Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2 Fer

Generally when someone says, "You are a peach," it's a good thing. Usually it means you are a stand up person of good heart. Maybe even generous.

I have not done much reading as of late but I wanted to participate in the Women Of Mystery's famed Two Line Tuesday this week. So I'm going to give you two lines spoken to me by my 6 yo old son this week.

LINE #1 "Dad you are a peach."

So far so good.

Line #2 "Because you have pits and are fuzzy all over."

Oh, the joys.

And two lines from my writing, of which I have done very little. These come from the creative non-fiction project centering around my experiences of being a teenage boy under the influence of a highly immoral boss at a Texas feedstore. By the way I'm cheating and giving you three.

In A Perfect World …

Jerry claimed he was going to see his mother over in Arkansas, but Doyle said that was a lie. The boss said people like Jerry were hatched in an incubator and had no clue who their mother even was. Doyle insisted Jerry would spend the entire week on his couch drinking room temperature cans of Busch beer while his herd of house cats looked on, waiting for him to puke so they would have something to eat.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Please Keep Your Hands and Feet Inside At All Times for this My Town Monday Post

Over the years many Amarillo businesses have used a variant of this slogan "Best selection between Dallas and Denver." Best selection, biggest showroom, lowest prices, you name it some one has used it in their ads.

I've always got a chuckle from this tactic because it's the geographical equivalent of saying you are the sanest person in the asylum. It's all about comparison and the towns between Amarillo and Denver ain't exactly metropolises. Wichita Falls barely cracks a hundred thousand, as does Pueblo, Colorado. Sure at 380,000 Colorado Springs is twice Amarillo's size but since it's only a tad over hour from Denver it is understandable that it would lose out on certain things to it's northern neighbor.

Once such place that has used this slogan off and on is Wonderland Park here in Amarillo. Wonderland is an amusement park. It has been a few years since I've noticed them using the betwixt Dallas and Denver claim to fame, so maybe they have slipped to being the second biggest. No one ever claims to be the second biggest. A gander at Wikipedia tells me Wonderland is the 3rd largest amusement park in Texas, but again, it goes agin a Texan's grain to admit to only being the third largest.

Regardless of it's rank in size, Wonderland has been an Amarillo mainstay for better than fifty years. It shares space inside Thompsan Park with the zoo, a disc gold course, a swimming pool, a 36 hole golf course, a couple of lakes, and ample playground and picnic space. I've always heard that Thompson park is built above the original city landfill, but my research turns up no proof of that.

Wonderland opened with three kids rides and was first dubbed Kiddie Land. But as it expanded to add attraction for all ages the owner Paul Roads borrowed from Lewis Carroll and changed the name to Wonderland. I have visited Wonderland all of my ,life but as of yet I have not spotted Alice, The Mad Hatter or The Cheshire Cat.

These days I venture to the park a few times a year to take my boys. The park opens next weekend and soon I will trudge out for my boys school night. I believe every elementary in Amarillo has a designated school night. a tradition that dates back to at least to the late seventies when I myself was a grade school boy.

I have fond memories of hanging out with my friends on coll spring nights, avoiding the teachers we didn't like, seeking out those we deemed cool, and riding the Himalayan or Hammer until we puked. Sadly the Hammer is but a forgotten memory as it was long ago taken down.

Wonderland has the required bumper cars, pirate ship, and log ride you find at most amusement parks. It has a few roller coasters, including the double looped Texas Tornado, which inexplicably costs extra.

I am of the belief that a hand stamp admission should enable park goers to ride every ride, and the fact that it does not is my biggest grip about Wonderland. The Texas Tornado is a decent enough coaster, though a bit jarring to the neck at the big turn, nevertheless it's excitement level is not worth the extra three bucks you have to pay every time you ride it.

The Fantastic Journey is another ride that costs extra. I have heard it explained that this haunted house is extra to discourage teenage couples from riding it multiple times and making out in the dark exterior, a supposed nod toward the park's family friendly environment.

Now I fear for the very future of Wonderland Park. No not because of the sour economy. No not because of a boycott at the non included rides. I fear for Wonderland because of their new ride -- a roller coaster to be called the Hornet.

The Hornet is new to Wonderland and Amarillo, but interestingly enough this coaster has a checkered past.

Originally dubbed The Nightmare, the coaster called Boblo Island Amusement Park in Bois Blanc Island, Ontario, Canada home. That park, which opened in 1898, closed down in 1993 to clear room for a marina and resort community.

From Canada The Nightmare/ Hornet made it's way to Six Flags AstroWorld in Houston, Texas where it underwent a name change and became an enclosed roller coaster called the Mayan Mindbender. But guess what? AstroWorld closed down in October 2005. One coaster/ two long standing parks suddenly closed and torn down.

If The Hornet brings the same fate to Amarillo's Wonderland Park it may come to be known as a jinxed roller coaster. Either way I will ride it sometime this summer and report back my observations. That is, I will ride it of the powers that be do not designate it too special for a stock hand stamp.

Links to other posts that collective form the thrill ride known as ... My Town Monday

Mary gives way to a guest blogger's memories of Olmsted Falls, Ohio.
Camera in hand, Lana Gramlich flits about her Abita Springs, Louisiana yard.
Jenn Jilks welcomes old friends back to Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Debra says goodbye to one of Village of Peninsula, Ohio's pillars.
Lyzzydee has a CLOSE encounter in Edingburgh, Scotland.
Patti Abbott lets The walking Man take us for a stroll through Detroit, Michigan.
Chris takes it to the bank in Hong Kong, China.
Linda McLaughlin glides gracefully through a post about a Los Angeles, California champion.
Barbara Martin ferries out a splash of history from Toronto, Canada.
Barrie Summy hauls in a whopper of a post from the depths of San Diego, California.
Cloudia's curative powers gives us a look at a Honolulu, Hawaii.
Gary Dobbs joins the MTM gang with a look at Gilfach Goch, Wales, England.
Take a walk through the park with New York City, New York's, Terrie Farley Moran
J Winter explores the Cincinnati, Ohio subway system, sort of.
PreTzel reveals the ugly side of humanity from the Iowa.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Connected Again

Finally I have internet at home.

Speaking of home Amarillo is covered with a foot of snow and to make things interesting we also have 50 mph winds fueling a nice springtime blizzard, but as I type this I'm sitting beside my fireplace and enjoying the crackle. Jennifer was nervous about it at first but as the evening has progressed she seems to have relaxed.

The bad thing is I have acquired a stomach bug and unfortunately I've been giving the plumbing system here at the new abode a thorough testing.

Several of you, especially those who live outside the United States have told me they can't get my excerpt at Amazon to download. So I've decided to post a copy of the excerpt here for those interested in reading. There is a touch of strong language. Here is a link where you can leave a customer review if you are so inclined.

