Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Fun Than the Law Allows

There is a line in an old Kristofferson song that goes something like "I've enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand". That's the sentiment that comes to mind after the last couple of weeks.

So, tonight we betook of that lovely entertainment facility called the ER at Smithville Hospital. Mother developed two sores on her foot in a matter of 24 hours that concerned me. While she is not a diabetic like her mother was, I can't help recalling what kind of serious issues my grandmother had with open sores on her feet that would not heal. I put in a call to the nurse at the doctor's office and received the advice to get her to the ER and have them evaluated.

Since we are connoisseurs of the SRH ER, I went prepared for a long evening. I had a book, a crossword puzzle collection, several catalogs and a magazine or two in my bag. Even so, I wasn't sure I had enough. I made sure I had some dollars bills for the vending machines. I packed a bag and took it along in the event that Mother was admitted. I carried along her medicine bottles and a pile of insurance papers. I am a professional ER habitue and I don't mess around.

This time was one of the rare times that we happened in when there were no car wrecks, heart attacks, or screaming children ahead of us. We waltzed right in to the evaluation room, were in an ER bay within 20 minutes and were discharged in less than 2-1/2 hours. The sores were not of critical concern and were cleaned and dressed. A tetanus shot was administered to be on the safe side. Antibiotics were prescribed. We were on our way back home in record time.

It could have been worse. Not that any time spent there is fun. What next?


Monday, July 30, 2007

I Have Been Remiss

The weekend was not such a good one, so it was not until today when I looked at my calendar that I realized I forgot to acknowledge the 1 year birthday of the heathen cats on Saturday. When I announced my intention this afternoon of getting a photo of them for the occasion, I was met with resistance.

Scout said I bored her.

Boo said "catch me if you can".

It took me about 8 shots to get one that was halfway passable of Scout.

Boo finally agreed to let me document his regalness.

Their favorite hangout is the garage, as you can see. Scout is the indispensible helper cat, making every trip up and down the stairs with me as I do the laundry or housecleaning. Boo is my lap baby and would love to spend his days sitting in my lap and licking my arm. I can only take about 5 minutes of that rough tongue before he gets summarily ejected, but in a few minutes he will be back, purring his little heart out.

No home should be without a cat or two. Life would be dull without them.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bleah, part 2

More &$#!(@ rain.

This morning I was required to make a dash to Austin to get a prescription filled that nobody in Bastrop could seem to handle this month. This particular prescription is a pain in the butt because nobody keeps on hand the strength that Mother takes and I have to jump through hoops to get it filled before she exhausts her previous month's supply. HEB blew it this month and failed to get the order placed correctly, so off I had to go to Austin on a dark and dreary day to the one pharmacy I can count on to always have the needed pills on hand. It used to be a convenient alternative when I worked in Austin. Now that I'm in Round Rock, these months when HEB fumbles the ball are a major source of stress in my life.

On the way back to Bastrop the rain started and it hasn't stopped all day.

As if my day hadn't started off in the basement, this is the day I had made an appointment for Mother to get a haircut. She's been nagging me non-stop for two weeks to take her and I wasn't about to reschedule because I so wanted her to clam up on the subject. Besides which both of us had new glasses to pick up and Texan Eye Care is next door to our hairdresser. So at 3:30 we loaded her up and took off. Our first stop went relatively well, even though Mother kept trying to fall asleep in her chair while they were fitting her new glasses. Then, just as we arrived in the beauty shop, the clouds opened up and it rained for the next hour in a manner that would make a hurricane proud.

There seemed to be no end of the rain in sight, so we elected to get drenched and go on home. If you've never loaded a handicapped person into a vehicle in the pouring rain and then had to load their wheelchair before you can get out of the rain yourself - well, you just haven't lived. Then you get to do it in reverse when you get home. More fun than a barrelful of monkeys. And the whole time I was also worrying about my little dog at home who is terrified of thunder. We got home, completely soaked to the skin, and then came the ordeal of getting Mother back into bed, the puppy dog soothed and myself into dry clothes. Who needs an exercise program? I am completely exhausted.

