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About Him

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Driving Me Crazy

Posted by Joni in About Him

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I made a comment on a Facebook post earlier today which caused me to remember all the times Roberto Herrera’s driving literally drove me crazy.

The worst time was when he was still walking, and therefore, still driving. We were on our way home from somewhere and as is usual in Houston’s East End, we had to traverse several railroad tracks to get home. This one particular time, the lights were flashing, the bell was ringing, and the gates were down. I began digging my nails into his shoulder, screaming, Don’t do it! Roberto, undaunted, swerved around the gates and onto the tracks, where a train was bearing down on us, honking its horn furiously. We cleared the tracks with minutes (inches?) to spare. It was a short few blocks home to our apartment on Park Drive. However, once we got there, I couldn’t move. I literally could not move. I was paralyzed with fear. Even though it had been well known for a long time that I have an unfounded fear of freight trains, Roberto apparently didn’t comprehend the extent of it until that moment.

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Leighton Hamilton Playing the Blues

Posted by Joni in About Him, Music, Video

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An old beau of mine has been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe because this is the fifth anniversary of his death at the young age of 56. Or maybe as I myself grow older, nostalgia kicks in. Anyway, he spent his last years back in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia, and Tuesday nights were spent in front of the mike at The Blues Train Cafe. Here are some photos from that period.

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The Nose Knows…

Posted by Joni in About Him, About Me


and so does he. After reading a post about nice smells, Rob decided to turn the tables and post his list of the smelliest things on earth. Did he get his inspiration from that old cult classic, Pink Flamingos, featuring Divine and the Marbles vying for the title of The Filthiest People Alive? The list would make Divine herself swoon with horror.

But he forgot a few items. You haven’t LIVED until you’ve smelled rotten potatoes. We left a bag on a bottom shelf of a rolling cart that we kept in the laundry room right next to the kitchen. I kept thinking there was a dead mouse somewhere, but I searched high and low and never found it. I finally moved the cart and noticed what was on the very bottom bin. Liquefied taters. I mean to tell you it was horrid.

Another smell that I’ll never forget is the smell of rotting salmon. I had purchased some salmon steaks and one package of them (I’d bought several) somehow slipped back between the back of the trunk and the back of the back seat (in my Mazda 626 sedan, you could literally crawl into the trunk from the back seat by just lifting a flap and flipping the seat forward). I didn’t think anything of the smell at first, since Robert had taken the car to Rockport for a fishing trip the previous weekend. I just figured the lingering fishy smell would fade away. But it kept getting worse and worse and finally, after a week of it, I started ripping up carpeting. I finally yanked the back seat out and out flipped this little package the size of a paper back book. One of nature’s putrid little time bombs. I picked it up gingerly between my fingertips and hurled it into the dumpster. Then I doused the car with Lysol Spray and Febreeze. The smell was completely gone within a few days.

Those two smells, along with the cloyingly sweet smell of honeysuckle, which I simply cannot tolerate, are right up there in my personal book of bad smells. (I read somewhere that decaying human flesh smells like honeysuckle, but I don’t know this firsthand.)

On the other hand, good smells are usually food smells for me, such as fresh baked bread, fresh brewed coffee, and that wonderful smell when you first open that new can of coffee. Pure heaven! I also love to smell bacon frying (signifying that breakfast is on the way). I’m getting hungry just typing this post!

Other nice smells are smells I remember from childhood: fresh mown grass, my mother’s perfume (L’Air du Temps), her face powder, and crayolas. Loved that waxy smell.

I have a habit of smelling inanimate things for some odd reason, like leather. I like smelling my leather purses. I also love the way my cat smells. His fur smells sweet, like fresh towels. And while on the topic of that, freshly laundered clothes, smelling of liberal doses of Downy fabric softener, is a comforting smell to me. The way Robert smells when he’s just gotten out of the shower, and his aftershave (Grey Flannel).

Clouds heavy with rainwater, the way the air smells right before a gullywasher, and right after. The odd smell that emanates from a cedar light pole on a hot day. I don’t know what it is, but it’s oddly nice.

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To Herbert on Father’s Day

Posted by Joni in About Him


I was adopted at birth and never had a father. At least not a birth father that I knew. But I did have a father figure. A friend of my mother, Thelma. His name was Herbert Grannis. He was around as long as I can remember. He read the Sunday comics to me until I was able to read them for myself. He did so many other things for me that I never got to thank him for. So I’ll do that now.

