Thursday, March 31, 2016

Texas Tower shootings 50th anniversary draws near

 I’m not sure what I intended to blog about tonight or if I was going to wing it, but I have just been transported out of my comfort zone by a mind-blowing article (Texas Monthly) about the life of a woman wounded in the UT Tower Shootings. Come August that will be 50 years ago, before Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, before we thought about mass shootings and came, regrettably, to accept them as inevitable. What is wrong with us that we’ve come to that distanced acceptance?

It was August 1, 1966 when Charles Whitman went up the UT Tower in Austin, well-armed, and began shooting randomly, with amazing range and accuracy. He killed sixteen and wounded thirty-two others. I was a newlywed, living in a concrete block shack on the back or a clinic parking lot while I attended TCU and my husband was a surgical resident at Fort Worth Osteopathic Hospital. I was home that morning, and I remember being mesmerized watching the TV. How could one person do such evil, so much killing?

The horror becomes all that more real when you read, as I did tonight, the lengthy article about Claire Wilson, who survived the shooting (barely) but lost her boyfriend and the eight-month fetus she was carrying. Her life has been one of unanswered questions, unfulfilled longing, an inability to stay in one place long. Two unsuccessful marriages. No biological children, but an adopted bi-racial son she adores who developed bipolar problems. She asks some “What if?” questions, and you can’t help but wonder—what if she and her boyfriend were five minutes later walking across the campus? What if their class had not let out early?

It’s a sad story, yes, but it’s also one of resilience and courage and faith. It’s hard to read without weeping, but read it for yourself:

To me, it’s a story that resonates in this day of guns everywhere. Obviously, I’m not a fan of guns. If people want to hunt, fine! But why in heaven’s name do Americans need to carry either open or concealed handguns. The old argument about protecting themselves doesn’t carry much weight with me. And guns in the home to protect against invasion?  Anybody read the statistics lately about how many people are killed by inept gun owners or foolish gun owners who leave loaded weapons with reach of toddlers? It absolutely makes no sense, and I am ashamed—and a bit frightened—to live in a state that has embraced open carry. Yay to my school (TCU) for forbidding guns on campus.

The issue speaks even more relevantly in this long, endless presidential campaign. Donald Trump has, as Joe Biden said, appealed to the darker side of humanity. We all know it’s there. We all know another Charles Whitman can spring up among us The idea of encouraging hate and anger, along with looser gun control, absolutely scares the you-know-what out of me.

I think to too many of us it all seems abstract. It won’t happen to us. If that’s your thought, read Claire Wilson’s story. Me? If I walk into a restaurant and there are people there with military-style weapons, I’m leaving. Or if I have ordered, I’m leaving my dinner.

I’m honestly not sure what has happened to America as a society, but it saddens and scares me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ah, Texas spring weather

March is not going out like a lamb. Today started out drizzly and gray but ended on a note of bright, late-evening sunshine. In between, we had massive storm warnings and some pretty severe weather, mostly I think to the south of me. I just got a good steady rain, the kind spring gardens need. Jordan arrived to work on the garage sale items but one look at the TV weather coverage convinced her she wanted to get home and put her car in the garage.
Jacob came to me and asked with real concern, “Is your car in the garage?” I assured him it was, and he said, “Okay. But stay in.” Then he let me kiss him (yeah, you read that right) and they were gone.

I did a bit of book sorting today—four piles turned into seven—books I want, antique children’s books, cookbooks I want, books I don’t want, books that are water damaged beyond hope (only three), and books for the garage sale—I have it in my head browsers will want cookbooks and non-historical children’s books. I may be all wet—like many of my books. I did photocopy one recipe for ranchero sauce that I wanted from a pretty worn cookbook, but I’m keeping my battered copy (my mom’s really) of the Good Housekeeping cookbook. So good for basics. Also my first edition Joy of Cooking.
Good news: we’re making progress on storm recovery. An AT&T man was here for a good two hours this morning and—yay!—the huge new TV in the sunroom works. I think that drying equipment Blackmon Mooring used was really powerful. I washed the last of the mop-up rugs. The floor people will start either Friday or Monday. The adjustor was worried about remaining dampness in the insulation but Lewis is sure the drying equipment got it all—and the restoration company’s sophisticated equipment showed that it did. Tomorrow the exterminator comes because the adjustor saw that huge rat in the attic.

And I think the contractor is ready to go to the city for a permit for the cottage. All these big money transactions make me very nervous.

I did a good bit of proof-reading today on the pre-print The Gilded Cage and have so far found nothing of concern. Need to keep getting review copies out.

Cancelled my usual Wednesday night dinner because both Betty and I were tired and we feared being caught in a storm. I’m getting a bit tired of tuna and cottage cheese! Maybe egg salad is next.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Living in chaos

My dining room; if you look hard, you can see a table
This morning I was reluctant to get out of bed. After my sleep marathon on Sunday, I’ve noticed I’m slow to get out of bed and anxious to return to it. So of course my mind leapt to the extreme conclusion: I’m depressed. Isn’t that what they say about people who spend their days and nights in bed? In truth, I’d get impatient lying abed if I weren’t so darn tired.

I lay there and thought about it and decided that of course I want to avoid the world—specifically the house—I’m living in, because it’s chaos.

Jordan and I have three challenges—downsizing, hail damage, and a weekend garage sale. She does the lion’s share of the work but goes home at night to a relatively organized home and goes to work. She’s not with this mess 24/7. When that realization came to me, I got out of bed and went about my day, but it was a hectic day.

Lewis, the contractor, came to look at the claims adjustor’s report; the restoration company delivered 47 cartons (the inventory says 37) of supposedly salvaged books—we will have to examine all of them. Jordan said she’d do it tomorrow, and I hooted. It will take weeks! I made appointments with AT&T—the U-Verse box is out due to water damage—and with an exterminator because the claims adjustor said we have rat (live, not dead) the size of a small dog in the attic. My day was full of busy stuff like that.

Last night Jordan went through lots of cupboards pulling out things for the garage sale, so they are now on every available surface in the house. Plus things from her house are scattered all over, in bags, in the dining room, my bedroom. And then there are those cartons of books in my dining room. It’s a freakin’ disaster.
My guest room; no, the antique trike is not for sale

Using my cane, I wend my way through boxes and piles. This afternoon I sorted two bags of books and determined that most can go to Saturday’s garage sale. That’s another thing—I hate garage sales and hide in the house during them. This is a project for Jordan and neighbor Jay—I suspect Christian is fervently hoping that Jacob has a Sat. morning baseball game.