Ok, I've always said I will not complain about rain because I know what July and August will be like. But enough, already. This is the first year ever I have not had to watch my yard burn to a crisp and that's good. But I'm beginning to develop mildew behind my ears and that's bad. And the weather forecast is continued rain.

I think it's time for a great big drink and to bed.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007


One lunch hour shot to blazes.

Decided I would make a dash to Wendy's and get a salad and coke to go with my homemade lasagna (made with low-carb noodles). Easy task anywhere but Round Rock.

This town's traffic flow was designed by someone who was either dropping acid or had a massive head injury. If you think Houston or Dallas or Austin is bad, traffic-wise, you ain't seen nothing until you try to negotiate the access roads in Round Rock. There's too many people trying to navigate through very small traffic pipes. Think trying to push thick gravy through a tiny straw.

All the lights on all the access roads are red for impossibly long times and green for as long as it takes to blink your eyes. At Hester's Crossing, the situation has been made that much worse due to it being the last free exit you can take to Loop 1 before the toll road.

That being said, I've learned a few coping mechanisms to get to where I'm going and back without too much stress. Unfortunately I had never tried to get to Wendy's before and even though I followed the signs, I ended up missing the correct driveway and instead ended up going into an exit only driveway that belonged to the neighboring hotel, snaking my way around through the hotel parking lot and attempting to exit at a point where there was a dead end that was causing all the traffic to have to drive around a loop and head back out, and then there was one of those impossibly long traffic lights and when I finally got where I could turn left into Wendy's parking lot, the traffic was so backed up I gave it up as a lost cause and headed back toward the office.

All of this took me 20 minutes longer than it should have. I decided I would stop in at McDonald's for a quick drink and fruit snack substitute, and that took another 10 minutes. (There is no quick in this town.)

FINALLY I got back to the office, heated up my lasagna and settled down to eat. And gagged when I took the first swallow from my Diet Coke. It was sweet tea. I HATE sweet tea. I drink tea the way God intended us to - plain, with the possible exception of lemon or lime. I ended up dumping the lot into the sink and refilling my glass with a bottled Diet Coke.

Whole lunch hour shot to hell. I blame the clown that designed Round Rock's non-existent traffic flow.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tired But in the Know

764 pages between 10:00 a.m. yesterday and 11:00 p.m. last night.

For once, the steady rain all day yesterday provided the perfect setting for the day's activity. Mojo slept in the chair beside me, fussing a little when he would bump into that heavy book. In fact, most everyone in the house besides me was sleeping the duration of the day. I read. And read.

No spoilers from me, but I will say that the book kept me engrossed and I'm 90% happy with the way the series ended.


Saturday, July 21, 2007


Amazon rocks. Despite my turning down their offer to get my book here on release day, it showed up in my mailbox today anyway. Is it any wonder these folks are getting most of my book business these days?

As a postscript to yesterday, a great Harry Potter website can be found here. And if you want to drive yourself nuts, try J. K. Rowling's official site.


Friday, July 20, 2007


Regrets, I have a few. Actually I have a bunch, but we won't go there today.

If I lived in Austin and if I weren't tied to the house with steel bands, I would take myself down to BookPeople tonight for the midnight Harry Potter party. I always loved a good masquerade party and I adore bookstores and since this will be the last of the release parties it would be fun to indulge. However, I don't live in Austin and I am tied to the house, so I guess we will have our own little party at home. Let's see, now, which character shall I be?

For myself, I think I will take the part of Professor McGonagall. Second in command at Hogwarts. Efficient, no-nonsense teacher but with a sense of humor and a secret fondness for Harry. Hogwarts would not function well without her.

Mother I think I will cast in the part of Arabella Figg, Harry's squib neighbor when he is living with the Dursleys. In the background, keeping an eye on things.

Coco will play Ginny Weasley, the little redhead who is a whiz-bang at Quidditch, requiring speed and coordination.

