Monday, November 25, 2013

Mr. Li-Zard

My dad had a favorite joke. It used a barnyard word, so I rarely retell it. It goes like this:

There were three friends, Rabbit, Turtle and Lizard. They spent a lot of time together and when they grew up, they went their separate ways. Turtle and Lizard hit it big in the stock market and got filthy rich. They built a big mansion and were thinking of how they were going to landscape it, when they remembered that Rabbit had opened a nursery and so they decided to hire him to do the work. Rabbit drives into the long driveway in his truck with a big load of fertilizer in it, and stops at the front door. He gets out and rings the bell and the butler answers it. The butler gives the up-and-down look to the Rabbit, standing there in his overalls and his work boots.
The butler sniffs a bit, and asks, "Yes?" 
Rabbit replies, "Is Turtle here?" 
The butler pauses and then responds, "Mr. Tur-tell is down by the well." 
"Well, then is Lizard here?" Rabbit tries again.
Butler sniffs again and says, "Mr. Li--Zard is out in the yard."
So, by now Rabbit is a teensy bit annoyed at all the airs being put on, and he says to the butler, "Well, please tell Mr. Tur--tell and Mr. Li--Zard, that Mr. Ra--bbit is here with the sh**!" 

Okay, maybe you're not laughing. But as a nine year old girl, helping my dad milk cows, and surrounded by the very item that Rabbit had loaded in his truck, it was hilarious. I was reminded of Mr. Li-Zard this weekend when we were cleaning the living room.

We'd moved most of the furniture out so that we could shampoo the carpet. We'd had the beautiful oriental carpet cleaned at a shop and now were trying to clean up the rest of the living room floor so that we could put the 8 x 12 foot rug back out on the carpet. I was crawling along the baseboard with the hand-held vacuum, dusting behind and around the big cabinets we couldn't move, and I heard a clatter and felt a hard piece of something slurp up into my little dirt holder. I decided to check if I'd sucked up a game piece or a Lego or something else like that, so I felt around in the debris for it.

Here is what I found:

It's a mummified lizard. He used to look like this:

Although, we definitely put this little guy out on the lawn when we found him in the house, hiding under the rug from KitCat. But that desiccated little fellow I've encased in plastic in the top photo is about the right size, so maybe our little friend from last spring came back in. 
The lizard I put in plastic (so I can take him to school and we can all admire him) is completely mummified. His eye sockets are empty, but on his belly, you can see his internal organs are all dried up. He lost his tail, but a new one had started to grow. Every little claw on each little toe is intact. He's only about 2 inches long, just like that lizard on CoolGuy's hand in the second photo. His skin is all there--every little bump and stripe visible. It's so awesome! A very thoroughly dried and preserved lizard.
It's such a great find because, just today, we were reading in our text about a prehistoric person whose mummified remains were found in a cave in Northern Nevada about 60 years ago, and how the archaeologists have reckoned that the person lived about 1000 years ago. So, I'm totally taking in Mr. Lizard Mummy for show and tell tomorrow. I've put him between two pieces of clear tape, and he's inside a small glass jar so he can be viewed but not touched, shaken or broken. I love my job!
As I was examining him with a magnifying glass (yes, I'll let people use it tomorrow) CoolGuy pointed out how inflexible he was. Yes, Mr. Li--Zard, you've gotten very hard. Mr. Li--Zard, you should have stayed in the yard. (I'll stop now.) 

Friday, November 22, 2013


I live in a desert. The definition of "desert" is a biome that receives 10 inches or less of rain a year. It began to rain yesterday in our desert. There has been about an inch of rain fall so far, according to a report I just read. It is predicted to continue to rain through noon tomorrow.

In just 24 hours, there were 141 car wrecks that police responded to because people here don't make any allowances for the newly wet roads. These are roads that have had oil and grease and other slimy offal, from machines and the air, building up for a couple of months...since the last time it rained.

In front of our school, there is a low place in the road, and with this rain, we have a lake from side to side. It's a pretty impressive pond, too. Cars really have to just creep carefully through it because the water comes up to the axles for most cars. It is strategically located right by the entrance to our parking lot. Sigh.

Today, it rained all day. The students were dropped off by anxious parents, and then were directed straight to the classrooms because there was no other place for them to be. We also had no opportunity for recess because...rain, puddles, soaking wet grass.

The electricity went out twice in our school today. Rain...we have that happen whenever it rains. Fortunately, it was only out for about five minutes each time. But, most of our classrooms do not have any windows. But---they do have emergency lights which popped on within 15 seconds of the power stoppage.

