Saturday, February 28, 2009

Marathons, spreadsheets

This morning when I went to get the paper, the wind and cold bit right through me, and I remembered that my neighbor, Sue, and her kids were running in the Cowtown Marathon. I don't know how many years ago--thirty-some--my ex-husband, Joel, started that marathon or at least was a prime mover in the group that did it, and I clearly remember sitting in our bedroom that night and hearing sleet hit the windows and the roof. He said, "Sleet! I didn't want sleet!" (Well, he wasn't quite that delicate about it.) But we always watched marathon weather carefully--ice and wind and snow are bad, heat is bad, and there's sort of a delicate in-the-middle. I used to work publicity for the marathon, with my longtime friend Melinda Mason, from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The children ran wild in the Stockyards district, and when I think of it now I'm horrified, though they assure me they were always with a whole pack of "marathon orphans." Sue and I drove in our driveways about the same time this morning, and she told me she'd done the 5K in under 30 minutes and her son had done it in 23. Good times!
Susan in my office always wants to turn everything into a database or spreadsheet. I've learned to use and appreciate the overall database that Melinda created, but spreadsheets are the bane of my existence (along with a lot of other things). I've no idea how to create one, not sure I want to, balk when confronted with one. Well, this morning on NPR as I drove to Central Market I heard a gentleman say that working with spread sheets requires algebraic thinking--well, there you go! It's one of the modern miracles that I passed high school algebra. Trig? Forget it, although geometry did make a bit of sense to me. Melinda keeps minding me that I'm one kind of brain and she and Susan are the other--I get them mixed up but I think I'm supposed to be right-brained. So the next time I'm confronted with a spreadsheet, I reserve the right to scream!

Friday, February 27, 2009

More on food and cooking

Today, a friend in the TCU Library asked me if I'd quit blogging. She said she looked and the last entry was dated February 11. I assured her I had posted last night, so I checked it out and last night's entry was indeed dated February 11. I've posted lots since then, though I've surely missed a few days. I'll be curious to see what today's post says. But for those of you who were puzzled, February 11 was actually February 26 when I described the buffalo meatloaf dinner party. I have to say the meatloaf and the bourbon sauce had gotten immensely better by tonight. There's something to that old saw about letting dishes sit overnight.
Melinda in my office said to me today, "You have a lot of people to your house for meals. Do they ever reciprocate?" And I said yes, some do, some take me out to dinner, etc. She asked, "Do you like to go to their houses as much as have them at your house," and I said no. I enjoy it but my preference is to cook. My good friend Jean recognized that a long time ago and though I thoroughly enjoy meals at their house, she knows I'd rather do the cooking. And I sometimes trade a meal for financial advice with my friend Jeannie and her husband, Jim, who is my unofficial financial advisor. Other friends take me to restaurants---those who aren't as in to cooking as I am--and I always enjoy an evening out, especially if I try new foods.
What looked like a long and looming weekend since our visit to the Frisco Alters was cancelled has turned into a cooking weekend. Jordan wastes no time in filling her calendar and so had friends invited over for Saturday evening. When she suggested I come eat, I said I might do that and spend the night, and her reply was "Good. Addie and Julie are spending the night." I'm not quite up for a slumber party--I had visions of having the guest room to myself. So I'll fix a hearty appetizer, go out there about five and be home before dark. And it turns out I have a lot of cooking to do--appetizers for Jordan (I think I'll make a recipe of artihoke bread, take half, and save half for my Sunday dinner guests plus I'll take Jordan a yummy southwestern tuna dip). Meantime I heard from an old and dear friend who will be in town Sunday and wondered if we could have lunch. I suggested I cook brunch, and she's coming about 10:30--perfect. And then I 'll start a pot of spaghetti sauce (a recipe you cook in the slow cooker for four hours) for my dinner guests. And of course I'll get my requisite nap in. Somehow my weekends always become more interesting than I expect them to be--which means I do less writing.
Texas weather has us all befuddled--when I got into my car to go home yesterday the temp thing said 95. But it's was much cooler by noon today, and we expect a freeze tomorrow night. I'll have to turn off sprinklers and climb under the railing to turn off the front porch hose.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A food entry

Last weekend as Jordn and Christian left after picking up Jacob I said offhandedly that the menu of the week was buffalo meatloaf. She emailed Wed. that they'd like to come Thurs. tonight. I had all the ingredients for the meatloaf, but realized I didn't have a side dish nor enough lettuce for salad, which Jordan devours. So I rushed to the store this morning, got bacon and canned sliced potatoes (honest, they're easy and they hold together a lot better than ones you boil yourself--this is the only recipe I use them for). I had made the meatloaf last night, so tonight I made the bourbon sauce and potato salad. If I could figure out how to cut and paste on the blog, I'd insert the recipe here, but alas and alack I'm not that smart.
Jordan and Jay my neighbor, have this thing going where when Jay is here for dinner, he calls her and asks where she is and she says she wasn't invited; and it works the other way around when she's here. So yesterday when Susan took me to pick up my car, I told her they should come tonight, and they did. A jolly time was hard by all, including Jacob who delighted in scaring Susan with his dinosaur--she reacted appropriately--and who refused to eat off his own plate but ate tons off his dad's plate. Jay is too quick about refilling drinks and the wine flowed, but it was fun.
Today, Jean, Jeannie, Melinda and I once again toured the Moncrief garden, figuring out where this, that and the other would be. Jeannie took a ton of pictures. The garden is on the edge of blooming, and even now, it's lovely. You tend to get overwhelmed by the garden and overlook the wonderful sculptures they have scattered around. It's a magic place, and it will make a lovely setting for Books & Music in the Garden.
Jordan, Jacob, and I were to go to Frisco for Edie's sixth bday Saturday, but Jamie notified us today that Maddie has the flu, so the trip is cancelled. I may get a lot of writing done. I looked at how much I've written lately and relized it's quite a bunch. Ever hopeful, I am plugging along.

