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Water Main

Monday, 13 Apr 2015, 20:50 UTC


“Can I look in?” I asked.

He couldn’t hear me over the sound of the dump truck and started to climb out of the hole.

I walked closer.

“I was wondering if I could look in,” I said loudly.

“Sure,” he said. “Here’s the water main.”

He was standing in a pit about four feet deep on the east side of the street. His boots were a foot-deep in brown clay-y, ooze-y mud. He poked his shovel in the corner of the pit to show me the water main. I saw nothing but ooze-y, clay-y slop.


He pointed toward the middle of the street near where last night a guy named Derrick had sprayed bright yellow one-call marks locating the gas lines. 

“The water main might be leaking somewhere up there.” he said.

“A bit more street to dig up,” I said.

“Yep,” he said. “Not sure how far.” And then he glanced quickly up.

“I hope you weren’t planning to go to sleep until about 2 or 3am. We’ll be banging out here until then. And we just called in the big trucks.”

I laughed.


It’s 9:40pm now. There has been no crashing. No smashing. No banging. No big trucks.

And the fair and industrious Trudy just announced that the water is back on. 

Snakes, 1-2-3

Sunday, 05 Apr 2015, 19:56 UTC


The girls said there were snakes. Their coach said, “Those were earthworms!” The entire team objected. Days later, Trudy found a picture one of them had posted on Facebook, which were not even close to being earthworms.

Yes. They were snakes, albeit snakes covered in mud, but snakes without a doubt.


We stood in the street saying goodbye. We had eaten Tex-Mex (the best stacked enchiladas I’d ever had). We had played a rousing game of Scrabble. (He beat the tar out of the two of us.)

I pointed to to a spot in the street that was glistening in the streetlight light.

“A snake skin,” he said.

“No, a snake,” I said. “It was trying to get to our yard.”


The south side of the house is kind of a mess. Weeds and unmowed clumps of hard-to-reach grass and 4×4 posts I scrounged last year when the construction crew was disposing of our rickety, falling-down pergola.

Anyway, I walk by that mess many times each weekend going from the front yard to the back and from the back yard to the front. On the north side of the house, I have a rule of always stopping to pull a few weeds every time I pass. I don’t know why I haven’t followed the same rule on the south. So today I stopped and stooped and pulled a handful of greenery.

As I grabbed my last handful, there was a flickering movement, and I caught the tail end of something long and grey and wiggly slithering into a clump of leaves.

Yes. It was a snake. And this one had made it safely into our refugio. 

Unit Tests and Towels

Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015, 20:39 UTC

“Oh,” I groan as I shut my laptop. “I can’t keep doing this.” It’s long since been dark outside. It’s getting late. I can barely keep my eyes open. 

Trudy laughs from the other room.

“What are you chuckling at?” I ask as I wander that way.

“I was wondering when you’d figure that out,” she says. 

“I had to write some unit tests,” I say.

The fair and industrious Trudy comes walking out of the bedroom carrying a colorful pile of something in her hands. 

“I had some dish towels I had to fold.”

Vignettes from a Frisbee Tournament

Monday, 23 Mar 2015, 21:31 UTC

1. Upping The Score

A leading edge of dark clouds just passed over the sun. It’s mercifully cooler. A gentle breeze blowing out of the southwest. Blowing those clouds this way. Clouds dropping rain somewhere in the distance.

And the Pie Queens just upped the score 9-3.

2. Comes Smashing Down

In the distance on a field by the feeder road, the greens are playing the whites. There’s a low spot in that field. The lowest, the wettest, the muddiest spot in Retama Park. And that’s exactly where the greens have to play the whites. 

The frisbee is in the air. One of the whites sprints after it and launches herself into the air. Right in the wettest, muddiest part of that, the wettest, muddiest field, she goes airborne. And comes smashing, splashing, splotting down. With the frisbee in her hand.

3. Where You Have to Eat

Two girls come walking off the field. Maroon shirts. The Ninjas of Minnesota.

One of them looks over at the other, eyes wide open, and says, “Ok, now listen. You guys have to eat…” And now she claps her hands. “… at Torchy’s.”

When in Austin, do as…

4. Yesterday’s Game

It was a fine victory. The girls are smiling ear-to-ear, sitting in a large circle, celebrating, waiting for the coach, talking about how great it was today compared to yesterday.

Yesterday. The clouds. The rain. The mud. The games.

“The snakes!” one of them shouts. “At least today we didn’t have snakes!” She holds up her hands showing how long the snakes were.

The coach walks up. “Those are called earthworms, girls.”

Instantly, the entire team shouts in objection. Instantly, they hold up their hands all of them showing how long the snakes were.

