Friday, September 30, 2011

Plant a flag when you get to the top.

I’m pleased to announce another Howdygram first. I just checked today’s statistics and discovered that we had a visitor this morning from Kathmandu, Nepal. Holy crapola — Kathmandu is across the street from Mount Everest! I’m totally dumbfounded imagining a sherpa sitting in a shack near ther summit with a half-frozen laptop, reading about Einstein awards, the Texas State Fair and Sam’s new shoes. Amazing.
Sam and I have some EXCITING PLANS this weekend. After dim sum for lunch tomorrow at Hong Kong Royal we want to drive up north to Treeland to buy a Chinese Pistachio for the front yard because our Autumn Blaze Maple didn’t survive the summer. Other possibilities are a Texas Ash and a Lacey Oak, two other drought-tolerant mid-size trees that won’t overwhelm the front of the house. Personally, I think we’d do better with a nice silk ficus, but that’s just me. I’m not crazy about living things.
Time to reward myself for reorganizing the pantry this afternoon. I’m going to fold socks, heat up a can of soup and watch Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. Life is good. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The biggest hoo-hah of the year.

It’s finally here — the 125th Texas State Fair opens tomorrow and runs through October 23. The weird doofus in the yellow cowboy hat (see below) is Big Tex, who stands 50 feet tall and scares you half to death at the main entrance.
Admission is $14.50 per person or $12.50 for children and seniors. On the odd chance that you’re planning to attend and haven’t mentioned it to us yet, the Howdygram would like you to note the following fabulous ADMISSION DISCOUNTS.
  • Opening Day. Bring any Coca Cola product and get in for $5 per person.
  • Senior Day. Admission is free on Thursdays if you’re 60 and over. Show your cane for a discount ride on the Texas Star ferris wheel.
  • Dr. Pepper Tuesdays. On Tuesdays bring an empty Dr. Pepper can and get in for $4.
  • Coke Thursdays. Bring an empty 20 oz. bottle of Coke on Thursdays and get in for $5.
  • Cinemark Thursdays. Show a ticket stub from Cinemark Theaters and get in free on Thursdays. 
  • Kroger Canned Food Drive. On Wednesdays admission is $2 for each visitor bringing three cans of food for the North Texas Food Bank. (Please, no canned unicorn meat, sauerkraut or spotted dick. Even desperate people have their standards.)
For the record, we’re planning to attend on Tuesday, October 11, with Sam’s brother David and three empty Dr. Pepper cans.

And now, at last, it’s time to watch “Project Runway” and eat dinner. Thank you for reading this.

Waiting for Jerry.

I’m not sure what compelled me to do this, but while Sam was on jury duty yesterday morning I ordered FIVE Jerry Lewis DVDs — The Ladies Man, Visit to a Small Planet, Funny Bones, The Stooge and four hours of Martin and Lewis routines from TV’s “Colgate Comedy Hour” in the 1950s. The DVD covers appear below.
This is so exciting I can’t stand it — especially the fact that I dug up Visit to a Small Planet because I haven’t seen it since 1961 and it’s considered a “rare title.” I found it on The Movie Bin and bought the rest from

Incidentally, the average cost of these movies was about $3.50 and one was only 33¢, which means EVERYBODY ON EARTH can afford to own an impressive Jerry Lewis DVD library. Keep this in mind as we get closer to Hanukkah. Just imagine the expression on your relatives’ faces!

Time to make lunch for Sam. Come on over and join us if you’re hungry — it’ll be “forks up” at 11:30. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pass the matzo balls, y'all.

L’shana tovah — and happy 5772 — from your pals at the Howdygram! We may not be wearing stupid hats and dancing to Guy Lombardo, but we’re celebrating the new year with a nice pot of homemade chicken soup and a couple of Charlton Heston movies. Nothing says Rosh Hashana like Charlton Heston, the most inspiring faux-Jew EVER, who definitely knew how to turn an ordinary high holiday into a Cecil B. DeMille production.
I can’t sleep. I thought I was tired when I went to bed at 12:15 with Sam, but I woke up about 90 minutes later and still can’t figure out WHY. My bladder is empty, I’m not hungry, nothing hurts, I don’t especially want to watch TV, I’ve already done more than my share of online shopping and there aren’t any socks to fold. I suppose if I get desperate enough I can always eat cheese and watch a few “Millionaire Matchmaker” reruns; I wonder if Bravo knows this is the best sedative on earth.

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sam jumps into the shallow end of the jury pool.

Big news from Howdygramland — Sam has JURY DUTY tomorrow! He’s supposed to report to the courthouse in downtown Dallas (see actual photo below) first thing in the morning and leave his shotgun and spurs at home. He won’t know until after lunch if he has to stay around to watch any hangings. (I might be joking about part of this.)
After a hectic day of Internet shopping I’ve decided to unwind at the keyboard and write a post, mostly because I didn’t write one yesterday — an oversight for which I apologize profusely.

Today’s shopping extravaganza, in case you’re interested, included a melamine serving tray, Mach 3 razor refills for Sam and six cans of Folger’s Hazelnut coffee from, Crystal Light drink mixes, Efferdent and paper towels from, plus eight cartons of discount Clif Bars, a new Garmin Nuvi 1300 GPS system, really nice black pants and a set of white silicone drink coasters from various other websites.
I know I’ve said this before, but you really need to check out Amazon’s subscribe & save program. They’ve got HUNDREDS of products that qualify for automatic shipment — everything from breakfast cereal to toothpaste to pet food — and the prices are terrific. There’s also no tax or shipping. I signed us up today for six cans of coffee every four months and a 15-count package of Mach 3 cartridges quarterly. I don’t think there’s ANYTHING better than this! (Not really.)