A much better day

I talked yesterday about doing the things that annoy me. Well, today was a biggie--I took my car to the VW place for a variety of fixes. Their driver drove me to work--the drivers are always polite, quiet young men with whom it's hard to carry on a sustained conversation so we ride in what to me is uncomfortable silence. I got my neighbor, Susan, to take me back tonight to get it. But the result is, at some great cost, I almost have a new car--the front bumper or whatever they call it now no longer hangs down perilously close to the street (I must stop driving up so close to burbs), the tires are all new, the brake fluid is changed, the convertible top is fixed (so they say--this is the second time they've "fixed" it), and it has had its 20,000-mile checkup. So I drove happily home with that behind me. Of course, the car is now out of warranty--but I remember when I bought it they said I didn't really need an extended warranty. Oh, well.
Tonight I made myself some chicken salad--I like the kind with ground chicken--and it was sure was good, with sauteed snap peas on the side. Then I spent a long time making a buffalo meatloaf. Tomorrow night I'll fix a bourbon sauce for it, and some German potato salad to go with it. Jordan and Christian are coming, and maybe Jay and Susan.
Other than that, I'm getting over my blahs but not quite back to writing. I went to a lunch program today where a colleague talked about his recently published thriller, which it took him 13 years to write. I do NOT have that kind of patience. I'm reading a mystery which I find boring, so tonight I told myself I don't have to finish it--I can just erase it from my Kindle. And I ordered a new one. So I think I'll spend the rest of the evening reading.

What a day!

And the day is only half over. I've had the blahs the last couple of days--accompanied by a stuffy nose that made me think okay, I wasn't being blah, I have a cold. But that's sort of negative thinking. And to my mind, one way to get over the blahs, is to get a lot of things done, especially things you don't want to do. Now this may not sound like a big deal to many of you, but here's my list: go to the cleaners, drop off used clothing at the Women's Center used clothing store (all those curtains that I replaced with plantation blinds plus a whole bag of shoes that now kill my hammer toe and gnarly old feet), turn on the front porch hose since no freeze is coming for a while (this is not as easy as it sounds--it involves crawling under the railing on the porch steps to get to the spigot; getting there is not bad, getting up is a lot harder, in spite of all that "core strength" Elizbeth says I have). But the biggie--taking Scooby to the vet (twice) wreaked havoc on the back seat of my car. I took it to the car wash Saturday, and they didn't touch the back seat. So today as soon as I got home about noon, I put the top down, put on old clothes, and climbed in and scrubbed. Took two washings and still isn't perfect, but when I went to put the top up, it wouldn't go. I've had this problem before--it doesn't quite go all the way down, so naturally it won't go all the way back up. So tomorrow I'm headed for Volkswagen service as early as possible.
I fixed myself creamed tuna for lunch--one of my comfort foods, and then, settled at my desk, I called Dell support because the screen on my laptop is dark. The external monitor works fine, and I can carry on, but that dark screen makes me nervous. Every time I waken the computer, I'm afraid it won't wake up. Brandon is off skiing and no help, so I tried the online rememdies--didn't work. Then I called the support number where they told me that my computer is out of warranty but they could help me for a fee. I spent a long time on the phone with a woman whose first language is definitely not English--comined with my hearing that's sort of a recipe for disaster. And guess what? The laptop screen is still dark. I think she told me that the screen was dark because the picture is going to the external monitor, but I tried gently to remind her that it hasn't been that way for four years. I hope it all works until late March when I'll be in Austin and can ask Brandon to look at it.
I've been piddling ever since. I think I'll have a nap and see if I don't get enough wind back to go to the Fat Tuesday pancake supper at church with Jean and Jim, who kindly offered to come get me. I always worry about the idea of pancakes for supper--so sweet--but they do have luscious toppings and sausage patties. Got to be home by 8 though to hear the president's speech.
I have actually been moving ahead (sometimes blindly) on my second mystery and beginning to think of what project I want to take on after I finish that. I'm not one to have six or eight unpublished mystery manuscripts in my closet. So I think I want to do something more semi-academic. But I'd also like to do more food writing. Silly to be thinking about when I'm only two-thirds through the work-in-progress.
Family story of the week: Colin took Kegan, almost two, to California to meet his grandfather. They flew out Friday and back Sunday, which is a lot of travel for a little kid in a very short time. He was apparently good up until they had to leave at 3 a.m. to come home Sunday. Then he pitched a fit because he didn't want to get in the car--he wanted the golf cart. Rest of the trip went fairly well, I guess, with a change of planes in Salt Lake City. But the last 45 minutes to an hour out of Houston, Kegan, that sweet, calm, quiet little boy, pitched a fit of unknown quality and quantity. He didn't just cry--he screamed, he kicked, he thrashed about. Colin had to clutch him to his chest so he wouldn't kick the seat in front of him, and people of course gave him dirty looks. One man asked, "Don't you have a pacifier?" Someone suggested it was his ears, and Colin said, "No, he's just done." The woman next to Colin had a two-year-old at home and was sympathetic, but Kegan topped the whole thing off by throwing up all over himself, Colin, the woman next to Colin, and the seat back in front of them. Colin, who is really an excellent father, coped as best he could, but when he got off one woman said to him, "I can't believe you're traveling alone with that child." Lisa said the Lord knew what he was doing by putting Colin there and not her--she's have had a meltdown too. Apparently, now, all is well, and Kegan is back to his sweet, charming self.


I meant to be writing tonight but I've gotten distracted by America's Funniest Home Videos or Most Outrageous or whatever they're called--they are absolutely addictive once you start watching. Elizabeth came for dinner tonight, and I fixed salmon burgers--so good--and we had a really good visit. I did the dishes, not many, while she was still here, and so when she left I meant to sit right down at the computer, but I happened to turn on the TV and I was hooked. I did write some earlier this afternoon and am pleased that I'm moving ahead.
The second mystery may be finished soon--I sometimes feel I'm racing toward the end and may get there before I get to the required length, but that's a problem I've faced before, and it usually works itself out. But then I will need a new project. I'm not willing to write a third mystery until there's some interest in the first two. And I'd like to do more food writing. Elizabeth was a talented writer in college--one year she walked away with most of the undergraduate awards--and we talked tonight about what each of us would write--she needing to get back to it and me needing to move on.
It's the time of year when you think about what needs to be done--but it's still too cold. We had a light frost last night, so I had turned off the sprinkler system and the front porch hose. But it's time to cut back the herbs on the front porch, clean out the bird feeder and refill it. And having taken Scooby on two trips to the vet, I need to clean the back seat of the car. I had the car washed yesterday, but they didn't do that. So I need a warm sunny day--predicted for later this week--to put the top down and scrub the seats. And then I have to carve out time to take the car for it's 20,000 mile checkup, although it's not quite there. Always something.
Meantime, the evening's writing is a loss. I'm not going to write great prose at 9:45 while watching these funny videos.

