778
3. Indiana - 737
4. Arkansas - 407
5. Tennessee - 401

A Nice State

Founded in 1912, New Mexico is No. 47 when it comes to the U.S. of A. There are many things throughout the state, though, that prove the state's history goes way beyond statehood. The pic to the left is of the tile on the floor in the center of the capitol.

Below are more pics of artwork from the New Mexico Capitol. The left pic is an eyeball of a fully fascinating, huge buffalo. It was created by assembling various items. For instance, this eye is a fishing rod (with Mom's finger aiding the viewer). The other eye is a center part of a kerosene lantern. Spools of camera film, newspapers, paint brushes and many other items are masterfully put together. Really cool. A sister provides assistance in the second pic.

Should have written the artist's name because, of course, now I can't remember it. Small world, I remember she (I think I remember the artist is female) was born in Kansas City and lived in New Mexico.

The second pic is of an outdoor sculpture located on the capitol grounds. It is titled "Gathering of Friends." The last pic is of a painting depicting red chilis hanging from a window.

One Of The Haunts

Nothing is said about it, as far as I can find, on their website but La Posada is one of those places in Santa Fe that has at least one ghost story to go along with it. This site indicates that a Julia Staab loved the original home and never left. My niece tells me there also may be Native American spirits that roam the hallways.

I once had an evil boss and her last name was Staab. Although nice enough in her own way, it also was discovered that she was very manipulative and sneaky. Unless she's changed her ways, I bet she's currently somewhere, giving someone a nightmare. I last heard she was seeking a job in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Haunted Santa Fe

Saw on the news the other day that there was some sort of bright-light looking thing floating around the Santa Fe Courthouse. Many claimed, according to the news, that it was a ghost. I didn't hear that anyone claimed it was the Virgin Mary. You never know, though.

The news story inspired me to do a quick Google search about ghosts in Santa Fe. Learned that the town has more than its share of haunts. There's stories and tours to help support all the spookiness. Sounds like I need to make a return visit!

Marching One By One

The agenda in Santa Fe included a stop to the National Cemetery. All national cemeteries are common in concept, but the background of adobe-looking homes, a gorgeous blue sky and billowy clouds, and the names on the grave markers made the Santa Fe version a unique experience.

Also toured the New Mexico State Capitol. There's all the offices with legislators and important folks taking care of the business of government, but the capitol also is full of artwork. A tour is so very worth it.

On my visit, there also was a special display in the lobby. There was one book-type piece I found interesting. Two pics are below. I've also included a pic of a bumper sticker on a car that was traveling by as we made our way to the capitol.