Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mistaken Identity

People today. It's so hard to tell who's who, what's what, where are you going, and how ya' going to get there.

But then again, it's always been that way.

Mistaken Identity

By Tracy Farr

Sometimes I'm not so sure
If she's a him, or he's a her.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Five Shopping 'Rules of Engagement'

Christmas is just days away, and that means it’s time to brave the wild indoor shopping centers with the hope of getting some serious Christmas shopping done without being crushed to death in Aisle No. 9 during a Blue Light Special. But do you think I’m worried? Nosirree! I’ve got a plan, and as long as I stick to it, I will not die!

My plan is to do all my shopping on Christmas Eve, hitting the stores with military-like precision: attack, attack, attack, take no prisoners, and don’t charge anything until you see the whites of their eyes.

In my opinion, the best time for shopping maneuvers at the local Mega Store is at 11 p.m., when there are only four people in the building – me, Barbara at the cash register, and the two stock boys in the back who always seem to be asleep. At any other time, those two would follow me around, making me “hit the dirt” every time they lob a bag of potato chips or toilet paper over my head. But, even that’s preferable to being surrounded by a horde of mothers, their screaming children and Zombie-like Husbands.

BEWARE: Zombie Men are everywhere! They gather at supermarkets and malls this time of year, and, given half a chance, they will suck the life right out of you.

Zombie Men are easy to spot: They hunch over their shopping carts, their eyes downcast to avoid eye contact with strangers. Their feet shuffle as they walk, and if you listen closely, you can hear them mumble things like, “Yes dear,” “Whatever you say, dear,” “I don’t give a rip, dear,” and “I mean, they look fresh to me, dear.”

Zombie Men used to be regular guys. They went to the feed store, tore engines apart for fun, they always had venison in the freezer. But somewhere along the way, they started pushing shopping carts for their wives – wives who are always agitated, jittery, looking for the best bargain, picking up this can of soup, comparing it with that can of soup, finally putting both cans of soup in the cart, telling her Zombie Husband to speed up, slow down, grab that box of cake mix, “No! Not that one! The store brand because it's cheaper.”

“Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.”

Sometimes the Zombie Men accidentally look up. That’s when I see in their faces a wish for me to put a bullet right between their eyes, just to end their suffering. But I have to look away. There is nothing I can do for them. When I go shopping, I leave my pistol at home.

So, to make sure that I never have to endure crowds, bargain-hunting wives, yelling children, and Zombie Men, I adhere to the following Five Christmas Shopping “Rules of Engagement.” If you can benefit from it, fine. If not, don’t blame me:

1. Make a list of items you need to procure (military term that means “acquire”). Do not leave your Fort without a list. To do so, and be stuck trying to decide between the George Forman Grill or a baby Rat Terrier, would mean certain “death by indecision.”

2. Before you make your list, scout out (another military term that means “reconnoiter”) what size your honey wears, because to buy a 20 when she really needs a 10 means certain “death by fuming.”

3. With list in hand, attack at dawn, or as soon as the front door is open. If the store is having a “50 Percent Off Everything Starting at Dawn” sale, then Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!.

4. Once safely inside the store, quickly commandeer a cart. If someone else is using it at the time – well, spoils of war. With acquired cart, head to the ADM (Area of Desired Merchandise), probe the area, acquire your target, lock and load your cart, then head to the extraction zone (somewhere around Cashier No. 4) making no contact with the general population.

5. The only time you can breathe a sigh of relief is when you are safely out of the Combat Zone and back at your Fort. Count your acquisitions (a military word for “booty” which is a pirate word for “loot”), then conceal it under the bed or some other safe place that nobody would dare clean for fear of “death by dust.”

That my friends is the key to safe holiday shopping. I wish you the best of luck, and if you remember to follow these rules, you WILL survive!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Harvesting Cats

I just so happened to be thinking about cats and "hyperbole" the other day, but couldn't quite remember what hyperbole was. So, I searched deep into Wikipedia and discovered "hyperbole" is a fantastical exaggeration that has nothing to do with cats, except for the following example:

"It was raining cats and dogs."

Another example which DOESN'T include cats would be: "She weighed a ton," unless of course we're talking about your mamma, then she probably does.

Now, if we apply hyperbole and light verse to cats, we might come up with something like:

Harvesting Cats

By Tracy Farr

"I harvest my cats from a cat-bearing tree"
Is a feline example of hyfurballe.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If Cows Had Wings

I've seen a lot of lonely cows in my time and thought each and every one of them could probably use a pick-me-up.

If Cows Had Wings

By Tracy Farr

If cows had wings
Instead of those udder things,
They'd stop their mooing
And all go flewing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Doctor's Bedside Financial Management Plan

Back in the old days, if you paid your doctor with a chicken he'd be mighty grateful.

Today, you'd be plucked by the repo man.

My Doctor's Bedside Financial Management Plan 

By Tracy Farr

The end of a doctor's hospitality
Begins the moment you don't pay his fee.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Light Verse Tuesday

Light verse, as opposed to "real poetry," used to be much more popular than it is today. A man could dash off a few lines of light verse, mail it off to important magazines, and live quite comfortably on the fees he received.

Today, you can't pay anybody to publish a lick of the stuff.

But that won't stop me from indulging in my own little Light Verse Tuesday.

Hope you enjoy.

The Cultivated Epidermis

By Tracy Farr

It's hard to be a charmer
When you have a tan like a farmer.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Annie Birtres Grimsley 1914-2011

By Tracy Farr

We laid to rest our dear Grandma today.
Sent her off to heaven in her best dress today.
And we gathered,
and sang,
and celebrated her life;
Our beloved Grandma,
mother and wife.

And after the final words were said,
and after the final song was led,
we lingered together
a bit longer together
over heaping plates of barbecue and iced tea.
And to the last one of us we did all agree
that even though the meat was a tasty blessing,
it couldn't hold a candle
to Grandma's homemade Thanksgiving turkey and dressing.