A writing day

Of course, I meant to devote the whole day to writing, but that didn't happen. Jacob woke at 6:45 and by 7 a.m. was crying, "I want out." So I stumbled out of bed and got him. Unlike last night, he was a live wire, into everything. But I eventually did manage to get both of us dressed, fed, and ready for the world by the time his folks came at ten. I immediately set off for Central Market with a longer list in hand than usual--I guess! I spent over a hundred dollars, and that included $10 off on a lb. of salmon.. I'm going to have to cut down on my indulgences. It also took me a long time to shop for some reason, so I rushed home, put up the groceries--almost everything I buy there is perishable--and then called my old and dear friend Margaret to say I'd pick her up for lunch. We ate at the Swiss Pastry Shop where my favorite meal is one bratwurst, potato salad (very mustardy) and kraut. Then I bamboozled her into going with me to the car wash so I'd have someone to talk to while I waited, which was a long time. Trouble is they didn't clean the back seat, which is all muddy and full of hair from Scooby's frantic two trips to the vet. I'll have to do that as soon as it's a warm day. Today was medium cold but so windy it felt frigid.
I came home, settled at my computer, wrote about a thousand words, and then had the loveliest long nap. Cooked myself Dover sole with mushrooms and scallions--delicious. And I splurged on a jar of hearts of palm (one of my indulgence

Fridays--end of the week

Jacob is asleep. He apparently took a bad fall in the playground at school today, and though his mom said he had a bruise and not to make a big deal of it, I couldn't see it. But he did keep putting his hand to his forehead. Having not too long ago bruised my own forehead, I understand how he felt. But he was a couch potato from the moment he got here--lay on the daybed and watched DVDs. When I fixed his dinner, he got up, sat at his little table instead of with me, and ate a few bites. Then it was back to the daybed, and I had to chase the cat away from his chicken. I ended up eating his carrots.--I love cooked carrots with butter and a bit of brown sugar. So about eight, I thought I'd brush my teeth, clean my face, and we'd both go to bed early (I napped this afternoon and had the hardest time making myself get up--I swear I could have stayed there all evening!). While I had a mouth full of toothpaste, Jacob appeared in the bathroom, as lively as could be, wanting to discuss many topics. I promptly dripped toothpaste on my sweatshirt which led him to ask, "What happened, Juju?" So we played and cajoled, and I finally got his diaper changed and pajamas on. He didn't want more milk, but he wanted a treat, so I gave him a small bowl of cinnamon toast cereal crisps, which he loves. When I suggested he get the stool and climb into his bed, he did so willingly, but kept waving me away. "No, Juju, no." I stood by in case he tumbled the wrong way, but he tumbled into his bed--rather hard. So now, on the monitor, I can hear him moving around but no complaints.
I got going like a house afire this morning and went to the grocery a little after 7:30--no perishables except tuna salad, which I put in the fridge at work. We had our every-so-often Absolutely Amazing Book Sale today. We get a bunch of damaged books from A&M and sell paperbacks for one dollar and hardbacks for two. There were some really good bargains there, but we didn't sell as many of those as we did our active books in print, which were 20% off. (Considering that if we sell them in a bookstore, we give a 45% discount, this was a deal for us.) We had about twenty people come by, not as many community people as in previous years, but I think we made a bit of money.
Somehow on Fridays I'm always tired. The world has been too much with me this week--dinner guests Tues., Wed., Thurs., and Jacob tonight. Plus my Kindle froze which was a great trauma, though I called their help number and it ws fixed quite quickly. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a lazy weekend. Tomorrow I have nothing to do but one grocery trip and then work on my mystery. I'm really looking forward to it.

Long silence and busy week

I haven't posted for the last few days because, frankly, I've been busy. I've even been so busy my exercise program has fallen apart for a few days. It's one of those weeks when work gets in the way of what I really want to do. I find myself at 9 p.m. reading and critiquing proposals, writing news releases, etc., when I really want to write my mystery. The good part of busy is that Betty came for supper Tuesday (leftover chicken and rosemary roasted potatoes, along with a good salad), Jacob and his parents came last night (poor boy sandwiches), Jacob and his mother and a friend are coming tonight for grilled salmon and salad, and Jacob is spending the night tomorrow night. He's so used to staying here that last night he asked his mom, "What time Mommy go home?" She explained she was staying and when she went home he would go with her. He was sort of grumpy and tired last night, but when I asked for a hug as he left, he gave me one and then raised his little face and said "Want a kiss." Be still, my heart.
My really big news is that Lewis Bundock, the contractor who keeps improving my house for me, has installed plantation blinds throughout the house (except the playroom where there are way too many windows) and half-plantation shutters (they only go halfway up the windows) across the front of the house--living room and my office. It looks so awesome that yesterday when I came in I just stood and admired them, until I almost let the alarm go off. The new window treatments update the house a great deal--after all, I've lived her 15-16 years, and it was time. And I was tired of either washing the curtains or ignoring the fact that they were dirty. Also, the house, which has good natural light, is so much more open now, and yet I can close the blinds in my bedroom pretty tightly against the morning sun. I don't know why I always buy houses with the bedrooms on the east but I do.
Today Melinda and I toured the garden where TCU Press will hold its 2nd annual "Books & Music in the Garden" event--and it was lovely. Lots of nooks, crannies, hidden corners, a huge swimming pool, a guest house with bathrooms for those who need them and a kitchen out of which we can work, lots of seating. It was beautiful even today in late February, so I can just imagine what it will look like in mid-April. And the owner who is graciously hosting the party was charming and accommodating--she kept acting like we were doing her a favor, when we were overwhelmed at our good fortune at her willingness to let us use the garden. The house, sort of a Tudor style, was built in 1929 by the present owner's grandfather. It's of clinker brick, which she explained was used a lot during the Depression--it's imperfect brick and there were tons and tons of it available because it was regarded as inferior. This was one of the first houses in Fort Worth built of clinker brick. She also explained the various gardens, showed us the old chicken house (city laws about keeping animals were once very different), and it was a fascinating tour. The only flaw was that my situational anxiety (I've decided that's a good term for it) came flying to the foreground, and I found myself clinging to Melinda, although she dismissed it saying it was really uneven ground and paths, etc. But I hate it when I have those spells and feel so uncertain. Yet by the time I met a friend for lunch I was perfectly fine.
Meantime, I'm working. I really am. I managed to write about three pages last night and hope to do that again tonight. Tomorrow's our Amazing Book Sale--we sell damaged books for $1 and $2, and everything on our shelves is 20% off.