What Sunshine Can Do

Monday, 23 Mar 2015, 21:03 UTC

They say it’s not as bad as it was yesterday. On the first day of the tournament, the sky was black and rain fell in torrents. The university close the intramural fields, so their games got moved to San Marcos, where I guess they don’t care as much. And the girls say that these fields (just north of San Antonio, where they also evidently don’t care) aren’t nearly as bad as yesterday, although to my eyes, the mud’s pretty bad.

Twenty-two teams or so of women playing ultimate just off the freeway in fields that surely were lush and green this morning after yesterday’s storms. Surely were lush but now are brown and wet.

They throw themselves into this sport. Tumbling over each other. Slamming into the ground. Sliding in the mud. Covered from head to toe, some of them. Some of them wear rubber boots. Some where flip-flops. Those are the sidelined ones. The ones who played too hard yesterday. Or got hurt. Or got food poisoning last night. But most are in shorts and jerseys and cleats caked with mud. When they have a chance, they claw at the mud with their fingers, trying to get some of it off. Trying to expose their cleats for a better grip. To let them run back out there and throw themselves back into it.

But aside from the mud, today’s sky is blue. And the air is warm. And there is a breeze blowing across the fields from the southwest.

Lexi walks up. She looks down at me and up at the blue sky and squints at the sun. And then she smiles and says, “It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do.”


Saturday, 14 Mar 2015, 22:17 UTC



Thursday, 12 Mar 2015, 21:23 UTC

“I’ll do the signs,” he said. 

“The signs?”

“You know… The jaws that bite…” and he made a biting motion with his mouth. “The claws that snatch…” and he made a clawing motion with his fingers in the air.

Today was the Culture Fair, a day when parents come in and share tasty treats from their home countries. Or share their music. Or they dress up in folksy ways from different parts of the globe. And this was the day when they find a room with comfy pillows for kids to gather round to hear the Jabberwocky in English and French and German, even though I have no tasty treats, nor music, nor dress-up. 

Twas brillig…, I tell them. And then Il briligue…. And then Es brillig war… I know you have heard me tell of this, because I do it every year for the fourth graders. And every year, I pantomime the highlights so that the kids might better follow along with the French rendition and then the German. I make biting motions with my mouth and clawing motions with my fingers. 

So now I was to do it for two classes together instead of the smaller groups that had been coming by. And this boy, who had been in one of the smaller groups from earlier walked up.

“I’ll do the signs.”

“Deal.” I said. “I’ll give you hints if you need them.”

There were the jaws and the claws, of course. There was the Jubjub bird. And there was the vorpal blade in his hands. Longtime the maxome foe he sought… I had to remind him to make a searching motion with his hand above his eyebrows. There was the Tumtum tree. And there was standing in uffish thought. 

There was the one-two, one-two and through and through, which he did masterfully which should come as no surprise. And he made as if he were holding up the head as the kids in the class shouted, “Like Medusa!”

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

As tu tué le Jaseroque?

Und schlugst du ya den Jammerwoch?

This was his favorite. Even in the French and the German, he needed no clues from me. He held out his arms and he jumped up and down on this most frabjous of days, Calooh Callay.

In Duplicate

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015, 21:13 UTC

What did we do that day? Science. We did science. Or was it math? Because there were numbers. Or was it writing? Because they had to write notes in their notebooks. Or was it art? Because they got to decide how to draw tables to hold the data that they collected and assembled in the notebooks that they all carried around the room, moving from station to station.

It was time to go. The period was over. It was almost lunchtime.

Most of the kids has stashed their notebooks into boxes that they slid under their desks or onto shelves. The science-math-writing-art class was over. I grabbed my coat and slung my laptop case over my shoulder.

I was walking out of the room when this girl walked up. She had a smile on her face, and she held her notebook on her chest under her chin and folded arms.

“I copied my notes from last time,” she said. “I copied them from here…”

She held out her notebook.

“… into here,” and she produced from nowhere a second notebook. “I copy my numbers into this notebook so I can always have them, even when I have to turn in this notebook.”

And the smile on her face was ear to ear. And her shining eyes. And her sense of satisfaction. And her burning desire to share her passion.


Monday, 09 Mar 2015, 21:40 UTC


A man sits on a bench in the middle of the room looking up at the wall. A woman walks in the doorway looking at a different wall. Colors and shapes stare back at them.

What are you lookin’ at?

What the Doctor Said

Sunday, 08 Mar 2015, 17:27 UTC

“Your problem,” the doctor told me, “is that you have no butt.”

Well, I thought. That’s a fine thing. And now maybe I can go get me a gallon of Moo-llennium Crunch. That’s what I was thinking, but then she added something about the next phase of therapy focusing on building up my gluteal muscles. And of course at that moment my fantasies of the ice cream … well, they melted away.

You see, she’s a sports doctor, and no butt to her means no muscles and … well, I am admittedly deficient in that regard but sadly not in regards to rest of it.

And so, oh well. No ice cream for me!