It was 48 degrees when I went out to direct traffic and help students cross the busy, wet, flooded street this afternoon. Everyone came back in their cars to collect their children. Lots of cars. least the rain took a break for about 15 minutes. We only had a brisk wind. Some of the clouds lifted off the mountains to the north of us and we could see the fresh snow.

It's still raining. Blah. I live in a desert. Bring on the "less than 10%". Please?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Field Trip Marathon

Every year, our favorite fourth grade field trip is to a local wetlands area. I wrote about it last year. I'm sure some people are surprised to discover that there is a wetlands here in the desert, but the name Las Vegas is Spanish for "the meadows." On the early Spanish Trail, this was the one area in the surrounding bleakness where one could find a spring with grass and trees. Now the springs are gone, but the water that flows from rain run-off and out of the water treatment plants, still goes to the lowest place which trails it right down to Lake Mead. And, there is a lovely natural habitat where we take our students each year. Volunteers are there to lead us around and point out cool nature stuff and the students absolutely love going there.

In order to get this experience, I call for our reservation on the first day that teachers return to work in August. It is hard to get in if you wait too long, because they only give field trips two days each week and you risk not getting a spot. So, before I even had students this year, I had booked two field trips: we take two classes one day and two classes the other day. We were all set for a great week and then, another opportunity came up about a month ago: another field trip!! And...bonus! We didn't have to pay for the buses. They were being donated.

The wrinkle: this new field trip was on the day in between our fourth grade trips to the wetlands park. It wasn't really a problem, it was just interesting! So, on Tuesday, I took my students, along with a fellow grade level teacher and her class, and we hiked all morning along the trails. We saw coyote tracks and scat. We measured the height of a tree stump that had been chewed down by a beaver. We watched the American coots and moor hens on the pond. A large road runner dashed across the trail in front of us. Some quail scurried out of our way into the bushes. A jack rabbit hid in the brush, hoping we'd just keep on walking. We investigated some owl pellets that were at the base of trail marker post. The sun peeked in and out of a thin cloud cover, keeping the day at a pleasant temperature. We tasted the leaves of a salt bush after we'd looked at it closely with our hand lenses to see the white crystals glittering on the green surface. It was totally awesome, as it is each time we make this visit to nature. I walked along with one of my students who usually is mostly silent, often blinking at me with the eye of a chicken. But, today! She talked my ear off: this reminded her of a camping trip she'd gone on with her mom and grandma and sister. They saw a deer! They saw some rabbits! They cooked marshmallows! On and on she chatted and kept interrupting herself to tell me, over and over, that this was so fun!!  It was astonishing---usually I get one word replies or just that chicken-eye stare. It was wonderful! Now, I'll know what to talk to her about when we need to write a story and she just sits there...I told her special ed teacher, who partners with me, and he was thrilled, too.

Then, today, we boarded the buses again for a trip to the university from which I finally made my escape with a diploma last spring. The university has a lot of community partners and together they sponsor a reading incentive program for 4th and 5th graders all over the city. They invite all the elementary schools in the district to come to the sports arena on campus and attend a huge pep rally/kick-off for the reading program. Many of them came today, and it's a blast! Again, free trip! The community sponsors provide the money for the buses and the prizes. A group of mascots are dressed and playing basket ball in their costumes. There's loud music playing--all the fun songs the kids know from the radio and like to sing along and dance while listening. There are the cheerleaders from the college, lots of student athletes in their team shirts taking us to our seats and throwing beach balls into the crowd. It's loud and rowdy, full of yelling and singing and screaming and the Wave. Then, they introduce all the schools who are in attendance and we cheer and holler. Local T.V. celebrities read a book to the kids, we learn all about the reading challenge and the prizes being offered. Every student ends up with a free book (they were sent to our school in advance, and we passed them out when we got back.) In all, it is a big wild party where the main chant is: Read to Know! Read to Grow! For some of our students, it may the only time they go to that campus in their entire life. But, for others, it is a nudge toward finishing high school and joining all the cool young adults they spent a really fun morning with, yelling and cheering about.....reading? Yes!

And, as an added bonus: we arrived on our buses, a couple hundred of us from our school, and many hundreds of others and as we were climbing the steps to the stadium doors, some poor person's car caught fire in the parking lot! We were never in danger, neither were the buses, but it was very exciting to watch! The smoke started up and a few kids pointed it out. Then, FLAMES!! and lots of black smoke! Then, we got a fire engine roaring up and they extinguished the fire before it involved anyone else's vehicle. I'm sure there were many disappointed elementary students that there was not a violent explosion. I'm rather surprised there wasn't either. But relieved...In all, it was almost more memorable than the pep rally!

