I generally try to stay away from writing anything informative or newsworthy. You might think that’s odd, considering I work at a newspaper. But the way I have it figured, there are a lot more people around here who do a lot better job of being informative and telling you about the newsworthy stuff.
Where I shine is babbling on about things that don’t matter too much, and seeing if I can string sentences along so much that the reader loses interest—or even falls asleep—before getting to the end, making it possible for me to say pretty much anything I want, without fear of retribution or dire consequences.
Still with me? Rats—I really thought you’d doze off on that last one.
I’m glad you’re still reading, because I actually have something to tell you that borders on both informative and newsworthy.
If you look around Canadian these days, you might notice something—particularly on empty lots or unkempt lawns. At first, you might think it’s just clumps of dead, yellow grass, or weeds that got too hot and are drying in the sun.
If you look closer at some of these clumps, you’ll realize your mistake. That yellow stuff? Not dead.
That’s a vine called the dodder vine, but it goes by lots of different names. Let me run a few of them by you, so you can get an idea about what kind of a plant we’re dealing with, here: devil guts, witches shoelaces, strangleweed, and hellbine. Are you starting to get the idea?
(Sidenote: it also goes by the name “love vine,” but I’m pretty sure that one was added by some scientist who had just gone through a really painful break-up, and and he was trying to convince himself that being alone was way better than being in a relationship.)
The dodder vine is a parasitic plant that feeds on other plants, you see. It doesn’t really have leaves (although, apparently some types do have little leaves? I don’t know, this is why I hate writing informative posts. If you’re so interested, go look it up on your own), and it doesn’t root in soil. Instead, it sends tendrils into host plants, sucking out nutrients until the host is dead. Meanwhile, the vine reaches out, looking for its next victim.
It can be spread through seeds—or in some cases, parts of the vine—and from what I’ve read, it can grow up to 3 feet per day, if conditions are right.
And guess what, everybody: conditions have been right. This stuff is popping up all over town.
I noticed it in my yard earlier this summer, and my initial thought was that it was a bit of dead grass. The second day I saw that it was much larger, and went over to investigate. That’s when I saw that it was intertwined through the vegetation (aka weeds) that make up most of my lawn. I had never seen anything like it, so I took a couple pictures and asked my coworkers about it.
There are very few things in the world you can’t learn about in the offices of The Canadian Record, but dodder weed was one of them. Nobody knew what this was, which worried me a great deal—if Cathy Ricketts doesn’t know about a plant, I figure it’s an alien species, here to take over the world. I began Googling, and found that although it wasn’t an alien species, it sure looked like it could easily take over the world.
Pretty much everything I read talked about how awful this stuff is, killing entire crops in California, murdering groves of trees, and being nearly impossible to kill.
Most of the advice I found was along the lines of, “You can’t get rid of this. Kill everything it touches, and if that doesn’t work, move.”
Almost as scary as the plant itself were the extreme measures people had to go in order to rid themselves of it. I half-expected to find someone had performed human sacrifice in order to sate the angry plant (so far, I haven’t come across that, but I’m still looking).
One post I read, the guy started out by saying, “Burn it.” He went on to say you might try other things, but none of it had worked for him, and he had eventually just set his property on fire.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to go that far. Since most of my yard is weeds, I just took some Round-Up to it, and wiped out everything living in the area.
Once I was aware of the dodder weed, however, I noticed it everywhere. Patches growing along the highway, on an empty corner lot on Main Street, and several yards around town.
So I guess what I’m saying is, watch out. This stuff is bad news, and I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before it develops a taste for human blood.
If you would like to read more about the dodder vine (stuff that’s probably way more accurate and way less dramatic), here are some links:
My brother recently sent my sister and I a picture of his new baby. There’s not much you can say about a new baby, except to acknowledge the fact that it’s cute.
And let’s be honest—most new babies aren’t cute. Most new babies look like something out of a science fiction movie—the part when things first start going wrong, and all the scientists realize they got way more than they bargained for when they parked their space ship on the creepy planet with way too much wind and the horrifying little pink screaming creatures.
That said, my brother’s baby is actually pretty cute (which is good, because I never lie about babies being cute—you show me an ugly baby, I’m going to cringe and pat you on the shoulder, maybe offer some words of condolence, such as, “Don’t worry—maybe it’ll look better once it stretches out some and isn’t so scrunchy.”). So that’s what I texted back: “Cute.”
I didn’t feel like I was pulling my weight, conversationally speaking, though, and I decided to send him a picture back.
I don’t have a baby of my own, so I sent the next best thing: a picture of the dinosaur note-holder I keep on my desk.
Since then, I have decided that Dinosaur quote of the day should be a daily thing. I also decided that I should share some of them on this blog, because I’m always looking for an easy way to keep content fresh, and I don’t always feel like writing long, rambling posts about nonsense.
So that’s what I did.
I was looking for a date-night activity this past week, when I remembered the newsletter from the Chamber of Commerce. In case you haven’t seen it, it has a printable map for a driving tour of Canadian (you can find the newsletter here).
