Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Home again

Got home about 2 p.m. on Tuesday. When I left for this long visit, I thought I'd be itching to get back by the time Jordan got there, but I wasn't at all. I was reluctant. I didn't want to face my responsibilities, especially the in-depth report I have to write about the press. I wanted to stay and play with Morgan and Kegan, read, eat Lisa's delicious meals, and sleep in that comfortable bed. But now I'm home, have been to Central Market (my goodness, when did ham get so expensive!), and am settled at my desk. I'm gradually putting away this and that from Christmas but will leave the house decorated until after tomorrow.

My last day in Houston ended with a bang--a trip to the Houston Zoo, where Colin and Lisa are members so that they can take the children often. This picture is probably one of my favorites of the whole trip. Kegan wanted to hold my hand, but he also wanted to catch up with the "big" kids and tried to urge me ahead--I figured we were already going at top speed for either of us.
I've gotten out my notes on the report I have to write, answered all the Christmas mail, unpacked the suitcase and--ooops! forgot to start the washer. Yep, I'm home, but I truly hope to take the relaxation of Houston into the New Year with me. May you all have a happy, blessed, and stress-free 2009.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A rainy Sundaya turns hectic

Rainy and cold this morning. I foresaw a quiet day at home but Colin wanted to go to Target and I wanted to go to Barnes & Noble, so we set off, leaving Lisa behind with the children. Had to sit in the mall for 15 minutes, waiting for B&N to open and had a good visit,
but we got our errands done--including a cursory examination of the new touch Blackberry. Jordan made terrific time down from Fort Worth and was here about 12:30.

Still thinking it was a quiet rainy day, I went up for a nap after lunch--and came down to pandemonium. Lisa's sister-in-law, Kristi, had brought her four-year-old nephew and twin 17-month nieces to join the fray. We had five adults and six kids, and everyone was constantly counting children's heads to make sure we had them all in sight. Colin had made two gingerbread houses and turned the kids loose to decorate--I fear more candy was consumed than went on the cakes. We had supper, and about 7:15 Kristi suddenly realized the time and that her nieces should have been in bed at 7 p.m. so they left in a flurry. We're trying a big experiment--Morgan has been sleeping on a pallet in the living room, and tonight we're going to see if Jacob will sleep next to her--he's still used to a pack-and-play when he travels. The picture above shows Aunt Lisa trying to quiet them down. Colin is being rather stern about "Get back on your pallets." Don't know if this will work or not. Jacob kept proclaiming he wanted to go home NOW.
I'm savoring the end of a lovely vacation but have that sense of returning to routine and wondering if I can take the relaxation and mellow mood with me. Meantime I'm get lots of hugs and kisses--and some "No!" retorts!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another day, another "Juju" trip

Today, we went to Old Town Spring--Spring being a town slightly north and west of Kingwood where the kids live. It's one of those rejuvenated old areas turned into a tourist attraction--lots of kitsch, boutiques, sweet shoppes, small cafes, and the like. It reminds one of Kemah, or Manitou Springs in Colorado, Old Town in Albuquerque, or even, with a different flavor, Fort Worth's Stockyards area. We ate a delicious lunch in Ellen's Cafe (where the specialty is home-made ice cream), the kids found a two-story ramp that they ran up and down, and we shopped a bit. Visited an amazing doll hospital, the Spring Historical Museum where they really have some interesting artifacts--a small, apparently volunteer project, it's quality for its size. And then we visited the public restroom several times. In spite of a drizzle, the area was full of tourists. We ended our outing back at Ellen's eating ice cream cones on the porch. On the way home the drizzle turned to a violent downpour, the kind you hate to drive in, though Colin did admirably.
Jordan and Jacob arrive tomorrow, so its dawned on me that my vacation is drawing to a close. In recognition, I took an extra long nap. But I'd felt that today anyway. For a week now, I've been "Juju," a grandmother, and today, the first thoughts of the office crept it. I began a list of things to be done when I get home. I thought of something I should write tonight. The week away has done me good, but I guess I'm no good at staying away too long.
I'm barely into the P. D. James novel, The Private Patient, but already I'm intrigued by technique. She opens the novel focusing on the intended murder victim, so for the first 60 pages or so, the reader sees things through her eyes. She's not a particularly likeable or warm woman--scarred by the scar she carries on her cheek, a woman who keeps herself remote from others. Perhpas that's so that we don't abandon the book when she's murdered. But I still think it's a bit unusual to spend so much time developing the characters of the intended victim--a technique perhaps that would only work in the hands of a masterful writer like James.
Excuse me, I've got to go. The children are "helping" put up new shelves in the playroom and the opening of the Olympics, the TV "Event of the Year," is being replayed.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

We did no boxing today, having thrown all the boxes away yesterday, but we treated the day like a holiday. Lisa and Colin did a Juju outing and dragged the kids to two places I wanted to go: Kenny & Ziggy's deli and Booked for Murder. I was so determined to eat ethnic food at the deli that I ordered a latke, which we shared, and chopped liver, thinking to compare it to what I usually get--I know, I know, I have to give it up. And today's serving was so big and rich that I am now through with it for a long time, definitely a good thing. But afterward, I wished I'd ordered one of their supersandwiches, like pastrami and tongue with Russian dressing. Just reading the menu is sheer delight for me.
Booked for Murder is one of the country's best murder bookstores. One of our authors suggested I go there, and I'd forgotten it but went happily, especially when I found out that all used books were 50% discounted. I got two hardbacks and two paperbacks for $11, not that I needed more reading material. Lesson learned: I bought a Phyllis Whitney novel, set in Norway--Whitney because I used to love reading her books, Norway because Lisa's mom grew up there, Lisa has visited often, and she's interested in cozies--so I thought this the perfect match. I'd read the book by Tuesday and leave it for her. Problem is the novel was written in 1972 and try as I might this afternoon, I couldn't get into it. It was too introspective, giving me all the troubles I often have with British cozies. I guess style in cozies changes--and then there's that age-old question of what authors' works will be read a hundred years from now--I don't guess Whiteny will make that cut. I gave up. I've started the newest P. D. James--it always takes me a while to get into her works too, but Mary Lu assures me it's such a wonderful book I should persevere--and besides, as Mary Lu says and I agree, she writes beautifully. Except I've already wished for a dictionary a couple of times.
I had given Lisa two books for Christmas--a Margaret Truman and a Diane Mott Davidson. Tonight we decided she should start with the Truman. All is quiet--I think the household is suffering from the "day after Christmas" letdown. Kegan slept in the car while we were out and about and so didn't get his good nap; Morgan "rested" briefly, ran and played, and then fell sound asleep on the couch for two hours. Now both are down, Colin's asleep, and Lisa and I are at our computers but ready to go to sleep.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Number Two

The Alters and Griesbachs ate Christmas dinner in their pajamas. When I think back to my childhood and the formal dinners--Dad in a starched white shirt, ceremonioiusly carving the turkey at the table, I know he is twirling in his grave. But we were all cooking and working in the kitchen and saw no reason to change into "good" clothes. So we happily ate in our pjs--and won't get out of them all day. Dinner was delicious. Instead of brining the turkey, we salted it last night with a lot of kosher salt, a variety of herbs, and some grated lemon peel. The gravy, made with shallots and white wine plus turkey drippings and canned broth, was delicious--and plentiful. I hate running out of gravy! Everything else was great, and we--being the grandparents--and cleaned the kitchen fairly quickly. Then everyone watched mesmerized as Lisa tried out the new WiiFit exerciser. Getting yourself established in it is a complicated program, but she did it and found her weight and body mass index were right on target. Offered a chance to try, I declined. I'll stick to my yoga. The directions to this suggest doing yoga on it. Now why would I want to do yoga on a balance board when I sometimes have enough trouble keeping my balance on a mat on the floor?
Now Lisa's parents, John and Torhild, have headed for Sugar Land--far south Houston--and the kids are playing. I thought both Colin and Kegan were down and out for the count (see picture above) but they both have revived.
I hope everyone had as blessed and happy a Christmas as we did. There's nothing like family.

Christmas Day

I kind of quit my Christmas Eve post in the middle and never got back to it, but Brandon told me this morning they were reading my blog to keep up with us, so this is for family and friends who want to know about Christmas in the Kingwood Alter household. I hope the others will reciprocate with pictures and emails.
This morning the children slept till almost 7:30--unprecedented in a household where they get up at five. When I wandered down about 7:15, thinking I had missed it all, Colin and Lisa were pacing the floor in anticipation--and disappointed that it was just me.
We had a traditional Alter Christmas--gifts from Santa and stockings opened, then a big breakfast, and only then opening gifts. Others who have married into the clan rebel at this tradition--B., I can hear you gritting your teeth. We had a chili releno casserole, a rich and very fattening but oh so good potato casserole, and bacon, orange juice and much coffee. Then came gifts, the highlight of which was a box of excelsior Colin gave to Morgan with a coupon saying her mother would clean it up. Morgan threw excelsior into the air by the handsful (Mel, I hope you read this spelling) and an excelsior fight ensued. We did all pitch in to clean it up. We opened gifts until the kids' eyes glazed over and then put a stack of children's presents aside to be opened later. Now we're getting ready to fix a traditional dinner--turkey, ham, green bean casserole, corn, stuffing, etc.
Morgan, just four months into being a three-year-old, is at the perfect age for Christmas, all agog about all of it. Last night she tried to rush me to bed, explaining she had heard Santa's sleigh nearby and he wouldn't come if I was sitting in the living room reading. I promised to hurry on to bed. This morning she was excited by everything, her eyes glowing--her daddy sent her on a treasure hunt to find the pink scooter she had wanted so badly, and she was even allowed to eat candy before breakfast. A great day.
Maybe more later--check back.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve and all the preparations