Cooking and a dog day

My house smells so wonderful tonight. I put the carcass from last night's chicken in a pot of water with celery, onion, dried parsley, a bit of oregano, salt and pepper. Put it on just before I went out to supper and will leave it all night, put it in the fridge in the morning and strain it into broth to freeze sometime tomorrow. When I came in from supper I was overwhelmed by the good smell.
Scooby and I have had a hard day today--well it was harder on him physically (and maybe emotionally) but it was hard on me emotionally. I had to take him to have his teeth cleaned and was told they might possibly have to extract as many as five teeth (he's nine years old). Because I once lost a dog to the infection from rotten teeth and another to a cardiac reaction to anaesthesia from having his teeth cleaned, this is a scary thing for me. I finally got up my nerve to call about 2 p.m., figuring he really was fine or I'd have heard. He was indeed fine, some bad gingivitis but no teeth pulled. I was told not to feed him until 7:30 tonight and then only a third of what he normally gets (poor thing--I'm sure he's hungry). And he's on antibiotics. I brought him in a few minutes ago intending to take the bandage off his front leg, but he just saved me the trouble by chewing it off. It's amazing to me how wrapped up we get in our animals and how relieved I am to have him home at my feet in my office, even if he is noisily licking himselfl which usually drives me wild. My neighbors tell me that their dog gets into bed between them and begins that noisy licking until they've had to put an Elizabethan collar on him every night. I just wake up every so often and say, "Stop licking!" But tonight I'll probably be glad to hear the noise.
I had lunch with Fred, my mentor, today and told him the plot of my novel. He was much intrigued by plot twists and thought it was all working out well. He's going to read the portion I have written, which I much appreciate. And then I had dinner with Carol Roark tonight--she brought me a wonderful late Christmas gift--a coffee cup decorated with one of her photos of polar bears that she took when she and her husband went to Hudson's Bay or even farther north to see the bears. What a neat thing! It does not go in the dishwasher.
It's been sort of hectic today--including a run out to Jordan's to take her something she needed--so I'm turning in early.-

What a nice day

Except for the fact that I felt guilty (again!) about not going to church, today was a lovely day. I read the newspaper, piddled, showered, did some laundry, and went to brunch with Betty. As I got into her car at 10:45, I said, "At this hour of the day, we could either go to church or brunch." (Betty recently retired after being the church organist fo 43 years or longer.) She said, "We're going to brunch." And when we got to the very crowded restaurant, she said, "Look, this is how the other half of the world lives on Sunday mornings." So bad--I had eggs, potatoes bacon and toast and loved every bite. She had talked to her husband, who's in San Diego, earlier and said "Guess what Judy and I are going to do?" He said, "I know you two. You're going to eat." We did.
Came home and actually wrote five new pages--yeah for me. Made my goal and beat it and felt good about the new material. Paid some bills, had a nap, and then fixed supper for Jay and Susan. I fixed a roasting hen by stuffing cream cheese seasoned with rosemary under the skin as much as I could--kept the meat really moist. In a separate pan I did rosemary roasted potatoes, but instead of coating them with olive oil I used a vinaigrette (the recipe called for Kraft Zesty vinaigrette but I made my own) and also poured some of the vinaigrette over the chicken. I served the potatoes sprinkled with chopped green onion and crumbled bacon--a really good idea. With a green salad, it made a good supper--had to use ranch dressing because Jay won't eat blue cheese. Tomorrow I'll simmer the chicken carcass and make stock.
Jay had spent six hours cooking a Valentine dinner for Susan yesterday, and he brought leftovers--a salmon spread on homemade crisps and a huge chocolate cake. It was made with buttermilk and cream and Dutch chocolate and was so moist it was almost like pudding. The icing was cream cheese and butter. Too rich for me. I still have half a piece in the fridge.
Jay also brought a pipe wrench (I told him it was a strange thing to ask a dinner guest to bring) and fixed the bathroom sink, where water had been down to a trickle. I couldn't get the little screen thing off because it was on too tight. He's good about doing small things like that for me. Once he came, needle-nosed tweezers in hand, to fix a ceiling spotlight--I had used that long pole to remove the dead bulb, but only the glass part came and the rest remained in the socket. We were eating supper when he arrived, and Jordan said, 'Oh, look, it's the handyman." Anyway its lovely not to have to to the kitchen ever time I want to wash my hands.
And another week begins.

Writers' block on Valentines Day

I swore that today was the day I would break through my writers block on that second mystery. The day loomed empty before me except for a trip to Central Market--perfect time to devote myself to "the" novel. But first, Central Market: I have learned a lesson. Never go there the day before Super Bowl or on Valentines Day. It's like a zoo, particuarly the seafood and meat markets. I wanted the free lb. of salmon (packaged and ready to go--you didn't have to wait for that) and something for supper tonight. In my usual rut, I was thinking Dover sole, but then I saw small Maine lobster tails--the per pound price was high, but it said the average tail sold for just under $5. Perfect, I'd have lobster salad in an avocado. Well, when they said small, they meant it; I wished I'd bought two. And when they put a sticker on an avocado saying it's ready to eat, they're already a day late. But my supper tonight was good--a bit of asparagus, some grape tomatoes, the lobster salad on what I could salvage of the avocado, and some sauteed asparagus. And, it being Valentines Day, I'll have some chocolate in a bit.
I did devote much of the afternoon to the novel and will get back to it shortly. Discovered in all my rewriting and juggling, I had some events really out of sequence, so the first challenge tonight is to fix that. And I did write in a few new scenes--but I haven't actually moved ahead with new copy. Tomorrow is a busier day, but maybe by the Sunday night I can have one or two new pages. That's my goal.
I follow several mystery writers' blogs--might as well give them a plug: Writers Plot, The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers, Cozy Chicks, The Diva Dishes, Jungle Red Writers, Fatal Foodies. But I was amused and interested by a couple of postings last night. One author wrote that she watches shows like Survivor, American Idol , etc. to get ideas for people for her books--she draws the line at The Biggest Loser. Her contention was that no one wants to read about ordinary people. For some reason, Confederacy of Dunces came to mind, a book which, with all respect to the deceased author, I could never read--but lots and lotsof people bought and enjoyed. But on another blog, one with many contributors, the discussion revolved around why so many TV shows and books and movies are so dark. One author pointed out that we can't attribute it to the current economic downtown--the Great Depression produced entertainment that was fun (I think she named Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, among others) and gave people hope that there were better days ahead. I don't know why noir is so fashionable right now, but it doesn't intrigue me. And contrary to the author who watches TV to find bizarre characters, I want to write about ordinary people going about their lives. Murder just seems to happen around them. Okay, I was a big fan of Jessica Fletcher and "Murder, She Wrote."
We've been weather-spoiled lately--temperatures in the 70s, but today it barely got to the '50s and was still in the '40s when I went out to the store. I've been cold all day and spent the time at my desk with a prayer shawl over my knees. My neighbor's mother knit it in the church knitting group, and I suspect I was the happy recipient because she knits so many she runs out of people to give them to. Nonetheless, it's warm and cozy and I love it--and I try to say a prayer for others when I wrap it around me.
Back to No Neighborhood for Old Women.