But, by the time today ended, poor old granny-teacher was ready for the hot tub and bed. Two days in a row of disrupted schedule, walking-walking-walking on the pathetic feet, and general chaos, and the extra attention used to keep 23 little friends from wandering off, have left me really tired. But, it's a good tired. We have had a fabulous week of new experiences. We're going to have a lot to write about!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's a Birthday!

We've been celebrating for two days now! The person whose birth is being noted was born on November 17 in San Diego, CA. But he is currently living in Guam, aboard the U.S.S. Chicago, a submarine. Here in North America, today--Sunday--is the anniversary of his arrival into the world. But yesterday it was today in Guam. Get that?? International dateline and all that...So, on the Internet, we celebrated with him yesterday, and I'm celebrating today, too. It's awesome---he gets a two day party. Except, I understand that he had a duty watch yesterday, and got to strip and wax floors. Go Navy! That's the life of the sailor.

A fun fact: his new mother-in-law was born November 16, so his bride pointed out on Facebook that she got to enjoy the birthdays of her two favorite people on the same day!! Cool.

Well, I'm sure I've talked all about the wonderfulness that is him many times on this forum. But here I go again!  It's my prerogative as the mother to go on and on about my fabulous children. This post will be no exception.

He was my first child to experience ear-tube surgery. I wasn't convinced that he really needed it, until the otolaryngologist did the hearing test and one of his ear drums didn't move at all and the other barely moved. He was a year old, and didn't do much babbling or chatting. But he had four older siblings who waited on him hand and foot, and he didn't need much communication. So, we had the ear-tube surgery and that night, while he was in the bathtub, the dog barked on the patio, near the open window, as he had done often. My little guy, with his newly cleared-out ears, jumped out of his skin at the sound he apparently heard for his first time. Oh, I felt like such a bad mother...

But, evidently, his failure to hear much for the first year of his life didn't hold him back. He learned to play multiple instruments and was found to have a lovely bass singing voice. He had never tried singing much, till a friend overheard him singing at the campfire one night while out with the Scouts. The friend encouraged him to try out for high school choir, where they sorely needed more male singers.This required a schedule change, which first had to be signed for by the choir director. He told me about the audition. She played a little something and he sang it back to her. She played some more lines. He sang those. Then, she played a note, "Sing that." Then she just said, "What is that note?" And then she asked him to sing a particular scale. Sure, he could sing that, too. She went down the bass notes, he kept up with her. Finally she laughed, "Give me that schedule!" and happily signed for him to rearrange his classes in order to add choir. That was the beginning of beautiful relationship between him and singing. Who knew he was a natural talent with a perfect ear for tones?? It must be something in the gene pool, because neither his dad or I have any great musical skill.

So, now, he is utilizing that amazing gift for tones and notes as a sonar technician on a submarine. We're quite proud of him---well, we've always been proud of him, and this Navy gig is the gravy on the frosting of the cake. Enjoy a few photos of his progression from the cutest little brother, to a grown man who just celebrated his six-week wedding anniversary. Too bad the bride is still living in a different hemisphere. But that will soon change...Exciting!

"Standing" on Dad's chest
First birthday!
Two years old in Idaho.

Getting rained on in Wyoming in Grandma Frome's yard.

We're back in California. He loved to swim.  
Did I mention that he made it all the way to Eagle Scout, finally. (This photo is his first or second year.)

He was a pretty awesome baseball player in Little League.
This uniform is the favorite of his wife: a life-long, multi-generation Boston fan.

 Clarinet for freshman and sophomore band; saxophone for junior year; drums and tuba as a senior. Mr. "Hand him an instrument and give him a couple of hours...."

This is Tuba Christmas. I think he's playing a euphonium for this gig. He got to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Washington D.C. Tuba Christmas.

Singing in Les Miserables for Summer Stock production during college.
He's also a fantastic piano player, and plays guitar: electric and acoustic. He even learned the banjo, which I love, too.  
Standing with the ever-shrinking Mom at the submarine training base in Connecticut.
He looked so cute in this uniform, he almost upstaged the bride....well, at least for me, anyway. But I have a serious bias. He's been so cute since he was born 29 years ago.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I've recycled things all of my life. When I was a child, most of my clothing was "recycled" because I was the third sister in the family and whatever the two older sisters had worn, was naturally saved and re-worn by my sister and I --the next two on the list. It was the only reasonable thing to do. The clothes were new to me, so I was delighted and that lasted right up until high school. At that point, fashion took a dramatic turn toward Liverpool and, suddenly, all the beautiful sweaters and box-pleated skirts that my sisters had worn were simply no longer even close to "cool."  Luckily, I also learned to sew right about then so I was in a position to create the wardrobe I really craved.

