Monday, April 27, 2009

Finest Kind

Little boy turns 4 years old today. Happy birthday, Mojo!

He had a full day on Sunday, supervising Mom and running squirrels off the property. He was one tired little dog at bed time and inclined to be very grumpy. But early on, he was full of the thrill of the squirrel chase.

This is also the 4th anniversary of the loss of Bebop. I feel like Mojo was sent especially to help mend my broken heart. He's done a very good job .

In other news, the mystery of the missing stapler has been solved. I know there are readers out there who think I pick on the cats, but it would appear that this devilment was the work of Scout. She's the one who wanders endlessly around the desktop, meddling in what I'm doing and what I've left sitting out vulnerable. It had been pushed off the back corner of the desk and ended up buried in computer cables. I do not accuse without good reason.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pleased With Myself

I am in reunion prep mode. Every year at this time I am trying desperately to come up with material for a family history newsletter, while at the same time trying to come up with some items to contribute to the auction we hold to raise funds for the next year's reunion.

This year, as I mentioned in a previous post, I also tackled a display board. It turned out to be a whole lot more work than I had originally intended. I had all the photos prepared and the layout determined a week or so ago, but I could not figure out how to put the lines on the board to indicate descent.

Yesterday I took myself off to the craft store yet again, looking for ideas. I've spent a lot of time scouring the scrapbooking section looking for decorative stickers to add some pizazz and I've discovered a glaring omission from the available scrapbooking supplies. Someone really needs to come up with some colored tape to use for making lines and someone needs to come up with some arrow stickers.

I finally hit on a solution - ribbon and small copper colored brads. It worked perfectly and I finalized the display board this morning.

This has been a fun project and I expect I will do one for the other side of the family for next year's reunion. I have a small mountain of genealogy and family flavored stickers left over and now I know how to make lines.

One down. I'm almost done preparing the items for auction. I still have 3 pages of newsletter to write. And the printing and assembling of that.

I just may make it on time.


P.S. Still no sign of the stapler.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sneak Thief

Awhile back I got tired of my cheap, uncooperative stapler. I took myself off to Office Max and bought a real stapler - one that had some weight on it and would actually bend the blasted staples all the way instead of jamming half-way through when stapling a big stack of two sheets of paper.

My new stapler is missing. How does one misplace a regulation office stapler that weighs about half a pound? Last I saw it, it was sitting there on my desk awaiting instructions. It has been about two weeks since I've laid eyes on it.

I do most of my work in my office, but just to be on the safe side because I'm a little old lady who is getting forgetful, I have trekked upstairs and downstairs and fore and aft and I cannot find my stapler anywhere.

I'm pretty sure no one broke in and took my stapler. That leaves me, two cats and two dogs as the suspects. I include myself because of the heretofore mentioned forgetfulness.

But I find myself eyeing the cats speculatively. You wouldn't think they could carry off a half-pound stapler, but then you never know.

This may be a conspiracy to make me think I'm losing my mind.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Not as it Seems

Once upon a time, a long time ago, when I was a whole lot younger than I am now,

Nipper and I had our photo taken standing on the Four Corners monument. This is the only place in the United States where 4 state boundaries meet. You can stand simultaneously in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.

Well, that's what we were led to believe.

This morning I heard a disturbing news story on NPR. It seems that the survey that placed the 4 corners location many years ago was faulty. A new survey has determined that the 4 corners location is actually 2-1/2 miles from this spot.

I feel betrayed. I assured Nipper that he was standing in 4 states at the same time, a rare feat for a little rat terrier from Texas. Oh, the disappointment!

The rest of the story is that they do not intend to change the location of the Four Corners monument. I guess it would be too much trouble to relocate all the little tourist stands with the tacky trinkets that border the monument.

Ah, well. Out in the endless Western desert, what's a piddling 2-1/2 miles anyway? I've been in all four states concerned and there's no way I would be able to tell the difference between this spot and the real spot. So, as far as I'm concerned, Nipper and I were standing in 4 states that day.

Ain't no way I'm going back to that desolate spot to get my photo taken in a more accurate location. It's all sand and scrub brush and hot out there. I was close enough.


Monday, April 20, 2009


I've been working on a newsletter in my mind for the last couple of weeks. The two hours I spend on the road everyday is good for mental composing of content and articles. Maybe it was that I was mulling on this afternoon.

Or, I had just stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few groceries to tide me over a couple of days until time for a major grocery trip. Maybe I was thinking about what I would be cooking for supper.

Or, maybe I was just enjoying listening to the Bertie Wooster story that was spinning out over the stereo.

Whatever I was thinking, my mind was preoccupied - until I realized I had just shot past a highway patrol car at a speed of about 75 mph.

Boom! I was back to earth and saying a few choice words as I let up on the accelerator, but it was too late. I watched him turn around and come after me. I said a few more choice words, but there was really no denying that he had caught me red-handed.

I've never had a speeding ticket in my life. I was not happy with myself. But I was resigned to accept the medicine. I apologized and admitted I had been day-dreaming.

So maybe I reminded him of his mother. Or, maybe he thought he had a hot rodder in a red sports car and was surprised to see a little old granny lady instead. Or, maybe he was amused when it took me 5 tries to find the insurance card that had not expired. (I really need to clean out the glove compartment.) Or, maybe he was just a nice guy.

He let me off with a warning and thanked me for being cordial about the whole thing.


I think I will be using the cruise control for a few days.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday News Report

I have both good news and bad news.

First, the bad news. I got word yesterday afternoon that an Austin institution has died. Sarah Ransom, the crusty owner of the Dry Creek Cafe and who retired to the country a few years back, passed away on Thursday a week shy of her 96th birthday. She definitely left her mark on Austin, having earned the appellation "meanest bartender" for refusing to take any crap off anybody, especially her customers.

Normally I would not have been aware of the meanest bartender in Austin, since I don't frequent bars. Sarah's beer joint, however, was directly across the street from the house where an old friend lives and I remember one night in particular when she scared the bejesus out of me.

My friend was down with a bad back and I had stopped by to deliver some restorative soup for his supper. A short while after I arrived, he decided he needed to go to the hospital and had me call for an ambulance transfer. The ambulance had barely pulled into the driveway before Sarah was storming up the stairs and demanding to know what was going on. She was half my size and twice my age, but I cowered in her wake as she proceeded to direct the entire process of getting the patient down a steep staircase and into the ambulance. She was no nonsense and she did not suffer fools gladly and somewhere inside was a heart of gold. She was one of a kind and whether you liked her or feared her or thought she was an old battle-axe, she earned your respect. I bet she has the angels stepping lively right now.

In the arena of good news, today I attended my first meeting of the Lost Pines Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was unanimously accepted into their membership (pending approval of papers proving my eligibility, of course). About 25-30 local professional women attended a brunch in a historic house in Bastrop. I reaquainted myself with a few ladies I knew from past business dealings and I acquainted myself with a lady who turned out to be old friends with cousin Maxine. I ate well, toured a beautiful Victorian house, and was reminded how nice it is to be able to socialize with smart, professional women who share my interest in historical preservation. Hopefully my application will go together smoothly and I can make this a regular activity.

When I arrived home, I went out to check on my vegetable garden and make sure the heavy rain this morning had not caused any damage. On the contrary, my little tomato plants have shot up over the past few days of rainy weather.

And if you look closely, you will see the first actual green tomato .

Home grown tomatoes. Nothing better.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Can SEE Myself

Sometimes you just have to do things the right way. Big Red has been Big Dingy lately and it was the kind of ground in grime you have to deal with by hand washing. Since it was a beautiful afternoon, I decided to get the job done today. It really wasn't that hard a job since Big Red is considerably smaller than my last few vehicles and it really was worth the effort.

I had lots of help from the wee ones, who watched from the comparative safety of the garage. They don't trust Mom to resist the temptation to splash puppies with the water hose. Since I usually do the car washing at a commercial car wash with high-power water options, this was the first time they had witnessed such insanity and they were somewhat perplexed about the whole thing. After I had finished and I hooked them to their leashes for their afternoon walk, Coco had to go investigate by rearing up on the bumper and giving it a good sniff. She still had no idea what the whole point had been, but if Mom wanted to do it, she would stand by her right to do so.

Coco nearly gave me a heart attack this morning. This was my day for working at home this week and they were beside themselves with joy when they realized it. As we headed down the staircase to the office, they were frisking on the stairs and Coco lost her balance about half-way down. She rolled, butt over teakettle, bouncing down the stairs until she hit the tile at the bottom with a thump. I had visions of a broken back or neck or at the very least a dislocated leg. She was a bit dazed for a few seconds, but I think it was the shock of it. There seems to have been no damage done. Except for my nerves, which took a beating. Hell of a way to start the day.

In other news, I finally lost the Carol Brady look I had going the last couple of weeks. I was sadly in need of a trip to the hairdresser for more reasons than one, but the primary issue was a hideous shag effect that had developed on my neck. The shag is gone, the color revived and I look a little less like a middle-aged matron now. One really should have a rejuvenating trip to the salon before one's birthday. It just might help reduce the shock.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cut and Paste

What is more satisfying than wielding scissors and paper and sticky stuff? I've had fun all day today, working on a display board for the upcoming family reunion.

It's not the display board I had planned to make. I attended a family reunion last year where there was a memorial display board, with obituaries and photos of the family members who were no longer with us. That was the display board I intended to make, but it wasn't long before I realized that I had started too late for that one to happen this year. I was missing too many photos and too many obituaries to do a complete job. Maybe next year.

So I changed my direction and started to work on a board that will display the family group sheets for the 3 earliest generations I have confirmed, which takes us to the grandparents level of our oldest living generation. A generous display of photos and quotations about family will be included. I am in the arranging phase of things and I'm making a lot of progress, primarly because the heathen cats have not yet caught on to what I'm doing. I fully expect that the whole thing may hit the floor before nightfall and I'll have bits and pieces flying every which way.

What I'm not getting done is the annual newsletter for the reunion. As usual, I'm going to end up writing like mad at the last minute and desperately trying to get the thing finished in time. I never learn.


Friday, April 10, 2009

A Good Good Friday

This was a good day from start to finish. To begin with, my office has long had the policy of giving Good Friday as a holiday. It generally falls close to my birthday, so it's like getting a day off as a birthday present.

This morning I started the day with a trip to the vet's to get the last booster for a vaccination that is required for Coco and Mojo to board when I'm on trips. I wasn't looking forward to the chore because I hate that they almost always get a needle in the rear when I take them for a ride. Might have something to do with their dislike of traveling.

However, today they made the trip with relative calm. They were not upset when they realized they were at the vet's. They weren't happy to be taken off, leaving Mom behind in the waiting room, but they were quickly back and one of the techs sat down on the couch with them while I settled their bill. I was pleased to see that both of them were wiggling with pleasure as the tech petted them and cooed to them and BOTH of them gave her nose kisses. It was evidence that they remembered her from their first boarding experience and that they were happy to see her again. It was quite a relief to me to see that they were comfortable. It will make boarding them next time a less traumatic experience for Mom.

We spent a couple of productive hours after that working on a display board I'm putting together for next month's family reunion.

And then I headed to Smithville to attend a book signing stop by one of my favorite local authors, Susan Wittig Albert, who just started her latest book tour. What fun I had for the next two hours.

I got there early enough to buy two books and get them signed and personalized and to get the opportunity for a little bit of chatting with Mrs. Albert. I discovered her at the beginning of her writing career thanks to an article in the local newspaper when she published a book about her decision to leave a high position with Southwest Texas State University, along with its stresses and academic politics, and pursue her first love of writing. Shortly thereafter she began a mystery series which I have read faithfully and this book tour was to promote the 17th volume in that series.

I had purchased a first edition of Work of Her Own, the book she had written just before she embarked on writing mysteries and I took it along with me today. She was gracious enough to sign it and remembered my name when she mentioned it later on during her talk.

I was not sure what to expect at an event like this to be held in a little town like Smithville, but it was a pleasant surprise to see how many people turned out and how many were enthusiastic fans who knew as much or more about the characters in her series than I did. Mrs. Albert spoke for an hour, entertaining us with tales about how she got to where she is (she is one of those people in a long line of folks who have penned Nancy Drew books) and how she writes. The hour zipped by and then she spent another half-hour answering questions from the audience. It was a most enjoyable way to spend a holiday afternoon.

A certain psychic whose audience I have sat in twice at events in Austin has made the comment that things happen for a reason. I think today is evidence of the truth of that. A lady sat down in the row ahead of me as we waited for the presentation to begin and struck up a conversation with me that quickly turned to genealogy and the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I've been invited to attend their next meeting as her guest, which meeting is scheduled to be held at one of the historic houses in Bastrop. She was joined later by a lady who has been, until recently, serving on the board of the Bastrop Public Library and we had another conversation about the possibility of my getting involved with that group.

But there was another coincidence involved with this chance encounter with the two stranger ladies. The first lady has been caring for her husband who has dementia and she herself has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I'm not even sure how we got to those subjects, but when she found out I had experience in caregiving in both areas, she was full of questions, especially pertaining to her fears of what might be coming in her future. I feel like I was maybe positioned in that spot in the audience so that she might have someone to talk to that could relate to the difficulties she faces and provide a sympathetic ear for a few minutes on a rare afternoon of freedom.

I ended the day with a stop to pick up my favorite take out dish at my favorite Mexican restaurant. While it kept warm in the oven, the wee ones and I took a nice long walk around the neighborhood and then returned home to feast. Now we plan for early to bed and late to rise.

On a scale of 1 to 10 - today gets an 11.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

He's Back

There is a price you pay for living in the suburbs - like 110 mile round trip commutes to work - but I love living in the country. And today was one of those times I recognize why I do.

We were just talking this past weekend about the fact I had not yet seen the resident roadrunners this spring. Today when I got back home from a quick shopping trip, I stepped out of the car and this guy was standing in the neighbor's yard watching me.

I talk to all the animals, so I just naturally opened the conversation with "where have you been?" He cocked his head and moved toward me. I kept jabbering at him, while keeping perfectly still, and he kept coming. I was wishing the camera was a little more accessible, because I knew as soon as I reached back in the car, he would head the opposite direction.

While I love birds, I don't like being too terribly close to them. He just kept coming and, I kid you not, was within 4 feet of me and still coming when I spooked and moved. He gave me a disgusted look and headed off. I reached in the car, grabbed the camera and followed him, trying to apologize and get him to come back.

He was having none of it. I had my chance to get up close and personal and I blew it.


I've Become Sophia

It hit me this morning. You remember the Sophia Petrillo character from the television show The Golden Girls? I think I've become that little old lady.

A few weeks ago I started keeping my cell phone at little more at hand because a lot more essential places and people now have that number as the primary contact number for me. Its normal place of residence is a perfectly sized pocket in my purse and, since I generally don't have pockets and if I leave it out on the counter I forget where it is, when I head upstairs or downstairs for long stretches of time, I just grab my purse and haul it with me.

This morning I had just put on my chenille robe and was headed downstairs to start my day of working at home. I grabbed the purse on the way down and it was then that I realized the picture I was making. A middle-aged woman in a chenille bathrobe and clutching my purse when I had no intention of leaving the house.

I think this last birthday may have marked my official descent into geezerdom.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

39 and Holding

I've decided Jack Benny had the right idea. Today I'm 39. Again.

For awhile it was my custom to take the week of my birthday as vacation and to schedule a genealogy research trip. That started way back when it became the custom at work to trash your office with streamers and confetti and balloons. One year, when I turned 39, I decided I just wasn't up to that kind of thing anymore and decided to vacate the premises and just avoid the messy cleanup afterwards.

The other benefit of taking vacation during my birthday week was that it corresponded to the switch to daylight savings time and I could get adjusted gradually. They really fouled up that plan when they bumped daylight savings time to mid-March.

But thanks to uncooperative airline schedules and weather concerns, the last few times I turned 39 the genealogy trips got scheduled later in the month, but generally there was still a trip sometime during April. This year it just didn't work out. Back when it would have been time to book airline tickets, the prices were out of sight and there was no assurance the airlines would even still be in business by the time we got there, so we opted to stick to a year of research close to home. I have mini-trips coming up (long weekends), but no week long excusions on the horizon. It feels a little strange after so many years of Salt Lake City in April and Arkansas in April and Indiana/Illinois in April and Kentucky in April.

But Texas in April is nice, too. Bluebonnets. Wrens building nests in the back yard. Tomatoes coming along nicely on the deck. And spur of the moment rambles in the country.

Today little brother came down to take me out for a birthday lunch and we decided to try a place recommended by my aunt that is a 20 minute drive to a place on the other side of Paige. We drove and drove and drove and decided we had missed it and, just as we were planning to turn around at the next wide spot in the road, there we found the Elm Creek Cafe. It was well worth the wait.

So, replete with chicken fried steak on my part, and stuffed flounder on his part, and fried green tomatoes and dewberry pie on both our parts, we decided it would be nice to wander back home by a different route. We ended up driving through Lexington and then to Blue and then to Knobbs Springs where I suggested I show him an old cemetery that you get to by hiking through a pasture.