Christmas Eve and all the preparations are undeer way, including the making, from scratch, of a gingerbread house. Morgan wants to sleep on the couch, but she can't stay in the living room, because after all, Santa will be coming. Still to be baked, the Krispie Orange cookies that are Colin's favorite and what must be always laid out for Santa.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Relaxing with the holidays

In thinking about going to Houston, I was prepared to devote time to getting back to my mystery, but it hasn't happened--and I can see the holidays sliding by without it happening. My fellow members in Sisters in Crime would accuse me of not being dedicated enough, but . . . . Yesterday Lisa and I did what must have been at least two hours at SuperTarget, going from one end of the store to the other. I didn't have on good shoes for all that walking, even with arch supports, and today my right foot is paying the penalty. We also ran a couple of other errands, and in the afternoon went to Colin's office party--which was for children and adults both. In the evening, we looked at really elaborate hristmas lights.
This morning Lisa has gone to get a haircut. I slept until almost 8:30 and "putzed" around, reading email, eating breakfast, etc., and finally got my bed made and got dressed. It's not too cold but rainy, and I don't care if I stay indoors all day. I have good books to read. Tonight Colin says we're going to look at more lights.
Two interesting things tell me I'm really relaxed. My balance and self-confidence are so much better. I don't have to be sure I'm right next to somebody, and I negotiate parking lots and curbs better than usual--still need a hand on some curbs, but . . . .
Know that dream we all have about being enrolled in classes and when it's time for finals we discover we have been attending? I may have put it to rest last night, because in my dream I went to the faculty--it was my former professor and now colleague, Bob Frye, and said, "Look, we all know this is silly. I don't need an undergraduate degree. I have a Ph.D. and I'm seventy years old. I was just doing it because I liked the people I was running around with. I don't need paleontology 101 or first year French." They agreed, though one person suggeseted it was frivolous of me. I thought if I didn't have classes I could sleep late every morning (see how I'm enjoying not having to get up?) but then I realized I'd have to go back to my office, which I'd neglected all semester. When I went back, new people had taken over--a fund-raiser had appropriated my office and my personnel had all changed. I didn't know if there was room for me or not (oops! insecurities arising from another quarter!). It was all very interesting--but I'm curious now if the finals dream will return.
Morgan and Kegan are at daycare, and the house is quiet. I'm going to read before we get caught up in a round of cooking and errands.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Safely in Houston

Today I rode to Houston with people I didn't know--the driver works with Jordan and was a delightful young woman. She and family (two cars caravaned) were headed for Galveston and a cruise to Mexico. They were kind enough to bring me as far as Spring (north of Houston) where by pre-arrangement Colin met us at a Coney Island restaurant. So here I am settled in with two grandchildren who didn't take as long to remember me as I was afraid they would. It will be a busy week--cooking, shopping, Colin's office party (children and grandparents invited apparently). But it will also be a lazy week of reading and napping. And somehow I intend to get back to my mystery. But for ten days, I'm going to think as little as I can about my office.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I'm not a graceful traveler. My horoscope sign is Cancer, and that means I'm a homebody. But I certainly don't want to be home alone on Christmas, so this year I'm going to Houston to be with Colin and his family. It will be a great chance to get to know Morgan (3) and Kegan (1-1/2) better--usually when we meet, it's among throngs of family. I'm leaving in the morning, at 9 a.m., riding with one of Jordan's colleagues who is going to Galveston for a cruise. Jordan said they could just let me out on I-45, which gave me visions of being shoved out the door of a car. Then Lisa said to tell them to take me to I-45 and 1960, but I complained I did not want to be left at an intersection--I wanted a McDonald's or something, a Stop 'n Go, some definite place. So they came up with a hot dog place--the name is in my purse--and Lisa said Colin will no doubt want to eat there. But, per orders from Jordan, I am taking a sandwich in the car--and some cookies.
I have spent today doing all those last-minute things you do when you're about to turn your house over to someone else for ten days--laundry, watering plants, dishwasher, cleaning the cat box thoroughly, sorting out what to give Jordan from the fridge. A former student will stay here Sunday and Monday since it will be very cold and Scooby can't stay outside; then Sue will take over. Her parents arrive Tuesday, so it works well for her to sleep either in the main house or in the apt.--her choice, unless it gets bitterly cold again. I told her she might find it more trouble to sleep with my animals than in a crowded small house with her parents and kids.
Tonight Jacob is spending the night. We had a jolly evening--periods of watching a DVD followed by periods of play and conversation I didn't quite get all of. Just now, at my desk, I heard this other-worldly voice calling, "Juju, Juju." I looked out the window, even went to the door, wondering if Sue's kids were out there. But Scooby didn't bark, and then of course I realized it was Jacob on the monitor. So I went in and loved him and told him he'd have a good sleep and Mommy and Daddy would come in the morning. He said, "Okay" and appeared to settle down. Earlier we watched a movie about "Do Claus" (Santa) and he commented on the "shew lights"--Christmas lights. Jacob is nothing if not imaginative.
I'm going to write some Christmas thank-you notes and go to sleep early. It will be a hectic morning, trying to juggle Jacob and last-minute packing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More 'tis the season

Well, I have had two days filled with Christmas and enjoyed them thoroughly. Yesterday I had lunch with my good friend Jean, and we exchanged gifts--of course, we knew we had each gotten the other the same thing--a ceritifcate for flowers of the month at a local florist. And we had a laughingly happy lunch. Then Mary Lu came by--I had given her the same certificate, but she brought me the most elaborate measuring spoons. Embossed with Laugh, Love, Live on the back and a rooster in the bowl of each spoon. I don't know how she finds such unusual gifts, but she always does.
I fixed supper for Jeannie and Betty last night, and we exchanged gifts. We've gotten into the habit of two of us buying a gift for the third--my gift was two more Reidel O glasses (they had given me four for my birthday) plus Terry Thompson-Anderson's new book, The Texas Hill Country: A Food and Wine Lover's Paradise, which I had made plain I wanted. Now I think the three of us need to explore the Hill Country.
Today we had a TCU Press "staff luncheon." Jim Lee had a gift certificate to Cafe Aspen which was, he declared, burning a hole in his brief case, so he treated us. It's what I have always considered my family restaurant--Jamie worked there forever, and Jordan and Colin both briefly. Wonderful lunch, another gift exchange, and lots of laughter.
In the afternoon, my brother and Cindy came by--a truly rare event, because they never tell me when they're in town, and I know John doesn't like to linger. But we traded Christmas presents--he did NOT want to open them until Christmas--and sat and talked for over a half hour. I considered it a loving, brotherly gesture on his part and was delighted to see them.
Then this evening Sue came over to talk about keeping the house and animals, and Jay wandered in to drink a beer--he says if you leave cheap beer in my refrigerator, you can be sure no one else will drink it. So we had another good visit. Tonight I am filled with the happy sense of how many friends I have and how many people to share the holidays spirit with. It's a very good feeling.
Tomorrow is my last day at work for two weeks. I am truly looking forward to being away, though I have a major report to write by February 1. I think tomorrow morning I'll collect info for it, bring it all home, and work on it late in my vacation--but not in Houston.
I am going to spend the holidays with Colin and his family. Since it is supposed to be 20 Sunday night, I am delighted that I have found people to stay in the house and bring Scooby in at night. I'm looking forward to time with three-year-old Morgan and Kegan, 1-1/2 years--and their parents.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Cold Evening--and Jacob

Today was North Texas in winter--in the 20s when I went to work, thinking only of how quickly I could come home and hibernate. When I left the office at noon, it was 29. Maybe hit 32 for a high. Tomorrow is supposed to be better, and by Saturday and Sunday we'll be at 70. Then back to the upper 30s Sunday when I'm going to Houston and in a dither whether to take winter or fall clothes. Houston is a lot south, but I've been there at Christmas when it snowed.
Jacob brought warmth to the house tonight. His parents had a party to attend, and he and I spent the evening together in great good spirits. He ate his pbj and applesauce and watched a DVD for a while but then he wanted to wander all over the house, which meant I wandered with him. He went with me to the bathroom, and applauded "Yeah, Juju" when I used the potty--obviously we're into toilet training here. And once when I tried to lure him back to the playroom I promised to show him the lights on "B's" house (B being his name for Jay, my handsome neighbor). He saw the lights, and then he saw Jay in his kitchen and kept rapping on the window. Needless to say, Jay didn't hear and didn't respond. By 8:30, he was back on the daybed, watching his DVD. But he came to life again when his folks arrived about 9:30. Christian, carrying Jacob and a huge bag of Jacob's clothes, Jordan's clothes, and who knows what else, got stuck between a chair and the couch, and I couldn't figure out why he couldn't move. All three adults got the uncontrollable giggles--okay, you had to be there to see it.
So now I'm settled at my desk and reading the first Rhys Bowen novel I've ever read--her characters are delightful, and I'm liking it a lot. I feel the winding down for the holidays--have cleared my office desk of major projects (except a complicated report that has to be written, maybe over Christmas break) and have nothing pressing on my personal desk. It's both a good and an uneasy feeling.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another good day

