Monday, March 31, 2008


They're trendy. My granddaughters wear them. I think Jacob even has them. I found a pair in the Footsmart catalog with the label Rx and a description for "challenged feet"--they don't rub, crowd, and do allow circulation, etc. --good for diabetics, etc. Well, of course, I thought they'd give my hammer toe room and give me good footing, so I ordered a pair. A little tentative, I didn't order the bright red but something called brown or some such--I don't remember. Maddie had been so pleased when I bought Sketchers--she had Sketchers, too, she told me. So I thought she'd really like it if her grandmother had Crocs.
Well, they came Friday, the ugliest, dullest color I've ever seen. And I could almost fit both my feet in one shoe! Melinda looked at them and said, "Well, they're not quite as cute as the silver Merrells you just bought!" Understatement! I couldn't wait to ship them back. Maybe medium in another color would do, but now I'm gun-shy.
I've been trying to take good care of my feet because there was a spell a couple of weeks ago when they hurt with every step I took--not good for tramping over the Scottish highlands. Jeannie told me she buys athletic shoes a half size larger--made a magic difference. And I bought shoes--Merrells and Dr. Scholls--with fabric tops, not leather. They have more give and don't put pressure on the hammer toe. My search for the perfect shoes has led me down some blind alleys, and there are shoes I've just bought that I'm going to have to sacrifice. But at this point comfort is the ONLY thing that matters.
I remember a podiatrist I once knew who said if you can keep the feet of the elderly comfortable, you can keep them functioning in society--and I can surely see how it's true. (No, I'm not elderly yet--that's a state of mind, not a function of age!) Surgery on my bunions or hammer toe? Nope. I've seen too many people with chronically painful feet after surgery.
I think with my two new pairs of shoes and a pair of my favorite Keds, I'm set for my trip.
Now if I could figure out the rest of my wardrobe . . . .

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Darkness, dreams, and controversy

Last night was the great "turn out your lights" night, sponsored I believe by the National Wildlife Refuge. I dutifully turned out the lights (but not the TV or computer) and got out a flashlight (my neighbor says I was as hard on the environment as if I'd left the lights on, but, hey, I was trying!). It was spooky wandering through my dark house, though more comforting than an electrical outage--I could see lights outside (the schoolyard lights were fully on) and I knew I could flip a switch any time. I felt sort of righteous, knowing that many people would tell themselves, "My one house doesn't make a difference." But I also felt sort of silly--I couldn't see anyone else around whose lights were out. I even thought my neighbors might call to ask if I was okay. Jay kept his light out until he wanted dinner and then turned on the kitchen light--he claims that's better than my flashlight. But it also gave me a good feeling to spend that hour in the dark, like I'd listened and done my bit.

I read something the other day, in another blog, about remembering your dreams and how can you bear to let go of them. They have such significance for our dailiy lives. Well, I had a weird one last night, and I can't think where it came from. My high school best friend was getting married (forget that she's been happily married for over 50 years) and she was a young girl again. I was hosting the wedding and reception, and I was the age I am now (oops, we mixed generations!) The wedding was lovely, but the groom wouldn't come to the reception--he didn't approve of drinking, and all my friends were there, drinking wine. I guess I mixed friends too, for I have a friend of some 40+ years whose husband of 15-20 years doesn't approve of drinking and therefore won't go to restaurants that he considers bars. In my dream all this got us into a discussion of "disapproval" of drinking. I once had a man working for me who was a true alcoholic--his every move was governed by when the next drink would come and he was never without some alcohol in his system. Now, yes, I "disapprove" of that. I object to it because it interfered with his work. But "disapproving" because someone takes one or two drinks seems taking an unacceptable moral leap. It's like abortion rights--people have a right to make a decision for themselves but not to make judgments for others! I've heard from both those old friends in recent days, so maybe that's where that all came from.

TCU has been embroiled in a controversy the last week or more. It began when Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons or sound clips from them were made public. Yes, there were racist, ranting, all the things that oppose reasonable discourse. Rev. Wright was to be honored by Brite Divinity School on the TCU campus for the truly remarkable accomplishments of his ministry to African Americans on Chicago's South Side. TCU immediately distanced itself from the event, and it was moved off campus for security reasons--all the way to Dallas. Then Rev. Wright, citing security concerns for himself and his family, cancelled his trip to Texas. An editorial this morning in our paper criticized everyone involved--TCU for academic timidity and caution, when it should be an open forum to all points of view, and Rev. Wright for retreating. I do think Martin Luther King would have come to Texas. One of the points made over and over is that African American religion in America has to be taken in context--some of Dr. King's comments, pulled out of context, sound inciteful too and yet he is a national hero, with a day dedicated to his memory. I'm disturbed by the entire thing, but I know I would have liked to have Dr. Wright on campus. And after all this fuss, I'd have gone to hear him speak, something that wouldn't have occurred to me before. Another comment suggested that the Wright controversy and Obama's speech on race revealed the depth of racial problems in this country--and maybe indicated that he is ultimately unelectable. I certainly hope not.

On a much lighter note, I've discovered a new series of cozy mysteries, these set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse and written by Cleo Cloyce. The one I read is Decaffinated Corpse, but there are apparently a number in the series before that. Check it out at

And thanks to Amanda for a tuna recipe comment on a post way back about using canned tuna. Amanda, I've made a similar tuna salad--with pecnas, not walnuts, probably because I'm in Texas--and it's delicious.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cooking and kitchen matters

Most Saturday nights I fix myself an out-of-the-ordinary dinner, usually seafood. But I'm stuck in a rut--salmon, Dover sole, and scallops. And there's that long, long fish counter at Central Market, with all kinds of exotic choices. I told myself last week, as I bought salmon, that I had to branch out. So today I bought halibut. I've been a little leery of it--the last I had was some years ago in a chain seafood restaurant and it was dry and over cooked and bland to the point of tasteless. Farther back, I swear I remember my mom poaching halibut in milk in the oven--she loved fish but rarely cooked it, partly because you couldn't get good fresh fish in Chicago in the '50s and partly, I suspect, because she didn't know how. And then there was my meat-and-potatoes father. But I really do think I remember the poached halibut--not one of my better memories of mom's cooking, since she really was a great cook and got me started on lifelong cooking.

