Monday, September 29, 2008

Ole Blue Eyes

Some folks will immediately think of Frank Sinatra, but for me it was always Paul Newman who was "Ole Blue Eyes".

I remember watching Cat On a Hot Tin Roof with my parents way back in the sixties. I would watch it with my father on many an occasion after that. It is an exquisitely written play, but it was enhanced multi-fold by the performances of Burl Ives and Paul Newman on the screen. I think Daddy and I were both particularly fond of the "mendacity" scene in the basement where father and son confronted their demons.

I remember The Long Hot Summer where Paul Newman played opposite his wife Joanne Woodward. It was sultry and steamy and sexy as all get out. And then I remember the two of them in a bit of fluff called Rally Round the Flag, Boys! that came from the same pen as the man who wrote the novel behind the Dobie Gillis television series. The atmosphere of the two movies was as far apart as could be, but I loved watching them play against each other at both ends of the spectrum.

We went to see Hombre with Daddy somewhere, possibly at the theater in Gonzales. For sheer enjoyment of those blue eyes, there is a scene in that movie where you can swim in them. The movie wasn't the greatest, but the scenery (particularly those blue eyes) was fabulous.

I especially remember sitting in the dark theater and watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid the first time. The team of Newman and Redford was magical. I just ate it up with a spoon, as Butch would say. A few years later they were even better in The Sting. I loved Newman as the drunken Henry Gondorff at the beginning.

There were many other performances where Newman did what he did best. He was never anything but absolutely enjoyable. And he did many things to prove he was a good, decent person in private life. I've enjoyed many a bottle of Newman salad dressing, feeling good that some of the proceeds went to charity.

I am going to miss those blue eyes and the man behind them. He was one of the greats.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Signal Interference

Watching TV in bed has become problematic. There always seems to be some interference. Time Warner denies it lies in their purview.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Have This to Say About That

Warning: I am way tired this week and up to my eyeballs with bureaucratic bull poop, so I'm stepping back up on the political soapbox.

Let me get this straight. When the Democrats last held the White House we ended up with a treasury surplus if I remember right. We weren't involved in a senseless war. We didn't have a systematic attempt by the top cats to feed their own bank accounts at the expense of the little guy who was barely able to make his house payment and put food on the table. The Republicans felt threatened by this.

So, we now have a HUMONGOUS economic problem. We lost several thousands of our young men and women in a war that should never have been started in the first place, with no end in sight. We hear every day how somebody used their office to lie and steal from the little guy or to screw the environment or render our elderly unable to afford necessary medication or medical care.

So how is it nobody is saying the obvious? It's the current administration that got us here. Why should we believe that anything will be different 4 years from now unless we completely disable the political machine that is behind it?

Not to mention the absolute drivel that is dribbling out the mouths of the McCain/Palin ticket?

For heaven's sake, isn't it bloody obvious what needs to happen? Throw the lying fat cats out of Washington and at least give us a chance to begin to fix what they've screwed up in such an incredibly short period of time.

The Republicans are terrified what will happen if the Democrats get back in power. But I ask you - how could it possibly be any worse than what we've got right now?

Don't answer that. I don't want to think about the possibility.


P.S. Step 2? Turn lobbying into a prosecutable offense.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How Quickly We Spoil

I've still got custody of the Ford Explorer for another week or so. I've been driving it around Bastrop on the days I work at home. Today was the first time I drove it following a full week with the Prius. I found myself getting mildly annoyed when I would reach for the handle of the door and it didn't automatically beep a greeting and unlock. And I had to go back to using a key, for heaven's sake!

Yeah, I like being spoiled. The latest report on gas mileage is an average of 48+ miles per gallon and I even saw a flicker to 49 for a minute or so. My first time at the gas pump? $25.00 to fill it up.

Tomorrow I put it in the shop to have the window tinting done. The sun's so bright, I gotta wear shades, as the song goes.

Still happy and with no regrets.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

It Progresses

I told you the purchase of that little tin garage would lead to more. So far I've added the fire station, the dalmatians Cinder and Ella (in the firehouse door), a firetruck, a mechanic's lift and toolbox, and the drive in.

