Friday, August 26, 2016

Before pictures

Tomorrow is moving day, and there’s not much else on my mind, so I thought I’d share some empty-room pictures before we clutter them with furniture.

My closet with Elfa arrangement system

hall, looking from bedroom to living room
bathroom is on the left

Living area, will combine office and sitting area

This will be view from my desk
Patio will be outside French doors
Someday I'll have landscaping

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Moving is getting exciting

A friend once took me through the house she was thinking of buying. It was a wreck, with fast food containers thrown in a corner, an awkward arrangement of rooms, you name it. The next time she took me through it, after she’d bought it and remodeled it, it was an absolutely charming cottage with Saltillo tiles, built-in bookcases, French doors, and a functional kitchen. Of course, it was spotless-trash long since gone.

I don’t have that vision, that ability to look at a space and see what it could be. I’ve been arranging the cottage in my mind for weeks but I won’t know what works and what doesn’t until I actually see furniture in it. Jordan, bless her, measured all the furniture and then took me out there to measure the space. I took in everything she said—mostly that my bed is really too big for the space—but I couldn’t envision it. I’ll have to wait till Saturday, which is moving day.

Black Tie Movers are coming at one o’clock. Google them, and you’ll see two rows of young men in white shirts and black ties. Great marketing ploy. I had envisioned sitting in the cottage and regally directing them to put this here and that there. No such luck. I am to nap, while Jordan directs them, and I am not allowed out there until happy hour. I guess in a way it’s a relief—I’ll be surprised by the (semi-) finished product, and we’ll move on from there to see what fits and what doesn’t. I will have one thing that is a great luxury for me—a California-style closet. The closet is spacious, and the built-ins went in today-a marvel of convenience.  I can’t wait to get things in there.

Meantime there’s a lot of work to be done. Profound thanks to Sue Lyon Boggs and Teddy Springfield, who have fed us several meals and helped pack. The other day Teddy packed boxes and boxes of books—and brought the boxes—and today they both arrived with boxes, wrapping paper for pictures, and tape. When they got through, my dressers were empty and my office and bedroom walls bare. Great friends.

And to others who have brought meals. Last night three of my close friends brought supper—a super spinach dip, chicken tetrazzini, and brownies with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. We had a jolly dinner party in the midst of chaos.

I am, as I’m always aware, so blessed by family and friends. And looking forward to having my family, or most of them, here this weekend. Moving is traumatic, now way around that, but we’re making this as smooth as possible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Downsizing: to keep or discard?

At Sunday night supper, a friend and I had a friendly but heated discussion. I was explaining to Sue, my good friend, that I had two marble-topped pieces of furniture that matched my bed but probably wouldn’t fit in the cottage. Her instant reply was, “Get rid of them.” I said no, they were family pieces, very old, with both sentiment and value attached to them.

“So are you going to pay storage fees on them for forty years?”

“Probably,” Jordan said. They have rented two storage units for the leftovers from their house already.

Sue was completely exasperated.

The world, I’ve discovered during this move and downsizing, is made up of sentimentalists and hard-hearted realists. I am obviously a sentimentalist. I have many antiques--not Louis 14th spindly things but good solid pieces from late 19th and early 20th century America. My mother’s secretary—when my brother and I look at it, we see Mom sitting there paying bills.
My bed—mahogany, with a six-foot headboard and four-foot footboard. I remember crawling into it as a toddler when I had a nightmare. The two marble-topped pieces mentioned above match the bed.

Jordan and Christian are keeping the sideboard that I remember from my Canadian grandmother’s house—built in 1846—and my dining table, which is not a family piece but beautiful nonetheless.

My point is that so many of these pieces hold memories that I could not just get rid of them. This weekend I will offer a couple of things again to my children, and I’ve discussed the marble-topped with my brother. If some of those pieces go to storage, maybe on down the line some grandchildren will want them. My niece was delighted to get a set of her grandmother’s china and said, ‘I’m just grateful to have anything of hers.” So maybe we’re a family of sentimentalists. I like to think that.
And here is a corner of my bedroom during the move--not much sentimental about this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Oh, my! Life is getting complicated


After--kind of sad but it will hold books again
last night I made the bold and rash statement that I now could wrap my mind around this move. Tonight I’m wondering whatever I was thinking. I spent part of the morning watching a friend work—those are the kinds of friends to have, and I am blessed. Teddy Springfield, who is nicely tall, wrapped up emptying my office bookshelves and getting rid of the junk on the credenza (fancy word for what it actually is). Then he went for more boxes and boxed the books in another bookcase in the back room—mostly either those I’ve written or by good friends. I was delighted that Teddy found a Bob Flynn book he wanted to take home and read. And, bless him, he said he’ll come back another day.

