Saturday, May 28, 2011

can you find the roadrunner?

Not that kind.

This kind.
The real deal.
Geococcyx Californianus.

I've lived in Texas for over 25 years and have only seen a handful of roadrunners. The first one I saw was in Big Bend National Park. Sam and I were vacationing, no kids at the time (what? is that possible? a vacation by ourselves? surely I dreamt that up). We were walking up one of the many trails and between us walked a huge roadrunner. Friendly guy, he came within a few feet of us and let us admire his long tail and brown spotted plumage.

Fast forward to the past few months. We've been spotting one in our yard, again and again. The next door neighbors have, too. We've all been wondering what's up.

Wonder no more. Sam was sitting in the throne room one evening recently, looking out his window to the magic kingdom that is our backyard. The window he insisted on designing our master bath around. It was one of the few features of our house that he was adamant about. He wanted that passenger side view.

He saw our roadrunner scuttling up a stand of Live Oaks trees. When he left his observation post, he went outside to see where the roadrunner was headed. He spotted a nest.

In all these years, I assumed roadrunners were ground nesters. Turns out they nest in cactus, low bushes and short trees.

Here's another factoid I was very happy to read:

The roadrunner eats anything it finds, such as scorpions, lizards, rodents, and other birds. It is one of the few birds fast enough to prey on rattlesnakes. It attacks a rattlesnake by grabbing the snake by the tail, and snapping the body so that it beats the snake's head against the ground or a stone until the snake is dead.

Having just had dinner with friends who told me their dog was bit by a rattlesnake, I hope the roadrunner sticks around and rears up many little ones.

See if you can find the roadrunner in her nest:


Try again:

I tried to get closer. If you don't believe me I've got a fire ant bite on my middle toe to prove it. By the time I swatted the fire ant off my foot, I looked up and the roadrunner had taken off.

We've since learned they lay as many as 12 eggs but typically only 3-4 live to make it to the ground. They will be parented for two weeks and then they will be on their own.

We can't wait to meet the baby roadrunners and introduce them to our other exotic backyard bird family,

Mr. and Mrs. Flamingo.

Update: Approximately three weeks later Mr. and Mrs. Roadrunner appear to be the proud parents of baby roadrunner chicks. We don't know how many but we see proud momma and papa running back and forth from the nest carrying darling little gifts of lizards and other foodstuff. We are waiting to see the chicks hopping around on the ground and hoping to get pictures.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

note to attorneys in child custody cases

1. Give the psychologist you wish to testify on behalf of your client more than two hours notice especially when she has no idea you're going to call her to the stand.
Doubly so when (a) she has no idea she is going to be called as a witness and (b) the courtroom is located in the next county. We do have other clients to consider. We do have several years worth of notes to review. And we might need to fill our gas tanks.

2. Give the correct address of the courtroom. There is a difference between Chestnut and Chester Streets.

3. Introduce yourself when you come out to find the witness. Looking at two waiting therapists, neither of whom have ever laid eyes on you, and asking, Who wants to go first? doesn't cut it. I mean, dude, you want us on your side.

4. Ask one question at a time. Four questions wrapped into one is a sure way to annoy the witness and the judge. It's also a way to get an answer you weren't looking for. We are talking about the future of little kids here, not whether some corporation has to pay a two-bit fine.

5. Don't ask questions that don't have double negatives in them. Meaning, ask questions worded in the positive. It's a whole lot clearer. We witnesses really don't enjoy saying, I'm sorry, that question is too convoluted for me to answer several times in a row.

6. Show the slightest bit of appreciation for the psychologist who, at a moment's notice, rescheduled her afternoon appointments, drove 40 miles, skipped lunch, and, unlike yourself, isn't getting paid.

7. It would be a whole lot more fun for everybody involved if you acted a little more like the attorneys on Boston Legal. Go for edgy and a lot less repetition. One, we'd know what to expect. Two, the judge might actually pay attention. And three, novice expert witnesses like myself might actually look forward to testifying instead of dreading it with every ounce of our being.

