there was one book for each of the twenty-six sweet pickles characters (each representing a letter of the alphabet):
who stole alligator's shoe? about accusing alligator who blames everything and everybody for anything that happens.
scaredy bear about bashful bear who is so shy he is afraid to try almost everything he is known as scaredy bear.
fixed by camel about clever camel—she's very practical and can fix anything, including kidding kangaroo.
no kicks for dog about doubtful dog—he doubts anything and everything, including himself.
elephant eats the profits about enormous elephant who loves to eat and eat and eat and eat.
fish and flips about fearless fish, the town daredevil. she careens around town on her motorcycle wearing her special scoba helmet (self-contained out-of-water breathing apparatus) and tries to prove how fearless she is.
goose goofs off about goof-off goose—she'll do everything—tomorrow!
hippo jogs for health about healthy hippo who always has the latest and greatest answer for keeping fit. this week it's jogging.
me too iguana about imitating iguana who wants to be just like everybody else.
jackal wants everything about jealous jackal who is convinced that everyone else is better off than he is.
who can trust you, kangaroo? about kidding kangaroo who doesn't know when to stop joking.
lion is down in the dumps about loving lion who would like to love everybody all of the time.
moody moose buttons about moody moose—you never know just what mood he's going to be in next.
nuts to nightingale about nasty nightingale—she's so mean that she upsets and hurts everyone she meets.
octopus protests about outraged octopus—she's not afraid to say no! when bad things go on around town.
pig thinks pink about positive pig who is absolutely sure that no matter what happens, it's all for the best.
quail can't decide about questioning quail who can't make up her mind.
rest, rabbit, rest about responsible rabbit who's so busy, busy, busy he never takes time to relax.
stork spills the beans about smarty stork—he has answers for every question, including who delivers babies.
turtle throws a tantrum about temper tantrum turtle who will do almost anything to get her own way.
happy birthday, unicorn about unique unicorn—she may be the oldest citizen in town, but she's not too old for fun.
kiss me, i'm vulture about vain vulture who thinks he is better than anyone else and is self-centered.
very worried walrus about worried walrus who worries a lot—especially about riding a bicycle.
xerus won't allow it about x-rating xerus, who thinks that telling people what is not allowed will solve all problems.
yakety yak yak yak about yakety yak who talks and never listens.
zip goes zebra about zany zebra—he's not afraid to be different, which really annoys alligator, dog and kangaroo.
once upon a time we had a lot of these books. i don't think we had all of'm. i don't remember xerus and vulture...looking over the list, i'm pretty sure we didn't even have half of'm.
i LOVED these books. and of course, my mother gave them all away, like most of our things, when we'd outgrown them, which is FINE -- really, I SWEAR, because i'm having fun hunting them all back up.
like a couple of months ago, i found at toys r us an anniversary edition of the original-styled little people. can i tell you how much i HATE the new ones? they are UGLY and FAT and TOO PLASTIC and PASTEL and GROSS, GROSS, GROSS.
can you tell i don't like them?
anway, every now and then i would think of these books and rack my brain trying to remember their titles or who made them, but alas, all i could remember was the insides of the covers had little maps of the village. i would ask my mother about them. she couldn't figure out what i was talking about.
and then today -- yay! today! -- i was reading teachinfourth's blog (which has this really cool feature called moments with joey -- you should check it out), and he'd requested that not only should you comment on a particular post of his, but visit the blogs of two people who'd left comments on his page and leave comments on theirs. so i picked one and scrolled down for an entry i liked, and BAM! there it was! SWEET PICKLES!
and i could buy them from amazon for a significant chunk of change.
but alas, i am unemployed...i should spend the little money i have more wisely.
which is why the list is here. so that when i do have money, i can more successfully hunt for the bastards.
one. i am allergic to animal dander and lanolin. i once spent thirty minutes copping a squat on the floor of heb's woodlands market trying to find a lotion that did not have lanolin in it (although i don't have the problem of finding a good lotion now, because bath and body works has its true blue spa products, which i love).
