Monday, March 31, 2008
I held off today until I reached the Exxon mini-mart just outside the entrance to the subdivision, which turned out to be the cheapest price I had seen all the way from Round Rock to Bastrop. The automatic shut off had performed as it should, but I was pumping that last little bit you can fit into the tank to top it off, while being distracted by a brand new car that had pulled up to the next pump. For some reason the second auto shut off did not kick in and I spilled about a 1/3 of a cup of gasoline onto the ground. That never happens to me and I pondered for a second on how to sop it up and wring it into the gas tank. At those prices, you don't want to waste a drop.
Oh, well. It's not the first case of the high cost of distraction this week. Last night I made a casserole dish full of pork chops and vegetables and after we had eaten, decided to pop the leftovers back in for a little extra cooking. The veggies had been just a tad on the underdone side. While that was in the oven, I decided I had better make the soup kit that was about to expire its "use by" date. I had reached the "simmer for 15 minutes, covered" stage, which was just about how much I wanted the casserole to continue cooking. Patting myself on the back for being so efficient, I went to check something on the computer.
I don't remember quite what happened next, but awhile later I realized I was smelling something that had cooked too long. When I looked at my watch, I had let both cook for an hour. The pork chops are probably inedible, but that's what I'm taking for my lunch tomorrow. Teach myself a lesson, you know. The soup will be my supper tonight, cooked to death or not.
This distraction thing is getting worse and worse. Another sign of middle-age, I guess. I can remember a time when I could juggle a half-dozen tasks and not lose track of any of them, finishing each one with a flourish and on time. Nowadays I find myself getting distracted so easily and completely forgetting that I had something else going that never got finished.
It can get expensive sometimes. Like, for instance, the pound of hamburger I threw into the trashcan last night because I completely forgot it was sitting in the refrigerator. I had intended to cook it the week before, changed plans, and then forgot to put the rejected hamburger into the freezer. It was not a pretty sight when I came across it.
I recently installed a little pop up reminder software application on my home computer to wave a big flag in my face on the mornings I have a chiropractor appointment. I've missed two of them in recent months because I'm thinking of something else when I drive by their office on the way to work. I can tell myself as I get in the car to remember I have a doctor's appointment and, in the space of driving the 2 blocks to their office, completely forget they exist until I get to the office in Round Rock and open my calendar and see the notation.
I would worry about myself, but it seems to be a common problem among my friends. Too much on our minds and the accumulation of a load of exhaustion dealing with life.
Where was I? Oops, something in the kitchen is smelling burnt....
Saturday, March 29, 2008
The day started off well enough. Every year before my vacation, I find it necessary to clean out the garage because little brother's vehicle takes up more space than mine does and I want him to be able to park inside while he's here house, pet and mother sitting. I normally have a space carved out just big enough for my Explorer. This is due to the everlasting process of purging the junk we moved with us 8 years ago and the additional junk that I acquired after we lost Daddy. Today I took two full loads of good junk to the thrift store and while I know the junk-bunnies will be reproducing again, at least there is space enough for the pickup for now.
So I was pretty tired by the end of the second trip. I picked up some lunch and was feeling much more alive once I had eaten. The dogs, feeling they had been neglected, flirted with me to play a little. We were having a good time and I got the bright idea of playing hide and seek with them. This is a game we've played many times, so I did not sense impending doom.
I sent them scurrying off with a "sic the squirrel" and while they were looking the other way, dashed into Mother's bathroom to hide in the tub. This is where I got stupid.
Cindy's new #1 rule:
When you are approaching 54 and you're already tired, it is not a good idea to spring onto the side of the tub.
My foot slipped.
On the way down, in slow motion, I had a lot of time to think.
"You're going to crack your head open. If you don't do that, you're going to break a leg. Either way, your vacation is history. Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
By some miracle, I did not hit my head on the vanity as I went down. I did not break a leg. I landed, hard, on my butt and elbow. My back twisted a bit, I bumped my forehead (not hard, thank goodness), and I was turning the air dark blue with foul language, but I was in one piece. The dogs, bless their hearts, decided to run to the opposite end of the house until Mommy stopped screaming. They were not born to be rescue dogs.
I limped back to my chair, groaning. The dogs returned in about ten minutes, cautiously peering around the door before making their entrance. They still aren't entirely sure I haven't lost my mind.
Since I don't imagine I will be able to move much tomorrow, I finished up the last of the garage cleaning and I'm now sitting here feeling my abused body tightening and the bruises developing.
