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Saturday, June 30, 2007


Okay, whatever asshead came up with the idea of those junk emails, when we're done boiling him in oil and all that, we need to turn him over the the Spam people for tainting their brand.

I loves Spam. I know, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Baked Beans, Spam Spam and Spam.

I wish I could afford to take Em to Spamalot, actually. Even the cheap tickets are only 'cheap' if you compare them to airline tickets.

This is not the Weinermobile: Oscar Meyer gets a couple of college kids to drive their hot dog around for a summer (no doubt for wages bordering on 'outsourced to India'), but the Spammobile crew is in their eighth year, and they spend as much time on the road as those college kids spend in school.

Then I got to wondering, what kind of home life do you have when you spend nine months driving a giant can of Spam from town to town? I asked if there were Spammobile groupies, the guy started telling me about some clown in the Southwest with a Spam can costume who managed to render himself obnoxious. I decided not to pursue the subject further, because I think he was feigning innocence regarding the real meaning of 'groupie.' Got a girl in every port, I'll bet.

I bought a couple of cans in the store (on sale, two for $1.50) and showed them my receipt to get a Hot Wheel of the Spammobile, which I'll be parking on my desk at work. They also gave me a Spam holder (Tupperware type thing exactly the right size for a can of Spam), and a fridge magnet that I think I remember seeing come through my former employer's factory.

Mike Metheny at Jardine's

Okay, I'm getting behind on my pointless little hobby here. I was too shagged out when I got home from Jardine's to even copy the pictures from camera to 'puter, let alone blog it. Then Diz died, then I worked late trying to put Humpty Dumpty (the computer that's the heart and soul the network at my employer, which had a sort of perfect storm of troubles that are not ironed out even after a week) back together, then Theater Camp's play (blog post to come), then Kaleidescope, the Nelson, and an awesome get-together (or dinner party, except I don't think it's a dinner party if there's lots of loud children) and so on.

If you want me to really care about being backed up on my blogging, write a check. I'm willing to give up my amateur standing if you're willing to pay me for my inability to not express myself.

So anyway, Tuesdays at Jardine's are usually dead. Last month, I went to see Mike Metheny at Jardines, but I was a month early. I had the joint to myself. Maybe not quite that, but there were less than ten people if you don't count employees and the band.

This time, when I actually meant to be there, the joint was hopping. Partly this is because Mike doesn't take that many gigs. So all his friends come out when he's got one.

Mike has described himself as the Latoya Jackson of jazz (his kid brother is a Grammy magnet), but I think part of it is he gets pissed off at being treated like a stereo at a kegger. Really, Jardine's is one of the few places in KC I've ever seen 'shut up when the band is playing' cards, but it's not enforced. The Village Vanguard might be able to kick out someone who runs their mouth while Sonny Rollins is playing a ballad, but a supper club like Jardine's with no cover?

This time it was really, really noisy. So loud you couldn't hear a bass solo well when Bowman got one. Mike made a comment between tunes that Karin Allyson would be blowing a column of fire to the back of the room right now. And he's right: that's part of why she moved to New York.

The music was good, though. I think the second set was the best: the band had found its zone, managed to tune out the madding crowd and so on. It probably didn't hurt that other musicians (I saw Max Groove in the room, and I think Tim Brewer) were there. Knowing everyone is tuning you out while they talk with their mouth full of steamed mussels, it's hard to put your soul into what you're playing. Cats do it, but when they know a few people are there who are just there to listen (I can't afford to eat at Jardine's anyway), it's natural for them to step it up.

The new camera proved itself worthy. I still don't get some shots I'd like to, and the 1600 ISO setting is noisier than the crowd at Jardine's that night, but better to have noise and get the shot than not get the shot...

Sidenote: This bartender actually claims to not be photogenic. Bullshit, I know. Plus she made me a black and tan with Stella and Guinness, which turned out to be very good. Those buttery diacetyl notes really complement the chocolatey flavors of the stout. And for the uninitiated: it works because despite the dark color (interpreted by many as heaviness), Guiness is one of the lightest beers on the market and will float on almost any other beer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


One of the most singularly generous people I've ever known died today.

I met Diz almost twenty years ago, when I started dating his daughter. We met, actually, when I awoke on his living room sofa after a boozy night with her.

