Monday, December 31, 2007

Dinner for One

A German New Year's tradition:

Goodbye, 2007

It was not a year of cataclysmic change for us.

There were no births, no deaths, no beginnings or endings. No moves, no changing of schools or houses.

For us, 2007 was a quiet year. We were not rocked by any major upheavals. For us, that is a good thing. We had a broken bone and a surgery, braces put on, and some migraines. For us, this is situation normal.

The only event that comes close to being monumental - and in its own way, it is - is Alison's turning 16 and getting her permit. But she won't have the license for a few more weeks, which means it's a 2008 event.

Everyone turned a year older, but other than 16, the other birthdays were not the type that herald life change.

But it was, in most ways, a good year. The girls learned and grew; I am proud of the people they've become and revel in watching them evolve into strong young women.

Thus it is with great peace of mind that we forge ahead into 2008. In some ways it's hard to believe that we are eight years past the century mark - I remember as a kid how far away the year 2000 seemed. I knew how old I would be - in my 30s! - and it all seemed so, so far into the distant future. And now it is nearly a decade behind me. I am certifiably a grown-up (even if I don't always feel, much less act, like one).

But all in all, I know how fortunate I am. Gary and I will celebrate our (gulp) 20-year anniversary next year, a feat I do not take lightly, given how many couples do not make it that far. We have three amazing daughters who are destined to do wonderful things. Gary has seen amazing success in his career, and I have seen some. Yet I know that I have time to work on some projects that are underway.

I tend to be tight-lipped about what works are in progress, for me or for my family. I was never one to share the baby names we were considering. So I'll not go into the plans we have for the following year - mostly because it is much too early to say which ones are likely to come to fruition. Suffice it to say, 2008 will be a year of more change than this one has been. Which is OK with me - nothing ever stays the same, really.

As long as the change is for the better, it's all good.

Farewell, 2007 - and 2008, be sure to hold up your end of the bargain. We're headed out to party with friends - Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas vacation

I love the days when we're all home - Gary and I are both off work, the girls are home, no visitors, just us. We have spent the last few days with good food, games, toys, movies, and the kids. And it has been wonderful - there is no better way to spend a holiday than with children. The girls are enoying their Christmas gifts, and we are having fun just being with them.

And while gifts are not the most important part of Christmas, it is hard to deny their significance. As a parent, it is incredibly satisfying to be able to give your children not only what they need, but some of what they want. This year we succeeded. Alison actually got everything she wanted - probably not true for the other two, who lacked a couple of items on their list. But their lists are lengthy, so I don't think they are complaining. All I've heard for the last two days is the sound of the girls playing together. Well, that and the strains of Rufus Wainwright singing Judy Garland ... one of my favorite gifts ...

Today we ventured down inside the loop to see Lucy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This is her first trip - ever - outside Ethiopia, so it's quite a coup for the musuem. Lucy is the Australopithicus afarensis, discovered in 1974, that predates home sapiens, apparently the oldest and most complete prehuman evert found. Fascinating stuff. The exhbit was well done - quite a bit on Ethiopia and its "uniqueness" (a word I am generally hesitant to use, but I would say here it applies), from a religious, cultural and anthropological standpoint. The skeleton/fossil itself is pretty amazing - and I am always amazed at what anthropologists are able to tell from mere skeletal remains.

I am also amazed by those who look at this evidence and can refute the belief in evolution. And don't play the religion card - my high school science teacher, along with a physics colleague of my father's who was Assemblies of God, and many other noted scientists all say the same thing: It is possible to be a Christian and a scientist. As my high school teacher put it: I am a Christian and I am a scientist. And I have no problem reconciling those two beliefs. There is no litmus test for one or the other.

Following our visit to see Lucy (we were suitably impressed), we went to Katz's deli for lunch. We love the one in New York, so we figured we should try out the local version. While it did not have the ambience of the original, the buidling effectively recreated eating in a downtown venue circa 1940 - re-created tin ceilings, iron balustrades, tile floors, subway signs, and enough NYC memorobilia on the walls that one could feel, if even for just a moment, that Delancey Street was just outside. The pastrami was great, and the kosher dogs satisfied the girls. And the knish ... perhaps not as good as the original, maybe not even as good as the kosher joint where we ate in Estes Park. But good enough for today.