We'll miss you Grandma.
Ninety-seven years went by too quick.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

There's a Lady Bug on my Bell Pepper

By Tracy Farr

There's a Lady Bug on my Bell Pepper.
It looks like she feels right at home.
I hate that I have to evict her,
but it's time for my lunch,
and I relish the crunch
of a pepper completely homegrown.

Lady Bug on Pepper

Monday, October 31, 2011

Purrr-fectly Feline

I pity anyone who doesn't give my little girl some candy tonight.

Mee-Wow!

Mee-Wow!

The final poem for Scary Poetry Month

Well, this is it. The last poem in honor of Scary Poetry Month. I'll admit none of them have been all that scary, including this one:

Halloween

By Tracy Farr

Halloween, jelly bean,
give me some or I'll be mean.

Put them here inside my sack,
Give me lots or I'll attack.

Eat your foot, eat your leg,
Hear you scream, watch you beg.

I won't stop until I'm done,
Halloween, yum yum yum.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Saturday-morning goal

On this beautiful Saturday morning, I have but one goal:

To fry up the most perfect pair of sunny-side-up eggs my tummy has ever known.

I will not be sharing a photo of my eggs with you because the simple act of recording them on film, in my opinion, would somehow make them less perfect.

Instead, I will eat them with hot-buttered toast, drink a tall mug of freshly-brewed coffee, and contemplate on the goodness of the day.

Life is short.

Our time is best spent on doing things that matter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Witches deserve their own poems

Okay, here's another poem, about another witch, in celebration of Scary Poetry Month, even though my poems haven't been all that scary.

The Witch by the Bay

By Tracy Farr

There’s a witch by the bay casting spells at the fish.
See them dance in the air, watch them spin and then twist
just like young ballerinas leaping high, to and fro.
A ballet on silvery toes.

And the witch dances, too, with incredible grace.
Watch her sway, pirouette and then leap into space.
How her feet never seem to alight on the sand
is a mystery I don’t understand.

Then the witch swings her arms and the fish disappear,
and she turns in a flash, for she knows I am near.
In a blaze she is gone, and to my dying day,
I’ll remember the witch by the bay.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Scary Poetry Month poem

The Witch of Pelican Bay

By Tracy Farr

On Tuesday,
I saw the old witch of Pelican Bay
lift a crooked finger
toward a stray dog
that just so happened to linger
a little bit too long,
digging in her garden.

In a puff of smoke,
that old witch
turned that old mutt
into an old rat,
and her old black cat
ate it whole.

She then lifted her eyes and finger toward me,
mouthed the word, “Scram,”
and since I like myself just the way I am,
I did.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

An Invitation to Dine

And here's another little poem in honor of Scary Poetry Month 2011:

An Invitation to Dine

by Tracy Farr

I really don’t know why I have a vulture on my shoulder.
Maybe it’s a little crazy, maybe it’s a little bolder
than the other birds I see; they’re all just circling ‘round my head.
Or could it be it thinks that I am dead?

And now that ugly creature’s poking holes into my cheek
as if it’s digging for some uncooked treat that it can’t wait to eat.
Is it searching for a maggot or a black and bloated tongue?
Answers to these questions, I have none.

A hundred hungry vultures now have landed on the ground.
I see them creep toward me without warning, without sound
the sky goes black and red, and I no longer care for earthly things.
My everlasting soul has taken wing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let's Go Shopping

A Limerick By Tracy Farr

I once saw Big Foot at the mall.
The monster wore nothing at all.
He was looking for spats,
Leather jackets and hats,
But all that he tried were too small.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Goodbye to an old friend I never really knew

I don't remember Tim's last name.

Tim was my barber. He cut my hair for almost 20 years. And even though it got thinner and thinner on top, Tim could still find a few hairs that needed to be looked after.

Tim knew where I worked, he knew my family, he knew about my motorcycle/banjo/goat/airplane addictions, but better yet, he knew exactly how I liked my hair.

But I hardly knew anything about him, and now he's retired -- off to do whatever it is that retired barbers do -- and some guy named Tom has taken his place, and I don't know what to think anymore.

Tom seems to be a nice guy, and I probably should give him a chance, but change is hard.

I've given some thought to letting my hair grow long (the one or two that CAN grow long), be the hippy I always wanted to be, just in honor of my old friend, Tim.

More than likely I'm going to give my hair-cutting business to Tom.

Tom, my new barber, whose last name I forget.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Elaina

A sonnet by Tracy Farr

In the light of the moon I see a girl.
It’s Elaina, my love from long ago.
She’s rising from a mist that doesn’t stir.
Where she comes from, I do not want to know.
Her lips are stained a rosy shade of dead.
Her cheeks, no longer pink, are moonlit white.
Her raven hair streaks outward from her head.
Her once green eyes are blacker than the night.
With no sound she screams at me a question,
“Why did you have to leave me there to die?”
Speechless, I recall my indiscretion.
Oh selfish, careless, heartless youth was I.
She’s come to take me; where, I do not know.
Likely, to places I’d rather not go.

Elaina

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Now for something different

I had this thought this morning:

Our bodies are made up of cells that live and then are cast off. When our bodies can't create or repair those cells, we die.

Is it possible that we, as individuals, are just cells to a collective human body? And when humanity can no longer create or repair us, then humanity will die?

And if that is so, is it possible that humanity itself is just a cell to a greater body that is beyond our comprehension to understand?

I thought about all this as I was driving to work this morning -- before running over a curb.

So let this be a lesson to you:

Don't Think and Drive!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Hazardous Laugh

By Tracy Farr

My friend Harry is so hilarious,
He makes me laugh my head off three times a day.

Most times I find it down circling my feet,
But this time it's rolled clean away.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Low Can it Go? Part 4

Speaking about the Texas drought -- I took this photo of Lake Bob Sandlin (the cove behind our house) on Wednesday:

How Low Can it Go? Part 4

To give you a more overall few of the whole thing, I took this one, too:

How Low Can it Go? Part 4

We had some Texas rain sometime ago, but not enough to help the lakes -- and they keep getting lower, and lower, and lower, and...

