Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wow! What a day!

I started the day with an 8 appt. for cleaning--only cleaning, nothng more. But I've had some traumatic dental appointments in the last six months, and even the idea freaked me out--and called forth my anxiety. I could barely make it down my own driveway, though I did so by devious routes. The receptionist in the dental office is one of the sweetest persons I've ever met, so when I got there I called and asked her to come out and walk me in. She did, and walked me out, and said she'd be glad to do it anytime. I spooked myself--and I think the staff--by taking a colossal pratfall there several months ago. But it was after a very long session (three hours?) of mostly drilling, and both the dental staff and my own doctor told me it was not unusual to be unsteady and disoriented by such a prolonged time in the dental chair. But still the incident has spooked me, so now I'm leery of going in and out of the office. That, my friends, is how phobias develop!
When I got back to the office, we had staff meeting at which I garnered a whole lot more chores and then we went to the monthly book luncheon sponsored by Human Resources. This time, I was the star and the program was about my cookbook/memoir. Shari, a good friend from HR, decided that we would do a demonstration, so we made Colin's queso and finally passed out samples for everyone. The lunch dishes were from my book--Doris' casserole, a green salad (not from the book), and bundt cake, although they used white cake mix instead of the chocolate I usually use. But everyone liked it, especially the casserole. Shari asked me questions, and then the audience did--44 women and 1 man, larger group than usual--and it was fun answering them. Shari announced afterward that I am comedic, but I told her it was only because I had her to play off of. But everyone did laugh a lot, and it was lots of fun. And I sold 19 books--not bad at all.
After all that I came home and took a long and good nap. But I had used up so many many Weight Watchers points that I couldn't think what I wanted for dinner--and Jacob was coming to spend the night. So I made myseslf creamed tuna, and served him a tiny bit of it, half an avocado, some spinach rotelle, cheese, and cottage cheese. He arrived crying, glued on the TV, finally came to the dinner table but was obviously unhappy about the DVD--kept saying "I want out." So I changed the DVD. He ate a bit of cottage cheese and that was it. Later in the evening he did brighten enough to play "Where's Jacob?" and then put his froggie over my face and we played "Where's Juju." I finally got him to bed and got a sweet good-night kiss but he insisted on leaving the light on so I have to sneak in and see if he's asleep so I can turn it off.
The Fort Worth ISD has closed all its schools from tomorrow until May 11. Since Jacob's pre-school follows the ISD I'm not sure what will happen. And I'm not sure what to think about this swine flu epidemic and/or scare.
Yes, folks, I'm ready for bed myself. A nice but tiring day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Anxiety and a sense of humor

My anxiety problems come and go, and right now, after a period when I was soooo self-confident and walked across parking lots with ease, they've come back. Another name for the problem is agoraphobia, which as far as I can tell has two meanings: fear of fear (probably with me all my life, accounting for a dislike of flying, though I do it on occasion, a dislike of being in an elevator by myself), a pure avoidance of escalators, etc. But another is fear of open spaces, and that's what's tripping me up right now. I particularly have trouble getting from my house to the car in the garage and back again and also getting into my office, though like many phobics I have devishly clever ways of coping, circumventing, etc. But this time I am much more philosophical about the whole thing--I refuse to live my whole life this way, and I know it will pass, as it always does. My doctor tells me there's no accoutning for when it comes and goes, so I've tried to stop analyzing whether or not it's the dentist appt. in the morning or the lunchtime speaking engagement (actually I think I'll enjoy that). Since I once took a spectacular fall outside the dentist office, they know me and I only have to call and ask them to walk me in and out, and they're gracious. So I'm trying very hard not to take it seriously, not to let it dominate my thoughts, and to be honest about it. When Sandy, whose window looks out from our side of the office, asked why I went in the other door today, I explained that I'd had a panic attack going in the usual way the other day, and she seemed to take that just fine. So wish me luck, folks. I think this will be a mild attack, short in duration, and I'm optimistic. Meantime I'm coping. Now if I could banish those 6 a.m. thoughts!
Had lunch with two friends today who are both on Weight Watchers--it sure does make for conversation.Jeannie thinks my point limit is too low, but Jean says it's because I'm shorter than Jeannie. Anyway tonight I had a good supper and just barely stayed within my points for the day--half a sirloin pattie on rye bread with mayo and sliced tomato, and a salad made of the rest of the tomato, an avocado (the point killer, even though it's good for you), blue cheese (just a little) and lemon juice. My oh my, I did enjoy that, with a glass of wine of course (another point killer).
A working day. Got lots done at the office--writing contracts, etc., all acquisitions work that I enjoy. Plus the GooglePrint settlement keeps rearing its ugly head--and getting more confusing each time. Then came home to a desk full of projects, including promoting the cookbook. But I have a new novel idea kicking around in the back of my mind. Wrote a longtime friend about it today, just exploring, and he thought it was really good and could go places. So now I'm determined to finish the WIP (Sisters in Crime shorthand for work in progress) and get on with this new, totally different project that will require me to go back and research a lot of material I once researched thoroughly. But since I've been looking for a project that will engage me, this may be it. Moving on, I think, is always good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stormy day

It was a dark and stormy night . . . okay, no, it was a dark and stormy morning. I heard the thunder about six this morning and thought with dread about getting Scooby to go out. He is terrified of storms, but I can't leave him in because if I'm not watching him, his house manners are out the door. He has a secure, safe, dry doghouse outside, plus I know he has to pee and he wants his breakfast. But when 50 lbs. of frantic dog resists you on a leash, it's touch and go. I told Jordan she should call me every stormy morning to make sure he hasn't pulled me down. I try to hang on to something as I drag him outside--a piece of furniture, a counter, etc. Once this morning I thought he'd pull me down and I almost let go of the leash, but I righted myself and finally got him outside. After which I called a cheery, "Thank you." Not sure if I was thanking Scooby or the Lord. Tonight of course, he's lying sweetly at my feet. Here he is in his summer haircut--looks so cute. My friend Gayla has a standard mahoghany collie that when we first saw was shaved--I had no idea how beautiful and majestic she'd turn out to be. I told Gayla she should never shave her again--but majestic is a word we'll never apply to Scooby, and he really looks good with short hair and seems more comfortable. We're supposed to have scattered storms tomorrow--pray they don't come at eight a.m.
Lisa called just after I got Scooby out and I told her I was anxious to hear about their weekend but didn't want to talk because it was lightning. When Colin called tonight I told him that I'd hung up on his wife and why, and he said it was an old wives' tale. But once when Megan was insulted I said that to her, I found internet evidence, sent it to her, and both she and Brandon apologized. You are NOT supposed to talk on a land line or take a shower when it's lightning. Cell phones are not perfectly safe but better.
A busy work day. I got a lot done, including some things that were difficult for me, like rejecting a friend's manuscript. Still have more of that kind of thing to do, but I made great progress today. Academic publishing these days is a lot more complicated than it was ten years ago. I did office work when I came home, had a nap, did my yoga, fixed supper, and then really did write about six pages. Feeling good about that.
And the best news is that after six days on Weight Watchers I've lost not quite two pounds. I'm learning about free foods, etc. And I'm feeling good about being in this for the long haul until I lose twenty pounds. Just think, only 18 to go.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lazy, nice Sunday

