Monday, August 31, 2015

Lake Michigan, sand dunes, and nostalgia

Whenever I feel the need for a place of retreat, I go in my mind to a certain spot in the Indiana Dunes. It was about halfway between the shore of Lake Michigan and our cabin on the top of the ridge. At twilight, you could watch the sun sink behind the skyscrapers of Chicago. Sometimes you could listen to the lake gently push small waves ashore; other times you could hear louder sounds of waves crashing. When storms came, you could watch them roll the length of the lake, to end with whitecaps thundering on shore and sometimes reaching dangerously close to the first level of cabins. I used to go to my favorite spot often with our female collie mix, inappropriately named Timmy,

Our cabin was rough to say the least. No plumbing, no electricity. The front of the house faced the lake; the back, a lovely deep woods—except the outhouse was down the hill in the woods. I hated to go at night, even when my mom went with me. The refrigerator was a box on a pulley, so it sank deep in the ground; once a week, the iceman cometh—literally, to drop a huge block of ice down the hole. You always put the milk in the bottom shelf where it would stay coolest. For lamps we had kerosene or Aladdin, though my dad worried constantly about turning them too high, so we never had enough light to read by at night. But the nighttime smell of the woods and the lake was so tranquilizing—I’m sure I never slept that soundly since.

We had to hike a mile, through the woods, from where we could park our car to the cabin, carrying in clothes, groceries, etc. I think I could find my way through those trails even now, though it was another thing I didn’t like to do at night. The family with whom we shared the cottage walked the beach, but we weren’t really beach people except for swims and baths in the lake. I sunburned easily and after a bout of sunstroke was never again comfortable in the sun. But I loved the woods.

Those days were magic to me, and I am often overcome with longing for them. Sweet corn fresh from the field, buckets full of raspberries for 50 cents—everything tasted better. Today, the state of Indiana has torn down all the cottages—yes, Thomas Wolfe, you really can’t go home again. And I’m not sure I’d feel safe in those woods. But I think everyone needs a retreat to which they can go in their mind. And that’s mine—my spot of refuge and renewal.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy Sunday

Woke up in a weird mood this morning--don't mean to whine, but I felt anxious and my hip hurt. Got up and going, while Jacob slept soundly on--got the newspaper, which is a mental challenge for me these days, and darn near tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. Way to go, Judith! But for some reason, the words to that old hymn, "This is My Father's World," kept echoing in my mind. A reassuring thought.
Got both Jacob and me ready for church, though the last minute preparations seem to take forever with Jacob. When I'm ready to walk out the door, he has to brush his teeth, brush his hair, put on his shoes--an endless process. Still we were a bit early for church, and I resolved to let the peace of the Lord wash over me. Not so easy with a nine-year-old who was fretting about finding his good buddy who was supposed to be in church for the first time. "This is My Father's World" was replaced in my mind by one of the hymns we sang, another favorite--"Have Thine Own Way, Lord." The sermon was on Moses and how we have to fail to succeed--which simply made me think, rather cynically, that it was my turn to succeed. And then I remembered the dear old friend, now gone, who asked bluntly, "Did you ever consider you've had as much success as you're supposed to have?" It's true. I've been so much more successful, with books published, recognitions and awards, than most writers dream of, even if I'm not rich and famous. And it also applies to my walking, balance, aching hips problems--many others have much worse things to contend with. I should just shut up and go on my merry way.
I do get comfort from church but I hope it won't offend the Lord that I get as much comfort from friends. Tonight two couples came for supper--people I rely on a lot. It was a non-Christian dinner, not in a religious sense but because son-in-law Christian took Jacob to meet his parents for his father's birthday--one of those biggies that is a mid-milestone birthday. So I cooked some foods Christian won't eat--a broccoli/chicken casserole, which everyone seemed to enjoy, and a salmon spread for an appetizer. Christian eats neither broccoli nor salmon. The rest of us enjoyed the meal.
And I felt comforted and relaxed to have these good friends around me.
Evenings are pleasant; mornings are often rough. Sometimes I have a hard time transitioning from the world of whatever dream I've had--usually pleasant--to the real world. Tomorrow I'm going to start a new habit (I hope) and that is to lie in bed for a minute and catalog in my mind all the blessings of my life. They far outweigh anxiety, aches and pains. I'm a lucky woman.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Whoopee, Saturday!

So proud of Kegan, my youngest grandchild, the Tomball kid. At eight, he was asked to try out for the 11-year-old soccer team and made it. His mom sent this picture, saying Kegan, on the left, doesn’t even realize he’s half the size of #6. He may be physically, but he’s twice the size in spirit.

Today was what every Saturday should be—lazy, no commitments, a genuinely nice day. Jacob is here a lot the next week, because his mom is on a business trip to Alaska—poor thing, a week on a Holland America cruise line. Have a hankering to go to Alaska? Just call Jordan—she will tell you all about it. Being a travel agent isn’t all bad.

Today Jacob and I slept late, and it was well after ten before I got myself in gear to do mundane house chores like make the bed, water plants, do a load of laundry. Jacob’s dad came to get him for lunch, and then they took a buddy to play at their house. I worked—learning to format manuscripts for print and digital production. Steep learning curve, but I’ve been keeping after it. And, yes, I had to have a good nap.

Tonight, I’m still alternating time at my desk with household chores—cutting up chicken for tomorrow night’s casserole, setting the table. I pan roasted the chicken as I usually do—sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion, cover with foil, and let it cook an hour or so.. It produces the most wonderfully flavored gelatin—at least one of my children hates “gelatinous” things. I know it’s not good for us, it’s not good for the dog (who sniffed with utmost curiosity), and I’d probably never make soup out of it. But, gosh, it hurt me to throw it away. The Scotsman in me, I guess. I once asked the owner of a Scottish B&B why they served blood pudding—which is nothing more than oatmeal with blood added and I didn’t think it was much of an addition. He shrugged, “I guess it was part of using everything about the animal.” Sometimes I wish I were that kind of cook.

