Monday, February 27, 2006

Sobbing Woman Spotted at CarWash

I'm sure that's what some folks told their better halves these evening when they got home. Little did they know how deceiving appearances can be. Let us retrace the day.

To begin with, yesterday was a marathon work session. I hit the office network at about 9:30 a.m. and finally signed off about 8PM. It's getting where I can't get anything done at work anymore, so to catch up I have to work at home where the phones and questions can't find me. I have serious bitching building up on the subject of garbage disguised as data that has been hitting my desk lately. But that's not today's topic.

I had made a sizable dent in the pile of work, so I decided that I would be able to take the morning and attend a funeral and get some personal errands run before re-attaching myself to the pc umbilical cord in the afternoon.

The funeral was for a man I worked with many years ago. It was a show of respect that I felt I should make. I wasn't particularly close to him, but he was always nice to me in my early days at the law firm and I have pleasant memories of him. The service was very nice. I debated whether to go to the graveside services but finally decided against it since the only other persons I knew at the funeral were the funeral director and a co-worker who had to get back to the office.

So I made a fast trip home, changed to jeans, and headed out to get my car detailed and inspected. Once I put my vehicle into the hands of the detailers, I found the waiting room too crowded for my taste and went outside where I latched onto a big cedar rocker on their front porch.

Best hour I've spent anywhere in quite some time. The detailing took an hour, during which I sat and rocked and enjoyed the gorgeous day. I had my knitting with me and my DJ Ditty and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I had downloaded the soundtrack to "Swing" and was knitting right along and rocking to the rhythm of swing music.

And then it happened. I forgot that I had downloaded some Bill Cosby, Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy tracks. First up was Bill Cosby, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I was well able to restrain myself and merely smile mysteriously.

But that Bill Engvall. Lord, have mercy. He started off with a story about taking his wife deer hunting and proceeded to observations on the stupidity that surrounds us. The next thing I knew, my eyes were running, my shoulders were shaking, I was sniffling and making weird mewling sounds. It didn't occur to me for awhile that to the folks who weren't privy to the insane humor that was reeling off the Ditty, I probably looked like I was convulsed with sorrow. The detail guys working just up the way must have thought I was really moved by the good work they were doing.

Nothing like a good laugh and a pretty day to perk you right up. I decided to postpone work for another hour and go for a drive in the country. I visited a couple of cemeteries and took the back way from Red Rock to Cedar Creek before heading back to the Ford shop for my inspection.

It was a day of many moods. From the sobriety of a funeral to the hysteria of standup comedy to the peace of the country. Sometimes you just have to break out of the routine.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hamilton.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Surviving an Encounter with the Monster

Poor Mojo. Just when he thinks he has everything under control, Mom scares the weedle out of him.

The babies have learned to anticipate the weekends when Mom will be around. They start off by being absolutely rotten on Friday nights, running and snapping and rolling each other over in celebration. Saturday mornings we pile up in the big red chair with the paper and coffee and they snuggle in deep for an early morning nap. From there, every step I make for the rest of the day is accompanied by clicking toenails and rattling tags.

But today the Monster came in from the garage and Mom was in its clutches for more than an hour and poor Mojo was frantic. The Monster is the carpet shampooer. If they only knew that the reason the Monster comes in the house is because they haven't yet got the hang of doing their business outside, I think we would have that little problem solved in a New York minute.

He tried for awhile to send it away by barking his fiercest bark, but for some reason it just wouldn't turn his mom loose. Things really got bad when Mom shut him away in the bedroom with Gran and went back to fight the Monster without his help. He just knew that his mom was in terrible peril.

Oh the rapturous joy that ensued when the Monster was wrestled back into the garage and his mom let him out of the bedroom. He practically turned inside out with joy. He's been attached to my ankle ever since.

It's rough being a tiny little boy with the heart of a doberman.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Family Heirloom

I fear that I am embarking on a new collection. A few weeks ago I went to a presentation of the Bastrop County Historical Society on the subject of McDade pottery. My reason for attending was that the original McDade pottery was founded by a great-great-great granduncle, Matthew Dunkin. Many of the Dunkin/Mobley kinfolk were involved in the various potteries that operated around McDade in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

We already had a few pieces of McDade pottery, purchased new by relatives and passed down the line to their descendants. What I learned at the presentation made me view those heirlooms with a little more appreciation. I may just have to do a little more research and write an article on the history of the potteries for the family newsletter.

One of the pieces displayed that night was a two handled jug that the speaker described as a rare piece. She had paid several hundred dollars for it. I was surprised last week while idly surfing around EBAY to see its twin on the auction block. I never expected to win the auction, but the stars were with me and it's now mine. I picked it up this afternoon from the lady's house in Austin.

