Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sniffles, Sneezes and Coughs

When I wasn't looking, the cold bugs snuck in and attacked. I've been sniffling and sneezing and talking like a hoarse frog for two days. My head hurts, my ears hurt, my nose is rubbed raw from Kleenex and my eyes are puffy and itchy. I can't sleep more than a few minutes at a time.

Just what I needed - a summer cold. They should really outlaw those things.

The dogs are concerned and follow me around, ready to take a nap at a moment's notice if that will help. Mother says she hates to see me sick, since she depends on me for everything. Somehow she made it sound like I got sick on purpose just to inconvenience her. I told her it wasn't my idea, but I'm not sure she believed me.

And the lot of the caregiver is such that you can't just pile up in bed and wait it out. Though I'm going to spend as much time there today as I can manage.

{Sneeze}. God, bless me.


Friday, September 28, 2007


There once was a time when I actually went to a concert now and then. That was years ago when I didn't mind being in a crowd for a couple of hours. I'm not ruling out the possibility that I will attend another concert, but I doubt seriously I will be going to another one that sells out the Frank Erwin Center. I'm more inclined to the small venues now.

Be that as it may, I bought a CD the other day at Half-Price Books that reminded me of a particular concert in my past, which got me to thinking about other concerts in my past. So here we go down memory lane once again.

The first major concert I ever attended was the first official Willie Nelson Picnic at Dripping Springs, an event I wrote about before in a blog post dated July 4, 2005, if you want to look it up in the archives. That was quite an introduction to world of concerts, involving an unruly crowd with everything from basic country music fans to stoned out undesirables.

The next two concerts were at the old Palmer Auditorium on Town Lake. That was back when you could take a tape recorder with you and for years I had multiple tapes from a concert featuring Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, Billy Swan and surprise guest Willie Nelson. That was a fun evening despite the bad acoustics. My mother and I were sitting about a dozen rows from the front and I can remember a steady stream of fans making their way up close to the stage to take photos and pass a glass of liquid refreshment to the performers. No way would that happen in this day and age.

Tom T. Hall also performed at the Palmer Auditorium and again my mother and I were sitting up fairly close to the stage. Tom T. was at his most popular at the time and he gave a really great performance and I happily snapped most of a roll of film with my old Instamatic. I still have those photos that show Tom T. as an indistinct speck on the stage. Amazing how far we've come in the matters of photography since then. I was happy with those photos at the time. Zoom lens? What's that?

We never went to another musical performance at the auditorium, because about that time the Frank Erwin Center came into existence. (Speaking of the old auditorium, that was where Elvis gave his Austin concert. That's one I missed attending because I did not come to appreciate Elvis until later.)

When Linda Ronstadt came to Austin, I was accompanied by both Mother and David. She performed in the round and I can remember being up and behind her and I think one of us remarked that if she kept wiggling her butt like that she was going to come right through that red dress before the night was out. She was at the height of her popularity then and the place was pretty much full. The difference between going to a concert at the Drum and going to a concert at Palmer Auditorium was like night and day.

Along about the same time we went to the Drum to see Kenny Rogers and if memory serves, Dottie West was there for a couple of duets. I could be wrong about that. My outstanding memory of that concert was Kenny's growing frustration with the incompetent lighting techs. They just could not seem to get the spotlight situated on the right people at the right time. I can remember Kenny whistling and arcing his hand toward where the spotlight was supposed to be.

When Billy Joel came to town, my mother was willing to try a rock concert because she liked his records I played frequently. That concert was a lot different from the other two because now we were in a heavy contingent of rock fans. Illicit marijuana cigarettes were being passed up and down the row in front of us and we probably came out of there smelling like pot heads. The crowd didn't have that comfortable down-home flavor that country/rock crossover concerts had and we were a little ill-at-ease that night.

I saw Peter, Paul and Mary at the Drum. They performed on the half-arena stage and the crowd was definitely a mellow one. No unease there, just pure enjoyment.