And remodeling speculation and anticipation goes on. Lewis delivered an estimate yesterday and it is high, as I expected, but we found some places where we could cut corners. He’s waiting for an okay from all my children before he spends the money for a city permit.

Lesson I’ve learned from this: when I was 40 and 50 I served dinner to 20, more or less, every Sunday night; in my sixties, I entertained frequently, with elaborate dinners like coquilles St. Jacques; I’m now in my late 70s and I can’t do it anymore and shouldn’t beat myself up for not doing it. Nor should I nurture my guilt over feeling tired. I am tired. Chaos wears you out. I’m going to bed early, with the sure knowledge I got a lot done today.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ripples from a small stone in a stock tank

As a writer, I frequently feel that what I do has little lasting impact on life in general, aside perhaps providing a temporary escape from dailyness for a few people. But the other day, a blog suggested that maybe one project had a larger impact.

A few years ago, TCU Press sponsored a collaborative novel called Noah’s Ride. (I was part of the planning team, and to my great joy, I have the original artwork for the cover hanging in my office.) Each of several authors—I can’t remember how many right now—contributed a chapter, with the late beloved western novelist Elmer Kelton leading off. I was left to follow Elmer with the second chapter—the second time I followed his lead in a collaborative novel and, believe me, it was intimidating. Of the remaining authors several were journalists, one a new writer, several seasoned novelists.

In the blog I read, the blogger, Jean Henry Mead, interviewed Mike Kearby, retired high-school reading and English teacher and the author of seventeen novels. He talked to Elmer Kelton and James Ward Lee about the project and decided a collaborative work would be a great way to involve kids who dreamed of becoming writers.

Mike came up with two goals: students would understand that schools could be collaborative and not always competitive, and small-town students would understand that they could write as well as their peers from larger schools. The program was a success.

In 2010 Western Writers of America took over the project, calling it the WWA Youth Writing Project, with Mike Kearby as the coordinator. They produced a work titled simply, Anthology. Although Mike retired as coordinator, the project continues under the auspices of WWA. I can’t help but wonder how many students have participated and been inspired to new confidence. If a handful go on to become writers, it’s a remarkable success.

Like the ripples from a small stone thrown in a stock tank. Thanks to Mike Kearby for his innovative idea, and to Jim Lee, Jeff Guinn and others for spearheading the original book.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

One early Easter morning

Easter breakfast
When I was in children’s or youth choice back home in Chicago, we sang an Easter song that began, “One early Easter morning, I wakened with the birds/And all around me lay silence/Too deep for earthly words.” That’s about what happened this morning. After a restless night—I don’t sleep well when I know I have to get up—the alarm went off at 5:30. I turned on the TV waiting for weather reports and was rewarded with paid programming. But finally a weatherman came on, said it was 58 degrees and a cold front with rain was expected about ten. Super! Substituted the warm sweater and shawl I’d laid out for a lighter cotton sweater and a vest. It was comfortable and calm when we set out, though a series of mishaps made us almost late—I couldn’t get into friend Linda’s car because it’s high and has no running boards; once in I couldn’t find the handicapped sticker—I was sitting in it.

By the time we arrived at the church garden for the sunrise service, most chairs were taken. A lady and her son graciously moved over so we could sit. We were barely in our seats when the front hit—wild winds that blew the lilies about in a wild dance and made the microphones sound like thunder. The temperature dropped at least ten degrees, maybe more. But the ministers persevered, and the congregation stayed put. I was reminded of the winter Sunday when the heat in the sanctuary went out and the then-minister said, “Instead of God’s chosen, you are God’s frozen.”

Nonetheless, even when you’re miserably cold, there’s something magical about watching the world go from dark to light while the sermon is about going from the sorrow of Good Friday to the joy and hope of Easter morning. It was a lovely service.
Jacob with his Easter haul. The Bunny at our house was unimaginative and
brought mostly money. Jacob was delighted and looked forward to another haul at
his other grandparents' later in the day. I told him I thought he had maybe missed
the meaning of Easter.

We hurried home, lit a fire, and, joined by Jordan and family, started breakfast. Other guests arrived about eight, and we sat sipping mimosas and bloody Marys, finally ate about 8:30—a cheese strata (need to rework the recipe), sausages, fruit salad, and some hot cross buns because I can’t resist them on Easter. All of a sudden, nearing 10:30, everyone left but Linda—and she and I faced the kitchen. I cannot say enough about what a help she was—my back hurt enough (after a weekend of cooking) that I had to stop and sit, but she worked away and the kitchen was soon to the point that I said, “I’ll take care of that…and that…later.” She left about 11:15 for her 30-miles drive home, and I slept for two hours.

I was late—but not too much so—for dinner with nearby friends at two. All my favorite foods—lamb chops, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus, avocado salad, blueberries and raspberries for dessert. And a thoroughly pleasant and relaxed meal with just four of us.

But Easter, with all its promise of hope and renewal, did me in. Came home and went back to bed. I have since finished the kitchen, done my yoga, fixed the alarm system I messed up as I tried to leave at two, and generally restored the house to whatever order it will be in for the next few months until garage sale is over and repairs are done. No dinner. Not even hungry. But now ready for sleep again.

If you celebrate Easter, I wish you all the joy of the Risen Christ. If you don’t celebrate, I wish you the joy and promise of the arrival of Spring with its many celebrations.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Spring blessings

For Christians, Easter marks a season of hope and renewal. For many other faiths, holiday or holy day celebrations round the spring equinox provide the same kind of hope. So for all my friends, I wish you hope, joy, renewal and all the wonders of the season.

Blessings on each and every one of you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

More of my cooking weekend--or a relic from the past

Anybody ever have one of these? I believe it dates back to the ‘50s or ‘60s. Jordan was cleaning out a cupboard over the refrigerator, seldom used, and came to me with a puzzled look. I explained it’s a sandwich maker. You put two buttered slices of bread in it (butter the outside of the bread) and fill with whatever you want. I believe I used to put sharp cheddar and tomatoes in my sandwiches, but I think someone I knew put bananas with either powdered sugar or peanut butter. Then you close the sandwich maker and trim off extra bread. Jacob likes ham and cheese quesadillas so I bet he would like one of these sandwiches. Jordan cleaned it but says she needs me to instruct her on how to do it. All you do is put it over the stove--I think I did that with a gas stove; now I'd do it on my indoor grill.

In the same cupboard she found a glass water pitcher that enchanted her and a lot of liquor that I’ve apparently carried from house to house for thirty years. A bottle of crème de banana—what do you suppose I made with that? A bottle of marsala she immediately drained and threw away on the grounds that it should have been refrigerated—not sure about that. Betty thought it was a white wine but I said no, it’s a dessert wine. Grenadine—when in the world did I used that? Jordan is efficient at dumping things she doesn’t think I need any more. Downsizing continues.