Note to the rural county court stenographer? You keep rockin' those rhinestone flip flops.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

high college tution: does it pay?

We've got three teens in the house. We are staring down the barrell of a financial shotgun called college tuition.

A few weeks ago we were stunned to learn from a friend whose high school senior got accepted into UC Berkley for the fall that the annual cost of tuition, room, board, books, etc. would be $50K. No financial aid packages available. California would prefer to take a check in full from it's out of state students.

Blew my mind. I knew the Ivy schools would run that high. Didn't expect this from a state university, albeit out of state.

Compare $50K a year to our close-by state university about 30 minutes down the road: less than $20K. Begs this question, does a college diploma that costs $120K more pay off? Even more than that if you add in the interest on student loans. And most kids these days do get loans.

But really, does a kid who graduates from a nationally recognized school experience better financial success?

Something of an answer was in our local paper today. A study by economists Dale & Krueger found that,

"Once you control for aptitude, career earnings don't vary based on the college attended: if you are smart enough to get into a brand-name private university, you'll do just fine going to a state college. What will determine your success will be your aptitude and your work ethic, not the name on your diploma."

So kids? I'd much rather have a $20K t-shirt. No, really.

You can read more on financial lessons for high school grads, here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

what may be the last words from coffeeyogurt for, like, ever

Goodbye Cruel World.

Because there are times when the world is too harsh, too unforgiving, too filled with head lice.

Our first battle was five years ago. Two second graders and one fifth grader. Three long haired kids, thousands of strands to be searched.

We managed to rid the oldest two of their affliction within two weeks. The third child? Long, fine, light brown, copper highlighted locks where lice loved to linger? Took months. A good six months, maybe nine. Some of the worst months of child rearing, I do know that. Nights of crying, whining, howling and growling from the child who, it became apparent, could least bear the suffering.

So of course, this time around, it has to be the copper headed child whose group of friends invited us back to Lice Nation.

I discovered the lice midnight Friday. Which meant delivering the most devastating news of all to a middle school girl's ears: no sleepovers and no slumber parties.

And so everyday for the next several weeks her dad and I will sitting on our picnic table, in the bright sunlight, hunched over our child's head, ensconced in coke bottle glasses bought specifically for the purpose, diligently combing.

Because if there's one tip that I recommend? That finally ended our months of failed attempts?

Reading glasses. The strongest power glasses and the cheapest you can find (thank you Dollar Store).

You may look like a middle aged, transgender Buddy Holly while you're at it but you'll be able to see those little mo-fo Phthiraptera basturds and get your life back.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

driving miss crazy

A flat tire, a dead battery, a fender bender, and keys locked in the car. All within the past six months of my teen's new driving career.

All taken care of by johnny on the spot his dad.

Though to give my son proper change-tire-credit, he did get the jack properly situated and was successfully lifting the car when his dad arrived to save the day.

All the while his mom stood by playing with her cell phone wringing her hands like the helpless female stereotype she would prefer to dispel. Mind you, it was my car.

Mind you, I've never changed a tire on my own. Thirty plus years of driving. Though I am good at fetching cold drinks and providing light hearted banter.

But back to the flat tire at hand. When it occurred, we were in front of the main entrance to my son's high school. While he worked the jack his favorite teacher was leaving for the day. He was a young attractive guy. He looked to be in his early 30's. He also looked determined to walk by us as quickly as he could.

Great, I thought. Exactly the first impression I was hoping not to make. I shrugged, gave him a sheepish grin and said,"I don't want to get my pants dirty."

The teacher replied with a look that said, Like I give a crap, lady. I'm sure you're a good mom most of the time." And he kept on walking.

And now to bring you a light hearted look at what was really going on in The Situation Room the night of the Bin Laden invasion. Not to be missed.