Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Travels and travails

I have a friend who blogs. She's quite a good writer and very dedicated; she updates her blog daily. Even when they travel, each morning she takes time to give a rundown of everything they saw and did the previous day. Even though I may not find the minutiae of her family as fascinating as she does, I admire her perseverence.

Suffice it to say, I am not this friend. I blog and write sporadically. And I do not bore people with the mundane details of my daily life.

(My God! you're saying. You mean you actually spare us the boring parts? Then what is this crap I'm reading?)

We left town Saturday morning, heading east, then north, on our vacation trek. We made it to Vicksburg, Mississippi, by mid-afternoon. I'll spare you the historical details; it was a big battle, a siege that lasted several weeks. But wait —— you probably already knew that. Anyway, we enjoyed the film and the visitors center and enjoyed the drive through the battle field. It's huge.

Spent the night in Jackson (and listened to the Man in Black serenade us), got up Sunday and headed north. Stopped in Oxford —— drove through the Old Miss campus (prompting one daughter to query: What is it with you two and college campuses?). More importantly, we visited the grave and home of William Faulkner, which, again, elicited yawns from the girls. Soon enough they'll appreciate Faulkner; they'll be thanking me for this pilgrimage someday. We then drove on to Shiloh. The film there was better —— who knew that grainy color footage of the actual battle existed?!? The park has more hands-on demonstrations; the girls got to be part of a crew that loaded the cannon, and we all participated in bayonet training. Kitschy, yet fun. And we drove through the battlefield. We also drove through Tupelo; had I seen signs for the birthplace of the King I would have stopped, but alas, no brown historical marker to be seen.

My image of Mississippi has always been extreme poverty —— a state that ranks 50th in everything. But the parts of the state that we saw were charming. I guess the depressed areas are hidden.

Today we've spent visiting friends in Lafayette. It's been fun for us, fun for the kids. Makes me miss our life here. It's been good to visit. We probably should have stayed longer, but then you risk staying too long. And there are others on the itinerary who get sort of pissy about how much time they get. Such a delicate balance we must strike.

Next stop: DeSoto, Missouri. Is it as exciting as it sounds? You bet.

Friday, July 14, 2006


After this hectic summer (of doing what? Swimming? Nothing?) it is time to get away. We are headed out tomorrow, early, road-tripping back to Indiana, by way of Civil War sites in Mississippi, Mammoth Cave (alas, no Graceland this trip) and Nashville. We'll visit friends in the Hoosier state, then family in Missouri. Then we'll stop at the Clinton Library in Little Rock and end up in Oklahoma for a week of UU camp. Not the most glamorous vacation ever, but fun, none the less.

Or at least we hope so. All five of us, cooped up in a car, with Alison leading the fights in the back of the van?

I have fond memories of summer travels with my family: with only AM radio, there was no music (and if there had been, it would have been chosen by my father). He drove what felt like 600 miles a day and was never wiling to look for a motel until after 8 p.m. — I guess that extra 25 miles was going to make all the difference — and more than once the six of us ended up in a room without enough beds and barely enough floor space. My dad smoked in the car, and we kids were crammed in the back. This is pre-seatbelt days, so it didn't really matter whether the car was big enough. We'd fold down the seats in the back of our Pinto wagon, lay down the sleeping bags, and hang out. Or fight. Or whatever. We saw whatever my parents had put on the itinerary (I don't recall that we were ever consulted) and frankly spent a lot of time in the car. We were sick all through Colorado, and I remember the rain and cold in Plymouth, Mass., the heat of South Dakota.

But you know what? I really enjoyed it. We went everywhere — East Coast, Midwest, Northeast. Saw Boston, Washington DC, Mount Rushmore, the Rockies, the Hermitage. Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Niagra Falls. We were very well traveled. And even if those places didn't mean anything at the time, they mean something now.

So, no regrets. I'll report on how it goes. But no matter what, it will be worth it. America in a car — it's what growing up here is all about.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Weird, crazy, busy in the forecast, with a chance of happy

Surviving company — a good thing, in this case — but it has made my life hectic. That, and uncertainty, waiting for news, good or bed.

This sounds so cryptic. Let me put it this way: I have a new job! Just found out Monday; I've been waiting to hear for a while, so I've been rather moody, on edge. But now I that I have word, I can get my act together.

I have been hired as the editor of Cy-Fair Magazine, a glossy, slick, full-color family oriented magazine, "marketed to upscale families in the Cy-Fair area." Upscale families in Cy-Fair — that's me! I am the demographic. And I have the skills (girls only want boyfriends with skills ...) to put this together. I know what people want to read.

So, before I interviewed I put together a packet marketing myself: I outlined why I would be good at the job, a list of possible story ideas, a budget for the first issue, writing samples. The publisher loved it. She thought I was so organized. I didn't hear anything, so finally I e-mailed her and asked what was up, and she offered me the job. The magazine is quarterly and I will work mostly from home. It is perfect for me.

So, this is good. Very good. A very positive turn in my career path.

And in my Houston life path. Things are looking up.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of July!

The holiday I missed the most when we lived overseas. There's something about summertime Americana that makes me sentimental. Cook-outs, parades, fireworks — makes me feel like a kid again. We celebrated by swimming, grilling steaks, the neighborhood parade, and fireworks — amazing fireworks, just in our neighborhood.

Happy Birthday, America! I'm sure spontaneous fireworks is what it's all about.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Blah, blah, blah

More rain ... but it's not a bad thing, because the landscapers were here today, and we have a backyard full of new sod and many new plantings. It looks like a tropical paradise.

All of this surrounding our brand-new, glorious swimming pool! Many weeks behind schedule, but finally, finally done. The filter is not running yet; in typical fashion they were to turn it on today but didn't make it. But they'll be here first thing in the morning. Sure, sure. But they had better, as we want to take the inaugural swim tomorrow.

Counting down the days until vacation. Though I wish it were somewhere really exciting and relaxing. This year we'll visit friends, visit family and go to a week of UU camp. But it should be nice. Next year maybe we'll do something more exciting.

Mostly these days, life is just ordinary. Reading a lot, puttering around the house, taking care of routine stuff.