The drive in sign lights up. Neat, huh?

Another street scene is taking shape. I just can't control myself.


Critter TV

"If someone would open this door, we could have cardinals jubilee for dessert tonight."

"Or maybe chicken-fried squirrel."

Recently overheard at the All You Can Eat Critter Cafe scenic observation point.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Funny Name, Fine Family

Today was my second time to attend the Mobley-Turnipseed Family Reunion and I think I've just about become an adopted member of the family. I was invited last year by a Turnipseed in-law who is researching his wife's family and wanted to compare research notes on the Mobley line we share. (His wife and I are 4th cousins, both of us descending from Reason and Lucretia Mobley.)

Attending last year's reunion allowed me to finally meet another long-time Mobley researcher, and the three of us have since shared emails, visits at the McDade and Oak Hill cemetery association meetings, and traded photos and research notes that have helped us all plug holes in our family group sheets. Group efforts, especially genealogy group efforts, are a good thing.

The reunion includes a fund-raising auction, just like the one we have every year at the Frankum reunion. This one was a little less lively (the Frankums are a boistrous bunch who really enjoy their auction), but there was a point in the proceedings that was very familiar. At both, there is always a bid no matter what is offered but if an item comes on the auction block that has to do with family history, you can count on a bidding war.

Even the non-genealogists love to grab a piece of family history. A few years back I won a fierce battle for a silver locket that contained a curl of my great-grandmother's hair. That was a battle I did not intend to lose and neither did several of my cousins, but once I make my mind up to have something I usually get it. That particular battle was an expensive one.

Photo collections are always a popular item and it was probably fortunate for my pocketbook that I was not able to attend the 2008 Frankum reunion. It was a photo album that took top dollar at this year's reunion and the winner paid considerably more than I did for the locket.

It was a photo collection that produced today's bidding war. Three of the family members were bidding against each other so rapidly that the starting price of $50 soared within minutes to the winning bid of $200.

This was an inspired idea and a very appreciated one. More than 100 individuals are featured in the collage and there was almost always a crowd of folks standing around it, studying the familiar family faces.

There were other displays of family devotion today. A memorial board with the photos and obituaries of the family members lost. A special presentation to a WWII veteran. Family stories and gentle teasing floating around the room. The solid bonds of a family.

Before the day was complete I had been encouraged by several to come again next year. My blood ties to the Turnipseeds may be faint, but their generous hearts welcome even the most distant cousins to the family fold.

They're good people.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Everyone Wants to Be Me

One of those movies I watch anytime I happen across it is Overboard. Yeah, I know, it's fluff and a chick flick. So sue me. I love Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell and together they are great fun.

Toward the beginning, after having been told off by Kurt's character for being a bored, rich bitch, Goldie flops down and says "I'm not bored! I'm happy! Everyone wants to be me!"

It's not often I get somewhere before everybody else, so I'm enjoying my brief stint as leader of the pack. For all that I work with a bunch of lawyers who travel incessantly by car, not one of them has yet ventured into the hybrid market. Of course they get a travel expense, which makes gas consumption in today's world a little less painful than it is for those of us not on an expense account. And the vast majority of them are Republicans and in denial.

But, there has been some interest in Big Red. One of the partners was in the parking lot when I was leaving for home today and came over and inspected it, sat in the driver's seat and asked me how I was liking it so far. I told him I was loving it, especially that little number in the lower center of the dash:

That's a whopping 47.6 miles per gallon I've averaged over 253 miles. When the salesman showed me this display, he remarked that I would find myself changing the way I drive. I snickered. I've been driving for thirty-four years and perfectly happy that I know what I'm doing. But, you know what? I'm enjoying seeing how my driving affects the rate those little green cars pop up. Every little green car on the display is a certain level of energy I have regenerated by lowering my speed, not accelerating faster than necessary, coasting down hills, and other things that help my over-all fuel consumption. (They pop up more frequently in city driving, where you regenerate energy every time you brake. The solid yellow columns represent highway travel.) Toyota knew what it was doing when it included this little screen.