Way old enough to know better. Fool enough to do it anyway.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
About an hour later, I looked out on the deck and discovered our resident squirrel had opened the cage that houses the suet and dragged the entire cake into the middle of the deck, where he was gorging himself. I did not want to let the dogs out to chase him off, because I didn't want them getting into the suet. I think the little devil figured that out, because he proceeded to eat his suet, smacking his lips, just outside the glass door. The two dogs were furious at his complete disregard of their barking threats.
When he had decided he was in no danger, he proceeded to put on quite a show. He would eat awhile, then get up and dance around the deck railing. At one point he turned his back and lifted his bushy tail and, I swear, mooned the dogs.
He ate and ate until he could hold no more and then got back on the railing, where he proceeded to slide around on his belly, wiping his greasy mouth clean. He sauntered over to the corner where I have a small wind chime hanging and reached up and played with the tubes. A little after dinner music, I guess.
It was all pretty funny and I couldn't help but laugh at his audacity. He was having a grand time and I'm not sure which he enjoyed more - the suet or the impotent fury he instilled in two little dogs. Try as I did, I could not get a picture of him that wasn't blurry.
By the end of his show, poor Coco was nearly hyperventilating with frustration. Mojo was mouthing off his disgust with the situation. Mom was shaking with silent laughter.
Who needs the movies? We have plenty of entertainment in our own back yard.
Oh, yes, he was back this morning looking for more, so I guess he didn't get a tummy ache from his indulgence.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
The red-tipped photina bushes that line both decks have had their yearly trim today. It's an exhausting job and I will probably not be able to move tomorrow.
But it's done.
I hate red-tipped photina bushes.
And what's worse, when they finally succumb and go to that great deck in the sky, their stumps turn into concrete pillars that have to be blasted out by munitions experts.
I think I shall celebrate with an amaretto and Sprite over ice.
But first I have to walk the dogs and clean the fish tank.
After that comes grilled steaks and a collapse on the chaise with my glass in my hand. Spring cleaning sucks, but there are rewards to be had.
Friday, March 21, 2008
At the Bunton Cemetery in Dale I snagged photos of the graves of a distant cousin's inlaws, the Hellums. It was crisp and cool and quiet. A great start to the day.
I decided that rather than drive the familiar route back to Red Rock and then to the Pettytown Cemetery, I would instead drive some tiny county roads I had never explored. On the way I passed a small cemetery and stopped to take a photo of the gate and the few graves. Outside of the gate I got my first encounter this year with Indian Paintbrushes.
As I drove on, I missed my turn and ended up at a dead end where two or three ranches sprawled out from the road. I turned the car around and then saw a panorama of open space. Nowadays I don't get to see this much unspoiled beauty very often.
My drive along the little county roads was most enjoyable (even the backtracking to the turn I had missed). This is the kind of area where people look up when you drive by, surprised to see any traffic and automatically throwing a friendly wave. When I arrived at the turnoff to Pettytown Cemetery, I found myself driving down a lonely gravel road and then getting the opportunity to open and close a cattle gate before reaching my destination. It might sound odd to some folks, but I love the now unusual country activity of opening and closing a gate. The cemetery was in a remote pasture, but well tended. After the hustle and bustle of civilization, the chance to walk around in the country, surrounded by quiet and visible to no one, was a treat.
This is the time of year I am glad to be a Texan with country roots. Can anything be more enjoyable than a drive on a narrow Texas country road with open pastures on either side, the first bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes dotting the bar-ditches and the odd wave of a stranger as you pass? Is there anything more peaceful than passing a farmhouse where two or three old hound dogs are snoozing on their sides in the sun or more amusing than seeing two goats making the acquaintance of an inquisitive puppy? Is there anything more beautiful than a pasture of red cattle, some grazing and some dozing?
Texas is a state of mind. Only us native born children of Texas really understand what it's all about.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
And, yes, when I work at home I generally set up operations in the upstairs bedroom. It cuts down on "chat" interference from the other humans in the house. It does nothing to cut down on cat interference.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
For two weeks in the spring, however, it is transformed into a beautiful array of white blossoms. I've been told these are Bradford pear trees. I was really hoping to get a deep blue sky behind these lovely ladies, but between road construction and spring storms and a very short blooming period, I figured I had better take what I could get. Even under grey skies, they put on quite a show.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Sometimes I wonder about genetic memory. I have a real fondness for Celtic music. On St. Patrick's Day I usually listen to Silly Wizard or Clannad while commuting. Or the Chieftains. They recently put out two great albums of Celtic/Bluegrass mix. My feet will get tapping and the itch to do a jig is almost overpowering. I think it's the Irish in me, making its presence felt.