It gives me a lot of satisfaction to bring family items back into family hands. It seems right at home, sitting under the little table that Burl Mason used to dole out pay to the ranch hands. Nice little addition to the family treasures.

I just hope this doesn't start something expensive.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Feeling Small

I have a new background on my laptop today. I received a circulating email the other day with an embedded photo taken by the Hubbell Telescope. It was a striking photo of a nebula and the email referred to it as "The Eye of God". You can see why:

This and so many photos to be found on the site can remind you just what an insignificant speck of dust you are in the universe.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Winter, Family and Furry Friends

Texas weather. One day panting from the heat, the next shivering from the cold. Not sure what this little cold snap brought with it from the north, but my head has ached all weekend from some kind of allergic reaction. Neither Tylenol Sinus nor Maximum Strength Bayer is giving me any relief and I've spent one of my rare Sunday afternoons in bed with the dogs, napping.

It was a good weekend, nonetheless. Saturday evening was a belated 74th birthday dinner for my father. I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with a cousin, fill myself full of catfish and cherry cobbler, and later in the evening visit with my aunt who came down to watch Mother while I was out. Mother had a fairly decent weekend. She's been pretty well sick of both me and her health worker lately, so thoroughly enjoyed the change of audience and the opportunity of talking with someone who shares the long ago memories where she spends much of her time these days.

It's a good thing I have overnight company every so often. It forces me to clean bathrooms and straighten bed rooms. Caregiving tends to wear you out and housekeeping sometimes gets put on the far back burner for weeks at a time. I'm the queen of the lick and promise school of housework these days, but for the moment I don't have to close my eyes when I go upstairs.

The dogs learned that they can be babysat by someone other than Uncle David. They were dog-tired last night when we got in, worried that Mom and Uncle David had disappeared for good. They've stuck to me like glue all afternoon, glad for the opportunity to catch up on their rest.

So the cold weekend draws to a close. My head still hurts, but I'm surrounded by the good feeling of recent family visits and the little warm bodies of three dogs who are gently snoring beside me. It's a cozy feeling on a Texas winter night.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

So Much for Setting Examples

I had hopes. They've been dashed. I wanted my puppies to learn from their big sister Xana. She's got ten years of experience with this family and knows what's what. She can read my moods before I even know I'm getting one. She has a big vocabulary. She sits up in my, excuse me our, bedroom and eavesdrops by means of the monitor I have installed in Mother's bedroom downstairs. If I use the word "supper" or "walk" or "outside" or any one of the other words that she is particularly fond of while talking to Mother, I hear a distant thump as she jumps out of bed and then the clamor of dog feet coming down the stairs.

I also watched her interact with Bebop for years. They would put their heads together and then give me a speculative look. I knew I was in for it, because plans had been made and Bebop knew how to get what he wanted anytime he wanted it.

I figured Xana would take the lead dog position and pass on the good stuff she had learned to the babies.

So far it hasn't worked out quite as I had anticipated. Instead of the babies learning to do their bizness outside, following big sis's example, Xana has instead decided that if they can get away with pooping and puddling in the house, why shouldn't she?

King Mojo has continued to howl whenever he is displeased with something. Coco, who for the longest time never opened her mouth, is now howling with him. And lately, Xana has added her voice to the cacophony. Xana has never howled in the ten years she's been with us, but she sure is howling now.

So just who is setting the example for whom? That Mojo is something else and I'm living in fear for where we're headed. He's just coming up on 10 months old and is already running things. Can you imagine what I'm going to be living with in another year or two? Holy Mother of dog.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Stitches In Time

At least two years ago I bought a T-shirt at a genealogy conference. It had a map of the United States on the front and I had a vague idea that I would embroider French knots at the various spots where my family had migrated over the generations. (Let me pause a moment to brag on myself. I can do French knots until the cows come home. Lots of folks can't.)

For some reason I never got around to getting the job done. And then a few months ago I had a brainstorm. French knots just weren't flashy enough to get the message across. Probably why I had never gotten around to tackling the project. On one of my countless trips to craft stores, I hit on the solution. Baby buttons. I bought a supply in every color possible, with matching thread. And again the project sat on the back burner.

Until a week ago. I usually crash and burn about 8PM, but last Friday night I had one of those nights where I was wide awake into the wee hours, there was some string of shows on TV that kept my attention and I didn't feel like working on the laptop. And there sat the bag with the T-shirt, buttons and thread. I got busy.