I’m planning to spend the rest of the day immersed in laundry and pantry reorganization — two worthwhile and ultimately rewarding projects for which you should offer to help if the spirit moves you. Please send an email if you’re interested. Bring a bowl of fruit, and thank you for reading this.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I want my new furniture.

I figured out tonight that we can track the progress of our new family room furniture on Haverty’s website so I just signed on to see where we stand. Apparently we don’t really stand ANYWHERE yet because the current status of our order says “waiting on product.” Sam’s leather armchair and ottoman are in stock but our sectional is still being manufactured. I’m hoping everything will take less time than Haverty’s original estimate (five to seven weeks) because I have zero patience for crap like this and want everything NOW. Seriously.

I think I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Sam had to carry a pager for work this weekend. The silly thing was nice and quiet until about an hour ago. We were sprawled out in the family room watching Ben Hur and about five minutes after Charlton Heston started rowing in a Roman galley Sam had to get dressed and drive downtown to the office. He thinks he’ll be home by midnight but I don’t believe him. He needs to deal with two big projects so I’ll bet it takes way longer than that.
I guess I’ll hang out here for a while. I paused Ben Hur to give Charlton a much-needed break.

Here’s some happy news. My niece Allison and her husband Greg (they live in Chicago) are expecting their first baby in January, and since there’s a shower coming up in a couple of weeks I decided to check out their online gift registry. Just between us, I don’t know where they’re planning to stash the mountain of stuff they’re asking for because they live in a small one-bedroom condo that Allison bought before they were married and the two of them are already out of closet space. Their gift list includes every Fisher-Price toy on the market plus bouncy swings, exercise jungle gyms, musical mobiles, humidifiers, strollers, car seats, nursery lamps, changing tables, a Sophie the Giraffe teething ring, FAO Schwarz baby animal finger puppets and a Koala Baby laundry hamper. Plus industrial-size crates of disposable diapers and other essentials like a few million baby bottles, onesies, blankets, burp cloths and nipple cream for mommy.

I refuse to send anybody a gift-wrapped jar of nipple cream. Ever. The finger puppets, however, are so damn cute I might need a set for ME.
I miss Sam. Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What was I thinking.

I’m not sure how I let this slip past me but apparently I completely forgot to review a couple of new Schwan’s products that I tried this month. I suppose I didn’t have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to take care of this, but what the hell — as long as I’m already here it shouldn’t be a total waste of time.
I wanted to like Schwan’s Crispy Chicken Strips but I just couldn’t do it. They’re basically a bunch of scary chicken tenders with rubbery tendons and breading that tastes like wallpaper paste. I use the term “scary” because the tasteless breading appears to contain a lot of pepper and now I’m stuck trying to figure out WHAT ELSE all those little black flecks could be.

The Mini Bow-Tie Pasta and Vegetable Blend was way more successful. Everybody loves peas, corn and carrots, and with all that teeny pasta thrown in you almost have a complete and nutritious meal-in-a-bag except there’s no protein or discernible flavor. Personally, I just use a pile of butter-flavor spray and a dash of seasoned salt.

And now, on to other subjects.

It’s Saturday at last. Sam is “on call” and carrying a pager for work all weekend but hopefully we’ll be able to escape and do something fun, like go to Pei Wei for lunch. I’m craving their hot and sour soup (see below) and have to find a way to drop a couple of hints. Please send me an email as soon as possible if you have any bright ideas.
Thank you for reading this. I want to go back to bed now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Friday evening retrospective.

First of all, it really pays off to report your neighbors for code violations. Guess who mowed their lawn this morning! Yee-ha! The bozo next door got started before 9 a.m. — a little too early for my taste — but I’m not complaining because his yard finally looks normal.

For exercise this afternoon I spent an hour at Central Market, the best grocery store on earth, shopping for a carload of fun food. This included chicken quesadillas for Sam, a large hunk of jack cheese made with Hatch chilies, a fresh sliced challah, hummos, grilled pita bread and several big bags of interesting crunchy things. The total bill was less than $50, which is a testament to my remarkable self-control because I usually spend at least twice that much. Below are two views of Central Market, one from the outside and one from the inside. They have an amazing bakery but it’s the deli that could bring you to tears.
According to the Howdygram’s visitor statistics — which Sam and I review daily — somebody from Manchester, England, discovered my blog this morning after Googling “which English king died on the toilet.” I am, as always, dumbfounded, flummoxed and flabbergasted, because to my knowledge I’ve never written anything on the subject of royal toilets and morbidity. I guess that means I’m overdue. Therefore, I’m pleased to report that George II of Great Britain is the English king in question since he reportedly died on the toilet at 7:15 a.m. on October 25, 1760. According to an eyewitness, the king woke up at 6 a.m., drank hot chocolate, went into his little pee-pee closet and dropped dead at 7:15 from an apparent heart attack.*

What any of this has to do with the Howdygram, however, is beyond my comprehension.

And now it’s time for a late dinner. I’m loaded with leftover Chinese food or I might sneak one of of the quesadillas I bought for Sam. (Ssshh.) Thank you for reading this.

*Gracias to Wikipedia.

