Saturday, September 30, 2006

Had Enough Yet?

There is a comic strip that I think still runs somewhere, but not in Austin, called Tumbleweeds. It involves the relationship between a bunch of dim-witted cowboys and a bunch of dim-witted Indians. One of the Indians is your basic muscle-bound, empty-headed fellow who is barely able to talk. In a strip many, many years ago, he casually flips a smaller Indian over his shoulder with the comment, "Non likem lil mans. Fro 'em way!"

So, this afternoon's caption should read "Non likem lil cats. Fro 'em way!". Just kidding. They picked my office trash basket as their favorite place to play today.

Just too cute for words, dontcha think?

(By the way, I am doing more these days besides sitting around watching kittens play. Just too lazy to write about it.)


We Present Noses for Bumping

For those with the strange predilection for cat nose bumping, we present the following opportunity to evaluate the new noses available. I assure you that they are dry and cool.

Beware: Indulgence in cat nose bumping may necessitate serious computer monitor cleaning. Proceed at your own risk.

(For you normal folks out there, I will offer the explanation that it's a Hodge thing. No pet - or baby, for that matter - has been fully accepted into the family ranks until its nose has been gently bumped with the knuckles of the elders of the family.)


Monday, September 25, 2006

Beware the CATS

They've nearly doubled in size since they arrived. On 3 packets of food and a bowl of cream every day, I guess it's not a surprise. When they aren't eating or sleeping (they've adopted the back of the big red chair under a lamp as their favorite napping spot), they are beating the tar out of each other.

The dogs are enchanted and Coco has moved into the position of mother hen. It's doing her good to feel needed. Xana and Mojo are tolerant and even play with them at times until the kittens are soggy around the neck from dog slobber.

No nook or cranny in the house has been overlooked in their quest for takeover. While the rest of us slowly wake up in the morning, Scout and Boo start their first play of the day when they hear the alarm clock. No snooze button for them. From the noise you would think there was a herd of wild elephants stomping around the house.

The only holdout in the house is the elderly Sister cat. She finds them obnoxious and a blight on her landscape. The kittens say, "Pooh!" And then the tackling and rolling and spitting and running and advanced kitten games resume.

We are having a blast.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Hidden Tid Bits

Genealogy is a fun past time. You can go for months and not find anything of unusual interest - just the steady flow of vital records, court records, census records and so forth. Nothing that makes you go "Whoa!". Not that I don't enjoy logging all those nice little records you can find in the courthouse and online, but you look forward to those discoveries that make you do a doubletake when you find them.

For instance, the day I discovered that my great, great grandfather fought with Custer. That was an eye-opener. Or the day that an uneventful trip to the Bastrop courthouse resulted in the discovery that my great-great grandparents Hodge had divorced, casting unsavory allegations at each other in open court.

This past week I've been reading material that was sent to me by a distant Hodge cousin. Buried in the thick pile of material was a recounting of a Hodge fortune. It seems that a Joseph Hodges died in England in the late 1700s and, his sons having fallen into disfavor due to their support of the American Revolution, stipluated in his will that his vast fortune was to be held in trust for 100 years and then divided amongst those who could prove to be his legitimate heirs at that time. And we're talking serious money here, in the millions of dollars.

Considerable effort was expended by some of my line's cousins to prove their connection to the estate. Letters were exchanged back and forth across the country, comparing notes on stories heard from their elders, and trying to piece together the line of descent. It makes for an interesting story, but I found myself wondering whether such an estate every really existed. When I inquired of my cousin in Kentucky if he knew what had happened, he told me that the money involved had eventually gone to the crown, since all the sons had supported the cause of the American rebels. Bummer. But entertaining to ponder, nonetheless.

Another odd discovery this week involved my Mason line. My great-grandfather's sister lived in Smithville and was married to a man named Ashley. I've pieced together quite a number of cemetery and court records on the Ashley family, but I've never been able to find any information regarding when Mr. Ashley died. Today, while performing various scans in the archives of the Dallas Morning News, I stumbled across the answer. The item I found read like this:

Were Crossing the Track When the Wagon Was Struck
Smithville, Tex. Jan 28, 1899
This evening at 5:30 o'clock William Ashley, James Farris and Charles Farris attempted to cross the Katy track in a wagon ahead of the south bound passenger train. They were struck by the train, killing William Ashley and James Farris and badly wounding Charles Farris. The team of horses was killed and the wagon demolished.

Another item a few days later confirmed that this William Ashley was the same William Ashley who was brother-in-law to my great-grandfather. And to make things even more interesting, the James Farris mentioned was my great-grandfather's (first) father-in-law. Two members of the family killed in a collision with a train and not one word of this event had trickled down through the family to this dedicated historian. It was definitely a doubletake moment. Not only did I learn the fates of two people in my family records, I realized why there were court records on file in Bastrop that awarded large cash settlements to various members of the Ashley family from the MKT Railroad. Until now, I had assumed there had been some kind of real estate dispute. Instead it was the result of a lawsuit filed by William's widow against the railroad.

