Monday, June 24, 2019

What generation are you?

Most of my friends are Baby Boomers, but I am a bit older than they are and have always known I’m not a Boomer. But what am I?

Thanks to a manuscript about some women artists in Houston, I now know I am a member of what is called the Silent Generation. The women I read about came of age in the sixties, caught between the traditional world of their mothers and the oncoming force of feminism and Betty Freidan.

They believed themselves failures if they didn’t snare a husband by the time they graduated from college, and they thought their mission in life was to keep house for their husbands and raise their children. But something was missing. They turned to art and eventually formed a collective which held yard sales and often profited handsomely. They never claimed to be fine artists—theirs was decorative art. In spite of this self-imposed limitation, many of them produced some fine paintings and showed real talent. (There may well be a corollary here to how women authors thought of themselves—second-tier talents.)

Strangely enough, about half of these women, dedicated wives that they were, ended up divorced. Several were still pursuing their art late in life, and all looked back on the days of the collective as the happiest time of their lives. They talked of being like one big family, and they talked of joy.

The birth years generally given for the Silent Generation are 1925-1945. All of this hit home with me. Born in 1938, I was very much of my mother’s generation. When I used to speak to school children, I’d tell them that I majored in English in college because I knew I was going to get married and some man was going to take care of me, while I spent my days reading novels and eating bonbons.

For my generation, I married late—at twenty-six. And marriage did not work out according to my plan, for either of us. I was a doctor’s wife in the sixties, expected to do all the things doctors’ wives did—join the auxiliary, volunteer, but not have a life or career of my own. I rebelled by getting my Ph.D., and the older wives often regarded me as a kind of cute aberration. Once when I wore a denim pantsuit (from Neiman Marcus no less) to a dinner meeting, the wife of one of my husband’s partners felt obliged to identify me as belonging to “our younger partner.” Hey! I wasn’t his property—or is that my 2019 sensibility kicking in?

But there was that traditional side to me. Not sharing that desperate need for children, I found myself the mother of four. And I loved every minute of it. Indeed they became and still are central to my life. I liked the housewife-ly aspects of our family life, from trying to broaden childish gastronomic preferences to entertaining at fashionable dinner parties. I was a happy camper, but I was also a frustrated author.

Oddly enough, my then-husband, the one who was desperate for children, ended up leaving both me and the children. By that time, the new situation sited me just fine, and I was, for the most part, a happy single parent.

But I think I felt that pull between domesticity and liberation at least until my children were well launched into their independent lives. And I think of many other women of my generation who weren’t able to reach a middle ground between the two. I feel very fortunate.

Having found my generational niche, I looked for where my children belong. No surprise that, now in their forties (one just turned fifty), they are Generation X, just a bit too old to be Millennials. Once latch-key children (a couple of mine were), they are generally now described as healthy and happy, having achieved a good work/life balance. My grandchildren are Gen Z, the internet and social media generation, more inclined to diversity, less traditional.

I don’t know if it’s comforting or disturbing to know the characteristics of the group with which you are associated. Does it reassure to know we are like others? Or do the descriptions become molds to which we think we must conform? Jury is still out, but I found it all most interesting.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Great Fish Rescue

Compassion overcame reluctance tonight as Christian and Jacob hurried to rescue a fish before the predicted storms hit. The story begins few days ago. One of Jacob’s friends caught a lovely striped bass, took it home, and put it in his fish tank, where it proceeded to terrorize the other fish. He offered to sell it to Jacob but Christian intervened and suggested we were not paying to help the boy get rid of a fish he wanted to be rid of. Long story short, the fish ended up in a kiddy pool, with an aerator, in the back yard—with an umbrella to shield it from the sun. Christian announced that the fish would return to its fishy home in the Trinity today. That didn’t happen.

But tonight, with storms approaching, Christian said they had to return it because it was inhumane to leave the fish unprotected in the shallow kiddy pool. In storms, fish go to the bottom of the river. So the plan was, with dark approaching, to return it to the river.

The transfer from kiddy pool to cooler for the ride was accomplished, although with some loud voices. But the car is gone, so I presume the fish is headed back to the non-briny depths. I wish him a long and happy life and hope he’s learned some lessons about lures and avoiding them.

