Saturday, October 10, 2009


I. Am. So. Ticked! I spent the entire morning over at the Sunset Valley farmers' market, in Austin, snapping fabulous pictures to share with you all. You would not believe the energy in this place. When I think about all the moms I've seen, rushing down the aisles of the grocery store with screaming kids in their carts, and compare that to this festival-like atmosphere that is obviously one of the hi-lites of these families' week, it just makes you wonder, you know?

Anyway, back to the ticked part. I took all these great pictures, including one of my favorite vendor of the day - this fabulously funky, darling young lady, who sat there shivering in the morning chill, on a stool at a tiny table, with an old-timey typewriter on it, where she cranked out customized poetry while you wait. She was just too cute! But, when I got home and tried to download the pictures, I discovered that the dial on my camera had got knocked off it's setting somehow, and none of the pictures took! Arrggghhh!

So, all you get is the one I took of all the treasures I brought home with me. In case you're not familiar with them, those are oyster mushrooms in the middle, and they are delicioso! I'll probably saute' them in a little butter and olive oil, with a splash of lemon juice or wine, and have part of it over fettucini one day, and the rest on rustic toast with a bit of that chevre another day. The green beans will get roasted with garlic and olive oil until they are caramelized and crispy, and part will be eaten warm that day, while the rest will get tossed in a vinaigrette and eaten as a salad later, with some feta or bleu cheese and a little red onion.

I always pick up great tips when visiting my SIL, who is a much better cook than I. While we were in Ohio I saw that she had floured and sauteed a bunch of round steak cutlets earlier in the week, eaten part right away, refrigerated the rest in a covered casserole, and turned them into Swiss Steak for us one night. So, I plan on doing something similar with those chicken cutlets, and have Chicken Piccata one night, and either Marsala or Pomodoro another. I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Friday, October 9, 2009


One reason Lex stayed in San Diego as long as she did, even though it was killing her financially and she was terribly homesick, was the relationship that she had with her boss. They seemed to be a perfect match for one another, each one's strengths complementing the other's weaknesses. Lex could do all the technical stuff that her boss couldn't, while her boss was the brash risk-taker. Because you don't often find a fit like that, Lex stuck by her even when business began to slump with the economy, and hours had to be cut. When things got worse, Lex was the only employee that didn't get laid off completely for several months. So what the hell is going on with her boss now?

A few weeks ago, after marrying her Australian fiance', the boss announced that she wouldn't be seeking any more projects in San Diego, and was planning to concentrate on Sydney instead. Also, since there was only enough work left on their big project in China to keep them all working full-time through October, hours would then be cut, and some people let go. You would think then, that she would have been quite relieved when, instead of getting hysterical, Lex smiled and said "Guess I'll be heading back to Texas, then!" She did seem relieved, at first, and tripped all over herself offering to write letters of recommendation and do anything she could to help Lex find another job. However, since that time, she has gradually turned into another person altogether, and seems to be going out of her way to find fault with Lex's work. What gives?

The only thing I can think of is that they are going through a divorce of sorts. I used to do something similar, as soon as I got wind that another transfer was in the works. I suddenly became hypercritical of everything and everybody. I think it was a defense mechanism - one that made it easier for me to let go and move on. Perhaps her boss is a bit nervous, knowing how heavily she has come to depend on Lex for all of the technical stuff she hates or is completely unable to do, and she needs to concentrate on finding fault just to keep the fears at bay. I don't really know for sure. All I do know is that it looks like these last few weeks are going to be a bumpy ride for the both of them!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Remember that little stroll, down the bone dry creek bed, that I took you on just the other day? Well take a look at this!


Before...a huge pile of stone directly in front of the house, left by the original owners.



Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I fear I suffer from MPD - Multiple Personality Disorder. I've been noticing for some time now that being around certain kinds of people can cause my personality to change completely. Take that guy at the airport Monday. Almost every time we are on a plane or in a restaurant, there is one person nearby who just loves the sound of their own voice. They don't converse with their companions, they orate. Why is it that they are invariably the ones with the strongest voices, that carry so well you just can't escape them? I am usually a very calm, laid back kind of gal, but as I sit there, trapped, being forced to listen to their non-stop spiel for hours on end, I can actually feel red hot anger bubbling up inside of me - something akin to road rage, I suppose.

Something similar happens in almost every women's group I have ever belonged to. There is always one woman I call "The Authority". She is the end all, know all on any given subject, so that no matter what is being discussed, she will always get the final word. She also tends to correct what others say, often embarrassing them and making them look or feel rather stupid. This type either brings out the stubborn, mule-headed child in me, or causes me to be snide and sarcastic behind her back. Or both. I really hate becoming that person.