This is Jacob this morning after he found some markers and I sat him at his play table with plenty of blank paper and a stern caution to draw only on the paper. Then I turned my back, which was my big mistake. I started to wash him and then decided I would leave it for his parents to see. He was so proud of himself, and they thought it was a hoot. By tonight most of it was gone.
Jordan came for Jacob about ten but hung around for an hour. I had been cooking in between checking on him, so by the time they left I only had to take a shower and eat lunch and my day was under way.
Tonight Jay went out to Jordan's about three and spent almost three hours helping her trim trees, etc.--Christian had gotten stuck at the restaurant with a huge party who drank their way through the afternoon, and he didn't get home until almost 6:30. By then Susan and I were out there, and I had put the enchilada casserole into the oven to heat. It's an unusual casserole in that it uses polenta slices instead of tortillas--much easier to put together. With it, I fixed a bean salad and it was a good meal, if I do say so. I blew all my Weight Watchers points though--actually not too badly. Polenta is nothing but corn meal and water, and I used ground buffalo for the meat sauce. Of course, I didn't have to have that second helping.
At least I'd done very well on points up until dinner--cottage cheese for breakfast, smoked salmon (1 oz.) and cream cheese (1 Tbsp) for one point each, plus a tomato and a half cup of raspberries, both no points, for lunch. I'm learning this system. Now I must school myself to be patient. I know weight doesn't drop off at ten lbs. a week or something wonderful like that.
Tomorrow back to the world of books, with lots of emails piled up that I have to deal with.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Introducing new foods to a three-year-old

Master Jacob is spending the night tonight and has been in really good humor the whole evening, laughing, talking, teasing, hiding from me, etc. A contrast to the nights when he's been in day care and is sooooo tired. I decided I would enlarge his food horizons, so I cut a sweet potato into cubes, tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked it, steamed some asparagus (pretty tough and woody), and gave him leftover pork tenderloin (which he declined earlier in the week) and avocado. Jordan always puts his food on a china plate, heats it in the microwave, and then transfers it to one of his plastic plates. I did that, but big mistake--I put the avocado on the plate and heated it. Jacob informed me it was nasty. Long story short, he spit out eveything he took a bite of, and I was really glad I didn't share my Dover sole with him. I broke down and did what goes against my principles--made him a piece of cheese toast, which he said he wanted but barely ate two bites of. Still, it's a grandmother's privilege to indulge so I gave him one cookie--but I held firm when he wanted a second. Jordan advises giving him his milk early so he can pee before he gets his night diaper. Did that, but then when I had him all set for bed, he wanted more milk (and no, the session on the potty was a bust--he said, "No peepee."). I thought what the heck? Milk is good for him. He took one sip and threw the sippee cup on the floor--it's now in the fridge for morning. But he went peacefully and happily to bed. He has been fascinated by the monitor in my office, so I told him if he sang me a song I could hear him but all I hear is him rattling around. When he were in Houston, Jordan decided he couldn't sleep in his pack-and-play because he was too long, but I had him stretch out in mine tonight and he still fits.
Other than Jacob's visit, the day was a bust. Other than an early trip to Central Market--where I had to ask for help from the cart guy to get across the driveway (made me so mad!)--I did zilch, wandered around, emptied the recycle thing, read a bit, just piddled, and knew I needed to be engaged. So after I ate my lunch, I cleaned the refrigerator, made the meat sauce for tomorrow night's casserole, steamed the asparagus for tonight, and cleaned the indoor grill which I had ignored since cooking the pork tenderloins on Tuesday. Made me feel a lot better to move around and do things.
I do get to read a lot when Jacob is here--he plays contentedly with the toys in the playroom, and I sit and read. Occasionally he comes to have a long conversation with me, about half of which I get. We play "Where's Jacob?" much to his delight, and tonight he gave Scooby a bone--something he's been afraid of lately. So it's been a pleasant day and most pleasant evening.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring in Texas

It's been warm and windy lately--typical spring weather. Last night Sue and I sat on the porch with glasses of wine and caught up, enjoying the lovely evening. Tonight it was breezier but I took a book and a glass of wine outside and mostly spent my time gazing at the trees that have now all leafed out. I live in an older neighborhood (my house was built in 1922) where the trees arch over the street, and when I sit on my porch I can ignore the traffic and feel surrounded by a forest. The oak tree at the west edge of my property fascinates me--it was so little when I moved it (I'm sure it was a volunteer that no one trimmed back) but now, 15 years later, it is a magnificent tree. In front, by the curb, there's a huge old elm that a few years ago went through a spell of losing big branches. Since it's technically the city's tree, I always lived in fear that they'd just cut the whole thing down but so far they haven't. I did worry a bit tonight as I watched some of the larger branches sway in the wind. They said we might have severe weather today, but no signs of it. Rain would be most welcome--it is badly needed--but I can do without thunder, lightning and hail. I love a good storm, but I've lived in Texas long enough to be leery of them--and Scooby is impossible if it storms, scared to death. A friend called me this afternoon from, oh, maybe a mile-and-a-half way and said it was sprinkling at his house--not at mine! I think my love of storms traces back to childhood summers in the Indiana Dunes, where we had a cabin at the very foot of Lake Michigan and could watch storms roll down the length of the lake.
As I sat on the porch tonight I watched a swarm of activity at my neighbors' across the street--lots of cars (mostly SUVs), young boys running back and forth, and then a pickup pulling a trailer that said "Troop ????" (sorry, I don't remember). But I think they're having a massive campout in their backyard--and I wish them well. It made me a bit nostalgic for the days when my boys were in scouting. I remember once when Jamie was going on an weekend camping trip and had gotten his shoes all wet and muddy (he never could avoid a puddle), so I dried them on the space heater in our 1920s fireplace--too shallow for a fire and obviously built for a gas heater. Of course, I fried them--and had to call friends who had a shoe store and ask them to meet us early. Then I ran by the gathering point for the scouts, asked them to be patient, and went off to buy Jame new shoes. I love all those memories of the good old days--and the odd details that pop up in my mind.
Busy at work today but lazy since I got home, mostly reading a novel. I wish I had a project that engaged me. I'm so uncertain about the mystery and about the future of my efforts in that direction that I procrastinate. I need a lesson in positive thinking.
My Weight Watchers plan is going okay. Today after eating tuna for lunch I was still hungry so I ate a banana--that adds a lot of points. And tonight I had a small piece of chocolate. My good friend Elizabeth, who lost a lot of weight using the online program, urged me to eat chocolate occasionally because I like it so well. It was a welcome treat. Generally I am finding the diet just fine but am amazed at how fast I can use up the points.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


When I email my kids, I often put "Stuff" in the subject line. It drives Jordan wild, because she doesn't like to deal with more than one topic at a time. But this post is about "stuff."