He golfed, he gardened, he could fix literally anything that can be broken, he designed non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons (which is all he ever really said about a career in a building with no windows where each desk had—no kidding—a safe for putting your paperwork in if you were even going to pee). But most of all, he was the Übergrandpa.

His own father had been a movie theater projectionist, a line of work which meant almost zero father-son contact, and Elmer seemed to have decided he was going to overcompensate for that when he became a father. Maybe it was also waiting for years to adopt my ex wife and her brother, that he didn't take kids for granted.

But if he was an active father (he was the Dad who volunteered to coach whatever his kids showed an interest in playing), he really went into overdrive when he retired and found himself with grandkids.

I remember his first Christmas as a Grandpa, he had the whole bed of his pickup full of presents, a veritable Santa's sleigh. Some of it was stuff for me and his daughter, who were just setting up housekeeping ourselves, but a lot of it was for my nephew, the first grandchild.

I made a lighthearted comment about spoiling children, not really meaning anything by it, as we loaded stuff in. He looked at me like I was some sort of heretic, and said, 'Not possible.'

But the material aspect isn't really what was amazing. It was the energy and patience and enthusiasm he had for his grandchildren.

When we were first grappling with Mo's autism, he only saw a stubborn, strong-willed kid who was going to do what she thought needed done, and damn what anyone else thinks. And he saw it with pure love.

I remember one time when she stayed the night at his house, she got up at 4:30 in the morning and headed for the basement. He followed, wanting to know what she wanted, and found she'd gone straight for the sky swing. So he hung it, and as the sun started to illuminate the horizon, he swung her in it for an hour or so. He wasn't pissed about missing sleep, he didn't even see it as Mo being a high maintenance child. It was just time to swing, and he was glad she'd let him know it.

He turned his back yard into a wonderland for kiddos. Built a first-rate jungle gym, bought a trampoline with a safety cage, bought the aforementioned sky swing, a hammock, etc.

I told you about how he could fix it if it broke? Diz was financially comfortable, though he only seemed to enjoy spending money if it was on other people. He did not, for instance, have any patience for spending money on cars. When I met him he was driving a '74 Nova, a car he bought when the car he was driving for a family vacation to California died on the first leg of the trip. He also had a '76 Olds Custom Cruiser and a seventy-something Buick Skylark. This last car, I remember one time he was working on it when I got to their house and I teased him, 'How long are you going to keep this car?'

'Until I can't get parts for it,' was his answer.

He explained to me a couple of times that it wasn't that he couldn't afford a new car, but he just couldn't justify paying hundreds of dollars in property taxes to own one. He'd much rather tape a window down with duct tape to keep it from flapping than pay a tax on a car that's not falling apart.

Another aspect of his generosity: he mowed the grass of the house next door to his for something like 25 years because it needed one. Nobody asked him to do it, nobody paid him for it. Until the son of the owner of the house next door was clearing things out for the house to be sold, and found out Diz would be ecstatic about having a twenty-plus year old car that had hardly been driven, I don't think anyone thanked him for it.

That car, sadly, was involved in a wreck that ought to have taught Diz the value of seatbelts not long after he got it. It didn't make him start buckling up, but it did make him find a vehicle made during the Reagan years, the closest thing to new he would tolerate.

The grandkids, by the way, did about as much on the seatbelt front as could be done. Seatbelt laws didn't impress Diz, but one of his grandchildren experience anxiety on his behalf was serious business.

I guess for me, it's still unreal. This is a man who made kidney amyloids a minor affliction. Amyloids that baffled even the Mayo Clinic, for real.

Diz' father lived to be almost 100, too, so coupled with his ability to make major illnesses minor, I figured he had a couple more decades to go. It wouldn't really have amazed me for him to survive me, forty years or so his junior.

We'll all miss him. As bad as it is to me, it's got to be a million time's worse for the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster. And for her mother.

And for lots of others. I'm betting a lot of people are going to come out of the woodwork for the memorial (TBA). He touched a lot of lives in big ways.

I find tucking Em in tonight, her teary recollections of Grandpa D, that I've forgotten significant things. Like his woodworking. The cedar chest, quilt racks, book shelves and so on he made because it was fun and his kids needed or wanted them. I struggle to keep up with the maintenance on one house, yet he was able to do his own and the lion's share of the work on two others when his kids turned out to be less than handy (or when they married the unhandy).