I am just now beginning to understand why these two types bring out the very worst in me. I think it's because they take away one's voice. I grew up in a household where children were to be seen and not heard. When we got older, we were allowed to voice an opinion, but only so long as it agreed with the official family opinion. If you dared to think for yourself, or question, or speak your own mind, though, well, you'd best be prepared for the storm of ridicule that was sure to rain down on you. I learned from an early age just to keep my damn mouth shut. Most of the time, anyway. I also have an abiding sensitivity to de-structive criticism.

It was only in recent years, when I finally put pen to paper, and fingers to keyboard, that I managed to find a voice. Guess I'm still feeling kind of protective towards it. You can try and take it away from me, if you dare. But I'm warnin' ya. Be prepared to face off with Becky The Bitch, if you do!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


$$ MATTERS 101: The Certitude of Shit

Now that my kids have left the nest, more or less (about to be less, but only temporarily), I find myself wondering if we gave them all the financial tools they will need, to deal with whatever comes their way. Things are a lot different from when we got out of college, and could start off making as much or more than our parents. I did my best to teach by example about budgeting and saving, but it's impossible to tell how much sank in, and how much went in one ear and out the other. If they learned nothing else at all, I hope they at least absorbed the one tenet I value above all others - The Certitude of Shit: It Happens, Be Prepared!

What is the connection between that and financial savvy? Well, if you get into the habit of spending everything - or heaven forbid, more than - you earn each month, then what happens when something out of the ordinary (the aforementioned shit), like needing new tires, or having an appliance die, or your dog swallowing his leash and needing surgery, comes up? You pull out a credit card, right? You can shell out an extra hundred or two each month until it's paid off, can't you? But what if something else comes up before you finish? Well, you'll put it on a different credit card, and just pay fifty a month on each. Brilliant! Then what if something else comes up, or you have to take a cut in pay, or your spouse loses their job, or you find out you're pregnant? Suddenly you owe so much, that there's not enough leftover for basic food and shelter. What's even worse is that, despite the several hundred you are putting towards your debt each month, the balance isn't going down - when you only make the minimum payment, it all goes toward the interest!

But, what if you did things the other way around? Since you now know that shit is sure to hit the fan at some point, and you really hate the idea of just tossing hundred dollar bills in there to get shredded up along with it, why not set up a special fund in advance? Call it Shit Insurance, if you will. You said earlier that you could afford to put a hundred or two towards paying off that credit card debt, didn't you? Then why not spend the same amount to prevent it, instead? Have your boss deduct it from your paycheck and put it directly into a savings account, not to be touched except in an emergency. Let it build up until you have enough to cover at least two or three month's expenses (because believe you me, there is no one in this world who is impervious to losing a job) and never let it fall below that amount. If you have excess, move it to another account, where you can save for long term goals, like cars, vacations, or a downpayment on a house (do you have any idea how much $$ you save in the long run by paying cash for something up front, rather than paying it out over time?). Trust me. Spending it on stuff like that will be a whole lot more fun than just flushing it straight down the toilet!

P.S. Many thanks to for the above image.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Apparently, Texans aren't the only ones to go festival crazy in fall. We spent yesterday afternoon and evening at Middletown's annual "Mid Fest." Each year they pick a country and the local schools work learning all about that country into their curriculum throughout the year. The culmination is Mid Fest, when natives of that country are brought to town for a visit. While they are here they stay in local homes and drop into classrooms. At the festival they perform traditional dances, give lectures and demonstrations, and man food stalls where they sell native dishes. It's a great way for the people of a small town to be exposed to a broader view of the world. Guess which country they were celebrating this year? Indonesia! It certainly brought back some great memories. I can't download any of my pictures until I get home, but I will have a few for you then - though sadly, once again, I didn't think to take photos of our food until it was nothing but a memory! Mmmm, Chicken Sate' and Gado-Gado!

This afternoon we are heading in to Cincinnati for an art festival in Hyde Park, not too far from where my niece lives. In the meantime, we're filling up on my SIL's home-canned grape juice and pickles, fresh from the garden cucumbers and tomatoes, and made from scratch everything, including an award-winning, triple-layer, chocolate fudge birthday cake. She's never lived in the country, but she's definitely what Mary Jane Butter's would call "a farm girl at heart" - at least, in her kitchen she is!