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.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Still busy days

I thought today would be calm, but it turned out not to be. Went for an early morning haircut--my haircut lady changed the way my hair was swept from one side to the other, and I'm still fighting the urge to smooth it back the other way. But I had several compliments on it. Of course, I was quite late for work, and then I left quite early to go to the church bazaar (sort of a disappointment) with Jean and Jeannie, then for a great lunch of bratwurst, kraut and potato salad. And then we ran an errand. I though I had plenty of time to nap before an early dinner, but a crisis came up--material had to go to the newspaper today or our Dec. 5 event would not get publicity. Ended up that I had to go back to the office in my "napping clothes"--T-shirt, cotton flannel pants and obviously worn tennis shoes.
I did get a nap, was all dressed and ready for dinner and the phone began to ring: first Megan--we had a good visit and hung up when she got to the grocery and needed to run in; then Megan again, asking a political question. I thought it was strange that she'd call twice, but when she asked something about my Christmas list, I said, "Be sure to talk to Lisa." The voice responded, "Who do you think you're talking to? This is Lisa." Oh my. So we had a good laugh. But then Colin called and said, "This is Jamie," which of course I knew wasn't true. By then Linda from Granbury was here and ready for dinner. We went to Lili's Bistro and I had the most interesting--and amazing--dish: an avocado, apparently whole, but stuffed with spinach and mushooms, topped with scallions and tomato bits, and on a bed of black bean puree and couscous. Really good.
Okay now it's late, and I'm sure I'm not in the mood to review budget cuts for TCU Press next year, but that's the task that looms before me. And then there's the cookbook--maybe I'll do that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Books, books, books

Tonight was the launch autograph party for Literary Dallas, edited by my good friend Fran Vick.Fran hunted all over Dallas for a suitable venue and finally decided to have it in the Garden Room/Pool Area of the condo building where she lives. She cooked, her kids cooked, her son served as bartender, and her daughter as greeter. As with most events, the Vicks made it a family affair. Many of the contributors were there, also signing books, though it got to be chaos--we couldn't keep them in their seats, and a few books disappeared mysterously. I sold one old friend a book, he set it down to talk to somebody, and it was gone--I always thought literary people were so honest. And you could tell by the look of the people that this was a literary crowd. I saw old and good friends, met people whose names I know but have never met before, got hugs from the Vick adult children. It was hectic but fun--and good food and wine. Melinda and I pretty much spent the evening at the sales table but that way we got to see everyone.
And today I got edited copy of my memoir/cookbook, so I have a great project for the weekend--going through and either accepting or denying the editor's changes. I'm easy. I pretty mucy accept. Like my book of short stories, I'm really excited about this one. The editor, who also happens to be a friend, called the other day and said he thought it was a really good little book. He also said nice things about TCU Press, such as we are the one doing the best with Texas material! Music to my ears.
This has been the week that was--and I've been a vanishing person in the office. Monday--out of the office all day for the AT&T installation, Tuesday gone a chunk of the morning for the ophthamologist, in the office briefly, then a late lunch meeeting and dinner out, Wednesday--a blissfully calm day though an early lunch date, today in the office early in the morning, but home early to sneak in a nap before the trek to Dallas and the party. And tomorrow--late because of an early haircut appt. and leaving early for the church bazaar, lunch with friends, and then dinner with an out-of-town friend. I love my flexible schedule, but this has been too much. And I' a tad tired. But energized by the cookbook. Glad my life is not boring.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I'm wearing a T-shirt tonight that says "Proud to be an American" and has a rather ferocious eagle on it. It was a gift, unsolicited, from some veterans' organization to which I'm sure I have never contributed. I think my name is on a list somewhere that says "She's a patsy. Send her something, and she'll send a contribution." The Humane Society and the SPCA pepper me with gifts all the time, and I can't keep the two straight and am not sure which ones I've contributed to, but I suspect both. I have a T-shirt with a dog and cat that says "All they need is love," and I have a coffee cup that says "Operation Rescue: Baghdad Pups," in reference to the dogs who are being rescued from Iraq and sent here--as if we didn't have enough dogs in the country already. Strangest of all, I have a coffee cup that claims I'm a sponsor of the United States Deputy Sheriffs organization. It even has my name on it, which prevented me from selling it in Jordan's recent garage sale. And address labels? I have them from TCU, the Smithsonian, the SPCA, the Humane Society and who knows what else. I am using some with cute, Christmas-y animals for my Christmas cards, which will probably drive the more conservative of my acquaintances to think I've gone over the edge. You can put your name on a national no-call list, and many web sites offer you a chance to unsubscribe--but how do I get off this sucker list? Reminds me of my dad. When he died, we discovered he was sending $5 to each of lots of charities--from aid to Africa, Methodist missions, political causes--you name it. If it was humanitarian and liberal, Dad supported it, albeit modestly as his means would allow. Maybe it's in the genes. I do give to charity, but I try to be focused about the ones I think are really important to me, especially my church, and to ignore the many solicitations that come unbidden. But those T-shirts and coffee cups are guilt-inspiring.
