Saturday, March 13, 2010


Know what's really great about having a blog? The photos! You know how it is with cameras - the older your kids get, the less pictures you seem to take. Eventually, you find yourself forgetting to even pull it out at Christmas and on vacations. But not me! Not anymore. Now I take mine with me everywhere.

Having my camera is like having a second set of eyes, or a pair of glasses with super powers! It forces me to pay attention - to really see the beauty in ordinary things like wood grain, or buttons in a jar - things I might have overlooked otherwise. But, that's not even the best part.

All of my photos are digital, and stored on my computer rather than in scrapbooks. Earlier this week, as I was scrolling through them in search of the perfect illustration for a blog posting, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be all but impossible for anyone to look at all these photos, and not find themselves thinking, "OMG. What a great life this woman has. Does she even have a clue how fortunate she is?"

Well yes, I do. And, thanks to all of these photos, I am reminded of it constantly.

Friday, March 12, 2010


It was slow and insidious, the way he crept into my life, nosing his way into unexpected corners and digging himself in, like a tenacious weed. I fought hard, doing my best to resist his pull, but eventually his tendrils were wrapped around my heart. Now there's no point in denying it. I'm hopelessly in love...with Internet (though I still kinda hate his ever-fickle companion, Computer).

Computer didn't tempt me in the least, when John first brought him home to meet me, and I was somewhat aghast at how easily he won our two-year-old daughter over, with all of his flashy "educational" games. I saw no point in allowing him to become caretaker of my precious recipes (what if he lost them!), or in any of his other "miraculous time-savers" that John was so enamored with.

But then, he hooked up with Internet. Even so, it wasn't until the kids and I had to move back from Indonesia several months ahead of John, in time for the start of the school year, that I discovered the allure of his email feature... how it could transform two people, who can barely find anything at all to say on the telephone, into the most loquacious of communicators. Next I was forced to concede that he sure came in handy when the kids needed to do research for school - no need for shelf-hogging encyclopedias at home, and not near as many last minute trips to the library. Still, for the next ten or fifteen years, that was pretty much all I allowed him to do for me.

Lately though, I'm not quite sure what has happened. His attractions grew like a snowball rushing down hill, until eventually they simply bowled me over! I'm at the point now that, when his provider called last night to say he'd be keeping us apart for a few hours today, a black cloud of funk enveloped me. I had to wonder, how did I let it get this far?

I think it started with Library. When we moved to Katy, a humongous suburb west of Houston with five or six high schools, I was astounded to discover its only bookstore was a small paperback exchange, and Library was no larger than a bookmobile! How could this be? Well, Library was small, but he was mighty, thanks to his friendship with Internet. I could go on-line at home, reserve any books I wanted, they would gather them from all over Houston and, in no time at all, send me a message saying "Come and get it!" Once Internet had won my favor with that, he started offering me things like on-line banking and Netflix. Then I found myself submitting articles and taking classes through him, searching for recipes, music, and how-to-knit videos. His coup de grace was the offer of blogs and facebook, and now I'm hopelessly lost. He's a part of everything I do!

Here's an example: I was staring at a hunk of leftover ham recently, wondering how to use it. What did I do? I walked over to Computer and typed in "leftover ham." Within seconds he and Internet had handed me pages full of ideas and recipes - which is how we ended up eating some lovely twice-baked potatoes one night, and that fabulous quiche pictured above, another. You can understand, can't you, how I've become so dependent on him?

Know what's really sad? I actually found myself thinking, not long ago, that if the economy totally cratered, or some natural disaster occurred, and I had to get really serious about becoming more self-sufficient, I'd be OK. With Internet's help, I could learn to do anything - from milking a cow and making cheese, to growing and grinding wheat! I'm embarrassed to admit that it actually took a moment for the realization to sink in, that if the world has been reduced to a state such as that, he will be gone. Kaput. His plug will have been pulled. How can I survive, without him?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I love ornamental grasses, and have used them quite a bit in each of my gardens. However, each February, when it comes time to trim all those huge clumps back to the ground, I begin to feel like I'm hacking my way through a dense jungle, armed with nought but a machete. Knowing that I could be attacked by snake or fire ant at any moment usually gets me to wondering, "What was I thinking when I planted all of these?"