The family saga is ever expanding and it's fascinating. You never know when you are going to turn up some dramatic episode like this one. Who knows how many more surprises are waiting to be found?


Saturday, September 16, 2006


I don't care much for politicians. Very few seem to care about anything but their own finances and, therefore, sell themselves to the highest bidder. Very few seem to know the difference between the truth and outright lies.

I know two politicians for whom I feel real respect. They always seemed to keep the welfare of their constituency above their own gains. They told the truth. That's big in my book.

One is former President Jimmy Carter. He's the only President I ever considered to really be my President.

The other was Ann Richards. I always felt she was telling the truth. She was a gutsy, ballsy, brassy, outspoken old broad. I liked her, even if I disagreed with her. She's the only Governor I ever considered to really be my Governor.

The loss of this grand old Texas lady this past week has made a deep hole in the fabric of Texas politics. May she rest in peace. And may she keep the angels in stitches with her sharp wit.


Friday, September 15, 2006

News from the Homefront

Your quiz question for the day. Following is a photo of my right arm. From the evidence would you deduce that:

a) I've been berry picking?
b) My boyfriend needs a manicure?
c) I have a new kitten?

The correct answer is none of the above. I have two new kittens and they are turning the house upside down. Meet Scout (the black and white female) and Boo (the yellow tom).

It's been a mighty long time since we had honest to goodness kittens in the house. The dogs are beside themselves with excitement and trepidation.

I know better, but I can't resist the opportunity to acquire a yellow tomcat. Anyone with Hodge blood flowing in their veins has this hidden weakness. I also miss my Maggie cat and could not pass up the little black and white spitfire.

They are named for characters from my favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird. They are settling in and making their plans to take over the household.

I have other news, including a saga of criminal activity (trespassing on private property in search of a hidden cemetery) and medical horror (surgery on an infected eyelid - I'm all better now), but we'll save those stories for another time. Suffice it to say, I've been a busy little bee for the last week and no time to spend blogging. For better or worse, I think I'm back.

One more pic for the road.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Time Wasters

I have no idea what brought this to mind, but many years ago my aunt, Linda, and I played a game that she had heard of where you think of song titles containing the word "heart" and replace the word with the word "pump". For example:

I Left My Pump in San Francisco
Oh, My Pump Skips a Beat
Pump and Soul
Pumpbreak Hotel
Theme from Titantic, My Pump Will Go On

You get the idea. In a book I read by the late H. Allen Smith, he and his friends came up with a different version. They observed that the orchestra leader Lawrence Welk pronounced the word "heart" as "hard". Then were sent into spasms of mirth by substituting "hard" for "heart". Being a nice, well-bred lady, I will leave it to you to determine just what was so funny about that.

Anyway, that's one way to waste some time. The Austin American-Statesman ran an article a few days ago about how to waste time at work via a handful of websites. I have a few of those that provide a minute or two of comic relief during a dull day. The trick is to not get so caught up in the distraction that you forget you have a job and get fired. Here are a few of mine and of theirs:
The Internet Movie Data Base, where you can dredge up excruciating minutiae about any movie, tv show, actor, director, etc., that you can think of. Great time waster.
The Gallery of Regrettable Food. Believe it or not I actually own some of the cookbooks that he skewers. How sad is that?
Television Without Pity. Where the recaps are better than the original episodes.
I have no idea what it is. But it sure can divert you for a bit.
Took me about 4 times before I managed to win.
Who hasn't been embarrassed at some point when you realize that the song you thought you knew was saying something entirely different than you thought.
Try typing a message and hearing it given back to you by a chimp.
Your daily jigsaw, in whatever kind of pieces you would like. I'm partial to the circles myself.

Ok, I've done my part to distract you. Unless you would like to play "questions", where everything you say has to be in the form of a question. The first one to speak without a question loses.

Have you seen the boss?


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Nothin' Could Be Finer

The first, second and third finest dogs on the planet. (In no particular order.)

Xana & Coco

Little do they know that their idyllic existence is being threatened. Mom has spoken for two kittens to arrive in another couple of weeks. The testosterone level will be increased by a yellow tom and the estrogen level will be increased by an oreo female.

It should be interesting.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Other Dimensions

Ok, some folks may decide today that I'm completely nuts. However, this blog was started primarily to give me a quasi-journal to look back on and reflect and I'm wanting to start some documentation on this issue for exactly that purpose. So you can believe or not; call me a kook or agree with me. Whatever. I have a very logical mind and I can smell BS from a mile away. I also have a very open mind and I'm telling you, I've seen enough to be convinced that there are spirits among us.