My first cooking experiment was a triumph. The Italian tuna sandwiches were delicious. The secret was the pesto which I made last night—Italian parsley, capers, anchovies, lemon zest, a bit of pepper. Betty and I had ours on croissants. Jordan had hers on healthy Ezekiel bread—sprouted 100% whole wheat—not nearly as interesting. Jacob had bagel bites—Lord, deliver me from processed food. Stuffed the sandwiches with watercress, quarters of hard-boiled eggs, and the really good chunk albacore tuna I get from a cannery in Oregon. A recipe I’m keeping. At one point Jordan said, “I just got a bit of something really spicy. Did you put cracked pepper in here?” I confessed to a pinch of cracked red pepper, and she said, “I just got the whole pinch.” I’ll leave it out of tomorrow night’s recipe.

At happy hour, we got to talking about fish—since it’s good Friday, my neighbor, a lapsed Catholic, still won’t eat meat so he was going for fish tacos tonight. Jordan’s vegetarian friend, Chandry, used to eat fish but says no more. She’s gone vegan, but she’s a careful vegan and brought up something I didn’t realize. If you eat faux chicken or beef or whatever those tofu fake meats are, you’re essentially eating processed food. Not sure what there is left for her to eat except kale which she loves and I don’t really like. She’s coming to have dinner with me one night soon, wanted to bring it; I finally said you bring your dinner, and I’ll fix mine.

One final food: had a terrific lunch yesterday. Perfectly broiled scallops on a bed of green chile cheese grits. They were supposed to have pico de gallo on them but I asked them to hold that. This restaurant, Fixture, has a scallop of the day. Most days it’s something I crave, but some days they put bbq sauce on them. I think scallops have too wonderful a delicate flavor for strong flavors like pico or bbq.  Not sure if I’m becoming a gourmand or just fussy.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter cooking and recipes

It looks like a cooking weekend, and nothing could make me happier. If I’m not at my computer, I love to be in the kitchen. Tomorrow I’ll serve Jordan’s birthday lunch—a week and a day late, delayed by the great hail storm. We were going to Righteous Foods, a restaurant I’ve not tried yet, but Jacob has a birthday party from 10-12, and I decided rather than wait around for him and have a 1:30 lunch, I’d serve at home. We invited my restaurant pal, Betty—Jacob’s Aunt Betty and someone Jordan is very fond of—to join us. At first, she said she’d be delighted to meet us at Religious Foods—I’m still laughing—but she’ll join us for my lunch.

I’ll serve Italian style tuna sandwiches. Made a good pesto tonight of Italian parsley, garlic, anchovies, olive oil. Hard-boiled some eggs. Recipe calls for ciabatta rolls but I bought croissants for Sunday, so Betty and I will have sandwiches on croissants. Jordan will have hers on Ezekial bread—sprouted 100% whole wheat. Good in some situations, but probably no this one. We’ll see.

Saturday night a dear friend is coming to spend the night so she can go to sunrise services with us—I love the outdoor service, watching it go from dark to day while you worship. Hope the weather cooperates. Supposed to rain Sunday night but be cold and windy in the morning. Anyway when Linda comes from Granbury, about 30 miles away, she’ll sleep in the guest room which is where we piled everything from the damaged sunroom. It’s a mess. Hope she doesn’t have nightmares.

Linda likes anchovies as much as I do, so I’m going to bake potatoes and stuff them with an olive oil/anchovy mix and top them with parmesan and more anchovies. They’re supposed to come out with crunchy tops.

Sunday about 8 a.m. I’ll serve breakfast to seven—a strata of croissants, Gouda, and heavy cream—watch out, my arteries. There’s will be a fruit salad and hot-cross buns because I can’t resist them. Usually no one else eats them—why do I have the sneaky feeling I didn’t get enough?

After that I’m through cooking. Going to friends for Easter dinner, while Jordan and family go to Christian’s parents.

What a nice weekend. Perfect for celebrating the meaning of Easter. A bit sad that we’ve apparently outgrown Easter egg hunts. The girl that always hunts with Jacob won’t be with us this year, and we’ll all miss her, though her mom and stepdad will join us.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Oh frabjulous day!

In honor of National Puppy Day, here's my almost five-year-old
She's still a puppy at heart
This morning I thought I would be home alone all day. I’d miss the sociability, but I had a load of work on my desk and it would be okay. My home-alone day turned into one of sociability. Lewis, my contractor, came by, and then Greg, who does my yard. Both like to chat, and I enjoy their company immensely. Lewis brought the painter to survey the hail damage, and Greg mowed, promises to trim, weed, cut out dead stuff next week. He’s going to remove a large youpon in front of the house, and I’m ready for him to do it. He says I have a pretty house, and the youpon hides it. On the other hand, he doesn’t like artificially trimmed trees and bushes, so this one is growing wild and bushy. I asked him to take out the houseplants for their summer vacation, but he said not until next week. It was 29 degrees last Monday. When he does take them out I’ll have to get in the habit of watering again.

Jacob has taken on chores around the house—he empties garbage and takes the carts down to the street, walks Sophie who now goes ballistic every time she sees him because she thinks she’s going for a walk. When spring finally is here I imagine he’ll inherit the chore of watering too.

This afternoon, a dear friend came for happy hour. Jordan and Jacob were gone to a play date. Jeannie’s husband is in frail health and naps every day from 4:30 to 6:30, so we were free to visit. And it was way overdue. We caught up on grandchildren and restaurants and all kinds of stuff, and we sat on the deck so Sophie could run in the yard. The temperature was in the low 80s or high 70s, with a pretty stiff breeze occasionally—the kind of spring day that makes you ask, “Isn’t this wonderful!”

Nothing lasts. Jordan just called to tell me to get a flashlight. Apparently there’s a lot of lightning at their house which is two-to-three miles away. I only saw one flash here, but I am dutifully carrying the flashlight around. I don’t navigate at all well in the dark.

She was at the neighbor’s directly behind me this afternoon, sitting on their deck, and photographed all kinds of damage to the back side of the cottage roof. Maybe we need to rethink re-roofing until remodeling is complete. Hail possible tonight. So far, the cottage has been intact, and ‘d love for it to stay that way. I don’t need any more damage.

