Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

Good gravy! Get me off the subject of Christmas. I realized that half of what I said in my last blog, I'd said two blogs earlier. I'm tempted to go back and edit, in fact I think I will! Proves that old saying--everyone needs an editor. I can see the red-penciled, "You already said that!"
Tonight is New Year's Eve, and I'm staying home. Actually I was looking forward to a party. My new neighbors had invited the neighbors close by and I guess a few other people--but they called yesterday and are snowbound in Taos, hoping to make it home late tonight but not in time to host a party. I don't mind. I've stayed home many a New Year's Eve and been comfortably tucked in bed by ten or so. I don't believe that how you spend the evening of December 31st is a precursor for how you'll spend the coming year. More likely, to me, how you spend January 1st says something about the coming year, and I'll have warm companionship for that--but before I say anything about ham and black-eyed peas, I'm going back to read my last blog!
Tonight, though I did feel a bit of the doldrums--the mss. I am working on isn't going well, and I'm tempted to spend the evening with a good book written by someone else. But then I decided I needed to brighten up. I turned on the Christmas lights (thank you, Jordan, for making me leave them up!), freshened my makeup, made myself a meatloaf, and, after dinner, will change into cozy lounging pajamas rather than my sweats. Jordan and Christian said they'd drop by about 9 on their way home from a party, so I will, I hope, be bright and cheerful. And you know what, I feel better already! And I'll get to give Jacob a New Year's hug!
I wish for everyone a safe, healthy, and happy New Year--and for this tired old world, peace. Prosperity would be nice, but I'd settle for peace, less vegeance, less anger throughout the world.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Post-Christmas efficiency

Christmas if over, and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did. I went to Frisco on Christmas Eve to be with Jamie and his family--Mel, 7-year-old Maddie and almost-four Edie, along with Mel's parents and brother, Brent. Christmas Eve we had turducken for dinner, at Brent's request. When his mother saw how much a ready-to-cook turducken was, she decided she could do that herself. (For those that don't know, it's a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey--I'd been wanting to taste it for a long time and was delighted.) Nancy brined the meats (breast only), boned them, layered them with stuffing, and trussed the whole thing. Then she announced, justifiably, that it was the only turducken she was ever doing, so everyone had better enjoy it (I still think I'd like to do one but I'd get a ready-to-cook). Brent took over the cooking--it was delicious, moist, just a bit salty but not too much--and it made great leftovers (I ate turducken sandwiches the rest of the time I was there). I think Jamie was skeptical--he fixed a pot of chili, which was an odd accompaniment. We didn't go to church, which I missed but then I miss that every year.
Christmas morning was as it should be. The girls got American Girl dolls and were ecstatic--they've been carrying them everywhere since. We lingered over present opening--I'd already had family Christmas but was surprised with lovely gifts--and then a lazy afternoon. The girls played contentedly with their toys--Nancy (Nana) is good about getting them crafty things. I did what I don't often do enough of--I just sat and watched my grandchildren play. All three grandparents seemed to be of the same mindset--we were there when the girls came to us, but we didn't beg and smother them. Mel fixed a marvelous dinner--beef tenderloin (she worried about the responsibility of such an expensive cut of meat, but she and Brent did a beautiful job), scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole--she meant to do green beans almondine, but Jamie wanted the traditional. The next day we hit bookstores (always a hit with all of us) and I went to Coldwater Creek for the sales. Then Wed. I was lazy while the kids, big and little, were busy with all sorts of things--lots of time at the computer, working on my Oprah project, and lots of reading--I'm enjoying another Deborah Crombie mystery and am afraid I've about ready the body of her work. Wed. night Jordan and Christian met us at a favorite barbecue place in a mid-way suburb--turns out it was closing the next day--and they brought me home. I was as always glad to be home, no matter how much I'd enjoyed my stay. And I was glad to see my dog and cat--we'd had an alarm crisis, complete with police coming, and a cat crisis--my neighbor found my always-indoor cat on her front porch one morning--so I was glad to get back to my household.
