Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yes, Clarence the pig

Kudos to Patti. The pig is not ceramic, but your guess was close enough. The pig, a child's bank, is made of compressed fiber, sort of like masonite molded into a shape. It came from my grandmother's house and must have been hers as a child since the name "Lora" is pencilled onto the bottom, right above MADE IN USA. As an adult she went by Lora Pearl (her middle name) until she married, and then adopted the sobriquet "Molly." She married a man whose middle name was Clarence (although he did not go by that name, but by "A.C." or "Fibber").

So since the word Clarence is written on the pig's posterior, the question is, when did she put the name there? The only "coin" it contains is "consumer tax check" from Oklahoma (curently worth about $3-5 on eBay). My grandparents lived in Oklahoma briefly before moving back to Texas, so maybe that's when it was acquired.

The left rear leg has been damaged, evidently when someone tried to drive a nail into it (see photo below). Why was that done? Clarence is too stoic to give a reply. He simply stares off into space, perhaps contemplating those dust bowl days in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Planning ahead

I'm going to be busy this weekend, so I thought posting a watzat now would be appropriate. You see, my niece is getting married in Big Flat City fifty miles south of here and my sister and her family are coming up here for it. Since they will be driving from the Austin area, using up at least a hundred dollars worth of gas, we have invited them to stay at our house after the rehearsal and after the wedding the next day. So I had better study my Sunday school lesson NOW because we will be busy.

So what do you suppose this object might be? The name "Clarence" is meaningful, but what does it mean?

Monday, June 19, 2006

The weird world of nature

Last weekend, my wife's cousins had a reunion in Austin TX. About fifty people gathered to look at old photos, eat barbecue, swap stories, and just generally enjoy being together. We did an impromptu skit and one granddaughter sang "Crazy" which seemed to fit the audience. It was fun, even for me and the other in-laws. There was a lot of rain on the morning of the reunion, but the skies cleared before it actually began. It has been so dry here in West Texas that I was loving the smell and sensation of the humidity.

On the way home, we stopped at a park for lunch. My sister-in-law noticed something strange going on in a tree near the car. It seems that a wasp had attacked a beetle and some butterflies wanted in on the action. They kept coming up to the beetle until the wasp would chase them away. It was most peculiar. So intent were they on their business that I could hold the camera a few inches away without disturbing them.

Monday, June 12, 2006

And now from the other son

Our other son, the one who lives in Australia and plays in a band, is not only an artist, but a talented manipulator of computer programs. One of his band members is behind the wave watching the kookaburra surfing by. Hang ten, little feathery friend!

Cat and I plan to go to Australia in August for a visit. We have never been, but some of our friends at church just returned from spending some time there with a Christian college choir. Our friends got to meet up with our son for a little while. They were really impressed by the ministry the guys are doing. The band, Zuigia, has seen scores of students come to know Christ through their ministry. I am at once proud and humbled.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Doting grandpa

OK, if you don't think this is the cutest baby named Orion, well, you just don't know cute. He is laughing now. A couple of months ago, taking a bath got him all cranky. But now he loves getting nekkid and wet. This shot was taken after a bath when he was still tickled by it all.

When Orion's father Adam was this size, I worked in the Civil Service as an English teacher for foreign military personnel. Most of my students were Saudis, but there were some Iranians and Kuwaitis also. One day I came home from work, bringing one of my students along, only to find my worn-out wife and a crying baby looking desperate for relief. Ahmed was charmed by the baby boy. He took the squalling infant in his arms and began to sing an Arabic song to him. Adam calmed down and Ahmed quickly became our favorite baby-sitter.

The students began to call me Abu Adam--"father of Adam." We had a meal with their families and Cat got to eat with the men, a rare honor. Adam had his first bite of chicken that day, and we all learned to eat with our fingers.

I wonder what happened to those young men: Ahmed with his tender heart, the Iranians who must have suffered with the overthrow of the Shah, the big Kuwaiti boy who stuttered in Arabic and only wanted to be a fisherman, not a pilot. What happened to the Yemeni colonels who declared I was a better Moslem than they because I refused their offers of liquor? That time was so long ago when we could laugh together, learn from each other, and just enjoy family life. What a terrible, terrible shame.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

You making me laff

Wow, what a pile of wrong guesses you all submitted! Annie was on the right track--my dad was a banker, a loan officer in West Texas, where the world's largest harvests of cotton occur. So he might have had a customer who raised cotton. And, in fact, he did have a customer who gave him this miniature bale of cotton.

It's about the size of a medium fist and about as hard. The cotton is packed in very tightly. Of course, nowadays the cotton is transported to the gins in huge modules and the finished bales are wrapped in plastic before being shipped off to China where they can make tee shirts to sell to the US.

Did I ever tell you about the time we were at my grandparents' house and decided to go play in the cotton fields across the street? I guess I was around eight or nine. My brother, younger by three years, and I ran off after Sunday lunch to look for bugs and loose cotton in the harvested field. It didn't take very long before we discovered a long heap of gravel at the end of the field. The highway department had left a deposit and, being as we lived in Big Flat City at the time, this gravel heap represented a veritable mountain. We could climb up to the top and spy on cars whizzing by. We rolled down the sides, until landing in stickers. That ended the rolling party. Then we played chase; I tagged my brother and took off running along the ridge of our hill. My brother started shouting and as I looked back to say "What?" the surface disappeared under my feet. I had run right off the abrupt end of the hill.

Mercifully, I landed in loose gravel (better than sun-baked West Texas sod). Got a considerable gash on my knee. The worst part, though, was lying to my parents about how it happened. My brother and I agreed on a story that, while playing tag in the cotton field, I had tripped over an irrigation pipe. Seemed like that was a better tale since it did not involve having to explain what we were doing so close to the highway. I think it was the end of the week before I finally confessed my crime. Makes me wonder how many times my sons have lied to me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

New "watzat"

I ought to be painting the kitchen cabinets right now. I sanded and primed them yesterday (two coats) and the posts and pans and Tupperware containers are stacked all over the counters. But first, let's have a watzat. This was a gift to my dad, who was a banker. Neither of my siblings wanted it as we were sifting through my parents' junk, so I brought it home with me. Guess what it is.

OK, now I am going into the kitchen to get busy. Then there is bell choir practice. Oh, and we did NOT play my piece in church this morning. The program was too crowded. So we will play it on July 2 to transition between the rah-rah patriotic music and a more reflective communion. The title of the piece is "Who Will Rescue?" and one of the choir members suggested that it will "rescue" the service from a surfeit of patriotic hoopla.