Plundered Booty

“A nymphomaniac is a women as obsessed with sex as the average man.”

Mignon McLaughlin

Plundered Booty

We buried Jack Habershaw on a bright, sunny morning in April of 1997. That's when the trouble started. Not because the owner of the dealership died, but because his son took over.

Old man Habershaw was barely in the ground, the dirt not yet shoveled over his casket, when Jack Junior, we just called him Junior, slapped a hundred dollar bill on the table, pointed across the showroom, and said, “See that sweet little redhead over yonder? Even money says she's naked in my bed, ass in the air, before any of you gets so much as a kiss.”

The redhead's name was Nikki. She'd worked for the dealership for about a month and within the first week of her arrival, Rex and Dave had used up their best lines on the girl.

Tried and failed. So when Junior made his boast, they shot each other knowing looks and reached for their wallets.

I say girl because Nikki couldn't have been more than twenty-one, and at the time, I was the only salesman of the five employed at Habershaw Ford Lincoln and Mercury who hadn't already experienced his twentieth high-school reunion. Not that I wasn't close. Junior, the newly installed boss, was thirty-four, three years younger than me -- still too old for her.

“I'm in.” Rex laid a hundred on the table and grinned. His too white, too straight teeth gleamed, giving him the manufactured look of a third-rate televangelist. With his starched, white button up shirts and immaculate ties he dressed like one too.

“Count me in.” Dave threw down three twenty's. “I'm good for the other forty.” Dave dressed in button up shirts as well, but all of his came from either K-Mart or Wal-Mart, not the designer stores at the mall. And most of his ties were clip-ons so he looked more like a spit polished court defendant than a sharp-dressed salesman.

A bit more hesitant to throw in, J.J. clutched his money in his hand. “To win, you have to get her in bed, naked, and all I gotta get is a kiss?”

“Yep,” Junior grinned.

Frank still held onto his cash as well. “There has to be proof.”

“Oh, there'll be proof.” Junior leaned back and folded his arms across his chest with the smug satisfaction of a man who'd just cinched a sale.

Rex, Dave, J.J., and Frank all turned their eyes to me. Even Junior paused to look my direction.

Jamming both hands into the pockets of my Wranglers, I did my best to avoid making eye contact with any of them. Being in the spotlight tended to make me as nervous as a vegetarian in a butcher shop. And I didn't like the idea of their game. Not even a little bit. Besides, I never gambled.

Not that the guys saw the wager as much of a risk. Course I knew things about the new boss they didn't.

I'd been earning a wage from Old Man Habershaw since my sixteenth birthday. Originally, I hand-washed cars out on the lot and locked them up at the end of each day. Later, I ran parts for the service department. For the last seventeen years, I've sold Mustangs, Towncars, Cougars, and any other type of vehicle to ever roll off the Ford Motor Company assembly line. But don't hold that against me.

I know what the world thinks of car salesmen, but not all of us are scumbags. Sure, we're the working man's lawyer, the butt of many a bad joke, but I had earned a solid reputation in Red Dirt, Oklahoma.

Red Dirt is just a bit south of Oklahoma City, right on I-35 for those who've never had the pleasure. When I was a kid there was a fair amount of open field between us and the big city, but over time we became just another suburb. No different than Moore, Norman, or any of the others that circled the capital city.

Right across the Interstate from Habershaw Ford, sits Wramplemeir Dodge and Chrysler.

More than once Pete Wramplemeir offered me a job, but my loyalty was to Old Man Habershaw and the Ford Motor Company. My first job, my first truck, my first taste of love. All involved a Ford, and to a man like me, that means something.

For twenty years I'd gone to work every day, never using so much as a single sick day.

Right up until Junior inherited the business, I'd only had one boss my entire life. Therefore, I'd always known what to expect, but his arrival chunked a mighty damned big wrench into my gears. And all the trouble started with that first bet.

The guys kept watching me as I peeked out at the young girl across the showroom.

Nikki was pretty, with hair the color of polished copper, long, dark eyelashes, high, delicate cheekbones, and a pouty little mouth that almost always hinted of a smile. Yeah, she was far too pretty for any of us. Except maybe Rex, but even he'd failed to impress her thus far.

The guys had already chalked her up as a lost cause. Me, being a married man, I'd never said much more than hello to her, but I knew what the other fellas were thinking. None of them expected Junior to have her naked in his bed. Nor did they expect to get a kiss from her. They only tossed their money in the ring to give Junior a bit of incentive, an encouragement so he would make a fool of himself. But I knew far more about the new boss than they did.

“Count me out.” I walked away.

“Come on, Hank!” Junior called out. “Where's your sense of adventure? A little friendly wager is all we're talking about.”

I kept right on going and that was the last time Junior called me by my given name.

Hank Petty Zybeck. That's my name as it reads on my birth certificate. Hank, after the greatest country and western singer of all time. My dear departed daddy's description, not mine. Petty, for the king of all racecar drivers. Again, my daddy's opinion, but one I happen to share. And Zybeck, because I'm my father's son. Least that was my momma's claim to her dying day.

Who knows, it might even be true, but neither of my parents stood taller than five-nine, whereas I'm a good five inches better than six foot. My dad's hair was the color of axle grease and my momma's was a couple of shades darker if anything -- my hair has always been fender rust red.

But this story isn't about my questionable heritage, and it has been a long while since I went by Hank. Nowadays, most folks simply call me Captain.


Well, that happens to be where this story begins.

Chapter Two

One day a week, I pull the evening shift. Noon to nine. Mr. Habershaw's funeral, and happened to fall on one of those days. Rather than go home for an hour I went to the lot even though my workday didn't start for another hour. Now I was wishing I had gone back home just to avoid Junior trying to drag me in on that bet. Knowing his past I shouldn't have been surprised Junior was gambling and conniving to get laid only an hour after his dad's funeral, but I suppose everyone has to deal with grief in their own way.

Walking away from the guys, I headed for my glass cubicle to do a bit of reading while the others watched for trolling buyers.

Old man Habershaw never called them customers. “Customers walk in, pick what they want off the shelf, and pay the sticker price without another thought. Car buyers expect a deal and a good salesman gives them just enough to make 'em think they won.”

At the bigger lots, those that belonged to corporations and conglomerations, they called the people who wandered in “ups,” and each salesman had to earn his spot in the rotation to approach said “ups.” That wasn't how we operated. We were a family owned lot, and therefore less rigid about whose turn it was. For the most part we salesmen got along okay, and if we didn't, the old man intervened and settled the dispute. But we were all curious to see how the son would run things.

For the last ten years I've led sales here at Habershaw Ford Lincoln and Mercury. Taking a seat in my glass fronted office, I hoped Junior took that into account and didn't take offense that I'd walked away from his wager.