Want to compare photos of the lake? Go HERE.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm a Zombie

It's Scary Poetry Month 2011, and here's a Zombie poem.

I'm a Zombie

By Tracy D. Farr

I'm a Zombie, yes I am.
I don't eat chicken, can't stand ham.
I only like to dine on meat.
Noses, livers, brains and feet.
I like it raw, from child or man.
I'm a Zombie, yes I am.


I'm a Zombie

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Growing Pains

Okay, here it is, my first poem in honor of Scary Poetry Month 2011:

Growing Pains

By Tracy D. Farr

My Daddy is a werewolf,
My Grandma is a ghoul.
My Mother is a Zombie Queen
who likes to spit and drool.
My sister is a gremlin,
And my brother is a bat.
I have a million cousins who
infest the house like rats.

But me, I'm just a normal kid,
I am not strange or scary.
Except I have just one big eye
And a tongue that's really hairy.

Growing Pains

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A month of scary poems

Hey, this is October, and that means it's once again "Scary Poetry Month."

In honor of the month, I shall endeavor to present you with a spooky, scary, creepy poem each and every Tuesday and Thursday. Fortunately for me, this is Saturday, and I still have time to come up with some spooky, scary, creepy poems.

While you're waiting, see what I wrote for "Scary Poetry Month 2010."

Okay, so most of them are not so scary.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just checking in

I'm trying to give myself time to mature before I come back to writing, but I think my immaturity is a strength.

I'm so conflicted.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Truth comes out

After years of denying who I am and how I feel...

After a lifetime of hiding the true me from my family and friends...

Having failed at trying to be what others want me to be...

I've decided to stop being ashamed and embrace the truth:

I am a cartoon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pause Button

Sometimes when my fantasy job (writer, photographer, cartoonist) interferes with my real job (teacher, bus driver), it's time for me to stop and reflect on the meaning of life.

But not for long, or someone might measure me for a coffin.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's been a cruel, cruel summer

Contrary to previous reports, Summer 2011 is not over.

After waking up to early morns in the low 60s and highs in the mid 80s for the past few days, the Texas heat gave us a big kick in the butt today with a high of 106.

Not only that, but the National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch for our area today which means hot retorts could burn the state to a crisp.

If this heat sticks around until December, I'm moving to Antartica.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dining With Grasshoppers

By Tracy D. Farr

My name is Fred;
I don’t care what you say.
I like to eat my food
In bites just this way.
And if you disturb me
I’ll hop on your face,
And chew on your nose
Without saying the grace.

Yes, my name is Fred,
Now just leave me alone,
Or I’ll call my friends
And we’ll eat up your home.

Dining With Grasshoppers

Friday, September 9, 2011

The heat is gone, but drought and wildfires linger on

I live less than 60 miles from a wildfire that has claimed two lives and destroyed more than 1,300 acres. You can see the smoke plumes from my house and they are visibile on satellite photos of the area.

This past weekend, a co-worker and her family were evacuated from their home for awhile while another wildfire burned north of us.

Wednesday night a small fire broke out just up the road from us, with about 10 fire trucks and related vehicles on scene.

And Thursday I had to take a detour on my bus route because a fire had broken out near one of my rider's home.

I found this spider on my porch, and he didn't seem to be giving the fires any thought at all.

Big Spider

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The heat is gone

This past weekend was just like all the other weekends of the Texas Summer of 2011 -- hot, hot, and damn hot.

But Monday morning, Labor Day, a cool front came through and the morning temperature was a chilly 65. And then the high for the day was in the mid 80s. When Tuesday morning came around, I had to wear extra layers on my motorcycle ride to work because the temperature had dropped into the mid 50s.

The only thing we Texans are worried about now are the grassfires -- that and the possibility that Rick Perry could become president.

It's the end times, I tell ya'. The end times!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Summertime Goat Poem

I have these two goats. Sometimes I write about them. Sometimes I threaten to turn them into goat burgers. But they don't listen. They just sit and eat and contemplate the meaning of their existence, I suppose.

What Goats Would Think About If They Could

By Tracy D. Farr

I have two goats that like to sit
And contemplate why they exist
Outside, when each would rather be
Inside, both watching Goat TV.

"My dearest Mother,
I would so like it if we
could sneak inside and see
our favorite show 'CSI: Goat Farm.'
I promise not to harm
the upholstery
if you would just come and sit with me."

"My dearest child,
the last time we went wild
and entered their house, they went beserk
when they found us watching the 'Cable Goat Network.'
So if you don't mind,
It's best for our kind,
To sit here and munch on whatever we find."

So there my goats do eat and sit
And contemplate why they exist
Outside, which ain't so bad, it's true.
'Tis better than being turned into goat stew.

The Goats

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lessons never learned

The first hot link is always the best.

After Hot Link Number 8, you can't remember why in the hell you ever grilled a dozen, but you can't stop eating them with only a couple more to go, so you don't -- but you wish you had, and the next day you feel like crap.

You would think over the years I'd learn this lesson, but I haven't.

I love Pittsburg Hot Links.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Home improvement shopping quandry

It's not right that small towns like mine should have a Lowe's AND a Home Depot. Sure, the more McDonalds and Burger Kings in town the merrier, but when you have more than one home improvement store, THEN you have to decide where you're going to shop.

And I hate making decisions like that.

Do you shop at the one that's closest to your home, or do you shop at the one with the better prices?

Do you shop at the one with the friendliest helpers, or do you shop at the one with the biggest parking lot?

Or maybe you shop at the one where you know someone who's working there -- your next door neighbor, or your own child.

Well, I decided to base MY decision on something completely different: The name of the store.

Lowe's doesn't really have much meaning to me. It actually sounds a bit depressing. Instead of calling it Lowe's, why didn't they call it High's? Sounds more positive I think.

Home Depot, on the other hand, has more meaning.