Mojo I see in the role of Dobby the house-elf who adores Harry and would do anything for him. Unless it's right after he wakes up in the morning when he acts more like Kreacher, who goes around muttering and complaining and threatening to do dire things.

Scout will play Luna Lovegood, a likeable and loyal witch who is floating through life a little off plumb.

Boo reminds me a little of Nagini the snake. Loyal to his master, slithering around the house, and deadly with that ever-present, tasting tongue.

Gainsborough and Bob can be pixies.

Wish I had the book to read tomorrow, but I refused to cough up the extra shipping costs for guaranteed delivery from Amazon. So we will just have our little party in anticipation. I'm just hoping to avoid all spoilers until I can experience the book for myself.

Accio, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How Do You Cure Stupid?

Some folks seem to have a death wish. I saw two guys yesterday who are living on borrowed time.

When little brother got his motorcycle, I wasn't particularly happy about it. Seems to me that if you ride a motorcycle, it's not if you will have an accident but when. However, he is a careful driver, wears his protective gear, and doesn't do stupid things when he's riding it. I still worry, especially about the other drivers on the road, but I feel like he's doing everything possible to avoid catastrophe.

Not the two guys I saw yesterday on Highway 79, heading out of Round Rock toward Hutto on a couple of smallish, whiny bikes. They did have on helmets - but that was it for protection. They were otherwise in T-shirts and shorts. I pulled up behind them at a red light and had a bird's-eye view of their take off. They had not gone but a few feet when the idiot on the right stood up in the stirrups, gunned his motor and popped a wheelie for several yards down the highway. When he finally landed, he was driving highway speeds, looking back over his shoulder and grinning at the idiot on his left. They both continued to weave back and forth, shouting to each other and paying little attention to where they were headed. No. 1 nitwit felt compelled to pop yet another wheelie.

My first thought was to hope that they didn't kill themselves until after I had passed them, because I really didn't have time to stick around and give a witness report to the cops. Thankfully they turned off after a couple of miles and I breathed a sigh of relief as I went on my way.

Mark my words, one or both of them will land in the hospital or a coffin if they don't grow some smarts in one hell of a hurry. If they end up dead, it's their own dumb fault. I only feel sorry for the poor folks who are around to see it when it happens.


Sunday, July 15, 2007


Always nice to have a best friend you can use as a pillow.


I'm Just a Big Kid

I keep running into things that I wish I had had when I was a kid. I so loved make-believe back then and I could imagine myself being other people and having adventures with the folks I read about. Hence my fascination with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden who gave me hours of rich fantasy life as I solved mysteries with them.

When I was a kid, we moved from parsonage to parsonage every 2-3 years until we landed in Smiley, where we lived in the same house for an unheard of 9 years. There was one more parsonage after that and then we finally settled in a house that actually belonged to us. Mother lived in that house for a little over 20 years, but I was never really attached to it. I think my early years conditioned me not to get attached to places. Things, yes, since they made the journeys with us, but not places.

That, I think, is one reason for my love of dollhouses. They are little pieces of fantasy houses, stores, rooms, etc., that I would love to have been able to possess in full-sized life, but have not had the opportunity to acquire. I can satisfy my longing for a log cabin, a knitting store, a Victorian bedroom or a country kitchen by fashioning it in miniature. I have control over my mini environments and if I move next week, my fantasies move with me.

I have no idea where I'm going with this. Oh, yeah, I'm a big kid at heart.

When we were in Salt Lake City in April I bought a book called The Enchanted Doll's House. It tells the story of two dolls, Lucinda and Albert, who live in a Victorian dollhouse and fall in love. You turn a page to find a pop-up, 3-dimensional dollhouse with elaborate detail. You turn another page and there is the next chapter of the love story, with envelopes, sliding panels and hidden pockets that all contain pieces of the unfolding dollhouse drama. You turn another page and find a different pop-up dollhouse that adds more to the story. It's a fascinating piece of work and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would have been completely enthralled if I had gotten that book when I was 9-years-old.