I found a halibut recipe on epicurious and set to work. It called for halibut on beet greens, with roasted beets and orange/dill gremolata. Of course I fudged a bit--I don't have dill and don't like it a lot anyway, but I have plentiful chives and oregano, so that's what I used for the gremolata. And I did not microwave the beets to loosen the peel, per the recipe--I boiled them the good old-fashioned way. But it was a delicious dish. You put sliced pre-cooked beets, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and part of the gremolata, at one end of a baking sheet and mound the greens, tossed with a bit of oil and salt and pepper, at the other end. Then put the fish on top of the greens, brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and the rest of the gremolata. It goes into a hot oven (450) for 8 minutes--and the fish was moist and wonderful, mild yet flavorful.

In the course of cooking that, I realized I had leftover veggies from a week ago that I hadn't cooked, so I boiled an ear of corn and sauteed some tiny delicate asparagus tips. Had a bit of each vegetable with the fish and still have beets and greens, corn, and asparagus to look forward to. I may treat myself to a chocolate sundae later but I'll have to let dinner settle a bit.

Speaking of food, I've been eating the steel-cut oatmeal, as I mentioned before. One thing I learned--a little bit will do you. One morning I ate a more than generous bowlful--that brown sugar was sooo goood--and was uncomfortably full all morning. I started lessening the portions and found a fairly small portion fills me up (Melinda says it expands like pasta in your stomach). At any rate, I carried the same banana to and from work for three days (it was pretty sad by then) for my mid-morning snack--but I never needed a snack and wasn't very hungry at lunch time. Of course, this morning I had salmon and eggs--and a toasted hot cross bun out of the freezer. So good, but I was full again.

One more kitchen matter: I'd been noticing an "off" odor. Emptied the garbage (I don't have a disposal) but that didn't get it. Wondered about a return of the rats, but this was a different smell. It was faint but sort of had an animal hint about it. I usually noticed it by the stove or sometimes I caught a whiff by the pantry (across my skinny kitchen from the stove). Today I dismantled and thoroughly cleaned the Jen-Air indoor grill--and emptied the grease jar underneath. I think that was the culprit--the grease drippings were rancid and smelled strongly of some lamb chops I cooked who knows how long ago. One of those tiny housekeeping chores we all have to remember to do.

Remember tonight--lights out from 8-9 p.m. I have to go look for a flashlight. And I'll probaby cheat and leave the computer and TV on, but at least I'll turn off all the lights. Even the outdoor lights?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jacob gets the idea

At twenty-two months, Jacob has the slightest inkling about the potty. He's obviously been watching his mama, not his father, because he backs up to it and wants to be lifted up to sit. He sits very seriously for several minutes and then raises his hand for you to lift him down. Of course, he's fully dressed the whole time--and I seriously doubt he's peeing in his diaper while he sits there. But, hey, it's progress!

Jacob and I were supposed to dine alone tonight, but Jordan's plans changed and she stayed for dinner. I defrosted a chicken breast, floured it, sauteed, then sauteed shallot, chive, parsley, and tarragon in butter and olive oil. Some chopped tomato went in, then white wine and chicken broth, and I let the the sauce thicken. Really good. We had broccoli, blue cheese salad, and baby artichokes. The latter were a bit of a disappointment. I've been wantingto try them for a while, but the leaves didn't have much meat on them and the hearts were tiny and hard to get to. I'll settle for an occasional splurge on a regular artichoke. I asked if I could give Jacob a Girl Scout thin mint cookie but Jordan pleaded exhaustion--she didn't want to stay up with a baby swinging from the ceiling at 10:30.

What a week! Starting with a stomach virus was probaby a bad sign. Then there was the grant proposal, some misunderstandings with the editors of the proposed series (thankfully, those were easily and pleasantly resolved and we ended up on the same page), then catalog copy came and had to be proofed instantly and prices finalized for the fall books--once you put it in a catalog, you can't change the price because . . . well, it just causes all kinds of you know what.

And then the dissatisfied author I thought I'd mollified came back to haunt me. He had written a nasty letter to the provost, saying that I ran off everyone--authors, editors, booksellers, even the garbage man I suppose--because I was so quick to offend. He contended that I was running the press like a fief (isn't the word fiefdom?) and ruining it and that many local historians were working on texts they wouldn't bring to TCU Press because of me. Since we publish a lot of local history, that came as great news, and in my anger I wanted to call and demand the names of those writers. I know he's misguided, distorting things, taking out his anger in an unprofessional way--but it's still worrisome. Knowing about the letter before I read it, I woke at 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. I refuse to let someone like that rob me of my sleep, my peace of mind, or my sense of myself as a professional!

Often I dread slow weekends, but I'm looking forward to this one. I'm finishing that coffee house novel that I like, and then I have two Robert Parker novels. One of our fall authors is Parker's publicist and offered today to send me anything I wanted to read--wow! Tomorrow I'll shop, Sunday I probably go to church, and that evening Sue is coming for a glass of wine and I promised appetizers. Hmmm, deviled eggs with smoked salmon sounds like a place to start. Usually when I'm home alone on Saturday I cook something wonderful, but I have so much in the icebox--half a hamburger from today's lunch at a bistro, pieces of my chicken and Jordan's from tonight, my ever-present smoked salmon. I'll have to think of something to make me feel creative.

Or maybe I'll get to work on the Scots in Texas again.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sibling love and work, work, work

Lisa sent this picture of Morgan and Kegan and titled it "Sibling love." To my mind, Kegan looks a little . . . well, cautious. He had just had his first haircut. I figure I can show off my Houston kids once in a while. As a baby, Morgan looked just like her dad but now she favors her mom, and Kegan looks a lot like his dad did as an infant. I told Colin a friend of mine had a new grandchild named Morgan, and he said, "Yeah, a lot of people are using that for boys." No, no, I said, this one's a girl too.

Busy days. Getting hit with a statistical project to trace where our books are sold (title by title!), a grant proposal to be refined, and notice of an academic support program review to be written next year almost sent me into retirement today. Those Scots were looking better and better. I hate doing things at the last minute, and the grant is due Tuesday, so, to me, this is last minute and I'm still "refining" and struggling with budget. Hate it! But I do think we have a good proposal. As for the title by title analysis, while Melinda was nodding sagely and saying she could do this, that and the other electronically, I was groaning. She reminds me I am left-brained, which I guess is a compliment, but not suited for such picky work--she loves it.

Last night Betty and I had our weekly dinner. I had visions of a nice rare sirloin burger at Cafe Aspen. Not just any burger--it had to be one of meat good enough to eat quite rare. But at the last minute, Jordan and Jacob came by--she was not dressed for Cafe Aspen and wouldn't have taken Jacob there anyway, so we went to Hofbrau. Jacob was his most charming self, all smiles and flirtatious looks, generously sharing the crayons and dipping his French frie (the same one over and over) into everyone's ranch dressing. Betty loved it.

