Monday, December 22, 2014

Peace on a Winter's Night--and Day

Have the oven on and haven't made the fruitbread going in it yet. Wasteful. What a big footprint I have at time, even allowing for big feet.

I wanted to blog again before Christmas Day, however.

It has been a better than usual season, and I think making the breads is a part. I had bought a dozen red sacks to give my breads in, and am startled I have only two left. I don't know how good others think they are, but they satisfied my tastebuds, and I didn't do it for reaction. I realize I did it as a positive action for me. I have 2-3 more to make and I'm done. AND I kept a loaf of the banana bread for breakfasts and snacks last week, a loaf of the cranberry nut the week before. Have a third earmarked for Christmas morning. That, some ham and a fresh mandarin orange will make a fine breakfast. Leaves room for the Feast yet to come.

Poor Brody still has his cone and two new staples in the top of his incision because I let him run around the house too much. He is feeling SO fine, and he has to stay in the bathroom except for potty breaks and food. He is whining a bit, which pains me, too. Next vet visit Dec. 39. I am not optimistic. This morning, the 30-pound dog pulled the leash completely out of my hand to chase some birds on the lawn.

But all the gifts are wrapped and dispersed. My home is back in order--except for all the baking stuff staying out in the kitchen. One dish to make ahead tomorrow, then a chocolate pie on Christmas Eve Teenage granddaughter is making her most excellent cherry pie NOT using pie filling, but real cherries. It is so very good--a little tart, and the whipping cream or ice cream is just an added note, not overwhelming sweetness. If we even bother adding it.

I've been observing and participating more fully this year. I do believe we have a huge effort made by stores to get us away from family, even on Thanksgiving Day, and go shopping. Well, except I know families that enjoy shopping together. I don't think starting "the shopping season" after Halloween pays off. I think shopping more around the whole year makes more sense, but I apparently don't have a lot of herd mentality.

Actually, I like persons well. It's people in large quantities I am not fond of. I don't think it used to be better; it wasn't. The one thing I miss that was better was less pressure--or I perceived less--to stop and breathe every now and then. Oh, we can still do it, but it is harder. More pulls away from relaxed family times, though many have them. More manufactured food to eat to save you time to do more manufactured fun someone wants you to pay to do. Honey, that stuff without the preservatives just purely tastes better, even if you do have to eat it up fast because unlike Twinkies, it gets stale.
And if you live anywhere you can go out ant actually see a starry night, it is peaceful, smells good, and beats any house decorations around. Many don't have that option any more. Our perpetual lighting and huge cities hide the actual world and its peace from us.

Christmas is a cultural holiday celebrated and enjoyed by persons of all faiths and none at all. It is a religious occasion as part of the holiday for some. Despite the songs, it is seldom magical, and though happy, often not joyous. It brings out generosity in people, and that's a good thing for everyone. Humans are hardwired to get a bigger kick out of giving than in the getting--or most of us are.

This year, it has been a journey to peace, one of the greatest gifts the holiday can bring. It has been my journey. I have spewed and snarled and kicked less and less at this season than in so many, many years. I have made my peace, at least for now. I may have to do it all over again next year, but at least this year, I know how.

Maybe I'll write a book.

I write, of course to be read, but that is for my own pleasure, too. Whether you celebrate Winter Solstice, and I have some friends who do, or any other holiday, I hope you have happiness and peace. Above all, peace.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Just an ol' dog and a trip to the vet

Brody, my half-Corgi male 4-year-old dog, had a fairly serious surgery Monday, and it has been a learning week.

He was born with a fairly small opening in the abdomen which became large enough for a little gut to pooch through about a month ago, so he had the hernia surgery he needed on Monday. Fortunately, I've had him on a slight diet in expectation of this and he was down from 29 to 27 pounds, which helps when you're stretching flesh to cover formerly open territory.

He was supposed to be crated. If they make crates with doors for handicapped persons, the vet didn't know about it, and I turned out to be unable to secure the door, letting him stagger out. So he's spent the week in a 5x5 foot bathroom. First night he cried in the middle of the night and got more meds. He was hurting. For the next two days he endured with these sad eyes that asked me repeatedly why I was doing this to him. He has a neck cone too, of course. Thursday he finally barked once and Friday he wagged his tail and charged to the end of the leash. His eyes sparkle again. He's feeling much better that he really is, and now he's getting pushy about confinement. Fortunately, he's not a whiner or barker indoors.

Actually, the bathroom has worked well for his personality, because he has a deep need for touch, ear rubs and back rubs. The crate would have allowed much less of that. I have learned more about his sweetness, and despite his Corgi abilities, his generally poor thinking skills. I have been glad for solitude as I have relieved my impatience at times with language I hope my granddaughters never hear me say. At least, not in such quantity.

Pills have meant a lot of peanut butter-covered tramadol, antibiotic, and such. Gracie has been somewhat upset with all his largess, never mind that he has to stay in the bathroom. She has cuddled more with me for whatever reason, opportunity being one. Brody doesn't always share his owner well.

I notice I've been more tired--yes, a little more work, but I think it's knowing the dog was actually hurting for a few days. I have friends who have recently lost family members, are in severe pain awaiting surgery themselves, or dealing with their own difficult survival. Don't think I've mentioned dog's surgery to most people I know. In the scheme of things, it's rather minor. It matters to me, and that's enough.

I was thinking about that this week. It's part of the fabric of my current reality, and as such, worth my attention. I've gotten quite a bit done anyway the last few days--he's found out how to sleep on that cone, and the medicine means he sleeps deeply. I type, or cook, or do a number of things, and he is content for now to sleep nearby. Gracie sprawls nearby as well, and at time the floor is littered with Dead Dogs Sleeping, usually just where I need to go next.

Stitches come out next Thursday--don't know how long he retains the cone, or the leash to keep him from dashing around the yard. I do love to watch these two play chase at top speed when both are in good shape. And that time will be here soon.

Funny old routines that make up our daily lives and fill the shape of them with action and feelings. After decades of living, sometimes we are doing something that seems quite solitary to anyone watching, but has years of familiarity and memories attached to what we do. I think this is the real stuff of our days, often the meaning we find as we drift away to sleep.

It has been a good day. I hope that new loaf of fruit bread turns out as good as it smells. Nuts, cranberry sauce and orange marmalade with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Not necessarily to the dog's taste, but they would try it, given the chance. Their day has been good as well. They're both softly snoring. Day is done.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When a new freezer just cries out for sustenance

Mother started me baking by standing me on a kitchen chair, wearing one of her aprons, and sifting flour for a cake. Back then, flour was sifted three times before mixing and baking. Mother covered the table with newspaper to catch the plops and clouds of flour I made with my vigorous turning of the handle of the sifter. I still have a sifter, and an egg beater. I still use them to cook.

I used to love to cook, and especially to bake. I have done little of either in recent years. So it is with trepidation I have decided to make a number of the old fruit breads I used to make and give for gifts. I like gifts like that--the receiver feels no obligation back, and usually is pleased. Surely habits from many years will kick in.

There's a story to the decision. Like so many things it starts with something Bad and segues into something Good.