Sorry, pal, you'll get baloney and like it.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has announced it will no longer let death row inmates order extravagant last meals before they’re executed. The decision came after they received a blunt letter on Thursday from state senator John Whitmire, who basically said ENOUGH ALREADY and threatened legislation if the department wouldn’t end this practice voluntarily. He reasoned that it’s damn inappropriate to give such a luxurious privilege to an inmate who’s sentenced to death. Which also happens to be a privilege that the inmate didn’t provide for his victim.
Whitmire’s letter specifically referred to death row inmate Lawrence Brewer, a white supremacist who was executed by lethal injection Wednesday night. The Houston Chronicle reported that Brewer ordered (but didn’t eat) the following last meal, which was technically enough food to feed a middle school:
  • a triple meat bacon cheeseburger
  • a cheese omelet
  • two chicken-fried steaks
  • a large bowl of fried okra
  • three orders of fajitas
  • a pound of barbecue brisket with a half loaf of white bread 
  • a pint of Blue Bell ice cream
The director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice agreed with Whitmire wholeheartedly and ended the last meal crapola IMMEDIATELY. From now on, on the night before execution death row inmates will eat baloney just like everybody else.

I might also suggest Cici’s pizza, which is actually WORSE than a lethal injection. Thank y’all for reading this.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Having fun. Wish you were here.

Hi, y’all. Here’s a Club Meds update in case you were totally sucked in by yesterday’s post. Dr. M changed my injectable diabetes medication to Victoza today and gave me a couple of free sample pens.
No surprise, there’s good news and bad news where Victoza is concerned. The good news is I only have to inject myself once a day, I can use a much teenier screw-on needle (see right) and I don’t have to eat breakfast within 60 minutes of the injection. (With my Byetta pen I had to inject FOUR times a day, the needle was three times as long and I had to eat within an hour.) The bad news is, VICTOZA COSTS A FORTUNE. My insurance co-pay doesn’t come close to covering most of the expense so I’ll have to join Victoza’s discount club and flash my official membership card and secret decoder ring every time I get a refill at Wal-Mart. For the time being, though, I’ll use the two sample pens Dr. M gave me before I worry about filling my first prescription. If Victoza doesn’t work out the next step will be insulin, which is cheap because it’s been around since the late 16th century. (Just kidding.)

In other news, the stock market took another nosedive today. I’m sure you don’t visit the Howdygram for late-breaking financial news but I thought you might like to know. Apparently a bunch of big cheeses are predicting a second global recession, although I don’t think we ever really pulled out of the FIRST one. A few economic indicators may have improved during the last few years but the #1 issue is still JOBS, and there aren’t enough to go around yet.

Contrary to popular opinion, I am not unemployed. I have the Howdygram and laundry. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Four undeniably exciting events. Seriously.

Sam’s happy feet. Here’s something for the thrill-seekers among you. I ordered Sam a pair of shiny new shoes this morning on, and we’ve never bought shoes for him online before!
These attractive Bostonian loafers feature excellent arch supports and 83 five-star customer reviews. The price is a little higher than DSW’s website, but the number one reason to shop on Zappos — for those of you who haven’t read any of my previous shopping posts for the last few years — is their truly beautiful SERVICE, which includes free shipping, free RETURN shipping and zero sales tax. Plus they usually upgrade you to overnight shipping for free. Both of Sam’s feet are very excited, and justifiably so.

Turn in your neighbors for fun and profit. To tell you the truth, there’s no profit in this whatsoever but turning them in was definitely huge fun. The bozo who lives directly south of us must be allergic to lawn mowers because he hasn’t touched his front yard since the first week of May. Fortunately, Mesquite lets sneaky residents like me play 007 on the city’s official website and report code violations any time of the day or night, so I filed my complaint this morning before breakfast, uploaded a digital photo snapped by Sam, and a city inspector showed up at lunch time to glue a warning to our neighbor’s front door! I’m so excited I might drive around the subdivision and report EVERYBODY.

The Howdygram’s answer to “duck and cover.” NASA says its derelict Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite will make its final plunge to Earth on Friday, September 23, when the 20-year-old bus-sized spacecraft is expected to hurl about two dozen chunks of debris on us. Since NASA obviously can’t say exactly when or where on Friday to expect their flying bus chunks, we’re pleased to offer all Howdygram readers an opportunity to purchase our patented one-size-fits-all Bus-Proof Helmet, constructed of quality American-made scrap metal and designed for your temporary comfort.
Incidentally, we didn’t have time to dream up anything for your pets so you might need to consider crafting teeny protective headgear from ordinary household items, as pictured at right. Lemons would work, too.

Time for another trip to Club Meds. Hey, I’ve got a doctor appointment tomorrow morning! Once again we’re trying to get my blood sugar under control because four daily Byetta injections haven’t quite done the job. Dr. M said she’d either switch me to Victoza (another injectable pen that’s twice as expensive) or we’ll finally have to try insulin. To celebrate my good fortune I’m eating Krispy Kremes and a Hershey bar for dinner. (Not really.) Y’all be sure to tune in again for further updates.

Thank you for reading this.

Pass the kleenex.

I really have nothing exciting to write about at daybreak on a quiet Wednesday morning, but since having nothing to say has never stopped me before I thought I’d post something anyway.

Sam is still asleep. I should be, too, except I woke up SNEEZING about 45 minutes ago and figured it was probably fall allergies. Our annual pollen extravaganza is underway in Texas right now. Let me know if you’d like to attend the festivities and I’ll put sheets on the bed in the guest room. Bring your own Sudafed.