My friend Gayla was waxing eloquent the other day about her collie--a dog that needed rescuing and I found for her and she is now desperately attached to. When I first "interviewed" Eppi (her name as something else then), she had been shaved, and I couldn't tell for sure what she would look like. (Gayla had sent me to interview the dog, which was one of the funnier tasks I've been assigned.) But Gayla has let her coat grow out and she is a magnificent, regal mahoghany collie. I replied that majestic was a word we'd never apply to Scooby, but he looks so cute in his summer haircut (a long coat doesn't do for him what it does for Eppi--just makes him look shaggy in summer). So here's my best attempt to capture a picture of how cute Scooby is. Okay, one of us moved, and the picture is fuzzy, for which I apologize--but he really is a beautiful example of an Australian sheperd, and he lives up to the breed's reputation for energy. At nine, he thinks he's two.
I'm doing well on Weight Watchers (big deal--after three days), so it's kind of ironic to send folks to a site with a gravy recipe. But there is a champagne/mushroom gravy recipe on a blog I follow regularly that, even though I haven't tried it, sounds wonderful. If you're interested, google "The Diva Dishes." Krista Davis writes mysteries, and her first--The Diva Runs Out of Thyme--was a real treat. Her blog is full of helpful cooking hints, and I'm sure she'd welcome new readers. The gravy is on the post for Wednesday, April 22. Sounds like it would be wonderful on a roasted chicken breast. I always dislike dry chicken. Hmmm--wonder how many points that gravy adds. I was gratified today to learn that mushrooms, pickles, and sugar snap peas don't add points. I had leftover pork tenderloin (again!) for supper, with sauteed mushrooms and snap peas--and yes, I counted the Tbsp. of butter I used.
It was Texas summer hot today, or almost--in the mid-80s. Sue came over about seven-thirty tonight, and we chatted over wine on the porch. It's been too long since we've caught up with each other, but it was so lovely to sit on the porch, even with the wind blowing fairly strongly.
I've been consumed with office work this week and haven't gotten back to my manuscript. I feel as though I am always justifying why I haven't written, but it does occur to me that ideas percolate around in my brain. Today I was to have lunch with Fred and get his opinion on my latest plot twists, but he came up sick this morning. So I emailed him. I think, of course, that what would give me that final push is something positive about the first novel, which has now been with a publisher for 3-1/2 months. I would think that's a good sign. I find I do rejections quickly but true acquisitions take longer. And that's one of my problems at the office--I'm in the midst of presenting acquisitions to the board and finding really diverse reactions. But for my own manuscript, I'm afraid to be that optimistic. Writing is sure a lot more than putting words on paper.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cookbooks and diet--what a combination

The cookbook is in the warehouse at A&M now, and I'm hearing nice things from my friends there about the recipes they want to cook, etc. And I'm slowly giving copies to the people who contributed recipes. Had dinner with Betty tonight and gave her one. Now begins the real work of marketing. Finally figured out why I couldn't post the cover--I had a pdf and needed a jpeg. Ah, the technicalities I learn! Anyway if you're interested you can order copies by calling 1-800-826-8911.
When my friends Jean and Jeannie announced they had joined Weight Watchers, I smiled at them tolerantly. When Jeannie told me the other day she's lost l2 lbs. I paid more attention. Then this week I went to the doctor and it was clear I have not made any headway in losing the weight I gained over the past 6-8 months. So I signed up for Weight Watchers online--I don't really want to go to meetings, and I'm so used to being at the computer, this should work fine for me. I was going to keep it a secret, but my kids will tell you I'm awful about keeping secrets. Besides, I thought going public on the blog would make me stick to it--just as having to pay to participate will make the Scottish blood in me determined to stick to it. So, here I am, 24 hours later, trying to learn the point system. Jeannie assured me it was easy, I could eat whatever I wanted, and I'd never use up all my points. I don't know what she's eating, but my points add up pretty quickly. And of course I'm still learning which foods are what they call filler foods--fill you up without adding a lot of points. Today I learned that grapes are emphatically not filler foods--they cost. But yesterday and today, I have managed to stay within my point limit--just barely. And I haven't been hungry, though I admit to a terrible longing for chocolate right after lunch. Chocolate is off my list for a long time to come--which will also save me grocery money because I was buying wonderful gourmet milk chocolate bars with peants and jalapenos, me who doesn't like peppers! OK, I've got to stop talking about that or I'll break down and eat some. But truly, I have eaten well, foods I like. Tonight at an upscale restaurant I had Caesar salad--a lot of points but not like I'd ordered the signature chicken friend steak with green onion mashers (doesn't that sound good?). Wish me luck with this folks. If I could lose 20 lbs. I would be a really happy camper.
I tried to diet last night, but it was hard--Jordan and family came for dinner, and she requested baked potatoes to go with the grilled pork tenderloin (I found out I can do that on the indoor grill quite nicely--in fact, it was delicious and I have leftovers), broccoli and salad. I only ate a very little bit of potato with butter and sour cream, but my goodness it was good.
Jacob was in an effervescent mood after he sort of recovered from his day at school. He got to boxing with his shadow on the kitchen wall and had us in hysterics. He saw the large bruise on my arm (more frightening than serious) and thereafter asked to see it 43 times, asking his mom one time, "Is it dirty?" After he determined it wasn't dirty, he kissed it to make it better. He doesn't realize he's a star in the cookbook world yet :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Talking to another author

Sometimes it’s fun to catch up with other members of Sisters in Crime about their new books and what’s happening in their careers. Lately I’ve been in correspondence with Sylvia Dickey Smith, who’s doing a blog tour to promote Dead Wreckoning, the third in her Sidra Smart series. Sid is a private investigator/bounty hunter, after abandoning a 30-year life as a preacher’s wife. Talk about a huge leap! Sylvia is noted though for writing about women finding their power, and that’s sure the case here. When I mentioned that the book made me think of Stephanie Plum meets Carl Hiassen, albeit in Southeast Texas rather than Florida, Sylvia responded that she’s also been inspired by Dean Koontz’s early works, Stuart Woods’ Under the Lake, and Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series.
There’s what I call a delicate suggestion of the paranormal in Dead Wreckoning, and Sylvia said that’s just what she intended—she’s never seen a ghost (nor have I) but she’s open to the possibility that they exist, and she wanted the approach in this book to be similar. So Sid sees a phantom pirate ship and even Jean Lafitte’s pirate queen, Mary Anne Radcliff. Does she really see them? You’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself. I do have to add here that we had a good family friend who claimed to be psychic and saw ghosts in a house that I lived in for many years—he assured me they were friendly. Another friend spent a night in the guest room and talked about the men who woke her up, but they too were harmless. Like Sylvia, I’m open to the possibility.
I was most interested to ask Sylvia about her decision to publish with L & L Dreamspell, a small, independent publisher located just outside Houston. She said she’d tried the agent route a couple of times, became discouraged, and decided to try small publishers—it’s a decision I can identify with, because I’m considering it myself. For writers who concern themselves with this kind of thing, L & L Dreamspell pays a royalty/advance and offers contracts. It is NOT self publishing. They are distributed through the major wholesalers and actively work with authors to market their books. And they’re particularly drawn to the paranormal.
So congratulations to Sylvia on publishing her third book in the series and maybe for not playing the “I want an agent” game too long. Does she still want an agent? Of course, but she didn’t let the search for one stand in the way of publication and for that I applaud her.
If you like suspense thrillers with a hint of the paranormal, you can order Dead Wreckoning from