A few weeks ago, the old freezer I had loaded to the gills died--still trying, so its' little light was on. But it was dead, and completely warm inside as I discovered when I finally smelled Something and lifted the lid. Dead, deader, deadest. Putrifying. My daughter-in-law, recovering from surgery, helped me more than she should have, and so did my 12-year-old granddaughter, who gagged but never threw up through all. We sacked and taped the bags closed and filled one tall square garbage can and one fairly large,but shorter, round can. Older son, when he got off work, re-bagged the lot in contractor's bags in an attempt to curb the smell. The cans stayed by my garage until the night before pickup. This was pretty warm weather, and the packing happened on Saturday. I took the cans to the road on Tuesday night. Ugh! horrific smell. Slight breeze from the north. I cleaned up and left for a meeting.

When I came back, a honking big truck with several lights was in the street, a couple other pickup trucks, and several people were standing around in small groups. I parked the car and headed for the door. My neighbor came running over to tell me she had called Atmos Power Company for a bad gas leak--it must be really bad because the smell was so strong. But the professionals couldn't find it. Everyone agreed it was an urgent situation.

I told her I didn't think it was a gas leak but my putrifying meat in the cans. Rotting meat and the rotten egg smell they add to natural gas smell pretty similar.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Pretty sure," I answered. "Go tell them about my garbage cans."

The discarded freezer was still stashed on the side with its' door propped open.

Ten minutes later they had all left, and I don't think anyone even checked to make sure it was the sundry beef (I will mourn those beautiful roasts I got at a price I may never see again), two turkeys, a ham, and various chicken parts.

So the poor garbage men came--I need to do something nice for them at Christmas--and the empty freezer was hauled away. And I started shopping the internet for a replacement. I found it last weekend--an upright Fridgidaire frost-free. It was delivered and put into place on Tuesday. It is very large and very empty. And I used to make those breads, freeze the same day they came out of the oven, and give at Christmas. Plenty of time. Wish I still had my old recipe for banana bread. It was so old, the oil it called for was bacon grease. It made light, moist bread that could be sliced in quarter-inch slices. I made a test loaf of a recipe on the internet and it wasn't too bad. Very moist, flavorful, but I'd like a little more flavor.

So--I'm baking. I forgot the sour cream for the chocolate bread recipe I found. I hope that's a winner. I'm thinking of sneaking some instant coffee granules into the cocoa when I mix it. Forgot the orange juice for the cranberry nut bread, and after two stores, finally found some mincemeat for a couple loaves of mincemeat bread with orange zest. I'll add nuts and cranberries and hope it turns out similar to an old favorite. Have everything for the pear bread with lemon zest. That's a good one, too. Pumpkin bread? Eh. Most people will make their own, I think.

A couple of mincemeat loaves? Well, each loaf takes two cups of mincemeat, which is really fruits cooked with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. It used to be used for pies. Each $6 jar probably has about two cups. (The 20-something clerk at one grocery said carefully, "I've never heard of minced meat." Ah, well.)

I may not ever be able to get it, or afford to get it again unless I make the stuff. Which I could.

But that's another year.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Coping with more and more Christmas hucksterism

Last Saturday, Nov. 1, an area car dealership advertised an Event with refeshments, fun, fun, fun, and a visit from Santa.

Even the kids I know were surprised.

The Christmas trees have been in the stores, all decorated, since September.

But even before the last polling place closed on Nov. 4, the Christmas ads were starting. I wish I didn't let this continuous annoyance depress me, but it kinda does.

Poor Thanksgiving. Only in the grocery stores is it even mentioned, and I LIKE Thanksgiving. Good food with people I like. Good talk and laughter. Then everyone goes home and you can take a nap. Or (shudder) go shopping. It is such a freedom holiday, overall. Well, for me, anyway.

And I think the stretching of the season all started with artificial Christmas trees. Flameproof, fairly realistic, artificial Christmas trees with cooler, perpetual little lights all over them. Not one string, or two, or even three. Little lights ALL over, jostling the ornaments for a place on the branches.

The trees had to be invented and brought into the marketplace. No way could every home have a fresh Christmas tree, although a fair number still do. And the prices are, well, pricy. They may have been cut a month before, and the shelf-life expires with a tinkling of browning needles on the floor. But they smell so good. AND a formerly live tree won't make it to Christmas Day if you put it up too early.

The Christmases of my childhood sported freshcut trees from the nearby mountains. Our tree went up Dec. 15 or later, and the shopping didn't start much before then. No television either, grasshopper. (That always convinces children I am really, really old.) How naïve we were, not to market the holiday for all it is worth but instead, take leisure time during the holidays for those remembered cookies, candies, and even grandma's fruit cake. Funny about that. Hear tell times were more prosperous then, and college graduates could always find a job. Better than dreaming of sugar plums. (I don't think I have ever seen one, much less tasted it.)

Artificial Christmas trees in most of the homes I know where children live go up after the meal on Thanksgiving Day. We have a local radio station that plays nothing but Christmas songs for the month of December, and I believe they now include November. So many find them cheery and fun. After the 20th playing of "Holly Jolly Christmas"(and no one in the Southwest has holly), I go postal. It doesn't have to be in one day. Over a week would be plenty.

I don't mind the lights on houses because they are pretty. Also,with any luck for the neighbors, silent. I am a big fan of the silent enjoyment of Christmas. Seldom heard today.

And it all started with artificial Christmas trees.

I can't get away from the ads entirely--I have to listen to the news, although public television has quite a good news program. I have 3-4 programs I watch now, with their approximately 20 minutes of the hour in ads. I have shopping to do, and as usual, nothing advertised is what I am getting. This year I have to go online, because it's not on sale in the stores, either. As usual, gifts for my adult sons confound and puzzle me.

I don't begrudge shopping for my family, and I actually enjoy it close to Christmas--like the week before. But the constant hype and jolliness is wearing.

In my neck of the plains, I am known as "The Grinch."

Still, even I have one of those pesky trees.

This is my annual rant. It comes earlier each year.

When I see lighted artificial trees for sale on my birthday in August, I may start a movement.

For now, Christmas, once a lovely holiday, is my least favorite of the year. But enough for now.

I have to go shopping for myself.

I always buy a book I really, really want to read about now, put it in the closet, and start it sometime on Christmas Day. When I had children at home, it was a way of unwinding after the busy day. After the divorce, with the children gone for the day, it was my celebration for myself. It still is. I think it takes more self-control not to open it early now than it used to.

It just sits there, calling my name.

And it isn't even fattening.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Finding quality of life in being cozy

Cozy: giving a feeling of comfort, warmth and relaxation.

It is one of my favorite feelings.

It is 52 at 9 o'clock this morning, and 71 in the house.

Last night, my last thought before I drifted off to sleep was how cozy I felt, and how good that was.
I had washed all the bedding, added a new fleece blanket on top, just enough to be able to snuggle.
And it was good. The pillows were soft and plumped, the sheets smooth, the covers surrounding me with a soft layer of comfort.

A nice cool bed with the lightest of cover is welcome in the summer, but it is not cozy. Nope.

I love the springs and falls here, when days are in the 70's or no more than low 80's. The nights can get into the 40s, and there you go. Cozy.

As I grow older, comfort has become an important component of what I do. I never was much of a shopper and never a fashionista. I don't seek for a fashionable house and am frustrated when items I want, like curtains and bath mats, come only in the fashionable colors, not the ones I want. Can color be part of making a cozy home? I think so.

