Friday, May 31, 2019

A Day of Daughters and some confusion

            Today started out with unexpected storm warning which I thought a bad omen, but it turned out to be a good day. I had visits from two “daughters” who are part of my extended family. As an adoptive parent, I have long believed that it is less blood than love that ties us to people, so it is, to me, perfectly logical that I have daughters that are not part of my immediate family, daughters that I did not raise.

At noon today I welcomed Kate, my goddaughter, and her significant other, Taran. I have not seen Kate probably in almost twenty years—she was born in Fort Worth, but her family moved away when she was five, and shame on them, shame on me—we barely kept in touch, although we had a few visits. But this spring I had a lovely visit from her mom that rekindled our friendship and made me realize how much I had missed that family.

Kate was in the Metroplex for the wedding of a friend she and Taran know from graduate school, and I was delighted that she put Fort Worth on her agenda. Thirty years old, she works for an international company in niche marketing—something that I try to grasp and can’t. What it means is she focuses on one product. Taran is a follower of the Sikh religion from India but has been here for four years. They met at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and today he works for Intuit in the San Francisco area.

Twenty years didn’t make a bit of difference. We reminisced, although her memories of Fort Worth are vague, and we talked about everything from food—Taran did a year in culinary school—to politics—Kate is knowledgeable and passionate on the subject. Both spent a lot of time loving on Sophie and said they wished they had a dog. Their lifestyle intrigues me. Neither one owns a car—in San Francisco there is no need, and they Uber everywhere. When they left today, I asked if they’d called their Uber, and Kate said no, they’d walk around the neighborhood a bit and then tell the Uber where to meet them. They were headed for the Kimbell Museum and then the Stockyards, so Taran could see the Fort Worth herd.

Bright young people, and they brightened my day.

This evening Sue and Teddy came for happy hour, though we got so mixed up on time that I thought they weren’t coming and put away the appetizers just before they arrived. We had miscommunicated about the time. Sue declared me her Fort Worth mom years ago because her mom is in Ottawa, Ontario, so I call her my Canadian daughter. They have just been to Santa Fe and Taos—to my dismay, they didn’t like Santa Fe so well, but they are hikers and outdoors people, and Taos put them closer to the opportunities they wanted. Me? I prefer the shops and restaurants of Santa Fe and told them in half a day they didn’t give the town a fair chance, nor did they get beneath the tourist level. I asked if they’d go back, and they said no, once they visit a place, they strike it off their bucket list and move on to the next place. Again a foreign thought to me—when I’ve been somewhere and liked it, I want to go back. Hence my countless trips to Santa Fe.

After Sue and Teddy headed out to try a new Italian restaurant, the evening fell apart. Volkswagen called to say my car is ready. But I had no way to get it. Jordan was off at the high school graduation of a friend’s son, and Christian had car troubles of his own. He was stranded, waiting for repairs on Jordan’s car to be complete. He had to Uber to pick up the car and then drive to Central Market for my groceries. By then, curbside pickup was closed, and he had some confusion before he finally went into the service counter and asked for my groceries. They handed him two bags but said there was a third bag in the cooler and they didn’t know if it was mine. It had shrimp, so Christian assured them it was not mine—I’m allergic to shrimp. It was almost eight o’clock by the time he got home, and I had given up and eaten my leftover half of a chicken salad croissant for supper. But we had a lovely visit over wine.

We’ll try to get the car first thing in the morning. Meantime, good publishing news, about which I’ll write more later. I’m sort of floating on air and pinching myself tonight.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

An exciting day—at least on TV

First Robert Mueller stole the TV channels in the morning and delivered his final comments on his special investigator’s report. His nine-minute recitation, read from a script, confirmed what I thought. This is a man who shuns the public spotlight and adheres to the letter of the law. I’m sure we’ll be hearing pro and con and many interpretations of what he said for days to come. I think it was an important moment in our history, and I agree with him that all Americans should pay attention.

Then, in Fort Worth/Dallas, there was a police chase, with every minute recorded by overhead cameras. Inevitably, the escape car slowed, stopped, and two men of color got out and threw themselves flat on the ground. They knew their lives were in danger. I wanted to yell at them, “How did you ever think you were going to outrun the cops?” but I suppose none of us have none the desperation they must have been feeling. It’s a sad time in America when, even momentarily, your sympathies as an impartial bystander, are with the objects of the chase. Although I don’t know what they did, I have a vague notion it was robbery and was not something heinous like murder. And I knew that as men of color, they knew one slightly wrong move could earn them not one but several bullets. I watched carefully, from my helicopter/TV vantage point, but didn’t see any police brutality Tonight it strikes me that we as spectators get so caught up in that story—and then we never hear another word about it.

And then came the storm warnings. We’d known all morning that severe storms were expected in the early afternoon, but about one o’clock the sky darkened, and the TV was filled with tornado warning advisories, which means a funnel cloud has been sighted. Forecaster were saying ominously, “Take shelter now Go to the lowest safe room in the house” I often beat my chest like a warrior woman and declare how much I love Texas storms—but today made me nervous The dark sky, what looked like a shelf cloud. Then my TV wouldn’t turn on—too many stations in use. AT&T has this ridiculous rule about how many TVs can be one at any given property. I knew just what had happened—Jordan had it on in every room in the house so she could keep up no matter where she wandered.

She finally came out and asked if I didn’t want to come into the house—probably a bit more secure. We laughed about the evening, several years ago, that Jacob set up the closet with a chair, a blanket, a glass of wine, and a book—and then insisted that was where I was to go. Today we decided either the closet or the bathroom, though I think the bathroom is a cliché and still remember one tornado where a mom and her two daughters were found dead in the bathtub where they’d taken shelter.

After about twenty minutes as I stared at the weather news, it was apparent the rotation was northwest of us, and I decided to come back to the cottage. Which meant we had to take back the flashlight and iPad and phone and other supplies we’d taken into the house. What we got was a good heavy rain but no lightning, no hail, very little thunder I suppose sometime our luck might run out, but it held today.

As I hear and read about the floods in Oklahoma, I have a funny image in my mind. Christian and I had a discussion about the direction of river flow. Simplistically, I maintain that rivers flow from north to south—thinking of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. But he thought the local Trinity River was high because they opened Benbrook dam—which is south of the river. Made no sense to me. But if water flows north to south, I have this vision of Oklahoma sending sheets of water, unbounded by river patterns, down on Texas. I truly grieve for that state where every county has been declared a disaster area. I don’t know which is worse—the destruction of a tornado or the slime and filth and contamination of a flood. And both kill people. I truly hope the administration stops its war on science and climate change and pays attention to what is happening to our world.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Jordan Appreciation Day


Jordan called it Mom Appreciation Day, but it was really Mom appreciating Jordan for all the little (and big) things she does for me. On Mothers’ Day, we forgot my leftovers as we exited the restaurant amidst a flurry of hugs and goodbyes. I just assumed she had them, because she knows I can’t carry a to-go box with my walker. But she set them down—and forgot. When we got home and discovered the faux pas, she said, “I just wish Christian and Jacob would help me take care of you.”