Tomorrow the girls are ready to venture to the mall - the gift cards are making them antsy. So much for holiday tranquility ...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Loose ends

A mother's work is never done. It's a recurring theme here - this I know - but it is, none the less, true.

All the other mothers out there who read this - past or present - you know what I'm saying.

I also know that I will miss the girls when they are gone. I can wait for my house to be clean and quiet. I can. Plus, I know that if I threaten enough (threats are on my side - it's four days til Christmas) the girls will pitch in and the house will be in order sometime tomorrow.

Today I am heading off to Sylvia's class party. We did not buy individual teacher gifts, but chipped in for the group gift - a practice I heartily endorse. Get her one big thing, not 25 little nothings. Plus each of the kids drew her a picture or wrote a letter - that is even more meaningful. Then we'll meet Gary for lunch - sans Alison, who went to the movies with friends. Take Maddie to the eye doctor, where we should get the okey-dokey on her contact usage, then drop her off at the movies. Need to get one thing at Hobby Lobby, and it seems like I need to run to Target, though I can't remember why.

There are a bunch o' movies I want to see: Sweeney Todd, Juno, Walk Hard, take the kids to The Golden Compass. Plus movies I want to watch at home - I have Keeping Up With the Steins on TiVo and The Namesake from Netflix. We want to see Lucy at the science museum, eat at Katz's.

And just hang with the girls. That's what the holidays are all about for me - being with the girls, my husband.

Sylvia and Alison went online last night and checked the Naughty and Nice list - Sylvia is on it! She even answered the questions honestly, admitting that her room is not always, um, pristine. She really is a good kid!

Four more days, folks; four more days ...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Winding down


My holiday preparations are nearly over - I am nearly at the point where I can sit back and relax. Take it easy. Enjoy.

I am so ready.

A friend mentioned yesterday that her kids get the week before Christmas off then go back to school Jan. 2. My immediate reaction was horror - without this week free of kids, I would have been totally screwed.

(Plus they would have driven me NUTS with Christmas anticipation. Best that they are in school seven hours a day - kept busy and out of my hair.)

Monday I shopshopshopped. Got loads done. Monday night we partied - well, the best you can party with your husband's colleagues. Lucky for me, not too much shop talk - discussions of NPIs, dealers, and OEDs is dull, dull, dull. Probably even for those who work there, I'm guessing.

Tuesday Gary and I took the day and went to the Galleria. Let me just say, I love the Galleria. It is the ultimate shopping experience - it's just a mall, but it's so much more than a mall. The main part, with the ice skating rink, has fancy stores. Nieman Marcus is the anchor store, and the three levels overlooking the ice rink are lined with all the highest end stores: Caroline Herrera, Stuart Weitzman, Jimmy Choo, Versace. I just look and sigh ... the clothes are so lovely, but just too rich for me. On the sale rack at Stuart Weitzman, shoes were still over $200 a pair - I cannot justify those prices.

(But it dawned on me: If we sold this house and downsized, paid cash for a little three-bedroom ranch, then we'd be mortgage free and I could, in fact, afford to shop those places ... it's worth a thought, anyway ...)

The other leg of the Galleria is just like a regular mall - Macy's, Urban Outfitters, basic mall fare (even a Kirkland's). And a Hello Kitty store - too bad we've pretty much outgrown Hello Kitty. We popped into the Apple Store, Border's, resisted the urge to look in Ann Taylor - even though it is HUGE compared to my local one ... got a bunch o' stuff taken care of.

Gary chose a charming little place for lunch - which was closed - so we ate at the Firkin & Phoenix (did you go to the Ferret & Firkin in London, Amy?). Then headed back toward home, making a few stops on the way.

Remainder of the evening was spent at a middle school band concert - enough said.

Wednesday, Holiday Karma was mine. I packed up all the out-of-town purchases and headed over to the post office. Our local post office has a line out the door in July, much less December. And when I walked in? Nothing - relatively speaking - I was fifth in the queue! People around here give our local post office a hard time, but I have had nothing but success. Next stop: Target. Picked up all those final odds and ends (to the tune of many $$$), and went to wait at the very busy cash registers. Waited, waited ... when voilá! the register DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME opened right up - just for me! Some days, this is all it takes ...

