Thursday, November 29, 2007
I told myself not to hope, because I've had bits and pieces of the WCID's property strewn about my yard for weeks, but lo and behold they reappeared this morning and kept at it until the job was done. There is still clean up to do and septic tanks to be filled, but as for me and my house, we are back in business. No more laundromat!
I am enjoying getting my backlog of laundry processed this evening. My crankiness factor has improved dramatically. This might just push me a little closer to some Christmas spirit.
Mother's healthworker drives me completely batty. Most of the time I can grit my teeth and bear it, but when I'm tired and mentally exhausted, as I've been of late, it's all I can do to keep the peace. I do, because she's a good and faithful caregiver and it would be cutting off my nose to spite my face to stir up trouble with complaints about my way vs. her way.
For instance, she knows nothing about how to load dishwashers. I have to brace myself every evening before I open the dishwasher to load in the supper dishes. I know I will have to take everything out and start over. Plastics are in the lower rack, dishes are just pushed in haphazardly, with no regard for an orderly arrangement that would allow maximum capacity per load, and all the flatware used up to that point will be stuffed into one flatware cup at the front edge of the machine. I have to be careful repositioning the latter, since I quite often find sharp steak knives in the cup upside down, their blades poised just right to stab a careless hand. The upper rack is slanted so that tall items can be placed in the deeper side and cups and short glasses can be put in the shallower side. Hah. Invariably the tall glasses have been put in the shallow side and have fallen over, while all the cups are in the deeper side.
Next we have the issue of closure. I am stunned that the woman never, never, never turns down the inner sleeve of a box of cereal. Quite often she does not even close the box flap. Apparently she never had leftovers at her house and never had to worry about things going stale. Jars are put back into the refrigerator with the tops barely on, so that when I pick up that jar, the top comes off just as I lift it and the jar spills its contents and I scare the dogs with an abrupt oath.
Now we move to the refrigerator and freezer. I do not mind that she brings her lunch and puts it in the refrigerator. What I do mind is having two weeks worth of frozen dinners suddenly showing up in my freezer, taking up all available room. What I do mind is having boxes of cereal, crackers, cookies and what have you stacked all over the counter. What I do mind is thinking I have my supper all taken care of (theoretically hidden safe from view) only to discover that it's been rooted out of its hiding place and offered to Mother for lunch and now I have to come up with a new idea for supper after a long day at work.
Then there's the furniture issue. I rearrange the living room and find the perfect place for the wastebasket behind a chair that blocks it from view. She didn't like it there, because she prefers to reach to the right rather than the left to put something in it. So it's been hauled back out in the middle of the floor and I trip over it constantly. I have a rather pricy pastry holder for Mother's breakfast rolls that EVERY DAY I place well away from the edge of the table so the bad-ass cats won't push it off and break it, and EVERY DAY when I come in, it's hanging half-way off the table because she folds clothes on the table and God forbid that she should put the thing back where I had it when she's done.
The best part about having a two-story house is that at least the second floor stays the way I left it. Except for the decorative efforts of the bad-ass cats.
As I say, it's basically little stuff that I have to swallow and tolerate in the interest of the better good. But is it any wonder I have this weird little twitch above my eye?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Just for the record:
I do not care what Oprah thinks.
I do not care what Oprah reads.
I do not care what movies or television shows Oprah watches.
I do not care which candidate Oprah supports. (As a matter of fact, her voiced support turned me completely and totally off her candidate, who up to that time I had not formed an opinion about.)
I do not care what new charity Oprah has blessed with her contribution.
I wish Oprah would zip her lip and retire.
God, that felt good.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
This morning I arose at an ungodly 4AM to participate in a presentation to a potential client in the Dallas area. "Big D, little a, double l, a, s", as the song goes. I had to be at the office in Round Rock by 6:15 and it was still pitch dark, and cold, when I arrived.
Little brother spent the night with us to mom-sit while I was out of pocket for the day. Previously on "Woolgathering" , you may remember that I had rearranged the guest bedroom with the questionable aid of the bad-ass cats. This was specifically to return the room back to guest bedroom status instead of the junk pile crafts-in-progress room that it has been of late. It was looking pretty good when I left for work Monday morning.