Cataracts are constraining my movement abroad these days. I have always been one to hop in the car and go, a habit from growing up in New Mexico. Now I sedately stay within about a 30-mile radius. I hope that will change post-surgery, whenever that will be. Hopefully this spring, which is the soonest I can see the doctor again.

For now, however, there are gardens I have sped by before to explore, my own home to concentrate on, little art galleries to discover, and such a plethora of new restaurants I never will get around to all of them. I have chafed at the restrictions. I have indeed let it dull my pleasure at what is within my reach.

But last night I was cozy, and I went to sleep happy and woke up the same way.

I intend to continue that way.

I can deliberately create a cozy environment.

And happiness is a choice.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

ReLiving Near-Death Experiences on OU-UT Weekend

When I was 18, I experienced my first OU-UT weekend.

To say I was naïve would be like saying raw turnips generally aren't appetizers.

I joined a sorority as my parents said I must. Either Thursday or Friday Before the Big Weekend,
the sorority social director told me she had a blind date for me. He wasn't very tall, she warned, and I would need dressy flat-heeled shoes I
didn't have.

On Saturday,noonish, I set out for a shoe store, and finally found one, probably 3-4 miles from campus. As a greenhorn, I knew nothing about buses, so I bought the damn shoes and walked back. All told, maybe 6 miles. I missed supper and we didn't store snacks. I showered quickly, curled my hair, put on my dress, hose, and (not) heels.

I don't think I was any more impressed than he was. Whatever. I figured surely, at a party, I would get something to eat.

Boy, was I disappointed. I guess Chex Mix or the derivative might have been trendy It certainly was cheap and all that was offered besides mixed drinks so strong I wanted to throw up. So I ate the mix, asked for a Coke or two, danced when I could and smiled.

Then we hit college curfew time, so my date and I and his friend and his date walked back to his car. He walked funny.
Did I mention I had never seen anyone drunk before? I began to pay deep attention. And this was before seat belts were invented. Besides which, I was hungry and I hadn't had a very good time.

As we drove north on Central Expressway, I will always swear he began to edge over the line into the car just ahead. I thought he was going to kill us. I screamed bloody murder, grabbed the steering wheel and jerked it to the right. We slid past the other car.

He yelled at me, asked what I was doing. He drove very well to my dorm, and walked me to the door.

We never spoke again, and the social chairman never called me again.

He probably still thinks I was an hysteric. I still think I saved all our lives.

I wonder which of us was right, If I were wrong, I wouldn't be here to wonder,though, would I?

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Lifetime in a Conversation

I took my dogs to the vet today to have nails clipped and distemper shots. While I was waiting, a young man came in for serious service. He had good control of his voice, but it dropped when he said "my dog."

"How may I help you?" the receptionist began.

The young man said, "I've come to have my dog put down."
Matter-of-fact. It wasn't easy.

"I'm sorry to hear that," vet tech receptionist said. "How old is he?"

"He's 19. He's my dog. I'm 20. He..." he couldn't say more. Then he did.
"My whole life, he's been there."
He smiled, he tried to, and he smiled.

"what breed?" she asked.

"Lab retriever. Yellow lab."

"What are the symptoms? Is he eating, drinking? can he move?"

"He can eat and drink all right, he can move around after I lift him up in the morning and help him get around. Then he can move a little. he still pees outside. He hurts."

"Would you like to talk to the vet, have an exam first, to see if there's anything we can do?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I would like that. Last weekend I took him with me to Texarkana to hunt ducks. He sat with me in the blind." The young man smiled."I wouldn't let him get the ducks, but he wanted to. I kept him right by me."

Labs don't live that long, usually. A lot of care and love went into that dog's life.

And I won't forget what he said: "He's 19 and I am 20--he's always been my dog."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A string of pearls

I have two stories to tell, both about women who, at 17 and in love or in the beginnings of it, told a lie. Both went on to marry the man of their dreams, and both lived with them until the men died many years later. They both grieved deeply.

The first was two years younger than the boy, and they had grown up in the same neighborhood. He went away to college. The next fall, as he walked to class, he beheld a smiling beauty walking towards him. She seemed vaguely familiar, but he didn't know who she was until she said hello and he heard her voice. Wow! where had that skinny, harum scarum young girl gone to? She was now lovely, poised and smiling at him, flirting. He flirted right back.

They chatted briefly, then he said he had to get to class.

She said,"Oh, what class are you taking?"

He told her what it was. Economics, I think.

"What a coincidence!" she exclaimed. "That's my class, too."

So they walked together to class, sat hear each other, and the next day, she changed her schedule to include the class on economics. Did well in it, too. They hit it off. They fell in love. The following year, when she was 18 and he was 20, they married. Under Texas law, a woman of 18 didn't need parental permission. The same law, regarding men of 20, said men did need permission, which he received.

They were married more than 60 years, and had an adventurous life with their brood of children. They lived all over the world. They truly were partners.

And it was years into the marriage when she finally confessed to him that she hadn't been signed up for that course at all.

The second woman also was two years younger. She met the man she would marry her senior year in high school. He went away to college.

In her case, her parents had intended to send her to a different college than the one he was attending. So she researched school catalogues and hit upon a major that only was offered at the school he was attending. It was actually a pretty good fit for her, but she had not planned on that particular field. She told her parents that was what she planned to do, and they paid to send her there.

So she went to the school where he was attending, they dated, and after two years, were married. They settled in Texas and reared their children there. When the children were in school, she completed her degree in the field she told her parents that she wanted so much she had to go to his school. The lie she had told had taken her down the path to a degree in that field. So she finished her degree. And it was work she enjoyed.

It worked out all right. She went on to write a book that was published in her field. When illness took her husband prematurely, she missed him for years and has finally gone on with her life. She still is immersed in parts of her profession that still give her pleasure. After all, maybe she would have chosen it anyway.

I don't know if she ever told her husband or her parents. I do know that she has always tried to deliver what was expected of her. I think she takes a certain pleasure, even joy, in remembering the lie she told that led to marriage to the boy she was determined to have, the future she seized for herself.

I think the lies were different, and the repercussions were different. Certainly, the people were. The times were.

I cannot conceive of wanting to marry so soon. I couldn't then. I wanted to live on my own awhile before I married, and so I did. I don't personally relate.

Lies have repercussions, good or bad, for years afterwards, and in these two cases, probably for generations.

I know both of these women, their families. I have my own thoughts about the two lies. Are they the same? are they different? Do you like one more than the other? Both gave the woman an honest chance to build a relationship with the man.

And yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nice Day in the Life

Gracie and Brody were playing chase in the house today, and the rugs are all askew. Both came laughing up to me, panting and with tongues lolling, for scratches and petting. It is, after all, their little treat after moments of merriment, that I enjoy them so much I can't resist the petting.

I am glad they are happy. They don't see other people often, and that, as much as my poor training, is part of the reason they rush to newcomers and leap up on them. I can change their training and begin the walking I've always said I will do, but I don't feel I can change the solitude. My home has few visitors.

The dogs are such wonderful company in the evenings, when I sit down with a book or a television show if I can find one, and just share the time. They are constantly moving, demanding attention from time to time, and adding their aliveness to my own.