I barely got my book cracked open before Rex Austin stuck his perfectly manicured head in. “I thought you said the new boss was younger than you?”

“He is.” I didn't bother to look up from the printed page.

I read two paragraphs about Black Bart before Rex interrupted again. “Sure as hell doesn't look it.”

Rex left when I didn't respond, but five minutes later, J.J. Reyna and Frank Barrett came in together. Frank stood there for a minute toying with the pearl snaps on his outdated western shirt. I had to give it to those snaps. Holding back Frank's beer gut was no easy chore and as much as he jacked with the things, always twisting and turning them with his sausage-like fingers, it was a wonder the buttons didn't fall off all together.

After a bit Frank said, “He sure is a brazen S.O.B.”

J.J. nodded his agreement.

I merely shrugged and refocused on my book as they stood there.

Dave Lees stepped in next. I tried to keep reading, but I could feel all three sets of eyes on me. Especially Dave's. Those black, beady suckers of his were hard to ignore, so I looked up and said, “What?”

With his pointed nose and perpetual five o'clock whiskers, Dave had always reminded me of a fox. Not a sly fox like you read about as a kid, but a chicken stealing, henhouse fox, destined to get shot some bright moonlit night.

Dave shifted from one foot to the next. “He's nothing like you described.”

The other two salesmen nodded their agreement.

Again, I merely shrugged. But I did close my book since they seemed determined to distract me.

“You told us yesterday that he was married.” Dave turned to the other two and yapped on. “Isn't that what he told us?”

“He is,” I said.

“Doesn't act like it,” J.J. said. “Been here half an hour and already he's sniffing around Nikki like a bloodhound in a prison yard. You'd think a married guy would be more careful.”

“That's Junior for you.”

The three men continued to stare. They expected me to say more, but I didn't have anything to add.

“Maybe he got a divorce,” Frank finally offered.

I shook my head. “Nope.”

Old Man Habershaw would have told me if that were the case. For whatever reason, he'd always kept me apprised of Junior's activities. At least the stuff he knew about. “None of y'all are divorced. That didn't keep you from betting right alongside him.”

“Shoot.” J.J. fiddled with the gold band on his left hand. “I know a sure thing when I see it. Look at him. He's not gonna get anywhere with Nikki. Not if Rex couldn't.”

Rex Austin was not only the snazziest dresser but also the unofficial stud of the lot. Early forties, with brown, sun-streaked hair and a dark golfer's tan. Athletic build. But his shiny appearance and salesman demeanor turned some people off. 'Course he bragged about lots of women, but he too, was married.

“We'll see,” I answered.

Problem was the guys were going on looks alone. Sure, Junior's hairline was retreating faster than the French Army. Sure, most airlines would reject the oversized bags beneath his eyes. Sure, he had to step on his tiptoes just to ride the rollercoaster at the fair. But stunted growth, thinning hair, and a tired, worn out body were merely symptoms of his lifestyle. A lifestyle he started at an age when the rest of us were still sneaking peeks at our fathers' Playboys.

Too many late nights. Too many coeds during his nine years at the University of Texas. Too many other men's wives to worry about. That summed up Junior.

I knew he could talk water into running uphill, something he'd inherited from his dad, only Old Man Habershaw talked people into buying cars, whereas Junior talked their daughters into the backseat. Daughters, mothers, wives. Way I remembered, Junior never had been too particular. I doubted that had changed.

Ten minutes before my start time, Junior plopped down in one of the two chairs in my office and crossed his legs. He toyed with the corner of the calender thumbtacked to the wall as he peeked ahead at the shot of next month's Caribbean beach scene. A bit of mud, probably from the cemetery, darkened the toe of his full-quill ostrich skin boots. “Is that what I pay you to do? Sit around and read?”

The smile on his face matched the joking tone in his voice so I said, “For what you pay me, it's a wonder I can afford to buy books.”

He laughed. “Hell, as my top salesman you ought to be able to buy the movies, and save yourself the trouble of reading.”

I liked that he knew I was top salesman, but something bothered me about how quick he'd taken to using the words “I” and “my” in describing the dealership. Far as I knew, he hadn't stepped foot in the place in nearly a decade. His dad had set him up with a used car dealership down by Dallas, so Junior did at least know the business. But mostly it bothered me that he was able to joke so easily when he'd buried his father earlier that morning.

“You still got that purty wife?”

I nodded. “Going on fourteen years.”

“Fourteen years.” The boss sucked air through his teeth. “Guess I was wrong about the two of you.” He reached across my desk and snatched the book I'd been reading. Black Bart and the Golden Age of Piracy. Junior laughed until tears rolled down his face. “What kind of grown man reads books about pirates?”

Like I said, this was 1997, long before Johnny Depp made the subject cool again so I simply shrugged and said, “I like Caribbean history.”

Junior tossed the book down. “Never cared for the subject myself. History that is. Why look backward when you can simply reach forward and take what you want?” He grabbed a handful of butterscotch candies off my desk and shoved them in his pocket.

Through the plexi-glassed divider that separated my cubicle office from the showroom floor, I watched him stroll away. It ticked me off that he'd swiped every bit of the candy I sat out for potential buyers, but he was the boss and it wasn't worth challenging him over a quarters worth of butterscotches.

Later that day, Junior dubbed me Captain Morgan. Probably because his only knowledge of the subject came from a rum bottle. The Morgan part only lasted a short time. After that most folks took to calling me Captain.

Too bad my name was only the beginning, and least troublesome, of the changes Junior brought on.

Chapter Three

With Junior at the helm, that first day drug on longer than a soap opera storyline. Me, myself, I don't like none of those shows, but my wife Rachel kept track of those people as if they were family. And Betty Raintree, the woman who ran the finance and title clerk department always had a T.V. turned to Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, or The Young and the Restless.

I should've realized Junior's arrival meant I was now part of a soap opera, but then again I've always had a habit of discovering things after it's too late.

Rex came to me first. “Go tell your buddy that write-up sheets are how we do business. I can't leave a buyer alone for fifteen minutes while he asks one stupid question after another. That couple from Anadarko walked right out while I was gone. I needed that sale.”

Later it was J.J. “You gotta tell him Sundays are no good around here. Mary will throw a fit if I start working Sundays too. Besides, she'll make me go to mass on Saturday nights and that's my night to hang out and drink beer at the Knight's Hall.”

Even Fiona, the newest accountant in the finance department stopped by my cubicle. She'd spoken to me a few times in the two months she'd been working at Habershaw Ford Lincoln and Mercury, but she was quiet as a brand spanking new four-cylinder, so I never heard much of what she said. Usually her moving lips were my only clue that she was even talking, but it didn't take Junior long to rile her up enough to make herself heard.