The Texas State Fair — nine days and counting! Sam and I didn’t go last year or the year before because I was rendered immobile by a variety of ailments that made it nearly impossible to walk. This year, though, life is much different. Even if I don’t have the stamina to shlep around for HOURS, I should be able to enjoy the State Fair without hailing an ambulance to get home.

The State Fair is a hoot. I think the number one attraction is the FOOD, because in Texas if you can catch it and deep-fry it, it’s perfect for the Fair. And you get extra credit if it’s on a stick. I personally LOVE food on a stick.

Aside from eating there are plenty of other State Fair activities for the entire family, including wine tasting, funnel cakes, dancing Dobermans, storytime for kids, puppet shows, acrobats, parades, racing pigs, bumper cars and celebrity chefs. Do NOT miss the pie judging, your chance to pet a llama, harvest crops for cheese and crackers and spin a wheel for free powdered sugar donuts. You can also visit the State Fair Crapola Buildings (my designation) to shop for every “As Seen On TV” product that’s ever been seen on TV, such as Ginsu knives, Thighmaster exercisers, Ronco vertical chicken rotisseries, electronic litter boxes and Space Bags, all offered for sale by a bunch of hucksters doing their best Billy Mays imitations.
For me, the Crapola Buildings are the best part of the Fair even though Sam has to drag me — and my credit cards — away from every booth. A good sales pitch leaves me limp, sort of like consumer sex.

And on that cheery note I guess I’ll try heading back to bed for a while. Thank you for reading this.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scams and Einsteins.

This post features our first-ever three-way Einstein Award for your possible amusement. Read on.

Einstein #1. Here’s a new twist. With AT&T U-Verse service our big-screen plasma TV conveniently turns into a gigantic caller ID whenever the phone rings. Yesterday afternoon it rang during the Cowboys game and “Scam Caller” was the name that popped up. Sam and I officially want to thank AT&T for their accurate identification. We didn’t pick up the phone and the Einstein who called us didn’t leave a message.

Einstein #2. When we bought our furniture yesterday at Haverty’s we had an opportunity to squeeze out of two potential scam add-on charges. The first was their Guardsman Protection Plan for $299.95 that treats your new upholstered furniture with a secret formula and protects it from paint, crayons, marker, gum, mud, bleach, pet pee-pee, Cheez Whiz, glue, eyeliner, nail polish and strained beets — all the evil stains that two senior citizens like us might experience watching an old William Powell movie. After we politely declined, our sales associate turned into an instant Einstein when she said, “If you don’t want the Guardsman Plan you might want to buy a can of the same spray that we use for $9.99.”

As an addendum to the previous paragraph, the second scam was Haverty’s $169.95 delivery charge. I’m sorry, but when you spend more than three grand on furniture from a store that’s five minutes from home Sam and I think delivery should be FREE. Apparently Haverty’s has a different slant on this, however, because the more you spend, the more they charge you. Sam flipped out and announced that we’d cancel the order unless they dropped our delivery charge to $50. He won.

Einstein #3. One final Einstein story. Just in case Fried Butter, Chicken-Fried Bacon and Deep-Fried Bubble Gum isn’t enough to implode your arteries, this year there’s a new food vendor at the Texas State Fair named Phuong Le who’s planning to sell Deep-Fried CHICKEN SKIN. You know, the slimy, fat-coated poison that normal people throw in the garbage because it can KILL you. Colonel Sanders is barfing in his grave.

I think it’s time for a very late lunch because my stomach is making noise. On the other hand, maybe it’s just reacting to the concept of Deep-Fried Chicken Skin. Thank you for reading this.

That sucking sound you heard yesterday ...

… was NOT the Dallas Cowboys! They won a thriller of a game against the San Francisco 49ers — in overtime — after tying the score with a field goal during the final four seconds of the game. Then Cowboys wide receiver Jesse Holley ran an amazing 77-yard play that allowed them another kick to win 27 to 24. Quarterback Tony Romo even played with a BROKEN RIB. We got so excited we almost couldn’t finish our spaghetti and meatballs.

Now I have three important football-related questions, and I invite all Howdygramsters to answer by clicking the “comments” link at the end of this post or sending an email.
  1. What the hell is a “nippleback.”
  2. Why is there a “nose tackle” position when I thought everybody was supposed to wear a helmet.
  3. How much do Gatorade squirters get paid.
For your possible interest here is a photo of Jesse Holley after his 77-yard run. He was either celebrating or praying for rain. (The prayer worked. See next paragraph.) I do not have a photo of Tony Romo’s rib.
Big weather news. At last, we got slammed with a huge severe thunderstorm that started last night around 8 p.m. According to the Dallas Morning News, Mesquite reported 2¼" of rain in one hour along with 70 m.p.h. straight-line winds. A lot of suburbs also received one-inch hail (I am perfectly happy to do without hail) and more than 50,000 homes in the Dallas area are still without power. Sam and I turned out the lights in the family room and watched the storm in the dark.

For those of you who need to know things like this, WE DID IT. We bought new furniture for our family room! On Saturday Sam and I spent a couple of hours at the La-Z-Boy Gallery near home and decided they really didn’t have what we wanted. Until we walked through the store we never realized that every sectional sofa they sell has built-in recliners, and at 6'5" Sam is way too tall for recliners. So yesterday we wound up at Haverty’s Furniture and ordered an oversized top grain leather armchair for Sam with a matching ottoman and a fabulous upholstered sectional.

Everything will be delivered in five to seven weeks. Samples from Haverty’s website are posing for you below. These are the actual colors that we bought.
I think I’ll go back to bed now. Sam probably didn’t even know I was gone.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's 4 a.m. and I am not alone.