When I got home Monday afternoon, it looked like a tornado had hit. The bad-ass cats had explored my crafts table, found the roll of paper towels I keep there for glue and paint clean up, and shredded it completely and thoroughly ALL OVER THE ROOM. I had to drag the vacuum cleaner back up the stairs to re-clean the room. My mood was not improved when I arrived back in the paper snowstorm to discover Boo lying sprawled in the middle of it with a look of utter satisfaction on his face, content that the job had been well done.
But I digress. I had gone prepared to be the only woman in a group of attorneys, knowing the conversation was likely to center on football, law school and politics. I had knit about two inches of a new afghan and was comfortable enough with the pattern to take it along to work on in the car. It was a great diversion and I had another inch or so completed by the time we got to south Dallas. Three hours of riding in the back seat had zipped by.
Then, just as I was complimenting myself on getting a handle on the complicated back and forth of the cable pattern, the unthinkable happened. My fancy circular needle broke and stitches went everywhere, laddering down the completed knitting so quickly there was no chance of recovery. Believe it or not, all the bad words stayed in my thoughts and I calmly pushed the whole mess into my bag and told myself that I would consider the nearly 4 inches of lost afghan practice for the real thing. I start over tomorrow. With a better circular needle.
I was along on this trip in the event that questions arose about how we would handle the client's data when it hit our office. As it happens, they had no questions on that issue and my participation was minimal. But I got a free meal, a day's outing in beautiful weather, and the chance to see how things have grown in Salado, Belton and Waco since I was in college. I enjoyed visiting with the two attorneys sharing the car ride and with a lady who works in one of our branch offices close to Dallas. On the way back one of the attorneys and I grabbed quick cat naps. So the day wasn't a total loss. Just the afghan.
And the heathen cats had the gaul to greet me at the door like old friends. I'm still looking for what they destroyed while I was gone.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Poor little Scout has been particularly upset about the sleeping arrangements. She had grown accustomed to waiting until the dogs got thoroughly asleep and then sneaking into our bed and curling up against my leg. She did not think that a bathmat on top of the washing machine was a comparable substitute. Add to that the mid-40s temperature the last few nights and she has not been a happy cat camper. But, the fact of the matter is that she is the primary culprit that has brought about this unhappy turn of events.
My heart softened a little this morning and I decided to give them a chance to redeem themselves. They almost scotched their pardon by helping me rearrange the guest room today. The guest room, as family and friends know, is the dollhouse room and is full of little things that just beg to be grabbed by pesky cats. It took twice as long as it should have to get the job done, because they were alternating their attacks and as soon as I would get one chased out, the other one had slipped in and was grabbing what I had just taken away from the first one. I was hoarse by the end of the afternoon from yelling at them to get out.
Unaware that they were being given a reprieve tonight, they put their heads together late in the afternoon and plotted to avoid capture and confinement. It was really kind of funny. Scout began slinking around, dashing under the beds when she thought I was getting too near. Boo went to the top platform of the cat tree and glowered at me, just daring me to come get him. When I settled down with the dogs for a bit of tv and internet, Scout slipped under the bed and began muttering under her breath, "you're not getting me tonight, lady".
So we are calling it a draw. Man, I'm looking forward to the day when they stop being teenagers and start being fat, lazy cats that sleep 23 hours a day.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
It is now 9:15 a.m. and I already have the chicken in the slow cooker, the cornbread and biscuits baked, and the pumpkin pie well on the way. I will be able to take it easy now until mid-afternoon. I feel some quality puppy snuggling in my immediate future. We have come to really love our new chaise and they are quite happy to snuggle down into a blanket and let Mommy read or knit or nap beside them.
Yesterday was another day of good luck. I make it a firm policy to go nowhere near major shopping areas on the day after Thanksgiving. However, I decided to take a quick dash into Wal-Mart to pick up the new Trisha Yearwood album, knowing full well the madness I would be entering.
But, I snagged a front row parking spot, threaded my way through the throngs buying toys and televisions and tool cabinets, found my album, threaded my way back to the front of the store and right up to the express lane clerk and out in under 20 minutes. A true holiday miracle. Then it was off to HEB to pick up a couple of prescriptions and I was the very first customer in the drive thru. Eerie, itsn't it?