Of course there's more. Lots more. How could I possibly encapsulate, in a few hundred words, 76 or 77 years (I forget, but I'm in the ballpark) of making virtually every decision, large or small, on the basis of whether it would help someone.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Okay, so I get to work this morning and the g5 is locked up. It is showing that it's completed it's backup to the LaCie external, but it won't do much except tell me it won't do much. Application not responding, force quit? Sure, except it doesn't.

So I try the power button,and it shuts off, but when I try to bring it back up I get the gray screen with the dark gray apple in the center of it, but not much else. The fans start blowing faster and faster, but nothing useful happens.

I restart again, I unplug and wait, plug back in and restart. I try holding down S, Command+S, Option, Command+P+R, etc, and nothing.

The Apple Store doesn't even open until ten, so I have plenty of time to experiment with different ways to hold my mouth, but to no avail.

The earliest appointment I can get is 12:15. I'm there by 11:45 in case there's a no-show, because without my g5, I can't work. Worse, my boss' laptop, the eMac that's in the other half of the art department and the two PCs that are next to said eMac all depend to a degree on my Mac.

Like all the Mac art files are on my local hard drive, for a start.

I have a LaCie backup drive, which is lucky since when I started this job in February the backup hard drive was dead and I was told I should get it to work sometime when I was caught up.

I couldn't get it back to running (IMHO, Jesus couldn't have resurrected it), but I tried a few times and ultimately bugged my boss to get a new backup drive. I think I'm glad I did.

Except the Genius Bar couldn't quite put Humpty Dumpty back together. They put a new hard drive in to replace the one that failed, no problem, but they couldn't get any data from the old drive. There was an outfit they could send it to for a lot of money and a lot of time...

Speaking of time, when the girl asked me who to ask for in three to five days I must have appeared very much as I did when I went into cardiac arrest mowing Mom's lawn, because she then said, 'Relax, if the part is in stock...'

The trick is, the place that would try to get shit off the hard drive when the Apple Store couldn't, I'd have to leave the heart and brains of my employer at the Apple Store while these vague waters were charted.

So I brought the box back with little other than the OS on it.

Can't get it to see the network, the internet, can't get it to do much.

I found most of the discs I'll need to restore the applications, but that LaCie one-click backup, beware!

I thought it was taking a mirror of my hard drive, and LaCie gives you few options, so I don't know what I could have done differently. But for instance, it saves an 'application' folder, but it doesn't save the applications. At all, it's an empty folder. I'm going to have to bone up on how to make it a RAID, which I think I can do with the software on hand.

So network settings, programs that have a upgrade to an upgrade, etc., it's like not having a backup.

The worst part is, when I left the office today we were not much closer to fixed than when I got there, and I was backed up at the end of last week.

Sucks to be me...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My New Toy

Yep, as you might have gathered from my last post, I bribed my inner child into doing the yard work with a camera to replace the one Mo broke last week.

I know, in the hunter-gatherer sense, I don't need a camera, but I was getting junk sick.

After a lot of eBay browsing and hemming and hawing, I went to a camera shop that does printing with my employer and found a deal too good to pass up. Basically, I found the camera I wanted, then stepped back to the pocket-camera version of it, then stepped back another $300 and ended up with more or less my old camera. Half again the megapixels, but basically the same camera with the same controls and zoom and all that.

At least I know what I'm getting, eh? I just have to make sure Mo doesn't drop it face down while it's open and on.

I didn't have my favorite subject to shoot (my daughters), so I went and shot pics at Navy Park, and some other places. I took Lilith with me, took some pictures of her, too.

Yard Work

I hate yard work. I don't mean a little bit, I mean I find every aspect of it oppressive.

And it hates me back. I have proof: coming up in a few days will be the fifth anniversary of the time I went in cardiac arrest mowing my Mom's lawn. I know, I'm damn lucky to have come through it at all, let alone come through it with flying colors. Cardiac arrest outside a hospital, that's about a 4% survival rate.

But still, isn't that God's way of telling me to not mow grass?

I had to do some remedial work in the yard today. I didn't have the girls, so no excuse there. It was not raining, so I fought the jungle.