I needed a column for December and went in search of a Christmas book or story by a Texas writer. Didn't exactly find it but a woman wrote me that she had a couple of Christmas stories--one published in the '80s and one unpublished. Not much help, but her career interested me--she's like so many of us, writing for forty years, about 15 books of everything from mystery to romance to children's books. And yet she's relatively unknown. I think she writes becuase she loves to write and can't imagine not doing it, but she also cited insatiable curiosity and the love of a challenge. Seemed to me from her emails that we had so much in common that I suggested we were about the same age, and she said, yes, she was in the "cocktail hour of life." I love it! Hope the Dallas Morning News book editor likes the column, because I'm sure it is not what he was expecting.
I had a blessedly quiet day today. Went to work at the usual time, after having overslept which made me hurry a bit, worked all morning, met friends for lunch, went to the grocery, and came home knowing I didn't have another obligation all day long. The first two days of this week were so hectic and tomorrow promises to be that way--a big launch party in Dallas--so I'm grateful for tonight. There's a poetry reading that I really should attend, but Melinda and Susan were going, so I was very quiet about my plans to veg out at home. Made chicken salad with blue cheese dressing for supper and plan to dig into the issue of Bon Appetit that just arrived today. I'm not sure I'll get back to my mystery until after the holidays--and maybe doing nothing is better than doing it sporadically, at least for a while.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Do you know how you feel when you've done things you'd really rather not do? Well, that's how I feel tonight--sort of proud. I went to the vet's to get two bags of dog food, one bag of dry cat food, and one case of wet cat food. Well, for one thing, that means four trips to the car, since I can't manage more than one and my balance both. I made two trips, and one of the attendants followe me with the other two items. Ir's silly, but it's like putting gas in the car--one of those things I'd rather not do.
But the biggie was my trip to the eye doctor. I' d scoped out the parking lot beforehand to see if I was comfortale with it, decided I was, but I am always apprehensive about an opthamology exam--I feel like a school kid who is being tested and quite not performing perfectly. "F, X , L, P, O." There was one number on a fairly small line that I couldn't get, and the technologist really wanted me to get--I said 3, z, and she said no, it was a number. Turned out it was a two, but I couldn't do it. Final verdict: my eyes are fine but I need a precuationary vision field test and I have to have laser to eradicate the cloudiness in the implant in my left eye. I was amazed at how poorly I could read from a distance with that eye. And the parking lot was no problem, so I feltl good about it--but after yesterday's lost day and today's almost lost day, I'm worn out. Went with Betty tonight for sushi and enjoyed it so much that I thought "Why haven't we done this more often?" I'm the one who had been resisting our favorite sushi place, but no more.
Had lunch with three friends who had contributed to Grace & Gumption--we talked about the forthcoming cookbook, but we also talked a lot about the recent election, and we also laughed a lot. Really nice.
I've decided I probably won't be serious about writing again until after the holidays. It's just the way life is, and I want to enjoy the other things in my life--friends, grandchidlren, etc.