Oops. I hear thunder. Went to let Sophie in and discovered it’s raining fairly hard. Spring in North Texas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Things are out of whack

There are no words. The world seems to be collapsing around us. Thursday we awoke to one of the most terrifying hail storms I’ve experienced in 50 years in Texas. Today we woke to the news of the attacks in Brussels, a lovely city in a peaceful country. For those of us in North Texas, the news got even worse: the wife of the Van Cliburn-winning pianist probably suffocated her daughters and stabbed herself; a man went into a WalMart in East Texas, shot another man and then shot himself. When does the violence end? How do we cope with it?

Brussels is rightfully the tragedy most on our minds. Can you imagine sending someone you love off to work—or travel—only to learn that they’ve been killed in a suicide bomb explosion? On an ordinary day when you expected the world to go on as it always has? The mind boggles. On 9-11, Belgians held hands in support of America; today we pray in support of them. I am proud of America’s reaction but scared by the response of the two leading Republican candidates. Neither learned from the Bush’s trumped up (no, not a pun) war in Iraq. They would willingly lead us into such another futile war, sacrificing thousands of people in Middle Eastern countries as well as our own troops. It didn’t work before, and it won’t work again. I am afraid of the war-mongering mentality more than I am afraid of ISIS..

For Christians, this is Holy Week, the most sacred time of the year. I write as a Christian who feels this holy time has been defiled. But I am also convinced that we must keep the faith and believe. No, it won’t bring back the people who died today, nor will it heal the injured. But faith—whatever your chosen religion—seems to me the answer. I pray for the Muslims in this country who now live in fear. If my understanding is correct, the Muslim faith calls for peace, not violence It doesn’t sanction beheading stoning, etc. Yet people preying on the fear of Americans have made terrorists of all Muslims in this country. Do you know how many there are? Fifty thousand in Houston alone; an astounding number in the entire world. As one Facebook post said tonight, if they were all terrorists, we’d all be dead. We must stand by our Muslim neighbors and friends and also our friends of color who are under attack if not suspicion now.

Pray for our friends and neighbors, pray for the world, pray for this country. Things are really out of whack right now. And I for one am grieving.

Monday, March 21, 2016

More baby steps and another rant

All is quiet at my house tonight. The restoration company, Blackmon Mooring, has taken their roaring, drying, and dehumidifying equipment out of the sunroom. And the roofers have finished so no more banging above my head. I have to say everyone I have dealt with, from Blackmon Mooring to Glenco Roofing, has been extremely courteous, kind and conscientious. I won’t say it’s been a pleasure, but under the circumstances they’ve made it the best they could. Now we wait for the insurance adjustor who will come a week from today—seems like a long time, but I’m sure they’re overwhelmed with damage in this area.

Now my rant, a rant that so many people have posted about that mine is redundant. But I can’t believe that Mitch McConnell said the NRA would have to approve any SCOTUS appointment. Did I blink and we elected LaPierre to office? It’s a blatant admission that the NRA is filling McConnell’s pockets. I cannot believe the United States people were dumb enough to keep re-electing this man. Living in Texas is bad enough politically, but I am grateful I don’t live in Kentucky and have to bear this shame. I saw today a post that said McConnell doesn’t realize the box that President Obama is building around him, and I think that’s true. Another post said something to the effect that, not to diminish the president, but outsmarting McConnell is not much of an accomplishment. What I like is the president’s patience waiting for his trap to spring. McConnell is like the rat who goes after the cheese. I shudder to think how his name will go down in history.

Blatant politicking: it’s another reason to vote blue this fall. I think we all have to pay close attention to what’s happening in the campaign and to get out and vote.

Okay, off my soapbox.

My only other comment is to say that I am still so tired. I think it must be an emotional aspect to the hail disaster. Jordan said the other day her eye was twitching—a stress sign for her; one of my eyelids is broken out and swollen—a stress sign for me. We will be fine, but it’s baby steps. She doesn’t want me to go into the back room with its uneven flooring, so she’s doing the laundry. Tomorrow, I’m going to get out in the world—PT in the morning, a lunch date, and dinner with neighbors. So glad for sociability.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A national disease

Before I launch into my rant I have to note that it was a beautiful if chilly first day of spring in North Texas. Woke to temps in the 30s and 40s, low 40s by the time we went to church. I always love Palm Sunday and the solemn children waving their palms. When we came out, you could be warm in the sun but in the shade the wind still cut through you. One of my last chances to wear a big sweater I got for Christmas—well, I hope it was the last chance. In Texas, you never know.

My rant: I have long been disturbed by the hate and crudity in some political remarks on Facebook. Lately it seems to have gotten worse. Today I saw a cartoon of Trump holding his boxers wide open so photographers could shoot his privates. Lots of comments about how funny this was—and I admit it was—but I pointed out that liberals would be incensed if that cartoon showed President Obama or Hillary. Then again, I guess neither of them brought the subject up as Trump did. Another cartoon showed a naked and obviously middle-aged or better Hilly riding a wrecking ball. Talk about bad taste…and I said so.

I have decided taking the high road is not enough. I am going to scold, rebuke, etc. If you hear I’ve been assassinated, please look at my Facebook posts. But when I commented, in response to a question, that it was high time the president and his family went to Cuba, some jerk asked, “How long have you been a dufus?” I told him I didn’t think personal comments were called for. There was one other today where I replied name-calling was inappropriate.

It scares me to think that this increasing lack of manners and civility it a mark of the decline of our country, but there’s not much other explanation. Take, for instance, the escalating riots at Trump’s appearances. I don’t think he caused the anger that fuels them—you may have to trace back to Ronald Reagan for that. But I think Trump knows how to fuel the anger and does it deliberately. Conservative columnist David Brooks put it well in a column in which he called Trumps followers “a coalition of the dispossessed.” He wrote that we must respect his followers and their feelings but never Trump. No, not ever Trump.

I am wondering if the first, almost inevitable death at a clash of protestors and followers might wake the nation up. Sad thought.

Meanwhile, I am surrounded by grandchildren and their friends who mostly say, “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you,” are considerate and thoughtful. Maybe all is not lost if we only get out and vote. Yeah, folks, this is a plea to vote Democratic.

For tomorrow: my outrage that Mitch McConnell, he with no lips and no soul, says the NRA has to approve any SCOTUS nomination. Oh good glory!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

This, that and stuff

A friend from long ago sent this picture of me and another girl I grew up with. That’s Jeannie on the right and me, gangly and awkward in pre-teen and teen years, on the right. I would guess we were about twelve. Can’t remember a thing about the picture, where it was taken or why. I saw it some time ago when Jeannie posted it, but I thought it would be fun to post again. Don’t we look demure?