So tonight I thought I'd get my good burger. June, my dean, was taking visiting authors to dinner and invited me. The local author, host of an interview program on campus later this evening, said he'd choose a restaurant, and somehow I convinced myseslf he'd choose a new but good local burger joint. He didn't--he chose the Mexican food place I like least of all in town. Maybe I can get that burger tomorrow!

The author being interviewed tonight was James Donovan, whose new book is A Terrible Glory, the "definitive" book on the Battle of Little Big Horn. Since I did a novel titled Libbie about twelve years ago, I know something about Custer and the massacre--and Libbie whose mention tonight earned me a nice mention of my title. That battle is one of the most complicated military stories I've ever heard, and there are many details Jim admitted we can't be sure about. But he gave a balanced interpretation, and I was most impressed by his grasp of the many facts of the battle and of Custer's career. I still disagree with him on one point--I do think Custer was arrogant, but as one friend said after the program, maybe you have to be in order to be a military leader. Wow, could I run with that one in today's politics, but I will let it lie quietly.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Up and Down

I've been up and down in the last couple of days. In the wee hours of Monday morning, a nasty stomach virus attacked me. I thought it was something I'd eaten, though I couldn't think what, and once I got it out of my system I'd be fine. So I charged off to work at 9:30--slept a bit late since I'd missed a lot of sleep. And I slunk home about 11:30, realizing from the way I felt it was a virus, not food poisoning. Spent the rest of the day going back to bed and wondering what in the world my stomach could keep down (oatmeal was the answer). Today I'm a much improved person, feeling almost like myself. Went to sleep at 9 last night, and it was so wonderful I may do it again tonight!
But today I was a bit up. I faced a difficult meeting with a dissatisfied author. Long story short, he's someone I've worked with before and always found difficult, and when I rejected his latest manuscript, he attributed it to an old grudge on my part and wanted to know the "process." I realized that if I didn't take charge of the meeting from the get-go, I'd lost. So I did just that. And he sat silently and listened until I was through. I do confess that when he began re-raising the same arguments, I kept interrupting--I have an irritating habit of thinking what I have to say is so important that I have to jump in. "Let me finish," he'd plead, and I'd sit back impatiently. I did make a huge concession--I'll send it out to a reader--and when he kept pushing about why didn't I send it to two readers initially, I finally asked, "Are you a historian? A good one?" His eyes went all around the room, finally landed on me, and he said, "Yeah, I guess." "Good," I said, "let me be the publisher." After a minute he looked a me and said, "Touche!" Susan, who was in the meeting, complimented me about the whole thing later. We'll see . It may not work out as I think but I'm willing to go with what happens. Does give one a boost. Makes up for the fact that I missed a 3:30 meeting because I was mixed up about where it was; lost my i.d. card and by chance found it in a book I'd just returned to the library; checked out a mystery from the current reading section, got it home, and realized I'd already read it. Glad I had one success today in the face of those minor irritations!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter and its blessings

When I count my blessings this Easter, family and grandchildren lead the secular list. A day that I had been apprehensive about turned out to be truly wonderful, albeit with a couple of misunderstandings. We got to Frisco about ten and were greeted with loving hugs from the girls. Jamie was working out, and we waited for him then shared Easter baskets. Jamie had thought we were eating lunch with them and had two bbq pork butts in the oven--the kitchen smelled heavenly! Jordan thought it had been made clear we had to go to Coppell around noon or shortly thereafter--before the bbq was quite done. But that didn't put too much of a damper on the day. Mel bustled around and fixed a wonderful lunch of salad, cheese and fruit--and I contributed hot cross buns though I think Christian and I were the only ones who ate them. And Christian was suffering from hunger--a meat and potatoes man who had not had breakfast, he was only slightly cheered by the delicious lunch, but the rest of us loved it. Then the children hunted eggs outside, though a cold wind blew through the yard. Jacob still didn't quite get the idea--he'd open a plastic egg, find the candy, and throw down the egg. Maddie and Edie were sweet about helping him find eggs, but . . . .

The Burtons left about 12:15 for Coppell, and I stayed behind to visit with Jamie and Mel and the girls and eat a wonderful pulled pork sandwich lunch (seemed like a second lunch). Jamie took me to Coppell about 2:30, just when they were finishing lunch, and I had pie with the Burtons. Then we sat and watched Jacob play for two hours--he loved having center stage with all his family atching and was charming, cute, funny, and occasionally outrageous. But I am not good at hanging out and began to get antsy. Of course it took a half hour to leave, which made me more antsy, but we got home about six, so I could feed my animals and sink into my routine, which is just what I did. But with lovely memories and some good pictures.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter nostalgia

I'm feeling nostalgic tonight for Easters of the past--when my children were little and egg-hunting was the most exciting thing they ever heard of, and even for my own childhood in Chicago where I always had a frilly spring dress and ended having to put a winter coat over it. Tomorrow Easter in Texas will be cold and windy with possible but not probable rain. We're not having the kind of big family Easter I like, with everyone gathered around my table (I need to get over the feeling it always has to be MY table!). Since Jamie and Colin and their families were here last weekend, they've understandably declined to come back, and Megan has houseguests. Jordan decreed that if Jamie wouldn't come here, we'd go there so Jacob can hunt eggs with his bigger cousins. So we'll do that and then go on to Jacob's parents' house for lunch. A kind of hopscotch Easter--and no church, about which I am also nostalgic. I can carry the meaning of Easter in my heart--and I hope do--but I miss the music, the ritual, the sense of joy and rebirth, and the community of worshipping together.
Another bit of my nostalgia crumbled this morning when we took Jacob to the country club for the annual egg hunt. I had told Jordan I'd meet them in the lobby. Redundancy! There were 10,000 people in the lobby, including quite a few grandparents. I was particularly struck by the little girls in organza and ruffles and all kinds of finery--to go out in the damp grass and look for eggs. The whole thing was a madhouse--when we finally were released into the egg area, Jacob wandered about aimlessly, having no idea what he was doing--and bigger kids had swept away all the eggs, even though they were supposed to be separated into age groups. My impression, perhaps cynical, was that all those preppie moms and dads, now into their thirties, were pushing their kids toward the "perfect" childhood, complete with video cameras. But of course, there were my kids with a video camera--but at least Jacob was casual in his jean jacket. Christian muttered that next year we'd hunt eggs at their house and everyone could come for lunch. A good idea--I'll cook the ham, since I'm sure Jordan has no idea how!
I did have my own Easter dinner tonight--Coho salmon with a buerre rouge (not the best buerre rouge ever but it was my first--and it tasted pretty good), a stuffed baked potato with smoked salmon and chives (funny how often smoked salmon turns up on what I eat--I had eggs and salmon for breakfast, and a salmon/cream cheese/tomato sandwich for lunch--good things it's healthy for you!).
The Scots have gotten precious little attention from me today. I'm reading a mystery, and I made two trips to Central Market--Jamie called tonight to ask if we were bringing candy, and I assured him his sister had gotten it. Then I called her--she never thought about candy to put in eggs and only got candy for baskets. I had a certificate for $10 free bulk candy and my receipt proving I'd spent the required amount this morning, so back I went to Central Market. Tonight I'm going to continue that mystery and be really lazy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Furniture and friendship