I had allowed ample time to get my two necessary errands accomplished before the Artists' Harvest downtown would open. My good luck left me with a whole hour to kill before the gates would open, so I went over to Beall's and spent the time picking out a new purse, billfold, necklace and bracelet. That unexpected shopping excursion out of the way, I still ended up at the art show 15 minutes early.
Another piece of luck was that I had a nice jacket in the car. It did not seem so cold when I left the house, but at the Farmer's Market where the art show was to take place the wind was cold and bitter and there was just enough moisture in the air to make the tiny drops feel like ice. The cold weather did not dampen the spirits of the artists or the attendees, however, and everyone was cheerful and ready to browse.
I had no intention of actually buying anything, but I found two watercolors that spoke to me and 6 terrific photographs of Texas wildflowers. I decided the bathrooms could use some new art. One of the watercolors was of the guardian angel out at Fairview Cemetery who stands guard over the war babies. Naturally I could not resist and the artist was delighted that I knew all about the statue. The lady with the photographs had some outstanding closeups of dragonflies, butterflies and lady bugs and was friendly and informative about how I could improve my own attempts at bug pictures.
I was good and frozen through when I left, so I hit Scooter's for a vanilla latte and headed home to relieve my health worker who was taking off at noon for her own weekend Thanksgiving holiday. The afternoon was a stretch of unpressured piddling.
Sure wish I could extend this nice restful vacation luck a few more days, but unfortunately Monday is back to normal. But there's still today and tomorrow and I intend to make the most of it.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
So, I headed to Smithville to check out my favorite antique stores. Along the way I ran into our old neighbor from downtown Bastrop and shared family news. It's funny - we always got along just fine when we lived next to each other, but we weren't the type of folks who were in and out of each other's houses. We would have brief chats when we were both out in the yard and we knew that we were each available to the other for emergencies. The odd thing is how much I miss the security of knowing there is someone within hearing distance who will come running if called. I'm friendly with my new neighbors, but there are stretches of weeks when we don't see each other or speak. I love the quiet space around me now, but there is something to be said for close neighbors who stay put for decades.
I found nothing to spend my money on in Smithville (well, I bought a tiny vase for a dollhouse), so I decided to head back home by way of FM 2571, through Upton. That gave me the opportunity for another Find a Grave mission at the Youngs School House Cemetery. As I finished up, I decided to explore a country road named Farris Lane and see where it went.
Turns out that it takes you out to Highway 304, which I didn't recognize right away and ended up going the wrong way for a few miles. (But that's the joy of being semi-lost. I love figuring out where I am.) When I finally got myself oriented and headed back to Bastrop, I followed another sudden impulse and took the Watterson Road turn off. My grandmother was born in Watterson, so I figured it was time I requainted myself with that area.
I had to get my Roads of Texas mapbook out to locate the Watterson Cemetery, and I was glad I took the trouble. It sits off the main road up a short gravel lane and is a lovely little country cemetery, with huge oak trees. I don't have any family buried there (that I know of), so I had never visited before. Now I hope that someone puts in a photo request at Find a Grave so I will have an excuse to return.
I did take a picture of the gate. While my attention was on getting the best angle, I was addressed from behind by some folks who were wondering what the heck I was doing. I risked poison ivy to get close enough to visit with them. Thankfully I was wearing heavy blue jeans, because I would not have missed the opportunity to get a few more pictures. I don't get many chances these days to be this close to the bovine population.
A storm, with wind and rain and cold, moved in after I was safely back at home. The day ended with puppy snuggling and a good roast dinner.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Day 2 of vacation found me headed into Austin again. I had multiple stops in mind, but decided I would stop first in Bastrop and take a stab at getting the precious prescription filled locally. It usually doesn't work out for me because for some reason HEB doesn't generally have sufficient supplies to comply with my request and this is one drug they won't fill part way. I was completely blown away when they said they were able to fill it today if I could wait for 45 minutes. I, being the clever little professional caregiver I am, had my knitting bag with me and sat happily for about an hour quietly knitting. I did break once to check my blood pressure with their handy dandy blood pressure vise and was relieved to find that my blood pressure was in the normal zone - a rarity for me when I'm in HEB dealing with the pharmacy.
