Sunday, December 08, 2019

Breaking the rules




For bloggers, there is one cardinal rule: avoid religion and politics. Tonight I am breaking that rule because those two subjects are what’s on my mind, so closely intertwined that I cannot separate them. As I have often said, my faith dictates my politics. And roughly quoted from Richard Rohr, my faith compels me to speak out.

Our minister’s sermon this morning took as text the words of the angel to Mary, from the Book of Luke: “Be not afraid.” It is so easy in these trouble times to be governed by fear. Indeed, fear is a tool used by others to shape our lives, from the politician’s mouth to the commercial world. We are afraid of change, of wars with which we are continually threated, of climate change which surrounds us, of disease, of immigrants. For heaven’s sake, in this age, I am afraid of traffickers who kidnap innocent teenagers. There is plenty in today’s world to fear.

Perhaps it is because of that fear that the underlying message of Christmas resonates with me particularly this year. Christians have heard all their lives that God’s gift to us of his son brings hope. And in spite of the fearful world we live in, I find that I am filled with hope. I am sure that we are going through our own Dark Ages but will emerge triumphant on the other side. Rohr says that the dark is necessary to the light—we must know fear to recognize hope.

For me, hope has a particular meaning tonight—or target, if you will. I hope for the preservation of our democracy, the defense of our Constitution. For that hope to become a reality, some false gods—read Republicans—are going to have to topple. And it may take every American to make that happen.

As the Congress moves forward with impeachment proceedings, I am baffled by the Republicans and the cult followers who defend Mr. trump. It seems to clear to me that the House Committee, under Adam Schiff, has proven his culpability beyond a doubt. His defenders have no defense so they resort to empty arguments, like ignoring the will of the people who elected trump. As Stephen King points out, he lost the popular vote by some three million and is only president because of the antiquated electoral college, which King likened to a one-mule wagon in an age of jet transport.

Because they have no solid defense, Republicans resort to several empty arguments, among them the accusation that the impeachment proceedings are illegal, a witch hunt, a politically motivated attempt to remove the president. The proceedings, however, are following the dictates of the Constitution and are, far from a witch hunt, a legal proceeding. As someone pointed out this morning, trump is not being impeached because most Americans hate him—he’s being impeached because he has violated his oath of office and abused the power of his office. Whether or not obstruction of justice is part of the final articles of impeachment remains to be seen, but he is also clearly guilty of it. But it is not hate—being booed at a ball game is hate.

If the Senate votes to acquit, as they may well—another thing that boggles my mind—we will have no recourse except the voting booth, and a fervent prayer that the elections are not so corrupted as to sweep trump and his henchmen into office for another term.

Another thing that is not mentioned on either side of the aisle but seems increasingly clear to all who will recognize it: the president’s mental state is rapidly deteriorating, a judgment confirmed by mental health professionals. But that’s a whole other bag of worms.

I guess this is where hope comes in—hope backed by faith and supported by the actions of every American. Time to be proactive.

Forgive me for breaking the rules. I don’t do it often. Usually I am Pollyanna.


Saturday, December 07, 2019

A day of domestic disasters


Diner tonight: lamb meatballs from the freezer, with an
impromptu tzatziki sauce, and fresh 
beets and greens with butter and lemon
Only thing that went right all day


Ever have a day when everything seems to go wrong? Nothing big, just little stuff. Today was such a day for me.

It started with wrapping Christmas gifts. I targeted four large, heavy gifts that would be my goal for the day. Too big for bags, each required wrapping the old-fashioned way.  I thought it would be a relief to get them done, but whatever could go wrong did. I dropped the scissors or Scotch tape repeatedly--bending down to get them from a seated walker is sometimes an iffy experience. I had to cut the paper on the coffee table, the only surface I have that is large enough, except maybe my kitchen cutting board, and I was afraid that would get the paper greasy. But the paper, too long wrapped around a cardboard tube, had a life of its own and rolled up and fought back as I tried to cut it. The result was uneven jagged edges—not pretty on a wrapped package. For at least one package, I cut the paper and then realized I had not measured correctly--a wasted piece of paper unless I find small packages that need to be wrapped.