That rocked me on my heels. I know I need help with some big things, but even with the walker I think of myself as fairly independent. She made me realize there are a lot of small things I cannot do for myself, from getting clothes down off the hanging bar to mopping up the face powder I spilled in the bathroom—and carrying the doggie bag. Yes, I can cook, get myself to bed at night and up in the morning, work at my desk, go out with friends, drive on some limited errands, but as someone once said, it’s the little things that make life rich. And Jordan does those for me, often anticipating what I need before I realize it.

Tonight I drove my car to the VW dealership for some minor (I hope) repairs. I told Jordan I’d leave well before she got home with Jacob because I was going one of my devious back roads to avoid rush hour traffic. I thought I made good time, but I had barely begun talking with the service rep when she appeared. When I commented, she simply said, “VIP service.”

So today I took her to lunch at Rise, the restaurant that specializes in souffles. She swore she’d never had one, and I’m quite sure I never tried to make one. Now it’s one of the few things I really couldn’t do in my tiny kitchen. A toaster oven won’t quite accommodate a souffle. I have been to Rise several times—both in Fort Worth and Dallas—but it was new to Jordan, and she loved all of it. The rustic French décor, plates, serving pieces, linen—it’s all of a well-coordinated piece.

We decided to split, which worked out unevenly. We shared the marshmallow soup that Christian raves about—perhaps I heard too much hype, but I wasn’t blown away. Then we had a truffle-infused mushroom souffle and a baguette sandwich with jambon, gruyere, and cornichons. Both excellent (I just ate the other half of the sandwich for supper). Of course, chardonnay with our lunch.

Besides our elegant lunch, we ran errands—the grocery, the vet twice (because I wasn’t clear about what I needed), the cleaners, Trader Joe’s—sort of exhausting. I came home to take my usual nap. My mom used to say “There’s no rest for the weary”—or was it the wicked? I must be both weary and wicked, because yesterday when I napped, our lawn guys noisily did their job; today it was the neighbor’s lawn guys, who are just as noisy and sound just as close. Perhaps tomorrow shall be a day of peace and quiet.

Tomorrow shall also be a day of work. I’ve been lollygagging while I wait for copy edits on the Alamo and, I hope, a new contract. But tonight I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I’ve made a list of things I could and should do. Admittedly, some are cooking—I want to pickle a red onion and read the new Bon Appetit—but I also need to put new plants in my indoor garden, and I think I’ll look at an old manuscript, once published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and see how I feel about reprinting it. Anticipating a good day—and I’ll be so glad to have the wheel locks off my car. Just maybe I can also find out when they’ll replace my bedroom flooring. Life comes at you with unexpected problems, but I always figure I can handle them.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Happy Memorial Day

Someone on Facebook posed a question about why we wish people happiness on a day when we honor and remember members of the armed service who have given their lives in defense of our country. I think it’s because those men and women died to preserve our way of life, and nothing speaks more to our way of life than the picnics, cook-outs, and celebrations that mark this day. Yes, we stop to honor, we visit gravesites, but we also celebrate—and I can imagine that pleases those who served.

I saw a touching story on Facebook today about an eighty-nine-year-old Dutch woman who has been tending the graves of two American soldiers in a cemetery near her small town for seventy years. She visits the graves twice a year—on Memorial Day and on the anniversary of her town’s liberation from the Nazis. In recent years, she has been in touch with the families of those fallen soldiers from WWII, and one family has even visited the town and the cemetery. Such stories reinforce my faith in the good of humanity, a reaffirmation sorely needed in these days when so much seems bent on destroying all that is good about the American way of life.

My Memorial Day outing today was lunch/brunch with my local family. They’ve been at the golf tournament all weekend, so I was delighted to have a meal with them. In retrospect, I wish I’d ordered brunch, but I didn’t. I asked for tortilla soup which was too hot and too spicy—good, but oh my!

Jordan mentioned that they were going to Denton, where Christian’s sister lives, and I heard the word “fishing.” I assumed Jacob was going fishing. Not so. They were going to a fish memorial service. Jacob’s two girl cousins, younger than he, each had a fish that died, and they were going to have a service. I yelped in astonishment that the family from all over the county had been asked to drive to Denton for this momentous occasion, but Christian hastened to add it was really a Memorial Day celebration, a cook-out. Later, Jacob got to speculating on whether or not the girls had saved the fish corpses. “Are you wondering if it’s a funeral or a memorial service?” I asked, and he grinned. The fish, by the by, were Flash and Cobra. I am happily at home, planning to make a super sandwich out of part of a salmon burger and lettuce, tomato, bacon and mayonnaise.

Once again, a day filled with excitement. Just spent half an hour on the phone with the bank—those poor people have to work on this holiday—trying to straighten out a payment that has not gone through twice. Maybe three times is the charm.

I’m surprised at the people who have to work today, though I remember it was only toward the end of my tenure at TCU that the university declared Memorial Day a holiday. Today, the lawn crew came and mowed, because Monday is their day. Of course they came just as I tried to sneak a nap and not only did their mowers and blowers wake me, but Sophie had to let them know loudly that she was protecting me.

I can hardly stand this frantic pace of life. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Golf, racing, and—ho-hum!

When I tell you the highlight of my day was driving six blocks to pick up fresh farm eggs from a neighbor, you’ll understand. My Burton family once again spent the day at the Schwab Invitational Golf Tournament. Jacob has been fishing in the backyard for weeks—practicing his casting. But tonight, golf has replaced fishing—he and a buddy are out there with golf clubs practicing swings.

Today was also the Indy 500, which means the Sunday TV program I sometimes glance at were pre-empted. The Indy always makes me a little sentimental. When my mom was in her dotage and my kids were in high school, she called them from her nursing home (archaic term but back then that’s what it was) to demand “Are you watching the Indy 500?” They chorused, “No, Grandmother,” and she snapped, “Well you should be. Your mother’s driving in it.” That was particularly ironic because I am a great driver in town, but I hate highway driving. Speed frightens me. RIP Gandmother.