We are all excited about Thanksgiving at my brother's ranch--he plans a hay ride for the children in the late morning, followed by happy hour and dinner. There will be 21 adults and, by my count, ten children, ranging from about six months to nine years. What fun!


Do you know how you feel when you've done things you'd really rather not do? Well, that's how I feel tonight--sort of proud. I went to the vet's to get two bags of dog food, one bag of dry cat food, and one case of wet cat food. Well, for one thing, that means four trips to the car, since I can't manage more than one and my balance both. I made two trips, and one of the attendants followe me with the other two items. Ir's silly, but it's like putting gas in the car--one of those things I'd rather not do.
But the biggie was my trip to the eye doctor. I' d scoped out the parking lot beforehand to see if I was comfortale with it, decided I was, but I am always apprehensive about an opthamology exam--I feel like a school kid who is being tested and quite not performing perfectly. "F, X , L, P, O." There was one number on a fairly small line that I couldn't get, and the technologist really wanted me to get--I said 3, z, and she said no, it was a number. Turned out it was a two, but I couldn't do it. Final verdict: my eyes are fine but I need a precuationary vision field test and I have to have laser to eradicate the cloudiness in the implant in my left eye. I was amazed at how poorly I could read from a distance with that eye. And the parking lot was no problem, so I feltl good about it--but after yesterday's lost day and today's almost lost day, I'm worn out. Went with Betty tonight for sushi and enjoyed it so much that I thought "Why haven't we done this more often?" I'm the one who had been resisting our favorite sushi place, but no more.
Had lunch with three friends who had contributed to Grace & Gumption--we talked about the forthcoming cookbook, but we also talked a lot about the recent election, and we also laughed a lot. Really nice.
I've decided I probably won't be serious about writing again until after the holidays. It's just the way life is, and I want to enjoy the other things in my life--friends, grandchidlren, etc.
We are all excited about Thanksgiving at my brother's ranch--he plans a hay ride for the children in the late morning, followed by happy hour and dinner. There will be 21 adults and, by my count, ten children, ranging from about six months to nine years. What fun!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A day in limbo

Today was a most frustrating day. I admit I like my routine, and I don't like change. Got all of that today--and no nap. I had earlier scheduled AT&T installation of wiring for HDTV. The man was to arrive between 8 and 10, called at 12:30 to say he'd be there in half an hour, and by then I'd cancelled it for the day. Good thing, because this morning the installer--who turned out to be such a nice man--arrived at nine, left at six, and still has one TV to go. In all that time, he wired four TVs but had to do a lot of work at the phone box (all morning). And doing that, he took out my internet for a long time, leaving me powerless to answer office emails, etc. except on my phone--which is awkward and slow for me. Then he took out the TV in my office. Things were getting worse. He wired the office, the bedroom, the playroom, and the guest house, fixed my TV with a wireless card, and put a DVR in the playroom, so I'm really uptown. But the kitchen is left to do (after I had cleared a thousand coffee cups from one shelf). It may be a while before I'm willing to call AR&R back, and definitely not this week.
I did make good use of my down time--cooking. I made a cheeseball and a Bundt cake, which I froze for my annual Christmas party. And I made Aunt Reva's chocolate chip squares--you make a batter that is like chocolate chip cookies, without the chips, bake it, then spread chocolate chips over the top, bake for another five minutes and then spread the chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts. All well and good, and I've made it many times, but today it seemed too soft to cut, so I put it in the refrigerator. Took it out about 6:30, and it was like concrete. so now I'm hoping room temperature will do the trick.
When the TV in the office began to work I turned it on and saw nothing but weather reports--there was heavy weather, with some threat of tornado, to the west. As the AT&T guy left (after saying, "I enjoyed your company, Judy" which I thought was really nice) I noticed it had begun to sprinkle. Then it thundered and I thought it time to bring Scooby in. Good thing, because the heavens have just let loose--thunder, lightning and really heavy rain. We need it but I'm afraid this is so heavy it will just run off.