Bending over the coffee table from my Rollator made my back ache, so when I got the paper cut, wrapped around the package and secured, I moved it to my desk where I can work more comfortably. Except the one breakable package slipped out of its wrappings and crashed onto the floor—I didn’t hear the tinkling of something broken, so I just went ahead and rewrapped it. We’ll see on Christmas morning if it’s intact.

Inevitably the scissors and tape would be on the coffee table when I needed them on the desk, and vice versa. It took me an extraordinarily long time to wrap four gifts. Then I decided I would wrap a fifth one—lightweight but an odd shape, as tall as it is wide. My best effort, after three or four tries, was a mess. I gave up and put it aside for Jordan.

Tonight I wanted to bake brownies for Jacob, so I asked for an eight- or nine-inch square pan from the kitchen. Jacob arrived with an oblong glass pan, and when I laughed and said, “That’s not a square pan,” he replied, “You don’t have to be mean about it.” Made me feel guilty but didn’t stop me from asking if he’s taken geometry yet. The answer was a mumbled “No.” He didn’t get my joke. I guess thirteen-year-olds are not tuned to grandparents’ humor. Eventually he came back with a nine-inch pan, and I mixed the batter.

Here’s where I’ll whine about aging. I have no strength in my left hand, the hand with a slight tremor. So when I held the mixing bowl in that hand and tried to scrape batter into the baking pan with my right hand, I dropped the mixing bowl into the baking pan, getting a good schmear of batter on the outside of the bowl. With patience and small steps I finally got most of the batter into the baking pan, but it was a chore. The reward was that the brownies are delicious—I’ve had two and had to restrain myself from having a third. I told Jordan she better come get some for Jacob before I eat them all, but she’s gone gallivanting with neighbors and Jacob is at a buddy’s house. Brownies are all mine.

In between my domestic disasters, I finished a mystery I was deep into, had a nap, and fixed myself a good dinner. The day was by no means a loss, but I’ll be grateful if my world goes better tomorrow. Christmas can really be exhausting, but hey! You all know that.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Keeping Christmas






Today is St. Nicholas Day, but it still was a surprise to me to find a beautiful poinsettia, a bottle of wine, and various goodies on the front porch. We have a delightful new neighbor who had told me to be sure to put my shoes on the front porch last night for St. Nicholas to fill with treats. I laughed and assured her I was too old for his treats, but she replied, “You never know.” And sure enough, St. Nicholas apparently doesn’t discriminate by age.

My new neighbor is a busy, stay-at-home mom to four children, two of whom she home schools. She’s a terrific and inventive cook, and she’s undertaken a lot of the renovation of their new-old home herself. I’m not sure she never sleeps.

Last night, the entire family—mom, dad, and four children—went through the neighborhood, leaving Christmas bags at homes of friends. Other treats went in the mail. According to my neighbor, her kids think this is the best part of Christmas.

With  the children’s help, she filled 88 bags with treats. Each student at the small parochial school one child attends was told to put their shoes outside their classroom—sure enough, Saint Nicholas visited the school.

At home, this family keeps Christmas without the commercial aspct. The children get their gifts today, not on Christmas Day when the focus is more on the Holy Infant. This morning, stockings were all full, but she reported that the at-home kids walked by without noticing. Tonight, they’ll pull goodies out of those stockings. Each child will get pajamas, socks, books, candy, and an age-appropriate analog watch. In her words, “No flashy gifts here. That’s a no way for my kids.”

Her whole approach to Christmas gave me pause as I considered the rapidly growing pile of gifts in my bedroom and the time and money I’ve spent figuring out what each of the sixteen might want. Or when I think back to my children’s early years when plenitude was the code of the day. My children’s father was Jewish, so we celebrated Hanukah and Christmas both. The religious celebration got lost in the logistics. I actually had charts—not smart enough for a database—for what each child got on each of the eight days of Hanukah and on Christmas Day. And Christmas morning was liable to be something elaborate, like the set of over-size Tinker Toys that Santa had made into a house big enough for all four of my angels.