Lots of stuff, none of it really major

I've been silent on the blog the last couple days, but life hasn't been exactly smooth--I had two crises a work that have really hit me hard. One made me think I have not been paying enough attention to my responsibilities, because some work requested by and sent to the press that headquarters our consortium was inadequate and inaccurate. I corresponded with a colleague there a whole lot--she was most patient with my guilt and angst--until she finally wrote, "This horse is dead." The other had to do with jacket design, and I overrode the designer and my staff to pick the jacket the author wanted. I felt like we'd had a family quarrel. Melinda always says she makes business decisions with her head, I make them with my heart. And my boss says she analyzes things, while I work on instinct. Both were true in this instance, but one of the things I like about TCU Press is that we're author-friendly, we involve authors in the process. I think it's one reason some authors come back to us and new ones are attracted. In this case, the editor of an anthology about El Paso had very firm opinions about what worked and what didn't--she pointed out to me that El Paso is not an overtly religious or Catholic city, the Virgin of the Guadalupe is hackneyed out there, and Franklin Mountain, with its lit star, is an icon for the city. Every opinion I got out of El Paso supported that; every opinion I got out of Fort Worth went for the much more complicated and stylish design. I went with an El Pasoan's knowledge of her city, plus the fact that she's going to be promoting the heck out of this book and she has to be enthusiastic about it.
One of my early novels was about Libbie Custer, published by Bantam. The cover, which they sent me in advance, showed Libby who looked, as one friend said, like Madonna in 19th-century dress, standing in a field of waist-deep grass next to a barbed wire fence, with a stockaded fort sitting on bare brown earth in the background. Well, we had Kansas in the foreground and Arizona in the background--the ubiquitous West. Plus the fact that there were no stockades in the American West--there wasn't enough lumber. Those were back in Michigan, Minnesota, New York, etc. Libbie herself wrote how surprised she was that the "forts" were just a collection of buildings with no fence, no clear border or protection. And barbed wire? It was introduced in San Antonio in 1874; Custer died in 1876. There's no way the West was fenced in time for Libby to be standing by that fence. But I was green and didn't know I could complain, so I let it go. But I learned a big lesson. (you can see the cover on my web page, So I guess I'm content with my decision, but I have this unnecessary desperation to convince my staff and the designer.
In happier news, we've found a lovely garden in a prestigious neighborhood for our 2nd annual Books and Music in the Garden event, and I'm looking forward to planning that. So yesterday had a bit of redemption about it.
One of the things in life I hate doing is taking the dog to the vet for his annual checkup. He is so excited to be in the car (and getting him safely in is no easy task) that he whines and moans and jumps about the back seat. When I get to the vet, I call and they come get him (what a blessing!). Yesterday when I picked him up I found he needs anywhere from $400 to $900 worth of dental work. He'll get it Monday, but I will tell them I'm a believer in conservative medical practices--no pulling teeth because they might go bad some day. I've said the same to my own dentist--and it's time for me to start revisiting my dentist, but I'm not thinking about that for a while.
I had a yoga lesson today, and Elizabeth concentrated on teaching me ways to deepen the poses I already do and make them have more effect. It was a really good lesson, and I thought I learned a lot--if I can only remember it. She was really proud of my boat position and my ability to flow from butterfly to boat and back. Nice to be getting good at something.
After the lesson, she went and got Weldon, her husband, and the three of us went to dinner at Chadra, a Lebanese/Italian place down the street. I had kibbeh, which I'd never had. It's ground sirloin, pine nuts, and I don't know what all, wrapped in ground lamb and deep fried, served with cucumber sauce. Delicious. And we had a delightful visit. As Elizabeth said, when I first met her--she was a work-study student in my office--she was ast a low point in her life. She has definitely blossomed and matured as an adult approaching--ahem--middle age. Tonight's conversation with both of them was lively, interesting, and fun, but I remember when Elizabeth and I used to go to dinner and it was hard to keep the conversation going. She remembers meals at my house, and says only once was she served something she didn't like. I have promised to make them meat loaf, which she thinks she doesn't like (but she likes kibbeh) and Weldon loves. Weldon has turned out to be a wonderful partner for her. They're a great couple, and sometimes I burst my buttons as though I were their parent.
So now the weekend. I have projects to work on, will go to Central Market tomorrow, to brunch with Betty on Sunday, and have neighbors Jay and Susan plus Charles for dinner Sunday. A pleasant weekend looms.
Oh, Facebook! I've rambled on too long tonight, but tomorrow I'll post more about Facebook--and maybe about Nadya Suleman and her exhibitionist pictures of her pregnant belly. Yuck!