"Home" is where you live, where you eat, what you need to fix before the walls come tumbling down. And "Depot" conjurs up images of trains and railroads, The Orient Express, Bing Crosby riding up to Vermont to sing and dance to help "the old man" bring in a White Christmas.

So for me, it's Home Depot all the way.

Not a very scientific way to base a decision, but these sort of things never are.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Home Depot sweet home

When I get home from a hard day at work, my family may nod their heads in my direction, or grunt a hello, but that's about it.

When I walk into Home Depot, four people ask if they can help me before I even remember what I came in to get.

When I'm at home and can't find a hammer to nail up a picture, nobody gives me any sympathy because they all know that I was the last one to use the hammer, and I didn't put it back in its proper place.

When I'm at Home Depot looking for a hammer, somebody will point me to the correct aisle, tell me exactly what each hammer is good for, and thank me for buying one.

When I leave the house for work, everybody is asleep and can't wish me a good day.

When I leave Home Depot, everybody is awake and begs me to come back anytime I like.

I'm not really trying to imply anything; these are just observations of my life.

Have a nice day!

Friday, September 2, 2011

I've got to change my evil ways

I have a friend. He and I are the same age. He's in great shape, but ...

... he just went through a quadruple bypass heart surgery.

I, on the other hand, am not in great shape.

I think about exercising, but that's about it.

Sometimes I eat Klondike bars for supper.

I'm so totally screwed!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How low can it go? Part 2

How low can it go? Part 3

Two days ago, my neighbors across "the lake" were out mowing the grass under their boat dock. See what the lake looked like 28 days ago HERE!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are you my momma?

Another Monday morning


I found this little fella hanging on tight to a limb. His mother was in the next tree hollering at him to fly. I can just imagine this little guy saying, "Now why would I want to jump out of a perfectly good tree?"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Going into 'Facebook Stealth Mode'

I haven't posted a Facebook status update since August 5. That's a whoppin' 24 days, an eternity in the land of Facebook. Sure, I've posted a few cartoons and commented on others' post during that time, but other than that, I've been in "Stealth Mode."

I've decided to do more listening than proclaiming.

People don't listen well. They can talk your ear off with no problem, but when it comes to listening -- truly listening -- they haven't got a clue.

SHE: Did I tell you about the time I wrecked my car?
HE: Yes you did.
SHE: It was the most awful experience I've ever had, let me tell you about it.

Truly listening begins when you are honestly interested (or at least pretend to be interested) in what the other person is saying. You show that interest by eye contact, nodding at appropriate times, and saying things like, "Oh really?", and "I know, I know," and "How awful for you."

And then you ask questions:

HE: I don't know if I'll be able to pull that engine today. I broke my leg.
CO-WORKER: How did you do that?
HE: Ice Skating.
CO-WORKER: In the summer? Where?
HE: Mall.

Questions lead to more questions. Answers spur the conversation forward, and in the end it's all about the other person -- and not you trying to "one up" the other.

HE: I don't know if I'll be able to pull that engine today. I broke my leg.
CO-WORKER: I broke my leg once. Back in high school. I had a car wreck.
HE: Uh, I broke it this weekend when I went ice skating at the mall with my kids.
CO-WORKER: My best friend Chuck broke his arm last year ice skating. Cost him big time.
HE: Do you think you can pull that engine for me today?
CO-WORKER: That's why I never go ice skating. I just know I'll fall and break my butt.

I once heard two people talk at each other for 15 minutes and neither one really heard what the other was saying. It was so exhausting to hear two stories going on at the same time that I almost screamed and ran away:

HE: We went fishing this weekend.
SHE: I used to fish when I was a kid, too.
HE: We caught eight trout.
SHE: My Dad would take us deep sea fishing off the coast.
HE: Sometimes we fish in the river, and sometimes on a lake.
SHE: We'd always fish off a big boat that we rented and fished for marlin.
HE: We're going back next weekend.
SHE: One time I got seasick and puked over the rail, but only once.

For me, Facebook (and Twitter even more so) reinforces those non-conversational conversation skills which make us poor conversationalist out in the "real" world.

ME: So, how was your summer?
HE: You need to look at my Facebook. OMG we rocked.
ME: So, I guess you went somewhere?
HE: You mean you haven't seen all my posts? You ARE my friend, aren't you?
ME: Oh sure, but I guess I missed it. So where'd you go.
HE: Just go back and check my profile, you'll find everything thing. We had a blast.
ME: Yeah, sure. As soon as I get home. I can't wait.

I used to do Facebook stuff quite regularly, but I've decided to give it a rest for awhile. Maybe I'll jump back on when I have something to say. Or maybe I won't. Only time will tell.

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." -- Winnie the Pooh

Friday, August 26, 2011

Monty Python and the search for the ...

I so much want to like Monty Python movies...

...but I just can't.

I feel like such a loser.

(run away, run away)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

7 Get-Those-Creative-Juices-Flowing Activities

There’s no such thing as “writer’s block.” There are plenty of detours, dead ends, merges, yields, stop signs and U-turns, but an actual blockage in writing? I ain’t buying it.

It’s an excuse.

Sure, we all experience times when we can’t figure out what’s going to happen next in our story, or we get stuck on how to say something in just the right way. And the more we work on it and fret about it, the further away the solution appears to be. But that’s not “writer’s block.”

That’s just a sign that you’ve been sitting in your chair for way too long, and you need to take a break so your mind can do magical things all by itself.

So here are 7 Get-Those-Creative-Juices-Flowing Activities that I indulge in to help me get over any writing speed bumps:

Eat ice cream – A bowl of Cookies n’ Cream covered in chocolate syrup usually does it for me. And if I’m still stuck after the first bowl, there’s always room for a little more.

Read the newspaper – I usually read the newspaper to criticize it. Not that I’m all Mr. Perfect or anything, but it makes me feel better knowing that I’m a much better writer than a lot of people who are actually getting paid to do it.

Take photographs of birds – You have to be perfectly still and quiet to take bird photos. Stillness helps the mind recover. Quietness puts you in touch with your inner muse. If you’re lucky, an adventurous bird will use your shoulder as a perch. If you're unlucky, the bird will poop on your shoulder, but at least you'll have something new to write about.