And then there was the memorable year they found my stash in the guest room closet Ruined Christmas for them, they admitted.

My anticipation for this Christmas is high—we will all sixteen be together, and Christmas morning we’ll rip through a mountain of gifts with lightning speed. Gone is the lovely, drawn-out tradition of my childhood where we had a big breakfast before opening gifts and then opened one at a time, each person respectfully watching to see what someone else got. Of course, there were only four of us—not sixteen. I barely succeed in keeping them from opening everything on Christmas Eve. If you did that, what would you do Christmas morning?

But as we race through the present opening, I will be thinking of the way my new neighbors keep Christmas. May your Christmas be blessed with love that outweighs the commercialism.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Gearing up for the holidys—and a sour note






“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December/A magical thing. And sweet to remember/We are nearer to Spring than we were in September/I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.”

― Oliver Herford



One of my favorite lines of poetry. Thanks to “Texas Booklover” on Facebook for bringing it to attention this holiday season.

I have a friend who spent Thanksgiving in Santa Fe. When someone asked what they did there, the reply was, “Well, we pretty much eat a meal and then sit around and talk about where we’re going to the eat the next meal.” To me, that’s pretty much what happens in the holiday season as well as in Santa Fe.

I’ve been dragging one foot reluctantly out of Thanksgiving, still eating turkey-and-blue cheese sandwiches, reheated potato casserole and green bean casserole. Even served a raggedy chunk of cheeseball for happy hour last night. Today, I think I’ll pretty much clean up the leftovers, except maybe for the cranberry cake that turned out to be a delightful surprise. Thanks to a neighbor for the recipe—you can watch for the recipe tomorrow in my “Gourmet on a Hot Plate” column. And yes, I baked it in my toaster oven.

But I’m also looking ahead to all food that speaks of Christmas. Spent a long, happy time last night paging through the December issue of Southern Living and cut out lots of recipes, half of which I will never make. I mean, really, who around here do I think will eat roasted oysters  with bacon-saltine topping? And do I really think I’m extravagant enough to serve beef tenderloin crostini or an eight-pound standing rib roast? Jamie, whose birthday is in January, loves prime rib but he rarely comes home for a birthday dinner. No, beer-cheese fondue is probably more my speed. Or maybe the family would like a good, old-fashioned trifle.

Meantime we have to eat until the big day—or week. Some restaurants are on my calendar—I had a lovely lunch yesterday at Nonna Tata, though my friends chided me for ordering potato salad at an Italian restaurant. “Where,” they demanded, “is the pasta?” Tonight I’ll have a low-key, early dinner with a good friend, and tomorrow night it’s a happy hour birthday celebration at a Clearfork restaurant. I’ll be ready to stay home and wrap packages this weekend. Sunday dinner? I’m thinking a Mexican casserole.

The other all-consuming December occupation of course involves gifts—buying and wrapping. It rarely makes me friends when I announce that my shopping is done, but it mostly is. I think only one grandson is a hold-out. And I have wrapped three gifts—a start. Being as compulsive as I am, I plan to spend this weekend wrapping. Trouble is that in the cottage, there’s precious little room for all those packages. I’d put them on the couch, but Sophie would bat them onto the floor when she wants to sleep there. She barely tolerates the Christmas pillow and bunny, although this morning when I got up, she was wrapped around that bunny. I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture.

A decidedly un-holiday-like sour note this morning. We had a leak in our water meter box, on our side of the meter (of course! it’s never on the city side!). The plumber has “patched” it—his word—but warns that the next leak will probably mean replacing pipe (and digging up the lawn) all the way to the house. He speculates the pipe is original to the house, which makes it almost a hundred years old. As I count my blessings, I’m grateful that we can fix this without cancelling Christmas. I know that would be the choice in many households.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Brinner heralds the Christmas season




Two or three years ago a small group of friends got to talking about how good it occasionally was to have breakfast foods for dinner—pancakes, fried potatoes, bacon and sausage, and so on. The upshot was we had a pot-luck meal we christened “brinner.” Everyone brought a breakfast food to an evening gathering.

