Wednesday, May 31, 2017

School daze coming to an end





As school winds down, my grandkids check in. These are my Tomball children with their mom, Lisa (Colin's family). So proud of them. They are fortunate to go to a school in Tomball where their mom teaches 7th grade math. Morgan will be 12 over the summer and going into—oops, I’m not sure. Sixth grade, I think but maybe seventh. Kegan is ten, and going into fifth grade. Didn’t hear a report on Morgan’s grades, but Kegan made straight As and Es—I assume the latter is a behavior grade.

He’s my long-haired grandson. When I was in the rehab facility, he came to visit, and a nurse asked, “Is that your granddaughter?” (In addition to the long hair, he is slightly built and has fine, almost delicate features). I replied proudly that he is my grandson. Colin later said Kegan is used to that misidentification. He is a dedicated and talented soccer player and wanted to grow his hair out so he could have a man-bun, like the European soccer players.

Morgan hasn’t shown such dedicated interests, as far as I know, but she is great in the kitchen and apparently likes to cook. She’s a neat mix of half tomboy and half girlie-girlie. I’ll find out more about both kids this weekend, because that family will come up for Maddie’s graduation and take me to Frisco. I haven’t seen the Tomball Alters in quite some time, so I’m really excited about their visit.

I had my last physical therapy session today. Walked around the cottage—I can make a circle from my desk, down the hall to the bedroom, over to the kitchen, and back to my desk--it's not very far. I held on to the therapist’s hand, and she insisted on the cane. I can walk almost normally with the walker; without it my legs are stiff and awkward as though I had some muscular condition. Really frustrating, but I guess the only thing to do is keep at it. The therapist bragged on the progress I’ve made since she first saw me, and when I suggested it was due to her, she said, “It’s yours. Own it.” We had a sort of sentimental parting—the kind where neither of us were going to show how touched we were. Why do we do that to ourselves?

It's been a social week so far and promises to continue that way—lunch today with a longtime friend I don’t see often. We went to a restaurant on Magnolia, and I had lobster bites. Which meant I thought I shouldn’t have lobster sushi roll tonight at the Tokyo Café. Betty and I went. It has long been a favorite of ours, and we missed it when fire closed it. I have only been once since they re-opened, now several months ago, so it was good to be back. Food and service are always good, but the main dining area is high-ceilinged with lots of slick surfaces—hard to hear.

A good day but nothing spectacular to report. I’m working myself up to a blog on how I feel about all the people who saw 45 has irreparably damaged the country. Meantime, busy days and a family weekend are on my horizon. I’m filled with anticipation.
PS. Just after I wrote the above, Jordan, Christian, and three friends descended on me, with four dogs--Sophie, the two Cavaliers, and a 12-week golden retriever puppy. Sophie gets so excited she tears around the cottage frantically, and she and the pup barked and barked at each other. The pup kept barking at the Cavaliers, but as Jordan said, "They don't play." It was delightful pandemonium and brightened my evening.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A fine food day—and a big oops


Today was a fine food day. A friend and I were going to lunch, wanted some place casual, debated barbecue vs. Swiss Pastry and ended up going to Swiss Pastry, where I had my usual bratwurst, potato salad, and kraut. On the way home, we went through the drive-through at Railhead and I brought home bbq for supper. So good!

Jordan and I had our occasional food talk tonight and settled several thorny issues: what I will fix for a friend who had recent surgery, what we’ll have Sunday night if indeed we have Sunday night supper (may be a version of what I fix for the friend), what we’ll offer Monday when Elizabeth comes to visit—she wants to see a couple of the neighbors, so we’ll invite them for happy hour and then fix sloppy Joe for supper.

Elizabeth is a special friend. More years ago than I care to count—twenty-five, maybe? —she was a work-study student in my office. We clicked and remained friends after she finished her schooling. I saw her through a broken romance, several not-quite-right jobs, and a happy marriage that eventually went sour. After her divorce, she lived in my garage apartment for a year, fixed it up so it was quite cozy. And we had a wonderful year of parties and wine on the deck late at night and long talks about the meaning of life.

She has moved on to a new career and a new partner, happily settled with Brian in the outskirts of Philadelphia where she is a yoga and wellness instructor. But her family and her heart remain in Texas, and she comes back often, combining visits with teaching opportunities. We’re always happy when she fits in time for a visit here, and I think she feels it is a sort of homecoming. For Mother’s Day, she sent me a wonderful card that essentially said she knew I wasn’t her mother but without me she wouldn’t be a functioning human being. I hold that thought close to my heart—I care about her and am so glad I could be there when she needed someone.

So that was a food thing—how to handle Monday night. We’ll fix appetizers for a happy hour with the few neighbors she has asked to see and then sloppy Joe for dinner. It’s heavy for summer, but stretches and everyone likes it. Jordan will make a big salad.

So we settled all our menu things, I upgraded the grocery list and printed off the sloppy Joe recipe—mine uses red wine and is like no other, but that’s another story. Somehow, I saved the wrong file, the recipe instead of the grocery list, which I wiped out. So now I’m trying frantically to reconstruct it. I may not get another shot at groceries for a week and a half, so I’ve got to get it right.Darn.

A saving grace for my goof: I got not one but two food magazines in the mail today-Bon Appetit and Southern Living. Always a good day when I have recipes to prowl through.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fort Worth: What a wonderful place to live


  Lunch downtown today with Nancy O’Shea (we go back more years than either of us want to talk about). It was a real treat. Nancy has lived downtown and now lives on the outer edges, so she is familiar and comfortable in what to me is often strange territory. First neat thing—Del Frisco’s has a “lift” for people like me. Like an elevator in a waist-high cage, it takes you from the foyer to the ground floor, where you can walk out to the outdoor tables.

I love eating outside there, looking at Sundance Square and all the people who daily take advantage of the benches, umbrellas, and wonderful views. It’s almost time for kids to be frolicking in the fountains, but still a bit cold. The square is surrounded by fascinating architecture, a blend of new, old, and faux old. There’s the building that houses Jamba (I’m sure it has a name), a tiny building dwarfed by its neighbors but made large by the cattle drive mural on its exterior. I can’t name all the others, but you need do no more than sit there and look up and around to realize that ours is a wonderful city.

For years, Fort Worth’s slogan has been, “Cowboys and Culture.” Nancy said she read there’s a move afoot to take the cowboys out of it because they no longer reflect Fort Worth as it is. I really hope that doesn’t happen. Cowboy culture—trail drives, particularly—shaped our city and gave it is distinct heritage. Today, Fort Worth is made special by that surprisingly comfortable blend of contemporary sophistication with western history. You can go downtown for upscale dining and music, and you can go to the North Side for stockyards history and chicken-fried steak. No other city like that.

Scattered throughout our city are pockets and bits of history—homes and buildings that have been saved from demolition, neighborhoods that have been lovingly preserved, a sense of treasuring the past that made us what we are today. Yes, we have lost some important buildings to demotion and new construction, and yes, we are building new, so many apartments I wonder who can possibly fill them, but I understand 40 families a day move here. But overall I think we’ve done a better job than many cities of maintaining the balance.

Shhh. Do you think I could discourage some of those 40 families? I don’t want our city to reach 10 million y 2020, which is apparently where it’s headed. I want folks to live in bungalows set back from the street, with carefully tended gardens and neighborhood stores. For years in my neighborhood, I was greeted by name at the cleaners, the vet, the liquor store, the grocery, even several restaurants. It’s still true a bit, but it’s fast slipping away.

I don’t think I’m a luddite. I don’t want to cling to the past and ignore progress, but I do like a happy blend of the two.

Go downtown soon. Eat in one of the restaurants that offer patio space on Sundance Square, or bring your own picnic and feed the pigeons while you eat. Gaze around you. We do indeed live in a wonderful city.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Festivities and rainy clouds


With Maddie, her mom Mel, and sister Eden
Cloudy rainy day, the kind that’s good for a book and a long nap. It’s not cold—in the 70s—but I have felt chilled all day, and curling up in a comforter was a treat.

Last night the Burtons and I went to Frisco for granddaughter Maddie’s graduation party.  Love having even most of my family together—we were missing the Tomball Alters, but Megan, Brandon, Sawyer and Ford arrived there shortly after we did. Burgers by the pool, good company, and lots of happiness for Maddie who heads to Colorado University (Boulder) in the fall. This summer, she’ll work and do an internship.

I had been straightening and sorting files the other day and found one in which I had saved Maddie’s very early artwork—those scribbled pictures, first attempts at writing, “I love you, Juju,” and especially an essay she did for TAAS on why her grandmother was a role model for her. That folder was her graduation present, and she seemed pleased as she grinned and leafed through it, promised to study the contents more carefully when she had time. I’m afraid it’s the sort of thing you do for first grandchildren, and I don’t have similar folders for the six still to come along through high school.

Always so proud of my grandchildren—they really are wonderful. But boys will be boys—Ford and Jacob were throwing a baseball on the front lawn when Ford missed the ball, it hit a curbside brick mailbox, ricocheted and gave him a black left eye with considerable swelling. This morning it didn’t look as bad as we all anticipated, but it hurt him to open it. He wore sunglasses to brunch and, with his long, lank build and blonde hair, looked very much the incognito child movie star.

We had a late brunch at one of my favorite restaurants, but it was freezing cold. I had brought a jacket, but Meg went out to the car for a blanket to wrap around herself, and we think we saw a party leave without ordering because they were so cold. Wish restaurants would get that message. I know wait staff hurries and scurries and gets hot, but I think they’re about pleasing customers, aren’t they? The long season of cold restaurants is just about to begin.

Megan and family left for the drive back to Austin, Jordan and family went to the golf tournament, and I settled down for that book and nap. For dinner, I’ll sauté a lamb cop and some zucchini. A good day.

Tonight, a flag flies at the foot of my driveway, courtesy the Fort Worth South Side Rotary. Let us all stop our busy lives long enough to honor those who have given their lives for our country.

Friday, May 26, 2017

How did you sleep last night?

Did you sleep well, or did you wake frequently during the night? How long did it take you to fall asleep? Studies have found that older people often take longer to fall asleep and wake more frequently during the night. There are all sorts of answers out there—it’s a change in the brain, it’s not normal, oldsters need as much sleep as youngsters.

I’ve given up on the studies, but I know that I often wake during the night. Two solid hours of sleep for me is good, four hours is a bonus. I go to bed early because I get so tired, but then I wake early and know I can’t stay in bed longer. And it’s not just the siren call of the bathroom. My deepest sleep, the kind with memorable dreams, comes in the morning. And, contrary to many older people, I don’t wake up tired. I suspect that when I think I’m not sleeping, I’m really dozing.

I remember telling my mom when I was a kid, that I itched all over. “It’s a sign you’re about to go to sleep,” she’d say serenely. Wrong, Mom. I don’t itch these days, but I am often restless turning from this side to that.

The whole point of this diatribe on sleep is that I slept so well last night, went right back to sleep every time I woke up, and felt refreshed in the morning. I could have stayed in bed longer, dozing, but the home health care aide was due at 8:00 so I had to get out of bed. For a retired person, I am disappointed that often there are compelling reasons for me to get out of bed. The mornings when there aren’t and I could snooze are when I wake up unable to stay in bed longer. Go figure.

Somehow lately on Fridays I sense an approaching holiday and slack off. Today I worked some but not with the concentrated, sustained effort that is usual for me, and I distracted myself by cooking—a cucumber/avocado salad for lunch, a cheese spread for happy hour guests. And suddenly, as usual, I was terribly, overwhelmingly sleepy at two o’clock. It’s like there’s an alarm in my brain that goes off every afternoon at the same time.

When I first was recovering from surgery, I slept hard for an hour in the mornings and anywhere from one to two hours in the afternoon. I would literally fall asleep over my keyboard. Those days are gone, and I maybe sleep for 30 minutes in the afternoon—enough to banish that terrible sleepiness—and then maybe I linger for another half hour. I kind of miss those deep daytime sleeps, but recovery is so much better.

Today I am indebted to friends, as I often am: Betty did some grocery shopping for me, since Jordan and I didn’t do our weekly shopping (she was busy with the golf tournament). Tonight, Subie and Phil came to feed the dogs and take me to dinner. We ate my cobbled-together cheese spread and then went to Pacific Table for seafood. I love the Caesar salad with fried oysters. And we had a good visit. A thoroughly pleasant day.

Now I’m sleepy. And it’s not even ten o’clock yet.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Alamo….and kids   


 
Lily B. Clayton fifth graders at the Texas State Capitol
No, I have no idea where Jacob is in that sea of red shirts
What fun for them!
By a kind of cool coincidence two of my grandsons were at the Alamo today. Ford, youngest of the Austin two, was there on a fourth-grade field trip scheduled to be back in Austin by 4:00. Jacob, local grandchild, is on a fifth-grade overnight trip (with his dad as one of the chaperones), scheduled to stop at many places on the way to San Antonio, so I doubt the two boys crossed paths.It was probably later when Jacob got to the Alamo but I hope it wasn’t a rushed stop. Jacob asked if I couldn’t tell Aunt Megan and Ford to hang around a bit until he got there, but I explained they, like him, would be on a school bus. I haven’t yet heard reactions to the iconic Texas history site, but I am more than curious.

Back in the day when I was talking to every and any book-related group that would have me, I had a prepared speech called, “Please, Mom, not the Alamo again.” It had to do with my love of Texas history that was not shared by my middle-school and older kids who were into Star Wars and the like.

Jamie once seriously explained to me how much more money I could be making if I abandoned this Texas history foolishness and wrote about intergalactic space, about which I know nothing and have less interest. I think today they understand, but in their salad days they were really tired of me dragging the to this and that historical site.

Meanwhile, back in Fort Worth it was a lovely day albeit one tending towards hot. A note on Facebook pointed out that our city this weekend is hosting both the Dean and DeLuca (Colonial) National Golf Championship and the Cliburn International Piano Competition. Pretty special city we live in.

It was a good day in my own little corner of the city. I had lunch at Carshon’s Delicatessen with Sharon Corcoran and Priscilla Tate, two friends I hope to get to know better. Sharon had knee surgery in November and understands about walkers and the like, and she is terrific about making sure I’m safe and making things easy for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation—hadn’t seen Priscilla, retired from TCU as I am, in a long time, and we did some catching up. And I got a pickled herring fix.

Tonight, friends Sue and Teddy came for happy hour and were good enough to go into the house, get the Cavaliers, and bring them out to the cottage so I could feed them. Before they left, they took the girls back inside and crated them. We caught up on news of kids, jobs, and other urgent matters. Sue and her children lived next door to me for several years, and we remain close friends. When she brought Teddy around, I adopted him as family right away.

You’d think writing would be a full-time occupation, but at this point in my life I seem to do it between other things. It’s not bad. I am editing a novel, sequel to The Perfect Coed, and found myself really caught up in the story this afternoon. Now that’s a good thing.

My life is good—I hope yours is too.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mood swings—we all have them




Sophie lost her chew toy last night
Cricket and June Bug proclaim innocence, but if you look
between Juney's paws, on the right, you'll see the purloined chew
Last night I was in a funk, and I didn’t know whether to attribute it to the weather (a good possibility), a lack of major excitement in my life at the moment, or a couple of awkward social encounters. When I talked to dinner pal Betty tonight, she had the same complaint. We decided we were blessed with each other as longtime friends and we’ll keep it that way.

Betty and I went exploring to a new restaurant tonight, Tina’s on the Bluff. We turned off Weatherford too early, didn’t realize Bluff doesn’t go all the way through, and wandered aimlessly for a bit. I was astounded by all the new apartment construction—where do all these people come from? A friend told me 40 families a day move to Fort Worth—they must all move into brand new apartments, because they are going up everywhere.

After a telephone call and some scribbled notes, we finally found Tina’s. No parking lot, only on the street, so it was a bit of a rough access for me on my walker. Once in the courtyard, I was confronted by three round steps—until Betty spotted the ramp.

We ate on the patio. Typical Tex-Mex menu, but what I liked about it was that it wasn’t overwhelming with tons of dishes. Just the standards (wish they had spinach enchiladas). We each had a sour cream chicken enchilada and sides of guacamole and refried beans. All good.

We ate in the patio. Somehow, when I saw an article about restaurants with patios, I got the notion this was near that new Uptown development and had a river view. Well, it’s close to Uptown but the river is too far away, and the patio, enclosed by arched brick walls, doesn’t have much view.

But it was good, solid food, wait staff was pleasant, and now that we know how to find it, we’ll go back. Betty thinks it would especially be a great place for lunch.

The Colonial golf tournament has started just a mile or so from our house—it has a fancier name, for the corporate sponsor, but it changes from year to year and it’s easier just to say Colonial. For me, in past years, it has always meant avoiding the terrible traffic congestion. When the children were little and we’d drive by, I’d say, “Look at the silly men chasing a little white ball.” Golf is not my game.

For Jordan, Colonial means party time. She will be there all day every day, Christian would, but he and Jacob leave on a 5:30 a.m. bus for Jacob’s two-day fifth-grade trip to San Antonio. Jacob is excited that his dad is one of the dads on the trip, and I told Christian to treasure it because it won’t be long before Jacob will be appalled that one of his parents is going on an activity with him.

Back to Colonial—Jordan has been preparing for this as though she’s going out of town and leaving me alone for a month. I’ve had advice to stock up on groceries (well, I mostly do that anyway but Betty will shop for a few things Friday), arrange social engagements (I do that anyway, and now two happy-hour visitors are roped into helping feed dogs), lock the doors and turn on the alarm (I do that anyway). Of course, there will be something we’ve both forgotten, but bless her for taking such good care of me. I think I’ll survive quite nicely. And, no, I won’t watch it on TV.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Walking, walking, to….anywhere


I dream about walking all the time. Last night, I suddenly walked across a room, said to a friend, “Look at me!” and walked everywhere thereafter. My steps were sure and strong. In reality, I can take two faltering, shaky steps without the walker, and that’s all. My surgeons is not worried about this at all, says someday I’ll find myself in the kitchen and the walker is elsewhere and I’ll walk (I didn’t ask how I got to the kitchen if I didn’t have the walker with me.). He should know, and I suppose he’s right, but four months after surgery I’m impatient.

The surgeon also advises against a cane. He says a cane doesn’t give enough of a support base, and if you fall, you have to rely on your wrist to stop the fall. Most of us don’t have wrists that strong. I used to use a cane as a security stick before the fall, but it does no good now, so I take comfort in his advice. A friend had extensive back surgery last week and walked her cul de sac (with a walker) yesterday. I know I couldn’t do that less than a week after surgery, and it makes me feel timid, scared, inadequate. Jordan repeated the surgeon’s words, “Do not compare yourself to others. Your surgery was different from all others.” But the comparison is inevitable.

I do worry that it’s lack of confidence that keeps me tied to the walker. With it, I’m more confident than I was without it before surgery. Which to me means I could probably walk better if I’d just let go and do it. But when I do, the results are shaky, and I’ve been cautioned so often about the terrible things that will result if I fall again. It’s obviously not a case of pick yourself up and try again. There might be no second chance.

Feeling puckish tonight—love that word. I think it’s the rainy weather. Tomorrow will be better—the weather and my mood. A bright spot tonight: Jordan and I are eating leftovers—bean salad on toast and cucumber/avocado salad. But she, sweet thing, planted and nurtured some leaf lettuce for me, and I will make wilted lettuce, like Mom used to. All I had to say was “wilted lettuce,” and Christian said no thank you. Irony: he loves green beans seasoned the same way—bacon drippings and vinegar. He’s not home tonight for supper, and Jordan has promised to try it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Baseball Hero Ate Broccoli and other notes


After an uncertain season, Jacob’s Little League team won their play-off game last night. He came out to the cottage afterwards, bearing a hot dog on a plate, and I gave him the buttered broccoli I had fixed. I cooked it out here partly because he likes the way I cook it—mushy beyond belief—and partly because his dad really does not like broccoli, so I thought I’d spare Christian the cooking odor. Jacob ate the whole crown by himself. So wonderful to find a vegetable he likes. Tonight, he came out when my dinner company was just leaving. Jacob was polite and cute, and when I turned around he had disappeared. I called his phone and asked if he had something on his mind, and he said no. I guess he just came to be here, and I’m so sorry I missed that opportunity.

My dinner guest, a colleague from TCU, brought me a chopped sandwich and potato salad from Heim’s Barbecue, a relative newcomer to town. I had been there once really liked the bbq and was overboard about the potato salad. It’s twice roasted potatoes, far superior to the potato salad usually offered in barbecue joints. Good dinner tonight.

I had an intimidating lunch guest today. She didn’t mean to be, but Heather is a lunch-time lead cook at Café Modern in the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art. (I’ve been mistakenly promoting her to sous chef.) She’s also an old friend, who brought lunches and conversation to me when I couldn’t get out. I figured it was my turn to cook, but what do you fix for someone who daily cooks in an upscale restaurant? I settled on bean salad on toast, a recipe I’d found in Bon Appetit, I think.

Dishes on toast are quite the thing these days, and it makes me smile. When I was a child, my mom frequently served asparagus on toast or mushrooms on toast. She would not, I admit, have thought of beans on toast. I wanted cannellini beans but settled for pintos. I doubt my thoroughly midwestern mom even knew what a pinto was. But I made an oil and vinegar dressing, with lots of assorted herbs, mostly what I had on hand or in planter boxes, and soaked the beans overnight. Today I salted them, which made a huge difference. They were delicious. Served with a tangy avocado and cucumber and feta salad. Quite good.

The result of all this food activity is that I have more scrumptious leftovers than I can deal with, and I will be out for several meals in the next couple of days. Jordan and I thought we’d have a girls’ dinner tomorrow and make a dent in some of it, but Christian has a church meeting and Jacob has another play-off game. I’ll be eating leftovers alone. That’s okay.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

A blog out of thin air


I was chastised, gently, today for no blog last night, though I explained it was not laziness but lack of anything significant to say. So tonight I find myself in the same position but feeling obliged to write. It was a pleasant day but not one that brought any remarkable events or even things to comment on.

I wanted to go to church, mostly because the anthem was the Lord’s Prayer, but my chauffeurs were out late last night and slept in. This morning I heard the anthem was not sung by our choir but a visiting group, so I don’t feel so bad. I intended to listen, got busy with something else, and forgot to turn it on. My day was working—reading a novel for a competition, working on the neighborhood newsletter, and stealing a bit of time for the mystery I started last night.

And cooking. My weekends lately are my special cooking times. This week we decided to do a pork chop dish in the crockpot for Sunday dinner. I have neither the crockpot nor a convenient place to plug it in, so I gave Jordan the meat, soup, and instructions. We planned dinner for seven, but then Jacob’s baseball game of yesterday, cancelled due to rain, was called for seven tonight. Jordan stayed home, and she and I ate in the cottage. The meat was flavorful but dry—not an experiment I’ll try again. I’m leery of pork chops just because they are usually dry. Don’t like a baked chicken breast for that reason either. But our asparagus tonight was wonderful—I’ve been following an old friend’s recipe and topping it with a mixture of sour cream, a bit of mayo, and lemon juice, then finished with buttered bread crumbs.

Jacob is just back from an overnight trip with his grandparents and cousins to Dinosaur Valley in Glen Rose. He said it was interesting, fun, and he wants to go back. Score! It’s hard to impress a ten-year-old. Tonight, we’re waiting to hear if his team won—if so, they have another game; if not, praise be, the season is over. Talk about mixed wishes.

I could rant about state politics, as if national doings are not bad enough. But I saw a suggestion tonight that Abbot, Patrick, and others are using the focus on Washington to slip through odious legislation as the Texas legislature ends its session—principally LGBT amendments to existing bills, a sneaky way to pass laws. They have now cancelled health care assistance for disabled children and passed new, restrictive anti-abortion laws despite a slap-down by SCOTUS for the legislation that closed most of the women’s health care clinics in the state. And then there’s Daniel Patrick’s ridiculous bathroom bill. I like the slogan that says, “Flush Daniel Patrick.”

I have never felt threatened in a public restroom, but I imagine if I were born a male, identified and dressed as a female, and was forced to use a men’s bathroom, I’d rather pee my pants. And all these bills are in the name of Christianity. So wrong.

I read an interesting open letter from the pastor of a small church to Franklin Graham, yes, Billy’s son. The gist was that the pastor didn’t know what Bible Graham was reading, but it wasn’t the one he read—and he quoted chapter and verse. The distortions that pass a Christianity these days horrify me. And Jesus weeps

There, I’ve rambled enough for a non-eventful day.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

No blog tonight


No blog, nothing to ponder or ruminate on. An ordinary but nice lazy day, cooking (corned beef hash and deboning a half leftover chicken to make salad), reading, lots of reading, and dinner with a good friend.

I had read a piece about new places with patios, so we set out for one—reservations needed, nothing available until 8:15; next one, 45 minute wait, no seats at the bar, and I didn’t want to stand for that long. We had good hamburgers at The Tavern, a perpetual favorite of mine.

Finished Killer Characters by Ellery Adams and thoroughly enjoyed it, recommend it. I decided to check on Amazon for earlier titles in the Baywriters series. One thing I like is that if you’ve already ordered the book—casual reading does run together in one’s mind—they’ll tell you. I had read several of the first titles in the series but ordered one I hadn’t read. And I’m still reading the book to report on for a competition—it’s slow going, because it’s a beautifully done book about a subject I avoid if I can. ‘Nough said.

Looking forward to Monday, when I resolve to start editing, rewriting the book I have in very rough draft. In the meantime, I’m piddling. That’s what one should do on the weekend.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Happiness


Sophie in her favorite position
showing off her new haircut
A friend of mine belongs to a writers’ group that took on the subject of happiness. She posted one response on her blog, where I read it. I was immediately intimidated. The writer found happiness in places that made sense to me—nature and serving causes other than oneself are two I identified with.