Headed home, began the cookie baking for the Wednesday evening cookie exchange: cream cheese spritz. Threw in the margarine, the cream cheese, and found out, at this inopportune moment, that my darling eldest daughter had finished off the flour Monday night ... ran to the store, mixed up the dough, had to relearn the cookie press (this happens every year), and began to crank out my 10 dozen cookies. Lesson No. 2: The dough will not work when it gets too warm. I worked for three hours on cookies, and my kitchen was a total disaster by the time I was done. (Plus the girls came home and "helped" me with the sprinkles ... enough said.)

But the party was fun, and I have a bunch of really yummy cookies to show for my hard work.

Today I made one last run to the mall and have tried - with little success - to get the house in order. Plus I am working on my cards - I think if they get out between now and January 1, I will feel successful.

If you're still with me - and that is debatable, I must say - you can understand my exhaustion. I am beat, but I am upbeat. Tomorrow I am going to Sylvia's party at school, taking Maddie to the eye doctor, and shuttling kids to the movies. (Yes, I am allowing my daughter to see The Golden Compass, and I'm not too worried that she'll be corrupted - it's fiction, and I think my children are smart enough to think for themselves and not be unduly influenced by a book. For the record, they also saw The Chronicles of Narnia, so I think they'll be OK.)

Our party tomorrow evening got canceled, so we can take it easy for the entire weekend.

Sounds great to me!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Busy day ... much to do ... and much to say, but no time. However, I have time to share some very bad snapshots with you. It's as good we get for now - the girls were hard to work with when I snapped them, and Alison could not seem to get a decent photo of the two of us.

We looked lovely - the camera, in fact, does lie.

I think a new camera is in order.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday rush

Loud. Crowded. Too much input.

That was the mall this weekend. We were there - Gary and I and all three girls. The girls went one way, Gary and I another. But we got very little shopping done - there was no way I was standing in those lines. I figured a weekday would suit me better.

Which it did. I started my morning at DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) - It is a full 25-minute drive, but some days, it is just worth it. Today would be one of those days - I decided I need new shoes for the big office bash tonight (Gary's office, not mine). I got a dress, matching coat, and I was, at first, content to wear old shoes. Upon further reflection, I decided it would look very bad for Gary if I wore old shoes with a new dress; I am thoughtful that way. DSW did not disappoint - I saw just what I wanted. I am hard to please: they had to be grey or silver; dressy, but not too high (I need to be able to walk and balance); and closed-toe - it might be chilly so I may want to wear pantyhose (something I rarely do, by the way) and I am in no mood for a pedicure. I found all of my requirements - and on the sale table, too.

The party tonight is cocktail attire, more casual than last year (black tie). It will be fine - they're his colleagues, not our friends - not the biggest social event of the year, but fun enough.

Made it to the mall, where the lines were mercifully short. Made purchases at four stores; took care of most of the shopping for the girls, my one and only niece. Still need to buy for my parents (but I know what I'm getting), the in-laws (no ideas; I have told Gary to let me know what I should get .... this is typical ....)

The rest of the week is very full: Tomorrow is our annual shopping day (Gary and I) where we shop (supposedly) and go out to lunch, spend the day together. Wednesday I must bake cookies for a cookie exchange; Thursday Alison goes to school late; Friday is a half day, and I'll be attending Sylvia's party.

Not sure where the cards fit in; they'll come sometime during the holiday season - Kwanzaa lasts until early January, so I'm good (!) On a brighter note, I found the Barenaked Ladies CD, so we can jam to Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice music in the car - the girls love it, and I do, too - it is a pop-music multicultural musical extravaganza and always puts us in the holiday spirit. Nothing llike celebrating the diversity of the season!

On that note, may you celebrate the holiday that means the most to you, and in the words of Kinky Friedman, May the God of your choice bless you!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Great Day

It's Friday - my favorite day of the week. And I am feeling good ...