When we all went out on the porch to enjoy the super moon, though, I realized that my life is full of friendships, like beautiful beads on the string of time. I was somewhat frustrated earlier with a call from a friend from high school years, because she had continued to work during our call, and I could not always hear her well. Still, she had been on my mind lately, and I hadn't called her, so I am glad she did.

My fiftieth high school reunion revived friendships with two women I have known since elementary school. We email back and forth, and occasionally facebook. There are a couple more. Two friends from college, both former roommates. We try to get together for lunch every year. I had three professions in my working life, and have friends from each place. We email and get together once in awhile, as well. Some family friends. Most, however, are many miles away.

What has astonished me about a couple of the childhood friends is that they have grown up to share--over 60 years--many of the same interests I have. Well, I have a lot of interests. But wherever they are, however their lives have gone, somehow, we have popped out with the same concerns about environment, love of books, history, and in some cases, art and music. How did that happen? We were just girls who climbed trees together and rode bicycles and...never played baby dolls together, swooned over rock stars, or even considered skipping college. Huh. I guess we start picking through the threads of who we will become earlier than I thought.

That stuff isn't just phases we go through. It is picking the colors of life we like that will shade the life we have when we are grown. Some of us lead disparate lives that end with such similar thoughts and interests that I am amazed. We do change over time. Events, time itself can forge large differences. Somehow, though, I have ended up with these few childhood friends who have grown up in harmony with me

The friends of my life come from every age and aspect of my life. Some are almost as old as I am. I hope some new friendships will develop,also. I am too young to be stagnant. I am into the difficult years, when friends die or drop away due to dementia,or move away, often to be closer to their children. So they are scattered.

As I write, the dogs have given up on me. They always do when I sit down here to write, but they were hopeful when I went to get a yogurt and a banana. Food was present,now consumed, and they don't like bananas, anyway. And I ain't sharin' the yogurt.

Today is beautiful and hot, with a cold front and possible rain tomorrow. Hopefully, neighborhood cats will not be screeching around 2 am in the morning again, triggering wild barking from under my bed where the dogs sleep nights. I'm tired today. I don't do parties, but I have a couple of interesting meetings today. Neighbor Matt is getting his roof repaired from the March hailstorm. Dogs quietened down quickly when the hammering started early this morning, since every roof on the block, including mine, has been replaced.

A friend is having surgery today, another had surgery two weeks ago, and another has surgery planned next week. Standard fare for 70s and 80s. Parts wear out. On the other hand, the engine light on my car may have been due to insufficient tightening of the gas cap lid last time I gassed up. Car is getting older, too, but no maintenance today.

Yep. A good day.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Birth order dynamics in the waiting room

I had to go by the Social Security office, and the reception room was full of people of all ages sitting quietly. Well, all but a curious four-year-old, who wandered a bit despite the eagle eye of his grandmother and two older brothers, about 8 and 10. Grandmother ordered him to sit down. Then the eldest boy got up to go to the bathroom.

A reason to get up! The four-year-old immediately took off with his middle brother patiently following to corral him. Which he needed.

The four-year-old, naturally, didn't see which of the three doors his big brother went through. So he picked. He picked the locked door to the office behind the reception room and tried and tried to open the door despite all efforts of his brother to change his direction.

"This isn't the bathroom," the brother said, trying to grab the little boy's hand. Failing that, he tried to pick him up. The little boy resisted, squirming out of reach and saying, "Yes it is! Yes it is! I want to go to the bathroom! Leave me alone!"

In front of a roomful of people, including the aforementioned grandma, the older brother was trying very hard to gain control and not hurt the pre-schooler. So I interfered, as I am sometimes wont to do.

I am blessed with one of those deep, resonant voices that make persons on the phone call me "sir." I am a Grandma.

"Do what your brother says," I told the little boy firmly.

He stopped, looked at me. I looked back. He stood up and let his brother take his hand. I nodded to the brother, and he nodded back, the soul of satisfaction. They went in the men's room. They all came out and sat down again.

And I snickered to myself. The dynamics are already there.

Twenty years from now, the youngest will think he absolutely knows what to do about some thing or other, and his two older brothers will just give him that Older Brother look of tired, weary patience and knowing.

And the youngest will still look at his older brothers with exasperation.

"WHAT?" he'll say. And maybe they will sigh.

Because he cannot change one thing, ever. He will always be the youngest.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ruminations on "The Sixth Extinction"

I have begun reading "The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert, and I am deliberately reading it one chapter a day. I don't think I could bear more. I believe in honesty, and this book is honest. With the shmear of humans across the world rather like butter on a slice of bread, each year sees the absolute obliteration of species of living things, from flora to fauna.

The first chapter is about the obliteration over the last decade or two of so many species of amphibeans. It doesn't touch on horned frogs, the mascot of a college here in the Metroplex. I played with "horny toads" as a child, as did my oldest son. The colony of horned frogs by the Methodist church where my sons grew up may have been gone by the time my younger son came along.

They were fairly easy to catch, and would close their eyes in bliss--or so we thought--if we rubbed the smooth skin between the spikes over their eyes.

My granddaughters probably will see them in zoos and never hold one.

This is happening all over the planet to grasses, trees, birds, insects,land and marine animals...and water supply. I see this. And I am sad, because I also see so little I can do.

I can, and do, oppose fracking. I have no personal experience with noise, smells, chemical effects, but I am passionately opposed to polluting millions of gallons of water--which will not be clean enough for the earth and humans to use for decades or hundreds of years--when humankind is facing massive overpopulation and widespread drought. It is madness in the name of greed. And frankly, it doesn't seem like common sense to me that something humans do which seems to cause accompanying earthquakes is very good for us, either.

Diversity in nature is important. To me, that's self-evident. We are always finding some little piece of the universe that after all fits in right--there--and makes something else work. So how much can die before we humans start dying off, too? will that be too late for the earth to revive somewhat?

Earth resources are finite, but we act as though they are infinite. We have some serious shortages coming up. The two Americans are noticing, however, are coffee, and chocolate. The whys would make a good book on each. Vanilla is less threatened, but also at risk.

Hopefully we will take better care of the growers of all three and make expansion of product possible.

Humans are so silly. We, too, are marvelously diverse, and it is one reason we have multiplied to such numbers as we now have.

I remember some survey awhile ago where people said that if they could genetically modify their babies in utero, what they would want would be for them to be genetically modified so they could eat all they want and stay thin.
Oh. And they want to live to be 100, too. It used to be true that persons who had reached 100 had never been overweight during their lifetimes. I don't know if that still is true.

I do know that being able to survive on less food is a definite survival trait for humankind. I am proof positive that one can love broccoli and be fat. I often eat far too much and can survive quite nicely on less food. As I age, and eye my retirement income, that is a nice perq. I am so used to my household that when I visit my son's family for a meal, I am somewhat awed. The one meal consumption--for six of us, granted--would feed me for close to two weeks (and boy, would I be tired of the rations by then!) They are younger and much more active. They eat more.

We have big fights over water brewing, I know that. I've already seen an article extolling the solution of extracting sea water and removing the salt to solve our drinking water problems. Maybe that will solve the problem of rising seas. Oceans,however, aren't infinite, either.