Because I was curious to see what it encompassed, and because I didn’t have any other ideas for date night, we decided to hop in the car and enjoy a drive around picturesque, historic Canadian, Texas.
I printed out the map (which I believe can also be picked up at the Chamber office; but call first, because I am not fact-checking this post, not one little bit), and then rolled it up like a treasure map, because if something can be a little more piratey, I’m all for it.
My girlfriend read as I drove, and although it wasn’t as interesting as, say, knife-fighting a gang of wild squirrels, it was an enjoyable way to spend some time, and much safer than knife-fighting a gang of wild squirrels.
While touring the town, I realized how much personal history I had with several of the spots marked on the map. It’s hard not to have memories of most places when you’ve grown up here, especially if you’re the kind of kids my friends and I were: biking around town during summer break, exploring spots we probably shouldn’t have, and blatantly trespassing the way only a socially-dimwitted child can.
Halfway through the tour, I began adding my own input, and by the end, I had decided that I might as well write it down, as I’ve been catching heat lately for not posting on Tumblr.
So join me, friends, on the historic driving tour of Canadian, Texas, as documented by Ray. Feel free to print a map (again, that can be found here), and follow along.
1. Santa Fe Depot Area – I’ll be honest: I really got nothin’ here. When I was a kid, my mom worked at City Hall, so it wasn’t the ideal place to play, especially if you were doing dangerous bike tricks or throwing rocks at each other.
2. City Hall and Auditorium – As mentioned in the above paragraph, this is where my mom worked when I was growing up. Many a time, my brother and I would venture down to beg for snack money before heading to the swimming pool, and even many-er were the times we’d call this place to have my mom settle petty disputes (for example, who was supposed to take out the trash).
3. Moody Building – This is where I always imagined I’d station myself when I finally became a super hero. Not a lot surrounding it for use with a spider web or batarang, but when I was a kid, this building seemed huge, and I was sure that I’d be able to see any crimes, if I ever figured a way on to the roof. Also, there used to be a coffee shop, and I remember that’s where I ate my first chicken salad sandwich. I don’t know why that’s the kind of information that’s lodged in my brains, these days, but there you have it.
4. Canadian Visitors’ Center – This is another one that I don’t have much for. In my defense, it didn’t exist in my childhood. It’s very pretty, though, and I like to look at it when I walk to Allsup’s to get a breakfast burrito on some mornings.
5. Hemphill County Courthouse – You can’t grow up in Canadian and not think first thing of the 4th of July Parade when you think of the courthouse. Unless you were a juvenile delinquent, I suppose. In which case, your memories probably aren’t nearly as pleasant as mine. Despite that I’m technically a grown up, one of the highlights of my year is seeing what toys they have for sale at the Courthouse during the parade.
6. W.C.T.U Building – The library, man! I spent so much of my childhood in this place (back before it was all fancied up). It was one of the only places I’d been that had an elevator, and we took it every time, no matter that it took six times longer than just jogging up the steps. Right in line with true childhood imagination, I remember being terrified that the cable would snap and we’d plunge to our deaths. You know, plummeting down that entire one story of elevator shaft. I loved the library so much, you can’t even imagine. It was the go-to place on slow summer days, as well as where I went most days after school.
7. Ed Brainard Home – This is another one that I didn’t have many dealings with. So I’m just gonna say, um…vampires. This is where I fought vampires as a child. I won.
8. Eddie Meek Home – A friend of mine lived here, so I spent a fair amount of time goofing around in the pool. Also, I was once hired to sand down and strip every one of the stairs. Whatever chemicals the stripper had in it smelled like orange. Wishing for that bit about the vampires right about now, aren’t you?
9. Ed Culver Home – Everyone knows about Ed Culver’s illegal dragon farm and training grounds, right? Or is this just another case of me having no personal history with the place, and making things up because I don’t want to feel inadequate? You’ll just have to decide for yourself.
10. Dell Krehbiel Home – This was pretty close to my house, growing up, and although I didn’t care much for local history, I did appreciate the relatively smooth sidewalk and driveway of this house—you could catch some pretty good air, if you ramped your bike just right, and there wasn’t much traffic, so you didn’t have to worry too much about wiping out and then getting run over.
11. Old Hospital – A friend of mine lived here, so I spent countless hours downstairs, playing G.I. Joe and Star Wars. We also fancied ourselves inventors, so we’d cruise the neighborhood on our bikes, picking up random garbage from in and around trashcans, and taking it back to his house to spread out on the floor. I’m sure his mom appreciated that.
12. Dr. and Mrs. Tony Cook Home – Again, this was a great place to ride a bike. The gutters were deep, which meant you’d either get a pretty good jump, or just wipe out completely, annihilating your knees, elbows, and palms. Kind of a funny twist of fate that it belongs to a doctor.