• I have gotten bunches of work done today. Turned in some stuff before Tuesday's deadline - score one for me!
• I finally - finally! - received a paycheck for some freelance work I did weeks ago. The editor apologized for a "cash flow" problem in a group e-mail; I'm wondering how many writers they lose next time.
• No matter - I have a hefty deposit to make at the bank.
• Plus now I feel as I am actually paying for the expensive gift I plan to buy Gary for Christmas.
• Fired off a letter to the editor this morning; I often think about it, but rarely actually write them. Having worked as an editor on the Opinions page, I know that it's better to wait and write when it really matters - save your ammo for when you really need it.
• I'm getting the last of the decorations out - finished up the Evergleam, found the dreidel (even though it's past Hanukkah). By tonight, the boxes will be back in the attic.
• My desk will be cleaned up by the end of the day - that is a rare sight.
• I am even ambitious enough that I think the kids' rooms will be tidy by the end of today.
• OK - by the end of the weekend. That's more realistic.
• Still need to get groceries (yuck - job I hate) and finish my shopping. But I have all of next week - Gary is even taking Tuesday off so we can shop together. We do this every year ... and to be honest, it's more about the two of us hanging out, going to lunch. But still, we consider it a day of shopping. That's what we tell the kids.

In order for the day to be perfect, I need to vacuum and drop off the recycling. But being the eternal optimist, I'll consider the possibility still in the cards.

I do love a Friday.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Religion and politics

I'm closely watching the race for president. I know, I know - the election isn't for 11 months. But I confess - I love the campaign process.

Except for one thing: I want religion off the table.

I don't care who attends which church. I don't think it should be an issue. I don't care that Mitt Romney is Mormon - I am not likely to vote for him, but his church of choice has nothing to do with it. And my guess is there is a Mormon or two out there who won't support him, either. I am also not likely to vote for people of many other faiths - there are people at my own church I might not vote for if they were running.

It's really not an issue, what you believe or how you believe it. Faith in a God - or lack of - has absolutely nothing to do with public policy. The job of the president is to run our government. And one needs to be able to make wise decisions. Enlighten me, if you will, as to how religion affects one's judgment.

Let's face it: A lot of people who consider themselves church-going, committed to their faith, or spiritual have made bad decisions in the past. Look at Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert. Or Pat Robertson and his irresponsible comments. Has their faith helped them?

On the other hand, Jimmy Carter is very open about his faith, and he was not terribly effective as president. (Though as a former president, he is a role model.) I don't know that Ronald Reagan was all that religious, and people loved him. Bill Clinton claims to be a man of faith, but it didn't stop him from cheating on his wife.

This week's Newsweek ran an article about the dispute between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, including a little boxed comparison of Mormons and Evangelicals. What I found most shocking was that, under Evangelicals, it claimed that salvation comes from a personal relationship with God, but actions on earth do not count.

So how you live your life, how you treat others, has nothing to do with salvation? A mass-murdered who feels they have a close personal relationship with God will come out OK in the end?

(This was not the case for Mormons, according to the 30-word synopsis provided by Newsweek - actions in this life do count.)

I doubt that all Evangelicals would agree with this assessment - I'm sure many of them believe that how they live their life is, in fact, relevant. But I'm a little alarmed by this concept. What happened to "Do unto others ..." and telling the disciples to give up their earthly possessions and go with Christ?

This is why I want it off the table - there are too many interpretations, and bottom, line, it doesn't benefit the entire country. I don't want any more discussion of who believes what. I don't think one need be a Christian in order to be president - we are not a theocracy. The founding fathers wanted a very clear separation of church and state - in no way did they want one belief system to dominate.

More important is how these candidates will handle national policy, what kind of laws they will enact. Whether or not they will attend forums on global warming, provide health insurance to all Americans, protect our rights, improve education, research alternative energy sources, and allocate tax dollars. And it does not take adherence to particular religious dogma to make those decisions in the best interest of all Americans.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Note to Mitch Albom

Dear Mitch:

Please stop. You have now written the same book three times. I read Tuesdays with Morrie, and it was OK. You followed up with The Five People You Meet in Heaven (which I read while sitting in my local Barnes and Noble in about 20 minutes - and those are 20 minutes I'll never see again), and now you have this schlock you are calling For One More Day, the movie version of which is taking up valuable air time on my television this very evening.

