Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Terri and I stand in front of our tree in our living room.

In radio we are nomads, harvesting the antenna farms of the nation. One of the sad realities is that we make friends under one tower then leave them as we seek another field to plow elsewhere. Looking back at it all, however exciting the 'new start' is, I'm not sure we come to realize the true cost in human terms until we gain the perspective to look back and miss so many.

This year has brought some reconnection through facebook, or some other force, and that's been wonderful.

I know that some addresses are long ago lost as we all have been moving targets for whole careers.

So I offer this - my annual Christmas letter, with apologies to those who didn't get the slightly smeared printed version delivered by an arm of the government, be it American or Canadian.


It’s a TRADITION, this letter of yuletide re-acquaintance and folly. If Burl Ives is still singing A Holly Jolly Christmas, I guess I have to pump out another letter. I almost abandoned it this year in favor of my blog which has many pieces which could, I suppose, add up to a letter, but okay. In a time and place where we await salvation by our new president, we find ourselves at a crossroads, or, lost in Lowes’ Christmas Season World of Tinsel and Glitter, formerly known as Outdoor. Now, perhaps I’ve been tainted by programming years and years of Christmas music on radio stations, but I really want to take my Red Ryder BB gun (did I mention I’m a crack shot?) and go shoot the Inflatable Santa-In-A-Helicopter-with-Rotating-Blades that I expect will erupt out of the sod at a neighbor’s over-the-top House of Hallmark Remarkables. Not that I am a grinch, just a guy with the devil on his shoulder!

It’s been an interesting year. Way beyond the election, though that provided many moments of teeth grinding for all, no matter what side you were on. Having come to the realization that radio has contracted to the point where they have sliced so much muscle and bone along with any imagined fat, it wouldn’t be fun even if I could get my foot into a local stirrup. Even at this late time of the year, the groups are still cutting – no, cleavering, really, so I imagine daily life within the radio stations to be full of paranoia as all try to stretch that protection blanket to cover their collective ass.

We in Austin are in an exceptional drought. Now, when there’s a remote possibility of rain, the local weathermen assume a look of constipatory seriousness and proclaim the percentages. Still, it hasn’t rained much and when it does, it seems to go east of I-35. A good bit of Austin (our good bit) is west of I-35. Yet last year it rained a lot. This has confused the flora and fauna, enhancing a Weed Saaa-lute! to Austin at The Wood’s House where crabgrass just WILL NOT die even after liberal and repeated doses of CrabGrass Stop, Weed B Dead, Pre-Emergent Nuclear Radiating Root granules, and cursing. I am thinking of trying to rip it all out this spring, but fear the reproduction of crab grass to be through root tunnels the size of narcotrafficers’ efforts under the Mexican border - which can’t be stopped. Also, I am certain I can pickaxe into the irrigation line even with my eyes shut. It’s like divining, but with a twist.

The little GOOD grass (inhale, and remember the 70s, Boomers!) – the, um, legal grass that I sodded this past spring near the house has been beset by the claws of aggressive armadilloing. We borrowed an infra-red camera from a neighbor hunter and captured the little bugger, but only digitally. The trap has been a bust. We discovered that if you leave a tin of cat food in the trap over a week, the stink really is something beyond powerful. Plus, the flies can get through the trap, after all. When I threw out the cat food it stank up the garbage can so much I resorted to pouring liquid soap into the can when empty and I swear the soap recoiled in terror – it actually congealed into clumps, unable to deal with the stanky stuff.

The other morning Terri calmly told me that a baby rattlesnake had found home on our deck. I shot out of my chair cursing, as I had thought the 7 foot high pool stone wall would discourage reptiles. But no. Nevertheless, triggered by what I knew to be a life-changing moment, I, armed with only a mere shovel and metal rake, dispatched the snake even though it was clearly mad at me.

So somewhere there’s momma. And there’s some tall grass I must cut. I can imagine this: The mower is set to clear about two and one half inches. Blindly, I roll it over a sleepy rattler which, startled out of rattlesnake dreams, pops its head up just as the blade lops it off... and discharges it out from under the mower and into my leg where, still with a dead yet open mouthed startled look, the fangful of poison sticks into my leg.

An active imagination isn’t always that much fun.

Civilization is creeping toward us. There’s a home being built on the acre and a half behind us – it will be very nice. And another beside us. THAT one is highly suspect. Today they put trim under the gutter which is about 2 feet deep (down from the gutter), and looks like really big white baseboard. We believe the house is a spec, and I believe it’ll be on the market for quite a while. I can only hope the eventual owners have seen HGTV and know that paint can cover up mortal sins. Even though most of the house is angled away from ours, I fret. Heck, our neighbors in Houston had carpet that looked like bunnies had been slaughtered on it... a pink and white mélange, but at least it was hidden from us, inside.

I’ve been concentrating on voicework – had some coaching from two coaches, and bought a new wonderful microphone (that sentence alone puts me into geek-contention, I know, I know.) I am also reviewing some high-end equipment for an online publication. I remain on-the-air as voice of a radio station in Northern California. Terri’s had a great year despite the economy as Austin is relatively prosperous and I believe is the #1 city least affected by the economy. The other day her car stopped going and were forced to have a new transmission shipped in from Jaguar, India, or wherever the new home office and warehouse is. (Yes, Jaguar is now an Indian company. Really.)

Here’s a literary snapshot from our trip this fall – to Yellowstone: We and many others were on the boardwalk they’ve built within the area where geysers and other boiling hot nastiness are just under the surface. A herd of Bison had crossed the boardwalk and was sort of blocking the way. A park ranger came upon us – we asked what we should do. His answer: “Pray!” He then mumbled about the many gorings he’d seen and that we all were way too close to these wild animals who could not be stopped. Terri and I took the long way away from there. Yellowstone held so many scenes of incredible off-the-scale beauty! Later we came upon a lone Bison walking the yellow stripe down the highway, like a DUI test, with lineups of cars in both directions. We saw no bears but did see 5 Moose, including mama and baby (more danger there but we were with a guide who kept us clear.) I find it hard to take a moose seriously (Rocky and Bullwinkle kid-conditioning?) but they are large, fast, and right before you get got you would think, “Hey, this is serious.”

Allow me to tout some urls here... I guess a website is like a radio station broadcasting through a bent coat hanger antenna... not as many people, so I will try to pimp it to the audience. http://www.woodsgoods.blogspot.com is my blog with 700+ posts and still counting. Terri’s website is http://www.Big-Texas-Mortgages.com. I still have http://www.GreatHomeTheater.com which is hard to keep updated due to the avalanche of new gear/technology ALWAYS in the pipeline. Then there’s http://www.BobWoodVoiceovers.com for voicework.

We leave you with continued best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Let’s hope this country can head in a new better direction than in the past 8 years, and that the economy heals nicely.

Here's a little tune for you which feels just right.

No comments: