Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas means The Hawg is put to work

My wife, Marci, just loves decorating the fool out of the house for Christmas.

That means a couple of things. First of all, the first weekend after Thanksgiving is spent decorating. Second, the kids (12-year-old Michael and 7-year-old Brenda SueCarol) and I wind up doing a lot of work.

We pretty much spent the entire day following Marci's order and I've got to say the house looks pretty great. We've been married long enough at this point to have accumulated quite a few Christmas ornaments.

This year, then, we put up three Christmas trees. threw a garland on the mantle, put those blue, hanging icicle light thingies on the front of the house. It was a busy day, indeed, but Marci is happy and that just makes life easier around here. So why not?

My day started at 9:30 a.m. when Marci got my out of bed (I may have gotten up on my own, but I can't remember -- I have trouble recalling how I get out of bed in the morning as I'm usually in a haze). I had a little breakfast, took a shower, got dressed and then headed up to the attic.

We've got one of those wooden, folding ladders leading up to the attic and I'm amazed every year when I don't fall off of it while hauling down trees, the ornaments that go on them and everything else that's stored up there. I only smashed my finger once this year. That's pretty good.

I then headed outside to put up the hanging icicle light thingies. We did that for the first time last year and it was a chore as I had to screw a bunch of hooks into the awnings to hold the lights. Naturally, those were already in place so all I had to do was hang the lights.

That was easy enough until I realized that I put the lights on backward and wouldn't be able to plug them into the outlet in the garage. I cussed, threw a couple of things, went inside, got some water, cussed some more and headed back outside. My neighbor across the street asked me if I needed a ladder to reach the hooks easier.

I told her I had a ladder, but I was too tall and too stubborn to use it. The job got a lot easier after I pulled the ladder out of the garage.

We always wind up forgetting something and have to go to the store on the day we put up Christmas decorations. This year, we only had to go to the store twice for supplies this year. That's a record. The fact we had enough hooks for ornaments this year is a first, too.

Another first for us is a train I bought back in October to go around the base of one of our trees. That's a nifty addition and I'm proud that my son put an Army man on it.

Why? My little brother and I used to hide Army men in our Christmas trees when we were growing up, so I'm glad to see that tradition continue.

In the end, we got the house decorated and can enjoy the season. What's even better is the fact that most of our Christmas shopping is already done, so there will be no last minute rushing and stewing over finances (a common condition back years ago when my wife and I were struggling financially).

It appears that we'll have a great Christmas season and I hope the same is true of you folks. Thank goodness for trees that come with the lights already installed. That's the only way to go.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Back from Thanksgiving

My wife, our kids and I traveled from our home in central Arkansas to the northwest corner of the state for Thanksgiving and had a great time.

The trip back was rainy, a bit cold and everyone was tired. We made it back just fine, however, and it's great to be home.

We always go to northwest Arkansas for Thanksgiving because that's the holiday when my wife's family all gets together. Some of them come from the Fort Worth, Texas, area for the holiday, in fact, and we always have a great time.

My family, on the other hand, tends to wander all over the place for Thanksgiving. Sadly, the holiday used to be a big deal in my family, but that's no longer the case. We all get together for Christmas, however.

I had a few random thoughts while away for the holiday, and I'll torment you good people with those right now:

1. Seeing old friends is great. We had dinner with a couple of old friends of mine and their families while in northwest Arkansas. One of them is with a company exploring oil and gas fields in the north central part of the state, while another is a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. I knew both of those fellows back when we all lived in Fayetteville and two of us were practicing law. The three of us drank like fish and raised a lot of hell back then. When on earth did we all get so responsible? It seems like just yesterday that we were up to no good. Now I'm married with two children, another one is married and the third has a wedding set for May.

Hitting our 30s seems to have forced all of us to settle down, get real jobs and stay out of bars. That's probably a good thing.

2. Family is important. On Thanksgiving, the emphasis is on visiting with family members, some of whom we don't see but once a year. I enjoy that "low pressure" holiday quite a bit. Yes, Christmas is still my favorite holiday, but there's something to be said for a day that's set aside when there are no presents to give and the only thing we're required to do is bring a pie and an appetite.

3. My brother-in-law makes the best smoked turkey in the world. That's no lie. I start craving that stuff around Halloween.

4. People who wake up at 3:30 a.m. to go shopping are insane. My wife, her mother, her sister and our niece all hit the black Friday sales. That's crazy. We got home to Benton around 4 p.m. that day and my wife was so tired that she went to bed after we had dinner and bought a few groceries for the week. What did I do? I stayed in bed until 9:30 a.m. while those maniacs went out shopping and I feel great.