It is like a saccharine overdose, and I don't think I can stand anymore. Please put us out of our collective misery - no more. OK, so you're a sensitive guy and like to ruminate on What If's ... and Ways Life Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda. We get it already. Move on to another genre. Go back to sports writing. Get busy on a political exposé - surely some politician in Michigan is up to no good. Or move to DC, where there's plenty of fodder for people who can string together a sentence or two. Churn out some other crappy, overly sentimental fiction that can appeal to sappy middle-aged women. But let's leave the heartwarming revisits to our past mistakes be - enough is enough.


One Who Will Never, Ever Read One of Your Books Again

Date Night x 2

Two nights out with my husband - two in a row - is an unheard of luxury in our lives. We are, after all, the parents of three children. By choice, I might add - I knew, as much as any potential parent knows, what I was in for. I knew that we'd be spending more time at home, less time out, attending fewer splashy New Year's Eve events.

Which is OK by me - I love my girls and love spending time with them. However, I still enjoy some one-on-one time with my husband, time with uninterrupted conversation. And our girls are getting older, so the opportunities are less scarce. Friday night Sylvia left on a Brownie camping trip - two nights - and both Alison and Madeleine had babysitting jobs. Gary had just flown in from Europe, so he was tired. But we went to our local sushi bar for a bite. They had live music - tunes I recognized, like a little Steely Dan (some of which I can handle), Van Morrison, the Eagles - which was fun. Gary was really beat so we came home early. But it was to get out.

Yesterday we had the two older girls, so after Maddie got home from testing at noon, we did a little shopping. Alison and Maddie are both loaded these days, so they were excited to buy Christmas gifts. They each bought a little something for themselves, but they are both very generous with their sisters; it's very sweet. I took Gary to look at watches; didn't buy, but I at least know what he likes. I bought nothing for the girls, but I have some ideas.

I did not have dress shopping on my mind at all - I was really intending to wear something I already have to Gary's office party (at a restaurant this year, not the black-tie event of last year); the invitation said cocktail attire, and I have several dresses. But I decided to look in Macy's, and after weeding through what felt like hundreds of inappropriate dresses (too slinky, too short, too many sequins, too mother-of-the-bride, too strapless, too black, too frumpy ...) I turned the corner and was met with a plethora of options - from retro Maggie London to very classy Calvin Klein. Tried on a pile of them .... and most of them made me realize I no longer look the way I did when I was 25. I did, however, find two options that looked great; bought them both. One is just a black dress, but it fit so great I could not pass it up. It can go from daytime to evening, so I am set. The other, the party dress, is a shiny pewter fabric and looks quite flattering on me - no simple task these days.

As we were leaving I popped into Ann Taylor Loft, just to see what was there ... and I saw the perfect coat, a retro-looking dress coat, white with silver brocade. Over the pewter dress = perfection. A total impulse buy, but I did it. It is shorter than the dress, but I think it looks good that way (and the sales clerk absolutely guaranteed that it does). Camelia, ever helpful, also told me it can be appropriate for daytime. I was skeptical, then not moments later a woman walked through the store with glittery trim on her clearly daytime outfit - score one for Camelia. The coat can be worn out to dinner, to church, maybe even over a simple outfit during the day. So it's mine - and at 20 percent off, too. Picked up the matching silver clutch and a necklace.

At which point I had to leave the mall, but not before taking a peek into Ann Taylor, just to see. But I held onto myself and did not buy anything (though, as usual, the choices were tempting).

(I'm guessing by now that only Tammy, maybe Peter, are still reading ....)

Date Night No. 2: We (mostly me) decided to see Atonement - it's getting lots of buzz, and is just out, at River Oaks Theatre, the place to go for fun arty flicks (so much better than your basic multiplex - a real theater, in danger, naturally, of being leveled by the "progressives" here in Houston). Maddie was babysitting again, Alison had plans. We were to drop her off at a friend's. Around 10, she said. 10? What? Well, she said, I'll just go with you to see Atonement. We sorted it all out, agreed to take her with us. Then her friend called - could Alison come earlier? The little sneak - her friend wanted her to come over earlier, but she manipulated things because she wanted to see this movie - ! Not a big deal, but we could have eaten in River Oaks if we hadn't had to drive her over to Memorial. Grrrr. Ah well, next time we'll be doing things differently.