Earlier today we went to church for an emotional service during which the congregation said ‘Fare Thee Well’ to a beloved minister who is retiring after more than thirty years. Cyndy Twedell was, I believe, the first woman minister at University Christian Church and a real pioneer in women’s ministry. She was an inspiration to all of us, whether she was leading a mission group in Central America or delivering the eulogy for someone we valued. I turned to her several times for advice and comfort, and always found her spot on. Among her many duties, she led the women’s book club which gave us something in common, though I didn’t often attend..

This morning, the ministerial staff each took a turn thanking Cyndy for her many roles in our church. It was an amazing service. She cried-and I found myself getting teary.

Today is also my oldest grandson’s fifteenth birthday. I foresee a learner’s permit in his future, but for his birthday he wanted some kind of high-powered computer (beyond my comprehension) which he and his father built. He sounded so exited on the phone. The one thing he told me was that it’s really colorful, and he sent a picture that confirmed that. But I still don’t understand why it’s so special. Probably he’ll explain it, and I still won’t understand.

Oops! The breeze just picked up, and I think we are about to get the predicted storms. Jordan just stuck her head in to say, “it’s coming in real strong,” and Sophie has headed for the bedroom. Guess it’s time for me to crawl into bed, pull up the covers, and listen to the storm.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Birthday goes on....and a new bookstore

The birthday goes on…yesterday’s four-hour fishing trip on Lake Lewisville, with a guide, was apparently a raging success. Jordan reports they caught twenty-three fish, and she herself caught four. Quote: Jacob had a blast. Then they went to Jacob’s other grandparents for a Mexican feast and birthday cake.

The fun continued today when Christian took Jacob and a friend to a golf course—haven’t gotten the report on that, but from the picture it looks like a success. I was a bit dismayed that they got a cart—in my day (you know, ancient times), the virtue of golf was that you walked. Okay, I know it was hot today, but then again, I remember Christian telling me fishing is not an aerobic activity. Neither is golf if you ride in a cart.

For me, a lazy Saturday with a good book. I’m reading a novel called Cooking for Picasso. Apparently at some point, during his bitter divorce from Russian ballerina Olga, Picasso went to the south of France and rented a villa. His one wish was to remain anonymous. He ordered his food from a small cafĂ©, and the owner’s teenage daughter, Ondine, was tasked with bringing it to him every day at noon. The relationship that developed is only part of the story, though I haven’t gotten very far into the work.

But it seems that the Ondine/Picasso story, which is probably true, is wrapped in a contemporary story—and mystery—told by Ondine’s granddaughter. So far, I’m enjoying it.

Hooray! Fort Worth has another new independent bookstore. Commonplace Books in the West Bend shopping area had its grand opening today, after three weeks of a successful soft opening. It’s a pop-up store, designed to last a year unless it becomes a raging success and they decide to stay longer. Jordan and I went to explore in the late afternoon. This is not a store where you go for the latest NYTimes bestsellers. The selection of titles is offbeat, sometimes obscure, and always fascinating. Books are not categorized by genre in the usual manner but by categories of the owners’ design—the Intentionalist, the Achiever, the Explorer the Historian, and so on. Jordan found a book that really intrigued her: Around the World in 80 Cocktails. We know people for whom that would be a perfect gift. She also found books that she thought would interest Jacob, and the salesperson talked with us about her younger brother and what he is reading.

A bonus: a lovely dog wanders the store. Agnes is a cross of poodle and Bernese mountain dog, big, gentle, and quite shy. Occasionally she gets frightened and searches for Caitlin, her owner who will be manning the store daily.

I had searched in old purses and other hideaways at home until I found a presentable business card, which I presented when I introduced myself as a local author. My hope is they will be curious enough to google—my web site gives some credibility. Anyone can walk in and say, I’m a local author. Hope they investigate further.

Inner Fort Worth has at least one other indie bookstore—Leaves, which is south of downtown (in the newly trendy South Main area) and sells tea and books. I would like to visit and intend to, but the reviews we have read suggest that the tea offerings get the most attention and the books are secondary.

On the way home, we detoured by Railhead, and I brought home a chopped beef sandwich and cole slaw for my dinner. A Texas treat.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The shipwreck continues….