two. eventually, i would like to have seven dogs (but they would have to be outside dogs, because of that allergy, and i would not only have to be able to afford the seven, but the house with the big enough yard to accommodate them) -- two french mastiffs (nazareth and galilee), two akitas (chew and bacca), one lab (george), one rottweiler (henry) and one boxer (ocee).
three. one of my nicknames at a former place of employment was kooky. when i became a supervisor, it became superkook.
four. if i'm overwhelmingly troubled by something, and i've got the time and the gas, i'll drive to galveston and sit on the seawall until i figure out how to fix it (or until it's too late to be sitting on the seawall by myself).
five. if i really like a movie, book or song, i'll watch, read or listen to it until i get sick of it. like the latest star trek film. i watched that one in the theaters twenty times, three in one day, back to back. and yes, i paid for every show.
six. i drove a friend of mine from san antonio to dallas and back in one day so he could see about a girl.
seven. i've yet to be able to watch all of the star wars films in one day.
eight. i don't feel comfortable asking people to spend time with me.
nine. i took a semester of spanish after having taken four years of german. i got a d.
ten. my least favorite color is barbie doll pink.
eleven. pearl jam played a free concert at kansas university in spring of ninety-two. the college i attended bused girls to the show. i didn't go because i'd never heard of them.
twelve. i've got a pretty good voice, but i'm terrified of the stage.
thirteen. i hate to cook, but i love buying things for the kitchen. they're more decorative than anything else.
fourteen. i cannot stand it when people paint wood furniture, including cabinetry. all that beautiful grain, covered up. painting on it in small doses -- accents, like flowers and stuff, that's okay, but painting it top to bottom, side to side, is inexcusable.
fifteen. my favorite piece of furniture is the antique icebox my great uncle refurbished and my great aunt painted (small doses).
sixteen. my room is in perpetual chaos.
seventeen. the more i watch the film the proposal, the more i like it.
eighteen. i have lived in nine different cities (some of them more than once). it's rare that i stay in one place for more than two years (which could be why i feel compelled to get the hell out of dodge right now).
nineteen. i have buzz-cut my hair twice -- once because i got mad it because it kept getting in my face and once because i'd bleached it and then dyed it black a month later. i loved not having to mess with it. i hated being called sir.
twenty. my three favorite characters from books and films are george doren (at least, i think that's his last name...i don't remember, and i'm too lazy to invest any more than the five seconds i invested trying to look it up) from the novel right before your eyes, henry roth from the film dedication and han solo from the star wars saga.
twenty-one. if memory serves, i've only walked out of a movie in the theater three times: mad love, meet the fockers and minority report. i should've stayed with minority report. that one's back half was much. much better than its front.
twenty-two. i don't have any depth perception. so things like three-dimensional movies...they don't do a thing for me, but i still have to wear the glasses to watch them.
twenty-three. i don't like diamonds. they're pretty enough to look at, but i like colored jewels better.
twenty-four. i don't like white walls, either.
twenty-five. every now and then, i sleep with my teddy bear.
so i used to go to school in missouri. one of the (many) things i didn't like about being in school out of state was that i had to eat inferior--and it is inferior... all of it, even your silly ben and jerry's--ice cream.
i'm a texan, boys and girls. i might rant about the stupid pollen and the hurricanes and the flatness of it, but when it comes down to it, i was born here, and i'll die here.
because as much as i hate that blasted pollen and the stupid hurricanes and the flatness, there are three really, really great things about this place:
that one, sometimes, i missed more than any other. even my mommy. when you've grown up with this stuff, when it's the only ice cream that's graced your freezer, you start to take it for granted.
i hated having ice cream cravings at college because i always had to settle for the cheap stuff.
my roomies and i were watching television one afternoon when a blue bell advertisement came on the tube. i jumped up, all excited, exclaiming how awesome it was. but my friends blew me off like i was nuts for getting all crazy about some ice cream.