Unfortunately, tomorrow probably won’t be that lazy. Maybe I got all the laziness out of my system today.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Getting back in shape

I've realized, with regret, that I was really sedentary this summer. It was hot, I didn't have much reason to get out, and I sat at my desk a whole lot. At first going the block to get Jacob and back left me winded, and that trip to the lower levels of his school absolutely undid me. Today, carrying in groceries about finished me--but I have to add that I had a lot of heavy items, too many packed in each bag. I gratefully put the frozen things away and then took a time out at my desk before unpacking the rest. The words of a friend echoed in my mind, "Move it or lose it." So now I have to move it.
I used to do yoga almost every day but a combination of things has made me lazy about it, beginning with physical therapy. I figured I worked hard enough there that I didn't have to do much else. Faulty reasoning on my part. And then there was that episode with my swollen foot--my left ankle is still half again as big as my right, and I have dropfoot in that foot--barefoot, the whole foot comes down at once instead of heel and toe in a nice rhythm. With shoes I do a bit better but the front end of my foot tends to slap down. Instead of dropfoot, I call it slapfoot. Too much information, but it was a convenient excuse not to exercise. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to explore the problem.
And early in September Jordan has arranged for a good friend of hers to bring a yoga coach and check my routines and give me a new regime.
I've been happy eliminating exercise from my daily schedule because I always have work on my desk, and I often resent the time exercises takes. But I realize that's a foolish excuse at my age--move it or lose it, and I'm going to move it.
I've also gained weight this summer, though I'm fairly careful about what I eat, trying to avoid sandwiches so I don't eat the bread, never having more than a half, always eating small portions. But then something tempts me. Yesterday I had the best hamburger I've had in forever--a thick, juicy patty (hate thin dry ones) with pimiento cheese, a slice of green tomato, and grilled onions. Ate half for lunch and the other half for supper. The problem is I really enjoy cooking good food, eating in restaurants, and entertaining. I'm torn between the philosophy of staying thin (long ago out of my reach) and saying, "What the heck! At your age, enjoy the things you like to eat." Life is full of choices.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rant, Rave, and Dismay

I am so dismayed by the ignorance of the attacks on Planned Parenthood and the gullibility of those who swallow the false information they are being fed that I feel I must speak out. Today was the final straw when I read that PP had sliced through a dead baby’s face to retrieve its brain. I am neither anatomist nor pathologist (I did work for one for a while) but I feel quite sure that’s not the path to the brain. It’s one more outrageous fabricated lie that Pro-Life people are falling for, like photo-shopped and staged videos.

Let me say up front that I am not in favor of abortion. I was unable to bear a child, but through God’s grace I have four wonderful children, all adopted. They are the foundation of my life, and raising them was pure joy (well, most of the time). I would have been heartbroken (but silent) if either of my two daughters or two daughters-in-law wanted an abortion. But I know there are circumstances where that is the wisest course—a defective embryo that would have a short, miserable life; a pregnancy that endangers the mother’s life; even a baby with no one to care for or love it once it enters this world. The big point is that’s an individual woman’s decision—it’s not one to be made by men who will never know the trauma of abortion, the heart ache. Pro-life advocates seem to think it’s a birth control method; I assure you that for mothers who make that decision it is much more of a life changer than that. I bless the women who gave birth to my children, and each year on each child’s birthday I saw a prayer for that birth mother who must remember and wonder and long for her child. I want to tell her how well he or she is doing. But those women were fortunate to have an alternative—a reputable maternity home, few of which exist today. Poor women in that day often resorted to back alley, coat-hanger abortions which often rendered them sterile and sometimes robbed them of their lives.

Back to Planned Parenthood, abortion is only 3% of their mission. Most of it is providing preventive health care to indigent women and contraceptive and other counseling. By so doing, they have prevented thousands upon thousands of abortions—that’s their main mission. If a woman comes to them determined to have an abortion, they make sure she has the safest procedure possible. And only if the woman voluntarily releases the fetus, do they donate fetal tissue, from which they make no profit. But you and I and our families and friends profit immensely from the research that results.

Those stories about live fetuses, selling body parts, all those exaggerated stories are propaganda and those who fall for it should be embarrassed. If you really want every fetus to be born, even defective ones, then step forward, say you’ll raise and care for and love and provide medical attention for each and every baby. Otherwise, please educate yourselves on the distinction between reality and scare techniques.

Rant over. May be resumed at a later date.

School daze continues

Yesterday Jacob and five other boys went to play at one boy’s house—first day of school, no homework, back together again. Needless to say, they had a blast—and one result was one of the cutest pictures I’ve seen in a long time. Oh to be nine and carefree again.

Today three of those boys came home with Jacob. I thought, “Well, I’ve raised four. I can handle this.” What I didn’t figure was my four were never all boys and all nine years old at the same time. The energy is astounding and a bit intimidating. They played in the front yard, voices at the top of their lungs, and then trooped through the house to the backyard. I asked Jacob to use the pooper scooper first but I have no guarantee that he did that. He and Hayes did take my garbage carts to the curb for me, which was great. Then I corralled them for snacks, which were noisily consumed.

I mentioned that what I had been told was they would do homework—they disappeared into the back room, where it was relatively quiet for a bit, and then they solemnly told me they’d done a spelling test. See my skeptical expression.  Then it was outside, inside, noisy, suspiciously quiet. Fortunately Jordan arrived about 4:10 to take charge.

After a bit two of the boys were picked up, and Jordan went home, so I was left for our usual Tuesday night supper at the Grill with Jacob and Hayes. We first went and picked up suppers for Subie and Phil—he had eyelid surgery today, felt medium, apparently looked worse, and wasn’t going out. Then we went back to the Grill met a couple of neighbors and had a good dinner. Cheese quesadilla for me. I’d been urging Jacob to try one and he refused; when he saw mine he said, “I’m getting that next time.” I shared with him.

Now we’re quietly at home, almost ready to settle down. In some ways, I’m glad to have the school year started, but I’m also glad Jacob has been told no play dates tomorrow. Straight home and to homework. Fourth grade may be a long year.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to school

Today was back to school for most schools across the country, a day for sharing those memorable back to school pictures. Like any proud grandparent, I’m pleased to show the gallery.

First up, Morgan and Kegan Alter of Tomball, Texas, with their beautiful mom, Lisa, who teaches in the Tomball ISD. I haven’t seen them in a while, and Kegan particularly has grown.

Then the Austin boys, Sawyer on the left, and Ford on the right. A real contrast in types. Sawyer is a dedicated guitar player—note the long hair—and Ford is all about sports. They look like twins, but Sawyer is a year and a half older than his brother.

Then the Frisco girls—Eden, going into seventh grade; missing is big sister Maddie, who will be a junior in high school and had some off-campus program this morning. Who can keep up with teenagers?

And finally Jacob, going into fourth grade and quite happy about it. He started off the school year by going to play with friends and declared it a good day. He too looks so much older, though I see him most every day.
Am I a proud grandma? With this crew, you betcha!