When I lived in Missoui in the early '60s, I loved to go to auctions. Mom and Pop out on the farm would die, and the children would sell off all that old stuff. I still have the round oak pedestal table I paid $3 for, an oak washstand, a marble-topped buffet with burled insets and wonderful glass knobs. But it's been years since I did that--the bargains aren't there, I'm not close to those country auctions if they still exist, and, most important, my house is full. I cannot fit another piece of furniture in. But I just bought four wonderful chairs.

The chairs in the family room/playroom/children's room are lovely antiques with woven cane seats, not a good combination with little children. I spend a lot of time saying, "Put your bottom in the chair. Dont' stand." Jacob, in particular, will eye me as though speculating on how serious I am about this, then grin and sit down, only to stand a few minutes later. Jordan suggested the logical solution was to stop worrying about the cane seats and buy some durable chairs. So I commissioned my friend Kathie, who goes to garage sales every Saturday morning like they were church. She called three times Saturday (I was out), leaving messages and phone numbers for me to look at some "black" chairs not far from home. Black? Not with my oak! But Monday night at dinner, she raved so about them that I called the guy. He called them "mission" chairs and said they were "mocha." (They turned out to be a heavily grained oak stained quite dark.) I went to see them last night, bought them in an instant, and the former owner delivered them this morning. I am so pleased with them that I wander back there every once in a while just to look. I don't think the picture does them justice, but . . . .
A friend sent me a chain email today about friendship, much more interesting than most such, for it made the distinction between friends for a season--who are there to meet a need in your life and then move on--and friends for a lifetime. I've been thinking about friendship anyway--I have friends who moved on, sometimes leaving a bit of hurt behind, and I have friends of a lifetime with whom I have almost nothing in common except the friendship--and it endures. It seems I always make new friends, and now I'm wondering if they are for a season or for the long haul. There's Sue, a friend for almost two years who lives next door with her two kids. They're in a rental house that's not well maintained, and I know she'll move on some day--will the friendship remain without the proximity? There's Katie, someone I knew casually for years but over a book project the last couple of years, we've really developed a strong friendship. And Mary, whose columns I read in the paper but never knew--and now we visit over breakfast, again because books brought us together (one of the reasons I won't retire from my job--I meet such wonderful people!)
Then there are friends of ten-fifteen years, people that I'm confident are there for the duration. And there are those lifetime friendship--a few who frustrate me now but I'll never say it because there's that thing called friendship. And the friend who sent me the email? She was my "best friend" in high school and we went off to college together. Over the years we always kept in touch at Christmas and visited occasionally when we went through Mississippi or her family traveled through Texas but we didn't communicate often. And then came internet and email and we really rekindled our friendship, even had a wonderful weekend when she and Don came to Fort Worth and stayed in the guest house. I'm back to Jamie's phrase: New friends are silver, old friends are gold. I am blessed with much silver and gold.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lame Mondays

You know people who party too hard on weekend and have a headache (read hangover) on Monday? Well, I have a limp on Mondays. I had noticed in the past that my right foot was occasionally really painful to walk on, but a little clinical observation has proved to me that it's always on Mondays after I've had a cooking weekend. This morning, after fixing two large dinners over the weekend, plus tending to a houseful of kids and grandkids, I could barely walk on that foot--and truth to tell, I felt achy and bruised all over. By mid-day I felt better, and by tonight I'm back to normal. But that soreness and limp are things about aging that I don't like to confront.

As a result, it was a quiet day. I came home a little before noon and did all kinds of household chores--laundry, emptied the dishwasher, put away dishes from dinner last night, etc. And took a long nap. Tonight I had dinner with good friends at a lovely small Italian restaurant, relaxing and fun, though I meant to have a salad and ended up with lasagne.

Now it's time to explore Scottish history some more. I've decided if I'm going to do a book on Scots in Texas I have to really grasp Scottish history, including the difference between Scots who came to America and Ulster-Scots, those who had migrated to northern Ireland or whose families had--it's a complicated story that I'm trying hard to understand.

Meanwhile, here's another grandkids picture. I can't resist!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Familes are wonderful--of course I knew that all along but it was reinforcced this weekend. Colin and Lisa, Morgan and Kegan arrived late Friday night; Jamie and Mel, Maddie and Edie came Sat. afternoon though we passed like ships in the night for a while. I was at the grocery when they arrived, and they were off to ride the zoo train by the time I got home. But by late afternoon, we all settled on the porch. As always, because of children, dinner--bbq'd chicken, cheese grits casserole, and salad--was early and by ten everyone was settled in for the night. Maddie shared her special bed with Morgan and then, in the morning, with Kegan too. By eleven this morning, they were all gone, leaving behind them a neat house, with everything picked up and put away.

I discovered this weekend that both my boys are heavy drinkers--one drinks lots of designer water, and the other swigs gatorade all day long! They leave a trail of recyclable bottles. This morning when I went out for the paper, I thought maybe I'd had a young people's party instead of family--found two beer bottles hidden among the plants.

Favorite moments: Maddie carrying Kegan around; Morgan announcing she wanted to stay at Juju's house; Edie giving me a sweet good morning kiss; cooking visits with Mel and Lisa in the kitchen; sitting on the porch, watching all the kids play; Maddie getting Morgan up and helping her potty first thing in the morning and then being so pleased at the praise heaped on her.