And Alison will NOT be driving - she scared the daylights out of me on I-10. Yeesh.

The movie, by the way, was good, but not quite as good as the hype. But I always enjoy a good English period drama, and this one did not disappoint. Though the "surprise" at the end did not exactly bowl me over. After the movie, we ate at the Red Onion - casual, but great food.

And Sunday still lies ahead - with all three girls at home. We've been missing the Sylvia.

Have a great day, all!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday - again

The bottle of schnapps on my kitchen counter stands as a testament to the week I've had.

Single parenting is tough. Not terrible, but tough. In some ways, I don't miss my husband when he's gone. I do not feel the need to be around him 24 hours a day - I truly enjoy spending time with him, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And for us, it's healthy to have a little time apart.

That said, I do miss having some backup in the parenting department. I had a little issue with one of my charming daughters the other night, and I know he would have backed me up. Children, left to their own devices, do not always make the best decisions. I know this; any other adult knows this. And it would have been nice to have another adult handy to reinforce this upon said daughter.

So thank goodness for the schnapps, which I added to the hot chocolate I drink. I think that schnapps in a hot beverage is acceptable at 3 p.m., don't you?!?

Makes the school bus that much easier to meet ...

I would l-o-v-e to blog about the coup I scored with my Christmas shopping, but as my children have access to, and on occasion read, this blog, I shall have to postpone sharing my fantastic news. And let's face it, in three weeks the story will have lost some of its luster. But that's the breaks, huh? Suffice to say, Go me!

My girls will be very happy on Christmas morning.

Tonight: Sylvia goes camping with the Brownies; Alison and Maddie both babysit. Gary comes home from his business trip (he landed just moments ago). Tomorrow night: Sylvia is still camping. Maddie babysits; Alison goes to a friend's house.

Two nights in a row? Kid free?

Go, me!

The Christmas Quiz

It's the traditional get-to-know your friends Christmas Quiz, courtesy of my friend Tammy. Since I am too lazy to send this in e-mail form, I am posting the answers here. I'm pretty sure I did one last year, but maybe my answers have changed?

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper mostly, but the occasional gift bag. Some gifts from Santa are not wrapped - he is much too busy.
2. REAL OR FAKE TREE? Four trees, all fake. One is from the 60s, and it does not look remotely real. Then there's the Evergleam - my guess is no one thinks the shiny aluminum tree is real.
3. When do you put up the tree? The first or second week of the month - this year we did it on the 1st.
4. When do you take the tree down? No later than New Year's Day
5. Do you like eggnog? A beverage made with raw eggs? Um, no thank you.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmmm ... hard to remember. I don't ever remember being disappointed. I do remember the year I got a set of play dishes, something I had wanted for a long time. I also remember the year my brother bought me an album he hated, but he knew I wanted it.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? One. My parents brought it to us from Bethlehem.
8. Hardest person to buy for? My parents or my in-laws - they buy for themselves everything they really want or need.
9. Easiest person to buy for? My daughters - they drop lots of hints. And it's easy to make them happy.
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever got? It's a toss-up: Tupperware, from Gary's aunt. I had asked for perfume. (Go ahead - try to make the connection.) Or embroidered pillowcases from another well-meaning relative. They are so not my style - has this person every noticed how my house is decorated? Obviously not. Oh well - what can you do? Smile and say Thank You. (Though I do use the Tupperware ...)
11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Mail, but I'm not sure if I'm sending any this year.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas - I'm always in the mood for a classic.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I wait until December - no need for Christmas to take over my life.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? You bet - and I have one sitting in my closet that I am dying to regift (but I'm waiting for just the right opportunity).
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Fondue - the girls can't wait.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? White lights on the big tree, red lights on the smaller tree, colored lights on the smallest tree, and no lights on the Evergleam.
17. Favorite Christmas song? That's a tough one ... maybe White Christmas. I really love all the secular holiday songs - Sleigh Ride, Baby It's Cold Outside, Santa Baby, Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow ... as for traditional songs, I like It Came Upon A MIdnight Clear, Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming, Carol of the Bells, and Sing We Now of Christmas, Once in Royal David's City. Least favorite: Little Drummer Boy - can't stand it.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I prefer to stay home.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Sure can - poem or song.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Which tree?!? Star, choir boy, angel, and nothing
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Because Santa does not come til late at night, we have to wait until Christmas morning.
22. Where are your favorite places to shop? Not too picky - wherever my shopping takes me.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Manufactured frenzy. Too much commercialization. Greedy people.
24. What I love most about Christmas? Creating memories with my children - the five of us together. Every year we get a gift that one of the girls has made, and they are always so proud. It is very sweet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So much to do ...

