Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Glimmer of Light

In the far distance, I think I'm finally catching a glimpse of the end of the tunnel. It seems like I've been on a giant hamster wheel for months.

In preparation for the trip to Salt Lake City, I spent a good part of my free time between Christmas and the flight out getting my genealogy files up to date and data changes put into the computer data base so I would not have to pack along a wad of paper. As soon as I got back I was facing a deadline to get the annual family newsletter put together for next Saturday's reunion.

Now, at 10PM on Sunday night, I'm down to the proofing and revision stage of the newsletter, which means I may actually have it done on time. After the reunion, I'm not facing another deadline for awhile.

This afternoon I indulged in a rare nap after I had the newsletter writing pretty much behind me. Mojo and Xana cuddled up next to me and we all slept about two hours. The house is a wreck, but the nap turned out to be a much better use of my time than house-cleaning would have been. Mojo thought it was an outstanding idea.

That little light at the end of the tunnel is looking mighty good.


Friday, April 27, 2007


This morning I read where Judy Carne is 68 today. Bizarre to think of her as the Laugh-In go-go dancer of the sixties and now she's in her sixties.

But today we really celebrate the 2-year mark for Mr. Mojo. He woke up flirty today, so I think he may know. In people years I have a teenager. Explains a lot.

Coco hit the 2-year mark back on March 24th. Two teenagers. Ouch.

However, they now tend to mind me when I tell them to come in. They are beginning to understand the concept at least. Now if they ignore me, it's not so much "duh" as "in your ear, lady". I think that's an improvement. Maybe.

My two babies are growing up.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Xana and Me

Last evening I had to get a prescription filled for Mother. When I went back to the pharmacy to pick it up, I let Xana ride along with me. That did not make the two little ones at all happy, but the old girl likes a little special treatment now and then.

Poor Xana is beginning to fear that every trip in the car means a trip to the vet and a jab with a needle. When she realized that we were headed to a drive-through, she got all happy. Nothing she likes better than a chance to lean out the window and look inside a drive through window. She was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a hamburger joint, but she enjoyed watching the birds that nest in the rafters of the HEB pharmacy canopy.

After we completed our business, I drove her slowly through our old neighborhood with the windows open and she sniffed and sniffed and sniffed with utter satisfaction.

She was a happy little dog when she got back to the house and got herself thoroughly inspected by the ones who were left behind. She thinks it's right and proper that they should be reminded who is top dog around here.


Monday, April 23, 2007

How Do I Spell Relief?

After all the diet cheats and feeling guilty as hell this morning when I stepped on the scales, I weighed the same as I did when I left. Whew. I can only attribute it to the fact that I just can't eat as much as I used to. It's nice to know that I can treat myself occasionally and not have it hit me in the waistline.

Welcome back to Texas. Humidity and heat after several days of shivering. Nice to get back into my bucolic commute after several days of big city noise and negotiating the DFW airport. This morning I followed big combines down the highway, spied a bull and cow having an amorous encounter and enjoyed the remnants of bluebonnet season.

And I slept well last night for the first time in a week. I usually sleep well on vacation, but I could not turn my mind off this time. Too many things on my to-do list that needed to be handled when I returned. It was quite a relief to curl up against the little dog bodies and get a decent night's sleep. The to-do list is still long, but it's easier to cope when I'm not doing it long-distance. And I have Mojo and Coco and Xana and Boo and Scout ready to assist with the slightest encouragement.

And I have a pile of paper that shows my research time was profitable.

And I didn't gain any weight. Relief.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Being Bad is Good

And what I mean by that is that I have thrown the diet out the window for the duration of my visit in Salt Lake City. On the positive side, we are getting by on two meals and one snack each day. On the negative side, one of the two meals is generally pig out time.

It's such a hassle to get yourself all set up at a work space in the library that you don't want to move once you are settled. By the time you have set up the laptop and gotten the wires all arranged and wound your security cable around two sets of table legs and through the handle of your briefcase, and dragged your files out and spread them around you, and draped your jacket on the back of the chair - well, believe me you think long and hard about whether you want to repack everything in the interest of lunch. You're allowed to leave your work area for an hour, but I have a hard time walking out of the library with my laptop sitting there unwatched. So we grab a quick 15 minute snack in the library's lunch room and resume our work until we can't ignore the hunger pains any longer.

Yesterday we took advantage of the hotel's shuttle service and went to a new place for us, the Market Street Grill. We indulged in seafood and margaritas. When we first visited Salt Lake City, it was hard to find a place to get a mixed drink. Now they can actually serve a pretty darned good margarita. I ignored my conscience and ate a plateful of fried shrimp and french fries. Umm, umm, good.