If it hasn’t been a shipwreck week, it sure has been a week of ups and downs. We began yesterday with a birthday breakfast for Jacob—his dad’s eggs in a tortilla, balloons—and, of course, presents. One happy kid, newly a teenager.

Then Jacob and I continued the celebration by taking my Sophie to the vet for her annual checkup. Amazing to see my spirited, feisty dog so cowed, but the vet’s office really gets to her, even though he did the entire exam, shots and all, sitting on the floor with her. Hats off to Dr John Minnerly of University Animal Hospital. Sophie is healthy but will need her teeth cleaned mid-winter next year—in eight years, she’s never had that done, and Dr. Minnerly said it’s time. I’m spooked about having dogs anesthetized, but I’ve also lost a dog to untreated gum infections, so I understand what I have to do. Sophie also has the beginnings of doggie cataracts—a sign of her middle-age status. Nothing to do except understand she doesn’t see quite as well as she once did. Makes me sad to hear such aging news about her, because I still feel like it was just yesterday that we brought her home as a squiggly, wonderful puppy. Now she’s a middle-aged adult with a fully developed personality of her own—mostly good, but sometimes difficult.

I asked Jacob to go with me, because I can’t drive the car and handle the dog. I suggested he go in, give Sophie to an attendant, and come back to help me. “I can do both at once,” he protested, but I held firm. As it turned out, he was right, and I needed little help—a ramp from the parking spot and an easy, one-step doorway.

Then we went to pick up the shrimp he requested for dinner, with Sophie, now anxious from her trauma, panting and drooling in his lap—the final indignity was when she sneezed all over his leg, and he said disgustedly, “Gross!” when we got home, Sophie was wound tight and absolutely frenetic for about two hours, barking at me for I don’t know what. She had water, turned down a treat, had access to outdoors, but she wanted something I didn’t understand. She finally calmed down enough for a nap.

Jordan and Christian took Jacob and a friend to Top Golf in the afternoon, and Jacob left them all in the shade. Fittingly, he marked his entry into the teen-age years by swinging his golf club in his room and taking out the chandelier.

This morning, someone discovered that Jordan’s car had been broken into during the night. She always locks it, but thinks it must have been unlocked because there was no broken window. The would-be thieves rifled through everything in the car, opening all the glass holders in the ceiling, but the took nothing—just left a mess. Over family protests, I called it into our Neighborhood Police Officer because I know they need to have records of such for their statistics.

Today, the family continued Jacob’s birthday celebration with a four-hour fishing trip, with a guide, on a nearby lake. I’m not sure I expect to see them until tomorrow morning.

Meantime, I had adventures of my own. You know the feeling of accomplishment you get when you do something that worries you? I did that today. Put off installing my new remote keyboard and mouse because I was intimidated. But finally I came o the point that I needed it if I was going to get any work done. And like the trip to the vet, it went so smoothly that I was astounded and grateful.

The rest of my day was odd jobs at the computer and a dinner of leftover steak and mashed potatoes from the birthday dinner, brightened by a happy hour visit from good fiends Phil and Subie green. Looking forward to a weekend with a good book.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Flotsam and jetsam

It’s pretty much been a shipwreck kind of a week. But the high point is Jacob’s birthday—tomorrow, his thirteenth. He turns into a teen. But. he got his “Juju” present early because who can disguise a fishing pole when it comes in a long, skinny box. Yes, he has other poles, but this was a special one that he was excited about. He brought the package out to the cottage to open, and I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t quick enough to grab the phone and capture a picture as he pulled the pole (protected in a fabric sheath) out of the box. The happiness on his face was magical. He took it fishing that day and caught one small fish.

Today he came out to the cottage to ask, “Did I tell you I caught a fish with he pole you got me?” I assured him he had. I am so delighted with his absorption with fishing—it gets him out in the great outdoors and away from TV, iPad, and phone. I haven’t heard a word about “Fortnight” in months. But as Christian pointed out to me, fishing is not an aerobic exercise.

Otherwise it’s been a week of checking things off the to-do bucket list. The pest control people sprayed the back yard with what they assure me is an organic mixture, mostly eucalyptus and rosemary. It’s the remaining ingredients I should have asked about, but the deed is done and supposedly good for ninety days.