I got yesterday’s mail today—that’s sometimes how things go around here—and it brought a packet of pictures from the son of good friends. His parents are now long gone, and he is—gulp—in his early sixties. What happened to the kid in footed pajamas that I remember? But the pictures were both a pleasure and a puzzle. There were pictures of my mom holding my two oldest on her lap in a relative’s living room in Kirksville—and yet I remember only being in Kirksville one time after I had children, and my parents weren’t there. Worrisome when memories won’t come clear.

Chris also sent pictures of me and his mom as “young women”—I’ve got to say she had a lot more pizzazz than I did. And there was poetry, written apparently by my brother’s first wife, now long out of our lives. Memories that bring a touch of sadness.

Tonight I made salmon burgers, and that brought another touch of nostalgia. In the summer of 2000 a remodel of my house had just been completed, and I introduced the contractor—Lewis Bundock, who still keeps house and hearth together for me—to my friends the Chaffees. He went to their house to make a bid on French doors and left with a contract to gut and redo their kitchen, build a wine cellar, and who knows what else. So all summer they were without a kitchen, and we ate on my front porch. Salmon burgers were a staple of our diet. I kind of forgot about them, mostly because the resident head of the household only lately came to appreciate salmon—and he wants a filet, thank you. He at first dismissed the idea of chopped salmon; then he said he’d eat it but not in a bun. But tonight they are often to a post-tournament dinner party, and I will dine alone. Sophie and I have had a long weekend of togetherness, and she is beginning to give me the fisheye.

Tomorrow is a holiday, but I am thankful the golf tournament is over and my back roads will once again be open. This is the last week of school, and once school’s out people sort of lose the idea of going to the zoo on the weekends, so that traffic jam will be less if not gone. Call me a boring creature of habit, but I am glad when things settle down to routine.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

A brunch adventure

            While half the world was clogging the streets to get to the Schwab golf tournament (hard for me to call it anything but Colonial) and the Fort Worth Zoo, Subie, Phil, and I headed in another direction for an adventure. We went to Magdalena’s for brunch.

I haven’t had time to get used to the concept of food trucks yet and along come pop-up restaurants. Just like the pop-up stores we’ve seen in the last few years, these restaurants are temporary, sometimes renting buildings, sometimes using quarters owned by other chefs, often providing a new and ambitious chef a start-the-career location. Having said that, Magdalen’s is none of those things, although its full meal offerings are much like the pop-up concept.

Magdalena’s on Fort Worth’s North Side (across from Oakwood Cemetery) is the creation of Chef Juan Rodriguez, formerly executive chef at Reata. He left Reata in 2015 to open his own catering service and supper club. Brunch is served occasionally (it’s a good idea to be on the mailing list so you can make those necessary reservations) and the supper club dinners are on weekends only.

We went to brunch filled with curiosity, no idea what we’d find. What we found was a delightful experience. Brunch was served in an industrial-modern building. About thirty of us sat at several long tables, so you got to know your neighbors while you dined. We sat at the end of a table—easiest for my walker and Phil’s guide dog. The couple next to us, from Arlington, proved delightful, and we talked about everything from restaurants (this was their second pop-up experience) to their two young children, the business climate (he works for a corporation hit by the tariffs), and nursing professionals—her field. (It was noisy but not so loud that I, with hearing problems, couldn’t understand most if not all.) The meals at Magdalena’s are BYOB, and they had brought a bottle of pre-mixed Manhattans, which they generously shared with Phil. Subie and I had declined to bring wine—10:30 seemed a little early in the day—but as I looked down the table I saw lots of champagne bottles. Next time I’ll bring wine, because the food deserves it.

This was one of the most creative meals I’ve ever been served. The menus at Magdalena’s reflect Chef Juan’s preference for Mexican and Spanish cuisine—as a child he often visited his grandmother in Mexico and absorbed her love for and skill with food.

We began with an appetizer—a mini Monte Cristo sandwich topped with a spoonful of picked strawberry jam. Delicious but a bit filling, and I thought I wouldn’t be hungry after that. Not to worry. A kale salad with lemon vinaigrette, cotija cheese, midnight mushrooms (new to me) followed. The main course was a cornbread waffle topped with barbacoa, pickled onions, a poached egg, avocado crema, and micro greens. (I didn’t get the menu memorized and may have missed a couple of ingredients, but you get the idea). All this was served on attractive crockery, with cups and serving bowls featuring Mexican motifs. The color, design, texture combination, and taste of the food we simply wonderful.

I think as we headed out this morning, we were a bit tentative about our adventure. Now we’re filled with enthusiasm and want to go back for dinner.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Crowing Hens, Barking Dogs, and General Confusion

On this lovely morning, I worked with the French doors open. It always feels to me like those open doors bring the outside in. This morning they brought in a cacophony of bird song, including one hen who was apparently indignant about something. No kidding—she crowed so loudly that it sounded like she was in the cottage. I did get up to check that she wasn’t caught in the fence or in that narrow enclosure between her yard and my cottage. All appeared fine, but when the hens crow that much, the dogs bark. It was a bit noisy around here for a while.

We have lots of birds in our back yard this spring, several with songs so distinctive I wish I could identify the birds. I have discussed this with Sophie, but she has been of little help.

I spent much of the day grappling with life’s little problems, mostly those associated with being a homeowner. We are plagued by dirt washing onto the sidewalk every time it rains. The yard guy has tried taller edging, mulch, etc. but nothing helps. Today he announced the problem comes from runoff on the roof where there is no gutter. Strikes me as logical that we were looking at the end result of the problem and not the root cause. We do that so much in life.

Lewis Bundock took a jack hammer to the jagged concrete in the driveway where tree roots have created a great chasm in the driveway This has been an ongoing dilemma, and what he did today was a temporary but most welcome fix. The problem won’t go away, and the tree continues to grow. We are reluctant to take it down because it’s a beautiful tree and it casts wonderful shade over the house. I’m sure years ago, long before my ownership, it was a volunteer that someone let grow too big. Taking it down now would also be big-time expensive. Meantime, tonight friend Subie tested it when she came to pick me up and said it is much improved.

The floor man was here today, and I am gradually getting a grasp on how replacing the floor will go, what the time frame is, etc. It will take about three days to rip up the carpet and put in the new floor. I will have a moving company come take the two or three heavy pieces of furniture and store them for that short period of time. I will sleep on the hide-a-bed in my living area while the work is done. Got to figure out what to do with Sophie—I think her crate will come out of hibernation for this project. Cost? I don’t want to talk about it. Fortunately, thanks to Lewis Bundock, the carpet is almost dry and there is no mildew or mold odor. And the a/c is fixed and supposedly won’t do that again.