A good note about the day I decided ahead would be just a waste--I saw the Obamas arrive live at the White House, and it really was a moment in history when TV showed the two couples standing together at the East Portico and then Bush and Obama walking toward the Oval Office, while the ladies went on a tour of the living quarters (okay, gender stereotyping is live and well). Yesterdy, a friend sent me an email with reprdocutions of headlines around the world the morning after the elections--they were full of enthusiasm, optimism, "new America" and "Viva Obama," etc. Such an outpouring of happiness and gratitude. But the saddest said "Enter Obama, Exit Bush" and showed a jubilant Obama on the left-hand side and a dejected Bush, shoulders down, head bowed, exiting right. I truly believe Bush brought his unpopularity--and his abysmal record-- on himself and yet I am still sad for him. He looks on TV like he's aged rapidly in the last months, and my dinner guests last night surmised that he does not look well. But who would in his place? I pray that the Bushes can find peace in their retirement. But of course just when I start feeling compassionate about him, he threatens all that deregulation of air quality, older power plants, drilling in Utah, you name it. Obama seems to have been carefully planning even while campaigning, and I am relieved to hear he will almost immediately reverse some presidential directives, including freeing up stem cell research and some environmental protections.
The day has been a waste, and I'm not going to try to retrieve it at this point. Tomorrow does not promise to be much better--annual check-up with the eye doctor.
Oh, a final note. Occasionally someone unexpected tells me they are reading my blog and enjoying it. Today a physician who formerly took very good care of me but then closed his practice emailed and mentioned that he reads the blog. I am flattered, so here's a thank you to Steve Weis.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Another lazy day and Obama's house

It was another lazy day. I barely finished reading the paper when Jordan and Jacob arrived about ten this morning. Seemed to me there was a lot of interest in our usually thin paper--Obama's plan to cancel many of Bush's presidential directives about stem cell research, the environment, etc.--all things that can be done without going through Congress and all things I applaud. Then there were articles about Sarah Palin's reception back in Alaska, and a lot of other stuff I found fascinating. I had to hustle to gather the recipes Jordan wanted, empty the garbage, make the bed, and generally act like I had my act together.
Jacob was in fine fettle--he'd scream loudly and then get the giggles at his own behavior. Then he went to pushing a toy car through the house at a fantastic rate--until he got it tripped up in the rug and went down head first. It was a slow motion fall and at first we didn't realize he was in trouble--but he was sort of a triangle over the upside down toy and apparently didn't know how to free himself. So there were tears. But we had a fun morning. Tonight two good old friends came for dinner--I did scallops with tomatoes, shallots, and mushrooms, asparagus, salad, and a coconut bread that had been a gift. Charles, who is usually a slim eater, ate two large helpings.
My email has been busy today with messages from a childhood friend. She found on the web where the Obama family lives--turns out it is less than two blocks from where she grew up and about six blocks from where I grew up. She has bombarded me with pictures, aerial pictures, etc., and it's all been such fun. Everyone says that Obama lives in Hyde Park, and I say that I grew up there bcause Hyde Park is well known, but technically we were all on the other side of 51st Street, so we lived in Kenwood, a neighborhood of mansions that once belonged to the meat czars and other people famous in Chicago's history. Our house was modest, and Obama's though clearly larger is not one of the huge mansions. It's across the street from a Jewish temple that I can still see in my mind today. And on the corner of the block where my friend lived, there was a drugstore in the basement of an apt. building--you went down some steps to get to it. Kenwood was one of the first neighborhoods in our area to integrate as wealthier African Americans bought some of the huge mansions. It's a wonderful neighborhood, and I feel proud that he lives there, though I haven't been back in years. I was amazed at the value of his property, but then several years ago I heard the house I grew up in was for sale for $500,000. I think my folks paid $6,000 for it in 1937.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Greek food, Jacob, and laziness

Tonight was the annual Greek Festival at the local Greek Orthodox Church. I have gone in the past and enjoyed it, though it's always crowded and the food was not as ethnic as I anticipated. But this year they promised spanikopita and saganyaki (spelling? that flamed cheese). Sue was to come for happy hour tonight, so I emailed to see if she and the kids would like to go up there to dinner, but she said she'd prefer a happy hour visit and then curling up. So I decided to create a mini-Greek food festival. I asked the cheesemonger at Central Market for the "Greek cheese that they flame" and bought dolma. Tried to find frozen spanikopita but had to settle for Stouffer's spinach souffle (frozen dinner entrees are definitely not on my usual list and it was not as good as my mom's souffle).