North Texas was like early fall today--up into the upper 70s, sunny and gorgeous. Tonight the temperature is to drop and tomorrow the forecast high is 39 with rain. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute and it will change. Mid-60s by Wednesday. Meantime I have gotten out warm fuzzies for tomorrow.
This morning I went to early church--8:45--something I maybe have done once or twice before. But today, my good friends Jean Walbridge and Jim Clark joined the church, and Jeannie and I were there as their cheering team. I haven't, as I've mentioned, been going to church, and it was good to be there--I always enjoy the ritual, the music, and today I enjoyed the sermon. The church at 8:30 is a far different place than it is at 10:45, and I was astounded--no traffic on the streets, empty places close up in the parking lot but no valet, no people in the halls on the way to the sanctuary--or at least very few. Still there was a fairly big crowd at the service. I didn't find it so hard to get up at 7 and be ready to leave at 8:30--still read the paper and had my breakfast. What I did find funny was that at 10 when I got home, I was hungry. Usually when I get home from church it's lunch time. So I said what the heck and ate the half leftover gorgonzola burger I had in the fridge while finishing the newspaper. Jean and Jim were warmly welcomed into the church, and I was really glad I had gone.
The sermon took its theme from "Jubilee," the Hebrew celebration every 50 years where fields lie fallow, land is returned to the original owners, and the enslaved are freed. Congregation Beth El, the local reformed Jewish temple, sent a representative with a shofar, the ram's horn symbolic of the ram that was sacrificed in place of Abraham's son. I thought it interesting that they sent a woman, for I think of Judaism still as a religion where men predominate. But this was a lovely attractive woman who wore a shawl I wanted to rip right off her and steal. She blew the shofar and reminded me I'd forgotten how shrill the sound is. When I was young my parents went to a church in a "changing" neighborhood, far from where my friends attended. But Dad had attended St. James since the 1920s, and he wasn't about to change. I went to the United Church of Hyde Park (Congregational and Presbyterian) and next door was a small orthodox Jewish temple. The grandmother of my good friend Eleanor Lee lived on the other side of the temple, so one way or another, I heard the shofar quite a bit. So hearing it this morning was a bit of nostalgia for me.
The rest of the day was spent mostly proofreading--and I finished the project this evening, though there are problems I have to work out tomorrow. I put a pot roast on about noon and added potatoes just before I napped about two; when I went to add carrots in the late afternoon, I feared I had let it cook too long. But Jordan, Christian, and I agreed it was delicious--I really would prefer just to do the potatoes and carrots and forget the meat. The cooking liquid is a can of mushroom soup, a pkg. of Lipton's beefy onion soup, and a half cup of red wine--makes delicious gravy.
Jacob had been sick last night, slept way too late and long this afternoon, and couldn't decide if he was happy (sometimes) or whiney (sometimes). I commented that the whiney doesn't happen much if at all when he's here with me alone. But we gave him his Christmas present from me--an Elmo sleeping bag. He was much excited by Elmo but didn't get the sleeping bag idea at all. Jordan says we'll take it to Houston and maybe Morgan will show him. Nonetheless he gave me a sweet kiss and hug and left with, "Thank you, Juju." He talks about "Do Claus" and cannot be persuaded to say Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A pleasant day

What I thought would be a long empty day--because of my cancelled trip--turned out to be very pleasant. I slept late--8:30!--and was just settling down with the paper when Carol Roark called. She had voluntarily run a signing party at the Dallas Public Library (she is curator of the Texas Collection) for Fran Vick's Literary Dallas. Carol rounded up contributors and cajoled someone at the library into contributing sandwiches (it was lunchtime)--Buy a book, get a sandwich. They sold 35 books, which is really good. Now Carol wanted to bring back leftover books and settle up checks, charge slips, and money. And did I want to go to lunch? So I went to the grocery, came home and did some chores, and Carol picked me up. We got several other small pieces of business accomplished at my office and had a cheering lunch at Carshon's Deli (I have got to stop eating chopped liver--so good and so bad for you!). I've spent most of the rest of the day proofreading and making good progress. Of course, there was a long nap and leftover spaghetti from the place down the street for dinner. Chadra is a Lebanese/Italian restaurant (odd combination to me) but I love their meat sauce--good, old-fashioned, full of tomatoes, and not too spicy.
Proofreading is hard for me. Melinda says it's because I'm creative and not mechanical (right brain or left? I never can remember), but I'm trying hard. These proofs are of a novel by a good friend, and he was not happy with some of the edits, so I'm trying to get it just right for him. He's a seasoned writer with his own very deliberate style and having worked with him on several projects, I understand that style and what he's doing. But that doesn't mean I can't miss typos, etc., while I'm protecting his style. Fortunately it's been read in final mss. by a professional proof reader and will be read again just before it goes to the printer. Meantime I'm enjoying doing it.
It's a Wonderful Life is on TV and I'm keeping it on, muted, just so I can look up every once in a while and see Jimmy Stewart. I don't really need sound at this point--I pretty much know where the story is going.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A cancelled trip

Well, bummer. I was half packed to go to Frisco tomorrow for Christmas with Jamie, Mel and the girls. Jordan and Christian are going to celebrate their anniversary in Dallas, and I would ride back and forth with them, though there was a lot of controversy about where and when Jamie would have to pick me up and drop me off. He is frantically busy and finally called tonight to say, "This just isn't going to work." Maddie has a basketball game in the morning, Edie has a b'day party in the evening, he's still trying to get out of his old office and into the new one, the girls are asking him about putting up their tree, and he sounds like a pressure cooker, so I perfectly understand. But, yes, I'm disappointed. I don't guess I'll get the girls' Christmas presents to them before Christmas, and that's a disappointment. I called Jordan to tell her the wouldn't have to worry about me tomorrow. She called back in five minutes and asked if I wanted to go bar hopping with them--just kidding. But she said they would like to come for Sunday supper. A sweet, sweet gesture to make up for my disappointment, and I am grateful. My good friends, Jean Walbridge and Jim Clark, will join my church on Sunday, so now I can be there for them which is also a bonus. And I have page proofs of a novel to read, so I'll be busy. I decided tonight to leave unpacking the suitcase, washing up the final dinner pan, and all that until tomorrow when I'll have a lazy, lazy day.
Tonight I had a holiday supper for Mary Lu and Charles so that I could give them both their gifts. Fixed a sort of elaborate version of beets and greens and Dover sole, with orange dill gremolata. They both taught at the original Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (now the UNT Health Science Center) where there is now a move afoot to grant the MD degree as well as the DO, so that gave us plenty of fodder for discussion. I am a child of osteopathic medicine--father, brother, ex-husband, countless uncles and quite a few cousins plus for years I worked in osteopathic colleges doing secretarial and pr work. It's a hard thing for all of us to hear, but tonight just before they came one of my former physicians who remains a friend (and who reads this blog) called to talk about it, and he said the most important thing to me: Fort Worth and Texas have to decide if they want to have the premiere osteopathic college in the country, producing fine family physicians who are desperately needed in Texas and elsewhere or an MD school producing specialists. In my mind I add a second-tier MD school, although I'm sure that's not what the current president believes. It made me think of TCU Press--I know we're never going to rival Oxford or Chicago or some of the other major presses, so I've worked to develop us into a big splash in a little pond and to develop areas of specialization where we can be outstanding. I think that's what UNTHSC should do. It will be interesting to watch this work out.
So here I am with a lazy weekend. I hope to make the laziest possible use of it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dogs, food, and I don't know what else

Jeannie sent me an email early this morning (or late last night) forwarding a message that there was a year-old Australian Shepherd male at the local PetSmart, sweet and responsive (aren't they all?), and about to be euthanized if he didn't find a home in a week. I did note it didn't mention manners, training, or housebreaking, and I don't think PetSmart euthanizes but I guess they keep dogs for the Humane Society or something. Anyway I called a friend who has talked about getting another dog and got voice mail, which she never answers; I emailed Colin and got no reply; I emailed the DFW Aussie Rescue Group and got no reply. Finally tonight, I called the store--they didn't know a thing about such a dog, though the guy I talked to didn't sound particularly sharp--asked me if an Aussie was a cat. I swear if I thought the dog was still out there and if I wasn't getting ready to be gone for ten days, I'd have gotten him myself and then worried about how Scooby would feel about a companion. Actually I think he'd like the company--he is happy when his "cousin" Mozby, Jamie's chocolate lab, comes to visit, though Mozby, much younger, lets Scoob be the alpha dog, something I can't imagine since Scooby is so sweet and sort of mild.
Speaking of emails, I guess the flood from that contest I foolishly entered is over--the deadline was 4 p.m. Pacific Time today, which has now passed. Best I can figure from the agent's blog, he got over 1400 responses--and I got every last one of them. One good thing: I learned how to delete permanently from the inbox without having to go to the deleted items box and delete all over again. You hold down the shift key when you hit delete. Everyone one in the world probably knows this except me. Jeannie had tried to tell me once, and I thought it had something to do with clicking twice, which only opened the offending email. Got an email today about a company I'd never heard of that didn't want query letters, only first chapters. I decided I'd had enough of that kind of thing and held the shift key while I deleted.
I overserved myself today. Had lunch with friends at a place where I can't resist the gorgonzola burger, although I almost never eat a burger--ate half, but the big sin was I ate a bunch of waffle fries with ketchup. I know better than that. Took the other half of the burger with me and of course left it in the office fridge. A weekend lunch though. Tonight Betty and I went down the street to Chadra. She had chicken in a vodka sauce--it did look lovely and she raved over it. I had spaghetti with meat sauce--I love their red sauce and, contrary to some places, they're generous with it. So I brought over half of it home for another weekend
Rushed into work early this morning because I had so much to do. Found I'd already done one of the big projects--getting estimates on a book, communicating with the editorial board for approval, and drawing up a contract. So that put me ahead of the game, and I finished the other big project by ten, managed to collate the corrections on a manuscript so Melinda could get it off to the designer. Went to lunch fairly early and came back for the meeting, which was about a project that looks very promising. A productive day.
Now I'm going to finish that mystery!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I said last night this blog had veered away from its origins--writing, cooking, and grandchildren (well, not the latter). Tonight it's purely cooking, and its bragging on myself. It was one of those days that I didn't know what I wanted--nothing struck me as right. So when I came home I defrosted two boneless chicken thighs and decided I'd figure what to do with them later. About six, I snapped some green beans and put them on to steam, and then looked at the chicken, remembered I had a recipe Jordan and I had liked. Got it out and it called for browning, making a sauce and reducing it, and then roasting for 45 minutes. Sorry, it was six and I wanted my supper. So I pounded the thighs flat, floured them, browned them, and took them out of the skillet. Added some garlic to brown, then some chardonnay--not quite half a cup--and cooked it down a bit, added a half cup chicken broth, a bay leaf, and some thyme, and simmer the whole thing util it thickened. Put the chicken back in to warm, rewarmed a few of the beans with butter and salt, and had the most delicious dinner. I was tempted to lick the pan that sauce was so good--okay, when I got it back in the kitchen, I really did lick it. And I have one thigh left for when I eat lunch at home Friday.
I've been eating out more than usual this week--lunch Tuesday with a colleague and friend, breakfast today with an author from Arizona, lunch with an old friend from TCU administration, lunch and dinner out tomorrow. Tis the season.
Tis also the season when I feel things piling up but don't know what to do in advance--can't pack now for a trip ten days from now. Can't eve pack tonight for my one-night visit to Frisco this weekend. Packages are all wrapped, and I'm figuring about getting them to people. Can't get serious about writing with the holidays looming. So I guess I'll read. Am in the midst of Carolyn Hart's Death of the Party and enjoying it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cold weather, a writing story, and thanks