But he also listed music, big ideas, and books. The music is classical, the big ideas come from books on science, philosophy, spirituality, psychology, etc. I enjoy classical music, especially the romanticists, but my real joy is in the folk music of the’60s and ‘70s. Books? I am never happier than when I am caught up in a good mystery. Reading Jung was painful in college—I’d never do it today. In short, I felt like a shallow person who never stretches her mind. My college professor to this day describes me as a “closet intellectual.”

But then I had an epiphany: I was doing what I do too frequently—comparing myself to others and coming up short. I need to recognize that we are all different, not better or worse, but just different. And I, by gosh, need to stand up and be proud of who I am.

No, I don’t find joy in classical music except occasionally being swept away by Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, or Rachmaninoff. I don’t go to concerts—neither my ear nor my musical education have taught me enough to appreciate the music fully, and I get fidgety. I find joy in Joan Baez, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, Joan Collins. I don’t read nonfiction except when something catches my eye—a memoir, an exploration of faith, etc. I’m pretty much a folk music and mystery gal.

One thing he didn’t mention was food. I find great joy in food—cooking it and eating it. I had a food day yesterday: my love of kosher food came out when I had herring with sour cream for lunch, a rare treat I haven’t enjoyed in a long time. For dinner I had a buttered, boiled potato, sautéed zucchini, and a lamb chop with a sauce of olive oil, scallions, minced garlic, a good squeeze of anchovy paste, and a bit of white wine. So good I had to defrost a couple of baguette slices to sop up the rest of the juice. Yes, I had a recipe, but also yes, I fiddled with it and simplified it, leaving out chicken broth and a couple of other things. The recipe served four, and I was doing one lonely but succulent loin lamb chop. Living alone and often eating alone in the evening, I think it’s important not to grab a bowl of cereal but to have a full, balanced, enjoyable meal.

One thing he mentioned that is beyond my reach—his joy in his partner, his wife one presumes from the context. I have built a happy, fulfilling, wonderful life, but a small corner of me regrets that I am sailing into old age without an emotional and physical partner. My four children and I are close and loving, but they are each married and their first loyalty is to their spouses. I reflect on Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra”: “Grow old along with me/The best is yet to be/The last of life for which the first was made.” That’s the vision I had as a young, starry-eyed girl. Life taught me otherwise. I do not regret any decision in my life, but that lingering regret remains. If I ever write a memoir, I’ll have to come to grips with it. (I might defend my lack of intellectuality by pointing out that quoting Browning suggests my English Ph.D. was not totally wasted.)

The important thing is that I do find joy and happiness in life almost all the time, and I’m grateful for that. And I think in some small way I make the world a better place—through my children, if not my writing.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Launch Day for a New Book





Oh, happy day! Kelly O’Connell is back. Well, sort of. Keisha tells the story in my new novella, The Color of Fear. You can find it as an ebook on a wide variety of digital platforms—Kindle, Kobo, B&N, Sony, Apple and others. In print, it’s available from Amazon.

The Color of Fear marks my return to mystery fiction and the Kelly O’Connell series after an absence of more than a year. Some of you know that two major, traumatic events kept me from my computer: complicated hip surgery, which followed several months of undiagnosed but excruciating pain, and the move from my three-bedroom house to a 600 square-foot cottage. Surgery in January took away the pain, and I am feeling strong and healthy, but I can’t yet walk without a walker and am not allowed to drive a car. I remain highly optimistic that those things get a little closer every day.

The move to the cottage was my choice and remains my delight. I love my little hideaway and am almost perfectly comfortable with everything I need—living area, office, fancy bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen area. Only the kitchen leaves me wanting more. Because of zoning restrictions, I have neither stove nor oven, but I am learning to make do with an amazing magnetic hot plate—and the oven in the main house where my daughter and her husband and son now live.

As I told the doctor recently, I’m writing, I’m cooking, and I’m wearing make-up again. All sure signs of recovery. The Color of Fear is the first thing I’ve written from start to finish since the surgery, except for blogs.

The Color of Fear also marks a return for Kelly O’Connell, who took a year or more out to have a baby—Cynthia Grace Shandy. Keisha kept the real estate office running, so it’s only fitting that this time Keisha narrates the short tale wherein Kelly and her family live under the threat of infant Gracie’s kidnapping. The story serves as a reprise of many of the previous novels in the series, as Keisha, in her search for the kidnapper, recalls Kelly’s earlier adventures.

Keisha remains outspoken and independent and her voice is clear and strong as she balances her need to protect Kelly and her family with her love for new husband, José Thornberry. Some but not all of Kelly’s friends and foes from previous stories appear here, along with such new characters as Clyde, the guard dog, and Cowboy, the homeless guy with a soft heart.

I hope you’ll all welcome Kelly and her clan back into your hearts.

Next on my agenda? A sequel to The Perfect Coed. First draft is written, and I’m about to begin editing, aiming for publication in September.

To those of you who are my readers, thanks for sticking with me for my year out, probably one of the most difficult years of my life. I’m so glad to be back with you.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Garden of Friendship


Hibiscus Jordan planted by my cottage
She had to trim a tree to get them enough sun for blooms
Several women have said things to me in recent months that amounted to, “You have so many friends. I don’t have friends like you do.” I think they don’t realize you must be a friend to have friends, and you must work at friendships.

They really are like plants in a garden. You cultivate them, from planting the seed—or idea—to nourishing and feeding often. One woman (she’ll recognize herself, so please know you are not alone in this) said a new widow near her mentioned going out to dinner, but it hadn’t happened. I pointed out it wouldn’t unless she took herself over to the woman’s house, knocked on the door, and said, “Let’s go to dinner.”

Over the years, I have had countless dinner parties in my home, mostly small but always people I wanted to spend time with. One friend said something about my guests reciprocating—that old, “If I entertain you, then you owe me.” No, they don’t always reciprocate, but it takes a lot of rudeness to get yourself off my friend/guest list. I persevere, and I’ve decided most people appreciate it. They may not have time to entertain, or interest in cooking, or it may just not occur to them. I don’t take it as a personal affront.

A friendship I cultivated: a young woman (from my perspective) who was once a work-study student in my office. She went to work in a writing-related field, but then moved away. Suddenly she was back, having gone to cooking school and worked in a vineyard. Voila! We had two things of interest in common: books and food. She’s a sous chef at a major restaurant in town. We met occasionally for lunch, and she kindly brought me lunch more than once when I was housebound. Now that I’m cooking, I’ve invited her for lunch—a bit intimidating, but I think I can handle it. Just an example of the two-sided work that goes into a friendship.