Dinner tonight with the small ladies’ group that I always enjoy—Carol Roark, Kathie Lang, and Subie Green. We went to Doc B’s at Clearfork. I tend to avoid Clearfork—it’s kind of foreign territory to me, and I have never gotten comfortable with the restaurants—or their pricing. But we got there in time for happy hour tonight, so I had wine and a cheeseburger from the happy hour menu. Not my favorite dinner but good. Subie had a crab stack that looked wonderful. I’m thinking I may have to go back there again soon.

Whoosh! I’m glad this day is over. Tree, carpet, and runoff problems now in hand. Am I dreaming?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Catastrophe in the Bedroom

No, not that kind! Shame on you! My cottage is heated and cooled by two ductless units, the kind that hug the ceiling. In this small space, they are godsends. I have one in the living area and another in the bedroom, which is the only carpeted room. Perhaps you can see the catastrophe coming.

A week ago or more I noticed two spots on the carpet, so yesterday I asked the lovely lady who cleans my house to treat them. She can do what I can’t—get down on her hands and knees. She moved some light pieces of furniture and announced that the problem was much bigger than I thought—about half the carpet was soaked and badly stained. Frantic calls to my contractor and my insurance company.

Today, said contractor, Lewis Bundock, came and we stood and shook our heads. The problem is that the very small bedroom in my very small cottage contains one antique mahogany bed (read heavy) and one mahogany buffet with a marble top—I use it as a dresser. Both are family pieces that I treasure. But if we have to empty the bedroom to replace the floor, what do we do with these massive pieces of furniture. There’s no room in the cottage, nor in the main house. And where do I sleep? The less than satisfactory answer to that is probably on the couch in my living area—yes, it pulls out to a double bed, but then what do you do with the coffee table? I see some uncomfortable nights ahead.

I spent much of today calling around to find solutions, talking to the insurance appraiser, etc. What nobody seems to understand is that the furniture doesn’t need restoration—it simply needs storage. Several companies that I called said they just don’t do that kind of thing. I’m beginning to think that the best solution if to rent a storage locker for a month and hire movers to take the furniture—costly but necessary.

Meanwhile Lewis will meet with the floor guy in the morning. I have decided for several reasons not to replace carpet with more carpet—I will put down hardwoods. Easier for my rolling walker, that I sometimes sit on, and less of a trap for dirt and fleas. But insurance won’t cover that upgrade, so with a high deductible this is going to hit my pocketbook.

On a brighter note, Jacob went to supper tonight with Betty, Jean, and me—because he wanted mahi mahi, and I promised we would go to Pacific Table. I thought he should order fish in a seafood restaurant, not a steak house. The special of the night was blackened mahi-mahi, and he pronounced it “pretty good,” high praise from a twelve-year-old. We ate on the patio where it was blessedly quiet and empty except for a couple of tables. As we left, the man at an adjoining table, waiting for his wife, said something to the effect that Jacob was one polite young man, in spite of the Baylor shirt. Words that pleased me and will delight his father and other grandmother. He’s a good kid, even if he admits he’s a bit leery for his contemporaries to see my car. “It’s not a very masculine car,” he explained to me tonight. I told him women have come up to me in the grocery story to say, “My husband would kill for your car” He was skeptical.

Life goes on, not without minor traumas.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Raiding the kitchen cupboard

Several years ago I came across a book called Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking with What You’ve Got. The concept was that you should look at your cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer when planning meals, rather than rushing out and buying more ingredients. The author had one huge advantage that most of us don’t have: her husband had an enormous vegetable garden, and she could pick whatever she wanted, fresh for dinner.

One important takeaway from the book, for me, was the name of the cannery from which I now order tuna—Pisces Fishing Vessel in Coos Bay, Oregon. They fish without nets so the dolphins swim alongside their boat, and the tuna is cooked once in the can, as opposed to most commercial tuna which is cooked twice. It simply tastes better. When my oldest son turned fifty, the birthday present he wanted was a case of tuna. I obliged.

I confess that even with my limited space, I’m bad about stockpiling things and buying new because I saw a recipe that intrigued me. The result is I have a large kitchen drawer full of pasta, canned tuna and salmon, and a variety of other things. I’m even bad about ordering fresh vegetables from Imperfect Produce and then not always getting around to using them.

Yesterday a friend from a town an hour away asked if I was available for supper tonight, and because she’s one of my special people, I immediately said “Of course.” I know she’d like to take me to dinner, because I feed her whenever she comes to town, and she feels it’s her turn. But if we eat here, we get a better visit, and Jordan can join us. Tonight Christian and Jacob also both wandered in.

But my larder was bare, or so I thought. What to cook? I had two smallish summer squashes from Imperfect Produce, and I had pork sausage patties in the freezer—I portion out a lb. of pork sausage and freeze it in individual patties. So I decided to stuff some squash.

I parboiled it and let it cool. Then I halved each squash, scooped out the center and chopped it. In a small skillet, I broke up two sausage patties and browned them, then sautéed chopped scallions and diced celery with the sausage and added the squash meat. Had to add just a bit of olive oil. I stuffed the squash halves with this mixture and refrigerated them until we were ready for supper. Then I topped them with grated cheddar and panko crumbs and baked them.

I had leftover corn salad, and Linda brought marinated asparagus from Eatsi’s. Altogether it made a pretty plate, and she—who could easily be a vegetarian—kept saying, “I love this dinner.” That’s all a cook needs to hear. A bonus: daughter Jordan, who eschews squash, nibbled on a half and loved it. When I said to her that the squash had a bit of sweetness about it, she agreed. Now if I could get Christian to try it….and then Jacob….

Sunday, May 19, 2019

I am a wimp driver, or the saga of my groceries

Maybe I was not destined to get groceries from Central Market this week, or at least not easily. I called Friday to place an order and requested five o’clock pick-up. Never got a notice that my groceries were ready, so I checked. Seems I forgot to finish submitting it. So I submitted, with noon pickup Saturday to avoid the storms. But noon Saturday the storms were not gone—instead we had a tornado watch. So I called to ask if they could keep my groceries until Sunday. I’ve got to say every time I call, they are polite, cheerful, and agreeable. So I said 10:30 Sunday morning

Come Sunday I remembered our Texas blue laws and called. No, they could not let me have wine until noon. So just before noon I headed down the zoo road, my usual back way to half the world. Wrong move! It was impassable—they weren’t even letting cars turn onto that road but were ushering them on a back road behind the zoo. After waiting forever at a stop sign behind a monster truck, I came to a place where I could scoot into a driveway and turn around,

I went the long way, headed this time for the road behind the Log Cabin Village and through the park. But the Colonial golf tournament, which has another name these days, begins tomorrow, and all roads were blocked off. I knew that University would be a mess between the zoo and golf people. I contemplated my options, the best of which was not appealing—to turn left onto University and go to Vickery.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a good driver. I learned to drive in Chicago and spent one summer commuting from the south side to Evanston via the crowded Outer Drive. But anxiety came with age. When I returned to driving, after a two-year absence due to health, I put anxiety behind me and was fairly fearless. But lately I’ve reverted to my back-road ways—I don’t do freeways and heavy traffics bothers me. I like to know where I’m going and have my route planned out.