No, this is NOT the opening line of a science fiction movie. I woke up at 3:45 for my nightly bathroom inspection tour and all of a sudden Sam was up, too. He NEVER gets out of bed at that hour and it’s mighty weird to have company in the study in the middle of the night. At the moment I’m hungry enough for breakfast, so maybe I’ll start muttering something subliminal about pancakes at Denny’s, senior discounts and sex. (Sshhh.)

Today is SOFA SHOPPING day and I’m so excited I could bust. To prepare, I downloaded half a dozen PDFs from La-Z-Boy’s website yesterday and memorized all their sectional configurations. (I’ve always been an over-achiever.) Stay tuned. I’ll try to write another post this afternoon and let y’all know what we bought. For your possible interest, below is a photo of La-Z-Boy’s “Collins” sectional. This one is probably a little too big for our family room but there are at least 50 other options.
Late-breaking news! We got some RAIN yesterday, and there’s a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms later on in the afternoon. Water hasn’t fallen from the sky around here for three and half months, and the sight of wet streets is GORGEOUS. Apparently more than 10% of Dallas’ mature trees have already died from the drought. It looked like an early autumn; they all shriveled up and dropped their leaves way back at the beginning of August.

The autumn blaze maple in our front yard died, too. We’re sitting shiva. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sleeping, shopping, noshing and corn pads.

I wasn’t planning to write a post but Sam has been asleep since 7:30 last night and posting sounds like a worthwhile diversion. Yesterday afternoon Sam and I decided we want new furniture for the family room — in particular, a sectional sofa — so he told me to see what I can find online in local stores and we’ll go shopping over the weekend. This is what I’ve been doing for the last several hours aside from eating TicTacs. I think our store of choice on Saturday will be the La-Z-Boy Gallery about five minutes from home.

And now I’d like an answer to a simple, two-part rhetorical question. I want to know why everybody all of a sudden feels compelled to write an online review for every product in the universe, and when did the opinion of morons become a critical component of e-commerce. If you bother to read online reviews you’ll immediately notice that the vast majority of reviewers are card-carrying idiots who nitpick about petty crap they should have noticed before they spent their money, such as the Einstein reviewer on who must have been blindfolded and unconscious when she bought her new sofa. She gave it a one-star rating because the seats are too shallow and she hates the shape of the arms.

You can also find reviews on Wal-Mart’s website for products like toothpaste and corn pads. I don’t know about YOU, but I think it’s pretty scary that somebody wants to compose two paragraphs about corn pads. (It’s even scarier that somebody wants to READ them.) And 19 users have reviewed Cottonelle butt wipes with comments such as: “When the wipes arrived they were squished up and almost didn’t fit in my dispenser” and “I like these better than toilet paper.”
Good God, people, GET A LIFE. This must be shopper’s hell.

By the way, Sam had root canal yesterday morning on a lower molar and spent the rest of the day at home, sleeping and taking Motrin. Apparently the infection is so bad he has to go back for a second treatment in a couple of weeks. You can click here to console Sam with a friendly email message.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Wednesday to remember.

For the first time in recent memory — more than three months! — the sky is actually HEAVILY OVERCAST here and we’ve had a trace of rain. Sam sat out on the patio for a while before lunch today and said the chaise lounge was slightly clammy and he thought he felt a drop. For Texas, this is really huge news that’s worthy of a full paragraph in the Howdygram. And this was it.

FYI, there’s a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms for the next several days and a 40% chance next Monday. Nobody is holding their breath.

And now, for your possible interest, I would like to share the details of today’s online spending spree. I bought a new “oversized” microsuede king-size comforter set for the master bedroom from BrylaneHome that coordinates with the new monogrammed towels I got earlier this year for the master bath. I’d been searching for the perfect set for MONTHS, and this, dear readers, is the one:
What I like best about this comforter (aside from the fabric) is the SIZE, because it’s 110" x 96" and big enough to cover the massive new mattress we bought six months ago. If you check king-size comforter dimensions on most websites they’re usually no more than 102" x 88". This, in my view, is EXTREMELY CHEESY.

Today’s shopping extravaganza also included a monogrammed garden flag for the front yard. I’ve wanted one since we moved into our house back in 2007 but never got around to actually shopping for it. Please check out this very cute website — They’ve got hundreds of different flags, wind socks, goofy garden stakes, flag poles, flag stands and FREE SHIPPING. Everybody loves free shipping.

And finally, for the gourmets among you, I am pleased to offer the following new do-it-yourself food trend here in the southern United States — KOOL-AID PICKLES.
According to an article I just read on the Dallas Observer’s website these are really easy to make at home for your family and friends just in case you actually know people who would EAT this weird crap. All you need is a one-gallon jar of dill pickles (think Costco), a pound of sugar and a package of unsweetened Kool-Aid, preferably cherry or lemon-lime. Then you take the pickles out of the jar, mix the Kool-Aid and sugar into the pickle juice, put the pickles back, seal the jar and refrigerate for a week. I personally find this to be a nauseating recipe, but apparently Kool-Aid pickles are so popular they even have their own booth at the Texas State Fair. The only positive feature — AT LEAST THEY AREN’T DEEP-FRIED. (Yet.) Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Folding parties and stadium tours.

Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for! I finally found a photo of the Walking Taco, one of this year’s new featured foods at the Texas State Fair. Unfortunately, I have no idea why anybody would think this image is a smart marketing idea because IT LOOKS LIKE THE CONTENTS OF A BARF BAG.
Welcome to laundry day here at Howdygramland. I’ve just started Load Number Two, which consists of a mountain of white socks and kitchen towels. Load Number Three, for those of you who may be interested, will be loungewear, tee shirts, shorts and dark socks. If you’d like to come over for a Tuesday afternoon folding party please bring Cheetos, a seedless watermelon or a snack of your choice. Thank you.

Sam and I have been planning a fun Texas-themed agenda for his brother David’s visit next month. So far our activities will include a driving tour of Dallas, dinner at our favorite Texas steakhouse, a trip to the WinStar Casino in Oklahoma, a day at the Texas State Fair, several home-cooked meals and — last but not least — reserved tickets for an exceptionally cool VIP tour of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, which includes running onto the field to get pictures of the world’s largest jumbotron, access to the players’ and cheerleaders’ locker rooms, private suites, media press boxes, the post-game interview room and the official Cowboys Stadium Pro Shop. The VIP tour is a huge hoo-hah and I know Sam and David will love it.
I just realized I forgot to eat lunch today. Maybe I’d better do this immediately so I don’t pass out. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Okay, so it wasn't a totally perfect weekend.

I’m not exactly sure where to start this post. At the beginning seems to make the most sense, so I’ll go with that for now.

Yesterday — Saturday — was our wedding anniversary. Since we were planning on a late lunch at Royal China (maybe around two-ish) Sam decided to spend the morning assembling the new wicker storage box we bought for our patio. Apparently his power of concentration wasn’t exactly up to snuff, because he put it together BACKWARDS and then wrenched his back and shoulder trying to pull the panels apart and start over. Sam looked generally miserable afterwards and required a doughnut, a hot shower and two Motrin to recover.

We were still excited about Royal China, however. We left the house at 2 p.m., the drive was pleasant and uneventful, and we even snagged the world’s best parking spot right outside the front door. Unfortunately, a handwritten note on the glass explained why — “SORRY, ROYAL CHINA IS CLOSED TODAY FOR LUNCH.” This is a restaurant that’s been open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for 30 years — and the one stinking day we decide to go for lunch, THEY’RE CLOSED.

We sit on a bench to review our options. Sam suggests we shift gears and get Mexican. I tell him not on your life, sweetheart, IT HAS TO BE CHINESE.

So we drive another 40 minutes to a hard-core Chinatown neighborhood on Greenville Avenue in Richardson — an enormous Chinese strip mall with two dozen restaurants and martial arts academies guarded by a pair of 40-foot granite foo dogs. By now Sam is STARVING so we grab a parking spot and lunge into the first available door. Please note, this is NOT the most intelligent way to select a restaurant. The waitresses spoke no English whatsoever and the two most appealing entrees on the menu were Savory Pig Stomach and Edible Bullfrog with Walnuts.

Today was a little better. We went for a very nice drive, had very nice Mexican food at El Nogalito in Terrell and then watched the Dallas Cowboys screw up against the New York Jets. The best part of the game, which was played on the Jets’ home turf, was the 9/11 tribute at the beginning when a few billion New York City cops and firefighters unrolled the largest American flag on earth. I think it was even bigger than the Ford dealer’s across the street from Mesquite North High School, but I could be wrong.

And now, here are some exciting events planned for the week ahead. I have to drop off a prescription, reschedule the kidney sonogram I canceled last week and find an endodontist for Sam because he needs a root canal. Actually, if I try real hard I can probably finish everything by 10 a.m. Monday morning, giving me the rest of the week to write Howdygram posts, enjoy the new season of “People’s Court” and watch a bunch of terrific old movies.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday noodles and other topics of interest.

First and foremost, since Sam is still in bed — and sound asleep — I’d like to take this opportunity to wish myself a very happy wedding anniversary. Sam and I are the perfect match. We met in 2002, got married in 2006 and WE’VE NEVER HAD AN ARGUMENT.
Last night Sam and I discussed a celebration lunch at Royal China in Dallas because they have terrific food and we also love the Noodle Dude’s floor show (see below), which includes swinging huge ribbons of dough all over the dining room. I’m actually hungry enough to go RIGHT NOW, but the sun isn’t up yet and I’d be there six hours early. Maybe I’ll just get a yogurt from the refrigerator.
A few days ago the grand prize winners were announced for this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards — the Texas State Fair’s annual fried food competition (see my post from August 31). Allan Weiss took home the Best Taste title with his Fried Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack — blecch! — and Justin Martinez won Most Creative for his Deep-Fried Bubble Gum (see photo below). According to several judges the latter was sticky, stringy, stretchy, nauseatingly sweet, inedible to anybody older than six and altogether GROSS. Apparently it’s acceptable for Most Creative also to be Most Disgusting. Personally, I think Deep-Fried Bubble Gum looks like My Little Pony poop. (Sorry, Hasbro.)
I’m diabetic. Next year maybe somebody will invent Deep Fried Splenda for the insulin crowd.

I think I’ll sneak back into bed now and annoy Sam for a couple of hours. More later.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday night musings.

I probably should be watching this week’s episode of “Project Runway” but I haven’t posted anything to the Howdygram yet today and started to feel little guilty while I was eating dinner.

Dinner, for your possible interest, consisted of leftover egg foo young and a peach yogurt.

Here’s the latest wildfire news from Texas — more than 1,400 homes have been incinerated by the Bastrop fire near Austin, which is still burning out of control. At certain times of the day there’s a faint smell of smoke in the air here and Sam says there’s a visible haze as well. The smell and haze are NOT from the Austin fire, however, because Austin is 220 miles away. They’re either from a fire in far northeast Texas and/or from the Possum Kingdom State Park fire near Fort Worth.