Nadya Suleman, Michelle Obama and Abraham Lincoln

I'm sorry, but I've heard more than enough interviews with Nadya Suleman, the single mother of octuplets plus six other children. NBC and Ann Curry (one of my TV favorites) scored a coup by getting an extensive interview with her and a first look at those tiny babies. but they've stretched it thin. I will not judge Ms. Suleman, though I'm quite sure I'd have made different decisions than she did, and I worry about the future of all 14 children, no matter how much she loves them. I also worry about the cost to taxpayers, especially since she lives in California which is near bankruptcy. But the interviews have almost been an attempt to justify, to explain her, and while I want to sympathize--I understand the love of babies as much as anyone--I'm tired of it.
On the other hand, I'm not at all tired of Michelle Obama. We actually haven't seen much of her on TV since she's become First Lady, but a few clips tonight showed her setting her own path, in an unselfconscious manner, slowly creating a public personna for herself--but oh so slowly. From all reports she's not only well educated and smart, she's charming and most charismatic (a trait she shares with her husband). I'm most impressed, but, hey, she comes from the South Side of Chicago. That of course can't explain it all, but in a broad generalizaton I'd say young black women who grew up there either did nothing with their lives or with great determination rose above the crowd. I'm a fan.
I meant to be rereading my second mystery tonight, but I got distracted by a PBS program called, "Looking for Lincoln." In a sense, it was about deconstructing (a literary term that I hate becuase it always puzzles me a bit) the myth about Lincoln--the Great Emancipator apparently believed strongly that slavery was wrong but he didn't necessarily believe in the equality of the races nor that blacks should vote, serve on juries, etc. It was fascinating to hear Lincoln scholars, mostly men who have devoted their professional lives to the study of Lincoln, talk abut him as a human being, his strengths, his weaknesses, his fight with depression. Doris Kearns Goodwin was prominent on the program and toward the end she talked about the subject of her new book--Lincoln and his team of rivals. It made me think of President Obama, who has appointed a bipartisan cabinet. There's a cartoon that shows the statue of Lincoln with his arms raised in the air, shouting "Yes!" and an attendant telling a tourist, "He's been that way since the election." Tonight's program made me think he might not have reacted that way to the election results, but as one historian pointed out, he was a product of his time. His beliefs about racial equality were shaped by his rural midwestern upbringing and mid-nineteenth-century culture. A truism of history that people too often overlook--you have to judge people according to their time and place in history. Fortunately for the country, he was the right man in the right place--and he hated slavery. So he did indeed change the course of our national history.
Back to rereading "No Neighborhood for Old Women."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The puzzles of the internet world

Recently several people have asked me to join their list on Linked In or to register as their friend on Facebook. I have done all willingly, except for one person I truly didn't know. Another acquaintance signed me up for Good Reads and every once in a while I get a long list of books she's read and liked. But what do I do on all these sites? I know my children are on Facebook and maybe I should look them up--I'm now a registered user, if I can remember my user name and password. But it seems to me you could spend all your time keeping up with these people on the various sites, and if they want to keep up with mr, they can read this blog. So I'm really at a loss what to do about it. I don't want to seem an ungrateful friend . . . I'll appreciate any advice.
We are under dire storm warnings tonight--tornadoes and the whole thing--but so far we haven't gotten a drop of rain. It's late enough in the evening now that I won't mind if I have to bring Scooby in for the night, and the storms are supposed to pass (if they ever come) well before morning, so I shouldn't have a problem getting him out in the morning. I know we need the rain desperately, but when I hear it in the forecast, my mind immediately jumps to how I'm going to deal with Scooby.
I started keying in typo corrections on the first portion of the second mystery tonight, and could not find one section. Apparently sometime after I printed it out, I revised. So now I have to go back, reread all ten chapters, and figure out if what I've done is right. I keep doing that to the point that I seem to never write another new word. Halfway through the book, and I just keep rewriting. I suspect its because I'm not sure where I'm going, though I have lots of notes. I also suspect if I got some positive feedback on the first novel, I'd throw myself into this one with more vigor. Is this truly writer's block? I know enough to know that the way through that is to keep writing, just as the way around phobias is to do what scares you (that's a whole other story).
But I have cleared my desk of other chores--my income tax information is off to the accountant, I don't have to write another column until at least a month from now, and all the flotsam and jetsam are cleared up. Except I'm gong to start tonight on concrete plans for publicizing "the" cookbook--bookmarks, mailing lists, reviewer lists, etc. I am getting such good feedback about the cover!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Novels, cutting calories, and being a lady

I'm puzzling over what makes a spellbinding novel stand way above the ordinary. I spent much of the weekend reading Julia Spencer Fleming's I Shall Not Care, and I'm thinking I should ask for a small commission as a secondary publicist for her. I can't put her novels down once I start, even though I see some high coincidences, some almost unbelievable plotting. Just when things are going well or about to for the central characters, she moves in like clockwork with another disaster. But I think it's the characteres--they're believable, clever, funny, all mixed up with emotions--people you and I know about and care about.
On the other hand I just read a proposal tonight for a novel, and it was--how to say it?--too "interior." The narrator was in his own head too much, so that I wanted to say, "Come on, man, get with some action here." I wanted something to happen. As it unfolded there was a kind of interesting story, but it came after too much slowness and while it interested me, it didn't rivet me. I've decided that TCU Press can only afford fiction that you simply can't not publish. Any doubts, and you have to turn it away.
Now I'm without reading material, which will force me back to my own novel to try to make those characters as compelling as possible, though I don't know that they'll ever be as complex as Spencer Flemings or Deborah Crombie's (my two favorite writers at this moment). I met a woman at lunch today who, retired, has turned to write what another friend described as "bodice rippers"--I thought that term went out in the eighties. But she gets up every morning and writes, and I think that's what I need to do. Today I did all other things--emails, prepared a memo for my boss, worked on my taxes, read that proposal, etc. By the time I thought about my novel is was nine and too late.
Last night I made a family favorite, Doris' casserole, and told Jordan and Christian that I knew they'd eaten here a lot lately and they were welcome to come but under no obligation--I was going to make it anyway. They said it was too hard to turn down and they'd be here. I thought about inviting the neighbors but realized that this casserole that serves six gets mostly eaten by the three of us--Jacob picked at a little and Christian ate what he didn't. But it was part of my ongoing campaign to eat in a more healthy manner--so instead of ground beef, I used ground bison; I substituted light sour cream for the real thing, and I used whole wheat egg-style noodles with no cholesterol. I never thought about noodles having cholesterol, but I guess if they're egg, they must. It tasted just as good as usual and we ate way over half of it. I'm not sure healthful eating does much for one if one takes two huge helpings. Tonight I made myself stick to one smaller helping.
This noon I was the guest of Mary Lu at Monday Book Club at the Woman's Club, which has only in recent years relaxed its strict dress code. One of our readers emailed that he'd be by to drop off a manuscript, and I suggested he wait until tomorrow since Susan and I were both going to the Woman's Club where we would try to behave like ladies. He wrote back to ask if we had the proper hats, and I told him that we didn't need hats and we could even wear pants. Mary Lu told me though that one woman showed up in athletic pants once and was asked to leave. I enjoyed the luncheon--the book review was fun because it was about a book by a good friend of mine and one I'd read a long time ago; lunch was delicious, and the conversation in our corner of the table quite fun.
Of course I listened to the President's news conference tonight, and immediately after it was over, Mary Lu called to say, 'Isn't it wonderful to have a president who speaks so well?" I did think he was clear, open, and thorough, and yes I liked it. What fun to see that Helen Thomas is still asking questions! I thought she retired. President Obama was funny when he called on her and said, "Hey, this is my inaugural event. I'm excited."