I am learning a lesson I try to teach myself all the time--relax and sit down. Everything doesn't have to be perfect, the house doesn't have to be picked up all the time. I admire Mel who gets down on the floor and plays Barbie dolls with Maddie and Edie, or Colin who can chase Jacob endlessly--we visited them Saturday morning--sending Jacob into hysterical screams of laughter. Often before, when bunches of children and grandchildren have left I've felt exhausted and overwhelmed with "picking up" but not today. But not today. I've lesiurely gotten together dinner for seven tonight: Jordan and Christian, plus his parents and sister and her husband, all for Jordan's b'day

So now I think I'll read and nap--and once more trying to figure out how to put pictures in this blog. (Obviously, I haven't mastered it, since Maddie and Kegan are sideways above).
Much later: Dinner of cold cuts from the deli, potato salad from Central Market, and home-made three bean salad was a success, and I think the b'day girl was pleased, though the present I ordereed at her request wasn't right--I didn't realize she wanted Jacob's name in hieroglyphics and I ordered it in English. My feet have hurt all day and really commenced to talking to me tonight, so I was not really happy camper, though I did put on a pleasant face, and now all that tiredness I said I didn't feel has come creeping in. Wow, what a weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A hectic day in balmy weather

What a gorgeous day! Sunny, with a temperature in the mid- to upper 80s. Tonight it was so lovely I took a mystery out to the front porch and alternated between reading and watching the world go by. I am so lucky to live in this lovely area, with huge trees all around. Many of the trees on my street are still green and look from a distance like live oaks, along with some cedar across the street. But the elm and maple trees are just beginning to bud, and so is the redwood that I'd so worried about. I have tried to nurse a plumbago plant through the winter, and it shows no signs of buds but it has green in its stems. I'm still hopeful.
It was a hectic day in spite of the weather. I had an eight-thirty haircut appointment, so I decided that I wouldn't wash my hair, I'd just go as I was. Well, my hair looks like an egg beater has been after it when I wake up, so even with brushing it was pretty awful. I'm sure there's a connection between that and the fact that nothing I put on this morning looked right (I don't often try on several outfits--usually just throw it on and go). I finally made it to the salon, got my hair washed and cut, and then when Rosa was ready to style it, she said, "What I want to do with your hair is make it look sort of like you did when you came in this morning." My jaw dropped. "You know," she said, "sort of windblown and casual." She did and it was neat, though by tonight its lost all its volume and just looks messy again!
Our boss, the dean of the library, took my office (all three of us) for an "appreciation" lunch today at Joe T.'s (for those who don't know, it's a landmark Mexican restaurant in Fort Worth where you can sit on a gorgeous, lushly planted and very large patio). We were early enough to avoid a line and get a table in the shade--a double win--and enjoy a lunch of the "small dinner"--nachos, enchiladas, tacos, beans and rice.
Then I rushed to the grocery store, rushed home and put away groceries and tried to straighten the house, all in preparation for Jacob's arrival at 2:30. We played together for an hour while "Mama" got her hair cut. I tried so hard to coach him to say "Mama pretty" when she came back, but no dice. He was cheerful and good company, and I enjoyed some loving time. Another of those instances, like sitting on the front porch, when I have to tell myself to take a vacation from work.
I have piddled tonight, wrapping birthday presents, emtpying garbage, checking my bank account. I was thinking that in anticipation of the arrival of the Houston Alters late tonight, I couldn't settle down and work--but I did. Made some headway on the draft of a grant application to support a series of recovered writings by women of the Southwest. Such writings, often buried in memoirs, local newspapers, letters, etc., give us real insight into the lives of women of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I think we can support that it will be a real addition to TCU's academic program in several ways, but it has to be said just so.
I'm a firm believer in letting projects stew on the back burner. The grant application narrative has been on the back burner and just began to come to the fore yesterday and today. The Scots book is still simmering.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hookers, deviant moms, and high-priced gas

Reading the newspaper sometimes really rouses my ire or argumentative side or something, and I found all kinds of things of interest in the paper this morning--it was one of those mornings I wished there was someone here to whom I could say, "Listen to this!" My father used to read aloud to my mom every item he found of interest, and I don't think it was a bad thing. (I think Mom occasionally thought it was too much!)
The first thing that caught my attention--how could you avoid it?--was the "news" that the woman involved with Eliot Spitzer had spoken out about how hard the last week has been for her (what does she think he's been going through?). What struck me though is that she's only 22. Her mom was quoted saying in effect it wasn't as if she were 32 or 42, she's just 22 and got into something obviously a lot bigger than she knew (no condemnation from mom about being a hooker, and that was kind of a relief--just practical sensible words). I'm sorry for Eliot Spitzer, sorry that he, like some of our other leaders, has such a glaring flaw that takes down a really brilliant career. But then again that often happens to the really righteous--they doth protest too much. And I'm angry at him--for his wife, for his children, for this young woman (he should have known better than to dally with one so young!). A friend of mine, divorced after something like 47 years, talked about the pain Spitzer's wife was obviously feeling as she "stood beside her man" at the mike. Such a sad affair all the way around.
Another sad affair: the Dallas woman who threw her two young sons off a freeway bridge and then jumped. I was astounded this morning to read that detectives were still looking for a motive. Really? This woman has a criminal record as well as a history of drug and physical abuse--and they need a motive? They should rush her to the nearest mental health facility. I am always upset that our legal system is hell-bent on revenge against people who obviously have no idea or responsibility for what they do. And then they're so anxious sometimes to put killers on meds so they can be sane enough to be put to death. Our logic, our humanity, our compassion--it's all out of kilter. (OK, I'm a bleeding-heart liberal. I admit it.)
On a brighter note, I read this morning about the blessing of high-priced gas: people are giving up their SUVs and Hummers for smaller cars, they're using more public transportation. This may be the moment that America turns away from its obsession with the automobile, the bigger the better. (But not Melinda in my office, who loves her SUV). As a Volkswagen driver, I feel very righteous--but even my gas is exepnsive these days.
I'm happily planning for a weekend visit from children and grandchildren. Colin and Lisa, from Houston, will bring 2-1/2-year-old Morgan and almost year-old Kegan; Jamie and Mel will come from Frisco with Maddie, almost 9, and Edie, just turned 5. We should have fun!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You're only as old as you feel