I waited till Sue got here to flame the cheese, which made her very nervous, but it was really good--you flour and fry slices, sprinkle with lemon and brandy, and flame. I had to add more brandy to get it to flame. But that and the dolma made a great appetizer, and I probably didn't need the souffle but I ate half of it. And I'm like Sue--glad to be settled in at home. Had a great long nap this afternoon--the kind where you wake up, realize there's nothing you have to get up for, and go back to sleep. Got up, fed the dog, did my yoga routine, and it was happy hour time.
The day did not start so peacefully. .Forget everything I said about Jacob and me co-existing peacefully. He was a wild man this morning. Would not let me change his diaper, wash his face and hands, brush his teeth, although he ate a good breakfast. Jordan helpfully called a little before nine and asked that I please get him dressed in his blue jeans and white shirt (they all wore that outfit and went off to have their pictures taken in the Botanic Garden). Was she kidding? I managed to change the diaper, and I got the jeans halfway on three times but each time he began to kick his legs. He was having a high old time, gleefully throwing all the cushions and everything off the daybed--Jordan asked if he was building a tunnel, and I said I hardly thought that was it. He flung himself from one end of the bed to the other, laughing, screaming--and taunting me. I admit I lost control and went to clean up the breakfast dishes. Even his parents, two of them, had a hard time corraling him and having to do some serious talk about spankings and time out. When he left, looking adorable, he gave me the sweetest kiss ever. Ah, two years old!
It was 12:30 before I read the morning paper. I love it that Obama wants to get a pup from the pound but they're mostly--what was his word? curs? mutts?--like him. Apparently the older daughter has allergy problems. I think they need a labradoodle. They live in Hyde Park in Chicago, the neighborhood where I grew up, and I am most curious to know their street address. Want to picture it in my mind.
I think I won't do another constructive thing tonight.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Jacob is spending the night tonight--I can hear him singing to himself in his crib. He does so many adorable things that I will lapse into an adoring grandmother role and wish I'd had the camera ready. He ate linguine with goat cheese sauce (left over from last night), smoked turkey (left over) and canned green beans; then he wanted my chopped sirloin patty, and I gave him part of it. Then he eyed my salad and I gave him some--his idea of eating salad is to hold up a strip of lettuce and lick off the dressing, though he finally got so he would just stuff the lettuce in his mouth. Neither blue cheese nor a fairly sharp vinaigrette seemed to bother him.
I've decided Jacob thinks my house is chill-out time--he spends his time watching DVDs, and I used to worry about that. But he's so comfortable doing it--and I can sit in the same room with him, work, read, whatever. As I confessed before, I was never good at playing with my children. So Jacob and I have an understanding--we talk, we roughhouse a bit, we giggle, but pretty much we leave each other alone.
At bedtime--this is so cute--he goes and gets my kitchen stepstool and puts it by the pack-and-play. I help him from the stool to the bed, but it makes it easier for me. I do move it away just in case, but I expect he'll sleep soundly until 7:30 or 8, once he stops singing and talking. He's so agreeable about going to bed.
It's been an enormously busy week at work, and I've done office work at the office and at home almost all day every day, still have some to do tonight. I find I am really tired. But there's still so much more to be done, and next week is a mess of an AT&T installation, doctor's appointments, lumch engagements, and a big launch party in Dallas. I' even more tired thinking about it. What did I say about the pace pcking up in November? Double that.
And a lazy weekend? Well, sort of. But I have to start cooking and freezing for my annual Christmas party, my neighbor is coming for happy hour Saturday, and I have dinner guests Sunday night. I guess there'll be a few lazy moments--and some naps--in there.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

'Tis the season--early

It's only early November, but I can feel the pace of things picking up. Maybe it's because we've all been in sort of suspended animation until the election, but now Obama has withdrawn to do his planning and Sarah Palin has gone home to Alaska amidst many stories, and we can put all that behind us. Well, maybe, sort of.