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Books & Music in the Garden

Today was Books & Music in the Garden, an event I inaugurated last year but began to view with some trepdition this year. Last year we had 225 people; this year we're lucky if we had a hundred, and I suspect 75 is closer to the number we'll arrive at. But those who came had a thoroughly wonderful experience. The garden, an old, long-established but well maintained one, belongs to a prominent family in town (which probably brought out some curiosity seekrs) and it was absolutely gorgeous though the owner said she wished we had done the event two weeks earlier when the azaleas and iris were at their best. I still thought it was wonderful today--full of statuary, still with a bright bank of azaleas, and a wonderful weeping willow that I kept staring up at. There were many areas to the garden--a pool, a gazebo, various nooks and crannies, places for people to sit. We scattered author tables and refreshment tables throughout, so that people could wander.
I had viewed this event with some trepidation because the only two times I visited the garden, my footing was so uncertain that I clung to whoever I was with, and so I was spooked about today But I got much better and did well, except for some steps. Jeannie was as ever good about walking me around until I told her there would be rumors about us holding hands. But because I was one of the signing authors, I pretty much sat in one place--and I really did sign books--both the two small books I've done--Extraordinary Texas Women and Great Texas Chefs--and the new cookbook/memoir. I was tickled that several people I did not know at all bought the cookbook. And the bookseller, from our TCU Barnes & Noble, told me at the end of the event she was about halfway through it and intended to start cooking for her children from my recipes.
The hostess, home owner, Therese Moncrief, was graciousness personnified, so happy to have us there and to open her gardens to us, even though she and her family obviously had other events going on. She praised us for reaching out with new ideas--combining gardens, books and music--and she commented that we all worked so well together and seemed to like each other so much. Well, that's because Jeannie and Jean, two of my closest friends, were the party coordinators, and Melinda and Susan were the go-fers, doing whatever needed to be done and chatting with guests. Therese kept thanking us, and we kept thanking her, and I think everybody felt good about the day.
I did come home and breathe a sigh of relief that it was over, as I'm sure all of us did. But we can rest on our laurels tonight.
I tried again to post the cover of the cookbook but it just won't do it. Sorry about that. And it's not on amazon yet either. So trust me, if you want it in a hurry, call 1-800-826-8911.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A typical spring Saturday

Saturdays in spring are special--lazy, comfortable, all that. Today I rushed around and went to the grocery and vet (for that expensive weight management dog food) and then the nursery where I bought double blossom impatiens (I'm not a big fan of impatiens but it does well in shade and double blossom is different than the usual kind) and some sweet potato plants to put with it in my planter boxes, which face north. Planted hens and checks in the bird feeder that I bought and then realized I didn't want to feed every squirrel and grackle in Tarrant County. Those succulents are about the only thing with shallow enough roots to do well in that feeder. And I finally got my basil into a pot in a sunny location. One remaining chore: epoxy the decorative birds to the feeder before Jacob takes one off and smashes it. I'm always a bit afraid of epoxy--I think I fear I will glue my fingers together.
Last night I fixed myself Dover sole, one of my staples, and had a piece left over that, yeah, I could have eaten, but I didn't need too. So today it made a great sandwich with a slice of tomato, a slice of onion, and some mayo on rye bread. But as I was walking through the dining room lunch in hand I glanced out the window and saw Jay climbing an impossible-to-climb fence. Then, holding on to the side of his house, he walked along the top of the fence between us. I held by breath until he was safely on the ground, and then I clapped but they didn't hear me. He and Susan had brought the tall stalk of a dead cactus bloom (I do mean tall--24 ft.) around and tied it to the fence by their bird feeder so the birds could feed on the seeds or dead blossoms or whatever. It does look sort of weird, but I'll watch to see if birds come to it.
Tonight, Jay and Susan and I went to Jordan's for happy hour--and to give Jordan a copy of the cookbook. Her friend, Addie, spent a long time leafing through it, going "oooh" and "aaah--that makes me hungry" so of course each time I wanted to know what recipe she was looking at. I was tickled that none of them seemed to read the narrative, memoir parts. I had taken southwestern tuna (out of the book) and a block of cheese from Cabot Creamery in Vermont. On the way out I told Jay and Susan I wanted us to taste this aged white cheddar because the creamery had contracted me about supply cheese for an event as part of their publicity program. Jay, a Vermont native, knew all about it and said he orders it all the time. And it was delicious.
By 7:30 I was ravenous, even though I'd snacked. All I could think about was getting home and fixing some supper. Our trip home was marred because Jay got a call that a good friend, who has been ill, was in the ER. But I came home and grilled a chopped sirloin burger and made an avocado/blue cheese/tomato salad with lemon. I'm now feeling a little less ravenous.
I did pick up 24 doz. cookies today for tomorrow's event, and Jeannie came and got them, the case of wine I had, and the paper towels. I am so worried about the fact that she's knocking herself out over this event, and I don't seem to be doing much. But Jeannie is the party planner par excellence--she knows what she's doing, and my sense is she wants to be left alone to do it, asks for help when she needs it. We'll leave about 11:30 in the morning for a 2:00 p.m. event. We're supposed to have sunny weather tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

From Down to Up

Today is a much better day and I regret the whiny post of yesterday. Biggest thing of the day is that about 3:30 p.m. I got advance copies of my cookbook/memoir. It looks good. (I tried twice to upload the cover and couldn't--maybe tomorrow the whims of the internet will be different.) I've thumbed through it, with some nostalgia, but not looked too closely. There has never ever been a book published without errors, and I don't want to find them in this one. But the pictures all seem to be there, and I'm excited about it. It should be in Barnes & Noble and other stores in a couple of weeks, but--blatant advertising--you can order it from 1-800-826-8911. $18.95 plus shipping and tax. I'm hoping the TCU B&N can sell copies Sunday at Books & Music in the Garden, and I'm trying to be creative about publicizing and marketing this one. Obviously State House Press is not sending me on even a Texas tour, but I hope to use the web (my attempt just now to post on Facebook was a bust!), emails etc. to get the word out. Some critics said only my good friends would buy it, and I'm hoping that's wrong--but, hey, I have a lot of good friends. And the recipes really are pretty good.
If the approach of rain makes you blue, as it did me last night, I think the actual arrival somehow clears the air, though it sure isn't cheering. We need the rain desperately, and it was gratefully received this morning, but I had to remind myself of that as I darted from car to door and back again several times. It never rained hard enough and I never went far enough to put up the umbrella, but I did get chilled and wet. First thing this morning I went for a haircut, and as she combed it Rosa said, "It will just fall anyway today." It held up pretty well through noon but then I developed that wet puppy look.
Charles and I had lunch at the Black-Eyed Pea today--a real treat for me, but I found he eats there often (all the waitresses greet him enthusiastically). Charles has a whole life I don't realize, mostly through his Unitarian Church, and it really is a blessing for him. We had a good visit, but he turned down my invitation to go to Central Market with me, said he gets too tired. I hate to see these signs in him. He's on oxygen now and carries a small tank with him wherever he goes--but go he does, and more power to him!
By the time we left the restaurant, it had stopped raining. I dropped him off, doubled back to Central Market, and hurried home to hibernate.
Overnight I made a decision about what I'm going to do about my novel, and then today got an email from an author who I promised I would blog about her book. So I have chores I'm looking forward to.
I was tempted to run out to Jordan's tonight to show off the cookbook, but once home I was too cozy to go out again (I did ride my bike four miles!). I'll go tomorrow night for happy hour.
Reservations are a bit up for Books & Music in the Garden, it's supposed to be a beautiful day, and I'm feeling more optimistic about it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A blah day