Sam and I are making weekend plans. It’s our wedding anniversary on Saturday, which requires an obligatory restaurant meal for lunch or dinner — maybe BOTH, if I play my cards right — and on Sunday we’re considering either the Dallas Home and Garden Show at the Market Center downtown or a leisurely drive up north to Treeland to pick out a Chinese pistache (see photo below) for the front yard. I’m damn excited about ALL of this.
I’d better get busy watching “Project Runway” now. I always like to get this out of the way when Sam isn’t home because he is NOT a fan of fruity wannabe designers (two appear below from last season) who argue and gossip like a clique of snotty 14-year-old girls. I guess Sam just doesn’t have an appreciation for fine television programming.
Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thoughts about aging.

You know you’re getting old when your contemporaries start winning Kennedy Center Honors. This year’s honorees include Meryl Streep and Neil Diamond, and I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed.
I’ve always loved Meryl Streep’s movies. I haven’t seen too many of her recent films except for Julie & Julia, which was wonderful. She’s a more convincing Julia Child than Julia Child. (Seriously.) As for Neil Diamond, I grew up on his top 40 hits during the 1960s — “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Cherry Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Kentucky Woman” — most of which have evolved into sing-along anthems at stadiums and ball parks.

All of a sudden I feel very old. And today’s mail hasn’t helped much, either.

Before he left for work about an hour ago Sam handed me a catalog of orthopedic shoes for diabetics, September’s AARP newsletter and an offer to sign up for “Southern Living” magazine at the senior citizen rate (ten bucks for 14 issues). I think I’ll go soak my teeth while I consider all these exciting options.

Incidentally, our wonderful new patio is finally done! A crew surprised us at 8:30 this morning to seal the stamped concrete — a five-hour process that included scraping, pressure-washing and several coats of spray-on sealant that also managed to stink up the family room. I’m not complaining because the concrete has gorgeous color now and looks like glossy granite. Tomorrow we’ll arrange the patio furniture and tie our new cushions to the bistro chairs. I’m hoping to shoot some photos by the end of the week and post them here in the Howdygram, no extra charge.

Thank you for reading this!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hey, guess what.

A quick update. I just decided to postpone my kidney sonogram tomorrow because I’m not in the mood to spend half the morning at Baylor Medical Center getting slathered with ice cold gel on purpose. I’d rather stay home and help Sam dress up our fantastic new patio because the goodies I bought online last week are already showing up! This afternoon UPS delivered our new patio cocktail table, chair cushions and some cute Texas-themed decor; tomorrow we’re expecting a pair of citronella candles and our 99-gallon weather-proof storage chest.

Before I forget, the fall season of “People’s Court” premiered yesterday! You really need to see the whack jobs that pass in front of Judge Marilyn Milian. I especially love it when she catches somebody lying (which happens at least once per episode) and damn near vaults over the bench. “People’s Court” is an educational television experience and almost as good as studying for a law degree.

Snack time. Thank you.

Hot topics for Tuesday.

Sneaky fees. For the most part I don’t whine unless I have to, and today I have to. I’m battling my merchant account provider for deducting $166.69 from my checking account this past weekend without telling me WHY. These yahoos process credit card transactions for my home-based graphic design business and already keep a percentage of every sale, so it makes me CRAZY when I catch their hands in the cookie jar. I know they were hoping I wouldn’t notice, but I did. Sam says I’m a genius, and I believe him.

Wildfires. Apparently a large percentage of Texas is on fire (see map below) as I write this post. Apparently some of these blazes are so huge they’re visible from satellites in space, and the Bastrop fire near Austin has consumed more than 1,000 homes.
Looks like we’re getting ready for the world’s largest barbecue. Instead of firefighters and water, Governor Rick Perry has asked FEMA for an emergency airlift of T-bones and napkins.

Rick Perry, presidential candidate. Thought you might enjoy these two YouTube video clips of Bill Maher discussing Texas’ nutjob governor and his presidential aspirations.

I hope Howdygram readers will NOT be fooled by Governor Perry. Basically he’s just a dumber version of George Bush and a scarier version of Sarah Palin. Oy.

Jerry Lewis Appreciation Day. Yesterday I had a chance to watch The Patsy for the first time, a 1964 Jerry Lewis movie with some of the funniest routines I’ve ever seen. Jerry plays a nobody being groomed for stardom by a group of greedy and ambitious agents. I laughed so hard I nearly passed out from lack of oxygen and had to pause the recording twice until I started breathing again. My four favorite scenes: 1) the singing lesson; 2) at the barber shop; 3) the recording session with the backup singers (see photo below); and 4) lip-synching “I Lost My Heart in a Drive-In Movie.”
Before I went to bed last night I ordered the DVD (used) from for three bucks. YOU HAVE TO BUY THIS MOVIE. Seriously.

I know I say this a lot, but thank you for reading this.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sometimes you have to face reality.

Let me start by wishing y’all a happy Labor Day. I started my own private celebration about half an hour ago when I refused to rinse the dishes in the sink. Sam was already in bed and I figured, screw it, they can just sit there in a pile and be crusty for a few more hours because I’d rather write this post.

And now, here’s a Howdygram slant on reality.