For me, it was a day back into routine. I had to be up early to go with Jacob and his parents to meet the teacher, since I am the pick-up person. His classroom is on the lower level and in the corner farthest possible from my house. I’m hoping to work up some rainy day pick-up plans so I don’t have to trek down those staircases. Today, a sunny day so humid it felt like the Caribbean, I met him outside only to learn he wanted to go home with friends. From now on, we’re making those arrangements a day ahead! He had minimal homework but I know that’s coming next. They tell me fourth grade is not as bad as third, and I surely hope that’s true.

On the bright side, I’m looking forward to this year getting me out of my lazy summer doldrums when I stayed inside so much.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cookin’ up a storm

I’m in a cooking spell lately. For one thing, I keep finding recipes that I want to try. My “Entrees Not Tried” file includes several dishes in which eggs are poached in a tomato base, each a little different that the others. Today I chose one that had a mostly kale base with cherry tomatoes sprinkled over it.

Begins with three pieces of thick-cut bacon, diced and then crisped in a Tbsp. of butter. Add one medium onion sliced thin and sauté until soft. Add about a third cup of wine and washed, stemmed kale—I used one really large bunch. Salt and pepper the kale, cover the pan, and let it cook down. Then sprinkle with a generous pinch of nutmeg and a cup of cream (my conscience got me, and I used half and half—which meant it took longer to thicken). When thickened, remove from burner and scatter with cherry tomatoes halved.

I made it to that point in the morning and then refrigerated. Before serving I made pockets in the kale mixture and broke raw eggs into each pocket. Two eggs for men, one for me. (I was cooking for two good friends whose wives were out of town.) Sprinkled the whole thing with Parmesan. Baked for 25 minutes or until eggs were set. Actually, for me they were too set—I like my eggs runny. The guys liked them hard. Echoes a running battle in my family, as I’m the only one who likes easy-over, soft-scrambled, etc. Still this was a one-dish meal—protein (eggs and bacon), dairy (cream and cheese), vegetables—kale, onions, and tomatoes.

Served with crusty Parmesan bread and a fruit salad. Got raves and they ate the whole thing!

Another dish I made recently was pure self-indulgence—rich but so good. Calls for brushing melted butter on both side of Texas toast (I used a good deli rye). Top with crab salad—I used a can of flaked because it was so much cheaper (lump crab, while wonderful, is really expensive, even canned—and at the market you have to buy a lb. of frozen). I made the salad with not too much mayo, a touch of Dijon, and a bit of lemon juice—the Dijon really gave it a spark. Top with shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, stalks of asparagus and sliced Jack cheese. Run under the broiler. So good. And can be fixed for one, maybe two, in your toaster oven without heating up the whole kitchen.

Next on my agenda? Well, I have my eye on a mushroom stroganoff recipe I found. Jordan, ever conventional, said, “Well, if you add some beef.” I don’t think so. The mushrooms will be enough.

In late September friends from D.C. are coming for Sunday supper. Way back when I cooked for twenty or so on Sundays (was I really that young and energetic?) they were at the table every week. I think I’ll ask and see what dishes they remember particularly liking.

This morning as I tackled the laborious chore of dicing bacon and slicing onions, I was grateful for my back brace. Even so, had to sit after the bacon—hate that worse than the onion. Finished dish was worth it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pollyanna speaks again

Today was Meet the Frogs day at TCU, and Jordan, Christian and Jacob were first in line (no, I did not go with them). Christian went to talk to Gary Patterson, but Jacob visited with his special buddy, Ju’juan Story, a wide receiver. Last year, Christian found Ju’juan’s wallet in a parking lot and returned it, and the football player has been Jacob’s hero ever since. The kindness that these football players show to star-struck youngsters at this event makes my heart glad. It’s one of the feel-good stories that convinces me there are a lot of good people in this world, and maybe, just maybe, American is growing kinder.

Take the three Americans—not Marines as originally reported but childhood friends—who were heroes in the terrorist attack on a French train. Or the firefighters who are working so tirelessly, at risk of their lives, in the State of Washington. Or the young man who sensed something wrong about a couple arguing at a bus stop and stayed with them until he could call the police—turns out the man was trying to kidnap his ex-girlfriend and the young man may well have saved her life. When I fell recently in a restaurant parking lot, a crowd of people was almost immediately upon me, offering help, expressing concern. I see other instances—not all of which I can call to mind right now, of the goodness of our people. I firmly believe that most people, given the chance, will do the right thing.

I am subject, as most of you know, to sudden attacks of “I can’t take a step away” from whatever secure thing I am holding on to. It’s that first step, and after that I’m off and running. I have asked a wide variety of strangers to help me, and each and every one has been helpful and concerned. It has occurred to me that I could be asking the wrong person—a purse thief, mugger, who knows what—but so far my faith in people is confirmed.

But then I read pure ugly hatred and fervent misinformation on Facebook, and I’m appalled. Obama is the son of Satan; Planned Parenthood is selling body parts from live fetuses; Boehner and McConnell are ready to sacrifice the security of America over the issue of Planned Parenthood; and on it goes. Politicians are playing to the ignorance and fear of too many Americans—what happened to public servants who had the good of the nation at heart? It too often seems that politicians have their egos and pocketbooks at heart. Disheartening. Call me Pollyanna again, but I believe good will triumph, and we will elect in 2016 a moderate, reasonable, capable president. Of course, being me, I know he’ll be a Democrat, but hey! That’s just me.

We live in interesting times, and I so often think of my father, a yellow-dog Democrat up north where that term wasn’t even known. He’d have apoplexy over our current political situation. But those of us out of the political spotlight? Most of us are good people, good Americans.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Karma and the sense of contentment

This morning was so lovely—sunny, a slight breeze, and a temperature of mid-70s—that I put the top down on my car and went sailing along to Central Market to buy a few delicacies. And I do mean delicacies—do you realize three slices of thick-cut bacon cost $6? And two chocolate bars with toffee and sea water salt were $5 for both. Well, I deserve.

But as I drove along, I was thinking about how good life is. Here I was driving with the wind in my hair on a perfect morning. I have a perfect family, a good (no, not quite perfect) career, a perfect house for me, an almost perfect dog. What more could I want? And then that puritanical thought crept it: “Careful, Judith. Don’t get smug because that’s when karma smacks you.”

And it did. I got to the market to find my favorite parking spot gone, so I took the next handicapped spot. But between the post by the car and the carts, there’s a five-foot gap. And I had one of my frozen moments. Couldn’t make myself cross that distance. Finally a nice man came along and at my request, brought me a cart. He kindly asked if he could be of more help, and I assured him once I had the cart I was fine. I know that was yet another incident where anticipation got the best of me—probably not for the last time. I’m learning to be philosophical about it, but that frozen moment followed me home in the back of my mind.

