Friday, June 05, 2009

Super Secret Squirrel*

So, there my sister and brother-in-law sat, minding their own business on the couch. And then, something squirrely ran across the living room floor. It was, in fact, a squirrel.

Blake hopped up and opened the back door, and the squirrel scampered out.

I'd give anything to have seen my sister's reaction.

Then, they realized that the floor was kinda wet where the squirrel had been. Fearing it had an accident out of, well, fear, my sis and Blake finalized their previously-tentative plans to have the carpet cleaned next week.

Then, they realized that the floor was kinda wet all the way down the hall. And into their bedroom. And into their bathroom. And right in front of the toilet.

"Did he sneak in the front door earlier?"

"Is he living in our garage?"

"...and why did he jump into the toilet?"

"Wait, no. He came OUT of the toilet."

Apparently, there's an uncovered plumbing vent on the roof. Imagine the squirrel's surprise...

It's not as rare as you might think.

I'm never using their toilets again.

*a multi-use phrase from The Berry Street Handbook of Neighborhood-Related Jokes

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"You sold us a hair with a cake around it. I'd like another one."

1) The waiter attempted to remember our order rather than write it down. Emphasis on "attempted."

2) My friend's grapes were served with a side of fuzzy mold.

3) The waiter took away my friend's plate (of non-moldy food) before she was really finished.

4) The waiter failed to ask us if we wanted shakes. At Steak&Shake. As in, we had to interrupt him finishing our ticket so that we could add to our order.

5) Then we were sorry we ordered shakes, as mine was served with a side of hair.

6) Meanwhile, the staff threw paper stars at each other while working. Near the food. Near the customers.

7) Upon hearing of the hair in my shake, the staff sat nearby and discussed whether or not the hair was theirs, how long it had been since they washed their hair, and other hair-in-food incidents they knew of. My friend kindly asked them to shut it. They did not.

8) Upon seeing additional customers approaching the door outside, the staff yelled, "Customers comin'! Look alive!" Well, at least they knew they didn't look or act alive to us, the customers who were already present.

The meal was free. No extra charge for the mold or the hair.

I'll not be returning.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Can

President-elect Obama's Renew America Together campaign is teaming up with YouTube to sponsor a video competition. Individuals and organizations have been asked to create a three-minute or less YouTube video designed to tell the story of what they plan to do on MLK Day. The videos could be dramatic, heartfelt, comical, or narrative -- whatever best captures the spirit of the Renewing America Together campaign.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee has produced a video featuring “A Day in the Life of a Can” which is now posted on YouTube. The creator of the single best video will receive a phone call from future First Lady Michelle Obama.

And just this minute, we found out that we won!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gore Elected President

Well, you never know where your photo will show up once you've posted it online. Especially when your boss uses Facebook.

Yesterday, I was elected President of a local grants association. So, after it was official, my boss, Bill, sent this email to our entire staff.

"Subject: Gore Elected President

Please join me in congratulating our Grants Manager, Laura Gore, who today was elected to serve as 2009 President of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Association of Grant Professionals."

To which I replied, "I’ll be coming around later to make sure you’ve all changed your incandescent light bulbs over to compact fluorescents."

To which he then replied,

"Our Laura Lou, mere moments after the election."

Anyone recognize when/where the original photo was taken? Ha. My boss is the best photo-shopper on the planet.

Monday, December 08, 2008

hi, i'm cheap, part 2.

If you thought my last coupon savings amount was good, get ready. On Saturday, I saved $31.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

kids these days

Regardless of what the law actually is, what do you think should be done to youths ages 14-17 who roam my neighborhood in groups, yelling obscenities at anyone they see?

What if you knew they had stolen weapons, vandalized more than 30 vehicles, stolen bikes, thrown rocks at houses, threatened to rape someone, threatened to kill animals, and more.

Some have been hauled off repeatedly for curfew violations, but it means nothing to the kids that their guardians have to come get them from downtown in the middle of the night. Some have been sent to behavior boot camp by their mother, but with weekend trips back home, the kids aren't missing a beat in the neighborhood.

We have an active neighborhood watch group. We report every incident to the police. But what we often get is some combination of, "Our hands are tied, they are minors, we didn't see it happen ourselves so we can't be sure which kid it was, it was just a verbal threat, the crime in this neighborhood isn't as bad as the crime in other neighborhoods."