When I was a little girl, I was told that only humans have souls, and that we were the only planet with life in the universe. Even as a kid, I doubted the latter. You don't lie on your back staring at the night sky in New Mexico and say, "Earth is the only planet with life in the universe? Really?"

I don't know how it will all turn out. As I look around the planet, at the trash in our oceans, the poisons in our rivers, the smog in our air, the dying species, I can imagine some cosmic voice re-echoing around the globe: CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM!

The problem is, where do we put the trash?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Apple Commercial Offers an Honest Feel Good

Lately, several television commercials have been enjoyable. Yes, enjoyable. They may be better than some of the shows they bookend.

One is special. (You guys with Tivo miss this stuff.)

Actually, I had to watch a couple of times specifically to find out whose ad it was, which seems to be a new trend. This one shows the Apple logo for several seconds at the end.

There's this woman singing a song. "We're Living a Life of Dreams." It's really great. Happy, lilting and poignant, all at the same time. It's in a commercial on tv. You can also Google it and there's a YouTube version.

In the ad, various parents are shown busily taking care of babies, toddlers, preschoolers in a seamless blend of scenes. You do hear the babies screech a time or two. There's the little blonde girl with the happy smile who is stopped in the nick of time as she is inserting a Q-tip in her ear (and I swear I have seen that footage somewhere.) The only spoken audio is the couple in the car consulting a diagram on a phone as one says, "he's got to be here somewhere," and the next frame shows a dog in the shadowed foreground, ears pricked, as a car stops down the street, the door opens, and the dog is off like a shot to the car. There is a woman jogging slower and slower as she pushes twins in a stroller up the hill, the music slowing, too. "Dreams...dreams....dreams." The last frame is this four-year-old who accidentally turns the hose on his daddy working in the garden, and the delighted, innocent smile of that boy as the screen fades to the Apple logo. It's humorous. And it plucks a memory chord, at one end or the other. Probably both.

It is about the matter-of-fact loving of children we rear and our dreams for them and for ourselves, and it isn't at all sentimental, but it isn't cynical, either. These people are just doing what needs doing, and the lilting, tender song reminds us, "We're living a life of dreams." Indeed.

So, where did the song come from? That's easy, I googled the title. I discovered the song was written and performed by Julie Doiron, 42, a pretty well-known Arcadian songwriter and performer in Canada, where she lives and was born. Apple has bought the song from her and you can get it for your ring-tone.

Would the rest of you have to do the same thing to know this? Probably not. Do you understand something I don't know? Very probably. If this is the way it works for everyone, I don't understand that, either. Subtle sells?

If I had something to download to, I would download this. It reminds me, as I scrub a filthy grill for a cookout, or take the time and patience to work with someone else, any age, really, that what always I am doing is the prep work for what comes after--dreams reached. A little dream of a happy outcome.

I'll take that. I have done so. I just realized I'm smiling as I write this down.

We do the scut, sweat, cuss, repair, hurt, cry, see our children cry, and we despair. There's that little laugh that goes with the despair as we grab a loved one anyway and just hold on.

And at the very bottom of it, if we look, so often what is left is...we're living a life of dreams. And the dreams carry us.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Like the flag, may the Star Spangled Banner always fly.

This is an honest question, based in ignorance.

Is the national anthem of any other country a story of suspense?  of danger leading to hope?

People call for an easier song to sing.

"America the Beautiful", for instance.  Bucolic, satisfying, happy and tuneful. It is all of that.

Or, maybe, even write another song.  Phhhyyt;

My older son commented earlier that the fireworks of the Fourth of July commemorate the celebration of the battles our country fought to become this country.
So does the Star-Spangled Banner.

A lot of emotion went into that tune.  It was about a suspenseful time in history, when after all we had struggled to achieve might go to ruin.

"Does the flag still fly?"

"Can we prevail?"

"Do we have the grit, the determination, the unsurmountable intent to build the country we lived in and make it all ours, warts and all?"

Can we survive?

And every time we sing that anthem, we affirm "through the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, our flag was still there."

Still is.

So set off the fireworks, a happy facsimile of that night.

The flag is still there.

And for about 200 years now, so has the "Star Spangled Banner."

May it always stand as a vital part of the history of our country and who we are.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Robert Parker's successor writes his first Spencer novel

Don't  know if you ever read  crime-solving books by Robert Parker. He died in  2010, appropriately collapsing over his word processor as any writer might choose to do. Apparently the book in progress had notes complete enough that the book was completed and published.

In an unusual move, Parker's wife and children sold the rights to his series (there are three) to another writer, Ace Atkins.  They felt he knew Parker's moods and characters for these books well enough to continue them.

The writing style, of course, can't be duplicated. Parker wrote with a sparse use of words in short sentences that somehow conveyed a great deal of emotion and meaning. His characters were complicated.  He communicated this with the short sentences and paragraphs wonderfully well.
Parker's books were not thick. They were a fast read, and oddly rich in satisfaction.

Atkins'  "Cheap Shot" is his first book since he bought the series from Parker's estate.

The plot is definitely vintage Parker. All the cast members pretty much show up in their traditional roles. Sometimes I think he takes traits from earlier books rather than the later, and that's okay.  It is a Spencer book, Parker's longest-running series that got the television gig years back.

It was okay, maybe better than that for me.I  probably read every single book the man ever wrote, including the single novels before he started the Spencer series.

I read pretty omnivorously and definitely voraciously. I'm always looking for something to read. So I''ll  probably read another one or two or three.

This Spencer is just ....not-as.  Milk chocolate when I wanted dark.

It's a tricky business, taking on a character someone else developed and carrying them forward.  So much is really close to Parker. Maybe spot on.

Read it and see what you think. I'd like to hear some feedback.

Come to think of it, I haven't read anything else by Atkins. I ought to correct that.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Few Events in an Uneventful Life

The man who has overseen my roofing project is quite pleasant. I appreciate that he isn't aggressively charming, as some of his ilk tend to be, but he has a major flaw that I suspect is connected to "the way things are done" in his business.

Two or more weeks ago, he told me he was going to pick up the gutters he would be replacing at my home. This morning about 9, here they were. He saw my car, so parked the loaded trailer on the street. Good. I came out to  move my car, however, to find a workman on a ladder right in front of the garage door, preparing to pull off the old gutter.

"Hi!" he said with a cheery smile. "We're here to do your gutters!"

I growled, "You couldn't be bothered to call me Friday afternoon to tell me this?  Move the ladder and I'll get my car out of the garage and park it next door."

He responded quickly. (He's the son of the roofer.)  I pulled out, told him much more calmly to carry on, and parked next door, walked back. Unfortunately, the noise has Brody ALL excited, and he seems to think it is His Duty to pant heavily, run around the house, bark and growl.

As you see, I have recovered nicely. I am simply sitting in a civilized fashion in front of my computer complaining about what is a good thing, even if I wasn't given advance notice. This will finish their part of the work and get the other half of their money, now in escrow, to them. I said the roofer is pleasant, and he is. We live in the same community and will probably meet again. And he is an honest man, which means a lot.....

Pause for the telephone call from the roofer, whose son called him to say, "Dad, the lady is really mad we didn't tell her we were coming." He apologized, said this was last minute reassign when someone else's job was postponed by the homeowners. I told him all is well and my feathers are smoothed out. Which they are. So actually, I was surprised, but it's a bit of good luck.