Today we decided we needed a play break, so we shut down research operations at 2 o'clock and went for a walkabout. Salt Lake City is in the process of reconstructing a big hunk of its downtown area and a lot of the places we used to prowl are no longer there. We did get to explore the Deseret Book Store, the LDS Museum Store and Edinburg Castle and eat at another new restaurant. Then we returned to the library for a few hours. Finally, we stopped for dessert and coffee before collapsing in our room.

Tomorrow I plan a long siege on the microfilm reader. Every time I come here I spend one day plowing through books and feeling frustrated. Then the second day I start with the microfilm and I remember what I enjoy the most - seeing the original records and finding my ancestors' names in ancient, spidery writing. I've already accumulated a few marriage records and wills and I expect to get a lot more tomorrow.

Tomorrow's main meal is planned for Cafe Martine, a little place we spotted on our walk this afternoon. It's French food, so I expect I will continue to be bad. But, then what's a vacation for anyway?

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we diet.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

SLC, FHL and Me

Today we flew to Salt Lake City for the fourth time. Amazing how much shorter the trip has become. I'm getting used to the flying, I guess. Almost fell asleep at one point.

The flight to Dallas was uneventful, except that we had 40 minutes between planes and we were stepping lively to reach the SkyLink that took us clear across the airport to the other terminal. Have you noticed it seems to be a rule that wherever you land in Dallas, your connecting flight will be on the opposite side of the airport? Anyway, we had just enough time to make a restroom stop before boarding.

Since I flew American in November, they've stopped serving free snacks. You can still have complimentary sodas and coffee, but if you want to eat you have to cough up $3. Fortunately we both thought to bring along snack bars, so we managed to keep from caving in from hunger.

About 45 minutes out of Salt Lake City we were informed that it was snowing there. We flew above the clouds most of the way and during that last leg we were in the clouds. And it was a bumpy ride. And I was calm and cool through the whole thing. Actually the scariest part of the whole trip was the 2o minute cab ride to the hotel. I think the guy was trying to break some kind of speed record.

We ate and hit the library for a few hours. We quickly got back into the groove there, but our long day began to catch up with us and I was beginning to nod off in the middle of the stacks. We decided it would be a good idea to get a good night's sleep and start in earnest tomorrow. Besides Lost was about to come on.

Right now I'm sitting here looking out over the city and a snowy mountain and hail is hitting the patio door. Far cry from Texas.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Teachers, Part 3

Meanwhile back in the schoolroom.

When we hit High School, those of us who would probably attend college ended up with fewer choices than those who might or might not choose to further their education. If you were on the college plan you took both Algebra I & II, Geometry and Trig, Physics and Chemistry. I was the only girl in my class who was definitely on the college plan. This had some benefits and some disappointment attached. On the positive side I managed to avoid a year of P.E. because the only way Physics could be worked out for all was to schedule it opposite the girls' P.E. class. On the downside, the science teacher and I nearly came to blows that year because he was an arrogant ass who plainly did not think a girl should make the top grade in his class.

Mr. S was one of only two teachers who ever caused my parents to request an audience with the administration over unfair grading practices. I'm not sure what exactly was said in that meeting but the bottom line was that I was excused from taking Chemistry the next year because neither the administration or my parents or me or Mr. S wanted to go down that road again. (The irony is that two years later I garnered 4 hours of Chemistry credit on my college entrance exams. Go figure.) The man was impossible and continued to be for many years. Sad to say, he did not come to a happy end, which goes to show that you reap what you sow.

The other teacher who earned my parents' wrath taught English for part of one year. Mr. P was undoubtedly the worse excuse for a teacher I ever encountered. (Well, there was that Economics professor in college who might tie him for that position.) Anyway, Mr. P's idea of teaching English was to have us copy articles from magazines, day after day. The boys in the class learned to get him talking about one of his pet topics and while they shot the breeze, the rest of us were laboriously copying article after article. His idea seemed to be that we would learn sentence construction by osmosis. His Waterloo came when he began to dole out grades based on who kissed up the best. It did not take long for the administration to realize that something was wrong when below average students began making As and normally A-students were making below standard grades. He departed before the year was half-over and was replaced with Mrs. Bird, the superintendent's wife and one heck of an English teacher. I, for one, was relieved and delighted to see her. The brown-nosers were not.

Mrs. Bird appreciated the fact that I could write a coherent sentence and studied hard. At the end of the year she awarded the English medal to me, a mere Freshman. I suspect this shocked the older students. I know it floored me.