Then, as a young mother, I discovered that I could get cash for old newspapers in San Diego. It became my routine on trash day to cruise around my neighborhood and pick up all the neatly tied up bundles of newspapers left out on the curbs. I'd combine them with the papers I'd saved from my daily delivery and usually I'd earn enough money to buy milk for the week. It was extra work, but totally worth it! I kept those newspapers out of the landfill and I got something important for my efforts.

Well, I'm still a recycling fiend. I save all the plastic bottles at school in bins that I've strategically located around the school and bring them home to set out on my curb for the fortnight pick up. I don't earn any money from it, but, again! Less landfill debris, and plastic can be used over and over. I've also started recycling something else from the school: celery.

Yes, in the effort to introduce a more healthy school lunch, about every two weeks the students are served celery sticks in little cellophane bags and offered ranch dressing in which to dip it. However, at least one half of the celery sticks are simply dumped into the trash can. It makes me cringe! So, during my ten minutes of supervision at the end of the lunch session where my students eat, I wander around dispensing napkins and sporks and picking up trash and asking, "Are you going to eat your celery?"  And those who answer in the negative hand it over to me, looking a bit confused. The first couple of weeks, students asked me if I ate it all. Then, I began to explain that I just took it home and cooked with it.

By this week, everyone knew that Mrs. [EarthSignMama] would take your unwanted celery and they began to pile it up on their tables, informing all their friends that there was someone who did want it. I do use it: last weekend, I made a huge pot of the most delicious vegetable broth. I ended up with quarts of it and it sits in my freezer. Tonight I added a pint to some leftover stew to increase the moisture and not take away the flavor.

I just cut up an onion, lots of garlic, a huge pile of celery diced, and started that cooking in some olive oil in the bottom of a big soup pot. Then, I scrubbed, but didn't peel, several carrots and a couple of potatoes. These were diced up and tossed into the oil. I cut up one bunch of parsley, quite a bit of basil from the last of the plants in my garden, a handful of thyme that is still growing there, too, and tossed in several bay leaves. All the herbs and veggies were coated and warmed in the olive oil by then, and the delicious scent was filling the house. Into this I poured several quarts of water, a tablespoon of salt and a lot of fresh ground pepper. I put on the lid and let it simmer for about an hour. After it cooled down, I strained the broth into containers and put it into the freezer.

It is delicious, nutritious and handy as can be. We also used some of the carrot and potatoes and celery and I made a vegetable soup for supper by putting some of the broth and adding a can of diced tomatoes. I used tiny shell noodles and it was unbelievably good.  You could also roast the veggies and add parsnips or turnips before you simmer them in the water--that would add another element to their yummy taste.

So, use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without---that old pioneer-y motto that our grandmothers used to repeat---it still works! Use up the extra stuff---don't throw it away. Figure out if you can use or reuse it, or give it away to a thrift store, and put all the extra uncooked fruit and veggie bits in your composter. That's where quite a bit of the celery goes, because some of it gets icky before I can use it all in tuna casserole or hamburger stew or whatever. But, hey---I use the compost to refresh my garden every spring and I grow new vegetables. So that celery is part of the circle of life, instead of languishing inside a little cellophane bag, inside a big black trash bag, underneath the layers in the landfill.

These were the sort of groovy clothes I craved in high school.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

This has always been an important holiday for me. When I was a child, I just thought every one's dad was a veteran. I didn't realize until I was an adult that there were people who hadn't served in the military in WWII or during Korea. My dad and all of my uncles, and several people that qualified as honorary uncles were all veterans. So, it was just an assumption that kids make.

Interestingly, even though so many men I knew had served their country, it wasn't the main feature of their lives when I knew them. They were teachers, or farmers, or business men. Nearly all were also husbands and fathers. I knew some from church, some from school, and some as neighbors. So, when I got married, and my husband was in the Navy, it was just a normal part of life. His identity was also husband and father. He thought of himself as a "biker in the Navy" instead of a "sailor with a motorcycle." But, I know he came from a family of veterans, too. Even his step-mother is a veteran, along with his brothers and father and several uncles. It was a deliberate choice for them, and him, and was undertaken as a responsibility of citizenship.