I wonder how many times I react with grumpiness just because I am inconveniently surprised by good fortune. Something to think about.

Good luck surprised me again this morning when I let the dogs into the back yard to find it, as well as the front yard, had been mowed. My next door neighbor sometimes does the front when he's on his riding mower, but the back is unusual. My poor granddaughter is going out of town and kind of planned on that $10 I give her to mow a good-sized yard.

But she's going to Schlitterbaun,  a wonderful water park in Central Texas with loving extended family, so I suspect she will be just fine.

I am trying to remember the second thing reporters quoted someone as saying would be gone in the next four years, but can't remember the second one. The first was personal computers. We'll all have IPads hooked up to our smart phones, they said. Well, that leaves a lot of room for a lot of folk like me to carry on. I don't have a smart phone and am not planning to get one. In fact, I'm ahead of a lot of the 70+ grandparents I know because I text as well as phone. I may upgrade to a phone to text more quickly, but smart phone? Not yet. I don't know how to handle the security on them properly, and am not willing to partake until this has been addressed.

As a matter of fact, I have a lot of problem typing on almost any computer but mine. When keyboards first came out, they had these little foldup legs you could extend to give your keyboard a slant. For someone who has been typing countless hours since I was 15, that is necessary for me. My speed is cut at least in half when the keyboard lies flat. Eldest son gets frustrated when he comes to help me with some computer problem because my desktop (yes, desktop) is on a regular desk and I pull out the middle drawer so I can prop the keyboard against the edge of the desk's top to give me that slant. Works just fine, as you see.

The arthritis in my hands and wrists also is a factor. A flat keyboard requires an arch in my wrists that is not comfortable, and while I could learn to use a laptop, this works better.
(Like many of us who have a glitch or two in how our bodies work, I don't particularly consider myself handicapped so much as having my own way of getting some things done.)

Oh! and that reminds me. Saturday, I went next door three times to get something opened. I have an electric jar opener, but it is too clumsy to open the small jar of minced garlic. The mouthwash requires firm pressing with thumb and forefinger on either side of the lid while turning. I can't squeeze hard enough.  And the last--well, Dr. Pepper puts the caps on their two liter bottles uncommonly hard. I can usually get it, but sometimes, even strong men must strain to do it. I had one of those. I've learned if I open, then close the bottle before storing it into the fridge, it is much easier to open the next morning, and cold caffeine is my morning beverage. But this one almost defeated my family next door. And my daughter-in-law gave me a spare bottle opener similar to one her grandmother gave her years ago. It is an ancient hand tool, about one inch wide, six inches long, with lip on one end of the metal stick and a metal tongue that slides underneath. Eh. I need to be able to photo and attach this. I'd never seen one, and  I bet you haven't, either. Anyway, a handle
 holds the bottle firmly between the tongue and lip and allows you to turn the long metal piece to leverage the lid to open.



Every so often, I get a hankering for ginger ale. I have almost always used Canada Dry brand, and yes, I get diet. Diet ginger ale really isn't as good as regular, but I get enough calories as it is. I've noticed tv ads for Canada Dry publicizing Real Ginger in the product, and it's getting warmer, and I bought me some.

I do not know why they changed the recipe, or when. I don't know what the regular tastes like, but I am not willing to try.

This has a powdery, taste like really cheap powdered fruit drink(I won't denigrate Koolaid brand) with carbonated water added and a dash of ginger. The lack of sweetness reminds me of the first diet drinks in the 1960s.

If one were to add an alcoholic beverage, it would ruin the taste of that, too. Since I bought it as an alternative to booze,  I simply will switch brands.

I bought two bottles. I think I may just throw the other unopened one in the trash. It really is that bad.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm Feeling the Power (no wiring needed)

Many thanks for the shopping guides to my solar powered spoon/sun tea jar.

Amazon is moderately pleased, as well.  Price is actually a little lower than I thought it would be nowadays.

Which led, kinda, to something else. It made me think about buying something  else.

A friend told me on Friday about an estate sale with lots of chairs nearby. Ever since Brodie's raptor claws slashed my naugahide recliner well over a year ago, I've been promising myself a spruced up living room. That quilt over the chair is a bit tatty.

I got to the sale early Saturday afternoon, and this family was serious about clearing the house. Everything was 1/2 price from Friday's sale prices.

I went inside, and only two chairs were left there, waiting for just me to come and take them home: two tall wingbacks with a cream on cream brocade material  and light brown legs, slightly higher, very firm, seat cushions, looking brandnew.  Spotted as fast as I could park my car and walk in the house. (I know folks who would be disappointed not to browse over the other chairs, but not me.)
Well!  Did I take them? Yes. $54 apiece, y'all. They had been in my mind for a year, and here they were. We stuffed one in the trunk and I drove home, found my lovely but very strong granddaughters available to carry the first into the house, go with me to pick up the second, and carry it in as well.

 I know how I'm going to do the room.  And I need a couple lamps.

The room has only two outlets, neither anywhere near where I want lamps, so I haven't had them.

But wait a power jumped in my mins to wireless, which jumped to a Uverse tv commercial. So they have cordless tvs,  why not lamps? and I went back to Amazon, and sure enough, the rest of you have been buying these, too. Aha! Lithium battery-powered lamps with daylight LED lights will look really, really good. Amazon has some I like. I will check actual physical stores as well.

By summer's end  the living room is going to look pretty darn good. Since I have no crafts or sewing ability, the fact I can refurbish for $200 or $300 is only a testament to my cunning and imagination. Not to mention my luck. 

I will sit in one of my new chairs, sipping my stirred, not shaken, sun tea,  and life  will be good.

They are absolutely wonderful chairs.

I wonder what else Amazon has I don't know anyone sells?

Don't think I'm going to go there.   Um. At least not yet.

But thanks for the shopping guide.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pawing through Archives for Lost Discovies I want again

+Sometimes, I get a little impatient with the information we have lost before 1990 or so because it isn't on a computer. I'm always reading about some new study that proves something I first read about in the 1960s or 1970s, and everyone has forgotten because it's not on a computer somewhere.

But this is a short blog with one intent.

My elder son once gave me a sun tea jar with a difference:  it had a solar cell in the lid which stirred a spoon, speeding the sun tea infusion process. It was particularly nice if I were mixing in some blackberry tea and mint, because the stirring evened out the flavors in the jar.

I've spent  only about 15 minutes looking, and  I searched under solar cell sun tea jars. It does make me giggle that most of the sites don't sell sun tea jars. Now we are making Solar Powered Tea. ooo! ahhhh! So new. So energy saving! I suspect sun tea may pre0date  the influx of Americans into Tejas, although the ice wasn't available then. Store the jug in a well or river, however, and it might get tolerably cooler.  (That's the way they stored buttermilk, too. Yes, they drank that stuff.)

We did a lot before computers you may never hear about.

I benefit from older parents and grandparents. People in my family tended to marry and have children mostly in their thirties, so I learned a lot about childhood fun in the 1880s and 1890s.

Back in the 1940s, little girls under six or seven often ran around in shorts like their brothers with no shirts.  Not all, but quite a few.  Really. My grandmother born in 1882 was more comfortable with me in a dress, but she put me in an old, thin one on a summer afternoon and stood on the porch and laughed while I ran and danced in the rain.  One of my favorite memories.

