Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is your custom mashed or sweet potatoes?

Nancy and I are up to 11 for our Thanksgiving dinner, and some maybes.

Just as a division exists between Christmas Eve gift openings and Christmas morning, for Thanksgiving there is another. With your turkey, do you serve sweet potatoes or Russets? Many serve both, of course, but if they do, one potato or the other is largely ignored.

Nancy and I haven't gotten formal about the menu yet, but we were startled to find we differ on this important menu item. I'm a Russet, or Idaho, potato fan. I'll eat sweet potatoes, but only secodarily. For Nancy, they are an important part of the feast.

I've noticed restaurants advertising Thanksgiving menus sometimes offer only sweet potatoes and I always think, "I wouldn't go THERE!" Well, part of that is that if I'm paying $30 a plate, I want to enjoy every item on it. And I enjoy sweet potato concoctions. But "where's the mashed potatoes?" I don't even need gravy, because I seldom eat it.

We simply have decided she will prepare sweets, and I will prepare whites. I usually do rebaked, with sour cream , melted butter and shredded cheddar, because my grandchildren ask for it. Probably will do again as it can be done in advance. With no grandchildren present, i may add the chopped green onions.

You know, a lot of thankfulness goes into the preparation. I reflect on my mother and grandmother doing this, that my daughter-in-law and granddaughters will carry on, and it is such a sweet, loving continuation generation to generation.

Men join the stream--my father managed the turkey and the dressing. For a man born in the early 1900s, he was exceptional, I suspect. My sons can cook as well.

It is interesting that the United States has a Thanksgiving holiday. Remarkable, really. We are thankful for good friends or even just one, we are thankful for good fortune or even survival, we are thankful for a good family, or maybe our escape and survival from the bad. It can easily be a sectarian thankfulness, and it can easily be connected to religious beliefs.

The first Thanksgiving was among Indians with an entirely different belief, and English Christians. This is a national holiday, open to citizens of any belief whatsoever.

Isn't that neat?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Where's My Shoe, Gracie?

I have needed a new pair of shoes for awhile. Just kept putting it off.

My shoes of choice are SAS (San Antonio Shoes) which are made here in Texas at the --you got it--San Antonio factory. They are well-made. They are comfortable. I think they are just dorky enough to be a bit funky, but I'm looking for excuses. They had their 15 minutes of fame back in the 1970s, when everyone wanted their sandals. I had been used to buying a new pair of sandals every spring because they would be falling apart by fall. To my delight, my SAS sandals lasted several years. That was really nice because, you know, handmade American shoes are expensive. When you can amortize over several years, not so much. Anyway, I got hooked on SAS.

A trademark of the store are their wonderful caramel and chocolate caramels. You get a handful with each purchase, and if you ask for more, you get them. They are REEELY superior caramels. As good as the shoes.

My pup Gracie is quite bored. She had her spaying surgery Thursday and bounced right back. I am giving her low-dose aspirin in peanut butter twice a day to keep her from noticing the incision and licking it. She is getting rawhide chews regularly. But she brought me her tug rope. I played gently but wouldn't throw it. She brought her squeaky ball, and I wouldn't throw that, either. She feels fine, but she has to let the stitches heal. BOR-ING.

I don't know why I have never put my SAS shoes in the closet at night with my other shoes, but these are what I wear, and they have routinely gone on a stand roughly 2 feet high. She has never bothered them till today.

I let her outside this morning, then pretty promptly let her in. She wanted to play. This was my computer time. So she played with her toys on the floor at my feet and fell asleep.

Awww, I thought, and glanced over to see one of my beloved SAS shoes on the rug. She had slobbered all over it, but it was unharmed. Its mate was nowhere in sight.

Still isn't. This is a tiny house. About 900+ square feet. Not much furniture. I can't get on my knees so I brought both granddaughters over to help me search.They looked under the beds, the couch, the chest of drawers. We looked behind doors, behind the recliner--nothing. And I KNOW she didn't eat it overnight. I would have seen her carry it outside, but oldest granddaughter searched the yard anyway. No shoe. The closets were closed tight, but I looked anyway. I had those girls look under the bed 3 times.

"No, grandma," they both said. "There's nothing there."

I asked for younger granddaughter first. She's a good finder. Sharp eyes. But she didn't find. So her big sister came over, positive her younger (lesser) sister had overlooked the shoe. She didn't find it either.

Gracie, where did you put it? She looks back with total innocense. What shoe? Is that what you call it?

Sooner or later it will show up. In the meantime, I have an extremely uncomfortable pair of flats to wear with dress slacks or my athletic shoes. I'm hard to fit,my size is hard to find, I don't like to shop and I don't have many shoes.

So today I drove 30 miles to the store where I have always bought SAS shoes. The recession was brought home with two blocks of empty, once thriving stores. And SAS wasn't there. Eek.

I went over to the MegaMall, and looked around. In this huge shopping center, only five shoe stores. One was Footlocker. I was looking for other options.