There's something about that post-holiday/end-of-the-year period that inspires efficiency in me--I did a zillion errands today, then came home and finished thank-you notes, made a Christmas card list for next year (I didn't have one this year and was awful about cards!), cleaned up a lot of loose ends, and started on my tax info for the accountant. Tonight I am feeling righteous and tired. Tomorrow, it's the closets!
Talked to Jamie tonight, and he's still worrying with why Christmas isn't like it was. He thinks now it's because he always has one part of his mind on his business and things that should be done. I think the difference is that we were away, out of our routine, sort of transported to a vacation land. When you stay home, you do worry about all the things that need to be done--I didn't do that at his house, but he did. On the other hand, he wants his girls to wake up in their own house on Christmas. Maybe it's a contradiction in terms. And maybe, just maybe, Christmas is different when you're 34, even than when you were 18 or 19 and not just when you were four or five and overwhelmed by a mountain of packages. Maybe too we all remember it as more magical than it really was. Jame said tonight, "I don't want it to be just another holiday, like the 4th of July."
I wonder if others are struggling with the meaning of Christmas and capturing the magic again, as we move on with ever-changing lives and, maybe particularly, in the world today when peace on earth seems a remote impossibility. I still think we have to believe!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Colin made it safely to Dumas Thursday night. Next morning, he had to turn south a bit because that road through Clayton and the northeast corner of New Mexico was closed. He went to Springer, picked up I-25 and was in Colorado Springs by noon Friday. But he'd lost a day of loading, and they didn't get out of the Springs until noon Saturday, which cancelled any thought of making it to Fort Worth. They stopped in Amarillo, and Lisa called about 8 to say they were almost halfway between Amarillo and Wichita Falls already and expect to be in Houston by mid-afternoon. They'll unload, spend the night in the new house, and then head to her folks' house for a traditional Christmas and--most important--a reunion with little Morgan. When I told Lisa that ten years from now she'd laugh about this, she said, "Oh, I know. I'm already laughing a bit."
I'll miss that Christmas hug from them that I'll be glad to have them settled in their new home--and it's so much closer than Colorado that I know I'll see them soon!
I hope everyone is tucked in safe and warm with someone they love this holiday. And in the joy of the occasion, let us also remember the gift to each of us that comes with Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Mother's worries

I remember one time when I had lunch with a man I was dating. I think we were in the TCU cafeteria. Anyway, his plate had chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy. I looked at him in horror and said, "You don't have anything green on your plate." He rolled his eyes and said, "Once a mother, always a mother." Well, today, I've had proof of that in spades. In the face of the worst storm Colorado has seen in years, my oldest son, Colin, is driving from Houston to Colorado. Oh, he's got good cause. His pregnant wife is in Colorado Springs alone; they're supposed to close the sale of their house there tomorrow morning, load everything into a U-Haul, and drive to Texas, with Colin driving the U-Haul and Lisa driving their pickup. Now he'll have to tow the Nissan behind the U-Haul. I'm not ready tonight to even think about their drive from the Springs--I just want to get him there to be with Lisa. It's been a day of phone calls, with my brother calling frequently because of his concern after talks with friends in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Once when I called Lisa, she answered with, "Information Central. How may I help you?" But tonight, she tells me Colin is almost to Dumas, Texas--in the Panhandle, a bit beyond Amarillo, where he had promised to stop for the night--and she had already reserved a room for him.
Why do children still try to trick their parents? This morning when I talked to Colin and he was still in sunny southern Texas, he said, "I hope Morgan handles the trip okay. So far she's fine." Now Morgan is 18 mos. old and I knew very well she was in Houston with her grandparents and not in the car with her daddy! I told him not to even go there, and he laughed. But sometime during the day, I said that if they didn't make it to Houston for Christmas, it wasn't the end of the world. Morgan would be with her grandparents, and she wouldn't know she'd missed Christmas with her parents. He told me soundly that was the least of his worries.