I made the trip to the Drum twice to see John Denver. I can remember the first time he came to Austin was during his "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" era in the mid-70s and sang to a sold-out crowd of which I was not a member. When he came back to Austin in 1989, I attended with Mother and a friend from work. His popularity had waned, but his voice was better than ever and the performance was outstanding. I came to enjoy his music even better as he aged and when he came to Austin in late September of 1997, I went to see him again. I can remember how wonderful his voice was at that concert. I don't think I had ever heard him sing more beautifully. It was about two weeks after that concert that he died in an air crash. I was never able to bring myself to wear the T-shirt I bought at that concert and it still sits in the closet in pristine condition, along with the concert program and magazines that paid him tribute after his death. It was a long time afterwards before I could bring myself to listen to his CDs without feeling pain. I am so glad that I took the opportunity to attend that last concert.

I've been to several Mary Chapin-Carpenter concerts in various venues. She always delivers an enjoyable concert and attracts more of the old country fan base. By far the most enjoyable was in the Bass Performing Arts Center after the release of Come On, Come On. There are no bad seats at the PAC and they put on a heckuva show. I also saw her at the Drum and had to tolerate a loud-mouthed drunk that sat in front of us and who only settled down when one of my companions "accidentally" dumped a cold drink down his back. Instant semi-sobriety. And the concert was entertaining, too.

Finally, I attended two Carlos Nakai concerts in Austin. One at the Hogg Auditorium and one at One World Theater. Both were small, intimate affairs that filled your senses with his Native Indian flute.

The ultimate concert for me, however, was along about 1967 or 1968 when we made a trip to Nashville and attended the Grand Ole Op'ry at the original Ryman Auditorium. What concert can compare to an evening spent listening to one great country artist after another. I think it was that night that caused me to flip my radio dial from rock and roll to country, where it has stayed for most of my life.

I can't really think of anyone today who would entice me to a concert. Maybe I'm getting old and maybe I'm getting smart. And maybe I would change my mind if Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder should happen through Austin.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Way to My Heart

Who knew I could get all tingly at the sight of a backhoe pulling up to the front of the house? They arrived this morning to do the sewer connection and a good part of the work is done. Unfortunately they are waiting on a particular piece of equipment to finish boring under the street before it can be finalized, but worse case scenario is that they will finish up on Monday. Best case, they will finish up tomorrow.

No more laundromat after this week. I'm all aflutter.


Monday, September 24, 2007

On the Nose

I got in the habit of reading my horoscope years ago, more for a laugh than anything. However, once in awhile it hits things squarely and today was one of them.

"Your job seems to be to make people uncomfortable. That's not an easy task, but it's an important one."

Yep. That's little ole non-conformist me. I'm the one that points out the obvious holes in another's theory when everybody else is being a yes-person. I'm the one who makes others feel guilty for being arrogant and bigoted. And I'm the one who is nice to the geeky types when they are being quietly heckled by the in crowd.

Makes me a bit of an outcast, but I think I like it better this way.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cat Scratch Fever

So I went to bed last night with a throbbing shoulder from the wasp sting, managed to get comfortable with my book Maisie Dobbs and found a new episode of John Edward's Cross Country to watch and it wasn't long before I drifted off to sleep. I roused long enough to shut the tv off and drop my book on the floor beside the bed before I faded out for the night.

This morning I sat down for a few minutes to read another chapter in my book and discovered that a cat who shall remain unnamed but her initials are Scout had at some point during the night chewed and scratched holes in the edge of the book, leaving her mark for about the first chapter or so. She's fortunate that this was a book bought second hand and not one of the new ones I had purchased last week.

This morning she has been helping me go through stacks of photos and I use the term with the most sarcastic sense possible. I keep scooping her out of the way before my family photos become shredded landfill.

There are days when I seriously consider carting both of the heathen cats off to WalMart and putting them up for adoption. I wouldn't, but one can dream.