I started today full of fire and energy, my mind on a lot of small problems at the office that I hadn't dealt with. But by noon, I had lost that burst of energy and sort of floated around the house, doing a bit of this and a dab of that. I think I can tell that it's going to rain and the barometer is falling, because that's how I feel--blah! I did finally read a book that had been staring at me and write the author in response, and I went to dinner with Betty--but the spaghetti didn't sit well and I was sorry I'd eaten it. I'm going to have to work hard on my attitude!
I wrote one paragraph tonight--get that, one paragraph. But I'm at a crossroads in the novel and can't think my way out of the tangle I've gotten into. I think I'll have to ask mentor Fred to have lunch next week and hash out the plot problems with him. I am reminded that Jamie once said the reason I write historical fiction is that I'm so poor at plotting. I think he may be right.
Tomorrow I am to get the first copies of my cookbook/memoir, and that should perk me right up out of the doldrums. Also going to get a haircut, which is always good for the mood. I asked Jeannie seriously if my longer hair ages me, and she said no, she and Jean had talked about how much they like it this way. So there goes the idea of going shorter again. Melinda laughed at me when I asked if long hair aged me: "First of all," she said, "you don't have long hair."
Then tomorrow Charles and I have a date to eat the veggie plate at the Black-Eyed Pea. I'm going to see if I can drag him to Central Market too. Should be a brighter day, even if it's raining.
This is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Strunk and White Elements of Style. I know the book of course and have used it occasionally, but I was amused to read a grammarian's essay tonight on how much damage that book, with its idiosyncratic style, has done to American grammar, making us all self-conscioius writers who worry excessively about the passive voice and the use of adverbs and adjectives.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brussel sprouts

The lowly Brussel sprout. Most people despise them. I remember eating them boiled as a child and not particularly liking them. When my kids were little, I used to douse them in hollandaise which went over fairly well. Since my brother's son is named Russell, we called them Russell sprouts. But I haven't thought much about them in years. Recently one or two attempts to shred and pan fry or shred and roast proved sort of disastrous. But tonight I roasted them--tossed them in olive oil, lots of salt and pepper, and put them in a 400 oven. It may be that's too hot or my oven runs too hot, but the outer leaves charred. Still the outside was crisp and the inside soft and good. I really enjoyed them. I also made salmon croquettes. Megan called while I was cooking and said, "Yummm!" When the kids were little for a while we had the teenage daughter of friends living with us--they had moved, and she wanted to finish high school where she had started--also didn't want to leave her boyfriend. At the same time, we had a pediatrician friend who was a bachelor, and he used to show up unannounced for dinner. I can remember one night when Jeanine looked out the window, saw him turn in the driveway, and asked, "Why does he always show up when we're having salmon croquettes?" They were a great favorite then and remain one now. My mom taught me to ignore all those recipes that call for mashed potatoes and use cracker crumbs as filler. I made a small can of salmon into croquettes tonight, so I had some for dinner--and, double yummm!--some left for a sandwich tomorrow at noon.
I'm in a phase of writing little bit, no matter how little nor how mundane, every night. I figure it's sort of like putting one foot in front of the other. My full manuscript of the first novel in the series has been out to one publisher since eary February, but I vow to be patient--they require an exclusive, so I'm not submitting elsewhere. And that's kind of pleasant--not to worry about who I should be querying. I've about decided, as cometitive as the mystery market is, to forego the agent route and concentrate on small publishers. And if no one picks up the two books I've done, I have an idea for a historical mystery, but it would involve lots of research.
Today Jeannie and I went shopping for supplies for the Books & Music in the Garden event Sunday--that girl is nothing if not efficient. We went to the Party Warehouse, Costco, Swiss Pastry Shop (where we stopped long enough for lunch and I wolfed down a bratwurst, kraut and German potato salad), and finally the liquor store--all in about two hours. Along the way, though, we snuck in a stop at a funny mall-like place where one booth features Flax clothing--Jeannie dragged me in there, didn't buy anything, but I did. I got a lovely shirt that is sort of a peacock blue and shimmers with different colors, the way that peacock feathers do. John and Cindy gave me a flax dress for Christmas that I really enjoy wearing, so they kind of led me into this too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cats and dogs

This will come as no surprise to anyone, let alone me, but cats are finicky. I have a wonderful new petsitter, a big gentle man nicknamed Moksha. He comes twice a day and emails me after each visit. When he's here, he brings Scooby into the house (something I would never do until evening for fear I'd never get him out again), and the three of them--Moksha, Scooby, and Wywy sit on the couch while he loves on them and talks to them. My neighbor even commented that she heard him talking to Wywy through the door, and he was so kind and gentle. I love on my animals, but in passing--Moksha does it deliberately. Scooby loves the attention, and I swear his face fell when he saw it was me Sunday night. But other than being a little extra demanding and in a hurry to go to his bed, you'd never know he missed me. Wywy, on the other hand, decided to punish me. He sits endlessly at my elbow on my desk--annoying if I'm trying to work on papers, and he knows it well. And he decided not to eat wet food. I put it out, he ignored it, it got stale, and I threw it away. Today, after two days, he has deigned to begin to eat again. But his look is still reproachful--and he still ignores me when I'm right in his face. Today I reached over to pet him and he bit at me--not enough to break the skin but enough for me to bat him away.
The book world is in turmoil over the Google Print Settlement--Google scanned a lot of books in public libraries, without permission; a class action suit was filed, and google lost. But administering the settlement is a nightmare, and we at TCU have put off dealing with it too long. Today we finally moved ahead, which means an intense couple of days getting a mailing out, but I am glad we're doing something. The press also has a big event this Sunday--but not as big as I'd like. Last year we had 225 people for Books & Music in the Garden; this year, we have only 64 reservations. I'm sure they'll pick up toward the end of the week, but not enough. Something to rethink.
I read a blog today about whether or not it is better for writers to slog away and write crap when they're not feeling inspired or to just wait; general opinion, better to write. Most books are rewritten, not written. So I'm in the process of getting the end of my novel down on paper, no matter how worthless the prose seems to me. I'll go back and carve it into scenes.
And my cookbook is almost here--at the bindery. They might try to drop ship some to me for Books & Music in the Garden, and I will for sure have them for my April 29 talk to the TCU staff book luncheon. I need to start working on mailing lists, etc. but rest assured, I'll post a huge notice on the blog when the book is available. In some ways, I have more of myself invested in that book than any other I've done. I guess the one that comes closest is my short story collection, because no one publishes short stories any more and I was so determined to see mine in print. New York publishers? Who needs them?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back in the routine