“Betty says you and the new boss are friends.”

Besides myself, Betty was the only person at the dealership who'd been around long enough to remember the days when the old man brought Junior down to the lot every Saturday.

I shook my head. “I sort of knew him when we were kids, but so did Betty.”

Fiona nodded. “Betty told me. She also said she didn't like him back then either. She said you're the one person who might could talk sense into him.”

That sounded just like something Betty would say, but the last thing I wanted was to become everyone's spokesman, so I said, “I doubt Junior cares much about my opinion.”

That's when Fiona's eyes filled with tears.

Now there is a pretty lengthy list of things that make me squirm. Neckties, the doily-filled insides of old ladies houses', trips to the mall with my wife -- but nothing makes me, or any other man for that matter, shudder like a distraught female on the verge of crying. Hell, I'd rather try to talk a crooked politician into a confessional booth, than attempt to convince an emotional woman everything was going to be all right. But, like an idiot, I said, “Everything will be okay. Junior will get the hang of things in a week or two.” I might've even reached out and patted Fiona's shoulder.

“I need this job,” she whispered.

“So do I.”

Fiona stared hard at me and then nodded. “But I won't sleep with him to keep it. Can you tell him that?” She turned and left without waiting to hear my answer.

Not that I had one.

I did try to talk to Junior, but holding his attention without a nice set of legs, or a pair of perky boobs was next to impossible. He nodded as I explained how his dad ran the dealership. He grinned when I told him it might be a good idea to leave the accountants alone. He slapped me on the back when I offered to help him anyway I could.

“You're all right, Captain. I don't care what your wife says about you.” Laughing, he guided me to the door of his office and then shut it behind me. Already, he'd taken down all the classic car posters his dad had on the walls. Said he was going to replace the vintage automobiles with fine art replicas.

Junior's theory was they didn't make cars the way they used to, and it was bad business to remind buyers of that fact. He claimed cheap Rembrandt knockoffs would show buyers who sat in his office that they were dealing with class.

By mid-afternoon of his first day Junior had called it good and gone home. The majority of my coworkers followed in the preceding hours. By six-thirty there were only a few of us left. At least one salesman and one person from accounting were required to hang out until eight each night during the week and we all stayed late on Saturdays since that was our busiest day.

A wheat farmer named Charlie Benton and his wife came in just before seven that evening. The Bentons traded in their old vehicles for new ones every two years, and for the last decade I'd been their salesman of choice. I showed him an F-250 pickup and her, a nice ivory Crown Vic.

I took a fair amount of pride in the fact I sold more cars, to more return customers, than any other salesman at the dealership, and a good percentage of those repeat buyers were senior citizens. Let me tell you, it ain't easy to bullshit somebody who's been around the block more than once.

Some sales are almost a given, especially to repeat buyers like the Bentons, so I merely highlighted the improvements Ford had made in the last couple of years. I pointed out the Crown Vic's new heated seats, since I imagined a skinny woman like Mrs. Benton could use a little added warmth back there. And to her husband, I explained about the added towing capacity on the newer pickups. Other than that, I kept quiet.

Old Man Habershaw taught me long ago that twice as many sales were lost by saying too much than from not saying enough.

The farmer and his wife knew I'd quote them a good price without tacking on hidden charges, and I knew no matter how good a deal I offered they would take a day or so to think over the purchase. But mentally, I'd already added up that commission.

I had big plans to surprise Rachel for our fourteenth anniversary, but the rates would go up unless I made the travel arrangements soon. A two-vehicle deal just might put me where I needed to be.

Waving to Mr. and Mrs. Benton, I waited until they pulled out of the lot before heading inside. As I climbed the three concrete steps, my mind drifted to white sand beaches, cold pina-coladas, and clear turquoise waters. For one brief second I could hear the rhythm of steel drums and taste salt in the air -- then I stepped into the heavily air-conditioned showroom. The rubber tinged aroma and new car smell ran smack dab over my imagination, but I was determined to see my travel plans become reality so I headed for my office.

Calculator in hand, I crouched over the desk and punched in the numbers bouncing around my brain. Rummaging through the drawers I pulled out stack after stack of travel brochures.

Truth is, I already knew every word printed on the glossy, cruise line pamphlets. Rachel would care about the onboard activities, but the islands themselves were the engine of my desire. The actual ships were merely the tires to roll me there, and it didn't matter to me if we sailed on Goodyears or Michelins. I only cared about where, how often, and how long the ship docked.

After a bit, I looked up from the stack of information to find Fiona standing outside the Plexiglas wall of my cubicle watching me. I smiled and waved.

Only then did she step inside. Taking off her reading glasses, she said, “Your wife called while you were out on that test drive. She wants you to call her.”

“Thanks.” I stuffed the brochures back in my desk.

“Going on a trip?”

Nodding, I said, “I'm gonna surprise my wife and book a cruise for our anniversary. I've loved pirates since I was a young boy. I must have read Treasure Island a thousand times, and I've wanted to visit the Caribbean ever since.”

“I'm sure it will be nice.” Fiona turned to leave.

“I talked to Junior for you.”

“I know. Thanks.” I caught the hint of a smile before she walked away.

Dialing my wife, I wondered how Fiona already knew I'd talked to Junior, and why she'd grinned that way, but as soon as Rachel answered I let those questions slip from my mind.

“Meet me at Rocco's when you get off,” she said.

I cringed. “Not Rocco's. Not tonight. I just wanna go home.”

Rachel snorted the way she always did when put out. “I'm not cooking, so if you want to eat … “

“This has been the day from hell. What with the funeral, and Junior,” I looked at my watch. “And it's already eight. How about I pick something up on the way --”

“Do you now how sick I am of fast food? Do you?”

I hated it when Rachel got like this. Nothing I said would make her happy.

“We've eaten fast food the last three nights,” she said. “Burgers, fried chicken, and that gawdawful burrito place. “One decent meal out wouldn't hurt us.”

Neither would you cooking one.

Of course I didn't say that. I knew better, but Rocco's was the highest joint in Red Dirt. And Rachel would order at least one bottle of wine. She claimed pasta didn't taste right unless you washed it down with wine. And apparently expensive wine, since it was nearly thirty bucks a pop.

“I'm trying to set some money aside.”

“Nobody likes a tight ass, Hank.”

Forty-five minutes later I was sitting at a table in Rocco's watching Rachel pour her second glass of merlot. I'd tried to order a Budweiser but Rachel insisted one bottle of wine was enough alcohol for the both of us. After thirteen and a half years of marriage you'd think she would have picked up on the fact I hated wine. Especially, red wine.