I knocked down weeds with the string trimmer until I ran out of gas for it. Then I took my chainsaw to some low-hanging branches that make mowing even worse than mowing intrinsically is. These branches didn't seem like much on the tree, but one the ground, they ended up having a lot of biomass.

It was a pain in the ass getting them wrestled to the curb in trash cans, too.

Then I mowed, sprayed weed killer to try and keep from having to do so much trimmer work next time.

Three and a half hours of nasty, hot, back injuring work and my yard is still an eyesore.

For real, my next house needs to be a condo. I either need to be on a socioeconomic level to hire a lawn boy or I need to live in a place that has no yard. That or have my yard paved.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I've gotten emergency calls at work about Mo before, of course, but they've generally been seizure related.

This time, however...

Mo apparently put her hands on the radiant top stove at her Mom's house while it was still hot from making her lunch. If I had a working camera, I'd post pics: the blisters are spectacular. The backs of her fingers and the palm of one hand—she apparently had her hands in fist position, and was planing to use the stove as a counter top to boost herself up to get something.

When the ER doctor left, she told her mother, 'He's cute. And handsome.'

This is a kid who does not normally speak in sentences. And the notion that she registered men as attractive was news to me. I knew she dug this one boy at school, but maybe because she doesn't form sentences, I was able to imagine that it was strictly a platonic sort of crush.

So AFK asked her, 'Do you want to tell him that?'


I don't know if the pain cut through the noise or if she really found this doctor irresistible. I wasn't there, but times I've been to this ER with her, I've noticed the women on staff are, on average, Death by Sexy. One lobotomist in particular, and a couple of the nurses totally got their chocolate in my peanut butter.

So I'm not ready for my ten year old to be boy crazy, okay? Especially not my ten year old who still hasn't learned the Stoves are Hot chapter of Listen to Your Father.

We're supposed to keep the blisters dressed if possible, but of course that's not happening. I've never seen a band aid last thirty seconds on Mo. They gave us some ointment, which she hates but sort of tolerates.

She's been knocking the blisters on the table, the walls of the shower, etc., I think to try and control the stimulus.

She went to bed eagerly enough, and with her usual melatonin and seizure meds supplemented by Tylenol with codeine, you'd think she'd conk out. She looked tired enough.

But no, she was up twenty minutes later. And just now, finally, went back to bed, still fussy but apparently willing to try.

Ever since she got back up she's been saying, 'Ouch. Stop. Stop.' Very clearly, in a calm voice. Firm, like she's trying to order her hands to stop hurting.

Plenty of times, she's gotten things just for clearly communicating. When a kid who tends to whine and act out instead of just saying she wants a cheeseburger says, 'I want Sonic, please,' what parent isn't going to see if they can't swing a trip to the drive-in? You figure it's hard for her to form the words, hard for her to communicate that way, and you want to encourage the behavior.

I felt like when she'd say, 'Stop. Stop. Ouch,' she was thinking, For crying out loud, I'm saying the fucking words. Stop hurting already!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I'm such a shutterbug, it's true. It's an addiction.

Now that my camera has shot craps, I don't quite remember how to live. I've got a bison roast in the crock pot with a couple of bay leaves, some thyme, rubbed sage, parsley, black peppercorns. A can of crushed tomatoes and some fresh diced potatoes, carrots and onion. Garlic.

And no way to show you how cool it looks sitting in the crock pot, the roast still mostly frozen, but waiting to be plugged in before I leave for work in the morning.


See, in the hunter-gatherer sense, I don't need a camera. Then again, by that standard, I don't need a car with air conditioning, though I've got the Honda back in the shop tomorrow morning to find out what it's going to take to actually fix the AC on it. Second time in a month it doesn't blow cold.

I'm looking at some eBay auctions, refurbished cameras and so on. Refurbished appears to be less dicey than used, and if I take a few steps back from the new stuff, there's some cameras that would actually be an upgrade out there for under a hundred bucks.

What I'd get, if I could, is the G7 PowerShot. It's about as close to dSLR capabilities as pocket cameras get. It makes its own gravy, but it's too much money. I might find an old G5, but only if I go the used rather than refurbished route.

But the last pictures I got with my PowerShot before the damage was done are pretty good. My Dad and brother hand cranking ice cream on Father's Day. Or Mo freeing the balloons at the same deal.

Or Em playing Tie-Dyed Executioner or whatever this is.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Ex Camera

My Canon PowerShot seems to have bitten it.