About a month ago I learned there was a follow-up to the book called The Enchanted Doll's House Wedding, wherein Albert proposes to Lucinda and you visit pop-up department stores and churches and receive your personal invitation to attend the wedding. It's more of the same kind of fun. (The above link shows only pre-order available, but I snagged an early copy through The Mystery Guild.

This past week I discovered a similar kind of book available called The Lost Files of Nancy Drew, and it didn't take much to talk myself into ordering it. It is another delight, with envelopes, parchments, and hidden clues. It took me twice through the book to discover all the hidden compartments. My inner 9-year-old loved this book.

Maybe my emotional growth is stunted, but I had a blast with these three books. Sometimes one just has to indulge a return to childhood. For a few minutes, anyway.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blind Leading the Blind

Yesterday was an experience. Mother and I had eye exams in tandem. First she got her vision test. Then the doctor (we have a new one since our long-time doctor recently retired) started the inner eye exam and glaucoma test. Mother's Parkinson's turned it into a 3 person activity, with me steadying her head. Then she put the drops in Mother's eyes to start dilation and while that was in progress, I got my vision test. Then we swapped chairs twice more, alternating the various stages of the exam.

When finally we had both been thoroughly examined and I had been given samples of drops for both of us and enough instructions for each of us that I have no faith at all in my being able to remember who is supposed to use which drops or which procedures, we proceeded out to select our new glasses frames. We were in big, deep do.

The exams had gone fairly well, all things considered, but we were both exhausted at that point with all the unusual amount of up and down and chair shifting. We were also blind as bats from the dilation. Thankfully the doctor used the so-called mild version on me, but that didn't make things much better. I was directed to get frames "just like what I have", which was an impossible task considering the last time Mother got new frames was back during the Clinton years. I threatened to get her some Buddy Holly specs, but she didn't find that very funny. I finally came up with some frames that suited her. And about that time the place was closing for the lunch hour.

The primary technician and I have been friends for many years and many pairs of glasses. We always argue about which frames I can have with my extra thick lenses. This time he saw his advantage. He knew I was tired, blind and feeling guilty about keeping them away from lunch. So he started grabbing frames off the wall and ordering me to try them on. From his choices I made my selection. All I have to say is if I look like hell next week when I put those new glasses on, it's not my fault. It's his. If I look better than I've ever looked - well, don't tell me. I would hate to have to admit to him that he's been right all these years.

Thank heavens that's over with.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Coco Learns a Lesson

Coco is not a happy camper tonight. As has become our custom, we headed out to the side yard for a play session after supper. It started out well, but we had barely begun when she indulged herself in chasing flying things. She loves to chase butterflies and moths, but today she went after what I think was a red wasp. I saw a flash of flickering red, Coco jumped and began rubbing her face in the grass and then scratching her nose.

Poor baby has a red knot on her upper lip and flinches whenever I try to check on it. I tried dabbing on a little bit of meat tenderizer paste, but of course she promptly licked it off. She settled for sitting in Mom's lap and getting lots of sympathetic cuddling.

I guess everyone has to learn that some things you just don't stick your nose into.


Friday, July 06, 2007

A Tale of Two Purses

Today found me back in the waiting room at the Ford dealership. Yesterday, about half-way back home from the office, my "Service Engine Soon" light came on and I don't mess around with those kinds of warnings. I've had transmission problems in the past and I was very afraid that I might be headed that direction. So my first errand of the day was to find out how bad the news was going to be.

I always go to the waiting room equipped to entertain myself, as I've mentioned before. I wasn't really in the mood for the portable DVD player, so I spent the first hour finishing my Nancy Drew history. Then I debated what to do next.

For some unfathomable reason, I had pitched a knitting kit into my carry bag that has been accumulating dust for about two or three years. I had special ordered this kit and then been overwhelmed by the first instruction, promptly put it back for "later" and there it has sat all this time. Today was the day I finally felt up to the challenge.