There followed a day I enjoyed; got a neighborhood newsletter almost done, caught up on odds and ends. And then, about 7:30 Jordan, Christian and Jacob brought tacos from
Fuzzy’s. Dinnertime turned into hilarity. Jacob said to his father, “You were going to tell me where babies come from.” Christian replied he would be he wanted to do a little more research. Research? For pity’s sake, he fathered that child.

Jacob treated us to his version, First we had to convince him babies did not grow in the vagina but the uterus. That tickled him because he thought of the planet Uranus and then envisioned walking along the street asking a casual passerby, “How’s Uranus?” Bad joke, Jacob.

Then we got to when the baby is big enough it moves up to the momma’s belly, and the belly button attaches—well, I’m not sure what. But he called it the belly-long. Christian said, “Umbilical cord,” and he said, “Umbilibelly-long.” It seems the child thinks all babies are born by C-section, and when I started to say something, he was quick with, “You don’t know. You never had any babies.” He’s right. As the adoptive mother of four, I never had a baby.

The hardest part was that he thought until he was born, he was dead inside his mom. We worked on that but I’m not sure how far we got.

One of the most interesting dinnertime discussions I’ve had in a long time.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

That breath of Fall

My family in Tomball sent me this lovely wreath for my front door as a belated birthday present (well, I know daughter-in-law Lisa was the picker and sender). I love the gorgeous colors and will follow my neighbor’s advice to coat it with hair spray to preserve it. It’s perfect for fall, and it was fitting that I hung it on this day when we had a lovely, if brief, touch of fall. High of 75, with not as much rain as we’d like, but some. It sort of depended on where you were standing—if you were in just the right spot, you got rain, at least a few drops.

Facebook is now flooded with nostalgic messages and pictures about Fall, People are longing for turning leaves, crisp mornings, October’s bright blue skies (remember that poem from grade school?) But wait! Are these the same people who couldn’t wait for summer—vacation and beaches and sunny, lazy days?

I too am guilty of wishing my life away. I, who admittedly worry about time’s winged chariot because I’ve had such a rich and full life and am still enjoying it so much that I look ahead with a bit of fear. I don’t want to be an invalid, I don’t want to lose my ability to write and work, and I don’t want to leave my children and grandchildren. I am not endowed with the surety of faith nor the tranquility of Jimmy Carter who today announced the metastasis of his cancer, which is apparently a melanoma. I wish him all kinds of good, I pray for him, and I admire his wonderful spirit. But I also envy his calm acceptance of whatever life brings him next. (I was somewhat comforted that he said Rosalynn was not quite as accepting as he is.)

I’m always in a hurry, wanting to get this done or that. And I’m always looking forward to some event—wishing it was Saturday so I could have dinner with my family or Labor Day so I could host a neighborhood potluck or some other event. Shoot! Soon I’ll be wishing for Christmas. And then I chide myself for not living in the moment, not stopping to smell the roses. I’m great at anticipation, not so good at savoring the present. But I’m working on it.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Poor Pitiful Pearl

That was me when I woke up yesterday morning—deep into a pity party. My local family was going out of town (hey, for a big four days!), more than half the people I rely on for companionship were everywhere from New Mexico to Spain, and I envisioned a long lonely week at my desk. I may love working at my computer, but I also thrive on people.

I know that old dictum: the only person who can make you happy is you. So I dug in: called my colleague Melinda to see if she could do lunch today; went to dinner at the Grill not sure who I’d have for company and had three lovely neighbors—Garrett and Bonnie Tucker and Sally Dalton. Today I had lunch with Melinda, which is always a happy occasion—we take little travel bottles of wine to our favorite tiny Italian restaurant where I always eat Braseola (beef version of prosciutto). Tonight I went with Mary V. and had a Caesar salad with scallops at Pacific Table.

My week is filling up—grocery and lunch plans tomorrow, plus that good supper I’ve been meaning to cook for myself for over a week; Friday, grocery and tentative lunch plans; Saturday the kids will be back and we’re talking about barbecue for supper; Sunday I’ll fix a welcome-home dish for Subie and Phil, something I’ve been wanting to try. Shh! Don’t tell.
Meantime I have work on my desk—got 2nd edits on the Peacock Mansion and am over halfway through reading a manuscript for TCU Press.

This morning all the subcontractors for the bathroom redo were here to gather info for their estimates, so this really is becoming a reality. I groan a bit about the construction process, the cleaning I’ll have to do, etc. But I’m really excited.

Moral of my story: life is good. But only if you yourself determine to make it so. Pollyanna is now signing off and going to read that manuscript.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

If I didn't speak out . . . .

Last night I posted a rather bold and forthright statement of my beliefs about politics and Christianity. I am grateful beyond measure for the many people who praised my words and supported my post. Perhaps one woman expressed it best when she said, “How did you read my mind?” Others pointed out that I tarred all Republicans with one brush, which was a mistake on my part. And some just flat disagreed, saying that I didn’t understand the Republican party. He’s right about that—I don’t.
But tonight, I want to leave you with something written by Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who was a strong critic of Hitler. Ultimately, Niemöller spent seven years in a concentration camp. Here’s what he wrote

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

That, my friends, is why I speak out loud and clear about my political beliefs. Thanks to all of those who love me in spite of it—or because of it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Giving Offense…or Taking It

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me or reads my blog and Facebook posts that I have strongly progressive leanings. What I don’t talk about much is that my politics are mixed with my faith—in some ways it all comes down to two simple tenets for me: Jesus told us we are our brother’s keeper, and “of all of these, love is the greatest.” (I’m not a Biblical scholar enough to quote chapter and verse, but I am a fairly devout Christian.)

Something has been bothering me for a while: how can these Christians, who loudly proclaim they follow the Bible, also follow the current conservative philosophies. Mike Huckabee thinks it was right to for a ten-year-old incest victim to carry her baby to term. Pro-Life people rail against the murder of abortion but don’t seem to give a fig about the health, nutrition, welfare or soul of that baby once it gets here. Congress votes to cut veteran benefits—after we’ve sent those men and women to fight wars that maybe we shouldn’t even be involved in. Conservatives rail against social security—which gives the elderly a guaranteed small amount of money and is money they paid in, not an entitlement. Many of the conservative presidential candidates sound as though all our budget problems would be solved if we cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Thus condemning many older Americans to poverty, illness, and early death. Truthfully, I don’t see how you reconcile these beliefs and others with the teachings of Christ.