Thank you, Uncle Herb …

For having the patience to indulge a four-year old by reading the Sunday comics to her every Sunday morning when I am sure you’d rather have dived into the sports section to check baseball scores.

For sitting patiently as you held me in your lap while I plucked hairs off your arm. It was this weird “thing” I did and I have no idea why.

For putting together my Barbie Dream House (it would be worth a small fortune today) and all the cardboard Danish Modern furniture that came with it so my dolls would have a place to park their plastic asses.

For attempting (that’s the operative word here) to teach me algebra and how to use a slide rule at the ripe old age of eight.

For not being afraid to let anyone see you cry inconsolably when our Pekingese died.

For driving across town to help me pick out a new kitten and cringing inside when I announced I would name the little black kitten Satan. (My mother vetoed the idea immediately so, fresh out of clever ideas, he became Toby.)

For telling me I was beautiful.

For telling me I was smart.

For being just as disappointed in me as Thelma was when I misbehaved.

You left too soon; you were 62 to my 16.

But you played a part in how I would grow up and choose my own mate.

And P.S., I think you would have LOVED Roberto!

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It Happened So Fast…

Posted by Joni in About Him

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I am spending the last day of my week-long vacation cleaning out my email inbox and came across something I wrote to a close friend the evening that Robo died. I thought I’d share it with you.

It happened so fast this afternoon; EMTs, cops, medical examiner … I guess with his constellation of health issues, they wanted a definitive cause of death. The house is finally quiet tonight after hours of chaos. And I have lost my best friend of 30 years.

And I didn’t tell him how much I love him today of all days. Go do that right now!

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The Last Best Thanksgiving

Posted by Joni in About Him, About Me, Food & Drink, Holiday

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I am remembering Robo’s last Thanksgving, our last Thanksgiving together. I recently spoke to a friend who is going through a rough patch with a dying relative. She told me, I keep thinking of things in terms of “last” as in last birthday, last Thanksgiving, last Christmas, etc. I told her not to thinnk of them as the last, but the best or the most cherished. And that is what Thanksgiving 2011 is to me, and always will be.

Thanksgiving was always Roberto’s favorite holiday, for reasons you can imagine: Food and football, a license to pig out and overdose on sports on TV? It doesn’t get better than that if you are a guy!

The menu was fairly simple. We were hooked on Giada DeLaurentiis and her cooking shows, so a lot of the dishes were Giada-inspired. For starters, I made a berry strada. Followed by tomato and green bean casserole. I also made cornbread with creamed corn and jalapeno peppers, rich and creamy. I had found a fresh turkey breast at the grocer and roasted that on my own (later I would come to rely on precooked turkey from Pappas and Honey Baked Ham Co.). Dessert was the traditional Chess Pie that he loved so much.

I couldn’t know then, when I was happily cooking for the man I loved that it would be a short two weeks later that he would be gone. I couldn’t know then that the Thanksgiving we shared in 2011 would be our last together. That no other Thanksgiving since then could ever compare, with him not around.

So this Thanksgiving, when you are gathered with your loved ones, don’t hesitate to hug them and tell them how much they mean to you. You may not get another chance next year.

Make THIS holiday the BEST one ever, whether it’s the last one or not.

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Two Years, Two Million Tears

Posted by Joni in About Him, Widda Hood

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I cannot believe that it will be two years tomorrow since Robo left my life forever. Sometimes it seems as raw and painful as if it happened just yesterday. Some days — most days, actually — I go through my daily routine with Robo tagging along in the back of my thoughts and in my heart. Other days, the grief overtakes me and I have to indulge myself in a tear-fest. Often those happen sitting in my car in the garage outside my house. Other times, in the shower, as I remember the baths he so loved to take, especially in the roll in shower created just for him right after we bought this house. With money gained from his medical malpractice suit.


A Date With A Russian Mobster

Posted by Joni in About Him, Serbia, Video


Well, not really. I was looking on one of my storage drives for something and stumbled onto this old video snippet from when my bestie, Ivan, was visiting me from Belgrade, Serbia. We were in my car, his friend was driving, he was riding shotgun and no one was paying attention to the GPS on the dashboard (least of all me, since it was set to converse in their native language, Serbian!). I was explaining the vicissitudes of valet parking.