I think I've raised a most sensible kid, and maybe I don't give him--or any of them--enough credit. I continue to worry. Colin said to me today, "Mom, I'm not a risk taker," even as I had visions of him trying to cross Raton Pass in the snow in the middle of the night. But, you know, he's 37 years old, he has a wife, daughter, and a son on the way, a responsible and good job, and he's right--he's not a risk taker. It's hard to get rid of a lifetime of worrying about your children, but I need to learn to do it. They're good people, and they can take care of themselves and their families--and maybe even, occasionally, me!
This is Colin with his daughter, Morgan. Naw, he doesn't like her much!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday thoughts

Thank goodness for Christmas. I'm anticipating a delightful holiday with my son, Jamie, his wife Mel, my two granddaughters, Maddie and Edie, and Mel's parents and brother. It will be joyous and happy, and Jamie even said no promises but he's looking into taking everyone to a Christmas Eve service--he told me once it was one of his fondest childhood memories, and I told him he could have fooled me because he usually behaved badly (he said he liked the memory because of the anticipation of gifts that went with it). I like going to church on Christmas Eve, and the one year we took the girls, Maddie had a magical look on her face that I'll never forget.
But much of the holiday season is already behind me, and it's only December 19. That's a funny feeling. We had Alter Alternative Christmas two days after Thanksgiving, because we were all together, and it was wonderful--but then it's gone before the season begins. And Sunday night I had my annual party--so that's gone too. My presents are wrapped and mostly given out--I've had a couple of really nice gift exchanges with close friends, and I have several presents to open. I told Jordan I didn't want to sit home alone and open them, so Saturday, she and Christian and Jacob are coming for a present-opening session, followed by lunch at the deli (a nice ecumenical touch--we'll have our Christmas meal at a Jewish restaurant!).
But I'm so glad I'm welcome at Jamie's, even though it's Mel's family's turn to host Christmas. Like custody arrangements in a divorce, my family alternates--one year it's an Alter Christmas and the next it's a year when everyone goes to their in-laws--this is one of those years, only Jamie's in-laws are coming to him. He really wants his girls to wake up in their own house at Christmas and I can understand that--he always did when he was a child.
Jamie said an interesting thing to me recently. He didn't like it that at Thanksgiving two of my children and their families stayed with me and the other two famlies were 20 minutes away. It wasn't, he said, like we were all together. Acknowledging that he loves his life now and wouldn't change a thing, he said he keeps reaching for the years when it was just me and the children and we were in Santa Fe and we were all so close (actually we're all still so close!). I laughed (with a tear or two) and told him I keep reaching for the years when they still believed in Santa and were awestruck. None of us would change the present, but the past calls. I guess it's important to keep it in perspective, treasure the past and enjoy the present.
I think part of the puzzle for a lot of us is that we reach for that high that we expect with the holidays--and it often doesn't measure up to what we remember, or thnk we remember, from the past. If we could spend more time thinking about the real meaning of the holiday, the gift of good news that it bring us that's beyond gifts of clothes and toys and jewelry, we'd stop worrying about whether or not we're having as much fun as we ought to. Maybe that's my tiny bit of resolve for the next week.
I'll stay in Frisco with Jamie's family maybe until Wednesday--we really haven't worked out when or how I'll get home--and then I'll hit my desk. It's nice that I have lots of work waiting for me, work that I enjoy.
Oh, and here's another thought. The day after Thanksgiving, when we all went to my brother's for a reunion with his kids and his wife's family, we took a huge family picture. I showed it to a friend who knows most of us today, and she said, "You are so blessed." And tonight I was writing an identification chart for my aunt in Canada so she'd know who was who, and I had that thought again. I am so blessed. So I guess I'll let go of the past and enjoy the present. It's a wonderful picture!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas party

I'm tired tonight, too tired to do much of anything, so I thought maybe it was a good time to write a blog. Tonight at 5 p.m. was my annual Tree Trimming (no tree) party. I've been doing this since the first year Joel and I moved to Texas--1965. I figured we didn't know anyone, and we were alone, and trimming the tree was always more of a pain than a joy when I was a kid, so I'd make a party out of it. When I was young, we all went to pick out the tree, though I can't imagine it was a joyous trip--no forays in a sleigh to cut down our own tree for us. We went to a lot on the South Side of Chicago. My father and brother got the tree into the house, into its stand, and put up the lights. Then they left, and Mom and I decorated it--not exactly a family celebration. Mom spent the holidays worrying about fire--keep water in the well, don't leave the lights on when you leave the room--and I'm sure she had to "undecorate" it herself, because I don't remember that part of it.
That's really why I make a party of it every year, and now, even though I don't have a tree, the tradition of the parties continues. For years, people really did help trim huge trees, and they brought ornaments by the dozens. I have a lovely, eclectic collection of ornaments that sits in the attic because I rarely have a tree--I'm always out of town.
I always cook all the food--no caterer for me. I was laughing at myself tonight. In September, I begin to think, "No, I just don't have the time or energy to do it this year. I'll just send cards." By the first of November, I'm planning the menu, and by Thanksgiving the freezer is full of cheeseball, desserts, and Texas trash, and the rest of the menu is planned. Tonight I served, as I usually do, cold cuts from Carshon's, my favorite deli, the cheeseball we've had every year since I was a kid, a brie with apricot jam mixed with cayenne and topped with sliced almonds, a pumpkin dip served with gingersnaps that Jeannie brought and everyone raved about, a spicy corn/Rotel tomato dip that I made that really disappeared fast, and a dried beef dip that I had doubts about but thought I'd try--it was really really good. The sweet tray had a chocolate cake and several kinds of dessert bars. Some of those were new, and Jordan was very put out with me because I didn't serve the peanut butter balls I "always" fix--for the life of me I can't think of what she's talking about--and something else she always wants, but I do try to keep some things standard and vary the rest. Tonight it worked. A Rent-a-Frog (okay, for those not from Fort Worth, the school's team is the Horned Toads, shortened to the Frogs, and some enterprising entrepreneur started a business called Rent-a-Frog whereby people could hire students to do valet parking, etc.) served the wine. His name is Raymond and he was great--cleaned up for me, was Johnny-on-the-spot in serving drinks and replenishing the table. Jordan used to do that sort of thing, but this year she declared she was off duty, mostly because of Jacob, though Jacob had lots of willing relatives to hold and love him. The party was at 5, everyone left by 7, and by 8:30 I was eating leftovers and drinking a glass of wine. Yeah, there's still stuff to be sorted and put up, but . . . .
The food was good, and people raved as they always do, and it made me feel glad I'd done it, as it always does. But the party's not about food, it's about people, some of whom have been coming to this party for thirty years or more. I laughed at one friend, younger than me, who was standing by when someone asked how long I've lived in this house. I said fourteen years, and his eyes grew wide. "I don't believe it," he said, "I remember the other house." I told him we're all growing older. Each year there are new people, and I delight in those new faces, but I also value those who've been coming for years. When one or another "old-timer" can't make it, I miss them. I am truly blessed to have garnered so many friends over the years.
Alter Alternative Christmas and Tree Trimming are now both over and done, and yet there's still Christmas Day with my granddaughters to look forward to--and perhaps a visit with Jacob. He was here tonight, all dressed in his best, but spitting up all over his bibs. He laughed and carried on for us, but he didn't like being passed to strangers and, when the party was at its height, he didn't like all the noise. Still, until he was very tired and cranky, he would favor me with grins. Once when we sat on the guest room bed, he rolled over and pulled himself up to look at me. I have a picture from Thanksgiving that I treaure--he's in my lap, and I'm talking to someone over his head, and Jacob has his head thrown back, staring up at me in rapt attention. Nice to be the center of someone's universe, even if only for a moment.
So that's it. A nice evening, and I'll go to bed happy. Oh, and better balanced. I have gotten over much of my unsteadiness, though I still keep a walking stick by for security. Life is good. Seems like I end the blog that way a lot.