When I found an essay on KOS Daily (admittedly a left-wing web site) explaining why you can’t be both a Christian and a Republican, I shared it. It didn’t exactly say things the way I would have said them, and it did cherry-pick Biblical quotes (Republicans never do that!) but it hit so close to home I shared it.

A friend, someone I’d tried hard to help through a difficult time, wrote that she was deeply offended. Being ever the peacemaker, caretaker, nurturer, and so on, I wrote back apologizing, saying I’d hoped one other specific friend would read it, I meant no offense, blather, blather blather. And then I thought: where’s your backbone? Your spine? Facebook is a place where I say what I believe, and I did that. I won’t recant my beliefs or soft-pedal them; I will willingly engage in intelligent discussions of our differences, but when it gets to the level of personal offense, I’m ashamed of myself for caving.

So there you have it. I am who I am, and I am fairly fervent about my beliefs and will continue to speak out. I think it’s important for the future of our country, which sometimes scares the life out of me. If I can get one person to think about our current political structure and their faith, I have nudged a mountain. I hope I haven’t lost a friend.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fool Girl

My short story, “Fool Girl,” is now available for Kindle readers. But there’s a backstory to this. I’m taking an online epublishing course, and our assignment for the second lesson was to post a short story to Kindle (pity the poor author who has no short stories—I don’t have that many, but what I have are collected in Sue Ellen Learns to Dance and Other Stories). I read the instructions, read them again, and decided I could never master all that.

Then I made myself work with two files open—the instructions and the file I wanted to post. Step by step, I followed the instructions. Sometimes I went backward; sometimes I decided it was impossible. But finally I had the story posted. You can find it at  Maybe by the time this posts the new cover will also be up—I just did that, and am actually feeling pretty proud of myself. I figured if I got it up as a lesson, I might as well put a low price on it and offer it for sale.

“Fool Girl” is based on a story I read in H. H. Halsell’s Cowboys and Cattleland. In truth, a young boy was at the center of the story but with my penchant for writing about girls and women of the West, I changed the protagonist and sent a lone girl out on the Texas prairie, with its danger of Comanches, to look for two lost work horses.  The story won a Western Heritage (Wrangler) Award from the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. I was almost as proud then as I am now of having posted it.

My goal, is to be able to post my next novel, Murder at Peacock Mansion, myself. We’ll see. Meantime, if you want a quick read, download “Fool Girl.” And if you find mistakes, let me know. I already know two places where my corrections simply didn’t post—there is a word “t” where it should be “at” and in about the author one paragraph is the wrong font and size. But I tried.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Liver, onions, and a birthday hamster

Do you have the childhood memories that my brother and I share of having to eat liver and onions? My mother was a terrific cook who taught me almost everything I know about cooking. I can’t say enough about her innovative and healthy meals, especially since our father was a very British meat and potatoes man. But Mom fell down on liver. It was tough, dry, and tasteless. For years I avoided it like the plague.

Then I began to find recipes for flash frying it, treating it with lemon juice before cooking to remove the gamey taste, serving it with a sauce of lemon butter and sautéed onions. Suddenly I liked liver, though I never could find anyone to eat it with me. I thought about cooking it for myself, but you have to buy a pound and that was a bit much.

When Jean and I went tile shopping, I asked if she ate liver. “Sometimes. I’m not sure I like it. But Jim loves it.” So we settled on Saturday night supper of liver. When I confirmed the date, I asked, “Do you want me to change the menu?” “No, liver.”

So I fixed it tonight, served with German potato salad, green salad that Jean brought, and a fruit salad I cobbled together—peaches and cantaloupe are so sweet and good this time of year. And the liver? It was moist, tasty, delicious. I liked it a lot, but Jean and I split a piece, and I sent Jim home with half a lb. for his dinner tomorrow. Still it was a successful dinner, and I was glad to be cooking again after a hiatus.

Special good wishes to Morgan, my granddaughter who turns ten this week. She desperately wanted a hamster for her birthday, and her father finally relented. I sent some exercise assemblies for the critter, who is black and named, I think, Midnight. Morgan’s picture says it all about how happy she is.

Friday, August 14, 2015

This, that, and cheese

Do you what a difference six or eight degrees in temperature can make? Today we were in the upper 90s, lots better than the 106, 108 we’ve been having. And the humidity is low. This morning I put the top down on my car on the way to an early morning haircut appointment—about a 25-minute drive by my back roads route. What a glorious way to begin the day.

My funk is disappearing, although my uncertainty about walking is not. When I went into the salon, I asked a stranger to get me started—it’s that first step. I’ve found all kinds of people so willing to help me. Coming out, just because I’d been spooked, I asked Rosa, who does a terrific job with my hair, to walk me to the car. She is like a mother hen, worrying about me. She has a two-year-old who has been slow to walk, and this morning she said I walk just like him—awkwardly (not her word), like I’m looking for what I can hang on to next. At home, I walk just fine. It’s a matter of a comfort zone.

Had lunch with an old friend I haven’t seen in too long today. But he too worries about falling, takes my arm, declares I’m not going to fall on his watch. We had a great time catching up on kids and grandkids (he knows my kids, needs a refresher course every now and then) and I’ve met his, kept up with their doings through the years. But we ended up in a kind of morbid discussion of people who were ill and who had died—to the point that I told him so-and-so had died, he exclaimed, “She died?” And then we both laughed. It was like too much. I guess it’s age, though he’s a good fifteen years younger than I am.

Proud that tonight I finally finished edits, rewriting on my Murder at Peacock Mansion manuscript. And then I cleaned out the cheese drawer in my fridge. Central Market has the most amazing wall of cheeses from all over, mostly Europe and the US. I can't resist buying, often of course the one they have on display. I tend to end up with a hunk of this and a hunk of that, and I’m not sure what any of them are. So tonight I made fromage fort, a recipe that is all over the web now but I originally found through Jacques Pepin, who said his father used to make it.

Take about a pound of leftover cheeses, add three or four cloves garlic (the garlic gets really strong so go gentle), a tsp. of pepper, and a half cup dry white wine. Blend in food processor (I’m sure Pepin’s father did not have one, but it’s the easy way to do it). You end up with a spread that is different every time but earns its French name which means “strong cheese.” If you use leftover Roquefort or blue, it’s a whole different thing. Tonight I had cheddar, havarti, manchego, and a few I didn’t know what they were. Saving tasting it for tomorrow night’s dinner guests.

