Saturday, December 30, 2006

Go, Mizzou?

Missouri played in the Sun Bowl yesterday. My friend in California mentioned that she was hosting the alunni gathering; when I told her we would just watch at home, she sent me the info for the Houston party. So, thanks to directions by way of Orange County, California, we went.

I've never been all rah-rah about my alma mater. We give some money, and we certainly watch the games. But I've never felt a strong need to relive those days. However, the party was fun. I would have known none of these people while I was in school - they were all about 15 years older or 15 years younger. Fun, none the less. The table where we sat was filled with former Greeks; they weren't obnoxious or overbearing, but one woman mentioned consistently, Yes, she was my Kappa roommate; she was a Kappa. Lots of comments about, Yea, he was a Beta, lived in the annex. HAHAHA. When you weren't Greek, it's hard to get into that mindset. (Not that there's anything wrong with that ...)

Interrupting the game to show us Gerald Ford's funeral? What was that about? Come on - he was 93, it wasn't a tragic death. And it's a bowl game! Fortunately they didn't stay very long. One guy hollered out, This is why you're not a major sports network!

The game itself: Heartbreaking. How do you go from 12 points up with six minutes to go to losing the game? Aaargh. Profoundly disappointing.

So now I'm thinking this might be a fun group. We've never been involved before, but why not? You take this group of people with nothing in common except that they went to the same school, a university with 20,000 undergrads. And it's amazing how you bond, how you get along with this eclectic group.

Went to dinner at the neighbors, which was fun. I don't know them well, but I like them. Our eldest daughter insisted on leaving and coming home; she was bored. Must work on her social skills.

Today, much work to do. Usually I resent having to work on Saturday, but since I've played all week, it's hard to feel that sense of injustice.

And now, to work. Later!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Post-Christmas downtime

Not at this house. All the kids are home, the husband is home. First I was cleaning for Christmas, then Christmas was here and we had company. Then we exchanged a couple gifts, spent some gift cards. Following that outing, we got ready for our next visitor (Maddie's best friend from Indiana), and now she is here, so we are running around.

Maddie has an aggressive agenda: Show Megan every square inch of Houston between now and Sunday. Science musuem, IMAX, zoo, Galleria, Carl's BBQ, La Madeleine. I'll drop dead of exhaustion (and bankruptcy) before it's all over.

Note to self: Science museum is packed when there is no school. The lines for the women's restroom are long, the restroom smells, and people like to hang about, waiting for their party, taking up valuable floor space. And we're not talking those with small children; at least they have an excuse.

But the butterflies are still wonderful, breathtakingly beautiful. I've never seen such a vivid blue before.

And why, if you're spending the day at the museum, does one need to yak on the mobile the entire time? Just curious ...

To bed; I'm beat. More tomorrow!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Work is a drag

It's no fun when everyone else is home and I have to work. But it must be so; I had to do the shopping while the kids were still in school. So now I must play make up. I am nearly done; one more story and I'm finished with phase I and can take a pause. Then I still have some other stuff to coordinate and edit (school notes, blah, blah and calendar items, more blah blah). Then I'll be done and can take a real break ... ti it's time to start the whole process over again. Sigh ...

I like getting paid, and I like writing the stories. But as for the rest of if? The title editor sounds so glamorous, but as with everything, there is a lot of crap you have to do. No guts, no glory.

Kind of like life, huh?

Monday, December 18, 2006

I've been tagged

Yet another of these quizzes. I think they're fun. So. ABC Tag.

A - Available or single: Nope, not for ... well, a long time. Which is OK.
B - Best friend: I'll say Helen. She gets me. (What does this say about her?!?)
C - Cake or pie: Cake, but I like both.
D - Drink of choice: Drink? A glass of red wine. Or, when I need it, a Cosmo. Or does this mean beverage? In that case, water. Coca Cola.
E - Essential item you use everyday: My computer (I can define essential any way I want).
F - Favorite color: Depends ... we'll say red today.
G - Gummi bears or worms: Ick. Don't eat either one.
H - Hometown: Springfield, MO, but I was born in Lincoln, NE, and always considered it home, since my grandparents were there (in Crete, though, not Lincoln). My children would say Lafayette, IN.
I - Indulgence: Chocolate.
J - January or February: January. We have a birthday, and winter isn't a drag yet. Here in Houston, I imagine that will be different.
K - Kids & names: Alison, 15; Madeleine, 12; Sylvia, 8. Whew.
L - Life is incomplete without? Laughter. A sense of whimsy. Good friends.
M - Marriage date: August 13. Why is this question here?
N - Number of siblings: 3 brothers. One older, two younger.
O - Oranges or apples: Apples
P - Phobias or fears: Bats. Snakes. Creepy.
Q - Fave quote: Like anybody could even know that, Napoleon.
R - Reason to smile: My daughters. Vacation.
S - Season: I love summer, being *off* for a time.
T - Tag 3 or 4 people: Tammy. Peter. Gale. Helen.
U - Unknown fact about me: Well, if I answered that, then you'd know it. I like to maintain some mystery.
V- Vegetable you don't like: Though I like them all, I'm least fond of cauliflower. But I'll eat it.
W - Worst habit: Procrastination.
X - Xrays: At the dentist, once a year.
Y - Your fave food: Any good pasta dish, tiramisu for dessert, baked brie.
Z - Zodiac sign: Gemini.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