5. Northwest Arkansas has grown a hell of a lot. I left northwest Arkansas and moved back home to Benton in 2004 and I barely recognize the area of the state where I lived for 13 years. A lot of the population growth is due to a boom in the Hispanic population. A lot of people gripe about the Hispanics in northwest Arkansas, but many of them fail to mention those folks were invited -- Tyson Foods (the largest poultry producer in the nation) starting looking to Mexico and beyond for their labor force almost two decades ago. The results were pretty predictable.

Besides, most of the Hispanics in the area work hard and want nothing more than to provide for their families. What in the world is wrong with that? Besides, northwest Arkansas is now home to some of the best Mexican restaurants outside of Texas. Hot dog!

6. There's a liquor store on U.S. 412 in Springdale that sells Lone Star Beer! That wonderful brew is hard to find in central Arkansas. I've got about half a case of the "National Beer of Texas" chilling in my refrigerator right now because I made sure to grab some beer on my way out of northwest Arkansas. I couldn't be happier.

7. Sometimes, the absolute wrong people get those "pro life" license plates. I was dealing with a jerk in a Ford Expedition that appeared to be intent on causing a wreck. He honestly drove like he was stinking drunk and barely knew where he was. I turned off the cruise control, let him get safely in front of me and noticed he had one of those Arkansas "Choose Life" license plates. Don't get a pro life license plate if your driving causes fellow motorists to wish your mother had aborted you. That's just stupid.

8. Wednesday and Saturday are the worst times to travel during the week of Thanksgiving. We traveled to northwest Arkansas on Tuesday and came back home on Friday. My wife planned it that way. I do adore that woman.

9. There really is no place like home. We had a great trip, but now I'm home sucking down a cold Lone Star, watching an old episode of Baa Baa Black Sheep and I've got one of my dogs cuddled up next to me. That, folks, is living.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We're going to get a jump on the Christmas season in the morning by putting some lights on the house and three Christmas trees inside. We'll be busy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, a pig farmer and Black Friday

Yes, indeed! In just a couple of hours I, The Hawg, will be heading up to northwest Arkansas with the wife, the kids and our incredibly spoiled dog to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws.

What does that mean? Well it means I'll be offline for a few days. I won't be dropping Entrecards on this blog or The All Arkie Army, either (hopefully, some of my fellow Army members will be posting some new stuff over there, however).

I'll be back with my usual nonsense this weekend. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and I have just the joke that will make each and every one of you a hit at your family gatherings for the holiday.

Before I begin the joke, I should mention it's partially visual -- when you get to the point about the pig farmer and his kid weighing a swine, make sure to act like you're clinching the tail of the pig between your teeth, spread your arms out and act all scale-like. So, without further ado:

Pork for Thanksgiving

Once upon a time, a fellow decided he would have pork instead of turkey for Thanksgiving one year. Wanted fresh pork, so he went to a pig farm to purchase his swine.

The pig farmer greeted him at the farm and the fellow told him that he thought a 40-pound pig would suit his needs perfectly. The pig farmer looked around his farm a bit and grabbed a pig. The farmer put the pig's tale between his teeth, spread his arms out and weighed the pig.

"Mister, that's about a 40-pound pig right there," the pig farmer said.

"Wait a minute," the shopper replied. "There's no way you can weigh a pig like that!"

"If you don't believe me, I'll get my son over here. He can weigh this pig, too."

The pig farmer's son was raking leaves just a bit away.

"Boy! Get over here and weigh this pig for this fella!"

"Yes, dad," the kid said as he ran over to the farmer and the shopper.

The kid picked up the pig (he struggled a bit with it because he was a little fellow), stuck the tail between his teeth, spread his arms out and weighed the pig.

"That pig weighs 40 pounds and 5 ounces," the kid said.

"You see? It works," the pig farmer said. "The boy's a little more accurate than I am, though."

The shopper still wasn't convinced.

"I still say no one can weigh a pig like that."

"OK, mister. My wife can do it, too. Boy, go get your mother and tell her to come down here and weigh this pig," the pig farmer said.

The boy ran up the path to the farmhouse and then ran back -- without his mother.

"Where's your mother, boy?"

"She's busy, pa."

"Busy doing what?"

"She's weighing the milkman!"

Y'all have a great Thanksgiving and, if you're traveling, be safe!

Black Friday Sales

The day after Thanksgiving, my wife and her mother will get up far to early and head out to all the Black Friday sales. I, The Hawg, hope to still be sleeping soundly as I hate crowds, particularly when they're full of angry shoppers.

You can avoid all that wildness, too, and still save money by shopping over at during their Black Friday Sales zaniness.

If you want to vote on what items should be sold for insane prices, go right here and take part in that promotion through Dec. 4. I've voted. My wife has voted, too. I'll never pass up the chance to save money.