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Hello, nothing!

This is one of those nights when I feel I should blog but don't have much significant to say except I did this, and then I did that--and who really cares but me? Except that I did have lunch Friday with an old and dear friend I only see ever two or three years since she's moved to Atlanta. Her husband was supposed to come too, but he had a bad case of stomach something, so Subie and I had a girls lunch--and chatted about kids, grandkids, jobs, politics, the whole gamut. Really fun--a two-hour lunch!
Last night Master Jacob spent the night, but he was quite solemn all evening, mostly watched a DVD called "Happy Feet," so I sat at the table and read. His favorite things now are three tiny cars he carries everywhere with him. He went to bed happily enough, but for almost an hour I could hear the clank of those cars on the monitor. He woke about 5:30 this morning, and I could tell the sounds were fussing, not happy. After ten minutes or so, I went in, told him he was all right, I loved him, and gave him his cars--he slept until 7:45, thank goodness, and this morning he was his usual happy self. We had a giggling battle trying to get his clothes on--he would not stay still and kept kicking out of his pants. By the time he was finally dressed, it looked like a blind woman had done it--or he had dressed himself. By the time I got him fed and dressed, cleaned up his toys, went to the grocery, did the laundry and emptied the garbarge, I surely needed my nap.
I read a so-so mystery most of the evening, but late last evening I started the newest Julia Spencer-Fleming novel, I Shall Not Care. I probably won't do much else all weekend. She has created two believable, intriguing characters--with plenty of flaws but a lot to like about them. And the thing that draws you in is she keeps the romantic tension between them going--they just don't walk off into the sunset together. She's an Episcopalian priest, and in the early books he's the married (unhappily) chief of police. The attraction is mutual and strong but neither one acts on it because of a sense of honor--and then his wife is killed, while he's in a standoff with a criminal that the priest, Claire, kills to save his life. As this book opens, he refuses to see Claire or think about her, feeling guilty that if he hadn't been with her he could have saved his wife--but hey, if he hadn't been with her, he would have died. The human emotions are real, and I'm rethinking (for the 40th time!) my second mystery.
My neighbors' parents were supposed to come for wine tonight--they're babysitting while she's away on business, and I had bought some small smoked salmon spirals--those things I looked at in the store and wondered who would every be so silly to buy them. They got home too late from one of the children's soccer games, so I ate the salmon spirals myself for supper--so good, but so rich. I didn't eat them all.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A potpourri

Busy day at the office, catching up on all kinds of things I don't like to do, such as budgets, trying to figure ways to cut costs and still produce quality books, trying to ignore the large database that A&M wants us to provide on all our titles, wondering why print-on-demand titles have been so easy and now the process suddenly seems complicated. We took Susan for a delayed b'day lunch at Cafe Aspen--her actual birthday was one of the days we were iced in. Had a good time and traded barbs with the owner, David Rotman, who told me he had a special seat for me, way in the back--under a tree and about six feet from the dumpster. Good lunch though, and we had a pleasant time.
Tonight was supposed to be the night that Betty and I went for our weekly dinner, but Jordan called to ask if if I could Jacob. So Betty agreed she'd love to come here and have dinner with Jacob. I defrosted groud chicken, preparing to make chicken burgers with basil mayo, and then Jordan called to say Christian would get Jacob and I didn't need to worry about him. After a long time, it occurred to me that Jacob and Christian could come eat supper with us, since the chicken was already defrosted--Jacob ate almost a whole chicken patty by himself, and Betty loved his company though she couldn't understand him (who can?) and asked Christian, "Did I do all right?" In short it was a pleasant, comfortable evening.
I wish I had something intellectual to add to the day's post, but I don't. I'm reading a so-so mystery, not getting far on my own but moving in small jumps. I am indignant about the partisanship that is showing up in Congress already--I agree with President Obama's plea for quick action, but I just wish I knew enough to know what quick action is right. Maybe none of us know, and any action is better than stalling. What I do know is that budget cuts hit hard at the press, and I am forced to make some difficult decisions. The suggestions that I cut back on ourside readers for manuscripts brought howls of dismay from the scholars on my board, so I'm rethinking it. But their suggestion that cuts be made in other areas is easier said than done. At the same time, it's dismaying to read of all those who are losing their jobs, and I feel fortunate and safe. Hope I'm not fooling myself.
I'm going to try to finish the so-so mystery because I've ordered the new Julia Spencer-Fleming on my KIndle and Jacob is coming tomorrow night. Perfect reading while watching him.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