Plus, I like to sleep cuddled up to the dogs. That has to be an Irish trait.
I loved the BBC series Ballykissangel.
I like potatoes. (That they are high in carbs and are now generally avoided is killing my soul.)
I like green.
Tabhair póg dom, táim Éireannach. (Translation: Kiss me, I'm Irish. Little known fact - I once upon a time bought a set of Gaelic language tapes, hoping that I could learn to speak a few phrases. I wish I could say it worked, but it's a tough language to learn.)
If you don't have a wee bit of the Irish in your blood, I am so very sorry for you.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Goldie has the idea that Mojo is a dog. Mojo has the idea that Goldie is staff and therefore below him on the household pecking order. He just barely recognizes that I'm ahead of him, so she doesn't have a prayer.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
But the latest fashions have me stumped. I was a teenager in the late 60s - early 70s and I experienced these fashions first hand. The peasant blouses, the empire waist blouses that hide a multitude of pudginess, the bell-bottom pants. The styles I can understand making a comeback.
But the fabrics! The "mod" geometrics look so dated. The colors are so not flattering to anybody. I don't remember the real thing being so - well, boring. We looked hip. Nowadays the folks that are actually spending their money on these tired looks look - tired.
I've seen a lot of fashion styles repeated at intervals and usually there is an attempt to make them look new, while capturing the essence of the period.
Are the designers just not getting it? Or are they lazy?
I guess until they get it out of their system I shall be buying solid, basic colors. Black, white, navy, red. No dull salmon, jade and chocolate melted ice cream look for this gal.
And while I'm musing, I have another "is it just me?". I support the Susan G. Komen foundation in their search for a cure for breast cancer. I like the color pink. But, for crying out loud, why did they pick the most hideous shade of pink for their signature color? It reminds me so much of Pepto Bismol and then my stomach hurts. A nice rose pink would have been fine. A pale, pastel pink would have been fine. Another boat missed.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
A little bit of background before I give you the answer. I've been picking up odd pieces of McDade pottery over the years and this is one of the pieces I've acquired. It was offered to me back when I made the trip to take over possession of the photo albums and other family papers that had belonged to Aunt Fay. I might have passed it over, except that I had recently attended a presentation to the Bastrop County Historical Society on the subject of the McDade Pottery that was founded by my great, great-granduncle Mathew Dunkin. Among the pieces that were displayed that night was a larger version of this object. Since Aunt Fay was connected to this family line and to McDade, I figured this little piece had to be a piece of McDade pottery and I gladly adopted it.
I had guessed that this might have been some kind of fire-starter. You know, something to carry coals in from spot to spot. There is a little metal door that slides up so the coals can be inserted. But it was so small that it seemed impractical for that purpose. Whatever it was, I cleaned it up and it's been sitting in my living room ever since.
Fast forward to today. I drove out to Paige this morning to attend an antique pottery show. My purpose was not to buy more, but to see what prices were being asked for pieces similar to those in my collection. I have several jugs and crocks that have been handed down in the family and that I have bought over the years and I just wanted to get an update on market value.
Most of the pottery on display was not local McDade pottery, but was from across the state. One man in the corner, however, had a nice collection of McDade pieces and a notebook full of information on the history of the old pottery. I was going through the notebook with great interest, jotting down newspaper article dates and studying photos, when I happened to glance over at the glass case in the corner. There sat four twins to my little mystery piece, safely behind glass. A large version sat on the floor. I hunted down the seller and asked him to explain what these were.
It turns out that these were the "housewife's friend". The intention was that coals could be loaded in the bottom and then the housewife could keep her flat irons hot without heating up the whole house in the summer. The idea was that while she was using one iron, the second one would be heating up on this little warmer and she could swap them out as one would cool. The large size originally sold for $.85. I made the comment that mine was awfully little and he explained that what I had was a salesman's sample. (The toy iron shown here is from my mother's childhood.)
I was having a lot of fun talking to this fellow, when he casually remarked that he had paid $400 to $450 for each of the four examples in his cabinet and he would not sell them for less than $800. Each. My jaw dropped. Mine has been sitting on the floor, being bumped by the vacuum cleaner and battling cats. Needless to say it is being transferred to a safer place this afternoon.
When he found out that I was related to Mathew Dunkin, he pointed out 3 crocks that were genuine Dunkin work. Either Mathew or his son George had made them. He was asking $2000 each for those.
Of course the value is only what you can get someone to pay, but it's certainly nice to know that my little collection of McDade pottery is continuing to grow in value so far as the Texas pottery collector community is concerned. The ancestors are probably laughing themselves silly over the prices being asked for their ugly, mud-colored crockery.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think they are wonderful.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Then, all of a sudden, new family and old family reappear and spark the genealogy engine back to life.