Saturday, September 22, 2007


Late this evening I was the victim of a kamikazi wasp. Either he didn't like the shirt I had on or my perfume or maybe he was just generally po'd. I was just standing there, minding my own business when I felt a thump on my back and then a sensation of being hit with a hot poker. And he was hanging on, working up some more sting. I managed to knock him off, but he was going after me again and again. I beat a hasty retreat, tossed David a can of wasp killer and he doused the little sucker.

The bad news is that even after being hit several times with the poison, that little devil was still buzzing around and still dive-bombing me whenever I showed my face. I think he's still out there, poised for attack.

I really have no idea what I did to warrant such hatred. But I guarantee you that a state of war has been declared on Briar Forest.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Just a Cotton-Pickin' Minute

I'm still watching the cotton crop with the fascination of someone who has never been aware of the process before. When the defoliant was applied and all the leaves started dying, I at first thought it was an ugly sight. But now that the dead leaves have pretty much dropped and nothing is left but white puffs of cotton, it's rather pretty.

The harvesting equipment is lumbering down the country roads this week and where there is cotton in the morning, there is usually bare field with white dust in the afternoon. Today I spotted a cotton gin, so I drove down for a closer look. When I stepped out for the picture, the air was a hazy white from all the cotton dust that was flying around.

Soft little white balls of fluff. I could not resist pulling some off a branch to experience the texture. Even full of cotton seed, there's a pleasing softness.

I am reminded of a place where I bought a T-shirt online. SOS From Texas is a place you can get shirts made from organically grown Texas cotton. As Martha would say, "it's a good thing".


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Passing Comments

The wee ones have made it through their first week of diet and I am seeing some signs that tell me we are on the right path. Their energy level is up for one thing. And I think I am seeing the faintest sign of a waist indention on Mojo. I know it made a tremendous difference in my energy level to stop packing along what essentially was a 2-year-old on my back. Mojo isn't entirely convinced, but Mommy is standing firm.

In other news, I discovered yet another new author. Jacqueline Winspear I discovered by accident due to a discounted audiobook. Her series character Maisie Dobbs is a young woman who served as a nurse during World War I and carries along the burden of what she saw on the battlefields in France. The setting is 1930 and she has set up a private investigation service in London. Her main strength is her ability to read people. Her ongoing struggles with the past are especially poignant, since the reader knows it is only a few years before World War II commences. I am hooked again when I already had piles of unread books towering over me. Yesterday I made a dash to the bookstore to acquire the remaining three books in the series. Thankfully there are only the four out at this point. I usually discover authors when they are releasing their twentieth in a series.

My ongoing septic issues will continue for another 8-10 weeks before the sewer hookup is accomplished and I can leave that particular worry behind me forever. But that also means I will be frequenting the local laundromat for several more weeks. I cannot express the joy that brings.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Good Day

Most of you reading this probably know this has not been a good week. In the midst of loss and sadness, I had a commitment to attend a reunion today of a distantly related group of folks. When I got up this morning, I can't say I was looking forward to it. But these kinds of invitations don't come along that often and I decided to make myself go on and meet with fellow Mobley researchers. I am so glad I did.

Walking into a group of strangers, even though related by blood, can be a daunting thing. I've been invited to reunions before where I was stared at like a bug on the end of a pin. Today I was greeted by several folks who I had met before and did not realize were connected to this branch of the family. I was greeted by people who had known my grandparents and that was all the credentials I needed for acceptance. I was welcomed by people who didn't have a clue who I was but were happy to have me show up anyway.

We researchers camped at a table and pored over each other's notebooks and ooh'ed and aah'ed over photos we had not seen before. The food was great. The auction was fun (I picked up a local history book and a piece of McDade pottery). Afterwards one of the researching cousins gave me a personal escort to a cemetery that I've been searching for for two years. Turns out it was right under my nose, but you sort of have to know where it is to see it.