I grabbed a bread stick and sopped up some of the green oil crap they brought along with the merlot. It tasted pretty much just like you'd imagine green oil would taste, but those breadsticks were always so dang dry. I'm guessing Italians never heard of cream gravy. Or good quality light bulbs because it was always too damn dark inside Rocco's.

“Anything exciting happen at the hospital today?”

Rachel shook her head. “Same as always. People shit themselves, vomit in their bed, and then bitch at us when we're five minutes late with their pain meds.”

The waitress brought our meals. As usual, I'd ordered spaghetti and meatballs. Rachel had some kind of pasta covered in cream sauce and little bits of pink shrimp. You'd think the thing had an entire lobster tail for what it cost.

Winding the noodles around my fork, I said, “Junior asked about you.”

Rachel kept eating without saying a word.

“He wanted to know if I was still married to that pretty wife I used to have.”

She shook her head. “He should have asked you if you were still married to that fat woman who used to be pretty.”

“You're not fat and you are still pretty.”

“No better than you are at lying, I don't know how you sell any cars at all.” She poured herself another glass of wine.

But I wasn't lying. To me Rachel was just as beautiful as the day I'd married her. She still possessed those brilliant blue eyes, and smooth, flawless skin. Her blond hair had gotten a bit darker, but I still found it incredible that a woman like her had actually agreed to marry a guy like me. Sure, she'd put on a few pounds, but that bothered her far more than it ever had me.

“You remember the time he hit on you?” I asked. “Back when we were in high school?”

“He didn't really hit on me.” She stuffed a heaping forkful of shrimp covered pasta in her mouth and chewed for a while before saying. “What was he, fourteen or fifteen back then?”

I nodded.

“Of course if I'd have known he was going to be rich someday.” Then she laughed and took another swig of wine. “No, I don't care how much money he's got. If I remember right, he barely came up to my armpits. Has he gotten any taller?”

“Not much, but he's as bold as ever.”

“Maybe I should fix him up with my sister. She's pretty bold. You think they'd get along?”

Rachel's sister, Lila, had a mustache reminiscent of Tom Selleck's Magnum P.I. days. Her hair was thinning, her butt was wider than the trunk of a fifty-eight Studebaker, and her teeth were at least three different shades of yellow. On top of that, she had the personality of a junkyard Rottweiler with a bad case of hemorrhoids.

I thought of Nikki and the way Junior had sized up the pretty receptionist the moment he came in. “I don't think so. Something tells me your sister isn't his type.”

Rachel reached across the table and stabbed the last of my meatballs with her fork. “You're probably right. She doesn't like short men either.”

I could only shake my head when the waitress dropped off the bill. “I don't understand why this place is so high.”

“You pay for what you get.”

Standing, I said, “I got a bowl of spaghetti. And it cost me better than sixty bucks.”

“But you made me happy and you know what that means.” Rachel ran her hand down my back and squeezed my left butt cheek.

I wanted to say it means you drank too much wine, but I kept my mouth shut. I might not be the fastest car on the lot, but even I knew how to seize upon an opportunity when it presented itself. Besides, the money was already gone. No reason to let her fermented grape induced good mood go to waste.

Copyright © 2009 Travis Erwin. All Rights Reserved.
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Criminals and Sharks

Still, I have no internet at my new house and it's killing me as well as squashing my ability to post the multitude of things bouncing around my noggin. So instead of doing a proper post I'm going to do another random posting of various tidbits.


Yesterday, i had two separate encounters with Texas DPS Officers. Occasionally I go out of town for work. Used to be the post office here in Amarillo maintained mail sorting machines in half a dozen area offices, but these days only two towns still have these machines. Guymon, Oklahoma and Childress, Texas. Both are two hour car trips.

So yesterday while driving to Childress in the white cargo van with the postal emblem blazed on every side of the vehicle I got pulled over. The officer wanted to know why the vehicle didn't have a license plate. An straightforward enough question for a lawman doing his job. I explained that they removed the plates from postal owned vehicles after 911 because someone had stolen a plate in an unsecured lot and then tried to gain access to a military base or something of that nature. The highway patrolman remained skeptical.

He questioned me some more asking where I worked. I lifted my ID badge which was hanging around my neck and said the the US Postal Service.

Next he asked me what was in the van. My answer, computer equipment and circuit cards along with necessary tools.

And again he said, "And where do you work." I badly wanted to say UPS just to see oif he was paying attention but decided not to.

He took my license, ran it to make certain I had no warrants then then once again said, "And you work where?"

Sure I had a Gourds t-shirt on and a weeks worth of facial growth, but given I had a postal ID badge with my picture on it and a driver's licence to match and a vehicle with 8 bajillion postal eagles on it should have been proof enough of my employment.

But most surprising he never asked if I was packing a gun. That's usually the first question I get asked when someone finds out I'm a postal worker.


The mighty St Mary's Sharks played their first indoor soccer game of the season. I'm merely an assistant, but head coach Dan led the group pf 10 Kindergartners to victory last night. As usual there is no official score but every child on the team could tell you they won 7-4.


Read an interesting news story about a woman who stole another ladies identity and used it to open a line of credit at a plastic surgery center which she used for a breast augmentation. The doctors staff contacted the real lady to find out why she missed her follow up appointment they discovered the crime. Police are still looking for the suspect, or should I say suspects.

I don't live in Florida but I'm should the need arise I'm willing to serve on the jury should they catch the offender. Of course everyone is innocent until proven guilty so examining the evidence would be a must.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Golden Light -- My Town Monday

Graffiti stains it's unpainted plywood walls. The place is decorated with beer signs, band posters, and . A dusty, full sized coyote stands guard over the door. The taxidermied critter stares out the window at Sixth street and what once was Route 66.

The Golden Light Cantina is not what anyone would call fancy or even nice. Picnic table serves as table and chairs but night after night you can find great live music, cheap beer, and good times within its walls. The Golden Light has a tiny dance floor but often the place gets too crowded for there to be room for much two-steppin'. That was the case a few weeks ago when I headed out to the Golden Light to catch The Gourds in action.

The Golden Light is a small intimate venue but that hasn't stopped them from gathering an impressive list of musicians over the years. No, not the Nashville pop country that taints the airwaves, but the roots rock, outlaw country that provides the rhythm of my soul. If you don't live in Texas, or veer off the mainstream path of commercial music these names might not mean much to you, but here is a list of some of the acts to grace the Golden Light's stage.

The Gourds, Guy Forsyth, Eleven Hundred Springs, Lonesome Goat, Cooder Graw, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Thrift Store Cowboys, Randy Rogers Band, Wade Bowen and West 84, Reckless Kelly, Micky and the Motorcars, , Stoney Larue, Jack Ingram, Bleu Edmonson, Shooter Jennings, Aaron Watson, Fred Eaglesmith, Charlie Robison, Slaid Cleaves, Bruce Robison, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Gary P. Nunn, Cory Morrow, Pat Green, Joe Ely, Speedtrucker, Dub Miller, Owen Temple, Doug Moreland, Gary P. Nunn, Trent Summar and The New Row Mob.