When I was threatened last night by a group of at least six, two officers responded within fifteen minutes and were appropriately concerned. But what happens after the officers leave our houses is what frustrates the neighborhood. Even if they found the boys from my incident strolling down the next block, I seriously doubt they did anything but have a word with the boys. And that would be fine, if it had been the boys' first offense.

Now, if I acted to detain one of the boys until an officer arrived so there'd be no doubt about identity, that boy's mother would press charges against me for harming her son in some way. We've been told that photographing the kids from our property while they are peering into our street-parked cars or while yelling at us could also get us in trouble.

I should be able to get out of my car without being threatened. I should be able to leave my dogs in my fenced yard without worrying that the kids will kill them as promised. I shouldn't know the names of these kids and the names of the officers in my precinct.

These kids face no consequences for their behavior at home, don't care if they get expelled from school, and respect no adults. They come from broken, low-income, neglectful homes - and yes, that is sad. But they know right from wrong, or they wouldn't run when the police cruise up.

I'd like to think that we don't have to send them to jail for more than just a night. But maybe we do. I don't want to hear about how expensive that is, or how we can't possibly jail them all. Sure we can. And isn't it a better investment in public safety to attend to these issues at age 14 rather than at 22 when he's been in a gang for a few years, killed a family of four, and sold cocaine to the 14 year old he used to be?

Monday, November 17, 2008

hi, i'm cheap.

I know this will heap cries of, "boring," upon me, but listen to this:

Last night, I saved $23.48 on groceries using clipped coupons,, and my Kroger card. TWENTY THREE DOLLARS.

Do you know about You can register your Kroger card, then add coupons from the site directly to your Kroger card, then all of your loaded coupons automatically give you discounts when you scan your Kroger card at checkout. I ended up with several completely free products.

And did you also know that you can take any competitor's ad into Wal-Mart and they must honor the ad price? My sister saves all sorts of money like that.

I know, I'm 100 years old, clipping coupons on a Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

some assembly required

for the record, i'd like to say that i just finished assembling my new stationary bike. all by myself. even though the instructions said "two people required." well, there's just one person around here, so with determination and a little acrobatics, i did it.

while i'm at it, i'd also like to say that i changed the burned out headlight in my car yesterday instead of asking the auto zone guy to do it.

i know. why am i still single?

Monday, October 27, 2008


Just back from Long Beach, California for a conference for us grant writer types. (insert: "Laura. Boring.")

California, where all food, including breakfast, is served with sprigs of asparagus and slices of tomato, where cab drivers go 90 mph and honk the millisecond the light turns green, and where the morning television news anchors dress like prostitutes. I'm not even kidding a little bit.

One night, we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific, which was pretty cool since we had it to ourselves. Our entertainment was a guy from some American history foundation who single-handedly portrayed every president we've ever had. Starting with the classic George Washington wig, he said a few funny lines about his life, then turned his back and changed into another president's hair/glasses/hat, while humming patriotic tunes. It was a good concept for entertainment, but we've had a good number of presidents, so it got kind of long. The conference was good and I met some fun folks who I hope to see again, at least next year in Austin.

At LAX security, a passenger in line near me held up an egg carton and said to the screener, "This can't go through the X-ray machine. It has chicken egg embryos in it." The screener had clearly not heard that one before, but managed not to laugh like the rest of us did. I mean, really. I can't carry an unopened bottle of water through security, but this guy can carry a foam carton of a dozen chicken egg embryos?

By the way, Christian Slater was filming for "My Own Worst Enemy" at the marina by my hotel.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Have you watched the show on A&E called Intervention? It isn't the staged insanity of today's reality TV shows. Each episode tells the story of a person with an addiction of some sort, from the addict's point of view, their family's point of view, and with footage of the addict's behavior. I shouldn't watch it in its late-night timeslot.

The addicts think they are participating in a documentary about addiction. But the addict's family has arranged for an intervention from, well, an Interventionist. During the intervention at the end of the show, the addict's loved ones tell the addict how much the addict's behavior has hurt them, but how much they love them and want them to get healthy. The addict is offered entrance into a treatment program, usually with a plane ticket leaving the next day. So far, I haven't seen an episode where the addict refuses the offer, but I figure that happens occasionally.