So, today, I want to honor veterans and illustrate that they are people who have many hats, not just the one from Uncle Sam. When you're going about the rest of the day, week, month and year, you could be encountering veterans in many areas of your life---not just on this special day, when we single them out for our gratitude. Don't forget to be quietly grateful everyday, because each day of our routine lives is afforded us by others who are part of those Armed Forces.Their service provides the freedom to just think about them once a year.

Lynn Ray Welch
United States Navy
Lynn Ray Welch
husband, father of eight, grandfather to 37, farmer
Kelly C. Frome
United States Navy

Kelly C. Frome
husband, father of 5, grandfather to 4, technical consultant, biker dude
Peter Kelly Frome
United States Navy

Peter Kelly Frome
husband, brother of 4, beloved son, crazy good musician

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winter Stars

It seems funny to write the word "winter" when it was 74 degrees here today...but, we are definitely moving on from autumn. By dawn it is always in the low 50s and that feels chilly. I also realize that winter is approaching because Orion is back!

I love the constellation Orion. I think one reason is that it is just so easy to recognize. Those three distinct stars in a straight line that are topped by the other three stars that make his shoulders and club. I've since learned that Orion has the stars Betelgeuse and Rigel. But, mostly, I associate it with fond memories.

Whenever I see Orion, I am transported back to childhood. I remember seeing this constellation whenever we left the house in the winter because it would be dark by 5:30 and those bright stars lined up distinguished themselves from the millions of other stars that were visible. If we were leaving the house to get in the car after dark in the winter, it would for something fun like a Christmas party at the church, or going to town to the movies. When I was a teen, my sister and I were driving the car to the high school for a basketball game and the dance afterward.

Even the not-so-fun events that brought me outside would feature Orion in the winter. After we milked the first dozen cows, they were ready to be walked out of the barn and let out the gate to return to their sleeping shed. Then, we'd herd another dozen into the stalls where they'd get their evening grain treat and we'd wash and milk them. After that, we'd get the last remaining "bunch" of six or eight, and we'd be-finally-on the downhill slope of the nightly chore. But each time we'd change bunches, it meant going outside to stand under the black vault of the night sky that was filled with glittering stars. And Orion was what you noticed when you stepped out there because our barn door opened to the south. When you're out of the city, the sky is the most prominent feature. Most of your vision is filled with sky. And there it was--the first group of stars that were visible as the darkness settled in and it remained the most prominent as the evening went on.

This week was my first sighting of Orion. I went out one night to soak in the hot tub just before bed, and I settled in with a sigh and looked up at the heavens. Just peering over the edge of the roof, I saw it--the three stars of the belt and the triangle over top. I knew that winter was on the way. It might seem incongruous that here in the city synonymous with Bright Lights, that I was enjoying the stars, but that's what I do while I'm lolling in the warm waters each night. We're on the far eastern edge of town, right next to a big rocky mountain. On the other side of that mountain is Lake Mead National Recreation Area and there are no lights out there. So, we get to star gaze in our own back yard. Now mind you, it's nothing like the Wyoming sky of my childhood. I can only see the most prominent constellations. But, I can see them, and it is one of the little joys of my day. So, when you step outside after dark for the next few months, look up and salute The Hunter. Apparently, throughout history, lots of civilizations have been fascinated by my old friend.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Poetry Night

I got to help with the younger girls at church this evening. The ladies asked me to come and teach them how to write poetry. So, I gathered up a few teachery materials and took them over. We mostly concentrated on cinquains, where you write a five-lined poem that has a specific number of words in each line: 1, then 2, then 3, then 4 and then you end with a synonym of the first word. They're fun and I have used them with my students quite often. I also had clip art pictures for them to color and cut and glue onto their final products, so everyone left with a beautiful, original poem. We had a great time.