Mr. Stewart took over English for the rest of our High School years. He was a genial soul who had known most of us for years. He came from a nearby town and had dated one of the popular high school girls when we were in elementary school. Under normal circumstances he would probably have been eaten alive, but due to his pre-existing popularity and the fact that he was a competent teacher, he had a long and successful career. I was very fond of Mr. Stewart, who also attended our church and for a short while lived across the street from us. There was one time, however, when I couldn't keep quiet about a misstep he was making. We were studying the Greek play Antigone, and he persisted in pronouncing it Anti-gone. This went on for several days, until he asked me to either read a passage or answer a question, and I pronounced it An-tig-o-nee. He remarked later to my parents that he realized in that moment that I had known more about the lesson than the teacher.

One of the all-time best teachers I ever had was Mrs. Harral, who taught math. She was also in charge of the school library and several of my study halls and ended up as our class sponsor, so we saw a lot of each other. She tolerated no nonsense, but she had a good sense of humor and she knew just about everything there was to know about math. I remember during the long, excruciating experience that was Algebra II, I began to flounder for awhile. My straight A average dropped to a B in her class. My father, ever the helpful soul, teased me unmercifully until she stepped in and told him there was nothing wrong with a B and to leave me alone. (Considering his track record in college math, he really had no right to criticize.)

We're about half-way through the High School years at this point. Stay tuned for part 4.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Some Things are Meant to Be

Friday was one of those days when I should have left the check book and credit cards at home. I spent a couple of hours on Main Street in Smithville checking out some favorite antique stores. I found something at every store and only managed to talk myself out of a couple of things.

About two years ago I had come across an antique photo album I was tempted to purchase. Part of my ongoing habit of rescuing other people's ancestor photos. It was priced a little out of my range, however, so I passed it by regretfully. Every time I would go in there, I would look at it again and again come to the conclusion that it was too much. And pass it by.

There are two stores side by side on Main Street that are managed by a husband and wife team. The wife's store is one of my favorites. Just cluttered enough to be interesting. The husband's store, while containing some fine antiques, is more reminscent of a jumble sale. Disorganized, haphazardly arranged. But if you have time, worth investigating. It is the husband's store where the antique photo album has sat for the last couple of years.

I found an old Texas history book at the wife's store and while she rang me up, we chattered about different subjects. I've been in there enough that we recognize each other and she knows I'm a local. I mentioned that I was headed next door and the way my luck was running I would probably find something else I had to have. I'm not sure how it came up, but I mentioned the photo album. She thought a moment and then told me I should check out a certain table where a half-price sale was in progress. She was sure she had seen an old photo album in the sale group. Maybe I would get lucky and it would be the one.

I saw it the minute I stepped into the store. It was the old album I've had my eye on and it was indeed marked down to half the original asking price. It's an unusual old album, standing upright, with a double cover, each side of which has a beveled mirror. Its dusty rose velvet is torn and scuffed and the hinges of the covers are almost gone. Inside is a collection of 49 antique photos. Babies, men and women, and several wedding photos. Most are imprinted with photographers in Round Rock, Georgetown, Hutto and Fort Worth. Some genealogist would probably give their eye-teeth for this little treasure, but I've yet to find any scrap of identification.

At half-price I could no longer resist the call. When I took it up to the counter, the man was surprised to see that it was marked down. He said he would have snatched it up himself if he had noticed the booth owner had included it in the sale. He was too late and the album has moved into its new home.

Where I think it was meant to have been all along.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Proof

Still playing with the old slides. Here is the proof that I've never known life without a little dog in my lap.

Sissy was the first of the great dogs in my life. Half chihuahua and half toy manchester. She was a gift from my Grandmother Wilcoxen. She had first obtained a black full chihuahua that she named Sissy. Before she was able to give her to me, she realized that Sissy the first had the snappish chihuahua temperament that would not mix well with a child and decided to keep her for herself. Sissy the first ultimately became known as Black Sissy and my little dog as White Sissy. Both were in my life for several years. Black Sissy was loyal to a fault to my grandmother, but she never did warm up to me. White Sissy, on the other hand, was the perfect child's companion.

White Sissy was a terrific watch dog. She was with the family through the San Gabriel and Oak Hill years and even lived a year or two in Smiley. She had one peculiar trait. She was always vigilant in alerting the family to any stranger, except if that stranger were a Baptist preacher. How she knew the difference we never knew. But all Baptist preachers were welcomed to the house without fanfare.

One day an insurance salesman came to call and Sissy failed to sound the alert. After he and Mother had visited, she commented that he was the first stranger to gain entrance without argument from Sissy and she only did that for Baptist preachers. The man gave an odd look and confessed that he had formerly been a Baptist preacher.

My fondest memory of Sissy was playing in the church yard in Oak Hill. She would run huge circles around me, running so fast she was a white blur. Every so often, she would dip in close to me, just close enough for my fingers to graze her fur, and off she ran again.