Suddenly, I anticipated getting disoriented. That old panicky feeling came back. I cut to the right, turned right on University, made a left onto Park Hill and came home. Jordan, Christian, and Jacob were headed to lunch, and I asked them to get my groceries after their lunch, which they did. So after five missed tries, I got two bags of groceries and three bottles of wine.

Tonight, lamb meatballs, tzatziki sauce, corn salad, and green salad, as we head into a long and busy week.

A dark and dreary day

In Texas in the spring, weather determines your day’s activities. It sure did mine today Last night having goofed in submitting my Central Market order, I checked the weather forecast, found that the severe storms predicted were to be over around noon. I scheduled my curbside pick-up for 12:30.

This morning all that changed. By noon, it was almost night-time dark, with thunder rumbling. We were under a tornado watch until five o’clock, a flash flood warning until three-thirty. Sophie refused to leave my side and looked abjectly miserable. I called Central Market and asked if they would keep my groceries until tomorrow, and they agreed.

By coincidence, I’m reading Widow’s Tears, by Susan Wittig Albert, a China Bayles novel with flashbacks to the devastating Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Fiction has the ability, through focusing on particular individuals, to make the generalized horror of such a storm very real. For those who don’t know, it was and still is the worst natural disaster in U. S. history. Eight to ten thousand people died or were lost—the figure is approximate because nobody knows how many were swept out to sea. The city was totally destroyed.

Susan’s chapters describing the storm, particularly those in which fictional character Rachel Blackwood fights to protect her home and children, are graphic and compelling. You feel yourself in the storm, feel the floor and walls shaking, watch the water rise ever higher, hear the wind scream. At one point, Rachel looks out and sees a woman lashed to a door being tossed by the gale-force waters. She is sure the woman is dead and knows the horse behind is as its body rolls over and over in the water. Susan has told me that these scenes were terrifically hard to write, but she’s done a masterful job.

I know of course that I am on high ground—I actually do live on a slight hill—and that we’re far from the Gulf and unlikely to meet such a fate. But it’s still spooky to read about that storm while a milder version rages outside. We were spared the possible hail, and the storm passed.

The weather gods smiled on us in the late afternoon, and an al fresco dinner party went on as planned on the huge deck at the home of good friends. They have a new really long table—seats twelve at least—of 200-year-old beams, so we were celebrating not just spring but that new/old table. Interesting people, good conversation, and tasty food.

Lots of remarks about how the sun had come out just in time. A shift in the breeze sent one guest scurrying to check the radar, but it was reassuring. Then, after most had finished supper, suddenly without the warning of thunder or anything, it began to rain.

Everyone scrambled to get inside, but I did hear Phil Green say, “What about Judy?” My walker was across the deck. Hostess Sue held out her hand, but I said I needed the walker. Bless her, she got wet herself getting it for me, but we both made it inside only a bit damp/

Weather does indeed call the shots in Texas.

Friday, May 17, 2019

A Day of Disappointments, or win some, lose some

            After my lovely day with Jamie, I was looking forward to a half day of girl time with Jordan today. We planned to do our grocery shopping early, which meant leaving at 8:45 to go with her to take Jacob to school and then on to the store.  We figured we’d have plenty of time to bring the groceries home and unpack, freshen up a bit, and head for lunch at Rise. It seems that grown child has never had a souffle, so I promised her lunch at Rise where they special in savory and sweet souffles. My mom fixed souffles frequently (my favorite was a spinach/cheese) but it is not a talent I picked up, and I do believe it would stretch the capabilities of my toaster oven.

With this schedule in mind, I pulled myself out of bed much earlier than usual, washed my hair, put on my make-up, got out the clothes I would wear, and only then fixed my tea and turned on my computer. And there it was—a message sent long before I was up saying she hated to do it, but she had to cancel. Work matters called, and she had to spend the morning preparing for a two o’clock appointment.

So there I was—all dressed up and no place to go. Often, in the face of disappointment and empty time, I turn to food—not necessarily to eat it but to cook it. I decided I would work this morning and pick up groceries at five o’clock from Central Market. And a splurge—I would fix myself Dover sole and an artichoke for supper. Even asked on the New York Times Cooking Community page for hints about sautéing sole without it breaking apart. That resulted in an order for a special fish spatula.

I went about my day, had a nap, and began to watch for a notice from Central Market that my order was ready. Nada. Usually I get that notice at least a half hour before the time I specified, but today it didn’t come. The time came and went, and I called. They had no record of the order. So instead of a sophisticated meal of Dover sole and artichoke, I will be having scrambled eggs for supper. I’ll pick up the groceries tomorrow around lunch time. Fingers crossed that the severe storms are, as predicted, all in the morning. Fingers crossed also because I’ve been invited to an al fresco dinner party tomorrow night.

I’ve just dipped my toe into a book titled Women Rowing North, by Carolyn Pipher. It’s for women transitioning from middle to old age, though she makes an interesting distinction between young-old-age and old-old age. She points to health crises as often marking that transition point. But the gist of her argument, I think, is that we make our own happiness, and with age instead of mourning what’s lost we should embrace what we have and find new definitions of joy. I’ve always believed that life is what you make of it, so I have no quarrel with this philosophy. But it strikes me as particularly relevant today.

The old me would have been distraught at the change in today’s plans and might not have handled it gracefully. But I know when I had hip surgery and then a series of illnesses that I feel were mostly an outgrowth of that event, I moved into old-old age, though I still like to think I look and act younger than my age (ah, vanity!). But the new me, this older me, is more able to roll with the punches, to take life as I find it and be happy with what I have. So I swallowed my disappointment and got on with the day.

I’ll keep reading, but so far—and I’m not far into it—Pipher’s book is not breaking any new ground for me. And Jordan? I know she feels bad and she thanked me a couple of times for understanding. All is good.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Gift of a Day

This is last night’s blog but perhaps you’ll understand why I didn’t get it written. Jamie, my third child and second son, called about 8:30 yesterday morning from downtown Fort Worth. I knew there was a possibility he’d come from Frisco for supper that night, but I didn’t expect him so early. I scrambled to get dressed and cancel a morning appointment, because downtown is only ten or fifteen minutes from the house. Jamie can take longer to get from point A to point B than anyone I know—it was a good 30 minutes, because he stopped to make a business call.