For the last few months, ever since I put in the order, I've been drooling over the odd Prius as it passed me on the highway or sat next to me in the grocery store parking lot. I was even drooling over the icky green version. I am tootling happily down the road now, confident that someone else who hasn't made it to the top of the waiting list yet is looking on with envy.

For once I have made an intelligent decision and lead the way. For once I'm not trailing along in every one else's dust. I'm having a really good time with my little high-tech baby.

Now, for those of you who haven't actually been close to one or know someone who owns one, guess how long it took me to get used to that weird little gear shift?

It's that funny little grey knob to the right of the steering wheel. Forward, Neutral and Reverse. Who needs all those other positions? Bet you never use anything but P, D, R and sometimes N. The button above the gear shift is for Park. And the button just left of the air vent is what you press to start the car. No key. Really. That's been the hardest thing to get my head around. My remote sits in my purse and so long as it's in the vicinity, I have access to my car and can start it with just that button.

Too cool. Very weird. I love it.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I'm not much for being around kids of the toddler stage. They are loud. They bounce around a lot. They are often sticky. They are needy.

I adore being around my dogs. They are loud, especially when the squirrels are busy at the bird feeders. They bounce around a lot, from the front windows to the back windows to chasing the cats down the hall to checking out every single thing I do. They are often sticky (we won't describe the nasty things they find to roll around in). They are needy (I seldom sit for more than a minute or two without a warm body tucked in beside me).


It occurred to me awhile back that my unease around small kids might be alleviated if I just pretended they were dogs. It worked. I started talking to them like I talk to Coco and Mojo. If I know their parents well enough, I might share that information and they understand. I'm careful, though. Some parents get a little torqued at the idea.

A close friend of mine has a toddler who is approaching the age of two. I don't see Victoria very often, but she's a cutie and she now has her own blog. (You can find a link over in the left column.) A few days back she included a poem called The Toddler's Creed. It could just as easily be The Rat Terrier's Creed.

The Toddler's Creed
If I want it, it's mine.
If I give it to you and change my mind, it's mine.
If I can take it away from you, it's mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it has your name on it, it's mine.
If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
If it's mine, it will never be yours, no matter what.

Several of my readers out there are grandmothers and dog lovers. Thought you might appreciate the sentiment.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Learning Curve

So, I sat up last night and read most of the book on the navigation system. It's got a lot to it, but it seemed relatively simple. I have the attitude that no computer is going to get the best of me, at least not easily. I decided to go get some takeout for Sunday lunch to 1) give myself an excuse to take Big Red out for a small outing and 2) so I would not have to cook. Before I left, I played around with the navigation system a little and added my office address in anticipation of letting it tell me how to get there on Tuesday. In a side note here, I will add that I was surprised and pleased to see that it was now recognizing the name of the street I live on, even though initially it had told me such an address did not exist. GPS in action.

In another little side note, I discovered that the visor lights were not broken after all. The switch was set wrong. Always go back and read your manual and possibly save a ribbing from the service department. I wasn't born yesterday by a long shot.

So I headed out to the highway on my fast-food mission and did not realize that I had inadvertently told the car to go to work. Just before I reached the intersection with Highway 95, a loud voice informed me to turn right. It's not readily apparent how to switch off the guidance system, so I decided to wait until I was stopped to puzzle it out. So, until I reached Taco Cabana and took my place at the end of the drive thru line, I kept hearing the voice tell me to take the next legal U-turn. Every time I would pass a place that would allow that, you could almost hear the thing sigh in disgust and tell me where the next legal U-turn could be found.

It took me awhile, but I was able to find out how to disengage the guidance system and turn the volume down on the disembodied voice. I had plenty of time because the aftermath of the hurricane is that everybody is headed the other direction today and the highway business district was buzzing with people stopping for gas, food and restroom breaks. The folks at Taco Cabana and Wendy's had reached the glazed-eye state and the traffic was still coming.

It's disappointing that I won't be driving Big Red to work tomorrow. A co-worker is coming through Bastrop to pick me up and transport me to the office where I can retrieve the Explorer and bring it home. But come Tuesday I intend to start giving that navigation system a run for its money. I'm already looking forward to my scheduled trip to Dallas next month and testing it out under high-stress driving where I don't have a clue where I'm going. (At least I'm not starting with Houston.)