I guess Sissy is the reason I never feel complete without a little dog in my life.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Once Upon a Time

Easter of long ago (about 1958) involved a new dress, a new hat, and an Easter Egg hunt in the side yard of the church. This particular day we were living in San Gabriel and I was still an only child.

A few years later, I was a big sister. Easter still meant a new dress, new shoes, a new hat and an Easter Egg hunt. This photo was taken in Smiley. You'd think the parents would have picked a more photogenic spot than in front of the beat up garage door.

But don't we look fine? Dig those spiffy glasses!

(Just for the record, when I got to thinking about Easter photos I realized that they were on slides. These are my first slide scans on the new scanner. Not bad, huh?)


Thursday, April 05, 2007

A 98% Good Day

How to spend a birthday:

1) Take the day off. Preferrably on a day when it's not raining for a change.

2) Cash in a completed frequent drinker card for a free sugar-free vanilla latte on your way to the outlet mall.

3) Hit Hobby Lobby and find several good bargains that are all on clearance or on sale. Use your 40% off coupon on the one item you found to buy that was not already marked down.

4) Mosey on down to the outlet mall and start your day at Border's, where you use your 30% off coupon to acquire a Sherlock Holmes audiobook for next week's commute.

5) On impulse, visit the Calvin Klein outlet and buy a pair of size 10 jeans. The ability to get into size 10 jeans is a new development that should not be ignored.

6) Next go to Coldwater Creek and finally locate a pair of brown slacks that you've been seeking for several weeks.

7) Head on to the other outlet mall and spend a pleasant hour trying on clothes at Chico's and find yourself having to send the clerk back for smaller sizes. Repeatedly. Find another pair of heretofore elusive brown slacks. And several other pieces you didn't realize that you desperately needed. Use a 15% off entire purchase coupon in addition to the normal frequent buyer discount to save $73 on the whole lot.

8) Start drifting home, stop for a quick meal at Luby's, then a brief stop at Half-Price Books where you pick up two great books on crafting dollhouses, 2 books of collected FoxTrot cartoons that have been on your Amazon wishlist for awhile at quadruple the price, and the last of Dan Brown's books that I did not yet have on audio.

9) Get home and collect puppy kisses.

10) Now comes the 2% bad. A check of today's mail and Mother's idiot insurance company finally responds to my fax to disenroll and claims that I can't do that under the rules established by Medicare. Wanna bet? The feud resumes Monday morning. I refuse to spoil my birthday weekend getting mad at those morons.

11) Check your email and discover birthday greetings from 1 aunt, 1 old friend, 3 cousins, 1 co-worker and a sister-in-law. Soon thereafter get a phone call and a half-hour's pleasant conversation with another aunt I don't get to talk to very often.

12) Collect some kitten snuggles.

13) Head to bed and contemplate that tomorrow is a holiday. Plan an assault on the local antique shops and an enchilada plate at La Cabana.

Just as you decide your life sucks canal water, it will surprise you with a really good day.


Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned

Happy Birthday to me. In honor of the day, I am taking my annual "personal day" and tootling off for a day of shopping.

Since I would not be at the office on my birthday, my old friend and boss treated me to lunch yesterday at Main Street Grille in Round Rock. Another old friend and co-worker joined us and we had a good visit and an excellent meal. In my case, Shrimp Diablo (large shrimp stuffed with jalepeno pepper, wrapped in bacon, laced with some kind of honey sweetened sauce and served with a chipotle dipping sauce--Lord, it was good). My first sin was to eat the risotto that I had intended to take one bite of and then stop. I really intended to be good after that. But my friend was having none of it. He insisted we order dessert and he would eat half of mine so I would not break my diet too much. I opted for the least offensive of the offerings, a New York cheesecake with fresh strawberries.

You guessed it. I ate the whole thing. This has been only the second time I have eaten a real dessert since the onset of the diet. I guess if you have to cheat, your birthday is the best excuse you can have.

So this morning I really expected to see the scales pay me back with an increased pound or two. It always does when I splurge on a Mexican plate, and then I'm good for the rest of the week and return back to my target weight.

Back when I was on the strictest portion of the diet, I was using an analog scale. The amount of weight I lost was right at 30 pounds, which on the analog scale showed me just under that magic 140 pound mark that was my original target. One day I decided to replace those old scales with a new digital scale and was chagrined to discover that my weight was actually a couple of pounds over 140. Even though the weight loss was the same, I felt like I had not hit my goal, so I had to knuckle down and get back to dieting until the digital scale hit that magic number.

Since then, I've bounced between 140 and 142, but maintaining without too much effort. I knew that I would be at the high mark when I stepped on the scales this morning. But...

Even with all my sins, the reading was 139.5.

Happy Birthday to me!


P.S. I have also been blessed with sweet puppy and kitten kisses this morning. So far, so good.