Next to check off the lists was the dentist. The hygienist cleaned my teeth and turned to her computer to write up her notes, but her keyboard was dead. She protested she’d just put a battery in it the day before, but it was clearly dead. I came home, booted up my computer—and my keyboard was dead. I called the dentist’s office and asked them to tell Stephanie, the hygienist, that she’s a jinx. Then I ordered a new keyboard. I have no idea what Stephanie did.

Jacob and I went to pick up dog food at the vet’s, with him pointing out one-way streets to me and prodding me to go the second a light turned green. I finally told him I am sure he’ll be a good driver because he’s had so much experience telling me what to do. “It doesn’t seem very complicated,” he replied with assurance.

Tomorrow, before the birthday celebrations begin, he will help me take Sophie to the vet for her annual checkup and then we’ll scoot out to Central Market to pick up groceries for dinner. He’s requested shrimp, mashed potatoes, and asparagus. No cake, though his mother baked one. “We have to have a cake for us,” Christian explained.

A week of storms too. Unexpected, unpredicted rain on Monday, a sprinkle on Tuesday when we were told it would be clear and dry all day, and then a thunder-rumbling storm in the night that had Sophie cuddled as close to me as she could get. Tonight they predicted violent storms with large hail—so far, sunny blue skies.

I’ve gotten a bit of work done, an anonymous mystery synopsis and sample critiqued for a program of Sisters in Crime and a manuscript read and recommendations submitted to an academic press. I missed some blogs because of the keyboard problem, although tonight, knock on wood, I find I can do pretty well on the laptop keyboard. Every once in a while, for no reason, it wipes out whatever I’ve just done. I need to get back to my major work in progress, but I am waiting—and hoping—for inspiration to strike. Perhaps I’ve just let it sit idle for too long.

It’s also been a week of ethnic meals—sushi for lunch at my favorite Japanese place the other day and, tonight, enchiladas at a Mexican place I’ve never been to. I was impressed that when we asked for boxes, the waiter not only boxed our leftovers but brought clean flatware to transfer it. And he worked hard to clean the floor under a table near us where teenagers had made a holy mess with chips.

All in all, an odd week but not really a bad one.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

One man’s happiness

Father’s Day, and I’m sitting at my desk, worrying about all the dads who wanted to spend their day on the golf course. It’s almost as dark as night, and the thunder and rain have been constant all afternoon. When I napped, I had an anxious dog snuggled up next to me.

We went to early church—no wonder I’m sleepy—and afterwards had a delightful brunch, apparently Christian’s favorite meal. Now they have gone to Coppell to see his parents and pick up Jacob who spent the weekend there.

The internet is full of memories of fathers today, and most of them are being described as fun and crazy. Makes me think about my dad. He was never crazy but one of the most disciplined men I ever met. Fun? Only when you were old enough to appreciate his droll humor. Dad was Canadian and very much an Anglophile at heart. He liked order and routine, and Mom gave it to him.

I was his only child (a sister died at six months), though he raised my half-brother. Theirs was not always a meeting of the minds until John was old enough to appreciate Dad’s virtues and approach him as an adult. Dad was, among other things, a stickler for respect and table manners (the British version—I still want to switch my fork from the left, for cutting, to the right for eating—it drove him crazy, as did buttering your bread in the air. And elbows on the table? Never! No hats at the table either—perish the thought.).

But I got to thinking today, as I read about all these joyful fathers, whether or not my father was a happy man, and I concluded he was. Without boasting, I’ll say I know that I made him happy (except for the few major times I disappointed him). He was proud of me, as I was proud of him.

My mom made him happy. She ran what to his mind was the perfect household—meat and potatoes for dinner at six every night, served at a table covered with a white linen tablecloth and linen napkins at every place. Anyone remember napkin rings? And she was a perfect intellectual match for him, being equally as well read. She acceded to his belief that women should not work outside the home, though I think she sometimes longed to. She compensated with volunteer activities.