13. Catholic Church Belltower – I always really liked the tower, as a kid. It was another one of those things that made you feel like you were living in a city from the comic books or the movies, you know? When I was in fifth grade, a friend of mine used to sit in the little courtyard and talk to his girlfriend. I went with him one time, because she was bringing a friend of hers. At one point, I thought there might be smooching involved. Then they started talking about how she had a tendency to go number two in the lake. After that, I had no interest in smooching.
14. Kennith Thrasher Home – The entire house is carved from the bones of giants. Or I am lying, because I am again without a personal connection. It’s hard to say.
15. Mark and Amanda Poe Home – When I was little, it was a big deal to talk about how there were bats in this house. I have absolutely no idea if it was true or not, but that was what my friends and I always talked about when we walked by on our way home from the pool, like the bats would just fly out and get you. I don’t know, kids are odd.
16. Y.M.C.A. – Another place I spent a lot of hours. They had arcade games, did you know that? And a bumper pool table. Oh, the bumper pool table, I loved you so much. I’m not here to either promote or confess to gambling, but a certain someone may or may not have won a cassette tape of the La Bamba movie soundtrack over that bumper pool table.
17. Carol Reid Home – I remember going to this place on Halloween one year, and I don’t know if it was even decorated exceptionally scary or not, but I couldn’t make it up the stairs. I panicked, and ran back to the street, even though they were giving out some pretty great candy. Yes, this is the same kid who was determined he’d be fighting crime from the roof of the Moody Building someday. Maybe if the crime wasn’t happening in the dark?
18. Baker School – I went to school here, so obviously I have a ton of memories of the place. Oddly, I think the memory that stands out the most is when we were all about to go out to recess, and this kid asked the teacher if he could go back to the classroom for a minute. She gave him this lecture about how she told us to get all of our things before we left, and she asked him what was so important. And he goes, in this real quiet voice, “I wanted to get my toy.” The weird thing is, I remember sitting there thinking, “We’re just little kids.” For some reason, his answer struck a chord, and made me realize how small we all were. Anyway, she let him go get it. I think it was a Transformer.
19. Abraham Homeplace – I lived in this neighborhood when we first moved to Canadian, and it was the first time I’d ever really had to make friends. I had a map I had cut off the back of a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal, and it made me something of a legend. None of us could read all that well, so I’d just lead everyone around, pretending I was following the map. Most times, we ended up in the courtyard of the Abraham Homeplace (remember that blatant trespassing I referred to earlier?)
20. Edward Abraham Memorial Home – I was a plumber’s helper at one point, and we were replacing a line inside. We had to jackhammer up the floor and dig this crazy deep hole. We strung up bright orange webbing and yellow tape and cones and all that, wanting to make sure nobody fell in. At one point, while I was in the hole, a woman with a walker made straight for the hole. It was too deep for me to quickly climb out, so all I could do was shout as she came at me. She looked determined, man, and I was sure she was going to end up down in that hole with me. Fortunately, my boss heard my cries of fear, and intercepted her.
21. This Is A New Area Of Town – Indeed it is, historical map. Indeed it is.
22. Hemphill County Hospital – That fountain used to work (Does it still? I don’t know—and like I said: absolutely zero fact checking for this). As a child, I thought it was one of the most beautiful things in town. Again, it was one of those things that made it feel like you were someplace else, someplace different and exotic.
23. Canadian Middle School – Haunted. No, this isn’t me making stuff up because I don’t have personal history. When I was a kid, all of my classmates swore that this place was haunted by the ghost of Mary B. Isaacs. You could even see her ghost, if you stood just right and looked in the side door (spoiler alert: it was the reflection of a trash can). Another bit of trivia: it got hit by lightning when I was in sixth grade, and it turned the sky the weirdest pink color you’ve ever seen.
24. The Citadelle Art Foundation – My eighth grade English teacher took us over to see the statue, when it was pretty new. We were studying Ozymandias, and she thought it would fit in with the theme, as well as culture us up, some. I remember her sternly informing us that the genitals were visible, and if anyone made any jokes, we’d be writing an extra paper.
25. Hoover Home – There was this dog, it’d stay super quiet until right when it got to the fence, and then it’d go nuts, and it didn’t matter how many times you walked by the place, it would scare the daylights out of you every time. I think this was that house. We’ll say that it is, just to move things along.
26. Terry Brown Home – Terry Brown lived here. Yeah, that’s all I got. Don’t worry, we’re almost to the end of the tour.
27. Pat Crouch Home – Vampires again. There are way too many vampires in this town.
28. Presbyterian Church – I used to walk by here on my way to the library, and when they started doing sidewalk construction, there were all these piles of bricks. We would generally just walk around them, but once I decided to jump over them. I didn’t make it, and ended up with a huge gash from my wrist to my elbow. I freaked out, and ran to the library, bawling and bloody. They got me settled some, and called my mom. God bless librarians.
29. Hill Crest –The sidewalk had all the names of the Abraham Cup winners. I read them every time I walked down that sidewalk. Every time. I was sort of a weird kid.
And that concludes our tour, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.