Once the task is completed, though, it gradually comes back to me: that this is the only maintenance they require the live long year; that I never feed them and barely water them; that they survived record drought and cold this year; those breathtaking masses of hazy pink clouds when the muhly was in bloom; the rolling waves in my sea of native grasses each fall; that these are one of the few things the deer don't even mess with. Then I remember, "Oh yeah! That's what I was thinking.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


No wildflowers yet, but the new baby peach tree is blooming, and life is returning to the patios and terraces of coffee shops and cafes.


I've had this Delbert McClinton song stuck in my head all morning. It's a great two-steppin' song called Same Kind Of Crazy, and it probably got lodged there when Lex was talking about how hard she tried to fit in with her ex-boyfriend, The Actor, and his California crowd, but just could never quite cut it. They just couldn't understand why she cared so much about everything, and she couldn't get why they didn't care much about anything. The conversation reminded me of what my friend Paula used to say about finding the perfect mate, which of course, reminded me of this song. She's a firm believer that there's not a person out there who isn't a wee bit crazy. We all have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies that might drive some people up the wall. The trick then, is to find the person who isn't really bothered by your particular quirks, and whose own quirks don't really bother you. An excellent piece of advice, don't you think? Delbert agrees.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I have to say, I'm a bit envious of young girls today, and all of the options they have spread out before them. So many, in fact, that it might be difficult to make up one's mind. How do you choose just one thing out of hundreds, maybe even thousands, to be your life's work? That wasn't an issue when I was thinking about college.

In my time, in my family, the pickin's were much, much slimmer. I started high school in the late 60's, and the only career-women I'd ever come into contact with were nurses, teachers, secretaries, librarians, waitresses and one dietitian. I wasn't crazy about any of those options. I wanted to do something more interesting! More glamorous! More creative! I couldn't draw or paint, so "artist" was out. What other options did I have?

Only four of my female relatives had ever even gone to college. Two wanted to be dietitians, so they majored in Home Economics. The other two majored in education. Actually, my sister started out in accounting, but my parents pestered her until she switched to education. Mom kept telling her how much easier it would be, with those short days and summers off, when she got married and started having babies in a couple of years. As it turned out, she remained single and childless for almost 20 years more, then married a very nice man with two half-grown sons. My other sister wasn't really interested in college, so she became a secretary. Somewhere along the way she morphed into being an ad-min, when it was decided that being called "secretary" was no longer P.C., and quickly moved up to Executive Assistant.

In those days you had to be 16 to get a real job - which was anything other than babysitting or lawn-mowing. So, on my sixteenth birthday I walked to our neighborhood shopping center, and started going door to door, filling out applications. The fabric store offered me a job on the spot. I wasn't much of a seamstress, but I knew enough. In the 60's, every eighth grade girl in Dallas took a mandatory Home Ec. class--one semester of cooking, and one of sewing. Guys took shop, and learned to do manly things. I was never crazy about sewing per se, but I loved the creative aspects of it, choosing styles, fabrics, colors, accessories, etc. Finally having a closetful of cool clothes was just icing on the cake.

At some point I discovered that you could get a degree in Clothing, Textiles and Fashion Merchandising, and with this degree, I could end up being a buyer for a store like Neiman Marcus. A lot of girls said screw it when they found out it was a B.S. degree, which meant they'd have to take just as many hours of biology and chemistry as any other science major, but I didn't care. Heck, I used to tutor a kid in chemistry. All that really mattered was, this degree was exciting! This was creative! This was something I could actually wrap my head around! This was how I ended up being branded with the lifelong stigma of having been a Home Ec. major - one who only went to college to get her M.R.S. degree. How was I to know that in a few short years, with the women's lib movement in full swing, this major would fall so far out of favor that the whole dang department would have to be disbanded, redistributed, and renamed?