But then we all got busy, got together less, and no one mentioned brinner—until recently when someone suggested we should revive the tradition. So tonight, there was brinner with Jordan and Christian hosting.

One of the problems with such a meal is that everyone tends to bring sweet or starchy dishes. We had cinnamon rolls, that wonderful hash brown potato casserole, pancakes and syrup, carrot cake, and a cranberry cake. But one person balanced the meal by bringing bacon and sausages, and someone else contributed an egg-and-green chili casserole.

Wine flowed and so did conversation as we caught up with each other, discussed neighborhood doings, speculated about new neighbors who will be moving into our tight little area. We even spent time on changes in local traffic and parking regulations. No wonder one person, who will remain anonymous, broke into bars of “God  Bless America.”

A fitting way to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Jordan and Christian have their Christmas decorations throughout the house and a fresh green tree still in its wrappings, where it will stand in full splendor when decorated. Christian takes great care with decorating the tree, a project that sometimes takes him a week.

In the cottage of necessity I have a small artificial tree and am grateful for it, even though I have spent a long life railing against artificial trees. This year, when my tree came ou of the attic, I realized it has over the years grown scrawny, with a big gap in the middle. Plus half the lights no longer work. A new tree is on order and should be here soon.

Meantime I have touches of Christmas. When I was making the cranberry cake today, I reached for the salt on the shelf where I keep it over my work space and saw that Jordan had put a up Christmas plate, on a stand, that has special memories for me—probably at least forty years old, it pictures a family of mom, dad, three kids, and an infant in a carrier decorating a tree. It is of course me, the children’s father, and my four children. Jordan is the infant.

A glass brick with Christmas lights inside—how did they do that?—sits on an occasional table, a Christmas tree pillow and a soft, stuffed bunny in a Christmas outfit are in a chair (Sophie has a problem with that because it is her chair), and Santa Mac, a Scottish Santa, shares a bookcase top with a folk art Saint Nicolas. I feel very festive, and it’s wonderful to be surrounded with decorations that all carry fond memories.

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it is Advent, a time of anticipation, of hope, of gratitude. A special times of the year.

“God bless us, every one.” With a tip of the hat to Tiny Tim.





Saturday, November 30, 2019

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig




Sophie and I are settled back in the cottage, after our adventure in Tomball. Colin, Morgan, and I set out this morning before nine o’clock under gray, drizzling skies. The drive offered another nice chance for me to visit with Colin. Morgan had her Air Buds or whatever in her ears, listening to music. It didn’t seem like a long drive, but it was—we were eleven minutes late to meet Jordan, Christian, and Jacob at the Health Camp in Waco.

Do not be misled. The Health Camp is anything but a health food restaurant—the menu is limited to various forms of burgers, a grilled chicken sandwich, Frito pie, and Frito pie salad. The last item puzzled us—Morgan and I could not envision adding lettuce to Frito pie. We all had burgers, but poor Jacob ate his (and a rich chocolate milkshake) in the car, babysitting Sophie. We would have chosen a patio table, but the skies were still threatening.

My kids are beyond good to ferry me back and forth as they do. Colin was expecting to drive me all the way to Fort Worth, but Jordan volunteered to meet him in Waco—about two and a half hours from Tomball and an hour and a half from Fort Worth, Christian and Jacob, hardcore Baylor fans, make the drive fairly frequently for football games.

Just as I was basking in the glow of how good they are to me, I realized everyone had a hamburger but me. Jordan and Colin each thought the other had ordered it. So that got straightened out, and I had my very own greasy cheeseburger—not usually my choice, but the kids love that place.

We were back in Fort Worth by a little before two, and by five-thirty I was unpacked, everything put away, and I’d had a nap. It’s called being compulsive. Jordan brought out some of the cheeseball she’d made for Thanksgiving dinner, and we had a delightful happy hour.

I would call the trip to Tomball a rousing success—I enjoyed it a lot, got some work done, ate more than I usually do, and slept a lot. Visited with people I enjoyed, got to sit by the lake, did a good bit of reading. Colin and Lisa and the grandkids waited on me to the point I felt over-indulged, but they were sweet and kind about it.

