Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not much into costumes

“Halloween costumes”

    Brad called last weekend and woke me from the early phase of decent nap. He never calls on his day off, so I figured it was something important. It was. Important to him, definitely not for me.

    Brad was anxious to tell me of a Halloween costume shop that he’d just visited with his wife and grandkids. He urged me to drop everything and go check the place out.

    Check it out for what? I don’t like to wear costumes, and I’m uncomfortable around people who do. Especially people wearing masks. That’s just freaky. And clowns? Don’t get me started.

    Brad thought that if I didn’t want to get something for Halloween, maybe I should get some props for our restaurant review videos. That’s what he did. He bought a straw Oriental-looking hat to wear next time we review an Asian restaurant. The man is a genius. I hope he didn’t find a plastic pig nose for when we do BBQ. The man ought to be doing used car commercials. 

    Brad did say that he was looking for a sombrero, but couldn’t find a good one. The guy already has a sombrero, and I told him so. He wears the thing during our Mexican restaurant reviews. Drives me crazy.

    That’s when Brad said something really dumb. See if you don’t agree. He said that what he owned was a Mexican hat, not a sombrero. He said, “What I’m looking for is one of those pieces of cloth with a hole in it that you stick your head through. You know, a sombrero?” When I told him that he was referring to a serape, he said, “I thought that was shoe.”

    Back to the costume place. Brad acted like I should be real excited about the store, so I lied and told him that I’d rush over and check it out. If he ever asks what I thought about the place, I’ll tell him that I never intended to go. I was being sarcastic.

 If caught in a lie, it’s best to claim sarcasm. You need to make the person feel like an idiot for not catching onto the joke. People do it to me all the time. -- On a historical note, Noah was among the first to use sarcasm. – “A boat? No, it’s gonna be a taco truck. I’m surrounded by idiots!”

    I’m not sure Brad bought a new Halloween costume. He probably did, ‘cause he goes ape over Halloween. He decorates his golf cart and drives around the subdivision handing out candy. Or does he do that for Easter? I don’t remember. He does something weird.

    I haven’t done anything big for Halloween since the sixth grade. As soon as I stopped collecting candy, I stopped caring. Of course, I still buy candy for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. They seldom show up, but I usually buy the best candy just in case… in case they don’t show. I don’t wanna be stuck with a bunch of cheap suckers.

    Nowadays, I think most kids go “Trunk-or-Treating.” I don’t know which church, school or neighborhood invented Trunk-or-Treat, but it’s ingenious. You can get ten times the candy in a fraction of the walk. Isn’t that what America is all about?

    If were a kid today, I’d go to every Trunk-or-Treat in town. I’d be a Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian… whatever it took. I’d probably have to get my big brother Larry, to drive me, ‘cause I doubt Mom would’ve sanctioned congregational swapping. Parents can read so much into things. The key is – and always has been – FREE CANDY! Not that complicated. 

    Yes, I’d forget the whole the door to door thing. You have to walk too far. Then again, you could go over to Brad’s and see if he’d drive you around the neighborhood in his golf cart. 

    He’ll likely be in costume. I don’t know what he’ll be, but I’m thinking it may be something with an Asian theme. Maybe a ninja. If he is, ask him to demonstrate his numbchucks. That’ll be something your children will want to tell their children.

You can reach Mark at

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Everybody move in closer

Levi and Cash being repelled from Jungle Gym by Violet
“Duck for acorns”

    ROOFTOP – I must caution you about falling limbs. One hit on the eastside of the roof just before you arrived. It wasn’t big enough to kill anybody, but it would’ve stunned you. Wasn’t even that close, but it scared the willies out of me. I’m now without willies. 

    Since there are no limbs hanging over this part of the roof, what say we all huddle together over here? – That’s a little too close. – Better.

    I must admit it’s rare that a dead limb of any size finds the roof. We get a lot of acorns, though. A stiff breeze will blow through and you’ll think someone is tossing rocks at you. Those things hit with a loud thwack.  Thwack? I hate to try to spell sounds.

    Unlike last year, this is a good year for acorns. I haven’t witnessed too many squirrels taking advantage of the surplus. We lost a bunch of squirrels last year due to the drought. It’s apparently going to take another year or two for the population to build.

    Just as well, ‘cause we had way too many of those critters running around before the drought. You can’t convince me that some of ‘em weren’t throwing acorns at me. A yard full of overly confident squirrels is a bad thing. They stand out there and taunt you. “Hey, whatcha gonna do about it? Huh?” They’re just begging me to chase ‘em. I never play their game. Not anymore. 

    What I hate worse than a smug squirrel is a big black lizard with two yellow stripes on its back. I saw one of those this afternoon. It had one of those snubbed noses. I hate the snubnose. The thing was fast, too. Looked like a black “S” racing across the carport.  Ran in a “S” shape. I don’t know how they do it.