By the time I started getting drifty, resulting in my stabbing myself repeatedly with the needle, I had mapped out six family migrations with buttons. This afternoon I added the last few lines and the result is pictured above.

For those who might actually be interested in this project, here is the key:

Blue - Wilcoxen
Prince Georges Co., Maryland to
Brooke Co., West Virginia to
Gallia Co., Ohio to
Vermillion Co., Indiana to
Bastrop Co., Texas

Yellow - Lentz
Heidelberg, Germany to
Union Co., South Carolina to
Rowan Co., North Carolina to
Limestone Co., Alabama to
Bastrop Co., Texas

White - Dunavan
Mason Co., West Virginia to
Vermilion Co., Illinois

Pink - Hodge
Edgecombe Co., North Carolina to
Livingston and Crittenden Co., Kentucky to
Bastrop Co., Texas

Orange - Huddleston
Halifax Co., Virginia to
North Carolina to
Tennessee to
Lauderdale Co., Alabama to
Johnson and Franklin Co., Arkansas to
Caldwell Co., Texas

Brown - Mobley
Anne Arundel and Queen Anne Co., Maryland to
Virginia to
South Carolina to
Coweta Co., Georgia to
Bastrop Co., Texas

Red - McAfee
Indiana to
Logan Co., Illinois to
Linn Co., Iowa to
Livingston Co., Missouri to
Prairie Co., Arkansas to
Travis and Bastrop Co., Texas

Cream - Mason
Botefort Co., Virginia to
Kentucky to
Pike Co., Indiana to
Bastrop Co., Texas

Turquoise - Frankum
North Carolina to
Kentucky to
Perry Co., Tennessee to
Douglas Co., Missouri to
Bastrop Co., Texas

I have a few more lines that may get added, if I can find more colors in baby buttons. It's been a fun project. And it points out again how many people had to move to get to the point where I could come along. My roots extend a long, long way.


Friday, February 10, 2006

That Was the Week That Was

For you youngsters, the title originates from a very old TV program. Sort of the precursor to Saturday Night Live, with comics and pundits giving a humorous take to the week's events.

This week has been an odd mixture of events. I feel like I've been in the middle of an angry hive of bees and swatting like crazy and there's always more bees. I haven't been stung yet, but my arms are sure getting tired of swatting.

But the week ends with a piece of good news. Cousin Robert reports that he and Stacy are infanticipating. Always glad to hear there are more branches popping out on the old family tree. I'm happy for them and I'm happy I live a little too far away to be called on for baby sitting. (Just kidding, kids. Well, not really. The old hen is just not up to that sort of thing anymore. Glad the grandparents are nice and handy.)

Earlier in the week, I got notice that a cousin and a cousin-in-law had passed away some time ago. One of the benefits of having a family history website is that folks looking for people who connect into the family find me when they start googling. An acquaintance of cousin Willard Kunkel got in touch, wanting to know if I had an obituary for him. It was the first I knew that he had died. A lot of internet surfing on my own confirmed that he passed away in September last year.

And then, because I got to wondering who else might have passed on that I had missed hearing about, I began doing some searches for cousins who are seldom in touch. Turns out that another cousin's husband, Vernon Kitcher, had passed away in 2004.

So that's two gone and one on the way. Or if it turns out that twins are on the way, we will have an even displacement in the family tree. (And I'm really too far away for baby-sitting.) Life continues on. One chapter ends and another begins.

I'm still wondering about the lady I saw yesterday. She was in the little white car next to me, waiting at the stop light. Every available space in the little car was filled with stuff. Piles of files. White grocery bags of what did not appear to be groceries. Literally, there was stuffed piled in every available space except the seat where she sat. It didn't look like someone in transition to a new dwelling. It didn't look like she was a salesman with inventory. It didn't look like she was living out of her car. I watched her drive on, wondering what on earth her house looked like, if her car was any indication.

This morning the welcome sound of thunder came unexpectedly, followed by a nice little rainfall. We've been awfully dry here, so who cares if the traffic was awful this morning as a result. It was nice to have an excuse to exercise the windshield wipers. Then, as I topped the hill just before descending into Garfield, I saw the smoke. It did not take long to realize that it wasn't one of the grass fires that have been plaguing the area during the drought conditions. It was a structure fire. A house that I've passed for 30 years in commuting to work was fully engulfed in flames by the time I got close to the thick knot of firetrucks. It's always a shock to see a dwelling on fire. The last time I saw such a thing, it was a hotel unit on fire in Del Valle. To see a home well on the way to destruction is a sickening thing. My first thought is for the people and then for the family history that likely became ashes this morning. One day it's there and the next day it's gone.