As the episode ends, statements flash on the screen telling updates about the addict's recovery progress. Let's just say, I've had to get over wanting consistently happy endings.

Watching the show is making me ponder all sorts of unanswerable questions, like why do children have to go along for the ride as their mother drinks mouthwash as fast as she can, throws up in front of them, sprawls out in the yard, and gives them none of the care they need?

I know that the child can get counseling, but nothing really undoes what's been done to him. Statistically, he grows up, has a family of his own, and when things get stressful, he stops for cocaine on the way home from work. As an adult, he can't sufficiently explain to his wife what happened to him during childhood and how it effects him now. The pain in his past can be enough to ruin their marriage and his relationship with his kids. And so the list grows with more people who must live with the consequences of choices made generations ago.

I want everyone to turn out okay. But sometimes they don't. In fact, it seems like they usually don't. And that bothers me.

It bothers me that when you grow up and meet me, you don't believe me when I tell you that you're valuable and deserve good things.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This is the second time in a month that I have discovered twin Gerbera daisies growing in my flowerbeds! Two blooms on a single stem, joined in the center. In these two cases, the twins grew from different plants, in different flowerbeds, on opposite sides of my house, but both yellow plants. None of my red or orange plants are doing this. Anyone know how common this is in Gerbera daisies? I didn't know twin flowers could even happen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

After Ike

thanks to my old pal chris for taking these photos
and posting them on his site with updates about orange.

and especially for checking on mom & dad's house today. it's not flooded.

Orange - historic Stark House

Orange - downtown

Orange - Division & Border St

Orange - First Baptist

Orange - Lamar State College

Orange - Pine St near Simmons Dr

lots of these guys around now

Bridge City

Bridge City

(last 2 pics from Jim Love/KLVI website)

map of the area

Friday, August 22, 2008


In what will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert last night. Bruce (you know, like we're friends on a first name basis) was a stellar entertainer. Whatever it cost for front-section seats, those people definitely got their money's worth. He was all over them and, of course, collected their homemade posters and sang their requests, including a song that he and the E Street Band hadn't played in 30 years. He was energetic, clever, and somehow, he connected with every person in the arena.

His charitable passion is feeding the hungry, so Second Harvest Food Bank had the opportunity to collect donations at the concert. His fans spontaneously donated $3,475 to us, which is much more than we've ever collected at such an event.

I volunteered to help collect money with two other staff members, plus my aunt Joni. After thousands of folks streamed into the arena and the show was about to begin, a stranger walked up and gave us two free tickets - a great gift since we didn't have tickets at all and were sad we'd be listening to muffled sounds of one of the greatest artists of all time from the concourse - so Joni and I used the tickets for the first half of the show while the other girls collected money, then we traded during the second half of the show. Big thanks to that guy, whoever you were.

We hoped we'd see the likes of Dierks Bentley or Lady Antebellum cruise in the doors like normal people with tickets. And then, of course, we had visions of drawing a $10,000 donation check from them on the spot. No Dierks, but we did see Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, and one of the guys from Sawyer Brown (who said nice things to us about Second Harvest), and Jake Owen (who saw me giggle and point him out). And we saw this one guy whose identity we can't agree on, because he looked like Waylon Jennings, but considering his death, it probably wasn't Waylon. It was too old to be Shooter, so we aren't sure, but he had an entourage, complete with a bodyguard and two young children with mohawks.

It was an incredibly entertaining people-watching opportunity, famous or not. People will wear anything (or practically nothing) to a concert.

So, thanks to Bruce and his fans for a great night.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

cheaper than therapy

Haagen-Dazs of the chocolate peanut butter variety.
It's heaven in a cardboard carton.
I'm just sayin'.

Nevermind that there are 360 calories in a half-cup serving.

Monday, July 28, 2008

happy birthday to me

I want to show you what my coworkers did for my birthday a few weeks ago. I share a birthday with a girl in my department. We both lived in Texas for much of our lives, still love it, and miss it. So, instead of a traditional birthday cake, our coworkers made the cookies below. Note Matagorda Island in the Gulf.