Yeah, go ahead and laugh. Some will say I have good intuition. Some will say I have a raging imagination. And you will be right. But that's beside the point. The fact is that neither of those qualities satisfactorily explains to me what I've experienced over the last few years.

I think I've always been just a little bit sensitive (in the psychic sense). I have strong gut feelings that hit me from time to time that I've learned to listen to, because they seldom steer me wrong. Maybe that's intuition, maybe not. However, a few years ago I started to become more aware of some inner nudges that didn't seem to be quite intuition. The more I paid attention to these odd internal messages, the more I became aware that there was a pattern.

Most of the episodes have occurred since the deaths of my grandmothers. Both of my grandmothers were very supportive of my family history pursuits in life and I am very confident that they are continuing to support me in the afterlife. I have made so many "intuitive" leaps in my genealogical research that have led me to the right connections across time that I know I have had little psychic nudges from somewhere that pushed me in the right direction. Some of those leaps were just too out of the boundaries of normal research methods. The naysayers can say that I have just developed into a very good researcher, and I have, but that's not enough to explain why I will impulsively pull a book from a shelf in a library when there's no reason at all to suppose it will concern my family and only to find that there is a very definite connection to my research within its covers.

How does one explain how I can drive up to a cemetery that I've never visited before, with limited directions, as if I know exactly where I'm headed? And then when I arrive, the tendency to walk right up to the grave I am there to find?

Not long ago I was headed down to the Frankum reunion in West Columbia. I've taken many different routes to Wharton and beyond over the years, but on this occasion as I was driving out of Wharton and toward El Campo I had a very strong definite urge to take a hitherto unknown road leading out into the country. A few minutes later there was a torrent of rain, but I was on a little two lane road with virtually no traffic, so I did not have a difficult time proceeding on my journey. I wasn't sure where I was going, but at least I wasn't in highway traffic under bad driving conditions. The road finally came to a "T" and the rain stopped. And I realized that I was at a point to turn toward Boling on a road that leads directly to West Columbia. I got to the reunion probably a good 1/2 hour earlier than I would have if I had kept going toward El Campo. I didn't know I would come out on that road; all I had was a strong inner push to get off the road I was on and take one I had never seen before to Heaven only knew where.

On another recent occasion, I drove past the house where a couple I knew many years ago once lived. They were good friends of my grandmother Wilcoxen, but I had not thought of them in some time. I found myself wondering where they had been buried. So far as I know I never saw their obituaries and I did not attend the funerals or speak of their funerals with anybody. I decided to ask my father the next time I saw him, or their daughter if I happened to run into her around town as I sometimes do. I even mentioned it to little brother and asked him to ask Daddy if he saw him before I did. About two days later, while driving to work, I noticed the sign to the Haynie Chapel Cemetery which is located just off Highway 71 in Garfield. I had one of those strong urges to drive back and take a look at it, so I followed my impulse and drove the short distance. The gates were open (they've not been open on any subsequent visits there), so I drove slowly through. Imagine my surprise when just a short way through the gate I looked out the window and saw the joint stone for this couple who had so recently been on my mind. It was a definite goosebumps moment.

I have a healthy skepticism when people claim to be psychic, but I do believe that there are those with genuine abilities. I've been catching episodes of Crossing Over with John Edward and appearances of Sylvia Brown on the Montel Williams show. I admit that sometimes I go "sure" and dismiss some of their observations as so much twaddle, but there's enough validation that you can't help but come to a conclusion that there are spirits among us. Which can be comforting or upsetting, depending on your viewpoint. I prefer to be comforted.

I like the idea that my forefathers and mothers may be touching base ever so often, lending support or nudging me in a direction that I might not otherwise think to go. I also find myself thinking from time to time that some of them are deliberately dodging me, refusing to help push me in the direction to find them in the past and uncover their secrets. But that only makes it more interesting in the long run. It takes all kinds to make a family.

What brought me to tackle this little essay today was something that happened yesterday. Sylvia Brown especially mentions the association of random coins being placed by spirits to get your attention and let you know they are around. With that in mind, hold onto your seat.

Yesterday morning I started the car and the light came on to indicate that I had a low tire. I decided that I would stop at a gas station about half-way to Austin and check the tire pressures. A little before I got to the gas station, the light went out, but I decided that I should err on the safe side and make the stop anyway. I pulled up to the air hose and hopped out with my pressure gauge. Just a few inches from three of the tires I found a bright, shiny penny. Three pennies. In close proximity to three of my tires. Coincidence? Maybe. Why did the light come on when all the tire pressures were in the proper range? Why did I stop even though the light had gone out? Why did I park in the exact place to have three pennies positioned by three of my wheels?

I find random coins quite often and especially on days when life isn't going so well. I always pick them up and carry them along. Because maybe it's a friendly spirit letting me know that I'm not alone.

You can believe or not. But in any case, you have to admit that these things are odd enough to push the coincidence factor a little off the normal range.

Cue the theme to Twilight Zone....