Next door to the cantina is the Golden Light Cafe which holds the distinction of being the longest running restaurant along Route 66. The Cafe opened in 1946 and has been serving up greasy burgers and homecut fries in the exact same location ever since.

The Cantina has live music dang near every night and the cafe has tasty burgers every day except Sunday. To read about one of my other adventures at the Golden Light click here.

I had more pictures and even a bit of video but sadly I can't get any of it to load.

For more My Town Monday posts check back later. (I may be slow in adding as I still have much work to do on the new abode)

Jenn Jilks -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Cloudia -- Honolulu, Hawaii
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Linda McLaughlin -- Orange County, California
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Terrie Farley Moran -- New York City, New York
Chris -- Hong Kong, China
Mary -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Reb -- Old Strathcona (Edmonton) Alberta, Canada
Chuck -- PeeWee Valley, Kentucky
Lauren -- Chicago, Illinois
J Winter -- Cincinnati, Ohio
Melanie Avila -- Zihua, Mexico
Barrie Summy -- Fallbrook, California
Paul Brazill --
Bydgoszcz, Poland
Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan

Sorry for the delay in getting links up, but I was having internet issues at the new abode. Should do better know so if you have a post please let me know.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Move It, Move It, Move It

This morning I woke up in the rent house where we have lived a little over two months, (Thanks Dan and Nicole for the fine accommodations) but TONIGHT I will lay my head in our new home.

Both Jenn and I along with countless friends and family have shed a lot of blood and sweat to get everything done this week and while it's not a 100% there it is close enough for us to move in.

I return to work tomorrow and I'll try to catch up on my internet rounds but for now I wanted to give all of you a quick update and yes I will be back tomorrow sometime with a MTM post. I also want to thank all of you who have read and reviewed m entry in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The first three chapters of Plundered Booty are available as a free download for anyone to read. Here is the direct link again.

And yes, I will post some pictures sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Get a Piece of My Booty

I made it the cut.

I mentioned a while back that I was entering this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and in the wee hours of this morn, I got word that out of somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 entries I made the top 500. That means I am a quarterfinalist and that a portion of Plundered booty is now available for you to read for free on Amazon.com.

Here is the direct link -- Plundered Booty. Once you land on the correct page their is a link in the upper right hand corner that reads Download for free. Please check it out of you have time. Customers reviews are figured in to the overall judging somehow so please leave one of you have time.

Of course I am stoked as, I know there were lots of talented writers who didn't make the cut. My prize for making it this far is to get a complete book review from the team at Publishers Weekly. that is both exciting and a tad scary, but I have faith in both the story and my ability to write so I believe it will be mostly good.

In not so good news I am scheduled for a root canal at 1 PM today. And of course the new house prep works continues on. Thanks in advance for checking out my booty.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't Make Me Pinch Ya -- A My Town Monday Post

The Texas Panhandle isn't known for it's greenery. Unless it has rained in the last few days, the landscape is generally a mixture of browns and yellows.

But there is one town over on the eastern edge of the panhandle that is green year round -- Shamrock, Texas.

Okay, so the grass in and around Shamrock might be just as parched and yellow as most of the other places, but the town revels in it's Irish name to such an extent that it's greener than Al Gore.

And every year, right around St. Patrick's Day, the rural community of about 2000 hosts a two day celebration with concerts, an arts and craft show, parade, carnival, motorcycle rally, car, show, the crowning of a new Miss Irish Rose, the Lad ‘n’ Lassie Beauty Pageant, and my favorite the Donegal Beard Contest. (A Donegal beard is basically a big bushy beard without the accompaniment of a mustache.)

One of these days I'm going to give it a whirl and enter this as I am part Sasquatch and can grow a fine mess of facial hair. Much to my wife, Jennifer's chagrin.

Shamrock, Texas was given its name by Irish immigrant, George Nickel, who wanted to open post office in 1890. His post office was never opened, but Mary Jones opened and ran one for a short time using Mr. Nickel's chosen name. In 1902 the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway set up a station in the town, calling it "Wheeler" after the county in which Shamrock resides, but the railroad eventually changed it to the original name of Shamrock in 1903. And it's been all about four leaf clovers ever since.

The old original Route 66 ran through Shamrock and of the the most recognizable architectural landmarks of that era sits in the town.

You may recognize it as the inspiration for Ramone's Body Shop in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars.

Actually the building was the U-Drop Inn. Built in 1936 it was designed by J.C. Berry. The U-Drop Inn fell into disrepair with the decommissioning of Route 66, and closed in the 90s, but funded by a 1.7 million dollar federal grant, the city hired a firm specializing in historical renovation to restore the building and adapt it into a museum, visitors' center, gift shop, and the city's chamber of commerce.

For more My Town Monday Links please visit Jenn Jilks as she is taking over the hosting duties for me this week. If you have a link you wish to add please visit her blog and leave a comment to let her know.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Update and a Call for MTM Help

Hunting and house buying have one thing in common. The fun stops once you pull the trigger.

I'm up to my elbow in sweat and blood, as I try to get everything done before we move into our new abode. After a nearly 16 hour day of painting, caulking, and scraping yesterday I don't see anyway we are going to make the self imposed deadline of actually sleeping in our new house by Friday the 20th. There is still much to be done. Heck, there is still much to be undone as the previous owners never graduated past frat boy carpentry. They have painted over every outlet cover, register, screw, and light switch in the house. Apparently they didn't own a single screw driver to remove anything before had as even the bathroom mirrors are painted onto the wall.

More details to come but there were quite a few hidden surprises around the house once they got all their crap out. There is a shelving unit in the garage made from cinder blocks and duct tape. No I am not kidding. I'm sure the previous owners had do douse their ears in aloe yesterday as I grumbled with each new discovery. Having said that I need someone to bail me out and take over My Town Monday this week as their is no way I can check in often enough to post links in a timely fashion. I have a post already written which will go up tomorrow but Sunday and Monday I will be too busy to check in very often.

Also blogger extraordinaire and the queen of great ideas Chris Eldin has it upon another one. Here is a cut and pasted email she sent me.

Hi Travis,

The Book Roast blog (www.bookroast.blogspot.com) will be hosting a Pitch Party on St. Patrick's Day-- Tuesday, March 17 from 7am through 7pm (NY time)! More info will be posted late Friday evening on the Book Roast blog.

We're inviting participants to submit a pitch for a book (real or for fun). The theme is "luck," and the pitches will be limited to 75 words. One pitch per participant. I hope you can drop by and take a look. Or enter!! PLEASE ENTER!! You'll have fun, and you can use a pen name if you like!!