Oh, yeah, another cool thing. My car and my new cell phone communicate with each other and if I get a call it comes across my radio speakers and I can talk handsfree. Am I a high-tech granny or what?


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cafe de Pine Forest

I thought I had two squirrels. Today I discovered I have three. I looked out the door and not a bird could find a place on the bird feeders because of big fat squirrel butts in residence.

The dogs are incensed. I think it's rather funny. I let the dogs out every now and then to run them off long enough for the birds to get a chance.



I've probably written about this before, but I forget. The first hurricane I can remember was Carla. 1961, I believe. We were living in Oak Hill at the time. That storm came in at Corpus Christi and the eye passed directly over Austin. I remember lots of rain blowing across the road. Several family members from the coastal area had evacuated to Austin and there was a great big gathering of them at Aunt O's house. We went over to visit and I can remember lots of people all towering over me. The cousins were playing dominoes off and on. The women were preparing food. Lots of laughter while it poured outside. I guess that was the first Frankum reunion I attended.

A few years later Beulah came across south Texas when we lived in Smiley. We missed a couple of days of school because of that hurricane. Over a two day period we received 22 inches of rain and Smiley was completely cut off on three sides of town. We drove down to look at the water where the roads were flooded and, as always, Daddy had to drive up too close for me. I had visions of being sucked into the raging water. I never have liked being close to a lot of water.

I can remember Celia, which also came in at Corpus I think. It did not have much effect on me, but in later years I worked with a girl who had lived there at the time and she told some horror stories. They were teenagers and looking forward to a hurricane party. Celia turned out to be a lot nastier than they expected. A couple of the kids had ventured out for some reason and were driving along when my friend happened to look in the rear-view mirror and realized that a tornado had formed and was chasing them. She said she was never blase about hurricanes again.

I've never had any desire to live near the coast and when these bad hurricanes come toward Texas, I am glad that I don't have to try and decide what to put in the car and take with me to safety. I prefer to be in a position to offer refuge to stranded kinfolk.

As I was headed home yesterday, enjoying my first drive in the new car, I turned east on Highway 290 and came face to face with the reality of Ike. Traffic was backed up, headed west for as far as the eye could see. That morning I had been surprised to see that the old nursing home in Elgin that had recently shut its doors in favor of a new facility across town and been put on the market, had been turned into an evacuation center. Buses were pulled into the parking lot and people were piling out with their bags and headed inside. I thought that was a smart idea on someone's part to put the old building to good use.

By the time I got to Bastrop, the traffic on Highway 71 had slowed considerably from the 2-3 days prior. Still, every hotel and convenience store parking lot was full. People in my neighborhood were stowing lawn furniture and other items that might get caught up in strong winds. As it happened, the storm missed us almost entirely. I had expected heavy rain over night and was surprised to wake up this morning and find nothing out of the ordinary. Until I turned on the news and saw the damage in Galveston, Beaumont and Houston.

Yesterday morning I needed a new audiobook and I decided it was an appropriate time to listen to Isaac's Storm, a recounting of the terrible 1900 Galveston hurricane where thousands of lives were lost. I was chatting about it with a friend at work who had read it and commented that it seemed that all the bad hurricanes were much further down the alphabet than they used to be. Carla, Celia, Camille, Beulah - it used to be that the deadly hurricanes were at the beginning. We decided it must be that weather forecasting has become so much more precise that more tropical depressions are identified these.

Thank goodness for the ability of the meterologists to issue early warnings now. Galveston got hit hard again this time and property damages will be great. But at least the horrific loss of life that was experienced in 1900 is now preventable with early forecasts and having the good sense to get out.

It's a good book. It can make you grateful for advanced technology. I am grateful I live far enough inland to be out of danger. It's pretty along the Texas coastline and I like to visit now and again, but I don't want to be anywhere near when hurricane season begins.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Surprise Arrival

I guess they were trying to get as many of the new cars out of the path of the hurricane as they could. I got the call at 9 AM telling me that the new baby had arrived. I picked it up and drove it out of the show room about 2PM and am cautiously making its acquaintance.