80 degrees in December

There are some things I need to learn about living in Houston. One of the important lessons is: Don't count on cool weather for the holidays.

I love Christmas, and, paradoxically, I hate snow. But I don't mind it for that one day of the year. However, I would be satisfied with coolish weather (below 60, below 50 even) for this time of year. Instead, we are in the middle of a heat wave of sorts. It is near 80 these days. Yesterday we went Xmas shopping, all wearing capri pants and shorts. Weird. The windows are open, which hampers the operation of the newly repaired Weihnachtspyramid, which relies on heat from the candles in order to rotate; apparently, the breeze from the open windows interferes.

Yet it sill looks like Christmas, with the decorations and what not. I can still play the music, I'm just not drinking hot chocolate. But rest assured, the forecast is changing here shortly.

I blew off church today; I have a cold, cruddy eyes, congestion. So the warning is out around here, no sharing of beverages. One of the many advantages of being a UU is that skipping the Sunday service is no reason for guilt. One of the many reasons being a UU makes me happy. Gary took Alison and Sylvia; after the service the youth have a YRUU phone conference with a district rep to discuss an issue of great importance. I admire the way they're handling their complaint. So Gary will take Sylvia to lunch and to see the Christmas trees at the science museum. Next week we'll all go. Maddie stayed home with me, and I will take her to an afternoon meeting for a school group. She is not liking this church; she needs to make a friend. She will, in time. In the interim, I figured she could have a week off.

The raclette party was fun. No one had ever had it before, and it went well. The tiramisu was wonderful. The decorated cookies looked ... interesting. I can't really bring myself to eat any of them. But the kids had fun and were remarkably well behaved. I had planned to wear a sweater; instead, I wore sandals. Who knew?

Looked at my calendar yesterday at 1 p.m.; Girl Scout cookie training was at 10 a.m. Eeek. However, my co-chair went, so she is happy to be the front-woman, as it were, and I can work stealthily behind the scenes. I'm afraid to cross those Girl Scout people; the sort of scare me.

Alison told me her finals schedule for the week, which includes staying home til noon tomorrow. This thwarts my Christmas shopping plans. Curses.

Happy day, all!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's not my fault, so why the guilt?

Ran to the store today to pick up a few items. How $85 can go through the 15 items or fewer lane is a little frightening .... managed to dump the entire contents of my coin purse as I was trying to put away my Visa, so as I scrambled to collect my change off the floor, the bagger put my groceries not into my cart, but into another cart. Unfortunately, as I was getting my act together (let's face it, it took a few minutes, as my drivers license and credit card were floating loose, having just been returned to my big purse from my evening bag of last night), the bagger also put the next customer's groceries into my new cart. I told him, and he grabbed them. Or most of them; as I started to leave, I glanced at the bags and noticed one that wasn't mine. So I told him, and he went to the parking lot to try and find her.

He was unsuccessful, and I was feeling bad. But it wasn't my fault, was it? He should have been paying attention. Small thing, really; she'll get him, notice that she's lacking a bag of stuff and come back to get it. But it's inconvenient for her. Still, I didn't will it to happen, so why do I feel badly for her? I guess because I'd be pissed if I had to go to the grocery twice in one day. It's bad enough having to go there once. And I know I'll be back in the morning; I couldn't quite get a handle on everything I need for dinner tomorrow evening.

The work party was lovely. A tad boring, but very chic. Luckily, Gary's boss's wife sat next to me, and her I can talk to. They moved here about six months before we did, with a sophomore daughter who had just made cheerleader at her old school. I don't even want to picture the scenes at their house. I figured if they could make the sacrifice, we could. I opted for the short dress and should have gone long. Oh well; once again, not an issue of real importance. Perhaps had my husband been in a tux it would have made more sense.