Five highly esteemed editors will select their favorite three, and say why those pitches stood out. The winning pitches will be announced at 9pm (NY time).

The editors on board are listed below. Ms. Spitfire is technically in marketing, but she has occasion to touch the slush. :-)

Evil Editor
Editorial Anonymous
Ms. Spitfire

Please help spread the word, if you can. We just want to have some fun amidst this environment of publishing gloom and doom.

Many thanks!!



Y'all check it out and participate if you can. And please let me know if you can assume the link master role for My Town Monday this week so I can get the word out in my post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Once again I'm devoting my creative endeavors to my work in progress so here are some pictures from our Disney trip back over New Years. I meant to post them then, but of course life kind of took an alternate route the day after we got back from Florida.

My youngest, along with two goofy dudes.

The Genie's might be longer but mine is thicker ... goatee's that is.

My oldest, the ladies man,
chatting up Alice.

At first look, the above shot looks like a panty crotch shot of some gal. It even appears to read ..
Ho A Pirate's Life

But actually it's just a tighter shot of this sign above the entrance to the Pirates of The Caribbean ride.

My oldest watching the Christmas parade. Am I the only one who finds those reindeer's tails rather obscene?

Psst, 2 more days until we gain possession of our new house. Not that I'm eager or anything.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Rocking, My Town Monday Post

This week's My Town Monday post is somewhat of a stretch, as it's more personal than educational, but until I have a functional camera for research, I'm going to rely in memories from the deep recesses of my brain.

The Amarillo Civic Center Coliseum, also known as Cal Farley Coliseum, is nothing special when it comes to arenas. With a permanent seating capacity of slightly less than 5000 it fails these days to draw most top-notch touring acts. Besides being a rather smallish venue, a lot of dates are taken up by the two sports teams that call the arena home. The Amarillo Gorillas of the Central Hockey League and the Amarillo Duster of Arena II football.

I am a huge hockey fan and once upon a time I followed the local franchise, (Back when they were called the Amarillo Rattlers) but Gorillas is a foolish name for a sports team in the dusty, windblown Texas Panhandle. and truthfully the hockey is bad. As a Dallas Stars fan I've become spoiled by the talent of NHL players.

And as far as the Dusters go, I simply do not like Arena football. The game resembles the true sport of football about as closely as WWE does collegiate or Olympic wrestling. But to each his own.

Back to the civic center coliseum. Once upon a time it was almost a home away home for me. You see my mom worked there. She counted tickets and coordinated the ushers and ticket takers, and as a single mom she had little choice but to take me with her most nights.

Many a time I sat at a table in the foyer and finished my homework as roadies scurried about wrapping up the final touches for that evenings shows. From George Strait to George Thorogood. Judas Priest to Jesus Christ Superstar. Liberace to the Lipizzaner Stallions.

In thsoe days the civic center drew quite a few shows, and after finishing my school work, I got to sit back and take them all in, from what I considered the best seat in the house.

My mom wasn't about to plop me down in amongst the metal heads, drunk cowboys, or Tom Jones bra-flinging women, so she ushered me to to the catwalk which circled the top of the arena. Under strict orders not to get up from my seat, I sat up in my heavenly perch with the guys who ran the spotlights and watched both the show, and audience below.

Up there I saw Huey Lewis and the news sing about there desire for a new drug. I sang along as Kenny Rogers crooned about knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. And laughed at the way grown women swooned with Wayne Newton's every corny line. (As a sidenote, my mom met most of the performers and to this day considers Wayne Newton to be the rudest, most pompous SOB to ever grace the earth. And this is a woman with two ex husbands. Ricky Van Shelton and George Strait came in a dead heat for the nicest.)

I was never one of the uber cool kids at school, but getting to see shows like Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, and Blue Oyster Cult long before my friends were old enough did give me a bit of star power in the halls of Oakdale Elementary. But by far, my coolest childhood experience came in the Fall of 1984.

At the time I was a sixth grader. MTV was all the rage and unlike now the television network showed actual music videos around the clock. At the top of the spin cycle was this little ditty that answered the question, What do you want to do with your life?

Like most adolescent boys of that age I loved that video and song and in the fall of 1984 what band was headlining at the civic center? You guessed it Twisted Sister led by frontman, Dee Snider.

And late in the show just after they'd come back on stage for an encore, the prepared to sing We're not Going to Take It. Dee Snider urged everyone to get on their feet. 99% of those in attendance did that very thing, but way in the back one small cluster of concert goers remained seated.

In true rebellious glam rocker fashion, Snider said something to affect of, "Hey you in the back, Get up on you effing feet." And when the people still didn't stand he said. "What's the matter are you effing deaf. I said get the eff up! Don't make me come back there and kick you effing asses."

The people stood. The band played the song and everyone was happy.

Except the Amarillo Police. As soon as the song was finished two officers trotted on stage, handcuffed Dee Snider, and led him away. No one really knew why until the next day when on MTV news a blurb said Dee Snider had been arrested in Amarillo, Texas for lewd and indecent conduct for cursing and threatening concert goers.

None of my friends had been allowed to go, therefore I was the lone expert. Being as that I am a natural born bullshitter and storyteller, not to mention I was an eleven year old boy at the time I probably embellished in my retelling of the incident but that didn't really matter, because I was there and no one else at my school was.

Check back here for links to other My Town Monday posts from all around the globe. I also forgot to announce that Jenn Jilks created this nifty little My Town Monday badge for everyone to use if they so desire, so be sure and stop in to tell her thanks.

Jenn Jilks -- Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
David Cranmer -- Cameroon, West Africa
Mary -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California
Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan
Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan
Reb -- Old Strathcona-Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Chris -- Hong Kong, China
Paul Brazill -- Hartlepool, England
Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada
Cloudia -- Honolulu, Hawaii
Junosmom -- Kentucky
J Winter -- Cincinnati, Ohio
Linda McLaughlin -- Las Vegas, Nevada

Friday, March 6, 2009


How come you rarely see men by themselves at Target. What is it about the store that keeps us, the bearded, the hairy armpitted, the testicled away? You see a few guys but you they are nearly always with women and you can see it on their face that they are there against their will. Myself included, but even I can't say why if I have to run grab something I'll go to Wal-Mart, The Dollar Store, or my real preference some kind of locally owned specialty shop. I have never ventured into Target alone. And their symbol is a bulls eye. Heck that's a lot manlier than Wal-Mart's goofy bright yellow happy face.


Speaking of we Y chromosomers and our shopping tendencies, I have decided that Kleenex would go broke if we did all the shopping. Most of my readers are women, and classy women at that, but for you guys who read this have you ever bought a box of Kleenex for anything other than your kid to take to school? I'm of the opinion that tissues are one of the worlds largest scams, like greeting cards, mock turtle necks, wine coolers, and non-alcoholic beer.