    I’d google “black lizard” and find out what kind it is, but then I’d dream about ‘em. If I see a picture of a snake or mean-looking lizard, I dream about ‘em.

Same thing with the Mafia and motorcycle gangs. I’ve been watching “Boardwalk Empire” and “Sons of Anarchy.”  Not too many scary shows scare me anymore. But, shows where people act really cruel? That stuff scares me. Let me tell you, there are some mean characters on Boardwalk and Sons. And I still watch ‘em. How do you explain something like that? Hey, it’s rhetorical. We don’t judge one another on the roof. – Speaking of which, I realize that all motorcycle gang members are not cruel. Just some of the ones on “Sons of Anarchy.”

What we need is a massive subject change. Let’s try this one. -- Boy, if you had been here Saturday week, you would’ve had a blast. I wouldn’t have had enough for you to eat, but you would’ve had fun watching the nieces and nephews run around acting crazy. Falling down, throwing stuff and yelling. Unless family visits, my yard doesn’t experience a lot of that.

We had some good eats. Unfortunately, my brisket was sub par, but a few lied and told me it was great. There are some family members who will not lie about food. Do you have any of those?

And, Kay’s pie. She made a nutty, whip cream, cream cheese and caramel concoction. It’s been banned in Oklahoma.

When things died down here, Al invited everyone over to his place for finger foods. We had never had finger foods at a gathering before. Finger foods take way too much prep for me. Al and Marlena went to a lot of trouble to prepare all the treats we had. They kept bringing out dishes of stuff. We’d finish one appetizer after another. Topped the evening off with some homemade ice cream.
Al cookin' up stuff

We sat out and talked till late. The mosquitoes were a little more active than they are tonight. Al had to light up some PIC. Remember the green spiral wick that you would light at the drive-in theater? They had the commercial where the giant mosquito is telling you to not believe it. That it “dooon’t work.” Then he croaks.

When Al got out the PIC, it made us think of the times Dad took us to the drive-in. All of the snacks Mom made for us; the playground area just under the big screen; the speaker boxes that made it sound like people were talking into tin cans. Ah, those were the days. I wouldn’t want to go back for anything, but they were fun while we had ‘em.

And, it’s been fun up here. Hasn’t it? Lie to me if you have to. The mosquitoes haven’t bothered us much. We got to share a thought or two. And, no one got taunted by a squirrel or thwacked by an acorn. I call that a good night.


You can reach Mark at

Saturday, October 13, 2012

All the way from Washington

Susan and Jill

Sister Sue visits Texas!

    My sister Sue from Washington State is visiting. Isn’t that great? Came down from Grandview.

Grandview is about 150 miles east of Seattle on the other side of the mountains. Grandview doesn’t get quite the rain and fog that Seattle does, but the area does get apples. Lots of apples.

The Texas Hayters (Which means all but Susan) hadn’t seen our sister since Mom’s funeral six years back. That’s too long to go without seeing a sister. Sue came down at this particular time because she loves us a bunch, and missed us dearly… and because the Class of ’62 at Pasadena High was having it’s reunion.

Susan’s husband, Pete, passed away a couple of years ago, so Dennis escorted Susan to the reunion. Dennis is from the class of ’65 at PHS, so he was a youngster amongst ‘em. However, he did recognize a few of those in attendance. Didn’t know them well enough to dance with, which was good ‘cause he mostly recognized the men. Old they were. Not like my sister.

Sue is still a doll. She’s kept her figure and her good looks. I wouldn’t want to live with her or anything, ‘cause she’d probably try to boss me around. When we were kids, Mom would have Sue baby-sit us. Dennis and I could do no right. And, we tried. Oh, how we tried. Still, Mom had to spank us after practically every sister Sue sit. Sue never gave us a good report.

Susan isn’t like that now. Of course, something might happen to touch her off… send her back to the mindset of her 14 year-old self. At least Elsie is not around to give us a spanking. I wish she were.

Susan said that this has been her nicest visit. That’s ‘cause we’ve spread ourselves around. She was three nights with Jill, one with Larry and one with Dennis. Right now she’s at my house, and will be for at least one more night. Then it’s off to Al’s place.

Tuesday we all went to Clear Lake to watch Larry and Dennis play slo-pitch softball in an old man’s league. Senior league, I think it’s called. The brothers are on different teams and just happened to be playing one another. Larry is on a lousy team. (Don’t worry. They know it.) Dennis is on the best team in the league.
Me, Sue, Dardon Ann and Kay at Softball game

Turns out, Larry’s team was leading up till the last inning. Everyone was flabbergasted. Larry even hit a triple and knocked in some runs. The man was an animal on the base path. But, like I said, Dennis’ team came back near the end and won the thing.

There’s something you’ve got to know about Senior League slo-pitch. Those guys love it if someone shows up to watch. Seldom will even one of the wives come out to see ‘em. With four Hayter kids cheerin’ for both teams, the guys played better than they could. Even the umpire, my ol’ friend Skillet, was extra animated.