It's not pinin,' it's passed on! This camera is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late camera! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace!

In fairness, I've carried this thing in unlikely tight pockets and whatnot for a year and a half or so. I've taken thousands of pictures with it and I seldom go anywhere without it.

Still, maybe I'm old fashioned, but a camera should last longer. The thing is, I know Mo broke it. I watched it happen. Her mother has been letting her take pictures, and she's very gentle and careful with the camera. She's started wanting to use my camera as well, and I've been letting her.

It's not like some things, like cell phones, that she's just as likely to put in a pitcher of orange juice.

She was taking a picture from the edge of her bed, and she dropped the camera. We're talking maybe an 18 inch fall, possibly two feet. The camera was on, though, and it landed on its lens, apparently jacking up a gear. Now it doesn't open properly, it doesn't close properly, and it's shed some sort of gasket in the process of trying to do these things.

It doesn't focus right anymore.

So I can't afford a new camera, really, but I can't seem to breath without one. I'm sure I'll find a bargain, but I'm not so sure I'll let Mo pilot the thing right away...


I took the honyocks straight to the pool when I picked them up Friday. But Mo didn't seem into it.

She didn't seem to know what she wanted to do. Usually, a question like 'Do you want to go down the white slide or the blue slide?' gets an answer like, 'BLUE SLIDE!' with a gesture that's half finger-point and half pitcher's wind-up. We did one trip down the slide, then she led me to the pool house restrooms, where we'd just been. After some time in there, she got in line for the diving board.

Then she stood out on the end of the diving board while a line accumulated behind her, with me calling out to her to just jump in and swim to the ladder. This is a drill she knows well. She finally went in the drink, but then wanted to loll around and tread water below the board.

When she got to the ladder at last, she took so long to get out that the kid who went after her climbed out around her.

Then she got up on the deck, leaned her head against my chest and started seizing.

Not a spectacular seizure, no thrashing. She just chewed and turned her head and chewed and turned her head and drooled and so on. I eased her to the deck and leaned her against my legs.

It was a long one. At five minutes, Em brought the Diastat, but my understanding was it was only for grand mall seizures, that this kind of partial seizure wasn't really affected by an Elvis dose of Valium. If I thought it would have stopped the seizure, I'd have totally administered it. But I kept it on standby in case the seizure escalated.

Time went by. Lifeguards asked if they could help, but there wasn't really anything they could do. One told me I was free to take her into the pool house, and I had to explain that sitting here drooling was really all she could do at the moment, that if she was capable of responding to instructions and walking, it wouldn't be a seizure.

I know it started right before they called the Adult Swim, which is 7:00, and I know it was 7:15 when we got a very zonked and disoriented Mo into the car to go home. My best guess is twelve minutes. Might have been as little as ten, theoretically could have been as long as fifteen.

In any case, the longest quarter hour.

Then after, the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster tells me the Diastat would have been appropriate. One or the other of us misunderstood the neurologist, because I thought the massive dose of rectal Valium just arrested the muscle spasms of a grand mall seizure, reducing convulsions and avoiding injuries caused by thrashing about. But it seems I let Mo seize for seven minutes when I had a solution on the deck beside me.

I'll have that #2 Parental Stress combo, substitute Guilt for Despair and add a side of Uncertainty.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


So me and Mo are going down the Yellow tube, meaning the two of us are on a two-person innertube.

The launch is tricky with us, because between the two of us, there's over 350 pounds of Midwest Rock Lobster aboard. Getting us over the lip is a job.

So the lifeguard doing the launch, he asks us if we want to go fast or slow.

Well, I had to open my big mouth: I said we never launched very fast, it just wasn't possible.

So he launched us fast. Really fast. It was awesome.

But we biffed. The last turn, when you've gotten up a good speed, the innertube wants to climb the left side of the chute. Go past 8-O'Clock, or so, and good luck hanging on. I'm face down in the water, going umpteen miles an hour, Mo's somewhere in the muddle, the innertube is flying, splash!

So we have to do it again, right?

And yeah, that mouth on me: I had to tell the kid, 'I thought you were going to launch us fast.'

So he did.

This time, it might be we made it to 10-O'Clock, or maybe it just felt like it, but we went high enough on the wall to actually fall hard on the floor of the tube.