I don't know when I quit making sun-tea, or iced tea, for that matter, but I did.  I'm reverting this summer.  I like sweet iced tea only when you add lemon and mint. A friend used to make giant glasses with a wedge of lime,  a wedge of lemon and a wedge of orange on the lip of the glass. That was a treat. Otherwise, I prefer just strong, bracing tea that goes with everything.

Some entrepreneur ought to make those jars with the turning spoon again.  Solar cells for solar tea.
I bet they would sell. A cell sell.

Works for me.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Farmer's Market is one of my ways to savor the summer

Most of the posts I wrote when I couldn't really post are no longer relevant.  

Unfortunately, I am not particularly creative when in "business mode." Not even urgent mode. There are naps.

Today the deck is getting refinished (a misnomer; it never has been treated before) and it's going to be beautiful when finished. The young man doing it is not the fastest I have ever seen. But I was astonished at the difference the power washing made. All the wood is the same color, all the white dimples from the hail are just gone.

The new roof looks great. I compliment my choice of shingle. New gutters and a panel of siding still to come. And honestly?

The roof is what took the beating. The rest simply keeps the value of my home in place. Maybe better. I have two panels of wood siding on the fence to replace this summer due to aging, not weather (I  have about half the fence replaced now. Eventually all will be.)  The spiffiness just makes the spotty paint on the shutters look worse.  Weeds need pulling. Front porch needs sweeping.  Need to wash the glass in the storm doors and...I would like to powerwash the dust off the siding, too.

I guess housekeeping, inside or out, means seeing more to do as you go along.

Inside is going slower, but it is going.  June temps already will hit upper 90s this week, so I have limited time before early mornings will be my times to work outdoors.  We had such a lot of really cold weather this year, and it lasted so long, that we have had little temperate in between. 

The farmer's market got started early this year , with lettuces and spinach selling briskly in May. Neither can stand Texas summers, but we will be getting into the summer vegetables and some fruits--a late, hard freeze messed with our peach crop again.

This summer,  I will be eating a lot of local, which means  zucchini and summer squash, cabbage, tomatoes, beans (when did we quit growing Kentucky Wonders and why?  In the canned foods, they are called Italian Beans and are twice the cost.  I like Kentucky Wonders.)  Tomatoes, cucumbers And , radishes, carrots. Beets.Blackberries, strawberries, some peaches, and  much loved nectarines. Cantalopes, and at the farmer's market, Jerusalem melons, much like cantaloupe but with more flavor.
From south Texas or Mexico, we get a round tennis-ball sized squash called calabesa squash, which is saying squash squash. It is firm and flavorful and great in Mexican dishes and casseroles.

As I do every summer, I am rediscovering  the wonderful combination of  a nectarine with a length  of string cheese,  and how good cottage cheese is with chopped green onions and quartered  garden-ripe tomatoes. And don't forget ice-chilled  sliced cucumbers with thin slices of vedalia or 1040 onions in icecold salt water with  apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of sugar.  And perfectly sweet, firm cantaloupe eaten slice by slice till it's all gone.

I've got a pot of spearmint growing and have my eye out for a good jar to make sun tea.  Forty years ago, maybe 30, my eldest gave me a wonderful jar with a solar cell in the lid that would turn a spoon in the tea. I't lasted for years and then broke. I've never seen another one like it, and I want one.

Daughter-in-law cut up a watermelon and sent over a big bowlful of chunks which I almost have finished in two days. I can't eat even one of the small ones and I'm darned if I'll spend $4 to have the store cut it up for me. This was a real treat,

I've bought locally in season as much as possible all of my life. It's kind of fun being on the trendy edge of something for a change.

I love new potatoes when they really are new, apples the same in the fall, with more broccoli, spinach and cabbage coming in fall gardens.

Time goes so quickly now that  these are delightful reminders of the best parts of each season.

I plan to savor the season.  And eat a lot of the savory.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How high's the water, mama? Two feet high and sinking.

I just lost a post because I tried to erase something. I cannot find the page that shows my drafts. I will write as much as I can, because I'm a writer, and writers write. And I will continue to write about the upbeat and pleasant parts of being alive. But  being happy doesn't mean lala land. Being happy often includes confronting something that needs to change, and working to make the change.

I will be writing a lot the next few months about some important changes in Texas that the general public is having a huge problem comprehending. So are a lot of politicians.

Parts of Texas are running out of water.

It is not helped with the continual influx of new residents from states where  water is plentiful. But a lot of Texans are wasteful, too.

We can survive, and do so pretty gracefully, if we accept the limited resources and learn some new ways of using it.  Supposedly, at least one more reservoir is in the works. That won't fix it, but it will help.

So far. we have had the fourth driest year since record keeping began in the 1880s. That's pretty dry.

The city manager at Wichita Falls, facing the dismal levels of the lakes furnishing water to that small city, has announced that technology has advanced far enough that later this year, they will be able to recycle their waste water for washing and drinking. He said a lot of other places are watching to see how they will do. People keep talking about the ick factor because they just can't understand there's no more water otherwise.

Texas has about 90 other communities facing the possibility of water loss over the next year. They came close in 2011 as well, but 2012 wasn't as dry. Last year was low-moderate. We'll see.

A lot of Texas has Level 3 water restrictions where you can water outside twice a month. The  water commission that controls much of the northeast quarter of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex announced at a meeting this week that without more rain this summer (not a likelihood of that), they will go to Level 4 restrictions in the fall. Water outside once a month. And yes. that will kill grass, flowers, probably some trees. Not to mention the livelihood of landscapers, plant nursery owners and swimming pool builders.

Life keeps changing, and people keep adapting.

Humans like to think we are the smartest animals, and we have done some neat stuff along with the appalling choices.

I suspect  a lot of what we have done simply comes down to the biggest ego of all the species and oh, yes, opposable thumbs.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Once More Into The Fray

Hmmm. When Matt G. did this, I could see previous drafts. And I have just a few unposted ones.

You know how when you've been burned touching the stove a number of times, you don't want to touch the stove?  or maybe not even cook?

That's how I feel today.

Hopeful,  sorta like being 9 years old and hoping Santa comes, but knowing your folks don't have the money.

But to quote some successful people, "It doesn't matter how many times you fall down, it matters how many times you get up. (even if you need a geek son on speed dial to do it.)"

I attended a library board meeting last night and had to park way down at the end of the lot by the dumpsters, because all the parking spaces were taken by parents and kids attending the two baseball games in the athletic fields behind the library.  I had to laugh to myself.

I conscientiously guided my sons into soccer. I didn't WANT to watch baseball. ;Ever. I realize that is a character flaw. I didn't encourage their love of  high level jazz (they found that on their own) or opera, either.

The people at those games want their children to be good students, but I bet seeing their children sit around reading books would make them nervous.

I will never be a techno-geek.Some of that technology feels a little too much like watching baseball. But I am a proud geek in my way. We've always been around, in every generation.

Geek is just the present word I know.

You youngers probably have another word by now I will learn in a few years.

Let's see if this posts. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Try, Try, try again.