When North Texas turns cold, it can be really bitter. Today the predicted high was something like 63, but that was early in the morning. By 9:30, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and by 4:00 p.m. I hated to go outside to take care of the dog and take my garbage carts to the street. Tonight I'm glad to be cozily inside. Tomorrow's high is to be 46, and I'm debating what the warmest clothes I own are. Today it was the wind that did us in and made it feel twice as cold as it actually was, and tomorrow is to be the same way. But 70 by Sunday. North Texas is also unpredictable.
This was meant to be a blog about writing, cooking, and grandchildren. Well, I've kept up with the third subject, but I often feel like it's degenerated into a daily journal. Want to know what I did today? Spent from 8-9:30 in the dentist chair getting a new crown (he said I now have my own 401K in my moth), rushed into work like a mad woman trying to get everything done before an 11:15 lunch/business appt. Did have a great lunch at a small Italian restaurant that serves country food from the north of Italy--and we did get some business done. Then I had to go back to the office because I hadn't nearly accomplished everything.
But I do have a writing story to tell. I have favorite blogs that I check almost daily--some of them are pretty thought-provoking and some are pretty surface. But there came a notice that a young agent was sponsoring a contest--send him the first paragraph of a work-in-progress and if you win, he'd critique your query letter or do some other wonderful thing for you. I thought why not (the same agent had rejected my first mystery, though he did request three chapters before rejecting) and sent the opening paragraph of the second one. You were asked for your e-mail, presumably so you could be notified if you won. Not so--I've gotten every submission sent to him (at last count 765). Last night, not realizing the deluge to come, I read most of them--maybe 30. This morning my email had 98 new entries, and I've since spent the day deleting. Last time I try something like that, though I am curious about what he will finally choose. Some of the ones I read were pretty good, but a lot were inane. Maybe I don't want to be a mystery writer, in competition with all those 765 plus wannabees who are out there. No wonder it's hard to place a novel.
A couple of new people--Jeannie and Susan--have posted that they've recently fund my blog and are enjoying it, so to them I say thanks and welcome. It's always frustrating not to know who they are and not to be able to answer their comments. And I had a wonderful email today from my former physician who said he was enjoying my blog--and made some flattering observations about me from reading it. You're right, Steve, I am a very lucky person.

Monday, December 08, 2008

An ordinary day and some thoughts on TV

No miracles today. It was the kind of day I went to the drugstore, the grocery store, the hardware. I folded the laundry that had been in the dryer for two days and ran the dishwasher--finally. I replaced the light bulb that has been out in the panel in the bathroom forever--very embarrassing when I had company, but I didn't notice it until that day. It was a globe light in a panel of them over the long mirror and built-in cabinets that Jamie thinks I should take out and I refuse because they're so characteristic of a 1920s house. I napped, I read a manuscript, I wrapped Christmas presents and answered e-mails. Ho, hum!
You know how when you have a cold no food really appeals? That's how I felt all day, so I thought I'd do a grilled cheese for lunch. Burned it again! This time so badly it couldn't be scraped and saved, so I ended with a sort of open-faced melted cheese and cooked tomato sandwich. Not my idea of comfort food. Besides, I've heard once you burn a pan, it will always burn in the same spot--I hope not because this was a severe burn in my iron skillet. I cooked chopped sirloin in it tonight and it seemed okay.
Last night I said I was going to watch junk TV while wrapping presents. Even junk TV is so worthless I'm better off with my own thoughts. There was football, the Simpsons (which I despise) and I can't remember what else, but Desperate Housewives seemed the best choice and it was so awful I turned it off. Tonight I was going to wrap again and remembered that I used to watch Two-and-a-Half Men, but even the thought seemed so silly I wrapped packages in silence. Have I suddenly grown up at the age of 70 or has my taste matured? I love watching news programs, documentaries, etc., but the rest of it is not worth the money I spent having AT&T wire the house. Oh, well, there's the food channel, but still, give me a good book any time.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Day of Miracles

Well, actually it was a pretty quiet day. I let myself go into my slowest gear (people who know me will tell you that's not too slow). But I lingered over the paper and coffee, puttered around finishing cleaning up after last night, finished reading the parts of a manuscript I'd brought home--it ended abruptly and I found I was missing four chapters. No wonder it was abrupt! The kind of day where you never put on make-up and take a long nap. For lunch and dinner I had leftover cheese ball and caviar dip, though I tried to make dinner a bit healthier by adding some stir-fried zucchini and mushrooms.
The first miracle: after I did my yoga, I thought I would just try that washing machine one more time. It worked fine. I did a load of laundry that I'd meant to take out to Jordan's house and cancelled the repair appointment. Lesson learned--the machine does not like one heavy rug. Throws it off balance.
Second (maybe) miracle: Jamie called from meetings in Las Vegas where he thinks he made a contact for some writing assignments for me. Can't say more at the time but it would put me back to writing for young adults, which may be where I belong. Dang! Is that mystery going to go to waste?
Third miracle: While Jamie was on the phone, call waiting beeped--it was a distant cousin from Canada (her mother was my grandmother's sister--what does that make her to me?). She called to wish me Happy Holidays. She's 90, will be 91 on January 29 which is my father's birthday. She was born on his 21st b'day while he was away at WWI in Europe. Told me that's why she's named Norma--it was Dad's middle name but what all his family called him (his friends called him "Mac' and the students at the osteopathic college where he was president apparently called him "Black Mac," or at least some of them did.) Norma sounded sharp and clear, wanted to know about my family. She lives in the house she's lived in for 50 years. We had a delightful visit.
Later I had an email from Jamie and when I replied and explained about the call that caused me to cut him off, I told him to beware: I come from a line of women who live a long time.
I'm going to have a lazy evening watching junk TV and wrapping Christmas presents.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tree Trimming

Tonight was my annual no-tree tree trimming party. Above you see my Christmas tree (it had a bow on it but Jordan took it back home) and the mantel--that's the kind of decorating I do these days. For years when the children were growing up, we had large and grand Christmas trees, but I always had a party to decorate them. I remember decorating the tree when I was a child was not festive at all, so I decided to turn it into a party. I'd put out all the ornaments and by the end of the evening, the tree was pretty well decorated. Of course, there was the year the tree fell over . . . . These days I'm never at home for Christmas--at one child's house or another--so I don't have a tree, although I put up all the other decorations, and the house looks festive. And I still have the party. This year I changed my routine, had it on Saturday instead of Sunday, and early rather than late. A true cocktail hour party at 5 p.m. About half the invited people couldn't come for one reason or another--illness, other obligations, etc. So there were maybe 35 people, but they ate almost all the food, so it's a good thing the others didn't come. Jacob came in shy, got his self confidence back and raced around the house, charming everyone, and then within two minutes turned sour and tired.
I have a pretty standard menu--every year I fix a caviar spread that I adore and the cheeseball that I remember from my childhood, and then I branch out from there. This year I had a refried bean and cheese dip (forgot to add the Tabasco but no one seemed to mind), a spinach-artichoke-cheese dip, crab and chili sauce on a block of cream cheese, and sausage balls. I have very few leftovers, though I'm glad there's some caviar and cream cheese for lunch tomorrow. For the sweet tooths, I had chocolate squares (all the ingredients of chocolate chip cookies, just put together in an entirely different manner), peanut butter cookies, and a chocolate Bundt cake that is a favorite. Jordan is having a ladies party next week and went home with lots of leftovers, including cookies and cake.
But I am tired tonight. I spent the morning cleaning house--something I rarely do myself. It wears me out and tears up my back, so that I have to sit every once in a while. Jordan came about four, helped me put things out, and did a major portion of the clean-up afterwards, with Christian's help. There are still about three dishes soaking, but I think I'll leave them overnight--something I almost never do. But I'm tired after two big events in two nights, and I'm fighting this cold. I think I've been staving it off by sheer will power all week. I decided I might collapse tomorrow, but then thought that was a bad attitude. I'll be fine after a good night's sleep.
Oh, and the washing machine quit today. With a wet rug in it. I opened the back door to wring it out (which I couldn't--it was a shag bathroom rug and too heavy to wring), and the dog ran in, the cat ran out, and I had a mess on my hands. The repairman is due Tuesday--I am so tired of servicemen who are to appear between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
I'm reading a manuscript, a memoir really but structured around the houses the writer has lived in. Since I'm a real house person, the idea fascinates me. I know I am defined by my house--built in 1922, decorated as my mother would have done (no decorator for me, although a good friend did the original planning), filled with old furniture and things I love but not, I hope, overcrowded.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The holiday season