Skipping out of the store with the full 3 months supply of pills in my possession and a song in my heart, I headed on into Austin and made my next stop the State Capitol. My purpose was to purchase the remaining Texas Capitol Christmas ornaments that I needed to complete my collection. As I walked along the sidewalk to the front door, I thought to myself that every Texan ought to visit the Capitol once every year or so. It's an impressive place and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering along the halls to the gift shop and then wandering around the grounds on my way back to the parking garage.
Next up was a return to the Oakwood Cemetery Annex where I fulfilled several Find a Grave photo requests. To my surprise, just a few graves away from the ones I had come to photograph were 3 Willcoxon graves. I snagged pictures of them, too, in case they turn out to be kinfolk sometime down the research line.
Stops at Half-Price Books, Hobby Lobby, The Container Store and Whole Foods followed. My advice for the day is to never, ever, ever, stop at Whole Foods the week of Thanksgiving. I got what I went for, but I beat a hasty retreat as soon as possible. I scratched the next stop from my list, because at this point I had reached the understanding that this year I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in Christmas or Christmas shopping and especially in mingling with Christmas shoppers. What shopping I feel has to be done shall be done via the Internet or not at all. It's safer for my sanity and it's safer for the physical well being of the folks around me.
A quick swing by the office to drop a package off to a co-worker was followed by a leisurely drive down to the McDade Cemetery on another Find a Grave mission. (Now cue the Twilight Zone theme.) I had about 30 minutes left to my freedom and 2 graves to locate in a medium-sized cemetery. I pondered where best to start. I had intended to start on the western end and work my way east, but for some reason I kept rolling the car to the opposite side. I followed a second impulse to start my search in the far SE corner rather than next to where I had parked. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at that corner to discover the very graves I had come to find. Trust me, it was spooky. Though this has happened so many times that I shouldn't be so surprised.
Home again to a nice neighborhood walk with the kiddoes and another vacation day comes to a successful close.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I noticed the graffiti on the sign as I took the picture, but it wasn't until I got home and took a closer look that I noticed the other marking on the fence post. One does wonder just what these folks are up to:
I can't say the trip was a total success where the dogs were concerned. I let them out of their carriers while we were at the cemetery and they weren't interested in smelling out the window or getting a drink from the water faucet. Coco ultimately decided to retreat back to her carrier where she felt secure. Mojo decided to ride home in Mommy's lap with his head tucked under my arm to hide his eyes from the big trucks passing by. When we took a swing through Wendy's to pick up a hamburger for Mother, Mojo did not lean out the window eagerly as Xana would have done to sniff, but instead took a dive for the back seat before the clerk could reach out and grab the cute puppy. I'm beginning to think they are hopeless candidates for travel companions.
The day ended with a unexpected gift. My Kentucky cousin, for whom I had made the cemetery trip, had sent me an email with scans of the marriage license and bond for my ggg-grandfather Hodge. I had heretofore only managed to uncover the registry entry for the marriage and now I have the documents, complete with his signature and the signature of his father-in-law, my gggg-grandfather Reese.
Vacation day 1 successful.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
To walk a block in this neighborhood takes about 15 minutes, not counting momentary stops to sniff and poop. We walked hard and when we got back, two happy little dogs hit their bed under my desk and didn't say a word for a couple of hours.
And it only took once to establish a new routine. The next evening they met me at the door saying, "Let's go!".
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The heathen cats have been mesmerized by the shifting of their environment. They have clambered over everything that has been moved, checking each piece of furniture or knick knack. They have been frustrated that something may move multiple times before it comes to a final rest, so just as they think they know where everything is, Mom throws them another curve.
I decided to reactivate a little fountain temporarily and that really got their attention.
I'm sure by the end of the day all of the rocks will be lying in the floor. I would not wish my so called helpers on my worst enemy. They are beginning to think Mom has rechristened them "Stop that!" and "Get down from there".
If they knew I am planning to order in a supply of Soft Paws, they would probably be packing their little bags.
Dog baths, Mom bath, good book, amaretto and Sprite, chaise.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I'm working up to a massive redo of the family room and when a local furniture store started a going out of business sale, I decided to take a look and see if there was anything that might give me some ideas. Two weeks ago I stopped by for a quick look and a certain flowered easy chair screamed at me from clear across a crowded room. I really wasn't ready to puchase furniture just yet, but I kept thinking about that chair. Last Wednesday I stopped for a second look and it was still calling my name from across the room. So I splurged. Today it came home and settled itself in my study with a satisfied grunt. Home at last.