I hit my knee pretty good, and momentarily thought I'd smash my face on the lip of the exit, but I guess I was moving fast enough that didn't happen.

The lifeguards working the exit were concerned, wanting to know if we were okay. They were a little on edge because the paramedics had already removed a kid with a head injury from a similar biff.

Mo seemed unphased; was eager to go again. My knees, especially the left, were telling me about it, but I felt intact.

So then, as we're climbing the stairs, Mo is rubbing her forehead and I see a big red area, where I think she must have hit her head. But she insists it doesn't hurt.

Getting in the car after the pool closed, I noticed my knee had a perceptible lump, like I'm going to have a glorious shiner there.

I asked Mo, repeatedly, 'Did you hurt your head?' 'Does your head hurt?' 'Did you bonk your melon?'

No, no, no, and no, according to her. At least at the pool.

When we got home, and I asked if her head hurt, she thought about it and said, 'Yesssss.'

I gave her some ibuprofen before bed.

Doh! A Deer, A Female Deer...

Actually, it could have been a buck for all I know. I don't hunt (the past eleven deer seasons, I worked mandatory overtime before my job got sent to India). I would hunt, at least if by 'hunt' you mean walking around in the mountains, trying to find trails and stalk the animals. Sitting in a blind, freezing your nuts off hoping the game will walk in front of you? That's not hunting, that's ice fishing with no water.

Anyway, this deer was strolling through our parking lot, then zipping across Wornall.

Hung out at the far side of the thrift store parking lot between a couple of cargo containers before leaping a fence. Kind of a Life of Pi moment.

Thing is, my first instinct when I saw the deer was to grab my camera. I always have my camera with me. Always.

But by the time I got it out, the deer had gotten too far for my PowerShot A520 to do much good. Maybe if I had a newer PowerShot, the seven megapixel one instead of the four, but I doubt it. The problem is a 4x optical zoom is just not enough. And a maximum light sensitivity of ISO 400 (and a noisy 400 at that).

But if I had my dream camera, the dSLR I was close to caving on right before TradeNet decided it no longer wanted to be a great place to work (the sign is still up, but I have it on good authority, by multiple sources, that it could not be so defined anymore).

But would I have had the camera with me if the camera was a two pound monster with a big, expensive zoom lens on it? My PowerShot fits in my pocket, and I don't see myself ever wearing pants so baggy I could do that with a Pentax K10D.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Route

So I've been taking I-35 to I-435 to Wornall for about four months now and I'm finally varying my route.

The thing with the highway during the so-called 'rush' hour is it's got a nasty way of becoming 'sit there with the thumb up your ass wondering if we'll ever move again' hour.

The side streets have stoplights and lower speed limits, but less gridlock.

My first alternate that involved 87th worked great until I didn't jog over to 83rd where it forks. Then I ran into a series of 'oh shit I can't turn left here' and 'when did they close this road' turning points that made me 15 minutes later than I would have probably been if I'd taken the old interstate-intensive path.

Today, at least, nothing went wrong. It only took me an hour to get to work, which is to say 'meet the new commute, same as the old commute.'

I need a Zeppelina.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


The artist formerly known wanted to give a send-off barbecue for Mo's teachers and paras, who have been marvelous these past five years.

Mo is changing schools, starting Fifth Grade in a building that will contain only one of the people she's associated with school the past five years.

So we did. The ex's husband smoked a bunch of ribs and chicken, I made slaw, Legba'd eggs, queso dip and whatnot, and the ex made a huge apple crisp.

There was potato salad, chips, margaritas, and I don't know what-all.

I didn't label my queso dip as 'hot,' but maybe should have. I realized too late that the only Ro-Tel I had was the 'extra hot' kind. So that's what I used.

Of course, I worried that there wasn't enough food. Only four slabs of ribs; only two heads of cabbage-worth of slaw; only two dozen deviled eggs. Only four cases of soda, only a quart and a half of queso, only six or seven bags of chips.

Then half the guests didn't show. I brought home unopened bags of chips. Go figure.

But we had a great time with those who did show. Gifts were given. Margaritas were consumed. Mo took pictures with any camera she could get her hands on.

At one point, she sat on my lap, then gave me a big hug, only until she could reach my camera. Once she had that, she was done with Daddy.