There were, naturally, a couple of very bad dress choices. Men almost always look good in a tux, or even a good suit. Women, on the other hand, can go wrong quickly. The red belt added to the black cocktail dress was one such choice; the black pump that looked like a penny loafer on heels, also worn with a cocktail dress, was yet another. Sigh.

One guy joked that his tux cost $55,000; he bought it for his daughter's wedding. He told his daugher and her fiance, when planning the wedding: "Fact is, 50 percent of these end in divorce. I'll buy you a car, I'll put a down payment on a house. Have a small wedding, I'll send you on a big trip. Those things I'm happy to pay for." The daughter didn't go for it; she had the huge wedding. She's still married, but I'm sure he's right; statistics don't lie. With three girls, these numbers are already making me nervous. We likely won't have three weddings, much less three extravagant ones. But I'm sure we'll have at least one. I can guarantee it.

The office did $1 billion in business last year, so all the employees were given small gifts last night: iPods. Not big ones, just the little shuffle (they are cute). We are already a four-iPod family. But the gesture was still very nice. They also got those credit card Victorinox knives, with the company logo. Kinda cool.

Read to Sylvia's class as a parent reader today. I don't really go to read to the entire class; I go to read to her. But it is sort of fun.

Now I must make cookie dough for the kids, so they can decorate cookies tomorrow night. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


With the Christmas cards comes news. Some cards bear just a signature, others have a photo. Some let me know that friends have moved, or are planning to relocate. And others let me know of births or deaths. A veritable circle of life in my mailbox at this time of year.

Today, sadly, brought news of a tragedy: the son of Gary's colleague died. He was an 18-year-old college freshman and died of alcohol poisoning. Words cannot describe the grief. We've also had news of a friend's cancer this holiday season, and news of the death of a friend's mother.

All right before the holidays. Though I don't suppose there's ever a good time for these events, surely right before Christmas must be especially painful.

Any complaints I might have feel trivial, as do any joys. Once again, this gives me pause. I am so grateful for my healthy children, for all the good fortune my family has had this year.

My heart goes out to those who have not been so blessed.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Only 14 shopping days ...

And I need to hit the stores. I have purchased two major gifts, a handful of small ones. But much remains to be done. I have nothing for my husband, and no good ideas. Some small ideas, but nothing really exciting. Unless he wants to share the set of cookware that I'm hoping for ... suddenly I know just what to get him. But on the off chance that he takes a peek here, I'm going to keep it to myself.

We're having friends for dinner Friday. So, along with writing some stories for the magazine, editing the submisssions that come in, and Christmas shopping, I have to get the house in order, shop, and cook. Fortunately we are having raclette, which means minimal actual cooking. All I really need to do is fix dessert and chop up all the stuff, make potatoes. Best news of all is that Kroger has raclette cheese. So no trip inside the loop to pick up cheese at a gourmet shop. But I need to make cookies for all the kiddos to decorate; it's a little task that will keep them out of our hair for, oh, 15 minutes.

I also signed up to read to Sylvia's class. Thursday. Sigh. And the college PR office is having its open house - you guessed it - Friday. I'd love to pop in, but I'm guess I won't make it. Too bad.

Wednesday is the big soireƩ for Gary's office. I have it narrowed down to two dresses, both of which I already own (not as if anyone here has seen either one of them). No. 1 is long, black, elegant. My hard word has paid off: I can get it on and zip it up (keep in mind that it predates at least one of my daughters). No. 2 was meant as the back-up dress, in case I couldn't quite fit into No. 1. I put it on today, and I had forgotten just how much I like it. It's short but quite stunning. So now I have to decide: long or short? Black or midnight blue? I'll go to the expert: Maddie. She always knows.

The party will be lovely, very elegant. But dull. It's with my husband's colleagues. I don't work there; they're not my friends. The other spouses are, well, they're fine. But we're not friends in the truest sense of the word. They are all pleasant, but not really my social circle. I think I've adapted to the German standards: Why would you bring your spouse/date to a work function? They don't work here. Makes sense to me.