Eventually, I drove home, googled SAS, and got a live number for the store I was looking for. The address was on I35E, as was the former store, so that wouldn't have tipped me off. When I called, I learned they have moved. I can drive down on Monday and get my shoes. Reduced store hours mean no Sundays. So I guess I'll go Monday and hope I can snag another pair of shoes for no more than $135. Probably more now, come to think of it. I do really, really need those shoes.

Gracie continues to want to play. Maybe if she gets frustrated enough, she will bring out the other shoe, but I doubt it. Ah, Gracie. I'm glad you are feeling better, but you are cutting heavily into my Christmas budget.

Life was more peaceful before Gracie. More orderly. No one else to consider when I went out. And without the laughter, the irritations, the hugs and life of living with another living being.

I do love this blond and white Corgi. I know she loves me too. Her destruction is never malicious. It's like having a kid around, mostly.

She got me out shopping again. That's not a bad thing.

At all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Not Much to Talk About

Except for the summers, temperatures and weather in Texas are frequently changeable. I've enjoyed Thanksgiving meals eating al fresco in short sleeves and bermuda shorts. I remember one delightfully cozy Thanksgiving when it was sleeting, and we ate while enjoying the hearty fire in the fireplace.

The weather has been so up and down lately, the Barrett pears are confused and blooming. I notice a stand of them in a stretch I know was well-watered over the summer is not blooming. The blooms may have something to do with weather shock.

We already have been told the state is losing about 20 percent of its trees due to drought. That's a lot of trees. I took some pictures in August and September. They don't show up so much now that an early freeze has started yellowing the leaves and more are falling off. Frankly, a lot of us are waiting breathlessly to find out if we watered enough or started early enough to save some favorite sweet gums, pecans, oaks, magnolias. It will be spring when we know.

Folks who are particular about their lawns and flowers actually rake the leaves up. They want the landscape to show to best advantage. The rest of us may scoop a few around the bushes as mulch and let the rest go. Fall winds, due any minute, will whip most of them away. (I am aware, yes, that a number of the leaves in my yard are from someone else's trees because the trees those leaves came from don't grow in my yard.)

I still need a quick mow now that the yard is green again, more than half weeds. It was still so dry in September, I didn't dare fertilize, or put out pre-emergent. So let's see. The grass is maybe three inches in places. It hasn't been mowed in a full five months.

Meanwhile, need to dry mop assiduously. Don't know if it is her age or what, but Gracie now is shedding heavily. I hadn't really noticed on the hardwood until I dropped a sweater this morning and picked it up covered with hair. She's six months old and having a painful all-day visit to the vet on Thursday. It's going to hurt and I really feel bad about it. Another reason to mow--don't want her tender tummy getting muddy. A good corgi video I saw said, "Corgis are just big dogs with short legs." I'll agree with that.

I've got to buy more white cotton socks. Gracie has eaten the toes out clear to the halfway point on a pair I carelessly didn't pick up. (I'm learning, Gracie! I'm learning!) She can't have anything to eat after 9 p.m. tomorrow. I guess I'll have to police the place in case this includes rawhide chews, paper, cardboard or random cotton items. She's 16 pounds now. Sure feels like more when we play tug.

Almost no local news now except criminals. Yesterday a man running away from the police in a stolen car crashed into the home a family had lived in 40 years and burned it to the ground. The man was arrested.

At least he won't be released in a day or two due to jail overcrowding.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I Welcome, and I Weep

I have research to do, but when the town of Alamogordo, New Mexico, was created in 1899, a square mile of township was created by Southern Pacific Railroad where the city bar was established a block from the tracks. It is now the town museum.

The community grew slowly, but steadily. I know my grandparents came, homesteaded, then bought a home in town and established a shoe store in the early 1900s. Lots of trees were planted in the city park, close to the train tracks. These included a pond, ducks, geese, and maybe swans. I don't know when the zoo per se began. I remember feeding Johnson grass to the deer when I was a pre-schooler.

The town was small. Cottonwoods were planted. Alamogordo means "Fat Cottonwood' in Spanish. The trees provided wide and wonderful shade. I remember Ninth Street with trees touching overhead in the street.

I haven't researched, but water came from somewhere early. And the climate was kind in the early 1900s. Grass grew belly high on a cow. Wherever the water came from, there were orchards in the valley. Apple and cherry orchards in the hills, but orchards in the valley. Even today, the apricot trees fluorish.

When I was under 3, we moved to a country home with a dying orchard. It HAD been alive, with all kinds of fruit. Mostly dying when we moved in. That would be about 1946.

Where did the water come from?

There was a small swimming pool-sized reservoir in the late 1940s-1950s. I think by then it came from Bonita Lake. Water was released into the irrigation ditches, never more than two feet deep. People had wood dikes in the ditches. When it was your turn for water, you dropped the wooden dam so the water would detour on your property. When the water should go to your neighbor, you left your dam up. People were pretty honorable about that. Most of the time.