I'm definitely going to get back to work on getting all the photos scanned and copies made to distribute to family members as insurance against such a loss. I may seem paranoid to some, but fear of fire is one reason I always take my laptop with me when I leave the house unattended. I might lose my notebooks and my original photos, but I will have a digital version of my records still available.

On Wednesday, caretaking was the theme of the day. Doctor visits first, then dropping off the prescriptions obtained therefrom, then on to do some critical banking that has been long neglected, then back to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription that had been written incorrectly (causing telephone calls and an extra trip back to the doctor office on Thursday) and paying bills and I'm sure I've forgotten something in there. I remarked to David that Mother needed a full time secretary. He remarked to me that she had one. Very funny.

On Tuesday, it was cat caretaking. I had been concerned for a little over a week about Sister's sneezes and watery eyes. She's getting on up there and her littermate succumbed to cancer a couple of years back, so I decided I had better drop her at the vet's on the way to work and let them check her out. I had a coupon for a free exam (sort of a frequent customer thing), so why not? Turns out that we had not done any blood work in awhile, so would I like them to give her a really good going over? Sure. I extracted her from their clutches that evening after shelling out $135 for labwork. The verdict? She may be suffering from allergies. Otherwise fine. She's back to sleeping all day on the guest bed and I'm the one emitting frustrated hisses.

Amongst all of these opportunities as a former boss used to describe them, I dealt with a mother who wants to eat nothing but hamburgers and French fries, dogs who cross their legs and wait until the door opens and they can get back inside to the carpet to relieve themselves, and being bombarded by conflicting directions from the powers that be at the office.

I will be glad to write finis to this week and give it another go next week. In spite of all the turmoil of the week, I still managed to get a result of 86 after taking the test that you can find here: . I guess that's something.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Family Update

Just wanted to share a little picture that I took today of Gran and the grandkids.


FD Followup

How appropriate that someone would send me a circulating email about senior citizens this morning. It goes on and on and on. I will spare you all but the following section, which hit a sympathetic nerve:

I'm the life of the party......even if it lasts until 8 p.m.
I'm very good at opening childproof caps...with a hammer.
I'm usually interested in going home before I get to where I am going.
I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.
I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a thing you're saying.
I'm very good at telling stories; over and over and over and over...
I'm aware that other people's grandchildren (or in my case puppies) are not nearly as cute as mine.
I'm so cared for --- long term care, eye care, private care, dental care.

Yep. I don't really think I've hit senior status yet, but I'm sure getting there fast.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

FD Disorder

FD = Fuddy Duddy. I've developed a bad case. How is it that you turn 50 and instantly become what we used to refer to as THE ESTABLISHMENT.

Ok, I've never really liked kids all that much. It's just that I used to be able to ignore them. Now I want to go out and grab their skateboard riding little bodies and strangle them. All day long on the weekends is the constant sound of metal wheels grating against blacktop. And of all the long stretches of our street that are bounded on both sides by vacant lots, where do you think the little urchins decide to squat and trade lies? Smack dab in front of my house. And we all know that kids are getting deaf early, thanks to mp3 players, so their lie-swapping is conducted in LOUD voices that bricks and morter do not block.

I think I'll have a little amaretto splashed across ice. I'm okay. Really.

Now the folks across the street are actually pretty nice folks. I like them. I visit with them when we both happen to be outside. But they have one serious flaw. They love motorized toys. Riding lawnmowers. Ok, I have one of those myself. No problem. But the leaf blower, ATV, mopeds, electric bikes, and I don't know what-all else whine constantly during the daylight hours. And I can't blame their kids entirely. The two grownups are hopping on the ATV and running up and down the street, too. AND, to make it worse, there appears to be a huge magnet in their garage that pulls other motor-loving kids and grownups from all over the neighborhood to their house where they all idle their motors and talk at the top of their lungs until they all rev up their motors and proceed to careen all over the neighborhood. God help us all.

Maybe a little Jack Daniel's in my Coke. Ah. Where was I?

I've always had an eclectic taste in music. Real eclectic. But I'm sensing a sudden strong attraction to music that is in the easy listening section of the store. My DJ Ditty is loaded up with Barry Manilow, Anne Murray, and Bette Midler. And not their own stuff, but their tribute albums to Broadway, Rosemary Clooney, Big Bands and the Fifties. I must not be alone, because a week or so ago the Doonesbury strip covered the new release of Jimmy Thudpucker's album of traditional songs. Mark the DJ was appalled that the hip singer had lowered himself to sing standards.

Excuse me while I put on a Tijuana Brass cd and get a little Bailey's for my coffee.