This week I've added a new cousin to the family roster. She posted a message to the Frankum forum, seeking information about the Frankums in Wharton County. She had lost touch with the family over the years. Two of us Frankum researchers promptly gathered her in and assured her that she was not alone.
This week a fellow researcher in the McAfee line got back to work and has reminded me that I have some good leads that may allow me to break through a brick wall. I spent the week gathering up material to share with him and, in the process, reignited my interest in this line. The engine is stoked and I'm ready to dive into the McAfee pool with renewed energy.
The past two weeks I've been trading information with a fellow Mobley researcher and renewing correspondence with a Mobley cousin who always makes me feel better about myself when we trade emails.
Today, just as I walked in the back door, the phone rang. I answered it and found myself immediately engaged in a debate on a collateral Hodge line. The elderly man had apparently been having a conversation with himself and when I picked up, proceeded to chase his line of thought without even having introduced himself. Fortunately for him, I'm up on my Hodge line and was able to dive right in and keep up with him. When I asked him how he came to call me, he had found my website and just decided then and there that he needed to talk to me.
I was remarking to someone this week how isolated you can become when you are in a caregiving situation. You really forget that most people can drop everything and go see a movie whenever they feel like it. You forget that most folks can decide on the way home from work that they will eat out that night. There are days that you can get really hostile about being tied to the home place.
Genealogy is one of the things that keeps me sane. I have a whole network of internet cousins who are always ready to have a friendly exchange on some new item you have unearthed. Many of them I have never met face to face, but I feel like they are good friends of mine. I truly don't know what I would be like if I were in this situation without access to email and the internet.
The world is indeed getting smaller as a result. But my family is ever expanding.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
One of the new treasures is the funeral registry book from my great-grandmother Cora Mobley Hodge's funeral. I was looking through it again a few days ago and discovered this photo tucked inside an envelope intended to hold floral tribute cards. I knew some of the people, but wasn't quite sure of all of them. Today I got the confirmation back from a cousin who lives in North Carolina.
From left to right are siblings George Rice Mobley, Sallie Mobley Fariss, William Franklin Mobley, Cora Amanda Mobley Hodge, and John Morgan Mobley. They are 5 of the 7 children of Joseph and Mary Caroline (Morgan) Mobley and the photo was taken in 1939. Brother Thomas had passed away in 1928 and eldest brother Richard is absent from this group shot.
Fine looking bunch of kids.
So a few weeks ago I was watching this show and being perfectly repulsed at the slovenly state of the family's dwelling. The cleaning lady pointed out that you have to start somewhere and anywhere is better than sitting and doing nothing. I decided I would start tackling my to-do list and focus on one chore at a time, so I could at least enjoy the feeling of completing something even if the list remains long.
So, the first weekend I tackled the refrigerator. Mine never gets into the penicillin laboratory stage, but things do spill down the back and out of sight. I took everything out, washed all the shelves and drawers, scrubbed down the walls and at the end of a couple of hours I had a spanking clean refrigerator. The same weekend I got all the spiderwebs and dust bunnies that collect around the washer and dryer at a frightening pace. The next weekend I tackled the kitchen, especially the dishwasher. Over time food spatters onto the rubber seals and edges of the unit and the cabinet surrounding it and the next thing you know it's an embarrassing mess. I cleaned that little sucker to within an inch of its life, then got after the stove and microwave oven with the Windex. Maybe I'm the only one who will notice the improvement, but it's made me feel better.
Yesterday I decided it was time to tackle two more projects - replacing the living room television set that broke a couple of weeks ago and replacing the decrepit refrigerator in the garage. I headed out to the Bastrop Sears store to see if I could get the shopping done locally rather than having to make a trip into Austin. I was pleasantly surprised to find that our little store is nicely stocked with options on both counts. In the space of an hour I had picked out replacements and they are to be delivered next week and the old ones hauled off at the same time.
That extra refrigerator in the garage has become a necessity, not a luxury. I had acquired a second refrigerator while living at my old house, a leftover from the previous owner. He had bought it used and I fully expected it to expire at any time. It surprised me. It lasted all of the 12 years I lived there and when it came time to move, we hauled it to the new house and installed it in the garage. It holds the soft drinks, bottles of water, overflow of the indoor freezer and provides a place for extra food during holiday season. It has lasted 7 more years in the new location, but has begun making alarming clunk, clunk, clunk sounds when the compressor kicks on and off. I'm sure it would keep on running for awhile longer, but I decided to take advantage of a good deal and replace it before it dies. Taking action now also saves me from the severe cleaning it has been needing for some time. Sometimes it is less traumatic to just have the old one hauled off than try to clean it.