But the last few days I have felt overwhelmed by all I had to do, much of it office business, so that I worked until ten o'clock one night and 8:30 tonight on office business (with time out for a lovely dinner). But then there's a huge launch party next week and lots of review copies that should have gone out last week, and I feel like I'll never catch up or get back to my own personal work.
Thanksgiving will be upon us before we know it. We will all 16 of us go to my brother's, where there will be about 30 people. Such fun to watch all the little ones together. I presume my kids will spend the weekend, so I have to start thinking about meals. And then my annual Christmas party is Dec. 6, much earlier than usual, for various reasons. So I have to plan for that. Intend to get the invitations out this weekend and start on some cooking that can be frozen. It's the time of year when I give up being a writer for a while and turn domestic, but my office still is sooooo busy. I figure I might better enjoy than complain.
Betty and I went to a local bistro tonight, one where we usually split the tapas platter, but it had several things I didn't like, and Betty is always agreeable. We had Ceasar salad--a reall spicy version--and then split a linguini dish with goat cheese, spinach and artichokes--absolutely delicious, but even splitting it we each took home a portion. It was fun to relax and laugh and forget I had to write three tipsheets when I got home.
Now the tipsheets are done, and I'm going to have a glass of wine and read a book. I did my yoga today, hoping to slow down my motor. I think it strengthened my muscles--I can almost stand on my left foot without any bracing from the toes of the right. But I'm not sure what it did for my internal motor.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The election--what else?

I was way too tired to blog last night. I had friends over to watch, because I was nervous and didn't want to watch alone. My neighbors, Jay and Sue, complained about the small size of my TV and wanted to move the party (I hate big TVs that dominate the room). They were so noisy, the rest of us were glad when they left. That left five of us watching, enjoying talking about what was going on. They left a little before ten, and I swear I went to brush my teeth and missed a historic moment. By the time I'd gotten ready for bed, let the dog in, and settled at my desk, they were saying McCain had conceded. I couldn't believe it! I had expected to go to bed with the election unsettled, but hey! I got to watch McCain's speech--he was incredibly gracious and charming and was the McCain I had once admired, not the mean-spirited man who campaigned. And then of course I watched Obama--as a child of Chicago, the Grant Park setting was sentimental for me. And the speech was wonderful. Most of my friends--why are all my friends liberal?--woke up feeling euphoric this morning, but I didn't. I felt relief but a certain uncertainty--Barack Obama has so much to prove now that he's gotten this far and he has such an enormous task before him. I desperately want him to be equal to it, but I know that nobody can turn the course of this country in months, perhaps even years. Yet I am hopeful, and I'm very aware of the importance of the historic moment--I saved the newspapers, probably for Jacob, because his parents don't subscribe to the weekday paper. Someone needs to remind those children that even though they were too young to remember, they lived through a historic moment.
I asked Mel if Maddie and Edie, being older, stayed up, but she said no, they were tired because of the time change. She put them to bed and told them when they woke up Barack Obama would be president. Then in an email this morning, she confessed she was a weepy mess last night--so were a lot of people.
One of the things that most impressed me was the expression on Jesse Jackson's face as he stood in Grant Park--almost tears, but a look of wonder, of quiet satisfaction. I've not always been a Jackson fan, but I tried to imagine what it must feel like, for him, for others like him, to see an African American elected president. It was truly a night to remember, and I think it will take time to sink in.
Everything else, including writing mysteries, seems to pale in the face of the election. I brought home an incredible amount of work from the office today, have made pretty good headway but don't expect to get anywhere near my own projects tonight.