I guess I've hit the top of the hill and am proceeding slowly over the top and down the other side. I want peace and quiet when I'm home. I want to go to bed at 8PM. I want people who come and take care of Mother to put things back where they got them and not in some new place that takes me a half-hour to locate. I want all the kids to get off the road until they learn how to drive a car.

I want a Craftmatic bed with memory foam and an unending supply of Ambien or somesuch sleep aid.

God, I'm getting old.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Go, Sister Mary

I watch Good Morning America while I get dressed in the morning. For the last couple of weeks they have been promoting their Super Bowl giveaway to be awarded to the "Greatest Football Fan". Naturally there were the daily video clips of pudgy, middle-aged men making total asses of themselves in their bids to be named the greatest football fan.

I wasn't at all interested in the story and didn't pay much attention to any of the hoopla leading up to yesterday's announcement of the winner. But they surprised me with a story worth hearing. The greatest football fan turned out to be a nun. Yep, Sister Mary, the chaplain at St. Vincent's Hospital in Indiana. Who could have predicted that one?

She was nominated by co-workers and friends at the hospital and was completely floored when the news crew sprang out at her in a hospital corridor. She was whisked away in a limo, given two prime tickets to Sunday's game, and had dinner with one of her favorite players last night. She was a happy lady and you could tell that everyone there was happy for her.

It was a pleasant change to see a prize like this awarded to a truly deserving person. You can watch some of the video here. Once in awhile things turn out the right way.


Friday, February 03, 2006

My Peculiar Brain

It has spit out another random thought. Wonder if anyone besides Auntie Linda will remember this one?

From an old Lucy Show episode. Say it fast, for best effect.

"Just jiggle it a little; it'll open."


Thursday, February 02, 2006

It Was a Bumpy Ride

This afternoon's M*A*S*H-fest on the Hallmark channel included the episode where Colonel Potter comes down with the mumps. I found myself thinking back to my own experience with the mump bumps.

It was 1962. I believe springtime. Second grade. The last time I can remember that I had boys vying for my attention. (One, who shall be referred to as BA, sent me an entire box of valentines. Sometime that year I gullibly fell for his ruse of wanting to tell me a secret, only to be surprised with a kiss behind the door he led me to. Ah, the good old days.)

One afternoon I felt bad and BA, bless his little black heart, suggested that I might have the mumps and that I could tell for certain if I would open my mouth as wide as possible and see how it felt. It felt terrible, and it was difficult to close my jaws once they were open. Even though his methodology was questionable, his diagnosis was correct. I had come down with the mumps.

This presented a quandry for our family. My mother had never had the mumps and my baby brother had health troubles for quite awhile after he was born and certainly didn't need mumps on top of his other problems. It was decided to quarantine me from them, keeping me in my room for the duration, tended to by my father who had already had the mumps as a child.

So I was restricted to my room. My parents rented me a television, which convinced me at an early age to always have a set in the bedroom. I had a radio, a big stack of books checked out of the library, as much potato soup as I wanted, and conversations with my mother at long distance through the wall. Being the little loner that I was, I really didn't mind the isolation all that much.

I remember those two weeks clearly. I would spend the morning listening to the radio and reading. I was happy to have my own television to watch, but keep in mind that was back when there was only one channel. KTBC, Channel 7. Uncle Jay in the afternoons. Potato soup by the gallon, first through a straw until I was again able to open my jaws.

Oddly, when I think of those two weeks, I remember the music. I clearly recall learning all the words to "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" (Kingston Trio) and "Greenfields" (Brothers Four), both of which must have been in the top 40 at the time because they were played every day at the same time. I can remember lying in my bed, looking out the window, and concentrating on those lyrics.

I don't remember pain or misery, so either I had a light case or I was having so much fun being the princess in the tower that it outweighed the negatives. And the funny thing is that it was all for naught. A few weeks later, both Mother and David came down with the mumps. Grandma came down from Gladewater to take care of us and I spent another two weeks being little miss pampered, seeing as how I was her only granddaughter at the time. I was concerned about the sick ward, but I was perfectly happy to be spoiled by a doting grandmother after two weeks of being cooped up sick.

Eventually things returned to normal and I became the authority on mumps, advising the other kids who were feeling poorly to open their mouths as wide as possible to be sure that was their problem. Grandma went back to Gladewater, which made Mother immediately feel better. And our practice of sharing a common water bottle in the refrigerator came to a halt. On reflection, we realized that our germs had been passing freely among us during what was probably my most contagious period. I think that's when I became so adamant that I would no longer drink or eat after anyone else.

I wonder if anybody else remembers the mumps as being a fun period of their life?