When I meet someone I think is interesting or has interests like mine, I’m not shy about inviting them over, maybe first for coffee or wine on the patio. I do cook dinner for friends some, but it’s limited in the cottage with sparse cooking facilities. But entertaining is a great way to make and keep friends.

Letter-writing has become almost obsolete in this day of social media, and I’m the first to admit that I communicate by email and Facebook. Using those tools, I’ve re-connected with friends from my childhood, including the girls who grew up next door. They live in northern Michigan, but one visits me when she’s in Texas—what a rare treat! I also have a couple of friends I’ve kept in constant touch with for fifty years or more. Some are not the frequent communicators I am, and I have to realize that silence doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve forgotten me…nor I them.

Tonight I had dinner at Press Café with Betty, my longtime dinner pal. For years now, we have made it a habit to go out to dinner on Wed. nights. When I was housebound, she brought me dinner. But now we’re exploring new restaurants and having a ball. Press Café is not new, but we both love the fish sandwich—except that it’s hard to eat and I got half down my shirt. But Betty is yet another example of a friend—we work at it, we make sure to keep up with each other. And I know she’s there if I need someone.

Tend to your friends, folks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Gratitude for a marriage gone awry


Fifty-three years ago today I stood in a garden on Osteopathy Avenue in Kirksville, Missouri and exchanged vows with the late Joel Alter. We didn’t care that only a thin line of bushes separated us from the goat pens nor that the music was a rented tiny organ—I don’t even remember what was played. A friend had made my dress, and I kept it for many years before giving it away. We honeymooned, with good friends, one night at the local Holiday Inn.

We were happy for fifteen years. He built his career as a surgeon, bought us my “doctor’s wife” house, drove fancy cars, and, best of all, adopted four children. I often think of those as my golden years. They were followed by two miserable years while the marriage was crumbling. A failed marriage is never a one-way street, and I’m not writing tonight about recriminations (oh, yes, I have a long list but, probably, so did he). We divorced in 1982.

This is not a letter about blame. It’s about gratitude. If I hadn’t married Joel, I wouldn’t have the four wonderful children I have. I wouldn’t be in Texas, where I’ve been for 52 years. And I wouldn’t be eating kosher food, which I love. Joel taught me a lot of things but probably none more important than an exuberant joy in life. He loved to dance; I was a lousy dancer, but I could dance with him. He loved animals, and I caught his love, particularly of dogs. He cared about people, and I am more open and concerned about others than I might have been if he were not in my life.

A friend looked at me today and said in pure astonishment, “If he hadn’t brought you to Texas, we never would have known each other”

But the biggest thing Joel ever did for me was to leave me after 17 years of marriage, 20 years together. He reduced me to tears one night shortly before by telling me he’d take the kids, the house, everything but me. Of course, I wouldn’t give up my children. At the time, I didn’t see his leaving as a gift. I was in my early 40s, with four children ages 12-6, and I was scared, no terrified, about the future. It turned out just fine, thank you.

I have come to appreciate that great gift. If he had stayed, my children probably wouldn’t be the well-balanced, happy people they are, family people, contributing to their world. I wouldn’t have had the career I did nor would I have become the writer I call myself today. And I wouldn’t have built the wonderful life I have—friends, church, a secure home, great memories of the last thirty-plus years.

So thanks to Joel, though he didn’t intend his leaving as a gift, and his life didn’t turn out to be the happy days he expected. I have carried Joel with me, all these years, in a small place in my heart, in too many dreams, in some of the better ways I react to people and the world.

When people moan about divorce or how hard it is on the children or some such nonsense, I just smile and say, “Not always.”

Thanks, Joel.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The details of daily living



Have you noticed how the details of daily living get in the way of the things you really want to do? I don’t mean cooking and cleaning the kitchen and laundry and making the bed. I mean reorganizing your closet—or your files, both of which have been heavy on my mind lately. And yet I’m aware that doing them will take from my writing time, the business I devote my days to.

The gas company is complicating life. They are replacing our meter and digging huge holes on our property. We sit on caliche, so I know it’s hard digging for them. Friday, I couldn’t go grocery shopping with Jordan—our weekly outing—because they had our driveway and the neighbor’s blocked, and she couldn’t drive up here to get me. Today a friend was coming for lunch but called from the street with the same problem. “I’ll go bring you lunch,” she said, but I told her to come on up the driveway on foot, and I’d make tuna salad. No sooner had I opened the tuna than they moved their equipment and told her they’d keep the drive free if we wanted to go out. Too late. We had tuna, avocado, pickles, and tomatoes. And probably a better visit than we would have had in a restaurant. Tomorrow, same story, yet another verse. I hope they’ll free the driveway so I can go out to lunch.

Late this afternoon, Jordan came in and announced she was here to work on my closet. I dropped everything and joined her—mostly as a spectator, since reaching clothes in the closet is a real stretch for me—no pun intended. We didn’t discard much—three things and a bunch of hangers—but she pulled all the spring and summer tops to one side, and put the pants on a low bar where I can reach them. I folded winter-like pants and put in a drawer where I’d discovered space. For a long time, I couldn’t bend enough to open the drawers on the buffet or whatever that serves as bedroom drawers for me. Today I could—the drawers are long, so I have to do one handle and then the other until I get it open enough to pull the center out evenly.  But now I can bend enough to do that. Every time I do something new, I feel inordinately proud.

I’m almost afraid to comment on what lovely weather we’re having, for fear if I enjoy it too much it will go away (is that an old-fashioned Puritanical superstition or not?). But tonight, after closet organizing, we sat on the patio with wine. So pleasant, it was seven before we came in and I fixed my dinner. Spinach fettucine with butter, lemon, garlic, anchovy and lots of shaved pecorino.

MY goal tonight is to proof one more short story—more about that later. But now I must get to it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother’s Day compassion—NOT



Mother’s Day should be about love and compassion, right? Please tell that to our legislative leaders, both national and state. While it was a mind-boggling time—historic, to use a more proper term—in Washington last week, the Texas legislature did not get left out of the party.

Currently a handful of right-wing extremist representatives are using parliamentary procedure to block 100 bills because they aren’t getting their way. One of the bills blocked has to do with cutting Teas’ way-too-high maternity mortality rate. Particularly appropriate on Mother’s Day. Sure, it’s called serving for the good of the state.

And state officials have found a swell way to turn young immigrants into haters of the U.S. and terrorists. Just lock them up in a for-profit juvenile facility thinly disguised as a day-care center. Really, guys? You want us to believe that? It is so wrong on so many levels, among them the fact that for-profit prisons should be outlawed. We encourage crime by making it a source of profit—there’s no direct money in educating youngsters and leading them away from a path of crime. So, let’s make a buck!