An interesting day

I should have known it would be a funny day. I got up a little after 6:30, as usual, fed the animals, and got ready for the day--teeth brushed, hair washed and combed, make-up on, by which time it was seven and time for the TODAY show to come on. Only it didn't--what came on was the 6 a.m. news. I'd glanced at the clock, seen the 35, and not looked closely at the hour, so I'd gotten up at 5:35. In disgust, I went back to bed for an hour. Didn't sleep but did some good puzzling out of things on my mind.
Then I got almost to the office and couldn't remember closing the automatic gate on the yard, so I doubled back and was late getting to work and astounded to find both my coworkers already there--I usually beat them.
Our tour of the black community in Fort Worth this morning was fascinating. We went first to the Intermodal Transportation Center, which has outdoor wall sculptures portraying the black community because the center is located at 9th and Jones, which was once the first black business district. The sculpture are wonderful, but we figured we couldn't have the party outside, with all the train traffic, and the upstairs meeting room was large and comfortable but a bit bare. Bob Ray next drove us by I. M. Terrell, the high school he attended and a landmark, but he said he didn't think they'd let us serve wine there. I could never find it again, have no idea how he got us there, but I was interested in the landscape around it--just off the freeway, it's hilly, with rock cliffs and lots of brush. Our last stop was the Ella Mae Shamblee Branch Library which has been open maybe seven months, built from the shell of an old school building. A fascinating place with a huge plaza, with historical placques fixed in the sidewalk portraying people who had been hisorically important in the community. Pillars around the plaza commemorate various themes in the history of the community, and at least one I saw was in English and Swahili. The library's meeting room, a new addition, is built to look sort of like an old schoolroom with wainscoting, etc., and lots of windows. The perfect place for a signing. We were delighted with it.
As we drove around, Bob Ray showed us where various well known people had lived, and I saw historical churches I'd read about but never seen. It was like I was in a part of Fort Worth I'd never seen, and I was a bit embarrassed about that. And it turned out we were so close to an intersection I've crossed a thousand times.
My walking went to pot on that tour though--I don't know if it was strange places or what, but I ended up holding on to either Susan or Bob Ray almost the whole time and felt totally like I couldn't take two steps alone. Worse than I've been in a long time. I guess I have to realize it comes and goes, and when the shakiness is there, I need to ask for help and not worry about it.
The rest of the day was uneventful--I came home and worked, fixed myself creamed tuna for dinner with cheese in the sauce and lots of green peas and thought how Christian would pick them out.
Now I'm going back to re-reading my mystery. I read through the filed "Revised text" but then read some of the individual last chapters and found I'd left some stuff out of the revised text that was really good. So now I have to incorporate.
What if nobody publishes my myseries? It's a thought I don't let myself linger on.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Often, when I write my children or good friends, I simply label the e-mail "Stuff." Well that's what this is--random thoughts and comments about not much. I haven't posted in a couple of days, and I'm well aware of that. I just didn't have much to say. Super Bowl is always a boring day for me--I mean, come on, day-long pre-programming on NBC? And moving the time of Meet the Press, one of my favorites? I kept NBC on muted much of the afternoon to try to catch the Obama interview, finally decided to take a nap, and when I woke up, there it was. I was glad I caught it, and particularly glad to hear his tales about family life in the White House. I heard him again tonight in an interview with Brian Williams, where he took full responsibility for the gaffs that resulted in the withdrawal of two of his nominees, including Tom Daeschle, who I always thought was one of the good guys. What I liked a whole lot was that he said he took full responsibility--he admitted his error, something we never saw from our previous president.
Charles came for dinner Sunday night, and we had a pleasant visit. I fixed scallops, with stir-fried vegetables--grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and asparagus. Tonight, Jordan, Christian, and Jacob joined me, and I fixed shepherd's pie--Jacob loved it, and Christian said he did too, but he picked all the green peas out.
I've been proofing the final set of pages of my cookbook memoir-and I'm embarrassed at the things I missed the first time around, including some recipe directions. But it's done now. I'll fax the corrections in tomorrow and take responsiblity for errors that appear.
This morning I decided being in a blue funk was not a good way to live, and so I talked myself out of it. Had a busy morning at work--conference with my boss, the dean of the library, and heavy talk about budgets. So tonight I set about the task of carving $1900 out of my already slim budget. I plan to present it at staff meeting tomorrow and get opinions, before I turn it in. Running the finances is my least favorite part of my job. Next I have to turn my attention to what can legitimately come out of carryover. I'd really rather be writing food articles and mysteries, thank you.
Tomorrow we go to look at possible autograph party sites for our September title, Calvin Littlejohn: Portrait of a Community in Black and White. Littlejohn photographed the black community in Fort Worth from the '40s through the early '90s, and his is an invaluable record. I've wanted to do this book for 20 years and am delighted that with the Center for American History at UT-Austin, this is coming true (they hold the archive of most of his photos). Bob Ray Sanders, a Star-Telegram officer and columnist, put the text together for us, identified far more people than I thought he could, and will take us on a tour tomorrow. This is a book I'm really excited about.
Meantime, I've got a new issue of Bon Appetit to prowl through, so excuse me, please.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

An AT&T surprise and a lazy, comfortable Super Bowel day

I've had four visits from AT&T installaton people in the process of getting U-Verse throughout my house. Two have lasted all day, and the last of those resulted in a really messy job, with a cord hanging out in space and preventing my opening a kitchen drawer very far. The other two were quick--one gentleman told me my problems had nothing to do with U-Verse but with cables outside, and AT&T was quick to send people to fix that. The other gentleman came late and unexpectedly on a Friday night--I was glad my neighbor was here to answer the door--and fixed the two phones that didn't work after the first installation person. You can see, I have a spotty record. But this week, the bedroom TV didn't work, the cable to the kitchen TV looked ugly and was in the way, and I had two pieces of AT&T equipment. I stalled about scheduling appointment but finally called and they said they'd come between 4 and 9 p.m. Saturday--fine with me. Then they cancelled, but said they'd come between 8 and noon Sunday. I said okay, but dreaded it--they wouldn't arrive until ten, and my morning would be shot--couldn't shower, couldn't do my yoga, etc.
To my surprise the phone rang at 7:50 (when I had a towel over my wet hair) and I was so surprised I was a bit short with the gentleman--thought they were calling to cancel. But he arrived at 8 sharp (my hair was still damp), fixed the bedroom TV which had come unplugged when the new blinds were installed, fixed the kitchen TV in a much more acceptable way, picked up the AT&T equipement--a wonderful sturdy staple gun that Colin would have coveted and a battery charger of some kind--and was gone by 8:45. A nice, cheerful, friendly man, as they all have been--but not all have been as efficient as he was.
Super Bowl Day is never a joy to me. I am, I confess, totally unpatriotic about football, and all I can think of is that the day-long pre-programming on NBC interrupts shows I like to watch. This afternoon I kept NBC on mute, hoping to catch Matt Lauer's interview with President Obama. Finally took a nap, and when I woke up and went to put makeup on, the interview came on--talk about good timing. As always, I found Obama charming and most fun when he talks about his family, though I have much appreciated the swiftness with which he took action once in office. I wish I understood enough about economics to have some sense of the worth or not of the stimulus package, but I was impressed by Steve Forbes who said on a talk show this morning that spending money wouldn't help--tax cuts, such as payroll taxes, etc., would.
Charles came for dinner. I fixed scallops with stir-fried vegetables--grape tomatoes, sugar snap pea, and asparagus. It's a dinner I often fix for myself, but I know Charles loves mussels, scallops, and all similar things. I think he really enjoyed the meal. He's off to Alburquerque this week to be with his oldest daughter when she has an angiogram, after which physicians will decide between a stint and bypass surgery. My prayers go with him.
I'm back to re-reading my second mystery--while watching a PBS program of the Celtic Women singers. If you haven't seen it, you've missed a real treat.