Pee – I usually get new ideas while I’m using the toilet, like “That’s what I forgot to put on my shopping list – toilet paper.”

Wash the dishes – When you’re washing the dishes by hand, it’s all about soap, water and greasy spoons. Your mind meanders, your mind plays, your mind wonders why YOU are always the one to do the dishes, especially since you have kids in the house who are perfectly capable of washing their own. And that includes your no-good wife who’s always sitting on the couch, drinking beer, belching while watching ESPN, and not giving a care to the fact that you’d much rather be writing than scrubbing pots and pans. And don’t get me started on washing clothes.

Think of creative excuses for not mowing the yard – Creative is the key word here. “I don’t want to,” just doesn’t cut it anymore. “My eardrums have been invaded by nano-mites, and any sound louder than a coffee maker percolating my favorite cup of java is just too much for me to handle. Maybe the kids should mow the yard while I wash the dishes and contemplate the meaning of my existence. And why isn't the wife doing it? Because she's sitting on the couch watching ESPN, yelling at the TV and scratching herself in very unlady-like places,” is a much more obscenely-creative excuse.

Play the banjo – It’s the only thing that puts a smile on MY face these days.

And there you have it. Maybe one of these activities will spur your brain into finding the solutions you seek. Just don't go overboard on the "creative excuses" advice. You want to sleep INSIDE the house, don't ya?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Sad Little Poem

By Tracy D. Farr

One little bird,
Two little birds.
There goes the cat,
No little birds.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My little backyard adventure

Since Saturday's afternoon temperature was forecasted to reach 108 (which it eventually did), I decided to do a bit of yard work early in the morning, long before the sun had a chance to beat me up.

But first, I started my morning on the couch in front of the computer.

I checked this, I checked that, I loaded a photo or two, I did a bit of news reading, and then as it was getting a bit brighter outside, I put on my shoes and headed outside.

It was already in the upper 80s.

My first project was to remove a fallen poison ivy-covered tree from out of the driveway. I pushed and pulled and cut and sawed, and only managed to move it a little bit, but enough so we could get our cars around it. I then made a note to burn all my poison ivy-covered clothes.

Next, it was time to feed the goats, water the plants, and cut down some weeds from the back of the house -- the side that faces east and was already being molested by the morning sun.

So, I cut and chopped and raked and pulled, and gave all that green nasty stuff to the goats to eat. Goats just love green nasty stuff.

At 8:30 a.m., with sweat streaming down my back and face, I called it a day, headed for the showers, and that was that.

Not much of an adventure, but since it's too hot to go hiking, that's all I got.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thanks for visiting, but ...

Thanks for visiting, but can you hold on a bit? I'm right in the middle of drawing a cartoon and I'm at that crucial stage where just one little distraction can mean the difference between me getting it done or taking a nap instead.

I should have finished it last week, but I've been doing school-related stuff (classes begin Monday), and I've just been too busy (sleeping from total exhaustion).

Hopefully I'll have it done so you can see it tomorrow (but I wouldn't bet on it if I were you).

So, you understand? You don't mind me not being social with you today? Are you sure?

Thanks!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Survival tips for snorers

My wife is waiting for me to die so she can sleep in peaceful slumber without having to hear me snore. Of course she denies it, but a guy can tell.

Here are five ways to keep your wife from wishing your demise, whether it be naturally or by blunt-force trauma.

1. If you’re spouse constantly complains about your snoring, sleep in a different part of the house or maybe even outside. If she complains about THAT, then she’s eyeing your insurance policy. Snorer beware.

2. Exercise and drop some weight. It may or may not keep you from snoring, but at least your body will be healthier and able to fight off the effects of any poison she might secretly slip into your macaroni and cheese.

3. Always pick up your dirty socks. She’s mad enough as it is about your snoring. You don’t need to give her another excuse to “off” you, as well as a weapon in which to do it.

4. Apologize profusely if your snoring has given her another sleepless night – preferably in the morning before she’s had time to load the shotgun.

5. Try duct tape. It fixes everything.

And there you have it. If that doesn’t solve anything, don’t call me. I’ve got my own problems.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Industrious Gary Trundle

By Tracy D. Farr

Little Gary Trundle loves to stay indoors all day.
He doesn't like to play outside, instead he’d rather laze upon the
couch and watch his TV shows and eat and eat and eat.
Little Gary's never been petite.

On Thursday, Gary’s mother said, “Now you go out and play.
Go ride a bike, go walk the dog, do something except laze around the
house all day.” And Gary did. He went right out the door,
and headed to the woodshed to explore.

Gary found a hammer and some nails and lots of wood.
He had a grand idea and he was pretty sure he could be finished
in a day or two of working morning, noon and night.
Little Gary toiled with all his might.

He cut the wood, he nailed the nails, he measured once then twice.
He sanded all the rough parts till the wood was smooth and nice just like a
carpenter would do, and then he brought out brush and paint.
He splattered blues and reds without restraint.

Gary soon was finished and his project was complete.
An ultra secret clubhouse with a couch and old TV that he turns
on and watches when his mother sends him out to play.
And that’s how Gary Trundle spends his day.

And on the door he hung a painted sign that does convey:
“Girls and Moms not wanted. STAY AWAY.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

Some of my Backyard Buddies

I so much wanted to do some more trail hiking these past few weeks (now that I have a hankering to do so), but this Summer 2011 Heatwave has kept me close to home -- and the air conditioner.

Instead, I've been venturing out to the shady front porch to see just what kinds of critters I can see.

And here are a few of my backyard buddies:

Listen to the Mockingbird

This Mockingbird dive-bombed our cat, probably because the cat was after one of its chicks. Hit him right in the belly, he did, but the cat still had his breakfast.

My little Chickadee

W.C. Fields would always say, "Ah, yes. My little Chickadee," but I don't think he was talking about the birds.