My neighborhood, hardest hit by the hail, is slowly recovering. I’ve fielded so many calls from roofers who “just happen to be in the neighborhood” that I’m tempted to answer the phone with “Thank you. I already have a roofer.” What worries me is that maybe half the calls come from scammers who don’t know as much about roofs as I do. And that’s not much.

The nice woman who writes a garden column for our neighborhood newsletter called—the owner of the yard she’d picked said absolutely not because the yard had been shredded by hail. I suggested she write her column about hail damage in the neighborhood. I know my redbud tree was stripped of all it blossoms that I look forward to seeing each year.

Books spread out on couch for sorting
where they were soaked
The restoration people finished taking up the floor today and decided that the ceiling was drying out and they didn’t need to take it out—grateful because it’s a board ceiling and I was afraid insurance would only pay for sheetrock. They’ve left their roaring drying equipment running for the weekend, but it sure is efficient. I could feel a definite difference this morning. They have also taken all the books for drying.

Meantime I’ve spent as much of the time as I could get back to the washer and dryer washing towels. Endless job after all that mopping up. A bit horrified that my “crew” used my new good towels to mop up.

I’ve decided the entire city of Fort Worth is exhausted. Saw several posts to that effect on Facebook, and Jordan and Christian decided to stay home tonight. Which means I don’t have Jacob—I miss his company but in some ways it’s a relief. Jordan has worked so hard the last few days on my house that I’m not surprised she’s exhausted. I slept/dozed almost three hours this afternoon and am ready to go back to bed at ten. Sophie napped with me and thoroughly enjoyed the comfort. I think it’s the mood of my city after the hailstorm.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Taking baby steps

Sunroom awash
Wet books

My neighbor mopping the sunroom
Pleased to report progress today. The restoration company has taken up the wood floor and half the tile floor underneath it. The tile floor is really difficult and stubborn. About three this afternoon I asked if they would like to quit at four and they said yes—result was I got a nice nap. Tomorrow they will take up the other half of the floor and take out the ceiling—they tell me the latter won’t take long. Meanwhile they have put up all their de-humidifying equipment, which makes an awful roar. It won’t bother me tonight because I can take my hearing aids out.

But I worry about my daughter-in-law who is sensitive to noise when she sleeps. Colin and his family and their friends-eight people total counting children—are due any minute (it’s ten o’clock) to spend the night on their way back from skiing in Colorado. There’s precious little room at the inn, but it will work out.

The restoration people have also taken away cartons and cartons of wet books and have more to come get tomorrow. They were sending a driver this afternoon—which would have cut right into the time I had carved out for a nap, so I asked them to wait until tomorrow. Also my Oriental rug guy picked up the wet rugs. Tomorrow I hope to put the house back in some semblance of order, including washing all the towels used in the cleanup.

Both last night and tonight we ended these dreary, frustrating days on a happy note. Last night we had brinner (breakfast for dinner) with our neighborhood group to celebrate Jordan’s birthday and that of Jay, later in the month—a warm, wonderful gathering. Tonight, Jordan and Christian hosted a happy hour at the Wine Haus down the street—lovely space, good wine, lots of hugs from Jordan’s friends. Afterward some of the same group from last night went next door to a Lebanese/Italian restaurant. I could hear much better and enjoyed the fellowship. Brought home enough spaghetti for at least two meals.

Mom was right—God works in mysterious ways. Since all that work has to be done back there anyway, Jordan is using the opportunity to paint the walls a warmer color than the stark white there now and to take out a couple of shelves so she can put stackable washer and dryer in.

Jacob and his parents went to the Apple store today, and he is busy sending his first emails. Such fun to watch his excitement. Yes, life goes on and we will get over this hail-induced hiccup.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

No chatty blog post tonight

No blog post, no pictures tonight. I came home last night from a wonderful five days on the road with Jordan and Jacob. We visited my oldest daughter and her husband in Austin and then my brother and sister-in-law, their local daughter and two granddaughters. Wonderful family times, and I have great pictures to post. Too tired to post last night but had great plans for today.

This morning, at 3 a.m., a hailstorm hit with pea-sized hail; woke me but I went back to sleep. At 7 a.m., another one hit, this with golf and baseball-size hail. I was out of bed quickly but hesitant to explore too much—I could smell wetness in the house. Jacob woke about 7:30, looked out the front door and exclaimed, “It snowed! 90 degrees’ yesterday, and it snowed.” Of course, it was hail completely covering ground, street, everywhere you looked.

We explored—and found the sunroom was awash. Everything was wet—ceiling, floor, furniture, and—worst of all—most of the books I’ve written over a long career. A crew came to help—Jordan, neighbors, my contractor and the roofer. They have saved what they could and I have filed an insurance claim and called in a restoration company. But it’s bad, folks, really bad.

I am reminded of what a minister once said to me. I had a friend who didn’t believe but so envied my faith and that of a Jewish friend that she said to me, “I just think I can believe, and God lets the tsunami happen.” I asked my minister what to say to her, and he said, “Shit happens. God shows us the way forward.”


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Taking a break

Friends, it's spring break, and I'm taking at least a long weekend maybe more as a vacation. I'll be spending a lot of time with Jacob and his mom and maybe some other family. So I'm not going to write or post blogs (unless something outrageous comes to my mind--you never know). I'm tired of talking about politics, and I'm sure you don't need any more "This is what I did today." I plan to read a lot, so maybe I'll come back early next week with "What I read recently." And I'll do a bit of cooking, so maybe I'll have recipes. At the least I hope I'll come back with fresh content.
A few days ago Blogger told me I had 5,860 hits on a post. It was about my reaction to watching the Democratic debate earlier in the week and then spilling wine all over my kitchen (one of my more clever moves) but you can't tell me that many people read it. I think their program went haywire. Yesterday and today I'm back in the 150-200 range, which is normal and makes me happy.
Suppose I can come back from vacation and reach 5,000 again?
Anyway, you all be good, take care, keep up with the news, and I'll see you early next week. If you have spring break too, enjoy!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Downsizing--still and again

A portion of one of my bookcases
in my house
Moving from 1850 square feet to 600 proves more complicated every day. I have three built-in bookcases, two large free-standing ones, a barrister’s bookcase, and the top of my mom’s secretary, all filled with books, some shelves with books piled sideways, etc. Plus some storage areas that I filled with books, and the boxes of books that came down from the attic. That’s a lot of books, and they have become our major preoccupation these days. I left for dinner with a friend tonight while Jacob was still doing homework—so Jordan, being compulsive as she learned from her mom, sorted more books.