First, Texas’ extreme drought and blistering heat have given way to strong winds — but NO RAIN — generated by tropical storm Lee, with more than 300 homes destroyed yesterday by uncontrolled wildfires near Austin. And apparently there’s still a huge fire raging at Possum Kingdom State Park just west of Fort Worth. I wonder if it’s close enough to see smoke from here. Remind me to check after the sun comes up.

Second, here’s some BIG NEWS. “Top Chef” season 9 is currently filming in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio! Our local newspaper has reported several cast sightings around town and a number of “cheftestant” shopping sprees at Whole Foods.
I find this extremely exciting because I love “Top Chef.” Pictured above is celebrity chef and judge Buck Colicchio. I sincerely hope the contestants will be expected to cook some real Texas cuisine. I’m thinking maybe a road kill challenge, i.e., Armadillo Two Ways with a Balsamic Reduction and Deep-Fried Paws with Parmesan Grits.

And finally, even though last August I swore off the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and promised I’d never watch this trash again, I find that I’m still strangely addicted, like staring at a train wreck. Today Bravo aired every back episode from the current season — most of which I missed by pretending not to be interested — so I finally had a chance to catch up with my favorite sequined and altogether useless hoochie-mamas from the Garden State.
Pictured above, from left to right, are Jacqueline, Teresa, Caroline, Kathy (Teresa’s cousin) and Melissa (Teresa’s sister-in-law). Kathy and Melissa are new this season. Bravo cleverly decided to add them to the cast because they both hate Teresa and can’t stop talking about her. Actually, EVERYBODY hates Teresa, and Teresa is apparently the only person who hasn’t figured this out.

Nobody’s too thrilled with Teresa’s husband, either. Or her kids.

The most important thing to know about this crew is they’re all Italian, they all live in 10,000 square foot marble mansions they can’t afford, they all drive Mercedes SUVs, drink way too much wine, and their husbands are all mafia wannabes — the kind that punch relatives at christenings, flip tables in restaurants and threaten to wire each other’s jaws shut. This is all great fun and typically occurs in front of the children. I encourage you to tune it on Sunday nights.

A quick Club Meds update. I’m pleased to report that I’ve stopped taking Niacin because I got fed up with the side effects. Dr. M had me taking a rather enormous dose every night at bedtime to try and lower my triglycerides, but I used to wake up around 3 a.m. itching like a maniac from head to toe with a prickly little rash. And after some online research I also discovered something else — a high dose of Niacin can increase your blood sugar, which might explain why I can’t get mine under control any more. According to WebMd a high dose is considered anything more than 100mg per day. I was taking 1,000.

My brain is ready to explode so maybe I should just go to bed. Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Finally, the first sign of fall.

There’s good news and bad news this morning on The good news is, we’ve got a fall “cold front” on the way that’s apparently going to send our temperatures plummeting into the mid-80s — with lows in the 60s! — by Labor Day. The bad news is, as always, we have ZERO CHANCE OF RAIN.
As much as I’ve moaned about our hellish weather for the last few months I think LANDSCAPES have suffered the most down here. We drive around town and notice that nearly everybody’s lawn looks like a miniature wheat field (ours is still green) and trees are shriveled and dying all over the place — including the autumn blaze maple we planted in our front yard a couple of years ago. We’ll replace it in the spring. Our next tree will be a Chinese pistache. 

Incidentally, Sam is in charge of all yard decisions. This is a good thing because I tend to lean towards Astroturf and silk plants.

I just slapped a Post-It on my monitor to remind me to make breakfast. I’m not particularly hungry, but I injected my diabetes medication at 7:30 and I’m supposed to eat within an hour. I bought a new Schwan’s product last week, which will be today’s breakfast of choice.
They’re actually not bad even though I usually like my food items to be SEPARATE and not smooshed together. The crust is bagel dough that turns out fine in the microwave and the filling is a scrambled egg with sausage, cheese and hash browns. For the record, however, I ate one of these a few days ago and couldn’t find any evidence of hash browns whatsoever. 

Thank you for reading this.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Have craving, will travel.

Trust me. Nothing screams “Labor Day weekend” like a stash of chocolate! So about five minutes after Sam left for work today I jumped into the car — okay, maybe “jump” isn’t entirely accurate; think SHLEPPED instead — with my little insulated cooler (it’s 102° outside) and drove 17 miles to Sugarless DeLite, my #1 favorite craving store in Richardson. It’s part candy store, part bakery and 100% sugar-free. A diabetic’s dream come true.

I actually exhibited some self-control, restraining myself to a quarter-pound of dark chocolate orange peel thingies, a few oozy dark chocolate cherry cordials and — best of all — two slabs of their unforgettable CHEESECAKE BROWNIES.
Cheesecake brownies might be the most wonderful food ever invented that’s not Chinese. These are decadent 2" x 4" slices, exceptionally rich and dense, unbelievably fattening and (thank God) sugar-free. I’m going to whack both slabs into small pieces and begin eating them in teeny sections with a quart of nonfat milk beginning at 8 p.m. tonight. Seriously.

In closing, please allow me to mention yet another glaring example that Texas is a whole ’nother country and extremely out of touch with the rest of the United States, where normal people are concerned about the sagging economy, recession, the lack of new jobs and civil war in Libya. Here in Dallas, however, our local newspaper’s website offers these three top stories today:

“Mayor Thinks Dallas Must Help Get SMU Into Big 12”
“Dallas Stars Should Change Their Uniforms to Red, White and Blue”
“George W. Bush Predicts SMU’s Win In Sunday’s Opener”

We definitely have our priorities straight now. Thank you for reading this. It’s time for dinner.