Today, I got back to the real world. Went to work this morning but was so sleepy I could hardly keep my eyes open--it was a dull, cloudy day, and I'm sure that was most of it. Did get quite a bit done, then came home and napped, and when I woke the day was bright and sunny. I did my yoga (first time, with one exception, in three and a half weeks). To my surprise my balance was really great. I had noticed, sleeping on the air mattress, that I had no trouble getting up, though in the middle of the night in the dark I held on to the desk for extra security. Fed the dog, watered the plants, did all those chores, and settled down at my desk.
When I was in Houston I had a clear dream about my novel and so tonight I moved ahead with it, writing furiously as things came to mind, with little thought of structure, etc. I'll have to go back and enlarge, rewrite, create scenes out of patches of pure dialog, but I was getting the story on paper. And I think I'll proceed that way.
Wish I had some deep thoughts or something extraordinary to report, but I don't.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Easter/Birthday celebration

I'm just back from Houston, where all of us celebrated the second b'day of Kegan, the youngest among us, and the upcoming 40th b'day of Colin David, my oldest child--no, I cannot believe I have a child of 40. With eight adults (ten one night) and seven children, it was controlled chaos and wonderful fun. I'm not much of a photographer, but I tried--the picture on the top left is Colin (and behind him his father-in-law John), next most of the children gathered around one table for two kinds of cake--Kegan's chocolate and Colin's favorite yellow cake (always drove me wild when he was a child--I want chocolate!), then Maddie, the oldest child, doing some Karioke--she has a charming voice, and I wish now I'd asked her to sing "Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore" And finally my four grandsons, ranging in age from a couple of months shy of five to the two-year-old, three towheads and Jacob with his dark, curly hair--and inability to stay still for more than two minutes. The children all play well together and are delighted to see each other--as I watched them digging in the huge sandpile yesterday or hunting from eggs (hidden in plain view, of course) in the rain this morning, I thought what rich memories they are growing up with. Maddie, at almost nine, is by far the oldest and is the self-appointed caretaker of babies--she cuddles and loves when they cry, changes their diapers when needed, puts them on the potty, dresses them, and seems to enjoy it all. And she and three-year-old Morgan sleep all in a tangle on the pull-out bed in the living room. And then, a thoroughly modern child, she is off to her hand-held computer games.
Lisa, Colin's wife, knocked herself out cooking, and we ate royally--eggs and sausage Sat. morning, grilled hot dogs Sat. noon, and Doris casserole (which I've mentioned here before) Sat. night--Colin's request. We also had Colin's queso: a note about that below. And this morning, sausage and Rotel quiches and that wonderful potato casserole made from frozen hash browns--everything in it you should not eat but oh! so good.
I had been a bit apprehensive about the trip--now I view that as babying myself, but I was so tired much of last week that I was afraid of getting tired. I went to bed early both nights, slept long, and got a two-hour nap Sat. Colin said he felt bad about putting his 70-year-old mom on an air mattress but there wasn't much choice. I had confined quarters in his already overcrowded study, and it was fine except that my hips discovered they really don't like air mattresses. For much of yesterday, one hip didn't seem to want to work right. But I still slept pretty well and am not nearly as exhausted tonight as I expected.
I noticed an interesting thing. Maybe because of my just-past pneumonia, but my kids are--well, careful of me. The boys, Colin and Jamie, are always there to see if I need an arm to lean on and almost always I say, "Thanks. I'm fine." And in passing each child gives me a pat on the shoulder, a quick rub on the back, some much appreciated gesture of affection, and I try to return them. I was always being urged to sit and rest, until I felt useless, and I was always given the stable good patio chair and not one of the collapsible ones--even if it meant moving a semi-protesting grandchild. I love the attention and the affection it reflects but I don't want them to start thinking of me as old--or letting me think that way. And that's why much of the time I say thanks but no thanks to the kind offer of an arm. Of course it was a bit much as we left today when I said I had to go back and get the muffins and water I'd left--Colin volunteered and came back waving the muffins and a bottle of white wine. "Is this what you wanted?"
A word about Colin's queso: a friend gave me this years ago (she has now forgotten it) but it is the best queso ever, heavy and hearty enough that I used to serve it to the kids for supper when they were in high school:
Brown 1 lb. hamb. and 1 lb. ground sausage, breaking up clumps as you go (your choice to use hot, mild, or regular sausage)
Put in crock pot with
1 lb. Velveeta
1 medium jar Pace Picante (again, your choice--choose hot, medium or mild)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
When melted and ingredients are blended, serve with corn chips. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Two great women of letters

Within days, Texas has lost two of its great women of letters, and I grieve over both of them, though in both cases I think death came as a blessed relief.

Betsy Colquitt was a poet and a scholar who taught at TCU from 1953 until retirement in 1995. She was a quiet, elegant, very ladylike but always gracious woman and though I knew her on several levels I always felt a bit of awe. Betsy inspired students in a class on the interrelation of the arts and for many years edited the TCU literary joutnal, descant. She had graduatef from TCU and done graduate study at Vanderbilt where she and such figures as James Dickey studied under John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate. Their influence has been cited by people caling her poetry modernist--I'm not much on such labels or understanding them, but I know Betsy's poetry was myth-breaking and highly individualistic. Betsy's first collection of poetry was Honor Card and Other Poems, published in 1980. TCU Press was privileged to publish "eve--from the autobiography--and other poem," in 1997, in which Betsy told the story of creation from a feminist point of view, with spare clean lines begining the the Garden of Eden and ending in Santa Helena Canyon in the Big Bend. It is a poetic triumph that will not easily be matched. And she was a lady we will not see the likes of again soon.

