Trees, Matzo and Killer Whales … oh my!

First a little housekeeping:

has bloomed! (Also, those keeping track will notice that the tree fairy
returned post-planting and gave my little sapling a frame of stones.)
Yay for Bette surviving the winter.

Next: What “Well Told Tales” loved,
“Alfred Hitchcock Magazine” was less than charmed by. I got a form
rejection letter today (thanks, but doesn’t fit our needs, etc.). But
the rejection is tempered: Some nice editor wrote a note at the bottom,
saying, “I really enjoyed ‘Home for the Holidays’ and look forward to
another funny story from you.” There’s a signature, but this guy was
clearly a doctor in a previous life because it’s illegible.

funny about being considered funny is that the story isn’t really
written for guffaws; it’s dark humor at best. But, whatever, I’ll take
what I can. I recently read advice that following a rejection the thing
you do immediately is ship the story out elsewhere, so “Ellery Queen,”
stand back!

And at last: Right, so Passover in Pflugerville and
Round Rock, the two small suburbs outside of Austin that draw me nigh
for major holidays. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, or maybe it’s
just useless to swim against the tide all the time, but other than the
long journey down there, I’m not minding visiting East Texas so much
any more. I kind of have a curiosity about the place, and want to see
some of the smaller towns. Maybe even watch a real tumbleweed go by if

Well, I got some of that this visit. It was just a three-day thing, so Mom and I headed out to Greuneon Saturday for their once-a-month outdoor marketplace.

I kinda like a place that has so many fun places to shop, an outdoor
market, and a slogan that reads “gently resisting change since 1872.”
It also has Texas’ oldest dance hall (below) and some truly creative
ideas for crafts and homemade goodies. I’m not so sure I’d care to have
a copper-and-brass single rose (even if you put a wad of cotton in it
that smelled rosy, as the guy running the stand did), but I really did
like the wooden shelves made in part with tin roof squares. It’s just
hard to transport that kind of thing all the way back home and frankly,
I don’t have the decor.

it was a lovely warm day and we found a secret parking spot that was
probably not fully allowed but nobody ticketed us, we got chips and
cheese at the local Mexican joint and made plans to come back another
day because we had to leave early enough to be home for Passover.

Passover is many things and we all ate some amazing food and read the
Haggadah and tried to restrain a 1-year old while keeping a 4-year old
interested in the proceedings (both succeeded in limited ways). My
brother makes a kick-ass matzo ball soup, and he even bought me a great
big slab of fish for my portion (since I don’t eat the brisket). You
can’t say they don’t make you feel at home. We even got Nat the baby to
speak briefly: Syd started making up knock-knock jokes (“Knock-knock!”
“Who’s there?” “Table!” “Table who?” (long pause) “Table with the salt
on it! Bwah-ha!”) and suddenly Nat said, “Knock knock.” Amazing.

are, however, raising a complete hellion risk-taking giggle-puss. Craig
asked if I wanted to come with him and Sydney to get the mail. On their
golf cart. I’ve talked about the fact that he has a golf cart to get
the mail before, but little did I realize that the journey to the
actual mailbox was, shall we say, circuitous. I dare you to watch this
video and hear my niece laugh even as she heads into the “deep, dark
forest” and not feel a little bit joyous yourself. Please to enjoy, but
please don’t tell her mother.

So the next day, Craig, Syd and myself all headed out for SeaWorld,
which was about as far as Greune, and then some, just near San Antonio.
The trip was pretty uneventful (though it’s pretty impressive how high
up they stack their highway overpasses), but SeaWorld, that was
something else. I’d never gone, neither had Syd, and we just rocked the

Craig tolerantly followed us around as we pointed at Clydesdales (not
usually a sea creature, but Busch owns the park), Beluga whales,
dolphins, alligators, and Shamu himself.

And then, to no one’s surprise (especially if you’d been on that golf
cart ride the night before), Syd wanted to ride the Shamu roller
coaster. The kiddie one that she just barely makes the height limit for.

So we went on it.

Three times.

I kid you not. As
soon as we got off, she’d say “again!” and then not even flinch when we
said we’d have to wait in line again. (Admittedly, the lines weren’t
long, but what 4-year old has patience?)

Then, Craig did the
thing everybody wants their father to do whenever they theme park that sells gigantic prizes.

He won her a giant Shamu.

gray one she’s holding in the picture is a dolphin she won herself, she never let go of it the whole
time — except on the Shamu rollercoaster — but there’s just no
comparison: Shamu totally blew everything else away.) Craig humped it
(I know there’s a humpback whale joke in there somewhere) all over the
park, even setting it down for the actual Shamu show in one of the
bleacher seats.

And really, while I’ve got all of this shpilkis
over is this humane to make animals perform for us, watching the great
Orcas do their shit completely blew my mind. You can’t help but envy
their trainers, who get to ride on them or with them or on their noses,
and when the whales flop themselves into the air or onto the platforms
you can’t help but get excited, too.

Personally, I had little tears in
my eyes because they’re just so beautiful.

No wonder we had a sleepy young lady who conked out on the way home. Oh, and Sydney took a nap too.

One final note: We did have to make a pit stop on the way home. And while there, I noticed how we’d pulled into a gas station that had this classic BBQ locale parked right next door:

Now, that’s Texas, right there for you.