Today, my archivist friend Carol came to make a start. She sat quietly, making notes, frequently consulting her phone—I later found out she was looking at current retail prices for various titles. She asked for three books—one sells for about $125 but she wanted it for research. At lunch, with two other friends, we discovered that one book Subie had taken is worth something like $300 on the market—she felt so guilty she bought my lunch!

Most of my books are not collectibles—a few will bring $100 or so retail which means I’d get at best $25 for each. Most are in the $30 range. I don’t want to get rich from this—I just want to clear the shelves. Carol noted enough titles of interest that she wrote to some used book dealers to see if they’d be interested in coming to look. What I must do first is pull any books I want to keep—a dealer will be quickly discouraged if he picks a book and I say, “Oh, no, I’m keeping that.” There are many books I’m sentimental about—but I need to keep only those I use frequently or those of really special value to me. Like the history of Blue Willow china—we eat off my mom’s set daily, and I gave another set to my niece who said she was thrilled to have something that belonged to Grandmother.

Carol even unearthed my master’s diploma, thesis, and bachelor’s certificate. Now if she’d only find my doctoral diploma and dissertation. I swear I had them once.

Today I emailed the archivist at Southwest Writers Collection, where my papers are. We’ll take three boxes of papers to Austin this weekend, but he said he’d like at least one coy of every book I’ve written. Does the man know what he’s letting himself in for?

I feel really good about doing this now, while I can answer questions, point out books in which I have a short story or essay, even though it’s not a book by me. But there’s a lot of work ahead. I am so fortunate to have Jordan who does the lifting, hauling and organizing while I sit at a table with a glass of wine, and I’m fortunate to have helpful friends—even if they do get some of my most valuable booksJ

A sad story: I have a first edition of Larry McMurtry’s book of essays, In a Narrow Grave. Probably worth quite a bit. The sad part? I underlined and wrote all over it when working on a paper on McMurtry for graduate school. I’m keeping that one.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Author in search of a topic

This is going to sound like blatant self-promotion but I am so excited about the April 18 launch of my new historical novel, The Gilded Cage, that I can hardly contain myself. I had fun, over a stretch of many years, writing, rewriting, changing the point of view, always, I hope, making it better. In recent months, figuring out promotion sites and plans has been equally fun, including leaping at random opportunities as they arise, especially when they’re not part of my plan. Are you tired of seeing the cover and hearing about it? I hope not but if so, maybe it means I’ve covered social media pretty well. The only part that wasn’t fun was production, and I’m still struggling with getting the cover uploaded.

I haven’t published a historical novel since 2002, having turned my attention as most of you know to cozy mysteries. But I am so pleased with and proud of The Gilded Cage that I am searching about for another historical topic. I’ve done books on Libbie Custer, Jessie Benton Frémont, Etta Place, and one loosely based on Lucille Mulhall, first Wild West Show Cowgirl (she was a trick roper). So a woman of the American West seems a logical place for me to look for my next topic, since women of the West was for years my area of special interest. Does it have to be a “celebrity,” a recognizable name? I’m not sure.

I’m inspired by Susan Wittig Albert who did a book on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose, more recently has published Loving Eleanor, about Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, and is already deep into writing yet another historical. I’ll wait for her to reveal the subject, but she has a talent for picking people with drama and tension in their lives.

I’ve toyed with and discarded a few ideas—Henriette Wyeth Hurd, for instance. I am fascinated by the Wyeth-Hurd artistic legacy, but while I suspect there’s more to the story, surface resources don’t indicate any tension or drama in her personal or artistic life. Years ago TCU Press encouraged an art historian to develop a biographical project but we were never able to raise research money, and the historian ran into what was almost a stone wall—which leads to my suspicion there’s more to the story. I met a relative who was pleased about the project, but it never went anywhere.

I’ve thought of a couple of other women but no one strikes me as just the right subject. After all, if I begin a new project of this kind, I’ll be living with the woman for a year. So it has to be the right person. The problem is always in the back of my mind, but meanwhile I’ve gone back to a half-finished mystery—with determination to find out how it all works out.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Books, books, books, everywhere

In our ongoing sorting and downsizing process, my ever-efficient daughter Jordan has bought plastic bins to store some of my books in a climate-controlled storage unit. She started today with my children’s books, a frustrating chore because the more she sorted, the more she found scattered in among other books. And then there were some boxes—Jacob unearthed three boxes of A Ballad for Sallie, not intended as a children’s book but taken that way by the publisher. When Leisure Books went out of business, they sold or gave the rights to Amazon, which reprinted it with a new cover. When Jacob found the new edition, he was completely flabbergasted.

In spells in which my fiction didn’t seem welcome, I wrote on assignment for several publishing houses that specialized in books for school libraries. Some assignments were traditional, and those books still bring me tiny checks every once in a while. Others were done as work-for-hire, and I got a one-time payment.

Jordan was astounded at the number of books and the variety—she came across single copies of books on vaccines, surgery, and passenger ships—how’s that for diversity? She also found single copies of a number of histories of various states and worried whether she and her siblings had copies of those. On the other hand, I have so many copies of the book I did on Christopher Reeve that we are awash and uncertain what to do with them.

The good thing about writing those books (beside the rather uneven pay) was that they required quite a bit of research, and I learned a lot doing them. Some stretched my creativity—like one on mapping the Old West. A fact checker questioned me, and I had to explain that no, I didn’t plagiarize but there aren’t that many written sources on how Native Americans found their way around. A book on the international treatment of women presented another challenge—until I convinced the publisher to let me create a fictional camp where teens from various countries came together to share their stories. I rather thought the book a success, but I have no idea what the foundation behind it thought.

Jordan is advocating for a “Judy Alter Night” at the Old Neighborhood Grill where I hold all my signings. She envisions one display of each of these books, plus introducing my forthcoming historical novel, The Gilded Cage. I am uncertain, but I realized when I looked at the display of books on the couches (she’s organizing stacks by title) that those books represent a lot of long hours of research and writing. Makes me kind of proud.

Happy Birthday today to my big brother. He’s sixty. If you believe that, then I am fifty-four. And if you believe that, I have a lot of books to sell you cheap!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

The significant and the truly insignifcant

The significant: I watched the Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan tonight and was struck by the civility. There was no hatred, no anger, no slinging of insults and certainly no talk of private parts. As Hillary said, “I will not get in the gutter with an opponent.” But more important to me, there was less talk about what’s wrong with America and threats from Mexico and Isis than about what the two candidates proposed to do if elected. Secretary Clinton scored highest on this, to my mind, because she seemed to have very specific plans in mind for every problem sent her way, from what to do about schools and the infrastructure to her personal faith and how she would run a campaign against Donald Trump. Senator Sanders talked more about what’s wrong with America and he was spot on—the wealthiest nation in the world with a horrible record of caring for our children and elderly. But when asked what he would do as president, he seemed to have great goals but not as specific plans for reaching them, especially without support from Congress, which he likely wouldn’t have. My impression? Secretary Clinton would make the best leader of our country, but I sure do like Bernie a lot.