Just as we got a good ways inside the gate and were heading over the dam to the cemetery, we realized we were not alone. A lone goat bleated to us from the next pasture over, but dead ahead of us were a half-dozen cattle standing there staring at us, trying to decide if we would be feeding them or they should high-tail it to the other end of the pasture. I kept walking toward them and shooing them away when little brother started hanging back and observed that one of them was a big bull and if he headed our way, little brother would be gone. City kid. I was trying to get close enough for a good picture.

As it turned out, once they realized we had no feed for them, they turned their backs and ignored us as we kept going. We explored the little cemetery and then headed back. As we approached the little group again, Mr. Bull had turned his back on us and I remarked how much his rump looked like Mr. Mojo's. Big, black, fat and with attitude. Little brother informed me again that if the bull got up, he was outta there.

But even he was a sucker for what came next. A group of young donkeys had come in close and were really friendly. There was the really young, grabbing the opportunity for a quick snack.

There was the male of the bunch who was ready for a little head patting and sweet talk.

All of them crowded up for a little attention and we had a great visit with our fellow Democrats. Just the kind of folks I like to have show up for my birthday party. A nice surprise ending to our outing.

Once home we took a long walk through the woods with the wee ones, who were overjoyed to see their uncle. Now we are basking in the glow of a day well spent. From sweet puppy kisses when I woke up this morning, to sweet donkey kisses in the afternoon, to a satisfied tummy, it was certainly my idea of how to enjoy one's birthday.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

They Call the Wind Maria

Everyone needs a mental health day once in awhile and today was one for me. I needed a change of scenery, a change of pace and a chance to run wild for a few hours. I had initially decided I would pass on this year's Round Top Antiques Fair. (Forget March madness--down there they have an April madness and an October madness and if you've never been I can't begin to describe the magnitude of what goes on). I used to go every spring and every fall, but I've been a little hit or miss the last few years. A coworker and I had discussed earlier in the week going together, but a family obligation caused her to cancel out. I had decided not to go - until I realized I desperately needed to get out of my rut and do something different. I figured I would go ahead and hit only my very favorite spots and get back home early

I almost changed my mind this morning when I woke up to the sounds of a thunderstorm. I've been to the fair in cold weather, hot weather and many times in wet weather and it is absolutely the worst in wet weather. When I checked the weather report, the news was good. The storm was fast moving and would clear the area around 8 a.m., then clear skies and spring temperatures. Perfect. Oh, yes, they warned there would be gusty winds later on.

The first couple of stops were great. The skies were crystal blue, the temperature was in the mid to high 60s and the crowds were light. (In fact the crowds were light all day and I don't think it was because of the early morning rain. I think it was evidence of the uncertain economy. Shoppers were staying home in droves. I've never seen such low attendance. The dealers were glum.)

Driving from Warrenton to Round Top to Shelby to Round Top to Burton to Carmine is always an enjoyable journey. The country roads wind and rise and fall and on either side are beautiful pastures full of beautiful cattle. Spring is particularly nice and today I saw the first really fine displays of bluebonnets I've seen this year. Many pastures were full of bluebonnets, with a sprinkling of Indian paintbrushes and yellow daisies. I love the bluebonnets best and I love that they do their finest showing during the week of my birthday.

It was hard to find a good place to stop and take flower pictures. But then I spotted a little cemetery where the bluebonnets are dressing up every gravesite. I stopped and got my dozen or so bluebonnet closeups for 2009.

Just after I finished with my photo session, the gusty winds arrived and they weren't messing around. My last few stops had dealers set up inside huge tents that rattled and swayed and heaved and made you wonder if they would (a) collapse while you were inside or (b) rattle all the antique contents into antique shards before the afternoon was over. It was exhausting fighting the winds between tents and it was nerve-wracking to be inside and watch all the displays shuddering. I gave it up a little early and went on into Carmine and did the remainder of my antiquing in the little shops that line its 2 block main street area. The wind still blew you around while you walked from shop to shop, but at least it was more or less calm while you were inside.

The drive home was wild, with the wind tossing Big Red around like a rag doll. I was glad to get home and get inside and away from it, but I'm glad I went and got a nice dose of spring in the Texas countryside.

I saw a lot of things I wouldn't mind having, but my pursestrings are tied pretty tight right now, too. I managed to keep my purchases to two small containers for future miniature scenes. I said no to two beautiful oak barrister bookcases, an oak vanity and chair and a lovely oak library table. Antique golden oak calls to me like a magnet calls iron filings. Maybe next time. The whole shootin' match will be back the first weekend of October.