Feeling old? Let me tell you about the speaker we had at a book luncheon at TCU today. When Mary Penson arrived at my office, I told her I was going to introduce her and asked, "May I say how old you are?" Her reply was, "Of course." She's 91, and she wrote her first novel at 70. TCU Press has published three young-adult historicals by Mary. Today at the luncheon she was a delightful speaker. To a roomful of women, with one lone man, she talked about how 19th century women were chattel and had two responsiblities--to marry and "pop babies" (I swear, that's what she said). When the gentleman in our midst said, "Sounds good to me," she threatened to see him outside after the lunch. And later something else she said prompted her to turn to him and ask if he was still with her. Then she said, "I'm really glad you came today." She talked about writing historicals so that she doesn't have to deal with the lingo of today's children, and she talked about her absorption in history. She said she felt her newest book, Martha Mary Overestreet, M.D., was her best to date (she's not through writing), and I agreed. It's the story of a young girl, eighth grade, in a small North Texas town in the late 19th century, who is determined to control her own destiny and not to marry and "pop babies." I've never asked Mary, but I'm sure her formula for living a long life is to keep busy and involved--and it sure works for her.
A friend I met for breakfast this morning gave me another clue for living a long life. She said her doctor had advised her to eat steel cut oatmeal (as opposed to rolled, which are cut into pieces and then rolled to make them thin). Steel cut oats are not rolled, and they take longer to cook and are chewy. But Mary said she feels the difference since she's been eating them with a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, some dried apricots, and milk. It's on my shopping list for Saturday!
Tonight Betty and I tried a new restaurant--new to us and in a new location for the restaraunt. Called Chadra's, it's a Middle Eastern, maybe Lebanese restaurant. I had eggplant with ground sirloin and tomatoes--delish! And the small dinner salad was very lemony and good. A successful adventure!
I'm reading a mystery that started out slow, then seemed to diverge into two separate plots--one involving the husband and the other the wife--but now, two-thirds of the way through, the plots are coming together, and I'm finally hooked. I chose it because I read that this author wrote Santa Fe based mysteries but so far they have been only passing references to Santa Fe and no action there. I'm ready for a novel that sweeps me up and carries my away! But it strikes me as funny that I can so clearly see structural problems in other people's work, even published work in an established series, but I can get my own mystery published (and it of course has no structural problems--well, okay, not that I see!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dreams, Newspapers, and Scotland

I dreamt last night that my brother and his wife, John and Cindy, bought a huge house in Dallas. It had at least three levels, with eight or more bedroom suites. Part of my family gathered there for a reunion and the others planned to come the next weekend--I think my mother was also to come the next weekend (but she's been gone twenty years). John and his chldren were there too, but I really remember Cindy bustling around in the kitchen. And I was most impressed that my brother could afford to buy this property while maintaining his rural property in Tolar. But they operated it as a b&b, with a price list that gave you cheaper prices if you brought your own bedding and towels. (Note to John: If you can buy this big house, please do so in Fort Worth. It would be much more appropriate for reunions of the entire family, yours and mine!)
Where did that dream come from? Well, the Houston Alters are coming next weekend and maybe the Frisco Alters; the weekend after, maybe the Frisco Alters again and Jordan and Christian and Jacob--so maybe that's the staggered vision (and Mom is watching over all of us). And last night at dinner Charles gave me credit for giving him and his late wife, Reva, the idea of using their ranch as a b&b--so that's the price list. Cindy in the kitchen? Well, she always seems to be there, and John had just told me about a wonderful meal she'd made. Funny how little things of the day weave themselves into your night-time consciousness.
Yesterday the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran the 24th and final episode of a series of articles on the gruesome murder some years ago of three young Hispanic women, girls really. I have no idea why this newspaper, with space dwindling, took up that much space with something few people would read. I wanted to ask why they ran it. It didn't ennoble anyone; it didn't teach people how to be safe from the occasional sociopath; it was preoccupied with violence, grief, and evil--what good did it do anyone to read it? If anything, it gave the spotlight to an apparent serial killer, now imprisoned for life but still saying, "I'm not admitting to nothing I didn't do." Entertainment? I doubt it, and if that's your cup of entertainment tea, I'm glad I don't know you. When we hunger so for a newspaper of substance and watch it shrink daily, wrapping arts into another section, then food, shortening the weekly opinion section--why use all that space--often front-page space--with such banal material? The newspaper, like many, is faced with the internet dilemma, and all I've heard indicates that they are trying to steer readers to that venue. I've made my dismay clear in a letter to the editor--yes, they published it--but what I haven't said is that when I go to the internet version, it's unsatisfactory. If someone tells me something I missed in the paper, and I try to search for it, I can never find it. If I'm away from the city and try to read online, I feel I haven't really gotten the news. I am truly upset and aghast at what's happening to newsprint these days--and while the newspaper publishes my letter, it doesn't listen to the message.
My dinner last night was a success, and my main course buffet made a stunning presentation, which my guests raved over appropriately. Tonight, Jordan grazed on leftovers and kept saying, "This is fun. So good!" Last night, though, was a lovely, comfortable evening--good friends, lively conversation, all the things I like around my dinner table. At one point Sharon, who is very goal driven, results oriented, asked me "Why go to Scotland?" I had no immediate answer, so I said, "To go to Scotland," and she replied, "Fair enough." But when she asked what I was writing and I said I was thinking about a book on Scots in Texas, she said, "Oh! Where did they settle?" I explained that they never settled as a community but came individually and became part of the culture. "Then why write about them?" she asked. "Because I'm Scottish, and I want to," seemed a lame reason, and I'm not sure what I mumbled. But it's a good question and one I must come to grips with if I mean to do a significant book. I think part of the answer lies in the widespread infiltration of Scottish culture in our state--festivals, etc. And of course there's the fact that most of the heroes of the Alamo were of Scottish descent. I'm still working on that question--and will be for a while, I suspect.
Scottish food did not make it to Texas. A friend gave me today a book she picked up at an estate sale, titled A Feast of Scotland. I'll never remember what cock 'n leekie is, nor colcannon, nor clapshot. But I'm having a wonderful time reading about it. I found a recipe for salmon steaks cooked in a mixture of light cream, drambuie, and anchovy paste--Jordan shook her head when I mentioned it. I think I'll make a list of the things I want to eat while I'm there, like kippered herring which I remember my father ordering for me when I was very young--and I hated it.
I brought Scooby in early tonight, because I heard there were door-to-door people in the neighborhood--his ferocious attitude is enough to scare anyone away. They don't know he's a softie, and I feel safe.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