I thought I'd post a couple more Thanksgiving pictures, since they were all such fun. One is what a hayride looks like with everyone piled on the flatbed, another is just a funny one of Jacob. I may post one of each branch of my family over the next few days.
Bone-weary is how I'd describe myself tonight. Our TCU Press Annual Autograph Party was tonight--I suspect we had 150 people at the Botanic Garden to buy books and hear a program where Jeff Guinn, famed for his "Evening with" programs, interviewed his friend and our author Michael Barson about his new book, True West: An Illustrated Guide to the Heyday of the Western. About 15 other authors were also there to sign their books. Book sales were brisk, I'm told, and the bookstore provided scrumptious trays of cheese and fruit; we provided wine. Everyone had a good time, even authors who didn't sign many books. For me it's about two hours on my feet, and my feet hurt when I got home--those same black shoes again! But it's also a time to greet lots of people I know and some I don't', like the lady who came up to me and said, "I'm a real fan of yours!" Made my day! I do know the authors, and each of them was someone I was glad to see again. Everyone went away in a happy mood--a bit of early Christmas cheer.
So tomorrow I'll get up and prepare for my annual Christmas party--the freezer is full of cookies and cake, which I'll take out tonight; last night I put the cheeseball and sausage balls in the fridge to defrost; the wine is bought; the dips are in the fridge, with only one easy one to put together at the last minute. I think I have everything under control so I can be semi-lazy tomorrow, make sure bathrooms are clean and all that. The party is extraordinarily early--5 p.m., which I did so folks could go on to other parties. Seems like half the people I invited can't come, but no problem--we'll have a good time and more chance to visit. Then the pressure is off, though I still have packages to wrap and so on.
I read an interesting line today in a manuscript I'm evaluating, written by a woman who recently retired. She viewed retirement as answering the question, "Who am I if I'm not working?" It's the question that haunts me. Sure I'll tell you that being a mom and grandmom are my most important roles, but I don't think it would be fair to the children and grandchildren involved to rely on them to define my life. And I like my work (most of the time--and especially times like tonight), so I continue to work. I have this vague fear that the first day of retirement I would wake up and thinkg, "Omigosh, what am I going to do today?" I'm getting better at piddling, but I sure haven't mastered it yet. Nope, bone-weary or not, I'm not ready for retirement.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thanksgiving memories

It's a little after the fact but today I received the disc with the photos of our Thanksgiving. Patty, my sister-in-law's sister, is our official family photographer, and she took 194 photos that day! I'm just attaching the one of all of us in front of the house. Sorry but I can't begin to figure out how to tell who is who, but my brother is the blue-jeaned one at the far right. Hmm--the pictures looks bit-mapped but you get the idea. It was a happy day. John twitted me for saying we're all loosely related, but that's the truth of it. Everyone there is related to someone else there but for some of us it's a distant relationship. Still it was a happy, congenial crowd. I was particularly glad to get to know Carlton's parents--he's married to my niece Jenn. And it was good to see my former sister-in-law and her new husband.
Last night I was down in the dumps, no energy, no nothing. Picked up a mystery that was too cozy, even for me. Then I picked up a Catherine Coulter novel, Tail Spin, that Mary Lu had loaned me. Coulter's books, billed as "FBI Thrillers" are anything but cozy. But she's a terrific storyteller, and makes you overlook coincidence--there really is at least one--and the fact that the two main characters are obviously headed for romance. Yes, there's violence, but the good guys win, and this one had me reading far into the night.
This morning I had that "I'm not sick but I sure don't feel good" feeling--coughing, blowing, lethargic--but it's always been my theory that if you get up and get going you'll feel better. It took till mid-morning, but then I was fine. Had lunch with my boss and a consultant and hope I held up my end of the conversation with some intelligence.
Tonight I've made one dip for Saturday--a start--and narrowed the menu since lots of people have called with regrets. I do hope there will be someone here! Bought wine today, and by luck Jim, the man who does my yard, was here. He carried it in for me, saving me endless trips with two bottles at a time.
Thought I would run to the grocery first thing tomorrow--but oops! I have an 8:30 meeting with my boss! Guess the grocery run is postponed.
Now I have to get back to Catherine Coulter! If you haven't read any of her books, I recommend them--and they're not for women only (for some reason, I'm thinking of John as I say that!). My trouble is that I've read several of her books and never know when I'm going to buy one I've already read. I wish I were very organized about keeping a database of the mysteries I read!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Odd facts you didn't know you didn't know

I just finished reading a China Bayles mystery by Susan Wittig Albert--it's a great series. The one I just read is Chile Death and like all of Albert's herbalist mysteries it contains a lot of herbal information. In this one she opens every chapter with a discussion of some aspect of chile. The one that really caught my attention is about supertasters and nontasters. Those of us who can't eat the hot stuff--that's definitely me--have more taste buds than others. About a quarter of the population are supertasters and can't take the heat. Another quarter of the population are nontasters and can eat whole peppers, even habaneros, without blinking. I sort of like the explanation. Being a supertaster may give me a sense of superiority. Maybe it's why I'm so interested in flavors and cooking.
Tonight I mixed a can of Campbell's pepper pot soup with a can of tomatoes--my mom's old trick--and had a delicious dinner. Then it occurred to me to look it up on the web, and I found, as I knew, that the original version and Campbell's contains tripe, but you can make it with everything from chicken to venison to shrimp. Many recipes refer to it as native to Philadelphia, but there were a couple of Jamaican recipes. On a site called, I found that the Campbell's kind is hard to find and many people think they've stopped making it. Not so! There was a good supply in my newly opened, independent City Market in Fort Worth. Making it from scratch looks like a lot of trouble.
And then there's Gail Halvorsen. I had never heard of him, but we got a query about supposed event on the TCU campus where this WWII hero will speak, so naturally I went back to google. Halvorsen, author of two books, was known as "the candy bomber" because he used small parachutes to drop candy to the children of Berlin. He was also called (in German) Uncle Wiggle Wings because he told the children he would wiggle his wings so they could distinguish his plane from others. I'm kind of sorry he's not coing to TCU--he sounds like an interesting guy.
Oh, one more bit of trivia: did you know you should count on guests eating 10-14 appetizers (is that bites, actual appetizers, what?) and 5 cups of dip serves 8-10--if they're hungry gorillas, I guess. Not the guidelines I've gone by!
Enough trivia. Today I emerged from my 2-1/2 days at home alone. It was like coming out of a cocoon, but I burst forth, went to the doctor and got a flu shot, went to the office where my desk was awash in mail and "stuff," and did a large and expensive grocery shopping. Now I'm home, party planning and reading, and plan to write my annual Christmas letter. I know people get tired of Christmas letters, but my handwriting is so bad these days, this is easier for me. I'll try to be brief.
And a sad note. Shocked as we all were at the tragedy in Mumbai, my heart ached today when I saw pictures of Moshe, the little boy orphaned when his Jewish missionary parents were killed. He apparently kept crying for "Mommy, Mommy" during a memorial service and one picture showed him with eyes swollen from crying. He's just the age of Ford or Jacob, and I know how they cry when they want their mommies and no one else will do. The gunmen were apparently so ruthless and heartless it's a wonder and a blessing they left little Moshe untouched by the bodies of his parents. I wonder how the child will fare in life and send my prayers for him.