Baby Cardinal

I tried to get a photo of the Momma Cardinal, but she was too wary of my lens. The baby Cardinal on the other hand didn't have a clue.

Tufted Titmouse

I just like saying "Tufted Titmouse." It sounds so naughty.

The Flying Dragon

Okay, so Dragonflies are not birds, but they fly around my backyard and that makes them one of my buddies -- a buddy I'd never have over for a beer, but a buddy just the same.


Shared with World Bird Wednesday.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The trouble with drawing Tribbles

Okay, this is the last of my Star Trek cartoons.

Since I have a tough time drawing people that actually look like the people I'm trying to draw, I decided to go the quick and easy way by drawing Captain Kirk without actually drawing him.

So I spent a good long time drawing a bunch of Tribbles, and about 10 minutes drawing Kirk's arm and hand. Seemed like the perfect solution.

And then I asked my wife what SHE thought of my hard work.

"It looks like he's in a pile of poop."

A pile of poop?

"Yep, they're all swirly and brown, but it's okay, I still love you."

I decided not to redraw the whole thing because it would have been too much tribble.

Kirk's in tribble now

Saturday, August 13, 2011

And finally ...

... a break in the weather.

Rain.

I had almost forgotten what it looked like.

Summer Band Camp 2011

August in Texas means Marching Band. Sure, there's some football stuff going on, too, I guess, but compared with flags and tuba players and drum majors kicking up their heels, football is just the side show.

And you can't have a good Marching Band without Summer Band Camp.


Trumpet

What's Band Camp like, you ask?

Sweat. Heat and sweat. Heat, sweat, and hoping there's enough ice and water to keep band members from passing out on the practice field.

Tuba

Have you ever held a sousaphone? It's heavy. Even the fiberglass ones. And then when it's showtime and the silver monsters come out, you feel like you have a car perched on your shoulder. And they expect you to play music, march in step, and do it with style?

You bet.

Sax

Saxophones look and sound so cool. That's why a lot of beginners want to play them. But look at all those buttons, and imagine yourself marching on a field, trying to make perfect formations while playing each note correctly -- and at the same time ignoring the sweat that's dripping off your nose.

Playing saxophone ain't for the timid.

Trombone

And then there are the trombone players with their never-stopping slides going in and out, in and out. Not only does the rest of the band have to get to their correct spots at the correct time while playing the correct music, but they have to be wary of where the trombone players are.

Getting hit by one is not pleasant.

Snare

But of course all the world wants to be a drummer. And can you blame them? Drummers have permission to hit things, loudly, over and over again until someone screams for mercy.

The drummers can't hear the screams because they're playing so loud.

There are a lot of other players in the band: flute players, clarinetists, French horn guys and gals, baritone gurus, as well as guard members and drum majors.

Put them all together and you have Marching Band -- "The Greatest Show on Earth -- and Astroturf."

Photos shared with Creative Exchange

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Six Words of Wisdom for College-Bound Kids

My two sons are heading back to college after a summer break, and I made sure they heard these six fatherly words of wisdom:

1. Study hard, get good grades, pass your classes, and drink your fair share of beer, but don’t overdo it – the beer drinking, that is.

2. Don’t get some pretty little girl pregnant until you’ve conquered the world and have sent me a postcard proving it.

3. Brush your teeth before going to class. That’s a request from your mother.

4. Don’t spend all your time studying. Get out and meet people, do things, go places, and if you’re heading to the beach for spring break, send me some pictures (you know what of).

5. Fry yourself an egg every now and then to keep your breakfast-cooking skills sharp. You’re a Farr. You have breakfast-making standards to uphold.

6. Graduate as soon as you can. Your mother and I want to go on a cruise.

Yep, I think that just about covers everything.




My boys, before they grew up.

Monday, August 8, 2011

How low can it go?

How low can it go? Part 2

I live near the lake, but I don't have lake-front property. If this Texas drought continues, neither will my neighbors.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You think THAT was hot?

Oh, what a wussy little baby I was.

Last month, on 14 July, I complained about a forecast that was predicting high temperatures between 99-101.

Look what August has done to us:

Aug 1 --109

Aug 2 -- 110

Aug 3 -- 110

Aug 4 -- 109

Aug 5 -- 106

Aug 6 -- 106

And now the predictions for the upcoming week (a cool front, actually!)

Today, Aug. 7 -- 105

Monday, Aug 8 -- 102

Tuesday, Aug 9 -- 102

Wednesday, Aug 10 -- 102

Thursday, Aug 11 -- 101

Time to get out the winter clothes!
Summer Band Camp 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to exercise in secret

I would never go to a gym to exercise because the other patrons would know exactly why I’m there – to try and cheat death for just one more day.

And I can just hear them saying: “You got to give the old fellow credit for at least trying. Too bad he didn’t start earlier.”

Oh, how judgmental they are. Them and their sweaty biceps. Lifting weights, doing sit-ups, running on treadmills as if they actually enjoyed it – but I know better. They’re doing all this exercise stuff to prove that they are young and ripped and can “get the girl” on physique alone, while I am old and flabby and better not look at ANY girl because the wife at home sees all, knows all, and has access to sharp knives.

No, whenever I get the gumption to stray from the couch and exercise, I do it on my own terms, in my own way, and in such a way that nobody would ever guess I was trying to outrun the Grim Reaper.

For example, the backward and forward motion of fly-casting is guaranteed to do some good for any muscles that might be associated with the arm. Granted, the weight resistance is minimal, but an abundance of repetitions makes it better than pushups, better than chin-ups, and a tasty meal is included.

Speaking of food, I always put the high-quality stuff (cookies, cheese puffs, potato chips) high up in the pantry to force me to stretch out before any physical exertions. And then I head to the fridge, doing deep knee bends to reach the salsa or bean dip that I’ve put on the lowest shelf.

After a good stretch, it’s off to the couch for some leg lifts. With my body in a relaxed, seated position and feet planted firmly on the floor, I grab the remote with my right hand, lift legs to the coffee table, press the play button to enhance my workout with the current Netflix movie of the day, hold for 10 to 20 minutes, lower legs to the floor, and repeat to the end of the movie.