In the kitchen again

Wow, I'm tired. It's been a grocery store/cooking day. I'm having old friends for dinner tomorrow night--a couple, once my neighbors, that I've known since before our third children, respectively, were born--and those kids are 36 this year. My good friend Charles lives in their garage apartment (that was connived and not an accident), and he'll come with them. They'll pick up another friend, Cissy, recently both widowed and displaced from her apartment by the relentless urge to tear down and rebuild. I remember serving Bill and Sharon an antipasto platter one night that they thought was wonderful, so I'm doing a more substantial version, sort of dinner on a platter--a strip of salmon, an herbed chicken thigh, a half ear of corn, a dolma, and a small baked potato Southwestern style for each. Then piles of cherry tomatoes, asparagus, hard-boiled egg halves, artichoke hearts--all laid out on a long platter that goes down the center of the table (it's a wonderful maple platter that I brought from Appalachia years ago). And fresh sourdough bread at the far end. I've got most of it cooked by tonight, except the salmon. Also I made a brandy/chocolate bread pudding that I'll serve with whipped cream and frozen raspberries (fresh are just too precious). So I did all that cooking and then fixed myself dinner--a bit of spinach, left from the remolaude sauce I made for tomorrow, a half ear of corn (corn doesn't come in five halves!), the excess stuffing from the potatoes. I had bought bay scallops for my entree and followed a recipe that combined them with crispy browned brioche bread crumbs (the brioche was in the freezer), sliced mushrooms (also left over and in the fridge), and a bit of shallot. Delicious but way too rich. I have scallops and potato for lunch tomorrow!
In between all this cooking, I truly have spent the weekend editing. We'll do a wondereful book next fall called True West: The Heyday of the Western in Popular Culture, with only about 20,000 words of text but lots and lots of illustrations drawn from the author's incredible collection of paraphernalia (I keep wanting to say ephemera)--movie posters, book jackets, comic books, sheet music, you name it. The text is funny--and so knowledgeable about the popular western. That was the field I studied in graduate school--though I was in the 19th century and this author is in the 20th. Still I remember writing a scholarly paper on McCloud, the western--was it Arizona?--sheriff who ended up on duty in NYC--and who is duly mentioned in this new text. Editing has been fun.
Rachel Ray is on my TV right now, cooking polenta egg cups with chorizo but wearing a sort of peasant dress with flowing sleeves and a huge dangly necklace that comes almost to her waist, along with a tight spiral bracelet on her wrist. Do you realize what would happen if I tried to cook in an outfit like that?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wintry weather

Most Texans today will tell you the world is out of whack, regardless of our recent primary election. We've just had our second snow in a week, with an almost-80 degree day in between. Yesterday was glorious, beautiful, the kind of weather that makes you want to garden. Today is bitter cold, wet, the kind of wather that makes you want to pull the covers over your head. I went to lunch about 11:30--it was cold and wet but nothing severe. When I came out of the restaurant at 12:15, cars and sidewalks were icy, and a mixture of snow and sleet hit us. I hurried home and vowed not to leave until the weather improves. Since I have work to do tomorrow, a lot of it, and lunch and dinner appointments, I hope it improves rapidly.
I had a voice message on my cell phone today, and when I listened it was apparently an unconscious call Jamie had made. I listened to him playing outside in the snow with Edie (Beastie), the youngest, for at least three minutes. They have much more snow in North Dallas--four to six inches. Jordan sent pictures of Jacob's first venture into snow--he looked very unsure about what this stuff is.
I'm buried in manusripts to read, a grant proposal to write (the press was invited to take its proposal for a series of recovered women's writings of the Southwest to the next level of application, which is wonderful but means work). And when I go to the office, I seem to get buried in detail. What a time for Texas to hold us snowbound. It makes you learn that the world goes on regardless, and missing a day of work isn't catastrophic, doesn't mean the end of everything. It just means you have to work faster when you go back.
Last night my church held a dinner celebrating the 75th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. Almost 600 people signed up to attend, though I think there were quite a few no-shows. Still I was busy at the check-in table, and so many faces passed in front of me that I wouldn't have recognized my own children. I was grateful for the people I know well, like the wife of the former chancellor, who cheerfully gave me her name. I thanked her, told her I knew that one, but it was helpful. A couple of people just assumed I knew them, and of course I blanked on their names until five or ten minutes later. The dinner was remarkably good for serving that many people, and the program fun--all the living former senior pastors spoke. But it went on too long for me, and I made it home by my stated goal of 8 p.m., thereby missing the video which was supposedly the highlight of the evening. Maybe my friend is right--I have a touch of ADD.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Using my camera

Mostly this blog is to prove that I'm using my camera and can successfully post pictures on the blog. Jacob brought his mom to dinner last night, and while she actually snapped the pictures I did everything else. We had a delicious supper, if I do say so--baked salmon basted with basil and oregano butter, sauteed fresh green beans and sliced mushrooms, and salad. Jacob had ketchup. His new deal is he comes in the front door and makes a beeline for the corner where I keep my walking sticks, shouting, "Mine, Mine, Mine!" When I shout back, "Mine!" he grins and says, "Tick!"

I'm a happy camper this morning over the election though I guess I'm a bit naive. My neighbor, a conservative who happily disagrees with me about politics, stopped by last night to say he had voted for Hillary. When I expressed surprise, he said, "I just want to keep the contest going." Being naive and also talking too loudly (we were outdoors, with the polling place across the street), I said, "You dont' want McCain, do you?" I know I sounded incredulous. He laughed, said he didn't want any of them, and was moving to Canada. We agreed on a compound. But then this morning I read that a lot of Republicans crossed over to vote for the candidate they considered the weakest. To me, that's dirty politics, on a par with some of Karl Rove's tricks.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Old friends

What's the saying? "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, the other gold"? Some old friends stopped for lunch today on their way through town--and I do mean old. They've been among my closest friends for forty years, and while we've shared many low points, from marriage troubles to serious illness, we've shared a lot more good times and some downright silly ones. We talked of our children and grandchildren, we talked a bit about the past and who was left in Fort Worth that they knew, we talked politics--we pretty much agree--and we talked about our lives today. They expressed what I feel--life at this age is good. Oh yes, the seventies bring aches and pains, but as Ray said, you just ignore them and go on. It was a real joy to see them and brightened me for days to come but especially on this rainy and cold day. (I was not brightened that they said "This is just what Scotland will be like in April!")
By serendippity, a local friend had sent me one of those emails that makes the rounds--you may have seen it--about the great freedom that comes with aging. The writer said that she (I'm just presuming it was a she) was for the first time in her life the person she always wanted to be--not the body of course, with it wrinkles and sags and scattered pains, but the person who is more kind and forgiving of herself. "I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. . . . I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it)." I like the philosophy!
Anticipation is high here tonight--not for weather as it was last night (turns out we didn't have much bad weather, but it was sure rainy, cold, and miserable today). Tonight it's the primary tomorrow. Jordan just called and I almost didn't answer because I've gotten so many political recorded messages. But the Democratic primary is so close that its nail-biting, and I feel the tension. I will be glued to the TV tomorrow night.
Just had a nice conversation with Jacob. On his part, it consisted mostly of "Juju" and "cook-y" (his mother had just given him a cookie). But it's fun to be able to talk to him.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Stormy weather--and a new era?