I knew Lou Rodenberger much better. She, with bright eyes and unfaltering enthusiasm, was at most if not all of the meetings I attended--Texas State Historical, Western Writers of America, and a host of others. If there was a literary event, Lou and her husband, Charles, were there, and I was always delighted to see them and get a hug.
Lou was an activist for women's literature in Texas. Once a housewife and mother, while Charles taught engineering at Texas A&M, she went to graduate school as soon as A&M admitted women. When Charles retired in the early '80s, they moved to her family homestead, Halsell Hill, in Baird, Texas, and she began to teach, first in high school and then at McMurry College where she taught for many years. Lou's first work, Her Stories, published by Shearer Publishing, gave the direction her studies would take--finding the best of writing by Texas women, who in Lou's eyes had been too long overlooked. She and Sylvia Grider co-edited Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own, and Let's Hear It: Texas Women's Stories. Her most recent work was Jane Gilmore Rushing: A West Texas Writer and Her Work. Lou was in the midst of writing her memoir, and I hope she left enough that editors can finish it. Lou told Charles she wanted to go to sleep and wake with the angels--I bet she has.
So there you have it--two women who have been inspiration to me and whose work and presence I'll miss for a long time. Texas is a bit less for their passing, and I hope others will come along of equal stature to fill the void they've left.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Life Goes on

When you're really feeling bad, so bad you don't have the energy to think about food or brush your teeth, it's hard to imagine you'll ever feel better. But I really do. I'm back at work, going full steam, trying to make up for time lost. I started today with a doctor's appt.--I'm better but not 100% over it; not contagious however so I can go to Houston this weekend. Went to the office and then to meet old and dear friends for lunch--he was my ex-husband's trainer when Joel was a resident and then his senior partner. Years ago I told Connie that when I was a single parent I always had the feeling Russ was looking over my shoulder and would take care of me, and she said he would have. I remember as a resident's wife I was sort of scared of him or intimidated or something, but now we're old friends. We laughed a lot--and were quite honest about some people we've known--and when I ordered the twice-baked potato, Russ changed his order and said he'd have that too, and that's what we all three ended up with. Halfway through the meal, Russ looked at Connie and said "What am I eating?" Connie is a wonderful caretaker but quite forthright with him, as when she said, "Neither one of us know what you're talking about." They're moving to a northern suburb to be near their son next week, so I was particularly glad for today's luncheon--I'll see them again but not as often as I have. It's funny to think how relationships grow and change over the years--maybe as I've grown and changed and become my own person.
After lunch though, boy, was I ready for my nap. John said to me tonight that pneumonia will do that to you, so I immediately began to worry about getting worn out at our family get-together in Houston for Easter. But I think I'll just beg off whenever I need to.
Tonight I cooked for myself for the first time in two weeks or longer--stuffed a zucchini with the core of the zucchini, bread crumbs, sauteed onion and celery, and then put cheese on it to bake. Pretty good, and for once I didn't overcook the zucchini until it was mushy--this was almost crisp enough to need a knife.
Two days ago I wrote in a frenzy on my novel--ideas kept tumbling out of my fingers. But last night I only wrote a dull little piece that covered some necessary business--a funeral. But I have ideas percolating in my mind, and I guess I'll just have to let them percolate. In a way, nearing the end of the novel, I'm afraid--afraid of how to work it all out, afraid of the word count, just downright intimidated. But I am distracting myself with a J.A.Jance novel I hadn't read before.
I'm so glad I live in the technological age--my oldest granddaughter sent me a text message today about whether or not I as getting rid of my convertible. I guess her dad told her I thought, maybe for a day, that I'd get a Smart Car. But I loved writing back and forth with her. Have a few texting questions to ask the cyber folks this weekend--like is message length limited?
Oh, it may be time for another nap!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Social networking

I heard on TV this morning that boomers are taking to social networking (okay, they're a bit younger than me), but I've dipped my toe into Facebook. My kids kept telling me it was a way to keep up with my family, and so I signed up. Then other people kept asking me to be their friends, though I see lots of posts from some and none from othes. Those from my family are the most fun--Jamie and Maddie apparently had a special day today, and Brandon appears to have taken Sawyer someplace where they could play on cannons, which would deight Sawyer--he likes things that explode. I complain a lot that Jamie never responds to e-mails, rarely instigates one himself, seldom answers phone calls. But now all of a sudden I came follow him through a day--when he gets to the gym, when he leaves, where they're going for dinner, etc.
Today, Megan, whose family is "complete," posted a notice asking for a good brand of baby moniotor, which led a friend of hers to ask an insinuating question about why she is asking. For the first time, I stuck that toe farther into the water and added a comment. Which is what I wanted to do when Lisa, whose family is also "complete," wondered on Facebook how Morgan and Lisa would like their new baby sister or brother. Took me a minute to catch on--it was April Fool's Day. Mostly, though, I'm what Sisters in Crime describe as a lurker, one who reads but doesn't often comment. You can actually get kicked off their list for lurking.
But back to Facebook, I figure it will be a good way to publicize my cookbook when it comes out. Have to think of a good, succinct line. Sisters in Crime advises that social networking and the internet are the best ways to pulicize your books, and I suspect it's true. I also suspect that the days of bookstore signings are waning. The things today are social networking sites, blogs, and blog tours. You should have seen the amazement on my colleagues faces at our last academic presses sales meeting--they knew nothing about that whole publicity world out there. Made me feel on the cutting edge.
Windy and cold here today--who ever heard of near-freeze after the first week of April? I chose today of course to go to nursery--and they were out of the double bloom Fiesta impatiens I wanted. I did buy basil, which will stay in my greenhouse window until the weather warms up--and fountain grass, which is on the fireplace stone hearth, along with the cilantro. I can't believe a Texan is saying this but I hope it warms up and stays that way soon. 80s would be nice.
I finally broke down, lost my pride, and asked Jay to come replace that darn light bulb in the bathroom. I tried three times and just couldn't reach enough to make the socket take a grasp on the bulb so I could screw it in. I even took a chair and the stool in the bathroom--Jay said that was a very bad idea--and lost my nerve. So nice to know it was the light bulb and not me. He had trouble with it too--it was an LED bulb and doesn't go in as easily. Then he very nicely took two bags of soil out of my trunk for me. I think somehow in attacking that light bulb I messed up my shoulder again.
My plan tomorrow is to hit the ground running. I spent all last week rescheduling appointments for this week, and now I'm starting to reschedule this week for next. And I need to go to the grocery store or run out of essentials like dog bones. So that's first on my agenda, followed by work as long as I can last, and maybe lunch with Jean, and an important trip to the vet to get dog food. OOps, I'm tired already, but I've got to start doing some of the things I postponed from last week.
And I need a Jacob visit. Haven't seen him in two weeks and by Friday, the first time I probably will, it will be three weeks. Withdrawl, since I usually see him a couple of times a week. Hope he remembers me.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Feeling better with lots to do

One of our authors--or one I hope will turn out to be one of ours--wrote me a few days again saying she'd like to do a health memoir and chronicle her battle against Parkinson's. I replied that I'd have to think about it--I have seen friends write not very successful health memoirs--heart transplant, prostatic cancer, etc. and I suspect none of us much want to read about poor health. It's as though if we don't read about it, it won't happen to us. 'Nough said. Suffice it to say, I'm through writing--and thinking--about being sick.