But there he was! We went to Ol’ South for breakfast--he loves the German pancake, and when I was first recuperating from surgery, we shared many breakfasts there. I think he was a bit disappointed that I ordered a blueberry waffle instead of the corned beef has which has long been a part of our tradition. But I’ve noticed my tastes changing lately. I never had a sweet tooth, except for chocolate, but lately I want more sweet things, especially at breakfast.

Jamie brought his laptop and his guitar—and barely left his dog at home. He was all set for the day, and his business lunch never materialized, so we spent the day in the cottage. There is going to sound awfully “mother-ly,” but it’s a joy for me to see him hunched over the coffee table, buried in papers, working (he owns a toy manufacturer’s representatives’ company). I sat at my computer working, though I admit I was so glad to have him around I never fully focused on my work.

In the late afternoon, Jordan came out, and we shared wine while Jamie demonstrated his new guitar—a Taylor, as if I knew the significance of that, but he was proud of it—and showed us the improvement in his playing. Then Jacob came out, and they were off discussing fishing. I had to get quite firm to get us out the door for supper, because we were meeting Jean, and I didn’t want to leave her sitting alone in a restaurant. Sushi and good conversation for supper. I was glad Jean got a chance to know Jamie because Lord knows she and other friends listen to me blather on about my children often enough.

Jamie got caught up in his work again when we came back to the cottage, and I had to gently remind him it was eight o’clock…eight-thirty. Finally, he was out the door about nine, happily carrying the Black Forest cake and coconut chiffon pie he’d bought at Swiss Pastry, the pie a special gift for his wife.

My intention, writing this blog, was not to chronicle every minute of the day, which I somehow ended up doing, but to say what a wonderful gift Jamie gave me—a day of his time. I have read elsewhere that when looking for gifts for an older person (I will not call myself elderly, though my kids do!) who has everything they need, you should consider a gift of yourself—the time for a cup of coffee, a visit, a meal.

From a motherly perspective, there’s another point. I have four children, and I treasure all of them equally (in spite of their squabbles about who I love best), but any chance to have time alone with one of them is a gift. We talk about our lives, our hopes and plans, in ways that we don’t on those joyous occasions when we’re all together.

Yes, yesterday was a gift. Thank you, Jamie.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

My Thoughts on the War Against Women

            The internet chronicles so much anger and indignation over what’s going on in legislatures in Georgia and Ohio, Mississippi and Alabama—and throw in Texas where one faction wants to rescind the rape exemption for abortion. It seems redundant of me to want to chime in, but I am so outraged that I cannot keep quiet.

I come at this topic from the perspective of an infertile woman who thinks the ability to bear a child is one of the greatest gifts God can give anyone. My feelings about that are only overcome by my unshakeable belief that every woman should have control over her own body, and what another woman decides is none of my damn business. I am grateful that none of the four girls in my family ever put that attitude to a test.

If you study this issue online—and I would urge you to—you know the arguments behind women’s outrage. Man are acting as gynecologists and assuming an expertise they don’t have; they’re obsessed with punishing women for tempting them (a bit puritanical and certainly misogynistic—though they never admit it); they accuse woman of heinous acts without knowing the emotional trauma that accompanies a miscarriage, a late-pregnancy fetal death, a stillbirth; and there’s the classic argument that once the baby is born the state abandons both it and the mother. Look for instance at the statistics about children in Georgia. Finally, there are so many contradictions and such illogic about the presence of a heartbeat, the way men would have us treat a fetus with a heartbeat as opposed to laws governing the treatment of a brain-dead individual with a heartbeat.

Sunday, for Mother’s Day, our senior minister preached on the strong women of the Bible and the value of women. I applauded his message, but it made me sad when so much is being done in our nation to undermine women’s roles. When I said the war on woman contradicts the love that Christ preached, someone said to me, “I don’t know. Abortion is not a loving act.” That in-the-box, traditional, conservative thinking drives me wild.

Very few if any women use abortion as a form of birth control. Nor do they wake up one day in their fifth month and decide willy-nilly they don’t want to be pregnant after all. Abortion is not a whim like going to get your hair cut. When I was a teenager, abortion was too often illegal, dangerous, and fatal to the mother—and it was done for reasons of “saving face.” Today that reason no longer exists—having a child out of wedlock is not a scandal to most people. Today, abortion is often an act of desperation—to save a mother’s life, to terminate a nonviable pregnancy, to spare a badly damaged fetus a life of pain and suffering. I don’t know statistics, but I am convinced that for most women miscarriage or abortion are emotional traumas that they carry with them for life. You never completely recover. And instead of showing Christian love and compassion, men want to punish.

For what? For being human? For being a woman? That they dare to couple their draconian measures with Christianity is, for me, the ultimate outrage.

I don’t personally believe in hell, but I do believe in karma. My concern is for the women who will suffer today and tomorrow while we wait for what goes ‘round to come ‘round. I think the least any of us can do is vote to retire old white men who have been in power too long and elect men and women of compassion and common sense.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother’s Day is a wrap

And a lovely Mother’s Day it was. On this day each year, I think of many women—my own mother of course who raised me with love and laughter and taught me to love cooking. She’s been gone thirty years, and I still think of her every day, hear her laughter at some of life’s absurdities, miss the constant presence she was in my life. For years after I lost her I talked to her, and I still wish she was on the other end of the phone so I could say, “How do you cook this?” or “Who is that person in this picture?” or “Remember when….”

I think of course of my daughters and daughters-in-law, mothers of seven children between them, each with her own style but each doing a terrific job raising my grandchildren. I am grateful for them, grateful for their love and the open way they admit me into their families.

And I think of the biological mothers of my four children, women who were brave enough to carry their pregnancies to term and loving enough to give their children to others who would, they hoped, be able to raise them better. I hope I have fulfilled their wishes. I worry about them—do they think about their babies on Mother’s Day? Christmas? Birthdays? I know just a smidgen about each, but a part of me wishes I could reach out and reassure them. Another part of me though is fierce about the fact that the children are mine!

Then there’s Bobbie, who came into my life late for both of us. Thirteen years older than I, she was half soulmate, half mother. We “got” each other like not many do, a wonderful relationship. Hard to believe but Bobbie has been gone probably eighteen years.

It was a lovely day—I talked to each of my three distant children, went to church with Jordan and family, and had an enjoyable supper with Christian’s parents and his sister and family. Bummers were a flat tire on Jordan’s SUV this morning and leaving my leftovers in the restaurant—I had looked forward to meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans tomorrow, but alas, no!