oh, but it's not any ice cream. it's the best tasting ice cream in the country.
we used to cart the stuff up to the monastery. mom would call her brothers and take requests, and we'd go to the grocery store and buy six half gallons, and then to get the dry ice and the boxes. we'd pack it up with our luggage and head for the airport. the boxes and the suitcases were dropped on the conveyor belt for the baggage handlers, and we'd board, eager for cooler climates and better scenery (because as much as i love texas, utah's rather pretty in the summer and a heck of a lot more comfortable).
there, my relatives would argue about which flavor was the best. these debates were ongoing for the entirety of our stay. and every time another half gallon was sampled, votes would change.
this is how good the stuff is, folks.
last summer, one of my college friends who lives in oregon put some status up on her facebook page about how she'd done yardwork all day, and now she was going to sit on one of her lawn chairs with a bowl of ice cream and enjoy the fruits of her labor.
i'd commented that it was too bad she couldn't have blue bell.
one of her friends who lived in new york saw that and got all excited. she loved blue bell! she'd been trying to find a natural vanilla bean that was as good.
it's just not possible. i told her she could have some shipped. (for those of you contemplating this, it's not cheap.)
this is how good the stuff is, folks.
everything else is pathetic.
so imagine my surprise when i could not find a flavor to satisfy my palette.
i brought home mocha madness. coffee ice cream, roasted pecans, chocolate chips and caramel sauce. nope. not enough chocolate.
i brought home cake and ice cream. vanilla ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate coated cake and chocolate icing. not enough chocolate. i know, right? you'd think i would've loved it (and, of course, i do, but it did not appease my craving in the slightest.)
groom's cake is my absolute favorite, but alas, it must be one of those seasonal flavors that i won't see for another month or two. it is chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake, strawberry hearts, strawberry sauce and chocolate icing. it is divine. the. best. ice. cream. ever. EVER.
i went to the store today to get some smarties for a project i'm doing for a friend. i debated getting ice cream but thought better of it. the last two times, amazingly enough, had been a bust.
and yet, for some strange reason, i found myself standing before the freezers that held my beloved blue bell (which were shockingly empty...it's coming on summer already, and we can't handle heat very well, because it's blistering, sopping, sticky, boiling, sweaty, nasty, stinky, burning, my-god-i-hate-this-place kind of heat... or maybe it's because the summer flavors are coming! one can only hope). i stood there, debating...
neapolitan? no. too boring. i used to have that one all the time. mint chocolate chip? no. too minty. banana split? no. my dad had let me have a bit of his the other day, and while it is scrumptious...not enough chocolate. strawberries and vanilla? no. did you not hear me? chocolate! then yes. i snatch it up, turn and take a few steps. then no. i want chocolate!
so i go back and grab the neapolitan.
and. oh. my. gosh. i'd forgotten how much i love this stuff. it's not exactly what i'd been craving. but it's darned close.
and you, you who don't live in the red zones:
you're probably wishing you had some in your freezer.
hah! sucks to be you.
this was a matlock project. learn about that here.
so one of my favorite things about the holidays -- christmas and easter and whatnot -- is the phone call we get from my great uncle, a trappist monk at a monastery in huntsville, utah, outside of salt lake city. his birth name was clarence, but upon entering the monastery he became brother nicholas, or nick.
he'll call at around eight a.m. -- we are one of many families to receive the pleasure of his company via phone conversation, as he is an incredibly popular dude ... relatives from all across the country clamor for his attention, and i like to think he calls our house first, though there's this part of me that knows that's probably not the case ... still, i delude myself, and happily.
it's an hour earlier there. he's been up for probably four hours (crazy!). my family's been up for maybe one. we're sleepy and groggy and not always so happy to be up that early. but we'll wait, patiently, considering, for our turn to the talk to the man.