Every trip has its hitch—this time it is that my car and house keys are still in Tomball. I remember saying to Colin, “I’m putting my keys in the side pocket of the car. Don’t let me forget.” Of course, we both forgot until I got home and couldn’t find them. As Jordan pointed out, I never should have taken them in the first place—obviously, I didn’t need them.

Sometimes there’s a letdown coming back from even a short vacation, but none such here because I had such a warm welcome. Jordan had Christmas decorations up in the cottage and fed me a great dinner—yeah, you got it: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green bean casserole.

I had a great time, but it’s good time, but it’s good to be home.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The morning after




I love that morning-after-the-holiday feeling. The pressure is off, though I readily admit with Lisa preparing the feast, I was under little pressure. Maybe it’s anticipation that adds a bit of spice to the holiday—waiting for company, waiting for the meal. Anyway, that feeling is gone by morning, and I feel free to sleep late and sort of float through the day.  Early this morning, a dense fog contributed to the lazy atmosphere. It has gone now, but the day is cloudy and uninspiring.

I may not have had the hostess pressure yesterday, but I do want to protest that I did my part for the meal. Because I asked how I could help from a sitting position, I got the great privilege of peeling apples and potatoes. When Lisa plunked the bag of apples down in front of me, I asked weakly, “All those apples?” She smiled (a bit mischievously) and said, ‘Yep.” And do realize how many potatoes it takes for mashed potatoes for thirteen? I’m now even more in favor of mashing red potatoes with the skins on!

Dinner was traditional and so good—I think I forget from holiday to holiday how much I like turkey and gravy. And Lisa, despite being a Texan, made ‘northern” white-bread stuffing—my favorite dish perhaps of the whole meal. An updated version of green bean casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, pistachio salad, and rolls. All wonderful. And of course it had been preceded by bountiful appetizers—a vegetable platter, a sausage-and-cheese platter, a French onion dip, hummus, guacamole—need I go on?

I haven’t yet had a piece of apple pie. After dinner, which we ate about 3:30, I suddenly found myself alone in the dining room—I think boys had gone to watch football and the ladies to see Lisa’s parents’ new house. Turkey had worked its proverbial effect, aided by a bit of wine, and made me sleepy. Plus the a/c was running full steam, and I was freezing—my internal thermometer does not sync with the rest of this family. So, full and sleepy, I snuck off for a nap. After a bit, I was vaguely aware of the hum of conversation of many voices but too comfortable and cozy to rouse myself. Two hours later, I joined everyone, just as some guests were leaving. I’d totally missed dessert.

Among the guests was a longtime friend of Colin’s—they tended bar together in their salad days—and his wife and two teenage sons. Alirio, a native of Colombia, just retired after twenty-two years with the Border Patrol. Somehow, after my nap, I ended up at the now-clear dining table with those two—lots of catching up to do, but we also talked about everything from raising kids to politics. For at least two hours. Serious discussion, interspersed with bits of humor—no, Alirio, I did not “yell” at you all those years ago for speaking Spanish at the dinner table, when I was trying to encourage Central American students to speak English. I gently suggested.

It was the kind of sustained exchange of ideas I think you only have with people you don’t see often. I did ask once if Alirio had anything to do with immigrant caravans, and he put his head in his hands and said, “It was horrible, horrible.” After a minute, he added, “Still is.” I didn’t pursue it.

One big takeaway for me: Colin and I, though basically in agreement, look at things from different perspectives: he, once a science major and now involved in big business, looks at process and results, whereas I, after a lifetime in the humanities, focus on the human aspect of politics, as well as everything else. It was an evening that will long stick in my mind, and a thoroughly good holiday.

My hope is your holiday, whatever, wherever, and with whoever, was equally rich.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Adaptation




Happy hour by the lake
Sunny, clear, and gorgeous today, but the lake is not mirror-smooth like it was last night when Colin and I at out there with two dogs and watched dusk turn to dark. The wind is up today, and the surface of the lake is ruffled, the windmill (decorative only) spinning fast. Even the swimming pool has tiny waves. Lisa has suggested happy hour by the lake tonight, with a fire in the pit. We’ll see how that goes.