I'd be perfectly content to forever from this point on only blow my snout into toilet paper, paper towels, and if no woman is within five hundred yards you can always do the plug-one-nostril-and-let-it-fly into the atmosphere nose cleaning technique. Just for curiosity has any woman ever cleared her sinus's in that manner? More importantly, would she be brave enough to admit it here on this blog?

Guys what other worthless womanly products can you conjure up. And to play fair, gals what kind of worthless crap do you wish we men would not buy?


Speaking of worthless and crap. Look at this picture of an actual product from The SkyMall catalog.

I don't care how long your flight is, how can having a full time replica of a defecating dog stuck in your lawn be better than the occasional dog turd? At least that offers a tad bit of fertilizing properties. having a defecating dog symbol just highlights to the neighbors and the world that you are an anal dog hater. PETA might even launch a protest on your lawn for denying canines the world over the right to poop in peace. Heck it would be better that most of the other stuff that group spends their money protesting.

By the way I first spotted the above picture on the Hotfessional Blog so go check it out for more laughs.

Six days and counting until we get our new place. I've been driving by and stalking the current owners and it seems to me they should be doing more to remove their crap than they are. And before any of you get the wild hair to buy the above yard ornament for me as a house cooling present just remember I am a devious fella who enjoys the robust taste of retribution. And yes I said house cooling, don't you people think we've had quite enough house warming for one lifetime?

p.s. In case you missed it. Our last house has something in common with both Richard Pryor and Michael Jackson's hair.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Where's Hermey When you Need Him


That sums things up in my world right now.

We are still scheduled to close on the new house on March 12th. Until then we are a standstill as far as moving, painting and setting up our new abode ... but we've remained busy with mountains of paperwork. setting up utilities, buying furniture and the other things we are going to need. as well as planning out how we want to do things once we do gain possession.

Once again this year I am helping to coach my 6 yo's indoor soccer team. We had our first practice yesterday with 8 kids showing up. 5 girls and 2 boys. Four of them played on our team last year.

For several days I got in the writing groove an cranked out quite a few pages. I joked about capturing my muse on Monday. Well guess what? The Tooth Fairy was not amused that I'd captured one of her brethren and locked her away in a jar. So in the dead of the night the tooth fairy sent her henchmen to crack one of my molars. I've been sidelined with an aching jaw.

According to the dentist I have a root canal and crown in my immediate future, but that doesn't make me feel very kingly.

In other news my writing pal Cicily Janus has announced that her non-fiction book The New Face of Jazz has sold to Watson-Guptill which is a division of Crown which is a division of Random House. Stop by her blog and give her shout. She also let me know that her upcoming writing retreats still have a few openings. The first retreat is in May in Taos, New Mexico and the second is June in Vail, Colorado. For your chance to hang out with editors, agents, and published authors check out the retreat website here.

So? What's going on with you?

Who gets the correlation between the title of this post and the content?

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Monumental My Town Monday Post

Texas is a big state. It's chocked full of things to see and do. Having said that it might come as a surprise to you that there is but one National Monument in the entire state. Don't ask me what the difference between a national park, a national recreation area, and a national monument is. I don't have a clue. I only know that there is only one National Monument in all of Texas ...

... and it is the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument located 35 miles north of Amarillo.

I'm going to cheat this week by copying from the information on the National Park Service website, which can be found here. The god news behind my lazy MTM post is that I've captured my writing muse and put her in a mason jar. Yeah I punched enough holes in the lid so she can breath, but until she escapes I'm going to keep hard at work my creative non-fiction project.


Imagine yourself standing where an ancient civilization once lived, surrounded by colorful flint that was used to make weapons and tools. Alibates flint is a multi-colored stone with the ability to hold a sharp edge. Alibates flint was highly prized and traded throughout much of North America.

Archeological traces of prehistoric Indians homes, workshops, and campsites dot the entire Canadian River region of the Texas Panhandle but few sites are as dramatic as Alibates Flint Quarries. Actually an agatized, or silicafied dolomite, the flint is distinctive for its many bright colors. This flint comes from a 10-square mile area around the monument but most is concentrated on about 60 acres atop a mesa in the heart of the 1,000 acre monument. More than 700 hundred quarries exist where this flint was dug out by hand. The quarries today are usually round ovals about six or more feet in diameter with depressions in the center. As soil washes in by rain, and blown in by wind, it fills the once four to eight foot deep holes. Unweathered flint was obtained by digging a foot or more below the surface. The flint bearing dolomite layers are up to eight feet thick. Tools made from Alibates Flint have been found in many places in the Great Plains and Southwest. It's use dates from 13,000 years ago to about 1870. Between 1150 and 1450, Indians identified as the Plains Village Indians, ancestors of Caddo, Pawnee and Wichita Indians, lived here in large permanent villages and smaller, outlying farming and gathering communities. Villages were built of rock-slab houses from one to 100 rooms. Most were single-unit dwellings although some rooms were connected. Architecture of this period featured rectangular, semi-circular rooms with funneled entranceways and stone enclosures. It is believed that extensive severe drought, coupled with raids from aggressive tribes, probably Apache, from the west drove these indians out of this region by the end of the 15th century.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument offer tours year round by reservation only. Tours usually go at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Extreme weather conditions such as 100 degree temperatures, lightning, tornadoes, etc. may cause tours to be canceled on short notice. Reservations may be made by calling Park Headquarters, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, at (806) 857-3151 or writing the Superintendent, Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, P.O. Box 1460, Fritch, Texas 79036.

For More My Town Monday posts check back as I add links below.
Jenn Jilks turns her focus away from Muskoka, Canada this week and instead looks down under.
Barrie Summy stopes to smell the flowers in San Diego California.
Chris takes us this week on a short trip to China and to Shenzhen's Civic Centre and Museum of history.
Debra fights cabin fever in Village of Peninsula, Ohio.
Patti Abbott looks at the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
Clair Dickson takes us on a stroll through Brighton, Michigan.
Reb chirps away about Alberta Canada.
Mary plans ahead for Olmsted Falls, Ohio's heritage day.
Huddlekay sings her praise for one of Amarillo, Texas's own.
Paul Brazill is helping to round up roofing bandits in Hartlepool, England.
Barbara Martin highlights the life of legendary John Ware from Alberta, Canada.
Passage of Woman carves out a post about Kingston, Tennessee.
Junosmom posts about the economy of her small Kentucky town.
Terrie Farley Moran issleuthing around down in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
J Winter takes a royal look at Cincinnati, Ohio's moniker.
Linda McLaughlin lays down some track from California on the proposed "Sin Express,"