Yep, writing, cooking, entertaining—I’m getting my groove back. Now for my self-confidence.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Whining again

Like many of us, my mood waxes and wanes (maybe with the moon), though I hope casual friends don’t sense it. Good friends do, and Betty kept giving me pep talks last night about not expecting to get back to the real me too quickly after the bout with the swollen foot (still swollen a bit) and the fall in the restaurant parking lot. She even brought my garbage cart up because she said I shouldn’t have to do it. One problem with me: I could succumb to that kind of pampering easily. But her reassurances that my funk wasn’t permanent were an enormous help, and I went to sleep last night determined to be happier and more confident today. It worked. I certainly walked better than I had all week.

I’m not sure what caused my funk beyond the lingering foot problems. Monday I was tied in knots when I went to a funeral at a church where I’m unfamiliar with both the building and the worship, but I had a good friend to sort of keep me on an even keel—she too knows me well enough to recognize when I’m tentative, and she cheerfully held out a hand when I stumbled in my self-confidence. Yesterday, when I was in the deepest funk, I stayed home, glued to my computer except for supper. And that may be a part of my problem—I like people around me. Today, however, was another event I dread—a dental cleaning. I need to back off and say I love the hygienist, she never hurts me, she’s cheerful and funny (and thinks I’m funny), and if I’m tentative she’ll walk me back and forth to my car. I came away with a clean bill of dental health—except for those blasted blueberry stains. She laughed aloud when I said blueberries were in season: “As if I couldn’t tell,” she said. I think a childhood fear of the dentist office lingers. Dental technology is so changed and improved, but it’s hard to erase those early memories.

Other people go to funerals and dentists without getting their panties all in a wad, or maybe they fight internal battles that I don’t see. But I wish anxiety would just go away, and then I think of all the people, even in my small world, whose problems are so much greater. I think I should just gut up and forget it.

I’m of two minds about anxiety—the more you think about overcoming it, the worse it gets; on the other hand, it takes a conscious effort to drag yourself to a more positive place. One thing I know: it waxes and wanes. I think it’s waning right now.

Tomorrow? A haircut,  always a cheering event.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Drum roll please for the cover of Murder at Peacock Mansion

Ta-da! Drum roll please! Here’s the cover of Murder at Peacock Mansion! Thanks to Kim Jacobs of Calliope Designs. Kim is the publisher of Turquoise Morning Press, which has up until now, been my publisher. The press is now focusing on romance—no more mysteries—so I will self-publish the new one (I already did that with The Perfect Coed with fair success, but I hope to get better at the self-publishing game with this new title). Kim did such wonderful covers for both the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries and the Blue Plate Mysteries that I asked if she’d continue to do my covers. By happy coincidence, she’s part of a design group. I love what she came up with on the first try and am delighted to reveal it.

I have spent the entire day, except for Wednesday night dinner with Betty, at my computer dealing with first edits on the Peacock manuscript. I sent the editor, the wonderful Lourdes Venard, what I thought was a clean manuscript. She proved to me again how important it is to have a professional editor. She caught everything from commas I should have put in and typos (how did bottom become bppyypm?) to major development flaws—the man lurking in the bushes who is never again mentioned, the strange fellow who gives Kate a ride and then disappears—is he related to the action? There were scenes where a character suddenly became a part of the action though he wasn’t originally there.

It’s been a long day, but I think the book will really be better for all the work both Lourdes and I have put into it. Sometimes I’m a slow learner with a tendency to think I can do all things myself…but I can’t. I know have valued help—a cover designer, an editor, a web maven. It takes a village to help me with a book.

I’m simultaneously taking an online course in self-publishing. Now the question is if I can post this book myself or need to pay someone to format it. Self-publishing may let you get all the profits, but it also costs money. I’m not enough of an accountant to figure out that balance sheet.

Anyway, long story short, how do you like the cover?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The busiest people get more done

I once knew a doctor’s wife in a small town who had a busy life raising and showing prize dogs. One day she astounded me by saying she’d just taken the job of switchboard operator 3:00 to 11:00 p.m. at her husband’s hospital. I asked why in heaven she’d done that, and she said, “Busy people get more done.” I’ve decided she was absolutely right.

Last week I had an empty desk, and I dawdled the week away with Facebook, emails, and reading. I cooked a little, napped a lot, and generally fiddled around. And I didn’t feel good about myself. This week everything has landed on my desk—edits to my October manuscript, a manuscript to evaluate, ideas for future projects, and a book I’m reading and absolutely cannot draw myself away from. So I’m back to normal, with a potload of stuff to do…and it feels good.

Last week also I had some lunches scheduled but no morning activities (afternoons are reserved for naps and, too soon, Jacob after school). This week, every morning has something on the calendar. This morning it was tile shopping for the re-do of my bathroom, an outing I dreaded because I always feel insecure about such things. My friend Jean went with me, because she has sound judgment and has re-done bathrooms. We went to a marble and tile place.

The first young man who showed us around was clearly interested in selling me marble, granite, or quartz, though we both kept saying the pieces he showed us didn’t look like my 1922 house. Then Jean asked the question I didn’t know enough to ask: “Could you show us some ceramic tiles?”

He clearly lost interest and turned us over to a lady who got it right away: I have an older, modest home and don’t need fancy frou-frou tile, etc. She showed us ceramic, worked with me on putting a slight pattern in the shower tiles using a lovely blue tile, gave us samples and promised more at the end of the week, and was generally cheerful and helpful—and appalled that I am stepping over the edge of a bathtub to get in and out of the shower. We chose a hexagonal tile (bigger than what I have) for the floor, subway tile for the shower, all in a pale taupe shade called of all things Urban Putty. Just as we left, Jean asked about soapstone for her kitchen counters, and we ended up looking at Silestone, where we found a piece we both liked—for the top of the built-ins in my bathroom and the counters in her kitchen. We left feeling we had really accomplished something.

So tonight here I sit, faced with all the work on my desk—I think I’ll read that book. But it has been a good day.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Singing Jan home

I went to the funeral of Jan Jones today, a woman I’d worked with on three book projects and admired greatly. Jan taught high school English, speech and drama for many years. When she retired, she became historian and researcher extraordinaire. She published two books with TCU Press—Billy Rose Present Casa Mañana and Renegades, Showmen & Angels, a theatrical history of Fort Worth. She was part of a group of women who collaborated on Grace & Gumption: Stories of Fort Worth Women and Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook. For a few years there we were a tight-knit group. I miss those ladies and was glad to see some of them at the service today.