A gift from a fan

I had a wonderful suprise today (sorry, don't know how to fix that strange layout). I was working from home when the postman came, about eleven, with a package from a high school friend--actually she is the older sister of my best friend, and I spent many days and nights at their house, the one that is less than two blocks from the current Obama residence. The package contained this pillow, which Liz's granddaughter had made and her daughter-in-law wanted me to have it. I don't know Sue's age, the granddaughter, but she had apparently read my middle-school novel, Maggie and a Horse Named Devildust. The front of the pillow, as you can see, has the title and a picture; the back has comments about the funniest part, the saddest part, etc. It's a thrill to know youngsters are still reading that book, which was published in the 1980s. There's a funny story behind it--my agent asked if I could do a novel about a young girl who wanted to be a cowgirl, but her mother wanted her to be a lady: he had a publisher who asked for such a book. I wrote it, sent it, and it was returned with a rejection that said, "Frankly, we find Ms. Alter's writing pedestrian." Oh well, as one of our authors found out yesterday, you don't always get good reviews.
Our book, Literary Dallas, edited by my good friend Fran Vick, got a "mixed" review in the Dallas paper. Fran saw it as purely negative, bit it really wasn't. It did have an unfortunate headline, "Big Diss," but in spite of that I think it will sell the book, and the folks at A&M agree. But when a reviewer doesn't love your work, it's kind of like someone not thinking your grandchild isn't as beautiful as you do. But it's part of the writing world, and you have to stand up and take your licks. I've heard funny and horrifying stories about authors who complained about negative books.
One of my pet peeves is to wait for that repairman who's due between 8 and 10 and he hasn't come by noon. Today I was still "taking care of myself," getting rid of this tiny cold, so I called and cancelled the AT&T installation--I wanted a nap. It was a semi-lazy day; I dealt with business matters most of the morning, via email, but found time this afternoon to lay out dishes for my Saturday night tree trimming party. Ever since I've been entertaining, I've put out dishes way in advance, each with a slip of paper telling what goes into the dish. I look at my menu, make the slips, and choose the bowls, etc. accordingly. Jordan now does the same thing, and one night, when she was preparing her first Thanksgiving dinner, she had the table all set days before. Christian commented, "You and your mother have a screw loose."
After two and a half days at home, feeling sorry for myself because I was sniffling and coughing, I'm ready to get back into the world tomorrow. and believe me, I have a lot to do out there in the world. Today I did my yoga routine for the first time in almost a week. Felt good, and I did better than I expected.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas is upon us

Well, now I'm a dumpster diver. Jeannie just called to say there was an ad for the TCU Press Annual Autograph Extravaganza in the paper this morning. Like many newspaper readers, I'm ad-blind and didn't see it. So I just put on a jacket and went out to the recyle cart, where fortunately the paper was on top and I found it easily. It's a quarter page ad and looks great. Thanks, Melinda.
I wish I felt more festive tonight. My house is all decorated--Jordan came and helped me put lights on the two artificial trees that stand sentinel at the front door and on the mantel. And she passed approval on the decorating that Maddie and I had done. I notice tonight that Jay and Susan have put white lights on their bird feeder and the fence between our houses in the back, where we are quite close to one another. It looks festive but startles me a bit every time I walk through the kitchen.
I've had a lazy day, still some catching up from the weekend, lots of emails (including a negative review crisis), a good nap, and finishing the proofing and correcting of the edited version of my cookbook. Got it off in the e-mail tonight, which makes me feel great. But I've had a scratchy throat and am determined it will not progress beyond that. Haven't done my yoga in days and am feeling guilty. I will also say I'm tired of shepherd's pie--it's really good, but enough is enough. I fixed it Wednesday night, and I cannot tell you how many meals I've had of it since. I think I won't even freeze it--will just, as my mother used to scold, pitch it.
This week will be hectic--unfortunately I scheduled two early morning doctors' appts and one early meeting with my boss. Plus our annual TCU Press Autograph Extravaganza is this Friday and my annual tree trimming party (no tree, as usual) is Saturday. Not good scheduling on my part. Tomorrow I have to stay home and wait for the U-Verse installer, but sometime I have to get to the grocery and the drugstore and do some cooking so I don't have it all to do on Saturday and find myself exhausted. (Actually, my freezer is full of baked goods and sausage balls and a cheeseball, so I'm ahead of the game--but I worry a lot!) Talk about a stressful holiday season, but I figure by December 7 it will all be over. I can lesiurely wrap the few remaining packages (I sent most of the kids' home with them). Meantime, it's good to have a lazy day.
I have a needy cat tonight--he will not get off my desk, where he insists on perching right next to me. For a while, we had a battle of the wills because he curled up on the page of editorial corrections I was trying to work from. He wants to rub noses all the time. Ah, a little fresh food and he went on his way.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The aftermath of Thanksgiving

Tonight, it's eight o'clock, and my house is very quiet and pretty much straightened up, pretty much decorated for Christmas. This afternoon, about two, when the last child left, I thought I'd go sit at my desk, have a glass of wine, and then nap. But I kept finding one more thing to do--and tonight there are still several one more things--a load of laundry to be folded, another to be started, a dishwasher to unload, Chistmas lights to be tested. For some unthinking reason, I scheduled my annual Christmas party (it's a no-tree sometimes but not always annual tree-trimming party) for next Saturday, which wouldn't be bad, except that the TCU Press big event of the year--our Annual Autograph Extravaganza--is the night before. I know it will all get done, but oh me!
I hate to see the children leave, but when Megan called tonight and asked, "Have you got your house back?" my answer was "yeah, sort of." She, bless her, was on her way to her office at 5 p.m., expecting to work about four hours--when she's left Fort Worth for Austin about noon.
Jacob is confused. Megan said he looked at her purse this morning and said, "Juju's purse." We have identical bags, because she bought herself one and then bought one for me--they are sort of a camel tan--and then Mel bought herself a black one. So trendy we are. Jacob keeps telling his mom that Gaga is at Juju's house. The Austin grandsons call me Gaga while everyone else in the family calls me Juju. Gaga was an invention of Sawyer's and his family refuses to let go of it, though he once looked at me solemnly and said, "Are you Juju?"
I'v'e thought a lot about my feelings about this holiday, because my self-confidence in my balance went all to you-know-where. At my brother's, when we had to park in a field and then negotiate a gravel path that I know I've walked many times, I was really uncertain, hesitant. Jamie gave me his arm and joked that he was uncertain on the gravel too and we'd hold each other up. This morning, just crossing a parking lot to go to lunch, I had to walk near someone if not holding on, and at Best Buy I simply held on to Maddie, who was most obliging though I am certain is puzzled. I've thought of several things--do I become more dependent because I know my children will take care of me? Gosh, I hope it's not that! Do I get more self-conscious about my balance because I so don't want them to think I'm getting old and dependent? Maybe part of it. But I know my balance is definitely connected to anxiety, and it may be that my anxiety is heightened when they're all here--maybe partly from good anxiety (excitement, enjoyment of their visit, etc.) and partly from worrying about herding all those cats and all that has to be done. I am trying so hard these days to let the visits roll by without worrying about dishes and cleaning up (they do a good job before they leave) and all that. I don't know, but it's something to ponder on.
Tonight I got back to business, reading the final chapter of my cookbook. Next step is to answer the editor's questions, which aren't many.
I've got the basics of my Christmas decorations up, but I need Jordan or Megan's eye. Megan is gone, so tomorrow Jordan is going to come over for brunch. We need to work on white lights, fluffing up the fake outdoor trees at the front door. And of course, she'll critique what I've done-with a huge boost of help from Maddie.
I'm left with happy memories of a good holiday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving, a day late

What to say after a Thanksgiving Day filled with so many reasons to be thankful--most of all a gathering of loosely related famly of thirty-one people, all delighted to see each other for the once-a-year gathering. Everyone talked at once and half the time I couldn't hear what anyone said, but it was all joyful. There were ten children, ranging from nine (she doesn't consider herself a child anymore) to seven months., many at that one-to-two shy age, where they view you with some skepticism if they don't see you every day. My own family of sixteen was all there and delightful.
Many blogs I've read list the things the blogger is grateful--I have so many and some that are so personal that I won't do that, but I will say I am most grateful for family and friends, for my brother and sister-in-law who put the whole day together and worked hard doing it. John arranged a hayride for the kids, and believe me, we were all there on time so none would miss it. I stayed to help Cinday in the kitchen, having ridden in the mule over the ranch several times. But it was a hit with the little ones--and the big ones. Everybody brought some of the food--they had deep-fried three turkeys and a breast the day before--and pitched in with the prepration and the cleaning up. I cannot think of a more perfect day. So my love and gratitutde to John and Cindy. John gave a brief talk which called up old memories of Thanksgivings past and made me teary-eyed, and then he asked Maddie, the oldest grandchild, to start us in the traditional prayer.
Today I realized--surely I've learned this before but forgotten it--that organizing a family of sixteen is like herding cats. What I have learned better than in the past is to roll with it, letting them all go their way. When the bunch at my house proved disorganized and slow, I went to Jordan's house, where they were just as disorganized and slow. At one point I found myself sitting alone in the living room reading the Neiman-Marcus Christmas book and thinking, "Gee I'm glad to be out here." I'd been there less than an hour when they all left for Chucky Cheese, one of my lelast favorite places. I came home, ate lunch, had a good long nap and was like a new person.
My neighbors came for happy hour--another way I'm blessed--and then we went down the street for Mexican food. Then Maddie and I got a great start on decorating for Christmas--I may have to refine it a bit, but it's a start.
They all leave tomorrow--some in the morning, most in the afternoon, and perhaps Jordan and Jacob will come for supper and help me finish deorating. Even after this busy three days, there's a busier week ahead, and I am tired.
I hope everyone had as blessed a holiday as I did and is as happily tired as I am.
I'm laughing. Jamie and Melanie and Colin have all asked for the passcode to my new AT&T wireless system--they like it that they can log on at their own computers. So here we are, late at night, each at our own computer. What a family! My computer refused to turn on today--when I finally got it on, it was weird. Luckily Brandon is the computer guru in the family, and he got me back up and running, while diagnosing the problem as a dead remote flat-screen monitor. So it's weird--I'm typing on a remote keybord but have to turn around to see what I've typed. I'm ordering a new flat-screen, maybe tonight!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Animals and dinner and family

This is Wynona in his favorite position in his favorite place--my bed. At 17, he is definitely an indoor cat. So imagine my surprise this afternoon as I walked from the garage to the front porch and he rounded the neighbor's fence coming toward me. With my arms full and my poor balance, I couldn't pick him up, so I called to him to follow me. Set everything down on the porch as fast as I could and turned to go after him, but there was no need. He had indeed followed me, and then, meowing loudly all the while, made his way to the front door, as though demanding, "Where have you been and why have you left me out here so long?" I'm relieved he didn't run into the neighbor's cat--they have regular cat fights through the front door, but I'm afraid at his age--and declawed--he would lose in an actual battle. Alos relieved that he didn't wander out into the street, which is a busy one. The woman who so wonderfully cleans my house said he had gotten out through the back door, which I suspect she left open when she went to clean the guest apartment. Anyway I am much relieved to have him safely inside.