I think of three happy places for my dad. He, an osteopathic physician, president of an osteopathic college, and administrator of the associated hospital, liked nothing better than to put on old, disreputable clothes and work in his garden. When I was growing up in Chicago, we had a beautiful garden in the empty lot which was part of our property. Dad was equally happy on our annual vacation to the Indiana Dunes, where we had a primitive cottage—no electricity, no indoor plumbing. You had to walk a mile to get to it, carrying your clothes and groceries. But with woods to the back of the cabin and a sweeping view of Lake Michigan to the front, it was a little bit of heaven. Food tasted better, you slept better, and a swim in the lake was the highlight of the day.

Mom and Dad retired to North Carolina, the foothills of the Smokies where they had honeymooned, and Dad once again had a glorious garden. Mom had fresh roses on her dining table every day (the linen cloth had gone the way of all good things). Dad would come in from the garden, shower and put on a fresh shirt, and they’d have a proper British tea, with milk of course, never cream, and always some kind of biscuit.

Today it sounds like an old-fashioned life and maybe even by the sixties and seventies, it was. But looking back, I would say my dad was a happy man. He had professional success, a family he loved, and life that just suited him. Not many of us can say that.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The value of new friends

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.

Throughout my life, I have been blessed with friends, many of whom are still in my life today. Witness the fact that I am still in contact with the girls who grew up next door to me in Chicago—they were part of my life ever since I can remember. And one of the people who understands me better than most? The friend I made in fifth or sixth grade at church—our lives diverged, but we have always been in touch and always value each other. Among my long-term friends, a couple I knew when working on my master’s degree in Missouri—I remember when they married, and they celebrated their fiftieth several years ago. Yes, I am getting old.

But I am not too old to make new friends, and last night a “new” friend came for supper in the cottage. She is a relatively new associate minister at our church, someone I’d met and visited with twice over meals, but not someone I had ever had a long and one-on-one conversation with.

You know, sometimes with old friends and even family there are long silences in your communication, as though you’ve exhausted everything there is to say. It’s not always a bad sign, though I do remember that when my marriage was falling apart, we would go to dinner and have absolutely nothing to say to each other. On a happier note, I see this silence even with my kids—sometimes we’ve said it all, and the bond between us is unspoken.

But new people offer all kinds of conversational opportunity. There’s so much to explore about the other person. Last night’s conversation was a two-way street as I learned about my guest and shared with her some of the milestones of my life. The nice thing is that we were both genuinely interested in learning about each other. We talked of kids and dogs and divorce, of climate change and the disaster in our country. She is a person of boundless energy and, like me, on who thrives on optimism. We may both be Pollyanna crying in the dark, but we believe in the future. We believe that our country will go back to being a democracy, that this dark period is a good learning lesson. We share a deep religious faith though she puts hers to more active use than I do. I have rarely known time to go by so quickly and happily. We talked—and ate and drank wine—for almost three hours.

I had fixed a light summer supper. When I entertain, the food is almost always an experiment, and so it was last night. Okroshka, which I’d never heard of before I found a recipe in the New York Times. A traditional cold summer soup from Russia. There are, of course, variations on the recipe, but I made it with a base of yogurt and buttermilk, diluted with water. I chopped all kinds of things to go in it—potato, scallions, cucumber, radish, cooked chicken, hard-boiled eggs. I worried if I should warn her, ask if she was lactose intolerant—it is, after all, a fairly unusual dish.

My oldest daughter called the night before and asked what I was doing. I said, “Making a soup you wouldn’t like.” When she heard the ingredients—yogurt and buttermilk—she said, “Yewwww.” Megan does not like white things—sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt, goat cheese—though she regrets the latter because she says everyone who eats it loves it. But my soup is not everyone’s cup of soup.

Fortunately it, and the blue cheese salad that accompanied it, were enthusiastically received. I decided to splurge for dessert and bought two pieces of chocolate ganache cake from Central Market. So wrong! One piece was more than enough for both of us. One of the problems with my curbside pickup is that I can’t always tell about size or quantity. These pieces were huge, and Jordan, Christian, and I will share the second piece tonight.

Meantime I am hoping that my new friendship will, like the new wine mentioned above, mellow and refine with age. But may we never run out of things to talk about.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

That “To Do” List

Chipping away at that list of things that need to be done around the house and yard, and that makes me happy. I hate that term “deferred maintenance,” and all that it implies. To me, putting things off means that eventually you have a big mess on your hands that you should have taken care of bit by bit. And it signals to the world you don’t care about your property. So I have this list.