Oh, and another PS: I am through with chapter 11 in my revision of the novel to first person. Once the holidays are past and thank-you notes written, I'll have to abandon it for some assignments--who can resist paying assignments? Have to revise a juvenile bio of Mirabeau B. Lamar, second president of Texas, and write a y/a bio of Oprah (by February 15th) plus send a column to the Dallas Morning News and a piece to Texas Electric Coop. I thought recently of those long-ago days when I said I'd write if I knew what to write about. Not that way now.
Enough. I really am going to bed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More family musings

Today I went to the drugstore to print out some of the electronic pictures from our family reunion the day after Thanksgiving, and it set me once more to musing about family connections. There are wonderful pictures of all my grandchildren--laughing Jacob, exuberant Maddie, pixie-sh Edie, Sawyer with his Bob the Builder hat from which he will not be separated, lovely, energetic Morgan--only one picture showed tiny Ford, and you could barely see him. But the picture that made me really think was a group one--we were all arranged on the wall around one corner of the John's porch, some standing behind the wall, some kneeling in front (I'm too old for that and sat on the wall)--it was one of those pictures where someone sets the camera and then makes a mad dash to get into the picture before the camera clicks. But there we were, my brother's family and mine. His two kids, their spouses, one grandchild, his wife and her family, and all my gang--seventeen adults and seven kids ranging from seven to five weeks, if I did the math right. And the wonderful thing is that we're all close. We care about each other, keep up with what's going on, are delighted when we can be together and go out of the way to make it happen. I don't know if we've worked at it or it's just luck that we have such a big, close family--but it's sure great. It was especially wonderful to watch the six young couples visiting on the porch. When they were young, my children and their cousins saw each other every week at Sunday dinner (at my house) and they still laugh and tell stories about those times. Maybe it's partly happy memories that hold them together.
My children have only one other uncle--their father's brother and his famly in New York--and we remain long-distance close to them, though we don't see them as often as we'd like. My kids have all gone to see them, and I am in email contact with them often. They talk to the children on the phone, and we know what's going on in their lives. Again a blessing. I guess family is like friendship--you have to work at it.
I have friends who never call me for lunch, but because I value them, I call them--and then they're delighted. Family's the same way--you have to make the effort. Somehow in my family, it seems everybody makes the effort.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Family Musings

I was getting things out tonight for my annual Christmas party, and I polished the large silver tray given to my aunt (my father's sister) and uncle on the occasion of their marriage by the provincial secretary of Ontario--it's so inscribed, and it's beautiful. I felt badly because I barely remember them. Their daughter has problems and is in a nursing home and not capable of taking care of herself, so I've gotten power of attorney and am trying to handle her affairs long distance, though her bank is very balky. But then it struck me that somewhere in my teens I stopped seeing the Canadian branch of the family--my father's people. I remember my grandmother fondly, though she was most neurotic when I think back on it, and the spinster aunt who lived with her and suffered severe rheumatoid arthritis. One aunt, at 95, is still in Toronto, in assisted living, but she thinks I'm practicing medicine (that was my dad). And I knew my mother's sisters and brother, but one of those aunts died young and I only saw the other sporadically--I do remember that when the three sisters got together, they giggled and were very silly. And I remember once in graduate school, my brother and I and Joel drove all night from Missouri to our cabin in the Indiana dunes--and we stopped to see my uncle, who was a favorite of my brother's. But my memory there is vague. I never knew either of my grandfathers, and when I was very young my mother's mother was in her own home in Kankakee but my only clear memories of her are when she lay in a nursing home in Chicago. I look at my relationship with my grandchildren--and even my parents' relationship with my children--and realize how different it is. I don't think--and I hope--my grandchildren won't forget me quickly. Of course I plan to be around for at least another twenty years, so that too makes a difference--I do have the long-life genes on both sides. But it's sad that I never felt that closeness to the people from whom I came. I feel the heritage, especially the Scottish side from my father--my mother was German, and I love the food but feel no affinity for the culture, as I do for the MacBain clan. But the people are only vague shadows, and that saddens me. Is it that we live differently these days? Was it distance? What made the difference. I don't know that I'll find out.