My two-hour leg lift workout is followed by a quick almost-healthy snack, then a power nap.

Cardiovascular exercise is great for producing a stronger heart, and that’s why, two times a week, I combine my leg lift workout with a scary movie. If those zombies, serial killers, space aliens, ghosts, vampires or giant spiders can’t get your heart a’ pumping, then nothing will.

Finally, for a full-body workout, my wife gives me a shopping list and I head out to endure a brisk walk through Wal-Mart. Since my goal is to get out of there as quickly as possible, I dodge around shoppers, dart down aisles, grab and toss into the cart whatever is on the list, avoid anybody I know who might want to chat and slow down my workout, then head to the checkout lane where my heart goes into overdrive at how much all this stuff is going to cost me.

Then it’s out to the car, throw everything in the trunk, head home where I throw everything on the counter, then make my way to the couch for a relaxing cool down session of yoga meditation, which looks similar to an afternoon nap, but isn’t. I swear.

Yes, indeed. The Grim Reaper is going to have a hard time catching me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Six Tips for Maintaining a Successful Marriage

After 26 years of marriage, I’ve learned a thing or two that I would like to pass on:

1. When your spouse starts to nag, don't get overly annoyed. Just hum a song. After 26 years you’ll know a heckuva lot of songs and you’ll be a hit at every party.

2. Your spouse knows how to drive a car much better than you, so nod your head, keep your mouth shut and remember YOU are the one who's driving, and even though you secretly have a mind to stop and put everyone out and make them walk, you're not going to – but you COULD.

3. If your spouse says, “WE need to get the oil changed in the car,” it really means YOU need to do it, so get your lazy butt off the couch and get it done.

4. Use phrases that will keep the status quo, like: Yes dear, no dear, of course dear, it's my fault, I'll get right to it, whatever you say dear, I'll never let it happen again dear, and I’m sorry. Try not to use phrases that will rock the boat, like: Oh yes I will, hell no, it ain't MY fault, you SHOULD be sorry, I ain't getting up till this game is over, I'm not listening to you, and oh well that's life. If you decide to rock the boat, make doubly sure you know how to swim.

5. Never lie, you’ll get caught every time. For example:

SHE – “Did you wash your hands before cooking that meat?
YOU – “Yes dear.”
SHE – “Did you wash your hands after touching the meat?”
YOU – “Yes dear.”
SHE – “Did you wash your hands after you used the bathroom?”
YOU – “Yes dear.”
SHE – “Did you wash your hands before you washed your hands?”
YOU – “What?”
SHE – “I knew it. Go wash your hands.”

6. Never give up control of the remote. Some things ARE worth fighting for.

And that’s it. I hope these tips help you, and if they don't, I wouldn't be surprised.

This is a photograph of my wife and I before we were married,
before we had kids, before we took on a mortgage
and car payments,and WAY before I lost my hair.
 Ah, them were the good old days!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Down by the garden

Even in the Texas summer heat, my neighbor knows how to make her garden grow.

More Flowers

Statue and Flowers

Bird cabins

She has the coolest place in the neighborhood.

Photos shared with Creative Exchange

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Which way to the Nuclear Wessels?

Anybody can draw Spock. Draw a guy with pointy ears and there you have it. But there's nothing special about Ensign Chekov...

..except for his accent.

Chekov

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

I prefer Hollywood on DVD

The best way to get your money’s worth out of seeing a new movie at the cinema is to wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it at home.

Of course some may say that watching a new release on a big screen is far superior than watching it on a small screen, but I dub those people as movie snobs and don’t associate with them. And by golly, if they dare say my 13-inch, 25-year-old TV is not good enough for Hollywood, then they’re saying I’m not good enough either, which may be the truth, but who’s counting?

I used to go to the cinema to watch movies, but that was during the heyday of neighborhood single-movie theater houses. I still remember the box office, the red carpet, the chandelier, the golden rope guarded by a bowtie-wearing usher who actually took your ticket; I remember the plush seats, the dimming of the lights, the raising of the curtain, and then cuddling up on the back row with my sweetheart until that usher guy came and shined a light in our faces, spoiling the whole mood.

Harold was his name. It was printed on his nametag. He had onion breath. I still have bad dreams about the whole incident and would rather not talk about it. In fact, I’ve said too much already.

I went to a movie the other day, against my better judgment, and the kid sitting next to me kept stepping on my toes every time he got up to go pee. Why he didn’t take care of his business before the movie started only his parents know because I wasn’t curious enough to ask.

And then I noticed that a lot of people were getting up to go pee during the movie, either that or getting more popcorn. People coming, people going, people stumbling up and down the stairs, people saying, “Excuse me,” and “I’m sorry,” and “I promise this is the last time,” children giggling, fathers cursing, babies having their noses blown, others talking, slurping their drinks, getting up to go pee again.

In the old days, the atmosphere of the theater was one of the things that made going to a movie so great. Today’s cinemas have the atmosphere of a crowded New York subway station in July, where the person beside you just picked your pocket and smells like he pooped his pants.

A movie on my own small screen is so much more relaxing (and aromatically pleasing).

First off, I know who sat in the chair before me. Me.

If I need more to eat or drink, the icebox is just a short walk away.

If I need to pee, I can pause the movie and restart it on my return.

And if I like the movie, I can watch it again without paying for another ticket.

Yes, I do miss cuddling up on the back row with some curvaceous brunette, but it’s not worth it these days – especially since my wife has a shotgun and excellent aim.


This is me standing outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
As you can tell, this photo was taken back in my much younger movie-going heyday!
Today I much prefer Netflix.





Thursday, July 28, 2011

What was that again?

Putting together a newspaper, whether it be national or small-town, is a BIG JOB. Millions of words have to be spelled correctly, names have to be right, photos have to match stories, headlines have to entice the reader to read -- and all of these are subject to criticism by us, the reading public.

It's not right, but that's just how it is.