Today the tree men came to remove a large branch that had fallen off a neighbor’s tree but hung directly over our driveway where I park my convertible. Previous similar incidents have taught me, through my insurance company, that if it falls on my property, it’s my responsibility. When it fell the branch landed on another branch and was balanced there—a good wind could have blown it off, and I’m surprised it didn’t crash in that brief but furious windstorm last weekend. While here, the men also removed two large and long dead branches from the oak tree that’s directly out my office window. I was tired of looking at dead branches, and I know that they too were a potential problem waiting to happen.

Watching these two men work as a team was fascinating. They are obviously a team and have learned to watch out for each other. When one man started up a ladder, the other unconsciously moved over to steady the ladder even though he was talking to his boss on the ground. They use a kind of pulley and seat system to pull themselves up to high branches—it must take incredible arm strength. They know how to position a limb so that it does no damage as it falls. Even had to maneuver the one recently fallen branch around what looked like telephone lines or something—not power, I’m sure. The new break was bushy and full; other two branches had been dead long enough that they were bare. Still, they were long and good sized, and it took skill to get them down without mishap. And the men cleaned the driveway perfectly before they left.

Also made an appointment to have the yard sprayed for mosquito control on Monday. It took a lot of phone work to find a company that uses organic spray. Several companies ignored my query; one poohpoohed it saying nobody used organic. Well, you know what? I won’t contribute more toxic sprays to our atmosphere, let alone expose my family and animals to them.  Another promised organic repellent but nothing that would kill the mosquitos and larvae. It had to be renewed every two weeks—I didn’t even ask the cost. I settled on a man who answered his own phone—always a good sign to me. He says the spray they use is mostly eucalyptus and rosemary, but he added, “I have to be honest with you. I wouldn’t want you to drink it. It’s got to kill the mosquitos.” Maybe I should have asked what kills them and what percentage of the spray it is, but I didn’t. He was also honest about the time a treatment will last and its efficacy—90 days on average, 90 per cent effective. “But if you have a creek or your neighbor has a bad infestation, you’re going to see some bugs.” I proceeded on faith—hope it wasn’t misplaced.

And tomorrow, Jacob and I will check Sophie’s annual checkup off my list. Do you ever sit in your doctor’s waiting room worrying that he or she will find some hidden problem you’re not aware of? I don’t think that worry carries over to dogs—Sophie seems perfectly healthy to me, but she needs her shots.

Dinner tonight with Betty at Chadra. Jacob declined to go with us but requested we bring home meatballs and spaghetti. We had penne a la vodka, which has no vodka in it but was rich with tomato sauce, spinach, and mushrooms—so good. By the time we left, we had to-go orders for Betty’s husband Don (spaghetti with meat sauce) and for Jacob (spaghetti with meatballs), salads for each, garlic knots for each, plus a small container each of the penne we couldn’t eat. And our leftover garlic knots—Betty loves them and simply cannot let any go to waste. I had to carefully package our take-home foods so each of us got the right one. Jacob would have been devastated if he got meat sauce instead of meatballs—it doesn’t take much for devastation when you’re thirteen.

Can you believe I came home and ate a half a piece of pecan pie that Mary brought last night? Color me gluttonous. Now I need a nap.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Feeling old

You know the feeling you get when someone you remember as a youngster is suddenly in middle age? I’ve been having that a lot lately. A man I remember as a kid in footed pajamas wrote me, and in the course of our correspondence, I found out he’s now sixty-one! And today a girl who babysat my kids when she was in high school came to visit.

Kathy brought her younger sister, Tracy. Both girls were at our house a lot when they were young, and I was at theirs. Their mom was a good friend of mine, and Kathy became a regular babysitter. I think now both are in their fifties—how did that happen? We had a great visit, reliving old times, catching up on our lives, their family, my kids. Kathy and her mom and husband have lived in the Denver area for years, but we’ve kept in touch, mostly through Facebook. Their mom is a terrific cook, and over the years I’ve gotten lots of great recipes from her.