And my thoughts are on Christmas, which will come incredibly soon. And so will Thanksgiving. Fun, but lots to be done.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Family lifestyle

These pictures are Sawyer and his dad working on the garage door Brandon built for him--after they had repaired their real garage door. B. used a coke carton or something similar for the garage and rigged a slatted door that Sawyer could pull up and down. But the pictures speak volumes to me about how Megan and Brandon are raising their children. They've apparentaly worked out a schedule whereby he gets up with the children on Saturday, while she sleeps, and she gets up on Sunday. Sunday was the day I spent with them rather than going to the book festival, and when B. got up at ten, he went straight to work on the door he'd started the night before. Megan and I spent the morning playing with Ford and the horses and stable I'd sent for his b'day. There was tons of work to be done around that house, but they devoted their time to playing with the boys. About eleven, we were all on the porch admiring the garage door, and one of them asked, "What's the plan for the day?" and the other said, "I don't know. What's the plan?" Then the subject went away--there was no plan. After a while we had lunch, and I asked about the plan. They didn't know and asked about my plan. I said I thought I'd go to my guest apt., read, do my yoga, take a nap and shower. They said that sounded good. When I wandered back to the house two or three hours later, B. and Sawyer were on a bike ride, Megan had gotten on a cleaning and sorting kick, and Ford was happily playing around her. She talked of talking him for a ride on her bike but that never materialized. About 5, it appeared that Sawyer really really wanted to go to Loew's to buy springs for his garage door, so we all went for a trip that was so long Megan and Ford and I sat in the car and watched the sunset. Then it was back home, rush to feed the boys, get them to bed, and dinner for the adults at eight or eight-thirty.
My point in recounting all this is that they don't have a plan. They just play with their kids and enjoy them, and they make me feel guilty. I always had a plan, always had things I had to do. I didn't play with them all the time--I let them play with each other. Of course there were four, not two, and they played amicably, but still I often wasn't part of it.Yes, I took them to parks and zoos and skipped along paths with them and all that, but when at home, I had things to do. How could I have thought those things were more important than my children? They don't seem to have suffered, and Megan pointed out to me last night that it's a different world these days--B. takes equal responsibility for feeding, diapering and all that--this morning, getting the boys fed and ready for school was as much his responsibility as Megan's. And I think that's wonderful. But I am left with this lingering--why didn't I do that? Why was I so fixated on chores and clean kitchens and meals planned ahead of time? I comfort myself that my kids all turned out to be fine people, so I must not have scarred them.
This morning, two-year-old Ford, who was still a bit unsure about me this weekend because he doesn't see me often, brought me a book to read and pointed to a big chair where we could read it together. After that Sawyer brought a book, and the three of us read it together, with Sawyer pointing out to me that he could read because he recognized "the" twice in one sentence. Be still, my heart! Moments worth gold.
I am home and glad to be. My dog and cat are glad to be back in their routine. I'm tired but caught up on mail and email and ready, slowly, to go back to routine.
I've already voted. Have you?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Book festival and family visits

Here I am in Austin, for the Texas Book Festival and to visit Megan and Brandon, Sawyer and Ford. Melinda and I,with her friend K.K., arrived at the house in the middle of trick-or-treat time, so while M&B took the boys, we sat in the front yard and gave out treats. Lots of fun, some wonderful costumes, and mostly very polite, pleasant children. When things quieted down, Megan said, "I'm starving. When I asked what was for supper, she said,"I don't have a clue." We cobbled together a rotini and meat sauce dish with salad and it was delicious. Last night she brined and Brandon grilled pork chops and she made polenta with cheese, while I did a salad. Another delicious meal, and the polenta was great for breakfast, although both boys declined it.
I have forgotten how hectic a household is with a 4-yr-old and a 2-yr old, but these are active boys and something is going on all the time, most of it noisy and happy. They were witches for Halloween and are still wearing their costumes around two days later. Fortuitously "The Wizard of Oz"was on TV this moning. Sawyer is the more serious of the two and ask such questions as how to spell bomb hole, followed by "What isa bomb hole?" He is very interested in explosions. In fact, he's very interested in how everything works. Ford is more mischieivous, with a twinkle in his eye that makes you think he is planning mischief.
The book festival was fun though tiring and hot. Still I saw lots of people I was glad to see and our books seemed to sell well and looked great in our display. I'm hoping Melinda took a picture. We had two books featured and went to the sessions on both to cheer. Met authors, designers, and others I was glad to make the connection with, so it was a day well spent.