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

Monday, March 8, 2010


Have you ever read a book that really got the wheels turning in your head, and kept them going, long after you'd finished it? That's how you know it's not a good one, it's a great one. It happened to me with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and is happening again with The Help. It made me question a lot of things having to do with my childhood, and my mother's, and why we were such drastically different people. I could see parts of my mother in several of this book's characters, and it got me to wondering, as I have many a time, how she ever came to be so embarrassingly pretentious. I used to think it was because she and my dad had money for a while, then lost it, but really, I think it goes even further back, to the fact that both her parents came from money, and then lost it.

She grew up with Mimi feeding her stories about how she and Grandad had honeymooned on some uncle's plantation, and how her grandfather was a famous musician and another relative was a riverboat captain. Her grandparents and aunts lived in these big beautiful Victorian houses, while they had six people stuffed in a tiny two bedroom bungalow. Apparently my grandparents had to get married as teens (though my mom didn't discover that until she was in her 50's). My grandfather used his family money to open a business of some sort, but then lost it in the depression, and was content to work as a draftsman from then on. Even so, they somehow managed to keep a black maid named Teetah, who had a room out off the garage, the whole time she was growing up. Perhaps Mimi's stories led her to believe she'd somehow been cheated out of being one of those society ladies. I expect she must have thought she'd died and gone to heaven in the early days after the war, when Dad's home-building business was going great guns, and they were members of the country club, drove fancy cars, lived in one of Dad's custom built homes, and had a full-time maid of their own. Geneva was like a second mom to me and my little brother, until I was eight and my dad lost his business. Not only did we lose Geneva, but we were left with an extremely depressed, bitter mother, who probably felt like she'd been cheated out of what was rightfully hers not once, but twice!

Funny, how it took reading this book, for me to figure all that out.


I have mixed feelings about the upcoming switch back to Daylight Saving Time. Right now, my internal clock is totally in sync with the way things are. I awaken naturally and easily around 5:30, fix a cup of tea and set my oatmeal to simmering, then have around 30 minutes to sit on the porch and noodle, let my mind drift and ponder, as I watch the gradual lightening of the sky and listen as the world comes to life around me. Every time we switch the clock, all that gets thrown out of whack for a while. On the other hand, it will be awfully nice to have a nightlife again!

I don't remember when my night vision suddenly went downhill, but it was a good while back. In the city, with well-lit, familiar streets, and a hubby to do some of the driving, it wasn't that big a deal. As long as I didn't have to merge into oncoming traffic - a mass of blurred haloes coming at me, with no indications as to their distance or speed - I was OK. It just meant John could no longer count on me being the eternal designated driver.

Driving at night in the Hill Country, however, is a whole 'nother ball of wax. There is no way to memorize all the twists and turns of these often foggy roads, and, to quote a friend from NYC who once visited, "It's too damn dark here! Where the heck are all the frickin' street lights?" The only time there is any light is when we have a full moon, but that just means the deer will be active all night long, and more likely to jump out in front of you.

Most of the time, I forget just how old I really am. My health is great, I'm not on any meds, and, except when I make the mistake of getting too close to a magnifying mirror, I feel pretty much the same as I did in my 30's and 40's. It is only when I have to turn down a dinner or party invite, because John won't be around to drive me home after dark, that I start to feel really, really, really old.

So, yeah...maybe having to readjust my internal clock isn't so bad after all. There's always naps to be had.

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

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Have you read it--this debut novel about the relationship between black maids and the white women they work for, back in the time of desegregation, MLK, the Kennedy assassination, Rosa Parks and Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins? Why not? You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll learn. You'll remember. You'll gain some understanding. You'll do a victory dance. You'll be sorry when it ends.

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