It has a dashboard that would make the Starship Enterprise envious. I've got a lot of reading to do this weekend before I will have a clue how to turn on the navigation system, much less use it. The satellite radio is installed and I don't even know where the control for that is.

I did figure out how to track my gas consumption on the trip home. It is living up to expectations. My first commute averaged 46+ miles per gallon. Ahhhh.

It is home safe and sound and has taken up residence in the garage, where it will probably sit until Ike blows on past Bastrop.

I will probably spend part of my weekend sitting in it, looking at the manual and then looking at the dashboard and trying to figure out how to use everything.

I'm in love. Not one particle of buyer's remorse. I plan to be the little grey-haired lady buzzing around town in her little red hot rod and making everybody drool with envy.



Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Don't Like Ike

Ok, you need to be my age or older to remember "I Like Ike". I know I'm showing my advanced years.

Thanks to hurricane Ike, my new car is delayed in arriving. Seems it is at the distributor, somewhere in the greater Houston area, and now that Ike is toying with slamming into Houston the trucks aren't getting out for delivery on schedule. All I can say is, I hope my new baby is inside somewhere, safe from Ike's fury.

Guess instead of joy-riding this weekend, I will be sitting around twiddling my thumbs.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Marking Time

Today I was sitting in the Ford waiting room while my oil was being changed. It's something I've been doing regularly for years, about every 2 months or so. I've become a regular and I know the service writers and they know me. This morning I was sitting there, looking out the window at the familiar view, and it suddenly struck me that today was probably the last time I would be there. I almost felt like I should go to each of the service writers and say goodbye.

I'm supposed to take custody of the new Prius on Friday, hopefully, or early next week, at the worst. It's close by, getting the satellite radio added in and the optional floor mats installed. Next week I become a Toyota driver, after a succession of Fords in my life.

It was when I was writing my check that I realized that tomorrow is September 11th. It is rather appropriate that I was having my oil changed this week. You see, I was sitting in the Ford waiting room while my oil was being changed on September 11, 2001. It was on their tiny, elevated television in the waiting room that I watched the first news reports coming in about the airplane that struck the first tower. I was watching that very tv as the second airplane struck the second tower.

For as long as I live, whenever I think about September 11, 2001, I will automatically think about sitting in that waiting room with the other folks waiting on their car maintenance and the total silence that hit the room when we realized it was not an accident. As the news reports came in, we were joined by the service staff and the salesmen from next door. The room was full and nobody was saying a word.

Moments we remember. September 11, 2001, I was having my oil changed. Who knew how much our lives would be changed that day?


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Slightly Less Scary

The count on the dollhouse books is in at a mere 108 volumes. This includes some fiction set in the vicinity of a dollhouse. It occurred to me when I encountered those that I have some fiction set in the atmosphere of fiber arts that did not make it into the official count in the needlework spreadsheet. There is a mystery series by Maggie Sefton that involves a nosy amateur detective who owns a yarn store and a series of novels by Debbie Macomber that involves a group of knitters who meet and knit together at a community yarn store. That will probably raise the count in the previous post by another dozen volumes or so.

In addition to the books, I have years of magazines - Nutshell News, Miniatures Showcase, Miniature Collector, American Miniaturist and Dollhouse Miniatures in the dollhouse category and Vogue Knitting, Knitters' Magazine, and Interweave Knits in the knitting category.

At one point I had this vision of one day owning a yarn store and maybe with a few miniatures thrown in, and all this collection would be available to give ideas to my customers. Alas, every time I really wanted to explore that option, the economy took a dive. Every time the economy looked like it might support such a venture, I was involved in other things. At this point it seems like it will never happen. My vast reference library exists for my pleasure alone.

As reference libraries go, I have one last frightening category that I don't think I am going to inventory. My huge bank of Texas history, Baylor history, assorted county histories from across the nation and genealogy reference books could never be big enough to scare me into slowing down the acquisition of volumes for that section. I'll just add more bookcases. Who needs empty walls?