that image you have of a cowboy, my uncle fits it to a t. he wears chambray button down shirts and wrangler blue jeans and dirty, ole boots and a cowboy hat. he's quiet and slow and unbelievably patient. he's got this dopey grin, a contagious one. he gives the best hugs ever.
he's in his eighties now. you might think the strength of that hug might wane with age, but it's just as strong and warm and comforting -- just as bearish -- as it had been when i was three. and it's like that, regardless of how long it's been since you've seen him. the hug he gives you when he greets you at the guest house the moment you get there is the same as the one he'd give you days later when he's come back from his afternoon nap.
he was a navy boy and a pool shark. before this, he and two of his brothers (the three of them were inseparable) caused all kinds of hell, like the time one of them (the oldest of the three -- joe) stood in front of their house and put his hands up to his cheeks and wiggled his fingers and stuck out his tongue. and there's nick, standing before him, but a few feet away, armed with a giant watermelon. he hurled it. he missed. it flew through the stained glass window. great grandma was not pleased. great grandma wore a cord of rope around her waist for moments like this, and i'm sure the three of them got swatted with it often.
he's jolly. he observant. he's sensitive (in a good way). and his faith astounds me. he's awesome. so incredibly awesome.
this man is the closest thing i have to a grandfather. my mom's dad died when i was three. and even if he hadn't, he wasn't the coolest of dudes. my dad's dad died when i was in junior high.
so those phone calls we get from him make my day.
and the weekly summer trips we take to his monastery to spend time with him and his other brothers, the monks ... those are my favorite vacations -- hands down.
i don't get to go this summer, though. i'm going to europe with my cousins, which should be awesome, and i'm very excited about it, but because i'm going on this trip, i can't go see him. i'm pretty bummed. majorly bummed, actually. these summer trips have been a tradition long before i was born. my mother and her brothers and their families have a miniature family reunion at his place.
we fly to salt lake, rent a car, meet up with the others at the guest house, which is just inside the monastery's property, in a valley near ogden. it's about an hour north of salt lake. it's glorious, even in the winter. it's the epitome of peaceful. it's in the perfect place. and for a week, during the day, we help the monk out with his chores. and at night, we make g and t's and mojitos. the women cook dinner, and the boys smoke cigars, and we sit out on the hill (which is hidden by all that wonderful shade) beside the house and reminisce about all those times we made mischief.
and, oh my heavens, you should see the stars at night in this place. it's magical.
the last time i talked to him, i had to tell him i couldn't come to see him this summer. that was not a fun conversation.
maybe i can see him this fall. that would be nice. i think the monk would like that. i know i would.
it's pretty nifty, huh? i love the drama of it, the chaos, the contrast of the softness, the near joy of the top half (especially that patch of sky blue in the top right corner that sends a little streak toward the left) to the turmoil and the darkness of the bottom half. i love it because it echoes life so well, to me.
and that's all i care to say about it, because i'm not one of those people who likes to get inside a painting and then shove my thoughts about it on to others.
it's one of many, many paintings created by houston's own stacy hosrich. he and his design team provide creative services to residents and businesses alike, whether it's creating art to spice up a room or redesigning that room entirely.
i'm not usually an abstract sort of girl, but i was perusing the gallery of canvas and paper paintings on hosrich's website, and i've to say, i liked quite a bit of what i saw.
check out this recently redesigned medical office:
best looking office you've ever seen, isn't it? almost makes me want to change doctors just so i could walk into that office. it's warm and inviting and stylish -- so much so that you might, even if it's just for a second, forget you're in a doctor's office.
the man's got skills, boys and girls. but don't take my word for it. seefor yourself.
ugh. so i will be dragging my ass back to the gym, starting today. i swear. seriously. because there are things, like these super cute dresses from the gap, banana republic and anthropologie, respectively, that i'd rather buy in a size four as opposed to a size eight. blech. i wanna be half my size. all those years i spent wishing i weighed twenty pounds more...i meant then, not now!
so...pray for some willpower for me, boys and girls. i'm gonna need it.