Second, the immigration law in Texas is harsh enough, tearing children from their mothers’ skirts (often, literally). But to put them in a for-profit incarceration center goes beyond any sort of human decency. Yes, I believe our governor has signed that one into law.

As he did the sanctuary city law which forbids city governments and law enforcement officers from ignoring Texas’ harsh immigration laws. The tiny border two of El Cenzio is suing the state government over the law. The mayor refuses to turn in his fellow citizens. Resist, he says, is the right thing to do.

This may seem like a non sequitur, but I assure you it’s not. Last night my oldest granddaughter went to her high school prom. Her father, mother, and younger sister checked into a hotel for a Mother’s Day getaway and left the keys to the house to Maddie She was encouraged to invite her close friends, boys and girls, for the after-prom all-night party. My son’s reasoning? “I’d rather have them in my house than in a cheap bar or hotel.” His stipulation: they collected all car keys (Maddie knew where they were) and the kids were forbidden to touch his liquor (he’s a connoisseur of fine Scotch). They didn’t hide liquor, jewelry, anything, just opened the houses to the kids.

We’re waiting to hear a report, but I’m betting on Maddie. I have faith in her to do the right thing and to have chosen her friends well. How does this relate to the Texas or national legislatures? I believe if you trust people, they will live up to your expectations. If you distrust them, they think, “Why the hell not?” and do what you suspected them of doing.

I cannot fathom this hatred of immigrants, particularly Mexicans and Muslims. Texas, of course, is focused on Mexican immigrants. They are, we’re told, criminals, rapists, the dregs of society. Funny, some of the Mexican-Americans I’ve met are the nicest people—kind, caring, raising their families to be good citizens. In California, farmers are crying because their crops are rotting in the fields—the immigrant workers are afraid to come to work. Not all immigrants can afford the time and cost of citizenship—a factor no one considers apparently.

If we continue this ban, think how many service industries will be affected. The hospitality industry will take a huge hit—no one to clean hotel rooms, wait tables, tend bar. Who will clean your house and your office? There are a thousand other jobs done by Mexicans. Don’t tell me those jobs belong to Americans—most Americans won’t do a lot of them.

I think we need to get a grip on this immigration nonsense. By all means, deport any known and proven criminals and terrorists. Stop deporting innocent people or those with minor infractions in the long-ago past. Sure, it’s hard to detect terrorists, but we have tremendous law enforcement tools and techniques. Put them to work. And use a bit of compassion. And outlaw for-profit prisons.

Happy Mother’s Day. Sorry for the rant. Maybe I shouldn’t read the news.




PS: My son’s house was just as he’d left it. Yay, Maddie!


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cleaning and cooking—woman’s work isn't done even on Mother's Day



It’s either a sign that I’m back in the real world or I’ve lost my mind, but lately I’ve been cleaning drawers in my kitchen, drawers in my office, bags of junk stuck away in my closet. When I moved in to the cottage nine months ago, I was in pain and not caring about much else. I left the move to my children, mostly Jordan, and they brought what they thought I needed, put it wherever it fit. The longer I lived here, the more drawers became a jumble and I missed things, mostly cooking utensils. I’m gradually taking my life—and my drawers—back.

Today I found note pads—I always need something to jot a note on. Pencils and pens, always needed. But lots of things I didn’t need—three way plug adaptors, drawer pulls and knobs for the house kitchen, not mine; hardware for my flexible screens, Tools. I sent much back into the house, kept what I needed and could find a place for—including screw drivers. They went in a bottom kitchen drawer with a bit more room.

But this was also a cooking day. I made dinner for Jordan, Christian, and friend Amye. Meatloaf, Aunt Reva’s asparagus, Louella’s rice. The meatloaf recipe comes from my weekly dining pal, Betty. She and her husband own the Star Café on the North Side, and this meatloaf is served at lunch every Wednesday at the Star. Aunt Reva was a treasured friend whose ranch/B&B we visited often. We were considered family, and often ate with Reva and her husband, Charles, on the porch overlooking a small lake, while we stayed in a nearby cabin. And Louella? I’ve never met her. She was stepmother to my high school friend, Barbara, to whom I am still close. Louella sure knew how to cook.

And tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I have beautiful roses on my desk, and I spent a couple of hours today filling out the registration and medical history for 23andme, the DNA testing service, another Mother’s Day gift. Tomorrow Christian will cook a big breakfast, we’ll go to church, and then a short break (nap for me)—followed by a meal at Joe T.’s. I haven’t been there since I first lost mobility, about a year ago, so this will be a treat. And also break my routine. The more I vary my routine, the better.

Life is looking good.



The End

Friday, May 12, 2017

Who am I?


Excited tonight because Jamie and his wife enrolled me in 23and me, the DNA testing service, as a Mother’s Day gift. I’ve been struggling with registering tonight and stalling on the DNA sample. So anxious about doing it right. I’ve always thought I was half Scottish and half German, but who knows what I’ll find out? We always thought Jamie is half Greek, half Chinese—and his results came up pretty much that way except there was a bit of Native American in there. Puzzling, if you know the supposed story of his biological parents and how they met.

Today I sent my novella off to the formatter—doing that correctly is beyond me. I’ve made a mess of it before. But I also discovered the beginnings of a new Blue Plate Café Mystery that I thought I had abandoned and then the computer ate it. I abandoned it during the time I was feeling so rotten, with intense hip pain, and walked away from several projects. Now I’m picking up several of them, but I thought this one was lost. My memory is that I thought it wasn’t going anywhere. But today I thought the basic premise had real promise for a good mystery set in a small town. My list of books I want to write grows out of bounds.

We are suffering through the replacement of our gas meter. It has been back by my French doors for years (well before the French doors) and the meter reader has supposedly come into the yard to read it. I’ve almost never seen such a person, so I worry a bit about what they read. Now they’re switching to self-reading meters and putting them closer to the street, but still aesthetically placed. The crew has really been polite, helpful, and creative about placement. Today they were working, digging yet another huge hole in the front yard and a hole in the back for the new meter. I had to keep the dog in. And I didn’t get to go grocery shopping with Jordan because she couldn’t get her SUV into the driveway to pick me up. She got my groceries for me and even remembered the “Hello, Dolly” bar that I like for dessert.