Sophie and I are adjusting to different schedules than we keep at home. In the cottage, I usually take a short after-dinner nap and then work until eleven or twelve. Here, I’m in bed at ten—and I’m the last one up in the house. I laugh at Sophie—having once been shut into the bedroom, she won’t go in there with me unless I bribe her with a treat. But about nine o’clock, she decides it’s bedtime and crawls into her crate. When I come into the room, she looks askance at me as if to ask, “Why are you up so late?” But after that first rocky night of being in strange surroundings, we both sleep soundly all night. And she no longer sits anxiously outside the closed door when I disappear into the bathroom—the first day we were here she didn’t want me out of her sight and seemed to think the bathroom was a black hole which would swallow me.

For me, adaptation is a bit more difficult. At home in my cottage, I can roll around on my Rollator and fix my meals, take care of myself; Sophie can come and go out the patio door at will. Here, the house is on many levels, so I pretty much live in the section that has the family room, bedroom I’m using, and bathroom. For morning tea, meals, and the like I have to depend on others—and it makes me feel like a bother, though all four Tomball Alters are sweet about taking care of me. And about walking Sophie—when she comes to me and barks, I have to call for someone to come take her outside on a leash. No fenced yard. It’s a learning lesson in gratitude—gratitude that this branch of my family cares enough to take care of me and my dog and cater to our needs, cares enough to have me visit them even though my visit entails inconveniences.

Adaptation has been good in another way. Everyone here is busy—Colin working from home, Lisa getting ready to feed a multitude tomorrow, the kids busy with whatever teens do, from phones to working out. Where at home I can distract myself with everything from cooking to Christmas shopping, here there are no distractions. I’ve gotten a lot of work done, some of it things I’d been putting off.

Dogs and people, I’ve decided, are adaptable creatures, if they want to be.

No happy hour by the lake. Clouds came out in the afternoon, and by five, it was almost full dark. And then we were off to Lisa’s parents house, with Morgan driving that short distance, carefully and slowly. It was fun to see the house—they just moved in last July after some family remodeling updated floors, counters, paint, and the like. Torhild, Lisa’s mom, is quite happy with it. Now, we’re home, bellies full of Norwegian hamburgers and noodles. It’s time to sleep.

‘Night all. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with thanks for many blessings and brings you the kind of day you want—a turkey feast or a tofu turkey, a crowd or dinner for two. Make it your day!

Grandma and Grandpa's house across the field
Somehow   going there made me think of 
Over the river and through the woods
to Grandmaother's house we go


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Livin’ the High Life




As I write, there is a huge window to my left, looking out on the swimming pool and then across a field to the nearest house (where my son’s in-laws live). Through the bushes I can see grandson Kegan kicking a soccer ball in front of his grandparents’ house, while Grace, the family dog, watches. Straight ahead, I have a lovely view of the lake. Couldn’t ask for a better place to write.

I am visiting my oldest son Colin and his family in Tomball TX and they are spoiling me. The picture above shows my breakfast this morning—one of Colin’s specialties is eggs Benedict. He uses Taylor pork roll instead of Canadian bacon, and he makes the Hollandaise sauce extra lemony. So good. It’s an elegant way to begin the day.

Yesterday for lunch we had matzoh ball soup, a cheese and meat platter, a wonderful hot spinach dip—and a festive crowd. Lisa’s parents were here along with some friends of Colin and Lisa. And dinner last night? Salmon for those that eat it, steak for the others. Count me among the salmon eaters. Along with tiny smashed new potatoes and a crisp and good coleslaw/kale salad. I can hardly wait to see what’s for dinner tonight, and I know one night we’re having Norwegian hamburgers. Lisa’s mom’s specialty, they are meat patties in a rich gravy sauce. I may come home twenty pounds heavier.

The plan is that Colin will meet Jordan and Christian halfway between Tomball and Fort Worth on Saturday for the “mom” exchange, but I have warned grandson Kegan I may stay a month (as usual, I overpacked and could easily do that). Poor Kegan is the one I have displaced from his room, and while he sleeps on the couch, I’m cozy in his new Queen-size bed. His room is small, but there’s plenty of room for Sophie’s crate.

Sophie too is getting the star treatment, mostly. Colin walks her early in the morning, and after that Morgan and Kegan are at the ready when she indicates she wants to go outside. She was locked in her crate for a while yesterday when Lisa’s dad was here. Like me, he worries about his balance, and we were afraid Sophie would jump on him in her enthusiasm. Later, she mingled with him without incident. She was crated again yesterday when Colin and I went to the store. So this morning, she wouldn’t even follow me into the bedroom when I got dressed—afraid of being locked up again.

Colin is working from home, and Lisa is busy with Thanksgiving preparations (there may be as many as 18 people), so I’ve been working at my computer. But my outing yesterday was a trip to Target. I was so impressed that Colin uses the self-checkout with such aplomb—until he had to call for help with the payment part—TWICE! He says indignantly that it was my card, not his technique.

Yesterday was sunny and lovely. Today is cloudy but only a bit cooler. Tomorrow is supposed to turn cold, so I’m hoping Colin and I can sit by the lake later this afternoon. It’s my most favorite peaceful spot these days.

Signing off from Tomball. Hmmm. I wonder what’s for lunch.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

A football kind of a day




Pictured above are two happy campers who drove to Waco to watch Baylor whup UT. I’m sure they won’t lord it over the Austin branch of the family—or maybe they will. Meanwhile, back in Fort Worth, Jordan and I had a nice day together—she made tuna for lunch and helped me get myself together to go to Tomball tomorrow

But she too was watching the Baylor game—some of it in my cottage. She had me so cowed that when she went to feed the neighbor’s cat with a warning she’d be back to watch the game, I was afraid to change it to the news channel. As soon as Baylor won—well, with five second left but it was clear—she was off to friends’ house to watch the TCU game. She had urged me to go, but in all honesty I’m happier at home with a book.

Watching football never did much for me. Maybe I was off to a bad start, because I came from the University of Chicago which had abandoned the game long before I arrived on campus. In fact, the football stadium was famous for something entirely different—the development of the atomic bomb. I grew up with stories of how they almost blew us in the surrounding neighborhood to smithereens, but that’s another story.

When my ex and I arrived in Fort Worth for his surgical residency, we were often invited to TCU games by physicians. In those day—the sixties—going to a TCU game was strictly a dress-up affair. Funny to think of now. I remember one of the first games I went to. It was September, but coming from Iowa, Illinois and Missouri I associated football with cold weather and dressed appropriately, lugging a full-length coat to the game. Needless to say, I was a bit over-dressed.

Later, when I was single, Toni Newton, the wonderful woman who was assistant to Chancellor Bill Tucker, befriended me and used to invite me to the pre-game parties at her apartment, which was kind of across the road from the stadium. I went for the conviviality and for the delicious array of pot-luck snacks, and then I went to the game out of politeness. After a few of those evenings, I got so I went to the pre-game party and snuck home when others went to the game.

I have never since been to a game and only watch when I cannot escape. Tonight I was completely happy to stay home with leftover meatloaf (only medium good—freezing didn’t preserve it as well as I’d hoped) and the rest of last night’s spinach, which was delicious. And two molasses cookies—I am loving them. And, of course, the mystery I’m reading.

Sophie had a spa day today in preparation for travel—a bath, a trim, nails trimmed, a fresh scarf, the whole works. Lisa, Colin’s wife, does not like dogs on furniture and I don’t blame her. That’s certainly how I was raised. They have a big dog who wouldn’t dream of getting on the couch. Sophie on the other hand thinks beds, couches, upholstered chairs were meant for her, and try as I might I cannot dissuade her. So I thought the least I could do was have her clean. I’ll take her crate, where she happily sleeps at night. I usually displace my granddaughter whose bed is so high Soph can’t begin to think of jumping on it. Shoot—I can barely get into it. It always puts me in mind of the tale of the princess and the pea. (I guess you have to be a certain age to get that reference.)

Sweet dreams, y’all.