Besides the game, we’ve sat around and talked a bunch about old times. That’s about all we’ve got. Not many recent times. It is so odd how we all remember episodes in our childhood differently. And, in a few instances, there are those who remember certain experiences not at all.

Tomorrow the whole crew is coming over to my house for BBQ. Then we’re going to Al’s for homemade ice cream. More talking and joking and acting silly. Dennis is the silliest. Do you know what that guy said, right before Jill snapped a picture of me with Kay and Susan? Of course you don’t. He said, “Hey, Mark, tuck in your nose.”

It was the ol’ Mark’s-got-a-big-nose joke. A family favorite. And, Dennis timed this one perfectly. I busted out laughing… as did the entire room. Unfortunately, Jill was too busy laughing to snap the photo. It would’ve been a family favorite. Splattered all over Facebook.

And, of course, Elsie wasn’t there to make Dennis apologize. Had she been with us in that room, she still wouldn’t have gotten after Dennis, ‘cause she would’ve been laughing too much. – I do so love my family. That doesn’t mean I won’t loan Dennis out to you. Whatta goober, my big brother.  


You can reach Mark at

Speaking of which...

The bed goes every direction except sideways
An update

    This week I’m going to give you a follow-up on a few things left hanging in previous weeks. Stuff that billions of readers have inquired about.

    First off, Kay and I will not be going on an Alaskan cruise in the foreseeable future. I persuaded Kay that we should use our Cruise Fund to buy a bed. The argument that won her over went something like this: “Do you really want to spend a third of our life in an old, bad bed, or in a new, really good bed?”

    The new, really good bed we ended up getting cost a bunch. It’s a king, double adjustable job. Two separate mattresses with separate controls that lift you up, put you down and vibrate you all around. The vibrating actually gives me a headache, so I only use it occasionally, and only because I can.

    We didn’t get a tempurpedic mattress like I planned, ‘cause it cost only marginally less than our car. The owner/salesman had us try out some most comforting alternatives. I’ve got to say that when you’re shopping for something that you’ll visit for the rest of your non-waking life, it’s best to get input from someone who knows beds. Believe it or not, it is possible to purchase a bed worse than the one you’ve got.

    Bottom line, my excitement over bedtime has doubled. And, no, you’re not meant to read anything into that. Speaking of “reading”, we can now raise the bed so we can comfortably read or watch TV in bed.

And, get this. When I get sleepy, I can just return my bed to the sleeping position, while Kay continues to read in the propped position. Reading makes me sleepy, but it keeps Kay awake. I didn’t know that when I married her. Had she chewed tobacco while reading in bed, it would’ve likely been a deal breaker.

    Now, concerning the bar of soap that I’ve been trying to use completely up. --  It’s still alive. It is as thin as a fitted sheet, but still lathers. A couple of readers have told me that the best way to get the sliver to completely dissolve is to stick it to a bar of new soap.

Two things wrong with that. It would be cheating if I let the soap ride along with another bar, thus skewing my findings. I hate skewed findings. Besides, the sliver is so hard that I doubt it would stick to any other soap. Maybe Dove. If Silly Putty came out with soap, it might stick to it. 

So, I fear I’ll hafta get back to you later with the results of my soap experiment. By the way, in my soap article I mentioned that two people in Latvia were the only ones to completely use up a bar of soap… in separate incidents. I joking referred to the people as Lats.

As luck would have it, I was contacted by a real life Latvian from The Woodlands. Aivars informed me that “Lat” is the name for the Latvian currency, and that the people of Latvia are referred to as “Lett.”

He also told me to stick my soap sliver to a new bar of soap. I think the Lett invented the process. Fortunately, it is obvious that Aivars has a sense of humor. Regardless, my apologies to the world population of Lett. I have fired two of my researchers over this.

    Finally, a kidney stone update. My urologist prescribed a pill that’s supposed to keep me from having any more stones. Of course, I still have to drink water constantly. . Plus, a friend recommended I drink a little bit of apple-cider vinegar now and again. Dilute it with water or something nice-tasting.

    When I asked the urologist about the vinegar, he informed me that my stones are calcium and that vinegar would likely help. He said that if I really enjoy torture, I should try it, but that the pills he prescribed should do the trick. I decided to do both. 

    Drinking diluted vinegar isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. It’s a lot worse. There’s nothing you could possibly mix with vinegar that would make the experience more tolerable. Nothing I’ve discovered.

    Another friend recommended I drink Pomegranate juice. I do that, too. Pills, vinegar, pomegranate juice and lots of water. I will do whatever it takes to keep from writing another article about a kidney stone attack.

    I have every confidence that my next kidney stone will be acidic. – That’s it. Next time we’ll talk about something new. And, there’s a chance I’ll leave you hanging.


You can reach Mark at