But now I have the problem of clearing the path in the garage for the delivery men before they arrive. I've been involved with an ongoing purge for several years now - first the aftermath of the move and more recently the aftermath of disposing of Daddy's belongings. As I clean out, sort, donate and dispose of each layer, I just uncover another layer that has to be tackled. Every little bit helps, but sometimes it just seems like you end up shifting piles from one location to another. It takes a long time to purge after years of life as a packrat.
But I must admit that even baby steps make you feel like you are accomplishing something. Much better than sitting around, depressed at all the work that's not getting done. I'm just going to try and focus in one one thing I can get scratched off the list and stop looking past at the crowd of jeering chores that continue to heckle me.
I've made a believer out of that dishwasher. And the other appliances are now aware that they can shape up or be replaced. Next up for review is that cranky garage door.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I was discussing the matter with a co-worker this morning and came to the conclusion that life was better back in the days when I was good at being bitchy. He's known me a very long time and he laughed when I pointed out that it just takes so much time and effort to be bitchy and I don't have the time or the energy for it right now.
But I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that it's the only answer. I'm going to have to get in the back of the closet and dig my bitchy duds out of storage.
Stand by for an explosion.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
I've begun disassembling the makeshift protection for the plants that stayed on the back deck (the ones too heavy to be hauling around to the far side of the house) and was stymied by a chameleon who was sunbathing on the tarp and just blinked lazily at me when I suggested he move along. Who am I to argue with a sun-worshipper? I'll go back to that tomorrow.
About 2 o'clock, I suggested to Mother that we take a ride in the country. I wanted to return to the Hog Eye Cemetery and swipe some of those iris bulbs I had spotted there. I figured from there we would hit a couple of cemeteries and take some volunteer photos for FindaGrave. It's quite a production for us to take an afternoon ride and I was almost tuckered out by the time I had loaded Mother in, her wheelchair in, and the dogs inside their carriers on the back seat. We finally got on our way and we made our first stop the Bastrop Sonic for a bit of lunch. The dogs were enchanted with the idea they could have food brought to the car. It was news to them.
Having finished lunch, we headed out 969, the Lower Elgin Road and up to the cemetery. I parked on the side road this time, so as to not attract attention. As quickly as I could, lest someone see me digging in a cemetery and report me for grave-robbing, I dug up a dozen or so bulbs. After we left and were about 10 minutes down the road, Mother mentioned having observed a monster snakeskin in the brush beside the road where I had parked. I'm glad she didn't tell me earlier or I might not have gone through with my plans.
We went on into Elgin and then swung east on Highway 290 and headed toward McDade. Turning onto FM696, we drove through Butler, headed toward an unknown cemetery in Blue. We got to see the Knobs clearly as we approached the little community. I was relieved to discover that the little cemetery was identified with a sign on the highway, making it very easy to find. I got the requested photos and then we headed out to our next stop at McDade cemetery.
Once again I surprised myself with how quickly I focused in on the grave I was seeking. I'm either a little psychic or my spirit guide kicks into action on these grave photo quests. It took less than 5 minutes for me to find and take the photos. The dogs got out and helped me, since I was expecting a longer walk than it turned out to be. To give them a little more of an outing, we visited our own family graves there.
From McDade we cut across country via FM2336, stopped to see the new fencing at the Oak Hill Cemetery, and then it was back to Bastrop. I decided to drive through Fairview Cemetery in Bastrop and look for new graves in an attempt to find out where an acquaintance who recently died was buried. Again, it took less than 5 minutes for us to locate his grave.
We got back home after about a 3-hour ramble. I love these rambles in the country looking for cemeteries and taking volunteer photos. I was surprised at how well Mother stood up to the unusual activity. Of course we were driving all over her former stomping grounds and that kept her interested. I sense that she will be easier to get off to bed tonight. The dogs came in and crashed on their bed under the desk.
We all needed a break in routine. Good day.
This photo was taken in May 1950 at Mary Hardin-Baylor College. A photography student, Shirley Heron, enlisted the aid of my mother (the smaller hands in the lower position) and her roommate, Ola Joyce Springer (the larger hands above), in posing the photo.
I always thought it was an interesting photo, but when I was editing the scan to resize and reduce age spots, I realized something I had never noticed before. This must have been a multiple exposure, because there's no way they could have posed to create the photo as it appears. I leave it to you to figure out why.