I had a great time and it was just the thing I needed to offset the previous week. I've been invited to come again next year and I plan to be there.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mommy's in the Dog House

The wee ones are not happy with their mommy tonight. Today was annual checkups. They each ended up with 3 needle sticks - rabies, a dental vaccine, and blood test for heartworms. They each got major nail trims. They each had their temperature taken. And they each had their little bodies pressed and poked and in general felt they had been violated.

To add insult to injury, Mommy and the doctor discussed putting them on a diet to each lose 2 pounds.

Oh, we were unhappy little puppy dogs.

Then, just as we got back home, Mommy took off with Uncle David and Aunt Karen and spent most of the afternoon away, when they both felt I should have piled into the chair with them and let them nap off their horrible morning.

I didn't realize how badly I had offended them until we were all back together in the house several hours later. Mojo demanded to get in my lap and then started giving me the evil looks out of the side of his eye and growling under his breath. I had failed him miserably and he was making it as plain as day that he was going to have to have major apologies to make up for it.

They finally agreed to let me extend lavish apologies and then they sacked out where they could watch me and took extended naps. When they woke up, I offered to take them for a walk and went to lift them down from the comfy nap chair. Ohmigod. They wimpered every time I touched them. They hobbled to the door. When I suggested we go to the neighbors' green, lush grass for our outing, they told me we were going down the gravel road because I owed them. Big time. They limped down the yard to the gravel road, stopping every so often to look at me balefully.

Master manipulators. And they know they have me right where they want me. Feeling guilty as all get out. I think I'm going to be sleeping in the dog house while they snuggle into my cushy pillows tonight.

Thank heavens we only do this once a year.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dixie Land

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton.

Oh, wait. I am.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This is the Way We Wash the Clothes

Today I spent 2 hours in a laundromat. It's been a long spell since I have done such a thing. The last time I was forced to cart laundry to and from a laundromat was when the washing machine broke down back when I still lived with Mother. (Yeah, I know that sounds funny, but now she lives with me.)

This doesn't count laundry done at campgrounds. I actually have fond memories of laundry time at the KOA in Ouray, Colorado. They always had a great pinball machine in the laundry room that ate more of my quarters than the washers and dryers.

Your non-campground laundromat is usually not much fun. And times have not changed that much. Today's trip was courtesy of a septic system that is ailing, which is a whole 'nother story. At least laundry done on a weekday is a less crowded proposition than laundry done on a weekend.

However, regardless of when you go to a laundromat you can always count on a few things that never change.

1) There will always be a squalling kid in the room. If that squalling kid leaves, another one comes in to take his place.

2) There will always be a toddler that stands in the door blocking traffic to and from your car.

3) There will always be an aging hippie sort who is doing a month's worth of laundry and very interested in any unattached female that arrives. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes not.

4) There will always be a college age kid who is washing EVERYTHING HE OWNS in one big washer.

5) There will always be a family that exudes poverty, dragging along 2-3 little bitty kids. I always feel like shoving a $20 bill into their basket when they aren't looking.

6) There will always be the professional laundromat habitue. I assume these are women who have been hired to do laundry. They have an air about them that says "these clothes aren't mine, but I know what I'm doing and you had better not get in my way".

7) There will always be floors dirty enough that if you drop something when you clear out the dryer, you question whether you should start another load, toss it, or operate by the 3-second rule of contamination.

Then there's me. Eight loads of laundry running simultaneously, two of them large loads in the double capacity machines. I was definitely the oddball in a place where odd is normal.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Before There Was Harry Potter

There was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. One of the top 10 books of my childhood. If you never discovered the magic of this book, you would do well to do so post haste.

The news this morning brought the message that Madeleine L'Engle died this past Thursday at the age of 88.

She brought the joy of imagination to many a child with her Wrinkle in Time series. I, for one, shall mourn her.