An apology: I attributed a comment about the poor being like feral cats to Paul Ryan in last night’s blog. He didn’t say it—some minor Republican said it a few years ago and used the term stray instead of feral. I should learn to check Snopes and not believe everything I read on Facebook.

The less significant: I cooked dinner for the Burtons last night. Wanted shoulder lamb chops but Central Market had sold out, so I got what I swear was labeled Lamb London Broil. Asked the lady butcher how to cook it, and she said she’d have to research that (??!!). Winged it—seared them in anchovy butter and finished in a hot oven. Misjudged the timing because the meat was fairly thick, and it came out more well done than Christian and I like, though perfect for Jordan. Served with oven-roasted rosemary potatoes, green beans vinaigrette (Christian’s green beans), and salad. Tonight I had a sandwich of leftover meat—flavorful and good, but I’m not convinced it was lamb.

The truly insignificant: last night I poured myself a good-night glass of wine and then cleverly used the bottle to knock the glass off the counter and spill wine all over the floor. Mopped it up with a rug I keep handy for kitchen accidents and returned the wine to the fridge, only to realize if I wanted good-night wine, I had to pour another glass. Did and realized I had cracked the plastic glass badly and it was leaking wine all over. Put it in the sink and went searching for the plastic glasses that Jordan had carefully put away for me. Now that’s a hard-won glass of wine. Jordan says I need a sippy cup.

Tonight good friends came for happy hour, and I fixed a tray of leftover appetizers. We had a good visit, and after a day alone I enjoyed the company. Life is good, and God is generous with his blessings.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

This crazy poliitical year

“And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. And of these the greatest is love.” I am not a person who quotes the Bible often. Sad truth is that, although a lifelong Christian, I don’t know enough Bible to quote besides the 23 Psalm, the ten commandments, and maybe the Beatitudes. And if I did, I would not push my religion on anyone else. But these lines from 1st Corinthians 13:13 keep coming back to me, especially when I survey the political world we live in.

Believing as I do that love is the most important value, I am appalled by the hate and vitriol around us. Both Trump and Cruz are promising to bomb the you-know-what out of Isis and the Middle East. Civilian casualties? No matter. And Paul Ryan recently said that the poor are like feral cats—as long as we keep feeding them they’ll be with us forever. Where is the compassion for our fellow human beings?

And the hate for President Obama is appalling. I read someone’s opinion tonight that he has led us down the road to destruction. In my opinion, many of his accomplishments have led us toward love for our fellow Americans—the ACA act, for instance. I am struck by the man who came forward and said he’s always voted Republican but now he thanks President Obama—and the ACA—for saving his life. I truly cannot see a reason to hate Obama unless it’s the color of his skin—and we should be so far beyond that.

Donald Trump is to me the scariest though many say Ted Cruz is more frightening. But Trump’s spectacular brand of hate for everyone from overweight and disabled people to Muslims has attracted the most attention. One can only hope he’s like a carnival barker who sheds his flamboyant ways the minute he’s out of the spotlight. What worries me is the anger he’s aroused in so many Americans—how long has that anger been simmering. And why?

That the anger exists is a great argument for Bernie Sanders campaign. He advocates for change of things that I think make many Americans angry—they feel powerless, they work hard and follow the rules but never get ahead, they feel insignificant as individuals. This is not a campaign speech for the Bern—I love his ideas but will probably vote for Hillary.

Bernie Sanders says we have to educate our young people because they are our future leaders, our doctors, our teachers, the ones who will keep American moving forward. Donald Trump loves the uneducated. Without sounding like a snob, I think that’s significant—the uneducated are angry because they don’t understand how to empower themselves, they haven’t been taught to think critically. Republicans have even been known to say they don’t want people to think critically. We’ll be Neanderthals in a couple of generations if that thinking prevails.

After all is said and done, we’ll be left with a nation of angry people, no matter who is elected president. What do we do then? We reach out with love as our guiding principle. They are our people. We do not need a divided society—we need unity, and that comes with love, not anger and hate.

I’ve lived a wonderful, comfortable life—sometimes I ask the Lord why I have been so blessed.  But I have seven grandchildren, and I want to leave them a world in which they have every opportunity for the same kind of life I’ve lived. So far, they’re all on the right track, but I don’t want them to have to deal with an out-of-control world.

Lord, give us peace and teach us to love one another, regardless of faith, skin color, sexual orientation, and disabilities. And PS Lord, deliver us from Donald Trump.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Blending Generations

This blending of generations that will take place over the next six months or so at my house is going to be interesting. In fact, it’s already begun. Jordan delights in hosting happy hour at my house—all her friends live around here. So tonight we had a four o’clock happy hour—two Lily B. Clayton moms who have been so helpful about bringing Jacob home since I don’t yet feel capable of negotiating the steep driveway, the street full of traffic, and the crowded schoolyard. I am grateful beyond words to these two—Amy and Amber—and very fond of them personally to boot.

I was supposed to go to supper with friends at 6:15, but I wavered. I was really tired this morning, and, to my surprise, stiff and sore from what I thought was a minimal yoga workout yesterday. I envisioned the girls leaving about six and me settling down to a quiet evening at home, complete with smoked salmon for dinner (my splurge at the grocery store this morning). In the long run though I decided to do to dinner, and it was a good thing. We went to a First Friday gathering that friends have sort of informally organized at the Kimbell Museum. Delightful except that I couldn’t hear any of the conversation—the dining area is not acoustically friendly, plus they had a three-man jazz band playing. The music was soothing and pleasant, and I settled into enjoying it and not hearing the wild tales that a former Democratic county chair was telling at our table.

I went to dinner at 6:15 and came home at eight to a house full of people and screaming kids. In the course of the evening we apparently hosted three kids, four women, and three men in addition to my immediate family. Over Jordan’s protests I cleaned most of the kitchen and waited for them to leave. Jordan, Christian and Jacob were the last ones out the door, shortly after ten. I’m tired. And I have some cleaning up to do tomorrow. Their chore will be a trip to the liquor store to replenish my nearly exhausted supply of wine.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore Jordan’s friends. They are kind and friendly and loving toward me. They go out of their way to include me in conversations, ask my opinions, make me part of the family, and thank me for having them over. But if the cottage were there and waiting for me, I’d have gone out there about nine and let Jordan worry about the kitchen either tonight or tomorrow (she’s usually so good about that but tonight she fell down a bit). I could enjoy the young company and then have my solitude. Tonight it was 10:30 before I settled alone at my desk—and that’s a time I value.