The irrigation water would flood your lands, lawn and gardens for a few hours. So glorious to wade through. The flowers and vegetables were bountiful. My father grew 100 rosebushes and a blue grass and clover lawn, and a full half-acre of vegetables. Folks would come by in the afternoons to see all the green and flowers. The home snugged under the three cottonwoods that dropped cotton bolls and purple balls that splatched in the spring. They gave wonderful shade, long before air-conditioning. And sometime every May, I would wake up convinced for an instant we had snow because of all the cotton from the trees dropped overnight.

How beautiful our white frame house looked under the heavy cottonwoods with blue grass-clover lawns and roses, roses blooming all over the place with other flowers.

My father water-witched an underground river at least 1,000 feet deep to nurture his plants. He would have wanted the town to grow. Killing his gardens? Cutting down his trees? No wild asparagas in the ditches each spring?

The town has no ditches now. No life-giving water tumbling down shallow ditches to water the lawns, flowers and vegetables of the residents. The bewitched underground river serves the city.

There are too many people. Water costs too much. Few lawns, or flowers, or trees remain.

You see a desert. So do I. But when there were fewer of us, it was not such a desert. The grass grew belly high on a cow. The flowers bloomed. The vegetables fluorished. Lawns were green. Trees, big trees, cottonwoods, gave shade.

Exult in the lights of the night. And they are spell-binding. The valley actually flickers with them in the dark.

And I smile. It IS beautiful.

I mourn the green of the daylight, and the blooms. The smell of cut alfalfa. You did not know it then.

And I shall never know it again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Even Now, You Can't Get Away With That

I've just seen the video of Judge William Adams beating his teenage daughter 7 years ago.

Should he be removed from the bench? yes. If legally. This is egregious.

Have I seen worse? Not in progress in an actual case I worked, but in results, much worse. In equally "respectable" homes.

Could he be right that his threat into withholding a Mercedes from a 23-yr-old daughter triggered this? And that matters, how? He hasn't beat her lately?

Great if he is screwed.

Do I think this abuse gives the daughter a free card on society? no. She doesn't have rights to the Mercedes (if ever) again.

I met worse stories in the break room at work. These were men and women who had grown up in neglect and abuse and chose to get out, educate themselves and get paid to stop it for others. And we talked easily, those with no abuse, those with abuse and neglect,in the break room, where we all griped about the price of cold caffeine.

A couple of reasons CPS workers don't get chosen for criminal trials: we might know some of the officers of the court, and we might be or know people who grew up in adversity and --surprise, surprise! have turned out to be law-abiding, college educated folks despite vicious, squalid cirumstances.

Actually, it's hard. A lot of folks can't do it.

Hard doesn't make impossible.

I used to be a newspaper reporter when that meant something. I always figured my job wss to let the public know what was going on, and live with what they, and I, voted at the polls. When it was this bad, the voters almost always voted the bad guys out.

Even as a kid, I knew the white hats didn't always win.

Then, I didn't know about the child beaters.

They never ever deserve to win.

Never ever.

Underage behavior? Never ever.

We clear about that?

Planned not Proactive (very early) Thanksgiving

For the first time in many years, I am excited about Thanksgivig.

Before the holiday occurs, a debacle or two may occur, but then, that has happened when I am NOT excited about Thanksgiving. AND had plans.

What I know:
For a number of years in the past decade, I was not healthy enough to serve Thanksgiving in my home.Then I was, but was disinclined. Then I was inclined but it was hard to fit my sons' schedules. then bingo, we all did. Then, last year, both sons shared a meal wih me in my home.(I made the best dressing of my life, I think). DIL and grandchildren were with family 4 hours away, and work schedules intervened for sons.

I have a good friend whose husband died this spring, and her also loving family is iffy about holiday plans. Never unloving. Never nonenclusive,but...

She and I like to be proactive. She suggested inviting friends over for cornish game hens for Thanksgiving. After my sticker shock reaction, I suggested a turkey as cheaper. And maybe leftovers for attendees. We'll invite some friends with few family connections, or difficult ones, difficult schedules like ours, or with a cold, or whatever.too.

Nancy warns me we can end up with 3 or 20. Sad but true, Many would rather sit home alone with beer and chips to good friends and good food. Remember that. Been there. I wore out the Tshirt. It didn't taste good! Have to be thankful...Amen here.

We don't know what will happen.

And both of us are thrilled.

The thing is, we're planning our own party. Not where we will attend. Not who will attend. Just--y'all come. And we both are beaming.

If it looks like her and me, we'll rethink the cornish hens.

But I'm making my dressing.

And count on it--We will give hard prayers for our blessings this year.
We both survived. She without a long=lived loving husband. Me? I coulda died, but I didn't. I survived. It is a hard year we survived, and thereby celebratory.

Isn't that what the first Thanksgiving celebrated?

Survival. With thankfulness. Amen, folks

She and I are planning a meal early,but if you have survived a hard year, my prayers and hopes for yours. Food in your belly A safe place to stay, and hope in your heart for a better year to come. Books for you and children. God bless.