First, let us digress a bit. Many years ago, about 10-12 I would estimate, there was a shop out at the Alum Creek Antique Center that was run by a little old lady who specialized in vintage linens and clothing. I loved that store and would hit it about once a month. She carried a few antique purses and one day I fell in love with one of them. It was a knitted, beaded bag in a deep blue color, lined with silk, and way, way out of my budget. I drooled. I lusted. I accepted that I could not afford to indulge myself.

That lovely purse was apparently out of everyone's price range, because it hung there tempting me for months. Then one day I got word that the lady was preparing to close her shop and was having a sale. Since I figured I was probably the last one to get the word, I prepared myself for the possibility that the purse would be gone or not included in the sale. I hastened to the store at the first opportunity to check. To my amazement, it was still there and marked down to half the original price. I snatched it up so fast that I created a breeze in the store.

The kit I ordered was for making a pair of earrings in the shape of tiny, knitted, beaded bags. The picture reminded me so of the antique purse that I decided I would order the kit and make a miniature version to put in one of my dollhouses. But the instructions made me panic. Today I decided I would figure the thing out or give up knitting.

Turns out that beaded knitting isn't such a big deal after all. During my second and third hours in the Ford waiting room, I created my miniature purse. The most difficult thing about the project was that my aging eyes make working with miniature yarn and needles a real problem. I would have to take off my glasses to be able to see the stitches, put on my glasses to read the next line of instructions, take off my glasses, etc., etc. But I persevered and now I have the antique purse and its mini counterpart.

I had a lot of fun and, since it was intended for earrings, I still have enough thread and beads for a second one.

The time in the waiting room passed quickly and the best part was the news that the faulty valve that had caused my "Service Engine Soon" light to come on was covered by my extended warranty. I just had to cough up the deductible.

I was in serious danger yesterday of blowing a gasket at the office. I rather think that someone up there pulled some strings to force me to have a calm, enjoyable and creative couple of hours. I feel much better now.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nancy Revisited

I've been reading a book on the history of the Nancy Drew mystery series. It has dredged up memories from a long, long time ago. I'm not sure when I read my first Nancy Drew book, but I seem to remember that it was when we lived in Victoria. So I would have been 9 years old and in the third grade. I have dim memories of visiting the public library in Victoria and for some reason when I think of that library I also think of Nancy Drew. I can also recall that the summer before our move to Smiley I was in possession of a teen-aged fashion doll and a Ken doll and had renamed them Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson, which means I must have read a good number of them by then.

I know for sure that I was reading them avidly in Smiley. The tiny Smiley library had a surprisingly well-stocked children's section and I'm betting they had every Nancy Drew book then available in both the original blue covers with the orange silhouette of Nancy on the cover and in the "newer" blue tweed editions. I probably checked out every one of them more than once.

In the 1960s, the books were reissued with picture covers and the familiar yellow spines. The first Nancy Drew I personally owned was The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk, given to me for a birthday present. One Christmas I added three of the yellow bindings to my personal library - The Secret of the Wooden Lady, The Moonstone Castle Mystery, and The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes. That last one involved genealogy, as I recall, and I've always had a fondness for moonstones that can be traced directly back to Moonstone Castle. Though I wanted to own more of the series, money was tight in those days and I was quickly outgrowing them. So my collection sat at 4 volumes for many years.

At some point, and I have no memory of the occasion, I picked up about a dozen volumes at either a flea market or antique store for $2 per book. An impulse buy that got packed away in a box. But I had the satisfaction of knowing they were there. I still didn't own a copy of my very favorite Nancy Drew, The Secret in the Old Attic. That was remedied years later when I located a copy on EBAY. It's the only one of the bunch that sits on my active bookcase today.