What I realized today is that I knew Jan professionally but not personally. In my mind she was in one slot—historian and writer. But today I learned there were so many other sides to her very full life. She had a close and fairly large family and was especially close to nieces and nephews, one of whom died suddenly and tragically and next to whom Jan will be buried. She was a passionate dog lover—who knew? If I’d known, we could have talked dogs endlessly. She was active in her church, and had a huge circle of friends—I knew that from the Facebook expressions of regret when she died. A learning lesson for me—get to know people outside the roles in which you originally meet them. Know the whole person, not just the writer or historian.

Jan never married, and the minister referred to her as a single woman a tad too often for my taste. He seemed to be saying that it was amazing that she accomplished all she did without the help of a man. Not amazing to me—maybe she did what she did because no man held her back. He initially said it was remarkable and difficult for a single woman to rise to prominence in the Church of Christ and that may be, but Jan did. And she rose to prominence in many other area. I have always disliked being defined by my single state, and I bet Jan did too.

I knew the Church of Christ did not use musical instruments in their worship, but I was unprepared for and pleasantly delighted by the robust and vigorous choir. The songs they sang were mostly unfamiliar to me, but they were upbeat, joyous and full. The one I knew was the recessional, “It Is Well.” A friend of mine, a church soloist, refers to singing people home when she is part of a memorial service, and I felt that was what we did today. We sang Jan home.


Sunday, August 09, 2015

Measuring Life by Meals

No blog last night—first night I missed since my July 22 announcement that I was collecting a year of blogs—from birthday to birthday. Last night I just had too good a time, company stayed later than usual (though Jordan, bless her, cleaned the kitchen), and I probably had an extra glass of wine. We were sending Jacob off to camp, though he decamped from the adult company rather quickly. Jordan, our friend Chandry, Jay, and I had another salad supper—we’re really enjoying those.

Today, Jordan and Christian took Jacob to camp. She emailed to ask if I had her lemon oil (no), then it was her sunglasses (no, but I offered the Baylor water glass she’d left behind). Eventually she found what she was missing, and when I suggested she was a mess, she said of course she was: she was getting ready to drop her boy off for a week. I can just hear the talks he’s getting about being a good camper, etc.

I’m sad that summer is winding down—school starts two weeks from tomorrow, and no matter the temperature—it will be hot—that signals the end of summer to me, the end of lazy days and long naps, the start again of responsibility. Makes me feel like a kid. Besides, it was August before I really got into the hang of summer—watering plants every morning, closing shades against afternoon sun. Temperature here? 104.

Today is a long day at home, though not without work to do. Still I like to enliven my long days with varied menus. I plan what I’ll eat. So today I had leftover layered salad for lunch—love finding chunks of egg white in that dressing. Tonight I’ll pile crab salad on toast, cover with a bit of grated cheese, lay asparagus across it and top with thin sliced Monterrey Jack, and broil. Rich but good. To me, such planning ahead beats standing with the refrigerator door open, staring blankly at the contents, and wondering what to eat. I admit I anticipate meals, especially good ones.

Finished reading Leslie Budewitz’s Butter Off Dead and will write a review later. I liked the novel a lot and was particularly struck by how climate—i.e. hard Montana winters—controlled much of the action. Then first edits came back on “Murder at Peacock Mansion” so that will also be a today project. Lazy days aren’t always lazy.

Postscript: The laugh’s on me. I had balked at buying $8.50 canned crab at Central Market and was delighted to find Chicken of the Sea at Albertson’s for $3.49. Only tonight, luckily before I opened it, I discovered I bought canned tiny shrimp. Not what I wanted. In fact I’m allergic to shrimp. So there went the dinner I’d been anticipating all day. Cooked some of the asparagus—tiny, tender stalks that cook in three minutes—and defrosted a salmon pasty from the freezer (homemade). Delicious dinner—just not what my anticipation dial had been set at.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Pratfalls: Life’s Embarrassing Moments

A friend and I headed for dinner tonight at Lucille’s, a local restaurant celebrating Crabfest, with lots of crab recipes on the menu. It was so popular we had to park across the street in a church parking lot. We made our way across the street and around the stone wall that delineates the patio, squeezed between a car and those yellow posts that signify “don’t come any closer.” Almost to the front door, when I caught my foot on a bit of macadam around one of those yellow posts and went down on my knees—hard!

So many kind people rushed to help me, but I was okay, though my knees stung. Mostly I was chagrined. I was just beginning to get my self-confidence back after the swollen foot episode and here I was on the ground. Thankful that I didn’t rip the favorite pants I was wearing. With the kind help of a small group, I made it up. Assured them I was all right and we all proceeded into the restaurant.

Once seated, I realized that my knee and elbow were bleeding. The waiter brought me a wet (okay barely damp) napkin and my dinner companion gave me Band-Aids. I proceeded to enjoy a lovely crab salad supper. But on the way home I discovered another injury—a broken fingernail. Almost as serious as the skinned knee and elbow.

At home I put the clothes with blood on them in cold water to soak and treated myself to another glass of wine. Best remedy I know.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve fallen, either in public or at home. In fact, my con Colin said once, “It’s not that your balance isn’t good or that you’re clumsy—you just don’t look where you’re going.” Maybe, but who looks down all the time? Once I tripped over a curb at Central Market—the man who had distracted me with talk about my VW ignored it and went right on into the store, but another kind gentleman came up behind me and asked if I was okay.

“Yes, sir. I’ve fallen so much I’m pretty used to it, and I know how to do it.”

But I don’t usually skin my knee. And tonight the elbow smarts a bit. But my pride is pretty much intact.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Why are we remodeling this bathroom?

I live in a 1922 brick house, solid, pier and beam, charming, and a bit worn around the edges. Recently, spurred on by family, I decided it was time to redo the bathroom—there are cracked tiles, the floor is those tiny hexagon tiles but some are chipped and there’s a crack across one portion. The built-in drawers on either side of a mirror speak of the house’s age and I would not for a minute get rid of them—but they are balky and difficult to close.

So today, Lewis and Jim Bundock, who have kept my house in good shape for twenty years or more, came to talk about renovation. We all had the same thing in mind, but they talked at length about bringing the house up to code—if we remodel, the plumbing pipes, old copper, have to all be replaced with PCV or whatever—major expense. Replicating that floor of hexagonal tiles would be labor intensive and therefore expensive—I’m not married to that floor. We would replace the old iron tub, its bottom now badly scarred, with a large shower with a bench, grab bars everywhere and two hand-held shower heads. The wooden drawers would be refurbished and possibly rebuilt. The medicine chest will be retained because it matches the drawers. The top of those drawer sections will have silestone or some similar material.

