Monday, April 07, 2008

My mind is still boggled

I had lunch with my friend and mentor Fred Erisman today--he hand-carried me through graduate school and remains a good friend and source of advice and incidental knowledge (as well as a TCU Press author). He invited me to lunch as a send-off for my trip to Scotland that now is not to be. But when he asked about my gut feeling about TCU Press, I answered in terms of the energy I felt I didn't have, at least not as much as ten years ago. When I got home I realized I was exhausted, my shoulder hurt, my foot hurt, and I was hardly worth worrying about. I had answered out of the depths of not being myself. It's been that kind of a week, from the grant application to the author who claimed I was ruining TCU Press, from Jim Chaffee's emergency surgery to the cancellation of our much-dreamed-of Scotland trip. And top all that off with a garden party for 200 people. No wonder I'm exhausted!
Jim Chaffee is holding his own, not out of the woods, still critical, but, amazingly, still with us. His doctors are calling him a miracle man. That's the most important news, and the only thing that really matters. But the worry is not over, and Jeannie's reaction tonight was, "I'm okay," a sort of controlled okay. She has lots of family around her, which is a blessing.
Ah, but the party. We had 200 people wandering through the most wonderful garden. Set on an acre and a half, it is full of trees, seating areas, a patio here and a pergola there, sculpture everywhere. And the spring bloom was out--redbuds already gone, but wildflowers blooming, a marvelous climbing rose, lots of color. One friend said to me, "Look. There's a piece of sculpture that broke, and they set the two pieces near each other, and it looks great. If I did that, it would look like two broken pieces of sculpture." Eclectic is a mild way of describing this bit of paradise. We served lemonade--a huge hit--and white wine, cheese, crackers, chip and dip, grapes and cookies, and were almost on target with the amount of everything we bought--except we had a lot of wine left over. The TCU Bookstore sold books; two students played harp and violin--perfect garden music, and I could have lingered and listened all afternoon--but I was busy checking on this, that and the other, making more lemonade, being sure the ticket takers were okay, etc. etc. No wonder I was tired today, but the party was a huge success. Many many guests, as they left, commented on what a good time they'd had. And they bought lots of books.
I'm beginning to regroup. I've put away all the Scotland stuff that I had piled on the guest bed, and I'm thinking about short trips to Austin to see my grandsons there and to Tolar (out in the country) to stay with my brother and his wife for a night or two. As all the relatives involved said, it's a poor substitute for Scotland, but these short trips will be getting away.
Tonight Jordan and Jacob came for supper, and that was a great pick-me-up. Jacob is a little flirt--he cocks his head and looks sideways out of his eyes, which are dancing with laughter. Then he grins and laughs aloud. I gave him a surprise--a delicious shortbread cookie left from yesterday--and he threw his arms up exuberantly and yelled, "Juju! Surprise!" I fixed blade steaks tonight--a cut I knew nothing about until I found a recipe somewhere. It even puzzled the butcher, but he figured it out. I cut them in chunks and coated with olive oil, rosemary and garlic, and then threaded the meat onto bamboo skewers that I had soaked for about 30 minutes. They still burned under the broiler, and Jordan went all over the house trying to figure out what was burning and smelled soooo good. I didn't realize until I took them out of the broiler (5 minutes, no turning, and they were a shade too well done but very tender). Steak with buttered broccoli and blue-cheese salad--so good. Jacob ate his first steak and kept saying, "Mo. . . mo . . . "
My energy level is coming back, and I expect to be myself tomorrow. Now if my darned shoulder would only cooperate!

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