Christmas is not a time for sad memories, so I'll move on. I got a hurry-up young-adult book assignment today (though not yet the topic) and have a column and an essay, all due in January, so there goes revision of the mystery. And I've still got to read all those westerns. I'm too busy to dwell on the past. And too happy about the present.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Idle Saturday thoughts

Saturday seems to be my day to blog. Also to go to the grocery, clean out the catbox (I got Wynona a bigger one since he kept missing and leaving lakes on the floor that smelled awaful), water all the plants, reconnect the hoses since it seems the extreme cold is gone for a while, wrap some presents, and bake a cake. Gosh, I'm tired, and it's only 1:00 p.m.! It was cold here this week--21 night before last, which put me in a funny mood because I felt trapped, worrying if pipes would freeze--especially in the gueset apartment--and just worrying in general. Yesterday it warmed up--well, sort of--but my good friend Jeannie and I went shopping. She had no list; I had a long list. By the time we were done, she'd bought as much as I had. But we had a really good time, topped by a lunch at our favorite restaurant--and even a glass of wine with lunch. Somehow we don't get to do those days as much lately as we used to, so this was especially nice.
I don't know if I've mentioned the mystery of the pillow shams (no, it's not my next novel). But after Thanksgiving when everyone was here, the shams for the daybed in the grandchildren's playroom just flat disappeared. Melanie swore they didn't have them; Maddie said they weren't swept up into a suitcase; I turned the house upside down and couldn't find them. So yesterday I got new shams--a different color--and another throw pillow for that bed (the pillow cases looked ridiculous!). Now the shams will turn up. Just talked to Mel, and they were out shopping, so she sweetly offered to get me shams but I thanked her and told her I'd already done it.
I've cleared my desk and am ready to get back to Dead Space. I think turning it into first person is working well, and I'm pleased with the result. But not much time to work on it--Christian and Jacob are coming by shortly, and I want a nap before I got o a girls' gabfest dinner with two friends.
My thank you of the day goes to Larry L. King. When I emailed that I urgently needed a signed copy of his biography of Willie Morris for a Christmas gift, he wrote back saying it would go in the mail today and I was not to worry about replacing the book. I love working with authors who are so nice and gracious.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Progress--or at least directions

But first a question: why is it that when in good faith you post a blog some fool leaves comments that offer you Viagra and other "enhancements," (hardly what I need or want). The current anonymous who's responding says things like, "Cute, man . . . thanks!" The perils of the internet are not at all overstated!
Bot today, progress is on my mind. My mentor, mentioned a blog or two ago, has finished the draft of the mystery, as far as it goes, and emailed that he likes it, pointing out the things he likes such as the distinctive but likeable protagonist, the ex-husband who's objectionable enough that no one minds when he's "offed," as they say, and the opening discovery of a skeleton which gets things off to a good start (he always begins with the positive, bless him). But then he moved on to his suggestions, which were what I really needed to hear--more backstory. I race through things, without lingering to savor the environment, flesh out secondary characters and their relationship to the protagonist. It's his opinion readers like a little diversion if it fills in the story. And just as personal preference, he said this cries out for first person. I've always written my best work in first person; the only things I've done that worked in third person are a few short stories--but I think my best stories are even those in first person. I was writing in third person because I thought that was a convention of the genre, but my teacher (I hesitate to name him because of the occasional kook who reads this) pointed out that Patricia Cornwall's best work is first person. So tomorrow, I'll print the whole thing out and begin a rewrite.
A note on first person: after I"d written three or four novels, someone told me beginners always write their first novels in first person and then "graduate" to third person. I asked the then-book review editor of our newspaper what he thought about that, and he said, 'I think if Judy Alter never graduates, it would be a good thing."