I am  technically not equipped to fix glitches on my computer and blog. I have had some help and at least 3-4 persons I know  "fix" this, and none have. Blogger tech also has weighed in. So far, every time I get a screen like this, it disintegrates when I try to post.

This is a test. I have so many thoughts to share....hope this post works out.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

Viewing from the Periphery

I am not decrepit, or ignorant, or antiestablishment.

But I didn't understand a lot of the Super Bowl ads, and a lot bored me. Like the cars. Honey, I owned a 1965 Sting Ray Corvette, and it was fine.  Driving to El Paso from Fort Worth was easy. Early. Fun.

But transcendal? Do you really have a life?

Cars do bore me.

And we need something to replace the dinosaur grease, which I was told it was back in the 50s.

Years ago, I used to read a medical magazine with a wonderfully-respected Dr. Alvarez who some old farts will remember. Not many.

I don't know who created this quote, but Dr. Alvarez  repeated it weekly:"Half of what you think you know is not true. The problem is, you never know what half."

He aimed this at his colleagues in medicine. I think it is true of all our certainties...except one.

Real love is true, and we don't see it much, so a lot of us expect the true. But that is better than that loving and caring do not exist, because they do.

Back to the Super Bowl ads. The Dorito ad where the sister rides the dog to rope the Doritos made me laugh.

The puppy and  draft horses ad for Budwiser made me tear.

As did the Coke ad having ethnicities all over the US  sing in their language "America the Beautiful" I loved it. Easterners created this. I knew this would be trouble. But I teared and sang along..

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dying by Unknown Assailants--What do we call it?

This is not mine to decide. I am still thinking.

The question?

When is it murder, mass murder, or assassination? What importance must we have to be assassinated instead of murdered? What words do we have? How do we honor them?

It is a really good question.

When we are killed violently by persons we do not even know? What do we call it?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Visceral Music both Great and from Family

See, we don't look forward enough.
But sometimes, wonderful happens, and it happens to someone in your family.

Not only is the experience wonderful, but knowing your kid is part of it is ...transcendent.

Never in my life had I expected to be standing and clapping with cheering, sometimes crying parents, teachers, friends, siblings...and old grandparent farts like me.

I don't call it crying when beauty is involved--just overflowing from beauty.

My granddaughter was part of the music. She made it happen. I didn't know she could do that, or that the rest of them could.

A concert. Of the best in many, many counties.

It was beyond good.

Details? In this part of Texas it was the Regional Concert. Only most had qualified for Area, the next step up, and 13 of those had made All State. In Texas. That's a bigger deal than usual. Texas is bigger than most countries. Texas is huge. Getting All State? Big deal.

No, granddaughter didn't get that. She's a sophomore. And she's good. And she was a part of this symphonic band.  Wow.

I didn't know kids could play this well. Their conductor also is a composer who recently was asked to write the commemoration for New Town Sandy Hook School tragedy, and I have read about it.

He chose two pieces from other composers, two from his compositions. One was a commemoration for a happy two-year-old who died in a freak accident. He called it "Mountain Thyme", and my granddaughter said he and many of the band cried as they played it.

The last was a composition for the Calgary Stampede--full of fire and explosive emotion.

The band was so damn good. I wasn't expecting them to be so good. They got a standing ovation. I have loved my granddaughters. They are stellar. I didn't ever see this heartfelt standing ovation coming.

And I thought, "What other wonderful things will happen that I haven't imagined?"

And I clapped even harder.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New year, new expectations

It is a new year.  I asked someone recently which came first: man's concept of time, or immortality?

Time must have come first.  Interesting to imagine or know how that developed.

I have a list of stuff to do this week. On Monday, I am already way behind. But I have six more days.

I used to be a list person. I still am.

I just don't always get it done on the day I scheduled. Maybe, as I keep this going, I will get back to being on time.

So far, to the gym twice, once to sing. Good. Now do more. Yes, I hope to lose weight, too, but I targeted the two areas of well-being I wasn't attending. Figure if I've got these two going, I will be more active, eat better, and get healthier. Weight comes off when it comes off. Sure will be happy when it does.

A whole, new, 12-month year. What a treasure.

I've written down stuff to do. Maybe I need to write down goals. Just writing it down and getting some of it done covers most of it.

But I wouldn't mind the applause when I lose the first 5 pounds.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Highs and Lows of the Corgi breed and halfbreeds

I haven't posted about my beautiful Corgi, Gracie, in some time. She is affectionate, smart, and mostly obedient. My living room again has no rug because when I am around, she and Brody don't pee on it. They know better. I let them out, at most, 6 hours apart. Usually 3.

I have found evidence they matriculated on the rug minutes after I let them out for 20 minutes.

Gracie ate a saucer-size hole in one of my newer, best shortsleeved shirts. I think I must have spilled something on it, but I'm not sure I believe it. Gracie eats dense fabric. I've thrown away two duvets she chewed. My new sheets, my new blanket, all have holes.

She is so loving, so funny, so playful. I suspect I don't give her enough stimulation, but. How do I make her stop? unknown. How do I stop the barking when someone--erase that. How do I give her a command she will follow not to bark? Or lick.? I walk around with dog slobber on my skin all the time.

Not to mention Brody, my half-Corgi with the beautiful tail. The barking and licking and following on a lead are his problems.

I have a friend with an affinity for animals, and she is learning to train dogs. Mine already love her. Today she took Gracie for her first decorum. lesson. I will practice what she teaches, then the three of us will teach Brody.

I did go back to the gym today. Brody may be 30 pounds, but half his heritage could stand his ground, turn a charging bull around, and nip its heels back to the herd. He is one STUBBORN dog. He is amazingly strong.

He still challenges me as alpha but I mostly win. He and Gracie are now friends--except on my bed, they don't clump. And except when it is 11 degrees, I don't let them.

Lord, they do damage.

Boy, are they loving family.

My dogs and me, a work in progress.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Just a Text of Love

I don't have a smart phone.

My phone, however, has heart.

It stores only 12-13 messages usually, but mine holds many less for circulation.

You see, I don't delete some of them. I delete none when a family member says "I  love you." I didn't delete when younger son texted, "I got a promotion." Nor did I delete when my granddaughter got her letter jacket.

That doesn't leave a lot of text space. So I am tidy.
I  delete immediately for more messages, and do so with a kiss, because these girls have been raised (reared) correctly! And I will tell them a time or place to meet, and they will  text "thank you."


They are loved, and thanked for what they do, and they give it back.

I kinda like not having a smart phone. It's cheaper, and I don't use many apps. And I like simple.

I know many of you have many saved messages, and that is good. I have these 5-6.
They say over and over, :I love you" from people I love. The text, "I've been  promoted."
On a bad day, I can thumb through and feel better.

When you have many, eh. When you have few, this is a great help.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Missing Cat, Please Respond

We haven't seen our tuxedo cat sinceNew Year's Eve. He is indoor/outdoor.

This may be bigoted, but we have an influx of feral cats recently. Our neutered cats have had to fight for their lives. I feel as if we have been invaded by illegal, dangerous gangs.

Maybe the feral cats didn't kill our cat. I admit I am prejudiced.

TC has been missing for going on 4 days, We want him back.

Jan. 11: We haven't seen him. He won't be back.  Hurts a bit.  I can't bring myself to wash the car. His paw prints are still on the back window.