Except for one thing--and that's food (I can always write about food!). You know you should eat to keep your strength up but nothing sounds good. Marcia from El Paso commented on my blog today saying her grandmother used to do a couple of eggs over-easy and than mix bread pieces into them. I got to thinking about my mom's "sick foods"--milk toast was a standby, but she also used to crumble saltines in a bowl, add pepper and butter, and pour hot milk over them. So that was my lunch. Not bad--the pepper is essential--but I don't think I'll be eating it again soon. This afternoon I got up from a nap ravenously hungry and ate one of those small cans of apricot halves, and tonight I roasted cubed sweet potato and new potatoes. It was okay but not as good as the night Kristine fixed it in Austin. It got me to thinking, though, about what people's moms fixed to make the feel better, and I'd love some suggestions. Maybe there's even a column there, but then, as I said, who wants to read about being sick. Oh, do I ever remember being sent to bad with a bottle of ginger ale when I was sick!

While I was falling asleep last night I dreamt the darndest historical novel--about Libbie Custer and her lifelong effort to make a hero out of her Autie (actually that novel has lingered in the back of my mind for sometime and I have no idea why it came alive last night). Now I don't know if she solved all the mysteries on her plate in one book or if it was a series. Some of you may remember that I wrote a fictional biography of Libbie back in the early '90s and so know--or used to know--quite a bit about her. Her long years of widowhood have always fascinated me, and there were some strange things she could be investigating, beyond of course Marcus Reno, though she certainly fought against Reno's effort to avoid blame for deserting General Custer at the battlefield. That tangled web has been studied and studied but what about Custer as a womanizer? Libbie would want to fight rumors about the New York society matron in whose salon her husband spent too much time or even the American Indian woman with the blue-eyed, red-haired baby that she'd once seen at a reservation? And of course Libbie could put herself in serious danger along the way. Have I just given away the plot of the novel? It would take lots of serious research but I might just do that someday.
Meantime I'm reading Lorna Barrett's "Murder is Binding" and may take a whack at that scene from No Neighborhood for Old Women that has settled itself into my brain. And today I've spent tackling the stack of cooking magazines on my desk. I read a new one, mark a few recipes, and then put it in the stack. Eventually I go back and go through more carefully, being heartless about clipping every recipe I might want and discarding the others. So it's not been an unproductive day.
Interesting (at least to me) is that I've used this time to try to fight my [strong] tendency toward obsession, telling myself TCU Press won't collapse if I don't go there for almost two weeks, the dog, the cat and I won't starve if I don't do a big grocery shopping. This last is hardest--I have to convince myself that the neighbors won't begin to point at my house if I don't get fresh porch plants. But a trip to the nursery is on my list for tomorrow morning It was 81 today, sunny and gorgeous--a perfect top-down day! And I missed it. Maybe that's why my mind is on bright, blooming flowers.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Two steps backward and maybe one large step forward

This morning, I had a plan. I'd get up early shower, get into the office early and last as long as I could. By the time I had brushed my teeth, showered and shampooed, it was clear my plan was unworkable. I stumbled back to bed, but couldn' sleep because of the coughing, which had kept me awake all night. Finally called John about the cough syrup he prescribed when in practice, and he said it was time to go to my physician. I called and they could see me about 9:30, so i got dressed. Then they called and said 1:30, so I spent the whole morning sort of waiting to go to the doctor.
Verdict: "a little bit of pneumonia." The remedy: $78 worth of prescriptions. Came home, got started on them, including the cough syrup, and slept two and a half hours fairly peacefully. I presume I'll really start feeling better tomorrow--counting on it. I have so much to do and right now so little energy to do it. Laundry is staring at me, and a light bulb needs to be replaced. Food is a great problem because nothing sounds good--I've had a lot of cheese today--cottage cheese for breakfast, 1/2 pimiento cheese sandwich for lunch, and 1/2 grilled cheese fo supper. None of it really tasted good. I keep thinkin Ill feel like trying some baked chilcken.
Enough whining. Lots of people have lots worse health problems than I do, and mine will go away in a few days for sure.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Self-pity and other things

Still feeling fairly rotten today, though no temperature and I'm better able to control coughing and nose-blowing. But around 5 p.m. I wasn't happy if I was up, and I wasn't happy if I was in bed. Little things that needed doing seemed beyond my energy level. I did pull myself together enough to scramble an egg and eat it with some good dry toast my neighbor brought (pan tostada), began to read a book, and may even work on my novel a bit--I dreamed a scene last night that I really felt good about. And I hope to go to work, however briefly, in the morning.
Talked to Melinda this morning, and she's been out sick all week, so we must have given it to each other--actually I'm making her Typhoid Mary because she stayed with a friend who was sick--on the way home. And Megan reports today that both Austin boys, now over their throw-ups, have fever and colds. As people say, "It's going around." I always hated that phrase. I once dated man who would say, "I'm trying to take a cold," and I always wanted to retort, "Don't try so hard!"
I capped the whole bad day by tripping over a root when I was out cleaning up after Scooby. Fortunately I was near the fence between the two houses, so I threw down the pooper-scooper and grabbed for the fence. Went down landing on my knees and scraped one shin pretty badly. When I righted myself I looked up and Susan and Jay's bird feeder, still filled with Christmas ornaments, was swinging gaily overhead--glad it didn't swing loose and bounce on my head. Scooby looked like he was saying, Is she going to fall on me again? No harm done, except to my pride, and Scooby was the only one who saw me.
I really really like Michelle Obama. I saw her on TV last night put an arm around Her Majesty the Queen, and I though "Uh, oh, you're not supposed to do that." But it was such a spontaneous, warm gesture that Her Majesty assured everyone no offense was taken and it was a mutually affectionate relationship. They both rate tops with me.
I'm reading a book called Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron. It's about a cat that lived in the public library in Spencer, Iowa, for 19 years. But it's also a nostalgic look at Northwest Iowa when it was still the land of small towns and small farms. And its the story of one woman who built a life for herself and her daughter, against some pretty strong odds. Every once in a while, I break away from my addiction to mysteries.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bad Day

I spent all afternoon yesterday valiantly trying to convince myself that my runny nose and sneezes were allergy, aggravated by driving around the pasture and all those dusty cows. My brother, a physician, said he thought I was coming down with a cold. In the middle of the night, it was clear he was right, and I spent most of the night sneezing, blowing my nose, tossing and turning, and very little of it sleeping. This morning I cancelled my lunch plans, gave up a much-anticipated trip to the nursery for porch plans, and wandered around the house, feeling to miserable to do anything. Went back to bed and have beem there much of the day. Tonight the nose is some better, but a cough has developed--the cold is running its course, and I hope it does so fairly quickly. But I expect I'll stay home from work tomorrow. At least my isolation will be over and I can email folks and get some things moving.
I was supposed to keep Jacob tonight and had such a lovely dinner planned for him--a chopped sirloin patty we could share, broccoli, and a sweet potato I was going to cube and roast with olive oil. Needless to say, he didn't come over, and the food sounded awful to me. My neighbor, Susan, brought me 7-Up and some dry toasts--and that was supper.
I think I'm off to bed again.