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?"

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

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)

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?

A Sad Little Poem

By Tracy D. Farr

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

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.

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?


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.

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.”

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.

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

And finally ...

... a break in the weather.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.

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.

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

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.

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!

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