When I was a kid, I was told on several occasions that I had the "Mobley mouth", in essence because of my plump lower lip:

I decided to go through my family photos and pay particular attention to the lips of the women. What I found was that it probably is true that I got my mouth from the Mobley line. Most of the women in my lineage are thin-lipped. These two, however, seem to share my mouth.

The first is my great-grandmother Cora Mobley Hodge. The second is her sister Sallie. Their mother does not have the plump lips, which I guess means we didn't get it from the Morgan branch. I could not find any of the Mobley men with this characteristic. Wish I had some photos of Uncle Mac's daughters to see if this physical trait went down that branch as well.

Just makes you wonder about how these things get passed down the line.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Light At the End of the Tunnel

This morning was the first morning in six days that I woke without pain. I'm not completely out of the woods just yet, because there is a faint throbbing in my shoulder, but the associated headache that has plagued me is for the moment absent.

It's amazing how the absence of pain can alter your outlook. I just may live through this.

The recuperative period has involved a lot of extra sleep, which I'm sure helped in the overall improvement. I, who do not nap if I can help it, spent a great chunk of Sunday and Monday in bed resting. The last few nights I have gone to bed at an ungodly 8:30 pm and slept straight through until the alarm at 5:30 am.

Now my fear is that I will do something stupid and undo all the good.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007


She's back! Charlotte disappeared for a few days, but turned up a little farther down the sidewalk where she has been building lovely orb webs again. Today when I got home, the web was covered in tiny rain drops that were hard to photograph (mainly because my lens kept fogging over), but I think this gives an indication of the superior workmanship.

The report on my back is cautiously optimistic. The doctor worked me in early this morning and made my back and neck snap and crackle several times. At this point, it's not so bad so long as I don't sit down. Something about the sitting position really aggravates this new problem. It's an improvement, so I'm hoping that things will be getting better.

I had a call late last week telling me that Xana's footprint was ready. I had no idea that the vet clinic had taken an imprint before her cremation. Turns out this is a surprise thing they do as a memorial present. I was delighted to get it. And while I was there picking it up, I discovered that the small animal portion of the hospital will be moving next month up the highway a little ways into brand new facilities. They've already hired a fourth doctor (another young woman, which will please the kids). I feel like I have personally paid for one of the 6 new exam rooms, so I have a certain proprietary interest. They are good folks and I'm glad to see them moving up. Hopefully their prices won't move up as well.

I continue to find new treasures in the fresh supply of photos. Here's one, circa 1956, taken of a very cute little girl outside of Aunt Fay's house.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Getting Nowhere in a Painful Hurry

About a week ago I threw something out in my back. It's a different something than the chiropractor was already treating me for, this one up high in my shoulders. The pain in my back is one thing, but it is generating shooting pains into my head that are leaving me holding my head in my hands and groaning on an irregular basis. The chiropractor got the first round put into its place with a well-placed pop in my back and a twist in my neck. But it's back, and on a holiday weekend.

I had plans to get some things done this weekend. Even took Friday off to extend it into 4 days. But yesterday whatever it is slipped out of place again and I can't sit, stand, or lie down comfortably. I've tried aspirin, Tylenol, Advil and some leftover pain medicine from a past dental procedure. Nothing is helping.

So I'm napping and trying to keep activity to a minimum. When I do get up to prepare a meal or put on a load of washing, it takes about 10 minutes before the pain grabs me again. I'm pinning my sights on Tuesday morning when I plan to throw myself on the mercy of the chiropractor and hope I can get in for an unscheduled adjustment.

The dogs are beside themselves. They are used to their gran being in pain, but having Mommy moaning and groaning and taking to her bed has them in a state of nervous apprehension. I've received innumerable puppy kisses as they attempt to make it all better. When I lie down to nap, I have two cuddly little bodies curled against me.

So much for holiday plans. Sometimes your body tells you it's time to take a sabbatical. I shall be out of commission until further notice.