Mama Tomato, Daddy Tomato, and Baby Tomato were out for a walk, but the Baby Tomato was a straggler. Finally Daddy Tomato walked back, grabbed the Baby Tomato, stomped her flat and roared, Ketchup! (Courtesy of Quentin Tarentino).

And in much the same spirit, I’m here to report on our doin’s since the past dark time, back when I got delayed by teeth and time. Time for ketchup.

Spring is crawling in and around our doors, with all its lavish Texas abundance, ready to come on in and throw down. This includes optimistic interlopers like the mega tree roaches who limbo through various cracks and then wheel around the den, being horror movie bugs and making both me and my cats chitter in dreadful excitement. Outside, there are various vines curling on top of other various vines, sending out so many shoots and tendrils that I get nervous about pausing in the yard for even a moment, afraid that something will curl around my leg and yank me into the underbrush. Plus the squirrels this year are about the size and heft of beavers but grumpier by a factor of 12. This afternoon while I picked my way to the garage, one of them chee-ed at me angrily, then hurled all its nut debris on my head, sending me to CVS with acorn shells stuck in my hair.

And while Nature’s busy gettin’ after it, we lumpy humans feel the electricity, too. The woolly brothers next door shivered through March and parts of April with their converted chimenia, which sports a smokestack and a fan for maximum kickass cigarette smoking. However, on certain nights, while dragging out the garbage, I noticed an eye-watering haze of mesquite smoke and heard an unfamiliar semi-girlish laughter from the back yard. I reported the stunning presence of ladies to my husband. He has a clear view of the proceedings from his window so he already knew what was up. “Means it’s a party!” he told me knowingly. “They got women and whiskey over there.”

Me, I’ve been a bit behind all our surrounding busyness, following nine hours of oral and maxillary surgery. Nonetheless, butter, mascara, and massive doses of hydrocodone had to be bought and so I made my mini-runs to Walgreens feeling like Elephant Woman and wearing a respiratory mask, with bruises up to my cheekbones. As the bruising faded, sometimes I didn’t bother with the mask and ignored the local assumptions that my guy had popped me one. Even our monolingual Mexican yard guy gave me a knowing if tactful glance. Since he and I have a relationship going, I felt I had some ‘splainin’ to do, so I ran through my combo of Spanglish and charades to indicate this was all about teef and not wife beating. He just shrugged. “Jes, but las’ night was Friday.” Which, of course, signals the start of female smacking in some locales here, tapering off around Sunday afternoon which is reserved for inhaling huge amounts of TV sports and lethal levels of highly salted junk food.

Easter came and went, but all our “He has risen!” crosses stayed firmly put. We love us our plywood “He has risen!” crosses and put them up at the slightest provocation, then let them molder through all-weathers. Eventually they’ll be yanked up and we’ll next see them on the 4th of July, a beloved if confusing holiday for Texans in general. Meanwhile, having bitterly thumbed through our monthly neighborhood association magazine, I watched our little patch with disquiet. Developers have been flipping houses on San Lorenzo like griddle cakes, while unfamiliarity and weirdness flourishes around us. There was a good sized family that had lived in a huge RV parked in the driveway of a nearby house. Through time, and maybe a generation or two, the RV had become covered with various drips and grot and often you could catch sight of the occupants who were usually in their nighties. It was hideous and low-rent of course, and some of us would bitch about it periodically, but like my bad molars, nothing dislodged it. It is now gone, leaving only a big rectangular stain and many mysteries. On the plus side of things I saw that someone had stolen the loathsome Yard of the Month sign and installed it on a completely dead and dessicated gritty lot, near a small beat up house.

Around Easter, I paused near San Juan, glaring at a guy wearing cargo pants, Birkenstocks and one rubber glove, while his insect-sized dog pause to take a crap. He then selected a vinyl bag and delicately picked up after it, while I wondered if I could just goose my ancient smokey Benz enough to kill his ass. Then I glanced over at one of the open garage hangouts. Usually my sight-line is blocked by plastic chairs, pocked cars, and hairy guys but today I saw that the other side of the driveway sported a large cement pig, a cement chicken, plus another battered but unidentifiable cement animal. Joyfully, I could see they all had pink bunny ears tied to their heads.

We’re on the job here, mofos. Careful how you go.