Of course it's the wrong time of the year to be serious about writing. I'm barely keeping up with anything except the holiday season. TCU Press had their annual event Friday--a great success but poorly attended, Saturday I went to an afternoon party and an evening one (made me feel like a social butterfly), and Sunday I fixed a pot of chili for Jordan and Christian and my neighbor. Jacob sat on the dining room table in his bumber chair or whatever it's called and kept us all in laughter. He is adorable. And I've been cooking--so far two batches of cookie/bars, a cake, a cheeseball, and two bags of Texas trash. Jordan has requested more trash so that I can give it to her--might as well use up all that cereal!
Tonight I'm going to finish the mystery I'm reading (and almost done with) and then banish Deborah Crombie from my mind. I've got to dig into the huge pile of books for the Western Writers of America Spur Award for the best traditional novel--I've read some, marked a few that I liked, discarded more than that. But there's an appalling number I haven't cracked the cover on. Tonight I hope to do a quick sort into priority piles.
Too bad I don't have enough to do . . . and then there's that manuscript I'm editing. And I went to work this morning with the longest "to do" list I think I've ever had. But did it all! I guess I don't have to worry about going senile because I don't keep my brain active. Better than crossword puzzles, which I always heard were good for warding off incipient senility.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Idle Saturday thoughts

Sometimes I think I'll just pull up blogger, sign in, and see what comes to mind. Today balance still comes to my mind, like a gnawing problem. In public, I laugh about it and make a great show of my walking stick. In private I worry about it. I am to go to a party at a home where I've never been this afternoon, and I know there are extensive gardens--will I have to walk on uneven ground? Should I tell the friend who's driving, so I can grab her if need be? Last night we had our annual Autograph Extravaganza at the Botanic Garden and I did great--took my walking stick, showed it to a friend who really needs one, and made great jokes. But I worried during the brief program about walking out after dark, especially where there were still wet leaves. Fortunately Christian came along and I latched on to him. I fear he was astounded that I had suddenly become senile. I think being iced in set me back. I know these spells of anxiety come, and I also know that if I fight back, they move on. So I'm fighting back and waiting. Tonight I'm going to a party at a house that sits high on an embankment. The only stairs are in the middle of the two "lanes" of the driveway--not a railing in sight. I didn't go to the party for years because I couldn't do the stairs, but last year my good friends Margaret and David parked next door (their kids, the hosts, had bought that house) and we crept through the front yard in the dark--almost as perilous as the stairs! This year the house is sold but we have leave to park there and go down the side of the house, which is better lighted. So I'll go to a party I really enjoy!
We had a smaller crowd than usual at the Extravaganza. I suspect many people, like me, were still in storm mode. But Carlton Stowers gave an excellent and moving talk on why he wrote a "happy" book--Where Dreams Die Hard--about the tiny town of Penelope and its six-man football team after years of writing true crime fiction. And I signed a lot of copies of Noah's Ride, so there were probably enough book sales to make the bookstore happy.
On a happier note, I've begun cooking for my annual no-tree tree trimming party (okay, there was a tree for years when the kids were around)--and other things. When we were ice-bound I desperately wanted chili, even if it wasn't homemade, but discovered someone, maybe me, had eaten the jar of Bush's chili (I may not like the president but I sure do like the beans with his name) that I thought was in the cupboard. So this morning I made a big pot of beer chili--Jordan, Christian, and Jacob (Jacob at 5 months won't eat any) will come as will Sue next door and maybe her friend who just moved into her garage apt. (Sue's kids apparently don't eat chili!) But I also made a big batch of Texas trash--homemade is just plain better!--and some bars with graham cracker crumbs, Eagle brand milk, chocolate chips, coconut and nuts--wow! These go in the freezer for the party.
The mystery languishes on the back burner--I'm thinking!
It's funny but these days someone unexpected will tell me they've read my blog and enjoyed it. So here's a thank-you to Mike Blackman who said that last night. And another thank-you to Glenn Dromgoole, who probably doesn't read the blog but told me he liked the first two chapters of my cookbook! There's always something to be thankful for!