Monday, May 20, 2013

Time for Our Annual Check-In With the Fucking Squirrels

The Enemy after a little snack at the cat food bowl.
Yes, that's right. It's that time once again for the fucking squirrels to ruin my garden. As ever, demonstrating the triumph of hope over experience, I put in a summer garden. I did this with the wonderful help of the amazing Robin Chotzinoff and her team at Dirty Hands Garden Design. Robin is an old friend, a Dick Monologues alum, and a genius gardener. Things were looking good.

I knew it wouldn't be long before the fluffy-tailed rats moved in, but I chose to live in a state of denial. The unusually cool spring seemed to keep them at bay, and there was enough rainwater to convince them to not chew through my drip irrigation hoses as they are wont to do. Yes, I saw them digging up pecans they'd buried in the raised beds-- so much for the useless fucking "realistic" plastic bobble-head owl "deterrents." But the tomatoes and peppers and squash went mostly untouched. And then...

And then they discovered that they didn't have to settle for the ridiculously expensive organic cat food in the front of the house or the equally ridiculously expensive organic chicken feed in the backyard. Oh no, they could help themselves to the sweet potatoes I sprout in jars to be like Martha Stewart on a budget and keep on the patio. Well, okay, actually the truth is I don't set out to create these arrangements, I just sometimes forget to eat my sweet potatoes in a timely fashion, at which point I stuff them in jars, as my mother did to have green around our house and stay within her minuscule budget. In my case, the vines had taken over the house, wrapped into the spokes of my ne'er used bicycle, and attracted a rather stunning army of ants. And so I moved the potatoes outside only to discover this:  

Fucking squirrels.
Once upon a time Rebound would take out the squirrels. Once she even left half a squirrel carcass on the rug for me. Sweet Rebound. If I am to be honest though, I confess that while I am no fan of destroyed gardens, nor can I advocate death for the squirrels who are just trying, like us and the Bee Gees, to remain stayin' alive (moment of silence for all the dead Brothers Gibb). Anyway, that was back when Rebound was at fighting weight. Here is the current scenario. "HEY REBOUND!! There are squirrels in the yard!!!" 

Yeah? Who gives a shit?

And so it came to pass that I had to take matters into my own Breaking Bad hands. On the advice of a nice woman at Natural Gardeners, I acquired the following: spray bottle, mask, latex gloves, dish soap, and a shit ton of habaƱero peppers. As I contemplated the great potential for burnt lungs, I let the bag of peppers sit and fester and mold for awhile before I actually did anything with them.

Look at these. They look innocent, right? WRONG! 
Finally, I took action. I donned the mask, hoped the boiling peppers wouldn't choke out me and the dogs, turned on the swamp cooler fan, opened the doors, applied my swim goggles, and set to work.

And as I worked, I had just two thoughts. The first thought: Let me live through this. The second thought: FUCK YOU SQUIRRELS!

Boil, boil, toil and trouble. And bubbles. Soap bubbles, I mean, not Bubbles' cremains. That would be gross.  
Disgusting and deadly.
And then I took the concentrate, stuck it in the fridge for about a month until I finally got together the energy and daring to go out and spray the garden with the mixture. The nice lady at Natural Gardeners tells me that squirrels hate the spicy heat of peppers.

 That's all well and good, and I am hopeful this year the latest plan will work. Of course now every single thing I harvest is going to taste like habaƱero, totally suck, and be entirely too spicy to eat. But that's beside the point. I don't care if I don't get to enjoy the yield. Just as long as those fucking squirrels don't either. Ah, the sweet taste of victory!

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's That Time of the Year-- Disco Haiku Contest! Great Prize!

Last year I held a Disco Haiku Contest and the winner-- Chris Nudd-- got a pair of tickets to Studio 54klift the annual Disco Dance Extravaganza Fundraiser for Allison Orr's amazing Forklift Danceworks. Allison is the one who brought us Trash Dance, one of the most moving performances I have seen in my life. Now she's working on PowerUP, a performance piece featuring Austin's power workers that will be literally uplifting and electrifying.