It's one of those nights when the weather is "funny"--no other way to describe it. This afternoon, after the wind died down, it was sort of eery. Then it rained, a fairly determined silent rain. Tonight there was a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder but no more. Our county and those all around are under a tornado watch until the wee hours. So even though the weather's not doing anything, you feel it omnipresent, with a sense of anticipation. We're to have storms tonight and into tomorrow, so I've prepared my battle plan for getting Scooby out of the house in the morning. He is so terrified of storms!
Meg just called. She and Brandon have been following this storm across the country. It delayed them getting out of Salt Lale City yesterday, so they missed their flight in Denver and spent the night there. This morning the storm caught up with them in Denver and delayed them again, so they got to Austin at 4 this afternoon instead of midnight last night, bringing the storm with them.
With dire predictions about the weather, I called my dinner guests and asked if they wanted a rain check. I also told them the menu had changed because I couldn't get quail. The quail, Linda said, didn't matter one bit but the possibility of 70 mph winds made a difference. We'll do it another time. Meantime I cooked my meatloaf and Sue came from next door to share it. We got to talking, I left the meatloaf in the oven, and it was dry--but still good.
I went to church this morning. The walls didn't fall in--how embarrassing would that be? And I enjoyed the service. Many of the elements--hymns, music, etc.--were taken from the original service for the laying of the cornerstone 75 years ago, and the anthem was specially commissioned for today. Posts not very far down the aisle from the chancel marked the boundary of the original church--it was a whole lot smaller than today's sanctuary! Somehow as I sat there following the service, I thought how much of the liturgy doesn't change--and I find that comforting. I like the hymns of my youth, the familiar words. And yet our church, like many, experiments with the service, tries new things, is ever changing. And I'm the last one to say change is bad, yet it's hard not to cling to old ways in church--and in our lives. It struck me that Barack Obama may indeed be the sign of a tidal wave of change in our country, a change that is somehow all wrapped up in changing values, behaviors, even linked somehow to the enormous popularity of evangelical churches. What, I wonder, are the American people looking for?
Sue said she'd read or heard on NPR that Obama resembles Reagan in some ways (not economic policy, we hope!)--he talks of hope, without a concrete plan, and he's come along at a time when the American people feel their world is at least out of kilter if not falling apart. Reagan was a kindly fatherly figure; Obama is an attractive, charismatic, fairly young man. He represents, as did Reagon before, an arm up--never mind the hard realities. Don't get me wrong--I'm still holding out hope for Hillary. I think she has the plan and not just the words, and I think she found her issue in the last few days in homeland security but she should have started earlier.
I guess I'll go back to figuring out the history of Scots in Texas. It's a whole lot easier than figuring out what Americans want as opposed to what they need.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Food and manuscripts

Weekends seem to be a lot about food for me, but I surely didn't mean last night's supper to turn out as it did. I was getting ready to "refresh" some leftover restaurant chicken salad and saute a few green beans when Jordan called. She and Jacob were at a nearby park and did I want to meet them at Hofbrau--she had thought the people she was with were going there, and I guess she had her mouth set for it. Both Jordan and Megan worked at Hofbrau in their school days, so it's sort of a sentimental favorite though I'm never sure what I want there, except the brau chips which are so awful for you and make you too full to eat anything else. I did and I didn't want to go, but Jordan and Jacob are a powerfuld draw and I really didn't need to sit at home with leftovers (I had the chicken salad for lunch today, but it hadn't lasted well). We met at Hofbrau, but Jacob was discontent, not satisfied to sit still, and a bit of a pain. Jordan decided we'd order to go and take it to my house (very close). So in a rush I ordered a baked potato. Then Jacob got interested in the people at the next table (who were very kind) and his crackers, and Jordan decided we'd stay. I wished I'd ordered more. Then Jacob was discontent again and she decided we'd go. My head was spinning, but we ate at home, which is truly better. Jacob wandered, played with his toys, and watched "Melmo" (Elmo). He was happy and delightful. I sauteed those green beans to go with my potato, and Jordan fixed us both salads, although she got mine a bit acidic and I had to swallow hard for a couple of minutes to finish it.
Jordan and I both like lemon, and we do tend to overdo it. I did that tonight, making our favorite salad dressing--essentially oil, vinegar, and blue cheese, only this time I put it over watercress salad and wished I'd gotten an avocado at the market this morning. Then I made Dover sole with lemon butter. All good but by the time I finished, I rushed to get an ice cream cup and pour chocolate sauce over it. Ah, a good excuse.
Tomorrow I've lured friends in from Granbury, 30 miles away, with the promise of quail. Rodger said, "I love quail. I'm up for it." I frantically emailed today to tell him to reset his taste buds--Central Market was out of quail. Rodger will get buffalo meatloaf, Louella's rice (delicious and so easy), and salad--but maybe another, less acidic dressing. And since I'd planned a sort of sophisticated meal, I'll go ahead with the crab-stuffed mushrooms I'd originally decided on. It's sort of strange to stand in the meat market and make an instant choice of what to serve guests, strange at least for me who plans these things ahead.
I've spent a good part of the weekend reading a manuscript. If I don't see one working out, I don't often devote this much time to it, but I see something in this one that needs to be sculpted out. It's a hard line to walk between the manuscript the author wrote and wants it to be and the one I want it to be. This one deals with genealogy (and the discovery of a black branch of the family) and fasola or Sacred Harp singing. The latter is what drew me to it. I'd like to do a book on Sacred Harp but it's sort of a secondary theme in this work. I can't quite tell the author to make it the theme, when she has her own story to tell. I'm pondering.
Meantime I'm also pondering on a book about Scottish Texans. There's not much available--small bits on Texans with Scottish ancestry, including many at the Alamo--and the common knowledge that most Celts went to Appalachia first and then moved west. And the ever independent Scots didn't come as a group, as did, say, the Germans. They came as individual families, making them hard to trace. But I don't want to tell the stories of Houston and Austin again with a Scottish tilt to the telling; I want to tell about the ranchers, etc. It's fun to watch the bits and pieces move around in my mind.