And this morning, Scooby who is always reluctant to go outside and has to be coaxed before I go to work at 8:00 a.m.--I'm sure some day I'll forget and leave him leashed to his bed--demanded barkingly to go out at 6:45, when I had just stepped out of the shower, was dripping wet and fairly cold.

Betty and I went to Pappadeaux tonight and split the best ever scallop dinner--scallops with brown butter sauce served on green beans and crispy onions. I can never get scallops to have that nice brown crust that these did, and yet they were perfectly cooked, not overdone and rubbery.

A major triumph today: after my ignominous fall at the dentist's office, I worried about getting up. Elizabeth came and gave me some hints, but Jeannie today said the magic thing. If I walk myself down into down dog, I can walk myself back up. I discovered that if I get on all fours, and put my hands on the flour, I can bring first one knee up and then the other and stand up. I did it about five times to be sure, and I am so proud.

Colin and Lisa will arrive tomorrow night in time for supper; then Mel said she and Jamie would be here in time for supper, so in addition to all else I had planned, I'm cooking casseroles for five to seven adults and five to six children.. I think I'll make tamale pie with polenta--fairly easy and I can make a double batch plus a huge salad. And that's dinner! I am so excited about all of us being together.

This morning I sneezed and sneezed. When I got to work Melinda had the same problem, and when we gathered for staff meeting about ten she said, "I hope I'm not trying to get sick." Well, talk about the power of suggestions--I immediately thought maybe my head ached, and there was this post-nasal drip down my throat. I decided I was going to talk myself out of getting sick. No way I want to miss this holiday. So lunch with Jeannie, a nap, and dinner with Betty distracted me,and I'm fine. I also re-did the seasoned oysster crackers--I'd left a major ingredient out, made pesto out of the last of my basil, wrapped two Christmas presents, and am ready to get back to the cookbook.

As one of my authors said to me in an email today, life is good.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Tonight I entertained eight or nine contributors to the book Grace & Gumption. It was billed as a reunion, but we talked a lot about the forthcoming cookbook, on which they are all working but are almost all late.It's amazing how these ladies can talk--three or four conversations at once and all interesting. I did something I rarely do--went and put in my hearing aids so I can hear what was going on. One of the earlier contributors dropped out, and her replacement arrived quite late with a laughing comment about "How to make a good first impression." Then everyone fired suggestions at her. The talk is always about new discoveries about the history of women in Fort Worth, research sources, and such. Fascinating and intellectually stimulating. I serve wine and make an appetizer, and everyone that can brings an appetizer. Those that come straight from work are excused, but we always have plenty. Funny how this group has bonded--but nice.
Earlier in the day I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch. We talked early in the morning, and I said I'd call her when I could get away from the office, probably about 11:30. Called at 11:35, no answer; called several times and thought maybe she had misunderstood and was waiting at the restaurant, so I went over there. Scanned the room and didn't see her. So I waited, ordered a sandwich to take home, and when she hadn't come by the time I got it I came on home. The phone was ringing, with Jan saying, "I'm at Carshon's waiting for you." I told her what happened and turned around, brown bag in hand, and went back. We had both been there at the same time, not seeing each other, and the staff, who know both of us, hadn't put it together. So we had a late but pleasant lunch.
I am so encouraged about things I hear about the forthcoming Obama administration. George Stephanopoulus (oops, George, I may have spelled your name wrong) said we have never in our lifetime (well, mine is longer than his) seen a cabinet of such intellect and knowledge put together so early. And another commentator--I forget who--said that what distinguishes Obama is intellectual curiosity whereas President Bush never wanted to do homework, study issues or have briefings. He wanted to act on instinct without knowing the facts. I think it's Obama's intellectual curiosity that most gives me hope.
Back to the cookbook, which I am still editing. I know I mentioned Jacob's school picture, but I can't resist adding it to the blog. I don't believe at all that it means that he'll be a cook like his Juju. It means someone dressed him in an outfit, but it's so cute--and contrary to his usual personality, he looks so solemn. The weight of the culinary world on his shoulders.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Jacob day

Jordan and Jacob arrived just before eleven this morning. Before that I lingered over the newspaper, made German potato salad for supper, chicken salad for Jordan's lunch (she ate the whole thing! I was happily eating leftover salmon croquettes, and we gave Jacob pb&j which he loved). She left a little before noon for several engagements, and Jacob and I were on our own. About 12:30 he got quiet, and I knew it was nap time, so we both had naps--me for an hour, he for two and a half hours, during which I did get some things done. Then he played in the playroom--he loves the doll house--and I read manuscripts and proposals, actually got quite a bit done. About 5:30, Jay (the handsome neighbor) came for supper (Susan was sick in bed). Jacob was delighted and spent two hours happily playing with Jay whom he adores. In the midst of that, a telephone repairman arrived. Jacob was shy, hiding behind Jay, and then he decided the repairman, Chad, was his best friend and spoke volumes to him in Jacobspeak. But Chad was a nice guy and took it in stride. Tonight my phones all work and my alarm system works, my TV that I couldn't work before is now functioning again, and the world seems in its place. One more visit from AT&T to wire one last TV and I'm done.
Jay and I ended up sitting at the dining room table discussing a couple of manuscripts that had been sent to me for review. It was interesting to hear his reaction, after spot-reading--he was pretty much right on with what I was thinking. I had brought three queries and a new chapter home to read and got it all done today. Not much on my own work. And I didn't make the pesto--got to harvest that basil. Maybe tomorrow.
After Jay left, Jacob was quiet and watched a DVD while I cleaned up, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and generally settled in. Finally I read, and then he wanted to go into the living room, which is where we were when Mama and Dada came. Sudden new life because he was so glad to see them. Tonight he's tired, I'm tired, and so the world goes.
Jordan brought me his school picture, and I decided he goes to a wonderful school. He's wearing a tocque and a white chef's shirt with a whisk in his hand. It goes in my cookbook for sure.
Thanksgiving is upon us--why do I feel unprepared for the arrival of all my family. Usually I'm organized to the teeth, but not this year. I'm going to realx and enjoy them and see what happens.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wild man evening

Jordan, Jacob, and Christian came for dinner tonight--Christian being a last-minute addition because he was suddenly not scheduled at the restaurant. I had thawed a bison rib-eye that I thought Jordan and I could share but decided it was just enough for Christian. So I defrosted a chopped sirloin patty for us to share. Because I was afraid of the bison being a bit dry, after I cooked the steak and the sirloin, I put a blue cheese/panko topping on them and broiled them. Then I covered them with a red wine sauce--with shallots, garlic, thyme, beef broth, and red wine, reduced. The whole combination was really good and with Jordan's great salad all we needed for supper. I'm going to have to start buying more meat though--Jacob ate a good portion of everybody's meat and kept saying, "More meat."
After dinner, he became a wild man, going from English to Jacobspeak, throwing himself on his mother, his father, screaming, absolutely out of control. At one point he got sent to time out because he had been told not to play with the mini-blinds and he did it again. He could be heard calling, "Juju! Juju!" We took no pity on him. And when he came back, he was undaunted. Maybe all that red meat energized him.
Otherwise it was a peaceful day. I did early morning runs to Barnes & Noble--finished my Christmas list!--and Central Market. Elizabeth came to talk about ways to get up if I fall--bottom line is I can't do it. I can get to one knee, but I can't push up from there without something to hold on to. So there's another routine to practice. Plus she suggested more practice on my balance poses--tree and dancer's pose, which I dutifully did today. Our goal: get so I can do balance poses and warrior stances without a chair to grab on to and so I can get up without aid. May take a while, but she seems confident it can happen, so I'll believe too.
I've wrapped most of the famly gifts, baked almost all the tree trimming party pastries, and am feeling pretty good about the world. It will all hit me the week after Thanksgiving.
I proofed more of my cookbook today but may take a break tonight and read the Susan Wittig Albert mystery I bought myself today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The holidays are upon us

This is the time of year when I abandon writing, career concerns, everything except my office, which is blissfully quiet though I did a ton of work this morning--mostly breaking hearts with rejection letters. But at home I've been busy cooking--I have a freezer full of desserts and tonight I made sausage and cheese balls (washing the pans is more work than making them!). My dining room table is wrapping central, though I'll have to clear it by Monday when the contributors to Grace & Gumption come for a holiday happy hour. But I've wrapped presents for those children I won't see at Christmas but will see at Thanksgiving, and for others I think I'll see before then but am not sure. I've double scheduled myself with the TCU Press Annual Autograph Extravaganza on Friday Dec. 5 and my party on Dec. 6. I guess I'll collapse on Dec. 7.

It's cold here--close to freezing last night, so that I asked Jay, my handsome neighbor, to carry in my basil. I'll make pesto of it this weekend. But nothing else on m porch appears devastated. Freezing predicted again tonight, and it surely was a sharp wind today. Yes, I wanted cold weather so I could wear winter clothes, but maybe the 50s would do instead of the 30s.