Speaking of headlines...I ran across a few headlines recently in my local daily that made me pause and ask, "What was that again?" They just hit me as funny, or confusing, and I thought I'd share:

American
orders 460
new airplanes

I thought to myself, "Holy cow, that must have been some wealthy American."

Preparedness net stretched taut across county

Shoot, how could I have missed THAT?

Hess remains
exhumed, then
cremated

Sounds to me like ole Hess escaped and didn't want to go back, but now he's cremated and that's that.

Bjorn roars in return to site of 2003 meltdown

Well, since I don't understand a WORD of that one, it must be sports related.

And finally, my favorite one of the week:

Orange man
gets prison time
for fatal crash

I thought as a society we were way beyond identifying people by race or color. It doesn't matter if the person is black, white, brown, yellow or orange. What matters is that the story tells us who, what, where, when and why, and in a manner that doesn't make us think, "Who is running this paper anyway -- third graders?"

(By the way, the man was from Orange, Texas, and wasn't really orange.)

Okay, I'll shut up now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hummingbirds Are Curious Things

On our recent trip to Colorado, I sat on the porch one day and took photographs of hummingbirds.

Boy are they fast.

Hummingbird don't fly away, fly away


Hummingbirds Are Curious Things

By Tracy D. Farr

Hummingbirds are curious things,
they’d rather hum instead of sing
or whistle, scream, shout and shriek
like humans do, and I believe
that if those hummers perservered
to sing a song, and let us hear,
it would not sound like rap or rock,
or country western, blues or pop,
but sound it would like angels singing,
rivers flowing, love birds winging
through the sky and out beyond
the flower grove, out way beyond
where you and I can ever hear
the songs they sing, but will not share.
Instead, they hum, they do not sing.
Which makes us think they're curious things.

Hummingbird

Shared with World Bird Wednesday

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hiking around Big Meadows Reservoir

I stood there looking at the trail around Big Meadows Reservoir and thought to myself, "Piece of cake. Take us 30-45 minutes. We'll be back in the car and heading back to the river to fish in no time."

Let's Take Pictures
Looking from the trailhead, you can see all the way around the lake -- and that's what makes the length of the trail look deceptively short. But I didn't know that at the time. All I was thinking of was the family and I were about to enjoy a "walk in the park."

These two yahoos are part of my family. Daughter and son. The rock their standing on is the same rock I stood on as a kid, getting MY photo taken, and it's the same rock THEY stood on when THEY were little, with me taking THEIR photo, but now somehow the world is turned upside down and THEY are taking a photo of ME, and I must end this paragraph because we're wasting good hiking-story time.

Big Meadows Reservoir is in southern Colorado, 11 miles west of South Fork and before you get to Wolf Creek Pass. It is a 600-acre lake, which includes a campground (which is closed until 2012 for renovations according to the USDA Forest Service), a lot of wildflowers, good fishing, and a six-mile hiking trail.

It took us a couple of hours to hike, but it was so enjoyable I would have never guessed that it was that long. (Please understand, I'm new to this hiking and getting out to commune with nature thing, and even though six miles may not seem a lot to YOU, it sounds like forever to me.)

We're following the leader, the leader...

Every trip that I have ever taken to Colorado has included a trip to Big Meadows, but I'd never actually hiked around it. And now that I have, I'm putting it on our agenda for every time we return.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weather Update 24 July 2011

I'm tired of this stinkin' hot weather.

Today it was 104. Yesterday it was 100. So far, the temperature has been above 100 degrees every day in July. That's 24 days.

If we talk about "the streak," it's been above 100 for 27 days. June saw 15 days above 100, and all the rest were 95 or above.

Of course this hasn't beat any records.

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, 1980 was the year "the streak" went 69 days with above-100-degree temperatures.

SIXTY-NINE.

I've already told my family that if this year gets anywhere NEAR to breaking that record, we're moving to Alaska....

....or Antarctica.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Captain America Saves Family From Heat Wave

ReCap
The thermometer read 100 degrees Friday, the 25th day in a row of above-100-degree temperature here in East Texas. In total, June and July has seen 38 days of three-digit temperatures and all the other days have been 95 or above.

To say it's been hot is an understatement.

But then Captain America came to the rescue.

"Dad, you want to go see a movie?" asked my daughter Becky.

Movies mean darkness and air conditioning. Movies mean forgetting how hot it is for a few hours. And who else better to save us from the wretched heat than Captain America?

I wasn't a huge comic book fan growing up. I read comics, but I was nowhere near as fanatical about it as some people. Some people I know collect them, store them in little baggies and don't let their closest friends even breathe on them.

To me, they're comic books. Buy them, read them, stick 'em in a drawer or throw them under the bed.

But I really wanted to see the new Captain America movie. I even bought some Captain America comic books just to see what it was all about.

And I wasn't disappointed with the movie.

Of course I'm not going to tell you anything about it because that will spoil YOUR fun if you ever plan to go see it, but I will tell you this...

The greatest thing you can do in the world is take you kids to the movies. Becky and I had some good father/daughter bonding, and that in itself was worth the price of admission.

Go see the movie. Take your kids if you have any. Take someone else's kids if you don't. (But make sure you ask, first. I'd hate for the police to think you're a pervert and yank you out of the theater in handcuffs.)

Photo courtesy of Andy Roth at Flickr

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dress up your desktop like I do

This little squib isn't about me. Usually it's ALWAYS about me, but not this time. This is about Trey Ratcliff.

Trey Ratcliff is an amazing photographer. His work is truly stellar, and you can find it at Stuck In Customs. I use his photos to liven up my desktop. This is the photograph that is currently on my computer:




I peruse his site every day just to see what new and exciting photographs he posts. A lot of them end up on my desktop, and he's okay with that. His works are governed under the Creative Commons copyright model, and as long as you don't use his photos in a commercial manner, you're free to use them.






One of these days I hope to take photographs like Trey Ratcliff. But until then, I'll enjoy Stuck In Customs.

And YOU should TOO!