Time to get the child off the bus. Cheers!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

You've got to be kidding

Yesterday took the two younger girls to a Brownie Christmas party — lunch at La Hacienda and a production of Cinderella. It was geared toward the very young - very juvenile humor, but it wasn't unbearable. The girls seemed to like it. The ugly stepsisters were obnoxious and funny. One little girl, feeling brazen, asked the obviously in drag stepmother if she/he was a man; he/she replied, in mock horror, of course not! We were giggling about it, standing in line to get autographs signed, and another cast member said they'd actually had complaints from some parents; they were apparently upset that their children would suffer gender confusion.

Get serious. Stepsisters/stepmother in drag goes way back; it's funny. It's the theatre; it's called make believe. Besides, don't they know anything about Shakespeare?

Life in the ultra-conservative suburbs of Houston. Egads.

Thank goodness for the That Girl marathon on TV Land this weekend. My earliest feminist role model - and I still love Marlo Thomas. The girls are loving it, too, just as I thought they would. Dare I say it, but I love her more than Mary Tyler Moore. I know, I know, but it's true. Plus, the outfits she wore in those early seasons .... how she afforded those clothes and that apartment as a barely employed actress I'll never know, but hey, I can suspend reality. I'm coveting that pink dress from when she met Donald's parents, I really am.

And we set up the final Christmas tree, the reject tree from my in-laws, circa 1969. Doesn't look remotely real, but it brightens up the game room.

Holiday atmosphere is complete. Time for hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How time flies ...

It's December 6. Only six days into the month, and already I am out of time. Frankly, considering how much time I have to myself, this is difficult to comprehend. It is, none the less, true. Most of the Christmas decorations are up, but it's a new house, which means new game plan, and I have no idea where to put things. Slowly, slowly, it's falling into place, but the house is sill sort of in decorating purgatory.

And where, where is the right place for the Evergleam? Is there a proper place for an Evergleam?

I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday to pick up a few items (Maddie desperately *needed* lights for her room (?); I figured for a buck ninety-nine, she can have lights. Yesterday was Dec. 5. You'd think it was Jan. 5; the Christmas stuff was so picked over. Another woman walked by and commented, this will teach us to wait until the last minute. I should say; what was I thinking waiting until the month of December had officially started?

Bought new greenery for around the front door, but not enough, so right now it just looks stupid. No lights outside yet, so it looks ignored. At this rate, we'll never keep up with the Joneses (literally or figuratively). I am bursting with holiday sprit; alas, no one can tell. That Dean Martin Christmas music in the background keeps me afloat.

Much, much work to do ... and I'm lagging woefully behind. But I'm getting some stuff done each day.

Today I went to lunch with another Cy Woods (that's the high school) parent; we were shocked to find out how much we have in common. Kind of fun, as I've been feeling like such a suburban misfit. She filled me in on all the others like me; they're out there, but they're disguised as ordinary suburban folks. You just have to know where to look. Apparently, the Cy Woods Drama booster club is full of them; I'll make a note to get more involved on the next play.

Only 19 more shopping days ... and I'm planning a dinner party ... what is wrong with me???

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Damaged Christmas

We're working on the tree today; though I'm taking a break from assembling branches. Yes, it's true: we have an aritificial tree. Always have. We both grew up with one, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. For years we used a hand-me-down from my in-laws; it didn't look remotely real, but it didn't take up a lot of space, and the price was right. And once decorated, it usually looked OK. But finally, a couple years ago, I broke down and decided it was time to upgrade. So now we have a fabulous new-ish artificial tree. I wanted a pre-lit tree, but they were not to be had for my budget when I was shopping. So, this one it is. It is hung with white lights and a collection of ornaments that grows every year. There's the one that Sylvia made at school last year that the dog tried to eat (apparently uncooked pasta that is spray-painted gold is that tempting to a dog), several that we purchased in Germany, all the new baby ornaments, Our First Christmas Together (circa 1988 — eeek!), my high school tree ornaments, and many more, from art sales and craft shows and travels.

We unpacked the German Weihnachtspyramid, a hand-made wooden pyramid with wooden figurines; when the candles at the bottom are lit it rotates and is lovely. It was packed away just the way it was when I purchased it, and it had survived the move home from Germany. When I picked up the box and it rattled I knew it was a bad sign; I opened the lid and the cardboard insert was upside down. It came out in pieces — the movers apparently opened the box and repacked it WRONG. It has all come apart. It can be reglued, but I am livid — that kid had no idea what he was doing, so he re-packed something that was properly packed away, and now it is in pieces.

Such a drag ... as I said, it can be reglued. But we shouldn't have to repair it. The movers will be hearing from me this week ... and it won't be pretty.