In east Forr Worth, on the north side of I-30, there's a runty mimosa tree that is decorated every year for Christmas. The story is a once-homeless woman decorated it so the homeless in Fort Worth would have a Christmas tree. She did it for many years, but after she was unable to, the neighborhood took up the tradition--and now the little tree is decorated for Easter, Halloween and other holidays. Leslie Gordon wrote and self-published a great children's picture book about it. I first heard of it when Melanie called to say she'd heard about it on NPR and could I find a copy for Maddie and Edie. She said they looked for the tree every time they came to Fort Worth. I got them a copy. And now TCU Press has reprinted the book, because Leslie sold out her initial printing. We're excited about it, and I plan to give it to the other grandchildren in the family. Want a great Christmas gift for children? Try The Homeless Christmas Tree by Leslie Gordon. Even if you don't live in Fort Worth and drive by the tree, it's a heartwarming Christmas story.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No justice

viThere is no justice in this world, I decided tonight. After my traumatic experience at the dentist yesterday, tonight I pulled the temporary filling out (with a chocolate bar--okay I knew my addiction to chocolate would get me into trouble!). So I'll have to go back tomorrow. Hoping I can make a quick trip in the morning. Megan said tonight I should take someone with me, but I can't do that all the time. If I feel uncertain, I'll call and ask a receptionist to come get me. And I'll probably ask one to walk me out.
The uncertainty about my balance lingers after yesterday's experience, just when I was getting my confidence back. Today Melind and I had lunch with two promising potential authors to talk about their project, which is really a good one. They're wildly enthusiastic, which is good, and they have good material. Melinda joined me because she can advise them about number of images, length of text, etc. better than I can. Between the two of us, it went well, and they said over and over that we had given them good advice. But as lunch drew to a close, I was thinking, "Am I going to be able to walk out of here gracefully?" And sure enough when I got up to leave, my legs felt wooden. I did pretty well, but had to put my hand on Meoinda's shoulder a couple of times.
I've still been accepting deletions and insertions but am almost through. Still, nearing the end, I quit for the night. I want to read my mystery.
I don't know when I'll get back to my own mystery--maybe after the holidays? But Im reading interesting emails on Sisters in Crime, one of which suggested that too many wannabes (which I am in that genre)spend all their time on querying ad not enough on writing a quality book. Good advice. So even if I'm not working on it, I'm thinking about it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not my day

I spent three hours in the dentist's chair this morning, at least an hour of it with the drill. Definitely not my favorite experience. I think yoga helped--I really made a point of relaxing every muscle in my body, breathing deep, and not moving since I figured out before--well, really the dentist told me in a bit of exasperation--that when I moved, it slowed him down--I wanted out of there! At one point when there was a lull in attention--I think I had to sit for eight minutes with my teeth tightly closed--I got up to get a book and noticed that my legs were a bit shaky. When I finally was dismissed, it took me a moment to get my legs going. The dental tech asked if I was alright, and I assured her it was just the aches of old age. But when I got outside, I knew my balance wasn't good and decided to negotiate the grass rather than the handicapped ramp--and fell ingloriously on my back. Not hurt at all, but I couldn't figure out how to get up. The car fender was close to me but didm't give me the right leverage--finally, abandoning all pride, I crawled to the door handle and pulled myself up, just as one of the receptionists came out crying, "Are you all right?" I assured her I was fine once I was up again, and by then I was in the parking lot next to the car. She fussed over me, handed me my purse and stick--which had been no help--and I was on my way. But I was shaken. I'd been getting my self-confidence back about my balance, and that sort of went away. I think I truly should have asked for someone to walk me out--three hours angled back in the dentist's chair would discommode anyone, and it was aggravated by my balance problems. Elizabeth, my yoga instructor, and I are now seriously working on finding ways for me to get up should I fall again.
I went to the office, picked up a bunch of work to take home, and decided I would indulge in the confort of a grilled cheese sandwhich--which I burned. And the phone repairman was to come betwee 1 and 5 to fix two dead jacks--the result, I fear, of the installation of U-Verse. I got home at 12:30 to find a note that he had arrived at 12:15 and was sorry to miss me. Who ever heard of a serviceman coming early?
The repairman did come back about 3:00 p.m. but it wasn't the kind of problem he works on, so another one is scheduled for Sunday morning. AT&T guys are apparently pretty specific in their skills. And Sunday morning? I'll read the paper.
Jean Walbridge called tonight, and after I related the woes of the day, she said "I hope your day ends better than it has been." It has. I had good cold salmon and sauteed green beans for dinner and am settled at my computer working on the cookbook, repetitively clicking "Accept deletion," "Accept insertion." Every once in a while I take a break and read a novel.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ah, Sundays

It's been a long, quiet, but not lonely day. Sometimes on days like this I have to gear myself up to do the little things that need doing. But I planted the cyclamen I bought for the window boxes, pulled up the sweet potato vines that obviously do not like these chilly nights, watered plants, and did a lot of little chores like that. My yoga session was much much better than yesterday, and I experimented with a new routine that Elizabeth tried to teach me. By myself, with no one watching, I do better at new poses.
But it was also a day of mess-ups. I baked peanut-butter cookies this morning, following my mom's recipe. I really did freeze all but the two I'd smushed getting the pans out of the oven. Jordan is on South Beach and so has made me very aware of sugar content--do you realize how much sugar is in old-fashioned peanut butter cookies? One cup brown, and 3/4 cup white. Good golly. And somehow I measured out too much white, and while trying to put it back in the carton--it now comes in something that looks like a milk carton--I spilled it all over the counter and the floor. Sugar is not the easiest thing to clean up.
Then I tried to replace a ceiling flood light in the kitchen. You have to use one of those extenders that wrap around the bulb. I tried and tried last night, decided I was getting frustrated and would try again this morning. First try: I somehow broke the bulb, shoved the screw-in part of it right down into the bulb. So then of course I had to vacuum so the animals wouldn't get glass in their paws. Wywy, the cat, has been acting weirdly the last couple of days--she (he, it) who wouldn't touch dry food, now won't touch canned food but does eat the dry. Still doesn't seem as ravenous as he used to. Maybe the dry has more bulk.
And then, trying to clean green beans, for my stir-fry supper, I spilled salt all over. I clean them by rustling them around in salt water and then rinsing--another of my mom's tricks. Fortunately I rinsed them well enough that they weren't salty--I stir-fried scallops, grape tomatoes, green beans, two bites of broccoli left from last night, and mushrooms. Last week I served poached scallops when I meant them to be sauteed. I learned a lesson--do the scallops first, and dust them with a bit of flour. Remove from pan, saute the vegetables, and return the scallops until all is heated.
But my biggest mess-up was a computer one. I am reading through the edited manuscript for my cookbook (due out in Feburary--everyone hold your breath!) It's one of those deals where you have to position the cursor just right and then click either accept or reject. With recipes and quantities, there's a lot of that, because the editor standardized my haphazard approach to cooking.By late last night I had gotten through the preface, one and a half chapters. Toward the end of the evening I hit something which highlighted eveything in yellow--very annoying and I didn't know how to undo it. Went to bed and was almost asleep when I realized that I might not have saved it. Ever since the installation of U-Verse, my computer has been going to sleep if I leave it for long at all. So I stumbled up and saved eveything. This morning it had the strangest formatting I've ever seen, and I had no idea how to fix it. Fortunately I had the email with the original edited mss. so I had to start all over. I am now well into the third chapter, and I'm quitting for the evening, before I get so tired I goof it up again. It's very repetitious, mechanical work--and yet addictive. You think, "I'll just do one more recipe" and you keep going.
The book--called Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books--is a memoir cookbook and has a long, funny story behind it. But I'm saving that story for when I am, I hope, asked to talk about the book.
I've re-charged my Kindle and found a mystery on it that I'm really enjoying, so that's my project for the rest of the evening.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yoga and a nice day

This is me at my yoga lesson this morning--not my best pictures. In fact, I left one off because I said it made me look so fat, and Elizabeth said, "But look how straight your leg is"--it's a pose where you get on hands and knees, extend one arm and the opposite leg, and it's one that I am really proud that I can do for a long slow count of ten. For those who don't do yoga (and there aren't many these days), the one on the left is a kneeling plank, and on the right, a down dog. I don't look nearly as good as I imagine myself while I'm doing these poses. And truth to tell, I had a poor yoga session today, though Elizabeth kept telling me that it was so much better than I was when I began. But I felt shaky during the whole thing, could feel my muscles twitching. I am never content, as she advises, to just say, "Okay, it's a bad day." I have to look for reasons, though I could find none. By the time Elizabeth got here a little after eleven, I had been to two groceries and the nursery to buy cyclamen for my flower boxes for winter. Really felt good, so I don't know why I was so twitchy.
Winter came to Fort Worth today--the temperature probably wasn't all that cold, but the wind was fierce and I was chilled to the bone when I got home this morning. Too cold to plant those cyclamen. I wore an insulated vest--another reminder of Scotland, for I had bought it for that trip.
A pleasant day. After my morning of errands and yoga, I had lunch, read emails and blogs, and had a lovely long nap. Jordan and Jacob arrived about 4:30, and a friend of hers shortly thereafter. I had fixed stuffed mushrooms, a recipe I remember from my mom, and then we made a salad, I steamed broccoli, and roasted some salmon and put pesto on it. All to fit Jordan's South Beach diet, which Addie, her friend, is apparently on too. Jacob ate lots--his first time to try salmon but he liked it. Liked the cheese-stuffing in the mushrooms but the first bite his mom gave him was way too hot.
So now I'm tucked in for the night, listening to the wind outside and thinking I need a sweatshirt. My evening project is to work on the cookbook, but I've recharged my Kindle and think I'll see what's on it that I haven't read.