Sometimes I think I am an accidental parent. Oh, of course I played with dolls as a child, but I never really thought about having children, even when I first married. I thought God took care of those things, and if babies came along, fine; if not, that was okay too. But I had the great good fortune to marry a man who desperately wanted children, and babies did not come. Long story short, we adopted the four, and they have been the center and focus of my life for fifty years now. I have always known that writing and publishing came in a distant second to motherhood. One thing I won’t say, though, is that my children are my whole life. I hear other women say that, and I think it places a horrible burden on the children.

I get a fair amount of praise on the job I did of raising four mostly as a single parent. They turned out to be wonderful people—fun, kind, caring, good citizens, great parents (oh, okay none perfect but nothing worth talking about). But I turn the praise aside with the comment that it was the luck of the draw—or sheer dumb good luck. I really don’t think I can take credit for them, but I can and do bask in their love. And as I age, I am so grateful for their care and concern. In some ways our roles have reversed, and I rely on them for advice and guidance. Lord knows, Jordan does much more—all the little pieces of living that I can’t master from a walker.

I am one damn lucky woman.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Who touched the thermostat?

Last night Christian stood in my living room in his overcoat and complained, “These are my winter clothes.” Then he added, “But I haven’t turned on the heat.”

Texans will brag about a lot of things, but one is heat and air conditioning. It seems to be a point of pride to hold out as long as possible before turning on the a/c on in the spring or the heat in the fall. And turn the heat on in May when it should be warm? Perish the thought. It would show weakness.

I had, as I mentioned, turned the heat on in my cottage the night before. The low that night was fifty, and I saw no sense in being miserably cold. When I asked Christian why he hadn’t turned it on in the house, he grinned as though it suddenly dawned on him and said, “I don’t know.”

Tonight my ceiling-mounted units—I forget what they’re called? Ductless?—are still set on heat. Jordan came in, threw open the door, grabbed the remote, and said, “We need a little air stirring.” I told her, quite calmly, that the heat was on and if she’d just turn the unit off all would be well. When she disappears I’ll turn it back on. It’s a constant battle between us—I swear she has Mediterranean blood and is always too warm; my thin Scottish blood make me sensitive to cold.

But when I went into the house for supper, the a/c was on full blast. “It was stuffy,” Christian explained. Maybe so, but it was also chillingly cold. He turned it off for supper.

I suppose that holding off on regulating our temperatures is environmentally sound because it uses less resources. But I don’t think that’s why most people do it.

Apparently, the same logic—or lack thereof—doesn’t apply to cars. It has been chilly again today, and Christian reported that he and Jacob were running errands and it was cold enough he turned on the heater in the car. Then the sun came out and things heated up, and he switched to a/c. Then black clouds rolled in, and he went back to heat. How spoiled are we?

I’ve been doing some research on life in North Texas at the turn of the 19th century—their method of air conditioning was to put lots of windows in a house and try to capture a cross breeze. Heat was from fireplaces, although many burned coal—think how dirty that was—rather than wood and were later converted to gas.

The a/c makes me think of my mom. We had a window unit in an upstairs bedroom in our house in Chicago where summers could be stifling. Mom would open the house to the early breezes in the morning. Then at the first hint of heat, she’d pull all the blinds until the house was dark. That one lone unit went on, with the theory that cold air falls and it would send air shooting down the staircase to the first floor where we had our living and dining rooms and kitchen. The other bedrooms upstairs—my parents’ and mine—got no benefit. But come dusk, Mom opened up the house again.

Tonight my friend Subie was coming for dinner, and Jordan and I combined to create a great meal. Subie called at the last minute to say she had been struck by a sudden stomach malady, so we dined on plentiful portions of hamburger Stroganoff (my morning occupation) with noodles, green salad, broccoli for Jacob who adores it. Jordan really wanted cheesecake. Her argument was that she doesn’t often, if ever, eat dessert, but for Mother’s Day she wanted cheesecake. Last I heard they were going to Braum’s to fulfill her wish. I retreated to the cottage.

Happy Mother’s Day to all. It doesn’t take giving birth to be a mother. I am an adoptive mother but no less fierce about my children than biological mothers, and I know countless childless women who have done more mothering of nieces, nephews, and strays than those of us who raised children. Love is what makes a mother. May all such women be recognized with love tomorrow.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Winter in May

Not really, but it sure felt like it all day. Last night was one of those nights I tossed and turned and couldn’t go to sleep—unusual for me. Finally dawned on me that I was cold, so I turned on the heat. A blessing about the cottage—all I have to do is reach to the bedside table for the remote control, turn on enough light to put it on sunshine instead of snowflake—that is so not intuitive—and turn it on. Slept wonderfully the rest of the night. This morning I turned it off thinking the day would surely heat up soon. Wrong. I was pretty quick to turn the bedroom unit back on and then the living room—a double whammy I don’t even use much in the darkest days of winter. Still I have felt cold all day.

Weather was crazy all over. My oldest granddaughter is at Colorado University in Boulder, and her mom posted on Facebook that graduates there did not throw their hats in the air—instead, they threw snowballs and ended up with a rip-roaring snowball fight. My daughter-in-law in Tomball, near Houston, reported that schools were closed because of high water on the roads. She’s a teacher, and today is her birthday, so a day off was like a gift to her but for all the wrong reasons. Their little lake had crept up over the lowest level of patio but receded by this morning. I can’t even imagine the road to their house—it’s rutted and difficult on the best of days.

After my iffy night, I was up before seven to wash my hair and get my day going before leaving at 8:40 with Jordan to take Jacob to school. He was bummed to hear that his Tomball cousin didn’t have school today, but he was still the most cheerful of the three of us in the car. Jordan and I did a quick grocery shopping—so quick that I have a list already of the things I didn’t get.

Lunch with my writing pal Carol—we share a love of local history, although she is much more knowledgeable than I, and we always have lots to talk about. I am now researching what I hope will be a new book someday, and I am realizing with regret that in downsizing I gave away a lot of books I need. Carol has become my lending library. When I asked for one book, she said yes, she had the copy I got rid of. I now have it on extended loan. But there are others. When I find them cheap on Amazon, I’m buying books I once owned, but I balk at paying $15+ for a slim paperback that I wrote and now can’t find. It’s probably in the storage locker, but that’s so much trouble it’s easier to buy it.

We went to Swiss Pastry Shop, renowned for its Black Forest Cake, though neither of us had that—we had bratwurst and potato salad. So good—but we were seated at the far end of the restaurant and someone in the adjacent store was remodeling, with great loud and constant buzzing noise. Distracting to say the least.

I didn’t get that much done all day between grocery and lunch and nap—just worked in fits and bits. But late this afternoon I got more done than I had all day—mostly taking notes from a book Carol had brought me.