I never forgot my love of Nancy Drew and there's a lot of folks out there like me. Over the years I've purchased various books written about the Nancy Drew phenomenon. It's one of those that I'm enjoying this week. The story of Edward Stratemeyer and his daughter Harriett, who together created and breathed life into not only Nancy Drew, but the Bobbsey Twins, the Happy Hollisters, the Dana Girls, the Hardy Boys, and many other series, is a fascinating one. Nancy Drew was the star of the syndicate, but the others made piles and piles of money for the family, too.

I'm one of the old-timers who thinks the series ended at book #56, but a more modern Nancy emerged at that point, and new books continue to be published. To me, Nancy Drew will always be the titian-haired sleuth who drove around River Heights in her little blue roadster. How I wished I could be her.

The EBAY collectible market is strong for all things relating to Nancy Drew and there are numerous websites devoted to analyzing her appeal and documenting the stories. One of the best can be found here.

Today's generation has Harry Potter. Ours had Nancy Drew.


P.S. My next favorite youth series was Trixie Belden. We'll remember her another day.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Behaving Myself

My 4th of July was relatively calm. Grocery shopping was the height of excitement today. After that, I indulged myself in trying out a new (to me) Mexican restaurant in town, since La Cabana was closed.

That accomplished, I spent the afternoon applying stucco to my dollhouse in progress. It's coming along nicely and I hope that by summer's end I will have a mini-Mexican restaurant to add to my street of shops. Nominations are open for a name, which should be unique and not too cute.

About mid-afternoon, the dogs and I took a ramble in the woods and enjoyed the burbling little creek that we have after heavy rain storms. I couldn't talk the dogs into wading in the creek and Mojo was appalled when I briefly stepped across to the other side and he couldn't figure out how he was going to get to me. This evening we are piddling around and they are keeping close for protection from the irregular pops of fireworks.

A nice, quiet day is a nice change of pace once in awhile.

(By the way, the travellers are in Iceland at the moment on the last leg of their trip. They head home on Saturday.)


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Getting a Clue

Just what I needed - another detective series to get hooked on. I keep coming across audiobooks at Half Price that are by authors Mother has long read faithfully and trying them out because they are a bargain. Then discovering that they are pretty darned good. Now I'm enjoying J. A. Jance, who writes two different series and both of them are very enjoyable.

I'm so behind on reading that it's not funny. There are several authors I buy as soon as they release a new book and for some of them I am 2-3 books behind. Which is sometimes a good thing, because once I read one and re-whet my appetite for that author, I have several books on hand to enjoy. Just this weekend I finished a reading marathon of the latest 3 books in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I've now embarked on catching up with the Miss Julia series, which will last for 3 books. Then there's the Stephanie Plum series where I'm 2 books behind, the China Bayles series where I'm about 5 books behind, the Maggody series where I'm 2 books behind, the Dearest Dorothy series where I'm 5 books behind, the Cedar Cove series where I'm 3 books behind, the Amelia Peabody series where I'm about halfway through a series of 18 or so and those are just the ones I can think of without going over to the book shelf and reminding myself of what all is waiting for me. I haven't yet gone into Mother's book stash to find out how many J. A. Jance books are in the wings.

It's been like this all my life. I was thinking today about my reading habits as a youngster. I was a big fan of the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Trixie Belden mysteries, the Dana Girls mysteries, and the Sue Barton nursing series. I read my share of Cherry Ames, Donna Parker, the Bobbsey Twins, and even a Hardy Boys or two. As I got older I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, all the Nero Wolfe mysteries, all the Lord Peter Wimsey books, and a fair number of the books of P. D. James.

I also read the culinary mysteries of Diane Mott Davidson, the non-Stephanie Plum novels of Janet Evanovich (especially when I need a good laugh), the genealogy mysteries by Rett Macpherson, and the Cat Who mysteries of Lilian Jackson Braun. Nothing like a good mystery to take your mind off reality.

I have quite a choice available, with a little bit of every genre to please whatever mood I swing to next. But one thing I know. Come July 21st, I'll be joining the line of folks eager to find out how the Harry Potter series comes to a close. At least that's one series that I'll be able to put behind me. Which actually makes me a little sad.