My desk is a mess, and I must organize the things on it. Some receipts, but I dealt today with the alarm company and arranged for security in the cottage. Have to talk to Lewis tomorrow about smoke alarms—it’s those little things you don’t think about.

My neighbors came for happy hour and a self-guided tour of the cottage? What’s to need a guide for in three rooms, two of them quite small. They were enthusiastic, as everyone is. I sometimes wonder if they like the space that much or if they’re trying to reassure me that I’ll like it. I’m in a dither about window treatments—and there are seven windows and the French doors. I don’t want to block the light, so traditional blinds are not my first choice. But anything is expensive, complicated by the fact that on this old property no windows are standard size and no two are the same. So whatever I choose will have to be special ordered, and I should have done it a couple of months ago.

Tonight I spent a frustrating hour trying to wade through the Humana Pharmacy website—my prescription list shows medications I never heard of. That’s frustration enough, but half the time the website booted me and then wouldn’t accept my password.

I am going to spend the remaining sliver of the evening reading cooking magazines! That’s my own private rebellion.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to school blues

Something about the first day of school makes me nostalgic, as I suppose it does a lot of parents and grandparents. Because I live across from Lily B. Clayton Elementary Schoo, when Jacob was still a toddler, we used to sit and watch the kids go to school or leave in the afternoon. When he was about three, he took good friend Linda by the hand, led her across the street, and said, “This is where I’m going to go to school.” He didn’t live in the district but he got to go there because I was the day care person of record. This year his parents live in my house, and he’s fully legit.

He’s also sad—seems impossible, but this is his last year at Lily B. Next year he goes to middle school. This morning he hunkered by the front door and watched people arriving. Then he was off to school, where his parents took the traditional picture of him standing by the steps. They have taken that picture every year, in the same spot, and charting his growth is really interesting.

Today he went off looking spic and span. Here is what he and his buddies looked like after school when it rained. As his father keeps telling me, “Boys will be boys.”

Ford, an Austin grandson, went off wearing a TCU T-shirt. His mom says he wears something TCU almost every day. They will be up here this weekend so Ford and Jacob can go to “Meet the Frogs.”

Facebook this morning was full of proud parents’ back-to-school pictures—such fun to see, especially the kids who are starting kindergarten. They have such a long haul ahead of them, but I don’t think they see it that way. They see it as a new adventure, and I hope for each and every one it is that.

It’s a new start for me, too, as I prepare to move into my cottage this weekend. It’s a new start on a new year and a new adventure, and it always makes me optimistic

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Getting my game face on

Last night the happy hour folks at my house decided to go to the Mediterranean restaurant down the street. Did I want to go? I’m usually up for any company, any outing, but I heard myself say no. I wanted to stay home, make creamed chicken (that earned a few “Yuck” comments) and work at my desk. In retrospect it was a good/bad decision—they were gone almost three hours and I would have gotten antsy. My creamed chicken had too much wine and not enough milk—didn’t know I knew such a thing as too much wine, did you?

The larger issue, and one that concerns me, is that I’d been home, alone, at my desk, all day. I should have jumped at a chance to go somewhere with friends.

This morning, I woke at seven, perfectly rested—went to the restroom and crawled in bed to doze for an hour and a half. I didn’t need to do that. When I finally got up, my household—Jordan and two ten-year-olds—was in full swing. It dawned on me that the reason I’m lingering in bed these days is that nothing urgent, no projects on my desk, call to me.

As I’ve said before recently, I keep busy. When people ask what I’m writing, I tell them I’m managing my career—and that’s pretty much true. But I used to manage it and write, cook, etc. Cooking is hard, laundry is hard, and so I pretty much let a lot of things slide.

Late August, being the start of the school year, has always seemed like the start of a new year to me, much more than January 1. So my new-year resolution is to get my game face on, get more involved in the house, the move, new projects. I may not get it all done in one day, but I’ll do it. The path I’m on now leads to aging, and I don’t want that.