It was a sociability day for me. Started early with the Book Ladies monthly breakfast, which I always enjoy. One of the women had on a striking dress—loose, plain, but classy, and we all commented on it. Turns out she saw a dress she liked in a store, went home and got tape measure and whatever else she needed, went back and took the dress to a dressing room, laid it out flat, and measured to make her own pattern. We were all in awe of such talent. They may call themselves Book Ladies, but the conversation ranges far and wide. I’ve probably been meeting with this group for thirty years, but far as I can tell there’s only one other original member. Over the years people have come and gone.

After breakfast, Jacob and I ran a couple of errands. It’s much easier for me to run errands with him along as he can get the walker in and out of the car with more ease and can carry things. Today we took three different things to a pack-and-mail station (one of them something Jacob ordered by mistake) and went to the hardware for a nozzle and watering can his mom has been wanting. Made me feel good because I love to check things off my to-do list, and these days that list is long. Tomorrow I’ll chip away at the list by making follow-up calls to people I haven’t had a response from.

And tonight was regular happy hour with Mary who generously brought leftovers from a dinner party she had—maple-mustard salmon, pulled pork, parmesan crisps, two kinds of pie, and cream puffs. Happy hour was dinner—and delicious

But I didn’t get much work done today, and I can feel it piling up on me. Tomorrow’s assignment to myself—some background reading for a sidebar on native tribes in Texas. Good thing I really like that kind of stuff.

Monday, June 10, 2019

A bit of excitement for the day--and the plots of possible novels

            Jacob called a little before noon.  “Lock your doors,” he said breathlessly. “The police are driving up and down our street looking for someone.” It seems he and his mother were outside when a policeman drove up and told them to go into the house and lock the doors. I did as I was told.

Thereafter, for almost three hours, we got bits and snippets. I couldn’t see the police from the cottage, but I certainly could hear multiple helicopters overhead. Jordan reported that police presence on the street was heavy. The neighborhood email listserv came alive with this bit of information and that. Put altogether, it revealed that a mental patient wearing a floral shirt and possibly armed had escaped from Baylor Scott & White Hospital, perhaps half a mile north of us. Police were concentrating their search around the hospital, but then I heard of a heavy convergence of helicopters and police cars in the southwest corner of our neighborhood.

Jacob came out to the cottage, again breathless, to report police were still everywhere, and he thought he saw the man riding a bicycle. He protested it looked like him, even if the clothing was different. He warned me that Sophie could not go out. She looked at him in despair. Police were discouraging pedestrian travel, so Jordan drove a woman, a stranger, to the Old Neighborhood Grill. Then she urged our neighbor, who was outside sweeping her walks, to go in the house. So proud of my daughter.

About 2:45 I texted Jordan to say I was going to take a nap, and she said it apparently was all clear. Police had left the neighborhood; the helicopters were gone. But there was no official word. Tonight I watched the local news but there was no mention. What became a big deal for our neighborhood was not such to the city at large apparently.

Note to the Fort Worth Police Department: I know it’s difficult and in a crisis,  you have many demands on your time and services, but a public relations announcement to neighborhood listservs would help keep neighbors informed and safe. And you could let them know when the all clear sounded—and maybe what happened. Even a truck with a loudspeaker might be useful—the water department does that, so why not the police?

Tonight we did find out it was not (necessarily) a mental patient (who knows for sure?) but a domestic dispute, apparently in the hospital. The guy was armed or so they think, and the girl screamed for security. He was last seen walking away from the hospital. Hours later he still had not been apprehended. Thanks to our neighborhood police officer (NPO) for the update

I can sure see at least the subplot of a cozy novel in this incident—maybe Kelly O’Connell to the rescue in my Fairmount series.

In the midst of the search, I turned on the TV hoping there was an update on our local bad guy. No such, but I got extended “special report” coverage of the helicopter crash on a skyscraper in Manhattan. A horrifying accident that for many of us, even those not in the city, brought back 9/11. Planes crashing into buildings, buildings on fire. Fortunately tonight there seems to be agreement that this was a tragic accident, involving a seasoned pilot but not terrorism. Still, imagine the fright of the people in the building as they were evacuated and, like 9/11, not allowed to use elevators to go down fifty-four floors.

In this accident, I see the makings of an espionage novel—not my cup of tea, but someone could sure run with it.

And, hey, I’m still gonna lock my doors tonight.