I envision my elder years involving a lot of sitting in a large comfy chair, surrounded by books on the subjects I love.


Thursday, September 04, 2008


We all know by now that I am an incurable collector of certain items. But sometimes you get hit in the face with the realization that you have really slipped over the edge.

For years I have been accumulating a library of knitting and crocheting and handspinning books. For those of you who don't knit and crochet, just let me say that they are not cheap. For many, many years I bought selectively because of the high prices. And then I started frequenting Half-Price Books.

At half the original price, they are reasonable. Add in the slashed prices of publisher remainders and they are dirt cheap. I started picking up one or two every time I was in a Half-Price store. I didn't have time to really read them, but I told myself I was stocking up for a rainy day. As a result, it got where I couldn't remember what books I had and what books I didn't.

So, today I decided to rearrange the 3 shelves that hold my needlecraft books (and I'm talking books here - not pattern leaflets of which there are several crammed full bins stored in the garage). So long as I was pulling them out, I decided to build a spreadsheet so I could print out a list to take along on my book buying expeditions.

It was frightening. I have 250 books relating to knitting, crocheting and spinning. Some of them are limited editions that have become desirable in EBAY circles. Some of them are the most hideous of design. Some are so dated as to be comical. And I love them all.

Next up is an inventory of my dollhouse books. It may be even worse.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Here a Smirk, There a Smirk

I usually leave the political beat to brother David, who does it so much better than I do. Everyone who knows me knows that I lean toward the Democrats, though I admit that I've voted for a Republican here and there through the years. Not lately, but it has happened.

Republicans be warned. You may want to leave now.

The thing is, up until recently I really didn't have anything against McCain except that he is a Republican, which automatically makes him suspect in my book. Other than that, I felt he was relatively ok. But now? Is is just me or has he developed a clone of that self-satisfied smirk that has danced across W's face the last 8 years?

Ever since McCain tied up the Republican nomination, I've been noticing a change. There's that smirk. And now, when he opens his mouth, out comes Republican double talk. God forbid he should give a straight answer until it's been blessed by the Republican power machine in the background. I would much rather have heard him give a straight answer on the number of houses he owns than have him duck and run until he could come up with the "correct" answer. Give me a break.

Initially I was pleasantly surprised and a lot amused at his choice of a running mate. On the one hand I figured there were a lot of Republicans out there who were having to see their orthodontists to get their jaws put back into place. My first thought was that wow, we are going to make history regardless of who wins in November and this is a good thing.

But, as time goes on and we learn more about this gal, I feel like McCain has pulled a Cheney and shot himself in the foot. If he had picked Kay Bailey Hutchinson or another high-profile Republican woman (I admit I don't keep up with who's who, so Kay is the only one I can dredge up at the moment), then it would have been a good move on his part. But Palin strikes me as the type of woman that women will hate and that will scare the pants right off the men. I didn't know one thing about her before the announcement and I don't care what her kids are up to and I still have formed a negative opinion of her because she has the smirk.

What is it with the Republican smirk? You put them up on the political pedestal and it snaps right into place. Maybe it's that smirk that causes everything that spills out of their collective mouth to sound like they wouldn't know the truth if it bit them.

Off the soap box and handing the political baton back to brother.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

My inner child kicked in again today. I've had my eye on an item at the Round Rock Antique Mall since the first visit and kept talking myself out of buying it. Until today.

I decided at lunch time that I would go see if it was still there. It was. And it was on sale. I just can't resist a good deal. The original price tag was a wee bit too high, but the dealer renting this booth was having a 40% off sale. I mean, that's almost half the original price.

So I caved in and now I'm the owner of my own pirate ship. It's a one of a kind, handmade creation that is roughly 1:24 scale. It has port holes. It has a galley with a table and benches. It has a below-decks room. It has a crow's nest. While the interior will be nigh on to impossible to alter (for lack of access), there is quite a bit of deck space that can be accessorized with pirates, parrots, treasure chest, kegs of rum and telescopes.

I've said before, it's hopeless. I have a thing for miniatures and I refuse to grow up.