It won’t be cheap, but working on an older house never is, and I’m not a believer in cutting corners to save money.

But the biggest revelation to me was that Lewis, the Bundock I’m most used to dealing with, kept repeating, “We aren’t doing this for resale value. We’re doing it to make this the safest possible bathroom for you while you live in this house.” He labeled my bathroom now unsafe, principally because I have to step over the edge of the tub to get into the shower—even though they have installed grab bars.

I don’t think I’ve come to grips with the eight weeks it will be under construction, and I will be confined to the half bath off my office. Nor the displacement of my cosmetics, etc. Nor the dust and dirt that will result. But I’m excited about the outcome.

This was also Christian’s birthday, so we had a celebratory dinner of veal scallopini (a recipe I’d never tried but really liked), Christian’s green beans (with bacon grease, shh!, bacon bits, scallions, and vinegar) and salad with a new cilantro/lime ranch dressing I found in the market. Plus a chocolate cheesecake which I intended to politely decline and ended up eating a fair-sized piece. So fun, so good. Happy Birthday, Christian! Forty-three is not old.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Water, Water Everywhere…or not

A quick lesson in how we take for granted the modern conveniences of life: I used the bathroom a few minutes ago and went to wash my hands at the sink. Nothing. No water. Tried the kitchen. No water. Called the neighbors, who answered with, “Is your water off?” They heard it will be five of six hours—something to do with work at the school across the street. So there I was feeling like Lady MacBeth—desperate to wash my hands. I put a quick post on Facebook saying I had no water and guessed I’d have to drink wine. Jordan lost no time in calling to say she wished she was here to drink wine with me. Big help! She did suggest I fill a glass with ice and let it melt. Done!

I had spotted a jug of water way back in the shelves over the dryer, but I was afraid it was so out of date it wouldn’t be potable. Still, I could wash with it. Moved everything around, got to the jug…and it was empty.

Next step—five small individual bottles of water that someone, not me, had left in the fridge. I did everything but plunge a knife directly into the bottle—could not figure out how to open it. My magic gadget that opens everything didn’t work; running a knife blade around the seal didn’t work. The thing had a clear plastic cap on it—so you could drink and re-seal I guess, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Finally, with a knife blade, I popped it off…and wasted precious water. But I washed my hands. Mission accomplished. Surely when you set off on a picnic you’re not supposed to take a knife blade for prying off the top of the water bottle! Bottled water, especially a jug, just went on my grocery list.

Discovered I can do all my nightly “toilette” ritual without water except brushing my teeth—will use just a bit of that precious bottled water for that. When they tell me five hours, I don’t quite trust them.

Meantime, I now deserve that glass of wine.

On a serious note, we read directions, instructions for emergency preparedness kits everywhere, from magazines to the Internet. I don’t know about you, but I usually shrug it off thinking, “I’ve got all those things.” Now I know better. Going over a checklist and checking it twice.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The joy of generations

Jamie, with my oldest grandchild, his daughter Maddie
My younger son, Jamie, came for supper tonight. We joke because Jamie is chronically late, so when he said 5:30 I expected him about six at the earliest. He arrived while I was asleep, maybe about two, and set up a temporary office in the sun room where he worked quietly all afternoon. I only woke up at 4:15 when Jordan came in to give him a hug.
The deal was that Jamie would take me to dinner, a belated birthday dinner, but when I said this was Jacob's Grill night he said fine, he'd take both of us to the Grill. For that 5:30 supper, we arrived at the Grill at 7:15
What made the evening for me was watching the two of them together--a son and a grandson. Jamie has daughters, whom he adores, and I know he's glad they have girls. As he said to me once, "Girls are so neat." But there's something about boys too, and Jamie loves his nephews. He owns a toy manufacturer's sales group, so Uncle Jamie always has goodies for the grandkids. Tonight, knowing Jacob's fascination with baseball, it was baseball cards, some of them collectibles. He brought lots to show and let Jacob keep quite a few. Seeing Jacob's enthusiasm about each card was priceless. So was watching the banter between them. After supper, they ended up chipping golf balls on the front lawn. I threatened death and destruction if the "chipped" my lawn, but they didn't.
One more block in that wall of happiness labeled family. I'm so fortunate to have a family who all care about each other. When mine are all together, it doesn't matter what kid belongs to who--they love and care for them all, from "ouchies" to happy moments. If I did something right, I don't know what it was...but I sure am grateful for them.

Monday, August 03, 2015

A good day

At the risk of whining, not all my days have been good lately, what with hobbling around on a swollen foot, losing all the self-confidence I’d built up about walking, and a bit of depression. Today was a good day—not outstanding, but just good. The kind of day I like.

Woke feeling optimistic—good dreams, easy to transition to the real world. Spent the morning working on the recipe section or “Murder at Peacock Mansion.” Working with recipes is always a joy to me. For recipes from the Blue Plate Café I have to keep in mind what kind of food folks expect in a small-town East Texas café, ease of preparation—things cooked by single order really aren’t practical, and the cost of ingredients. So today I chose a lasagna-like but much simpler casserole, shepherd’s pie, vegetable soup, a hearty cheeseburger soup, a recipe for the café’s signature sticky buns (my mom’s recipe), and an enchilada casserole. Still have a dessert to add, but I’m happy with it.

Lunch with my good friend Fred who was my major professor all those years ago when I got my Ph.D. and has remained a friend for forty years. I really value long-standing friendships, and his is special. We ate at Carshon’s, and I indulged in a half a Reuben--so good. Then home to fiddle at the computer and take a long nap.

Jordan came by after Jacob had a play date with the little boys in the house directly behind mine. She has declared that this is a week without clocks, so she arrived at six, and stayed for a happy hour. We made all sorts of plans, including a Saturday night “see Jacob off to camp” dinner, possible trips to Austin, and the like. We laughed, we gossiped, we planned. I am so fortunate to have her close by—she is both a good friend and a treasured daughter. And during our happy hour my other daughter called, so we had a three-way communication—sort of.

Dinner—at 7:30—was a bit of leftover tuna, the bit of leftover salmon stuffing for my pasties (gosh it was good), hummus and a heart of palm stalk. My idea of a meal, and it balanced the not-g--d-for-you Reuben from lunch. Now I’m sleepy, lazy, and content. Don’t know that I’ll do much more than read tonight—oh, I guess I have to wash the dishes.

Some days are that way—nothing unusual but just satisfying. This was one, and I’m grateful.