The animals are not quite sure what to make of it. To make things more interesting, as I was paying for the chair, a chaise lounge winked at me. I've always wanted a chaise lounge in my bedroom and this one had been marked down to half price. What was I to do?
Now the bad thing is that there is no way the chaise will fit into my bedroom as it currently stands. One day I may have room for it, but until then it will have to live in the family room. It is so comfy that I anticipate many naps and pleasant evenings of tv watching. It's big enough to hold me and two little dogs and let us all stretch out. (No picture; it's draped in a large blanket to discourage cat vandalism until they get used to having it around.)
Today was the semi-annual fundraising meeting of the McDade Cemetery Association. Aunt Bill, cousin Lisa and I were able to attend for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Nothing like a small community potluck for the opportunity to eat some good, old-fashioned home cooking. (Diet? What diet?)
After the meal was a white elephant auction and I brought home two new plants, which I can't bring into the house because of the cat vandals. I'm beginning to wonder just who is in charge around here.
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The heathen cats are systematically wrecking the house in retaliation for being shut out of the garage for the winter. I knew the plants would not stand a snowball's chance in hell of wintering inside with those two, so I opted to clear a space in the front of the garage where I could open the door and give the plants some fresh air on warm winter days. The cats are furious that their roaming territory has been cut back. So they are fighting back by tearing things up, running between my feet, chasing each other through the house and peeing on the dog beds. The odds are running about 50-50 which of us is going to win this new war.
In other news, I've hit the clothing sales and restocked for cooler weather. In the process I discovered that I am still slimming down, though not actually losing more weight. Things are still shifting around, it seems. The frustration level was high when nothing I tried on looked good on me and then it occurred to me that I might be trying on the wrong size. Sure enough, getting a size smaller fixed the problem and gave me an ego boost at the same time.
Today I found a great chair at a local furniture store and may have found my new sofa as well. That is the first sign that the living room redo has begun. Both just happen to match the new afghan I've started to knit, so I guess I'm fully attuned to my redecorating muse. (I'm guarding the new afghan against marauding cats. Wish me luck.)
My support of Jane Seymour on Dancing With the Stars was toppled last night as she became the latest to be voted out of the competition. Each season I pick out my favorite, only to have my hopes dashed along about this point of the process. Last season I stood faithfully by Billy Ray Cyrus, even though I knew it was a lost cause from the beginning. Jane actually did very well, but just could not overcome her English lady persona. The elegant dances suited her well, but she just could not produce the earthy element necessary for the Latin dances. Ah, well, I shall shift my allegiance to Marie Osmond, who will probably fall by the wayside next. Still, both of them have proved that the 40+ and 50+ folks are worthy competitors.
My latest genealogy exploits are centered on scanning ancient Elgin newspapers, looking through the personals columns for mention of my kinfolks. I have found my grandfather listed in the honor roll for spelling, my great aunt's graduation from McDade High School, my great and great-great grandmothers visits to other relatives' homes and various marriages and reports of illness. Tiny little glimpses into the past, circa 1910, 1916, and 1923, courtesy of the Elgin Historical Society which is releasing a year's worth of papers on CD as fast as they can scan them.
Life is settling back into normal patterns at last. Thank you notes have been dispatched following Daddy's memorial service, annual reviews for Mother's health care have been filed, I am once again tackling the pile of family papers, photos and memorabilia, and planning the next ancestral quest vacation. And the time has changed back to where it should be. Onward to the holiday season.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Earlier this week, I followed an impulse to take this alternate route on the way home. It was the first time I had done so since the harvesting of the corn and cotton. I glanced over at the field as I drew up even to the historical marker and was surprised to see that there was a cemetery there after all. It had been blocked from view by the crops that were planted around it. It is smack dab in the center of the field, surrounded by a barbed wire fence, and looks to contain only three or four grave markers.
What do you bet that one of these days when I'm not wearing heels that I'm going to have to stop and trudge out to visit these folks? This has to be one of the smallest cemeteries I've ever run across.
Not a bad place to spend eternity - surrounded by the cycle of planting and harvest.