Tomorrow more rain. I swear we are all going to wash away. Hard core climate change deniers are probably rejoicing at the cold weather and rain, claiming is disproves climate change, but of course it does just the opposite.

Stay dry and warm, folks.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

A dark day

‘Twas a dark and stormy night—truly it was. The gods were holding a bowling tournament in the heavens—that was my mother’s explanation for thunder when I was a child. Maybe because of her approach, she raised two children who like nothing better than a good storm. I love to cuddle down in the covers at night and listen to the thunder rumble.

Sophie, no so much. In the wee hours this morning, she jumped up on the bed and made herself a nest, forcing my legs to curl around her. And she has looked pretty miserable all day today. Just now, with the thunder long gone and the rain stopped hours ago, she declined my offer to go aside. Her look said, “Really? You’d make me go out there?” I’m going out to dinner in a few minutes, and I’m afraid she’ll have to go before I get back. I just bribed her with the promise of a treat, and she went outside.

No doubt it was a fearsome storm. This morning when I sat down at my desk, I saw that Christian’s prize bougainvillea, always perched in a big, heavy pot on the corner of the deck railing, had blown down. He came out shortly and put it back in place, but when the skies grew night-dark again, he came out and put it down on the deck. It was so dark and raining so hard about nine this morning that it was truly spooky. Rain continued most of the morning but was gone by tonight.

As we went to dinner tonight, we could see that traffic was really backed up on University Drive, so we went the back way. Jean said a major sewer line had popped its top and was gushing water onto University. Apparently, a problem common through the area, where runoff in several locations created major problems.

We have had a problem with dirt from the front yard washing onto the sidewalk in storms. There’s a slight slope, and the lantana I planted in one spot is not flourishing enough to hold the dirt. So yesterday the yard guys put mulch on it and edging around it—you guessed it? There’s slippery mud on the sidewalk again. Jordan took pictures and sent them to the owner of the yard company, who responded with “Yikes!” Not sure where we go from here on that one.

Looks like we have a bit of sunshine and then more rain. Always grateful.

Nice dinner tonight with Betty and Jean. Perfectly cooked scallops with Caesar salad at Pacific Table. I had read an article about drying scallops before cooking—probably what made me want them—but there were great. More salt and pepper than I would have used, but it made them just right.

End of a long day. Sophie is glad to see it gone, and so am I.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019


Quite a bit of domestic doings today at the Alter/Burton compound. Jordan was at work, so I presided over it all.

Sophie had a spa day, which means she begins barking and dancing the minute the Whisker Washers trailer pulls into the driveway. Then she has to wait patiently while Bobo hooks the trailer to the water and gets it ready for her. She’s been scratching badly lately—especially in the early evening, she gets under the coffee table, which is just right for her to rub her back. I give her Benedryl, and it stops it within a few minutes. So I asked Bobo to check for hot spots, and he found one full-blown, two developing. Says the shorter hair and getting more air to the area should clear it up. I hope. Sophie is now zonked out, exhausted from her grooming.

The yard crew appeared. I thought they were supposed to put deconstructed gravel in the driveway groove and along the new fence, plus dig out one more corner for gravel and decorative grass—our solution to those corners where grass just won’t grow. Instead it looked to me like they were shoveling brown old plain dirt on top of the lovely sand-colored gravel. I called the owner, and he said that was gravel—they just had to wash it. Then the foreman knocked and said it was wet gravel and would lighten as it dried. Who to believe? It is turning light now but will likely get deluged tonight. Far as I can tell, the “worker mans” (a granddaughter’s term when she was very young) didn’t do any of the new stuff. They did fix the spots in front where the dirt washes onto the sidewalk and creates a slippery, dangerous condition. We worry about children walking to school.

Every other Tuesday a wonderful woman named Zenaida cleans my cottage—makes the bed, does the laundry, all the things I can’t do. We always look forward to her visit, and today I was especially anxious for her to vacuum because the pecan tree over my patio is shedding those little green worms. They stick in Sophie’s coat, and she brings them in the house. I cannot begin to tell you how many I have laboriously picked up with my grabber, and Jordan has vacuumed. Still they come. Jordan blows them off the patio, and by the time she gets the blower put away, the patio is covered again.

So this morning, when I got word Zenaida would not be here, I had to make my own bed (perish the thought) and wash last night’s supper dishes which I had lazily left in the sink. Maybe she’ll come tomorrow.

I’m enjoying food threads on Facebook immensely, especially the NYTimes Cooking Community. But recently someone asked what to do with pork stew meat, and it seemed like a thousand people responded, most with the same suggestions: posole, carnitas, green chili stew. I wanted to shout at them to read the comments before adding one and avoid duplication. Only one person suggested kraut and potatoes, which seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Now on a page called All Our Scottish Memories, there’s a thread about whelks, which people either relish or despise. Somehow you eat them with a pin—haven’t figured that out. Naively I asked if they were the same as escargot, and someone replied no, they were whelks. So I looked up whelks—it’s a generic name for edible snails, so I’m sure it could cover escargot but not whatever people were pulling from the Scottish seas. They didn’t look too appealing to me, and I am rethinking any fondness I ever had for escargot.

I sense an uneasy air of expectation tonight. All is still, but storms are predicted for early morning. We’ve had this prediction often lately, only to come to nothing. I figure it will catch up with us one day soon.

Monday, May 06, 2019

For sure a stay-at-home day

Did something I never do today—cancelled a lunch date I was really looking forward to. I anticipated good conversation with an old friend and good food, even had two places to suggest, both of which made my mouth water. One was fried chicken, the other chicken salad on a croissant. But my stomach hurt, which of course made me jump to the worst conclusion—some terrible G.I. problem. I was somewhat comforted when Jordan came out to the cottage and said her stomach was sore too. Tonight she tells me it’s just coincidence, but she doesn’t think I poisoned us with last night’s meatloaf with Stroganoff sauce. So guess what I’m having for supper. Yeah, leftovers.

Funny how not feeling a hundred percent can take over your day. I didn’t do much except dog paddle to stay current all day. Did get an encouraging response from the editor to whom I submitted a proposal—she had a couple of questions; said she liked the approach and will get it to the editorial board this month. I know that’s how things are done in a properly run press, and I am grateful—and encouraged. On my to-do list this week is to continue reading on the subject of that proposal. Plus create a Pinterest board for Gourmet on a Hot Plate and review my web page.

Jacob has his first fly fishing rod, thanks to his Aunt Dylan, and he is thrilled. Now I’m treated to the sight of him casting in the backyard almost every day. Tonight he came in and appeared to be casting in my living room.

Lovely sunny day today, but we are in for storms, probably not tomorrow but for sure Wednesday. Spring in Texas.