One of the patterns I included in their booklets of poem patterns was the season poem. It has rules, too, but they're probably exclusive to the teacher resource book where I got it. However, I'm quite proud of the two poems I wrote yesterday in anticipation of our poetry night. So I present them to you:

Desert Autumn
Fall finds me
Still sweating
And swimming
But cools October down
Till we wear sweaters and
Put socks on our feet.
Fall rolls in on
A jack-o-lantern
Costumed kids collect candy
And autumn leaves twirl down
The sun sets sooner
And coats are worn
By chilly children.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Friday Night Eats

[I was just too busy all weekend to write this, so I'm writing it now.]
We went out to eat on Friday. It's a favorite Friday night dinner, lately. I drag myself home from school about 6:30 or 7:00. We're hungry. I'm tired. We realize the solution: Rubalcaba's Taco Shop. Please go to the link and read the comments.
I had driven past their cafe many times since I moved here, and then on a staff development day last year, our principal ordered us lunch from there. Apparently, the wife of the owner was once a teacher's aide in our school, and then quit to go to work with her husband when he bought this restaurant. In the comments, it points out that "it isn't in the best part of town..." and "it isn't the nicest place..." B.U.T.
The food. Yes, the food. It is superb. After we'd had our lunch at school from this little taqueria, I encouraged CoolGuy to stop there one day for our lunch. The carnitas tacos won his heart. Or at least his taste buds. They really are super-duper yummy. How can you go wrong? Slow-cooked pork butt that is then shredded and grilled in a bit of lard until there is a crispy crust on many of the pieces. Then, the tasty bits are tucked into fresh warm corn tortillas. You then slather them with your choice from the delicious salsa bar and enjoy. Myself, I vary my order between carnitas, chile rellenoes and----the best thing on a brisk autumn night---caldo de res. It is a beef soup that takes some tough old cut from the cow like neck bones, or shanks, and simmers it until the meat falls off the bones. Into this simmering broth goes a whole peeled potato, chunks of carrots, pieces of Mexican squash, cabbage and small corn-on-cob pieces. You then dump into this steaming bowl of deliciousness fresh pico made of chopped onion, cilantro and a bit of tomato. The scorching broth cooks the onion, and then you can also spoon Spanish rice into it for an extra bit of tastiness. Of course, it is served with a fresh, hot, homemade flour tortilla.
This is definitely not a fine-dining experience. It is squeezed into a corner lot next to a car repair garage and a dollar store. It borders a very busy street that has city buses chugging up and down, and along which people who are down on their luck shuffle along, hoping for a hand-out. The interior is furnished with cracked vinyl booths with tippy tables. The jukebox is filled with ranchero music and narcocorridos (gangster ballads). It's a little warmish in the summer, but quite cozy in the cooler weather because of the steaming kettles of delicious food and the ever-busy grill.
But the owners are so pleasant and friendly. And by now, CoolGuy has stopped by for enough lunches and we've come in on so many Friday nights, that they greet us like old friends and just know that I'll have horchata and he'll have an orange Jarritos to drink.
Last Friday was especially colorful. We pulled up on the bike and as we walked in the door, a neighborhood fellow smiled at me and said, "Kinda cold for a motorcycle ride, ain't it?" I told him that if I lived any further away, I'd have definitely needed my jacket. I was wearing a long-sleeved sweater with a t-shirt under it, my leather vest, and a wrap-around neck scarf. We ordered and then sat down and ended up chatting about the weather some more as those people waited for their take-out order. The guy who sells pirate DVDs was there with his big binder full of discs. A Spanish language dubbed version of "Incredible Me 2" was playing on the flat-screen T.V. that is hung on the wall over the vending machines. You can put in two quarters and get a chance to test your grip. Or you can get some fake tattoos. Or you can get any number of little plastic thingeys. No music was playing because of the video, but when we go in for lunch, we usually play a three song rotation of something with "Corazon" in the name. It's bound to be heartfelt and earnest. 
There was a steady stream of take-out customers who filled up small plastic dishes with salsa while waiting for their styrofoam boxes of dinner. Other tables were filled with pairs of men who were dressed in clothes that showed they'd spent the day working hard, and were now ready for a really filling burrito before they headed home for a shower. Then the door swung open and a fellow in a cowboy hat strode in, with his spurs jingling on his boots. He had on his suede half-chaps that are very distinctly Mexican. He ordered something, then purused the DVDs and finally picked up two drinks and strode back outside. I watched him leave and realized that he had come on his horse! His buddy was waiting on a horse in the parking lot, standing right by our motorcycle, holding his partner's mount. I watched them sipping their drinks as their high stepping caballos pranced off down the street behind the restaurant. Umm..yes, it's that part of town, too. There are still properties in our area that have corrals and are zoned for horses, goats, chickens, etc. Sadly, not my block.

We finished the last succulent morsels of our dinners, cleaned off our table and put on our helmets. We waved good-bye and thanks to our hosts and went out into the chilly evening. We live about a mile and half up the hill from our homey little food spot, and I cuddled tightly up behind CoolGuy to ward off the cool air. Another excellent choice for Friday night dinner after a really crazy week of 4th grade.