This week, I’ll start with packing personal belongings for Saturday’s big move. Company tonight brought an innovative supper—cheese, salami, smoked salmon and bread—and then they volunteered to help pack this week. I’ve got good friends.

Watch my dust! (Oops, I think I just mixed my metaphors).


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blogging and other matters

I haven’t blogged much this week because as I warned earlier I didn’t have that much to say and because brush fires connected to remodeling kept demanding my attention. For instance, we played musical refrigerators—everything inside went either to the apt. refrigerator that Jordan moved into the kitchen or to the new one in the cottage. Jordan and Christian had picked out a huge, fancy fridge, and it was delivered. My granddaughter transferred all the stuff from the small unit to the new one, but I didn’t get things from outside until last night—mayonnaise for example, which is to me a staple of existence.

Another morning, before ten, I greeted the dog groomer, the cleaning lady, an AT&T tech who was keeping an appointment that was cancelled, and the contractors who wanted to talk about window treatments—I am still out to lunch on that but have done some investigating. Pleated shades are expensive, especially since no two windows outside are standard size or even the same size—I need custom made.

I did write a lengthy blog last night, hit a button, and it disappeared. Too tired to reconstruct it. You really didn’t miss much--it was trivia. Part of it though was about the second night Jamie and Edie were here--we picked up Betty, my Wed. night dinner companion, and went to Bravo—a contemporary Italian food chain. Had a jolly time, including my recounting sitting in the car while Jamie and Eden loaded the wheelchair into the trunk. Jamie said, far too loudly, “I know. But she’s your grandmother and you’ll just have to put up with it.” Eden blushed furiously and I told her I knew she hadn’t said anything—her father’s idea of a joke. He kept us laughing through dinner. Jamie is forever my prankster.

Today I’m home working, while Jordan and Christian have enlisted friends, a Pod, and a U-Haul to empty their house. For Fort Worth in August, it’s a lovely day—in the 80s and off-and-on gentle showers. However, if you’re moving furniture, the rain is not so lovely.

We expect next weekend to be when we do the bulk of moving my stuff to the cottage. All my kids will be here—great reason for a family get-together. And they all sound anxious to help. The cottage is painted, although it may need a second coat, and according to all reports, looks lovely.

On a non-moving note, I’ve had the Olympics on but muted most of the time. Interesting to see how many of the athletes, men and women, sport large tattoo. Good for them. I am far less enthusiastic about the language on Facebook from Clinton and Obama haters—makes me realize that the level of civility in this country has dropped into a great abyss. I’ve taken to scolding. And when someone directly challenges me, I respond.

Busy this morning explaining to knuckleheads why Trump is in Baton Rouge and President Obama is not. The president went along with the governor’s request to stay away until next week, when more security personnel could be pulled from helping citizens to protect visiting dignitaries. Trump ignored it and went for a 49-second photo op; Obama agreed to abide by the request and will go next week. Probably won’t bring any Play-doh with him either.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Welcome visitors

Me, Jamie and Madison
I guess I’m going to have to revise my life plan—I’ve been getting too tired to blog at night and sleeping late in the morning until there’s precious little work time left. I’m hoping I’ll fall back into my routine once in my cottage—about a week and a half away. Meantime, here’s the blog I didn’t write last night.
Jordan is off on a four-day holiday so Jamie, the younger of my two sons, has come to stay with me, bringing, to my delight, my 13-yeear-old granddaughter. I feared she’d be bored, but she has to finish reading The Hobbit for school, so she has a project. And Jamie can work from the dining table.
Last night we went out to dinner—late and ended up closing the restaurant. Got home at ten but had a wonderful visit over dinner. Lucille’s was having its annual Crabfest and Jamie ordered the whole crab. Took him a while to crack the shell and extract the meat, but oh my it was sweet and good. Much better than the lobster on my lobster roll—I could tell the meat had been frozen and thawed. Eden, a vegetarian for several years now, had the angel hair pasta.
We took pictures of course and I realized I’ve gotten so used to going without makeup that I didn’t even put any on to go out to dinner. 
Wonderful father and daughter
This morning everyone was off to a slow start. A colleague from Texas A&M Press is coming for lunch. I hope she understands messy house syndrome, especially with the merge we’re doing (PS She understood and lectured me for worrying about productivity in the midst of chaos). Jordan has taken all clutter from her house and transferred it to mine so that they can show their house. It worked—they have rented their house. Things are moving pretty fast these days.