Progress on remodeling is slow, and I cringe every time some well-meaning soul asks if I am living out there yet. The answer is no. Remodeling hasn’t even started. The contractors, Lewis and Jim Bundock, have been to the city twice and come away without a permit. I’m hoping the third time is a charm—maybe even next week. Sometimes I can envision myself out there and other times I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. It will be an adjustment, but as tonight proved, a good one.


Thursday, March 03, 2016

Visit from an old and dear friend-and a yoga lesson

Elizabeth came home for a visit tonight. Oh, I know her home is in Hurst with her parents, but she lived in my cottage for a year and I consider this one of her homes, especially now that she lives in Pennsylvania. The neighbors, all fond of her, gathered and we had a jolly happy hour. Elizabeth and Jacob were especially close friends. When she lived here, he’d come in from school in the afternoon and ask, “Can I go see Elizabeth?”

Tonight it’s supposed to snow in the Philadelphia area, so Elizabeth was especially pleased to have happy hour on the deck, with pleasant temperature and just a bit of a breeze. Sophie was also especially fond of Elizabeth and they had a good reunion.

Later after everyone else had left, she and I caught up on each other’s families and lives and goings on. It was like old times when we’d meet on the deck for wine about 9:30 at night. Thoroughly relaxed, thoroughly comfortable with each other—it doesn’t get much better than that. I do remember the night a baby rat fell out of a tree and darn near landed in her wine.

We first met when Elizabeth, a non-traditional student (read older) came to TCU Press as a work-study student. Don’t hold me to this figure, but I suspect it was almost twenty-five years ago. We clicked, though I am some thirty-plus years older than she is. But we’ve been friends ever since. And when she lived here, she became part of my inner circle of neighborhood friends.

Tonight the once-student was the teacher. Some six, seven, eight years ago she first taught me yoga since she had become a certified yoga teacher. I practiced my yoga faithfully almost every day for years but this past year mobility problems, a painful leg and hip have kept me from it. As you may know I’ve been in physical therapy twice in the past year. But tonight, with the PT therapist’s blessing, I went back to yoga. I expected Elizabeth to give me a brush-up on the routine I’ve always done. Instead we did a whole new set of poses designed to strengthen my ankle and legs and stretch my back. This time, she stressed holding some poses as long as I was comfortable. It was an easy workout that probably did me more good than I realize, and I look forward to following the new routine.

A thoroughly pleasant day, and I’m ready for bed.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Tidbits from the Day

I did diddly squat today. Honest, I don’t think I accomplished one things, except to inquire how to get a mechanical (back cover, spine and front cover) all in one file for The Gilded Cage. The contractors came by, and we talked about the difficulty of dealing with the city over permits for the garage remodel. Then Greg came by and we talked gardening and a thousand other things for a long time. He has suddenly decided he wants to take out a big bushy youpon smack dab in the middle of the front of the house. “All you see is this busy green,” he said. “We’ll find an evergreen that will work there.” Sounds good to me. My house gets strictly northern exposure in front—no sun. So except in early spring it tends to look all green, and I always wish for color to brighten it. By the time they were all gone, it was almost my early lunch time.

I did stuff at the computer which seemed to occupy a lot of time—or maybe I was moving slowly but I was content and under no pressure.

Three nice things: last night I got a terrific email compliment on the excerpt I posted from The Gilded Cage (see the excerpt at if you missed it) and then a friend and Megan both forwarded Amazon emails which had apparently gone to everyone who ever bought one of my books.  It highlighted The Gilded Cage, now available for pre-order ( Please note if you search for it: there are a lot of novels named The Gilded cage (my bad) and you’ll find it if you add my name after the title.

And the third thing: I got my first pre-order, from a bookstore in Wisconsin which cheers me because it’s in the right part of the country. Pretty heady stuff for a newcomer to indie publishing.

My niece came to pick up a set of my mom’s china I had set aside for her. My heart danced when she said, “I’m thrilled to have something that belonged to Grandmother.” I’m sure she was remembering, as I was, Sunday night dinners at Grandmother’s house when we ate off that china. Jenn brought her two beautiful daughters, and I got nice hugs. But the older girl-Emory, in second grade, has been dog bitten twice and was afraid of Sophie. So when the younger one wanted to pet Soph (we’d locked her in the office), I saw the look of alarm in Emory’s eyes. Asked her to sit on the couch by me and assured her I would keep her safe. She snuggled right in. I don’t see much of these girls, so it’s a joy now that they feel they know me well enough to hug.

Tonight weekly dinner with Betty. Since we had Jacob in tow, we went to the Tavern where he likes the mac and cheese. Christian joined us, and we had a jolly dinner.  I now have half a cheeseburger in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch—love cold cheeseburgers.

All in all, a nice, satisfying day. And I’m sleepy way early.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

An Election Watch Party

I have just been to an election watch party—the only one I’ve ever been to with the candidate present. I think the only other time I attended such an event was when Clinton and Gore triumphed on the 1993  Democratic ticket, and they sure weren’t in Fort Worth that evening.

Tonight I went to the watch party for Lon Burnam, a good friend who’s running as a Democrat for Texas Railroad (read Energy) Commissioner. The office has precious little to do with railroads—the title is a hangover from old days—and everything to do with oil and gas. Lon is one of the most principled, honest people I know, a man who truly puts the good of people, his state and his country first. He served in the Texas legislature for many years, but this is his first statewide race. I was convinced he’d win the primary, though I realized the odds for a Democrat in Texas aren’t good in the November election.

Tonight he greeted us with the news that he’s almost certainly in for a run-off with a candidate bearing the Yarborough name, one that is old and respected in Texas politics. I know nothing about this particular Yarborough, though it led one friend to say he had the name but not the stuff and another, “It shows you how old the Democratic base is.”

The watch part was everything I don’t like—noisy and crowded. I talked, as best I could, with a few people I know, introduced myself to one on the fringe of politics that I don’t think I’ve met, and tried my best to schmooze. But I was bored, and Jacob who was with me, was bored out of his gourd. I was glad to give Lon and his wife, my good friend Carol, hugs and head for home.

I’m too tired to make much sense of the returns tonight, as scattered as they come in. Seems to me everyone won something, except maybe Rubio, Carson and Kasich. I’ll wait for the morning paper to make sense of it all for me.

But, hey, Texans! If there’s a runoff for railroad commissioner, please vote for Lon. He’s the man!