To celebrate the genius that is Allison Orr, the wonder that is Graham Reynolds (who scores her pieces), and all the amazing folks who work with her, I am once again having a Disco Haiku Contest. Winner will receive a pair of tickets to the event which is this Saturday, May 18, 2013, at Zach. It is going to be so wildly fabulous I am going to faint with joy and excitement. My favorite human on the planet (sorry Warren) is hosting. Yes, that's right, put your hands together for

Miss Rebecca Havemeyer


I've got a note in to the Divine Miss H to see if she can judge the contest. I'll keep you posted. Contest closes at 5 pm on Thursday, May 16, 2013. Email your submission to and I'll compile them all here on Thursday. Anyone can enter but you must be able to attend the party to win. Ladies and gentlemen, start your pencils...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Office of Good Deeds Asks You to Lighten Your Wallet and Fatten Your Ass to Help West Comma Texas!

My favorite traditions are the accidental kind. I really can’t stand all the stuff heaped on us by the media and big boxes trying to get us to buy into, say, Christmas hype starting in September. But I have stumbled into moments in my life that continue to bear repeating. Of all of these, I think Stopping for Kolaches in West Comma Texas just must be my favorite.

I can no longer remember the first time I went to the Czech Stop off of exit 353 for those little sweet and savory pastries. But it has to be going on fifteen years or more now that I pull over, whether I need gas or not, and fill up my personal tank with cherry cream cheese and apricot cream cheese kolaches.

So many summers I tossed little Henry in the back of one crappy old beater or another—no air conditioning, windows down, whipping up the highway Jersey bound or back down again homeward bound—and always came The Stop. I was (still am) so enamored of West that when I was a lifestyle reporter for the Dallas Morning News I convinced my editor to let me do a piece that involved spending an entire day in the Czech Stop, watching the comings and goings of so many just-passing-through truckers and tourists as well as all the locals.

I’ve had so many opportunities and honors in my life as a writer—bylines in lots of big places. But I have to say of all the accolades and kudos I’ve received, nothing thrilled me more than all those years after I wrote that article when I stopped in West and there it was, my article, framed and hanging above the register.

On a quick trip up to Fort Worth this week, I felt an odd combination of dread and eagerness in the pit of my stomach as the mile markers worked there way up to 300 and then beyond, knowing that West was just up the holler. And then there she was.

I’m not sure what I expected to see in the aftermath of the explosion. And I didn’t see much to let on that so much loss had occurred. But I could feel it in the air. And, too, I could also feel the buzz of Let’s Carry On. The Czech Stop was packed with a line snaking through the store. I loaded up on kolaches—more than usual just to be helpful, you know? And I dropped a check in the disaster relief bucket. And I thought about the loss of so many lives.

These are now a permanent part of my ass.
Here’s what really got me though. Taped to the front of the store were the missing dog fliers—pets that were lost in the explosion, maybe dead, maybe on the run, who knows. With all due respect to the human loss and pain, those dog fliers were a punch to the gut for me as I still wake up sometimes and do a dog count over here and realize we are two down from where we were just three weeks ago.

In these crazy times of media frenzies fed by internet races to see who can outpace whom in reporting on Big News and Great Tragedy, what happened in West, Texas was overshadowed by what happened at the Boston Marathon. Not that tragedy is or should be a competition, but that’s how these things shake down.

And so, word on the street is that in a rush to be helpful, many people contributed to funds to help the Boston victims while the folks in West are still in tremendous need.

I know I am forever haranguing y’all to give to this cause or that. And recently I was thinking maybe I should just start the $5 Per Week Club, where 2,000 of us kick in $5 every Monday to go to some good cause. Ah, but that would require more organization than I can muster. And so I will just keep asking you to help on a case-by-case basis.

Please y’all—West, Texas needs us. Lend a hand. $5-- that's all I'm asking. More is great, but every little bit really does help. Here's how you can kick in:

And here’s a link for the Austin Bakes for Westbenefit this weekend—a great excuse to fatten your ass in the name of helping.

President of the Office of Good Deeds