It's taken me two days to post one blog. Story of my life lately. My computer got a persistent error message. I tried letting it rest but finally had to ask Jamie for help. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I’ll read the morning paper that I haven’t gotten to yet.

Monday, August 15, 2016

An almost perfect day

I should have written this last night but I guess I was worn out with pure happiness. My day Sunday was almost perfect for me, though it would probably bore others. I slept late and then went to my desk to read emails and linger long over Facebook—something I often feel too rushed to do. I try to avoid political posts but then one will catch my attention and demand that I comment. I know it’s fruitless. I’m not going to convert a single Trump supporter, but their arguments are so rooted in lies and untruths that I sometimes can’t resist. So there went the morning.

After lunch—I can’t even remember what I had—I read Julie Hyzy’s Grace Sees Red. Hyzy is one of my favorite cozy authors, and to feel free to just sit and read was a real treat. I read most of the rest of the day, though Jordan and Jacob were in and out.

Probably if I’d written this last night I’d be more eloquent about why it was such a special day. I remember euphoric thoughts but can’t quite capture them now.

 I’ve discovered—at a physician’s suggestion—a web page that takes a bit of my time. It’s Posit, a program designed to forestall dementia of various kinds. It’s apparently been scientifically approved and consists of brain exercises on the computer. They’re hard, and frankly I don’t feel I did very well. But I keep trying.  Look for it at

Tell me if you feel smarter or worse after you try the sample exercises.

The only flaws in m almost perfect day were that Jordan came home with pink eye, and the doctor’s office confirmed conjunctivitis today. And my old trick—I kocked a glass of wine over right onto my keyboard. This keyboard is new, maybe a month old, because the old one stopped working. It was less than two years old so was covered under Staples warranty. But I wasn’t sure how they’d feel about another exchange to soon.

I grabbed the keyboard out of the wine puddling on the desk, wiped it off as best I could and shook the water out of it. Then talking to the Lord fast and furiously, I went to get towels Long story short, I tried the keyboard with bated breath—and it worked. The Lord was looking out for me on my almost perfect day.

Today wasn’t bad either. Life is good.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Alter household trivia

I cannot fathom where August has gone, but I am much aware that summer is winding down. One sign: Jacob came home from camp today. Tired but ecstatically happy. He wants to keep going back until he can be a counselor—which I figure is at least eight years away.

I have seven grandchildren, and I love and adore them all equally, but Jacob is the one who has practically grown up in my house, with three adults focused on him Of course we felt a hole in our lives when he was at camp. Jordan looked positively radiant when she brought him home this afternoon—she and Christian had gone to get him and witness the end of camp ceremonies, which meant an early start—she got up at 5:45—and a long day. But she was so glad to have him home and so glad to show him his room, which she had worked long and hard on. It was once my guest room; then we put his bunk beds in, but it was still the room where she dumped everything that she wasn’t ready to deal with from the two houses. The room was her project this week.

Jacob loved his room, complete with golf clubs, hoverboard and all his goodies, and vowed he’s going to keep it that way. I don’t know about that, but I’m glad to have him home.

I’ve wondered about how Sophie would adjust to the change in our living circumstances. She’s five years old now, and over those years I’ve gone back and forth on whether she needed a companion dog or not. I’d about decided she was so ensconced in her position as queen bee that introducing a new dog would not go well. Color me wrong. When the Burton’s two dogs came to live with us, she accepted them as long as they recognized her superior position. They, being passive Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, acquiesced to that, and Sophie loves leading the pack to go potty, eat, whatever. She still sleeps on my bed most of the night, but morning finds her barking at Jordan to go out.

She also wants to make sure the Cavaliers don’t get more attention than she does, so she barges her way in to laps, beds, whatever. I wonder if she’ll be lonely when we move to the cottage, which looks like it’s about two weeks away.
You have to look hard to distinguish three dogs, but Sophie is in the forefront of course,
as befits her station in life

So exciting to anticipate the move. I’ve made a list of heavy pieces that movers need to take. One small step forward.