I spent much of the day reading and finishing Carolyn Hart’s Walking on My Grave. Fun to once again be in Broward’s Rock and at the Death on Demand Bookstore with Annie, Max, and their friends. Tried to call up a new book I ordered and can’t find it on Kindle—a mystery to resolve. Next project is to proof my own short story collection.

Busy but happy days.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The inflexible routines of aging





Excuse me if I digress for a moment to say how blessed I am. For part of this morning and the early afternoon, Jamie was here, nose buried in his computer. But he was here, in the same room where I was working. Tonight ten-year-old Jacob is on my couch, buried in his iPhone while I work at my computer. But he’s here. (He’s so wrapped up in whatever’s on his phone that he didn’t even blink when I took the photo above.) It brings me great joy to have them here. I don’t care that they don’t carry on conversations or pay attention to me. It’s enough that they are here with me.

Jamie’s visit caused me to reflect on how we get set into routines, particularly as we age. I think we find comfort in doing the same thing at the same time every day. I eat breakfast, such as it is, between eight and nine every morning; lunch is between eleven-thirty and twelve-thirty, and diner is sixish. Living not exactly with the Burtons but not far from them, one of the adjustments I’ve had to make is that they don’t eat dinner at six. Sometimes they don’t eat dinner until eight or later. Hard for an old lady to change.

On those treasured days when Jamie comes over from the Dallas area, we go to breakfast. The goal is always nine o’clock. This morning it was at least ten before we were settled in the restaurant, and I was so ravenous I ate a double order of corned beef hash (with a lot of ketchup). We hadn’t been home long when I looked at the clock and realized it was nearly noon. Then, suddenly, it was almost two, and Jamie had to rush back to Frisco to take one of my granddaughters to an art lesson. He literally ate leftover chicken-fried steak out of his hand as he ran out the door, and I ate a light lunch of leftover tuna salad and a bit of smoked salmon with cream cheese.

I napped, as I always do, but later than usual. See? There’s my routine again. I nap about two, read in bed for five to fifteen minutes. Today, it was almost three before I crawled in bed. I slept so hard I thought I was in bed for the night and woke with a start at four-thirty to scramble to make an appetizer for neighbor Margaret who was coming for happy hour. By five, we were on the patio, sipping wine and eating hummus that I’d topped with chopped onion, cucumber, and tomato (oops, forgot the feta).

And so I didn’t eat dinner—leftover lamb, cold, with cherry tomatoes and gherkins--until almost eight. I’m clearly off my routine—and it’s a great thing. But tonight, as usual, ten is my bedtime.

I’m not sure if routines are a good thing. I think my mind tells me flexibility is good, but my body votes for routine—with such strong votes as hunger and sleepiness. I hate to admit it’s age, but I think maybe that’s at least part of it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicken-fried steak



The late Jerry Flemmons, longtime travel editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was not just an aficionado of Texas food, particularly chicken-fried steak. He was a crusader. He once wrote an essay featuring the late, lamented Massey’s in which he discussed the various abominations that masquerade as chicken-fried steak. He was scornful of gourmets who insisted the meat should sit on the gravy, not under it. He decried people who put ketchup on their chicken-fried. I wish I had the essay at hand, because Jerry spun it out at a masterful length. Clearly, he knew what chicken-fried steak should be—and he found it at Massey’s. When TCU Press published his book of essays, columns, whatever, Plowboys, Cowboys, and Slanted Pig, the author picture showed Jerry in front of Massey’s. And we held the launch party there, serving guests small bites of chicken fried (I once knew a man who said the word “steak” was redundant; he always ordered chicken fried—period, end of sentence).

I had fork-tender chicken-fried steak for dinner tonight. Fork-tender is an overused description of the dish, but this honestly was. I never once picked up my knife. The serving was so large a friend and I shared it, and I still brought home a good-sized portion. The meat was accompanied by terrific mashed potatoes—rich with butter and cream. As a side, we had roasted creamed corn and declined a second side—too much food.

But, ah, dessert. No name for this dish that I know of, but it was delicious. A flour tortilla, deep fried, crispy, and redolent with cinnamon. Topped by sautéed bananas in a sauce (butter?) and a scoop of vanilla ice cream dusted with cinnamon. I almost never eat desserts that are not chocolate, and I never eat ice cream, but I devoured my half of this, scraped the tiny bits off the dish

Where was all this? At Horseshoe Hill, a self-proclaimed cowboy cafeteria in the Stockyard District of North Fort Worth. The restaurant was established several years ago by Grady Spears, well known Fort Worth chef. It’s nicely touched with cowboy atmosphere, but not too much.

A good place to discover. A small restaurant, nice and quiet on a Wednesday night.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A non-event day


Here’s a touch of lightness for a non-event day. As I posted the other day, I finally, reluctantly got rid of Sophie’s chair which just didn’t fit in the cottage. Jordan’s friend (and mine), Chandry, had some of the men at her business pick it up. I asked if anyone was going to use it, and she said, “Yes, me. I’m going to put it in the cabana for the dogs.” So, here’s Lulu, sitting in Sophie’s chair (note on dirty it is). Shh. Don’t tell Soph. Without her chair, Sophie has taken to sleeping on my bed, which is okay with me Once I get in bed, she doesn’t stay long. Except she seems to sense the times I really want to go right to sleep, and then she’s desperate for affection, nuzzling me, squirming up close, persistently begging for affection Dogs, how can you help but love them?

Nice breakfast today with my Book Ladies group that meets monthly. They are all women whose lives have had to do with books—librarians, teachers, bookstore owners, a couple of authors. Most of us are retired now, but we still talk books…or politics…or families. It’s a loose group to say the least. I look forward to it in part because it’s the once-a-month time I allow myself potatoes for breakfast. Thanks to Carol Roark for faithfully hauling me to the Grill for these meetings. I will be so glad when I can drive again, but that’s still a bit away.

I always have a problem hearing at that crowded table—twelve or more women this morning. To compound my difficulties, I forgot my hearing aids. And found I could hear about as well without them as with them.

A couple of exciting things today, well—exciting for me. I got the revised cover for the novella, plus the editor’s comments and suggestions. Her structural suggestions were really helpful—scenes that left the reader hanging, an unsatisfactory conclusion, and the like. Introducing a guard dog and then not involving him in the story is like introducing a gun and never shooting it, she said. So now the dog is part of the action.

But I spent a lot of time today laboriously adding all those commas I left out. Don’t get me wrong—I’m a huge fan of the Oxford comma, but sometimes I forget even that one. Glad it was a novella and not a full-length novel. At this rate, I’m on track to publish in late June. Will send to the formatter as soon as I give it one more reading. Help me spread the word—another Kelly O’Connell Mystery on the way. Watch for it, please.