Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snow goats are better than no goats

It’s a sad, sad day when you wake up in the morning, look out the window and think to yourself, “Oh please, Lord, no more snow.”

I’m sure people up north think that very same thing all the time, probably even as the first snowflakes start to drop, but here in Texas where snow is almost an anomaly, it’s pert near sacrilege to badmouth it. But I did this past week, and I’m ashamed.

Last year when it snowed, my daughter and I built a snowperson – male on one side, female on the other. Even gave it a bikini to wear (on the gal side, of course). This winter, we just looked at photographs of Facebook-posted snowmen and thought it good enough.

Last winter we had running snowball fights with the only rule being “Don’t aim for the face,” which, of course, we ignored. This year, we had fights over who was going to brave a walk to the end of the driveway to get the mail.

Last year, not a single pipe broke underneath the house. This winter, I’ve been underneath there twice, and I’ve finally learned my lesson that it’s better to wrap the pipes when it’s warm and dry than to fix them when it’s cold and wet.

So yes, I looked out my front window and thought bad thoughts. And now that the snow is melting, and the backyard is getting soggy – the same backyard that has an old-timey septic tank underneath it – now I’m wondering how long it’ll be before my toilets stop flushing.

FYI – The only thing worse than living with a bunch of women who aren’t allowed to flush, is me forgetting not to do it then having to clean up the mess while they breathe hot fire down my neck.

Speaking of Valentine’s Day (which we weren’t, but I thought it best to change the subject), it’s right around the corner and if I don’t buy my wife a humongous heart-shaped box of Valentine chocolates – the one that almost takes a loan from the bank to buy – she’ll get a bit miffed, thinking I don’t love her. Funny thing is, she doesn’t eat those sugary things because of a blood-sugar-level-gone-wacky sort of condition she has.

I try to reason with her, saying me and the kids would be the only ones who’d get to eat them, but she doesn’t want to hear it. Her father gave her mother big heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for Valentines, and that’s how it should be done. No matter if she doesn’t eat a single bite.

I guess that’s why I’m better at talking about toilets, goats and banjos instead of women. I just don’t understand them.

Speaking of goats (which I did actually mention this time), so far they’ve made it though all this cold stuff with nary a complaint. At times, I thought I’d wake up and find a pair of goat-sicles in the backyard, their little hooves pointing skyward through the snow, but they were fine.

Not only did they survive, but on the third day of the “Mighty Snow Dusting of 2011,” I caught them chasing each other, round and round the backyard, having a good old-fashioned snowball fight. They were having such a good time they even stopped to build a snowgoat, a snow fort, and then stretched out to make snow goat angels.

After all that, those two goats made themselves some hot cocoa and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the sun. How they were able to wrap those hooves around their coffee mugs, I never figured out – and probably never will.

Seeing those goats made me stop and think. If a little snow can’t get them down, then I sure as shootin’ shouldn’t let it get me down. So next snow, things will be different. I’ll be all out in it, knee deep and having fun. You just try to stop me.

P.S. – I have no idea what I would do with a pair of goat-sicles. They’re too big to fit in the freezer, and you get hair all over your tongue if you try to lick them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

They shall know us by our guitars

I’m quite sure it’s written somewhere that a Texan must be able to play guitar. More than likely it’s actually a part of the Texas Constitution, added sometime before statehood to help keep the riffraff out.

But don’t worry if you can’t strum a decent G chord or barre a respectable F. There’s a lot of folks who can’t, and none of them as of yet have been kicked out of the state. (And then there are some who can that should have never been allowed to stay as long as they have.)

Anyways, a guitar is a beautiful instrument to hear, but there’s a lot of quirkiness that goes along with playing one. First off, it has six strings but you’re expected to form chords with only four fingers. Sure, you could use your thumb on some of those chords, but that still leaves you behind 5 to 6. And the positions you have to get in to actually use your thumb make slipping a disc or tearing a hernia a great possibility.

I’ve heard of a man who tried to use his thumb on a major chord once, only to end up in the hospital with a broken collar bone, a herniated disk, torn ligaments in his right knee and a sprained wrist. He hiked up his thumb to the E string and fell right out of his chair into a nearby china cabinet. Fortunately, his thumb made it through without a scratch, which just proves that God has a wicked sense of humor.

Speaking of strings, guitars can either have steel strings or nylon strings. The nylon ones produce a mellow tone and are easier on your fingers. The steel ones rough up your fingers until they’re nothing more than bloody stumps, making it almost impossible to do simple things like snapping your fingers or picking your nose.

Most budding guitarists start off with steel strings because they don’t know any better, and when they do know better, stick with the steel because they don’t want to change to nylons and be seen as sissy. Besides, they figure if they change strings, they’ll lose their newly-formed super-callused fingertips which come in handy when pushing in tacks or roofing nails. It’s definitely a pride and ego thing.

Did you notice the hole in the center of the guitar? Most guitars have them. It’s not a mistake made at the factory that needs to be fixed with duct tape. It’s there to enhance the sound of the strings and to catch your pick when it slips out of your fingers. Guitar players are always dropping their picks. When I drop mine, the first place I look for it is in the hole. I currently have 27 picks inside my guitar. I’d dump them out, but they’d just end up back where they started. Better to leave well enough alone.

An electric guitar doesn’t have a hole in its middle, but it does have a lot of dials and switches, and a volume control. At first glance, that might seem a better design, but I’ve heard some being played that I wish had never been designed at all. I’m not sure if it was the guitar’s fault or the person who was playing it, but I guarantee I would have much preferred to listen to a chainsaw instead, and would have thought it a mite more musical.

I would like to now engage you in an intellectual and thoughtful discussion of why a guitar is shaped like a woman – but since I can’t, I won’t. Instead, let’s talk about banjos.

A banjo is not a guitar. It has just enough strings to match your fingers (and thumb). It does not have a hole in the front. You might could electrify one, but that would be just plain silly. It is not shaped like a woman, but more like an oar. If you’re caught in a flood with nothing but a banjo and a canoe, you’d probably be okay. A guitarist wouldn’t dare dip his instrument into a swollen stream to save his neck. A banjo player would and not think twice about it.

I’m pert near positive that there’s nothing written about banjos in the Texas Constitution, but I’m guessing that’s just an oversight. Given time, banjos will come into their own. Until then, I’m practicing my guitar like all good Texans should. How about you?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Note to myself:

Hey, don't you dare post another thing on this site unless you put enough freakin' time and effort into it to make it the best damn thing you can possibly make.

It's not good enough to post something every day just for the purpose of posting something every day.

So take a break, get your crapola together, and don't come back until you've turned yourself and your product into something a bit more spectacular.

Get along, now!