Good luck!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What the heck is a dachsador?

We are fortunate enough to have a cleaning company come in every couple of weeks and keep Casa de Hawg from getting filthy.

Why? Because the house needs to be cleaned and I'm not going to do it. My wife works as hard as I do and she doesn't want to clean house, either. The kids? It would be less effort to clean it ourselves than fight with them until they did what needed to be done.

So, a cleaning service is a great investment. Now, they were scheduled to show up the day after Thanksgiving, but that's not a good plan for obvious reasons -- most people prefer not to work on that day, and who can blame them?

The cleaning service folks, then, showed up on Saturday. It was a different team than the one that usually comes by and the husband in that team went nuts over our dog, Bella. She's a dachshund/black Labrador retriever. That's her at the top of this post doing what she does best -- catching some rest after chasing cats through the house.

We all know that people have been going crazy over the past few years by creating mutts and selling them as desirable breeds. One of those "designer mutts" ("hybrid breed" seems to be the preferred term) is called a dachsador -- go ahead and look at some great photos of the "breed" by clicking right here. It seems the breed is sometimes referred to as doxador. So cute. I think I'm going to be ill.

The fellow who liked Bella so well told us he's been looking for a dog like her, but hasn't been able to find one around here for less than $500. He didn't even care that she only has three good legs due to a birth defect.

Folks, this whole thing is nuts to me. Bella is a great dog, to be sure, but she's a mutt. We got her from the pound for $50 because she's a sweet dog who needed a home. When did people start breeding mutts and selling them for a lot of money?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Bottled water sounded like an insane idea, too, but people loved it.

I guess I need to get with the times and breed my registered rat terrier, Cobb, to something and develop a hybrid breed of my own. Here are a few ideas:

1. A rat terrier plus a beagle = a Reagle (or, a "Brat" as FeeFiFoto observed)

2. A rat terrier plus a Scottish terrier = a Scottish Rat

3. A rat terrier plus a Labrador retriever = a Rat Retriever or a Labrator Retriever (just call it a Lab Rat for short)

4. A rat terrier plus a great Dane = a Great Rat

5. A rat terrier plus a catahoula = a Ratahoula

6. A rat terrier plus a blue tick hound = a Blue Tick Rat or a Blue Rat Hound

7. A rat terrier plus a boxer = a Box Rat (that one is from my seven-year-old daughter!)

8. A rat terrier plus a Saint Bernard = a Saint Rat

9. A rat terrier plus a rottweiler = a Rattweiler (that one was obvious, yeah?)

10. A rat terrier plus a poodle = a Rattle (or, as Soge Shirts has suggested, a Rat Poo)

11. A rat terrier plus a dachshund = a Drat (another suggestion from the glib FeeFiFoto!)

12. A rat terrier plus a Shih-Tzu = a Rat-Shiht (thanks, HebsFarm!)

13. A rat terrier and any mutt = a Rat Bastard (thanks, again, to HebsFarm)

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

King of the stump and dad wrote a book

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that our huge pine tree, Ol' Coney, was getting cut down because it had been struck by lightning a couple of times and was dying.

When I say Ol' Coney was a huge tree, I mean it. Here's the stump with Winston, our boxer/St. Bernard mix, standing on it.

That dog weighs around 140 pounds and he looked small while playing "King of the Stump." He loves to stand on the stump and bark. Perhaps he figures his voice projects farther due to the elevation. Who knows?

The company that cut down Ol' Coney also took out another huge pine tree and accidentally took out a black walnut tree and a mimosa while they were at it. Several of our bushes were "accidnetally" ruined, too.

I was mad about all that until that same company dropped a tree on top of my parents' house, causing $100,000 in damages. Mom and dad, fortunately, are fine and the maniacs that crushed their home were insured. My parents have a great house to stay in until the damage is repaired.

The whole incident bothered me to the core. Mom and dad live across town from me and I grew up in that house. What a mess.

Dad wrote a book!

My mom and dad, understandably, have been irate since their house got crushed by a tree. So, I've been trying to buy some unusual, fun Christmas gifts that they might enjoy -- kind of keep their minds off of things, right?

In dad's case, I found a great MP3 player and a bunch of old time radio shows from the fantastic However, it occurs to me that something that would really make my dad happy is if more people bought his book, Poems from a Baseball Fan by Howard A. Nobles.

Now, dad's retired and he's set for money, so there are no problems there. He's been a baseball nut all of his life and published poems about the sport he's put together for about the past 40 years. This book, then, is something he regards as a hobby that he'd like to share with other folks.

So, if you know a baseball fan who might like something unique, why not click the ad up there and pick up a copy of my dad's book? Come on, folks! Make a retired educator's day!

The Razorbacks fail ... again