I've been absent. You'd think I'm mourning the Tigers loss.

Not so. It was disappointing, sure, but I'm over it. We didn't even buy Cotton Bowl tickets - I would, but the game is at 10.40 a.m. New Year's Day. Our options are: spend New Year's Eve in Dallas, with no one we know (my brother is not coming ... Barbara was not so keen on the idea), or get up at 3 a.m. and drive up. Neither sounds too appealing to me - though I think my husband is thinking hard ...

Tomorrow is Nikolaus Day, December 6, where Nikolaus puts kleine Geschenke in the kids' shoes. Sylvia is just beside herself - and thrilled that one of her classmates celebrates, too. They compared notes today; Sylvia had her shoes downstairs before suppertime.

I asked Alison if she were too old; she assured me that she is not. Wonder if I should leave my shoes out, too ...

The decorations are mostly out. Sylvia and I assembled the Evergleam tonight. Nothing says Merry Christmas to me like a shiny aluminum tree. I love it - just love it. It is so anti-tradition, so kitschy. This is what happens when one is a child of the 60s and 70s - those pieces of nostalgia haunt you for the rest of your life. I'll be forever enamored of fondue pots, avocado appliances, and lava lamps. (I managed to snag my parents' fondue set - in avocado, naturally - and we haul it out every Christmas.)

Nikolaus is calling for help - I'd best answer. After that, my bed beckons ...

Friday, November 30, 2007

On Friday, everything looks good

I love a Friday; it's my favorite day of the week. It holds the promise of the weekend - no work, no getting up early, just taking it easy. I have three evenings to take it easy.

Not that I'll be taking it that easy - life does not work that way when one has three children. Tonight I am being forced to see a high school play. Alison isn't even in the cast - she's on the crew. But in my official capacity as publicity mom for the drama booster club, I feel obligated. I'm sure it will be fine, but I could live with staying home. Tomorrow we have various and sundry activities, and tomorrow night is the Big Game.

Do not tell me you know not to which game I am referring. Go Tigers! ESPN's Game Day airs from San Antonio tomorrow - look for Gary's college friend Pat Forde to provide commentary.

We may even haul out the Christmas decorations. I love the holidays; I love the decorations. But it has become a chore. I remember when we lived in our first house, all our Christmas stuff fit in one box. I think we're up to about a dozen - and they ain't small. A high school friend and his family had something like 45 Christmas trees at their house - some sort of perverse hobby. Every year, as I unpack our four trees and all the miscellany that accompanies four trees, I think of them. With some empathy. And think to myself wow, they must have really loved the holidays. It takes all the energy I can muster to unpack all this stuff. And it takes a couple of days before all the empty boxes are returned to the attic.

As I said, it's a lot of work. The kids are good for, say, 30 minutes. Then they have had their fill of saying, Ooooh and Aaaah, and, Oh! I remember that one. Then they're done.

When it's done, we usually stand around and feel the love as we admire our main tree, which is truly lovely. It's designed by Yours Truly, and I am always moved by the ornaments, many of which were made by the girls or gifts to them. I love the little church, an exact replica of the one my great grandmother gave my older brother. I like our Weihnachtspyramid, a beloved souvenir of our German Christmases. I love my miniature Christmas village, comprising actual buildings in Lafayette. I love the old tree, which now sits in the game room upstairs, covered by toy ornaments; I love the small tree that sits on a landing above the front door - a second-story tree. And I love the Evergleam - what could be kitschier? And nothing says Merry Christmas quite like an aluminum tree. And I smile at Sylvia's personal decorations - a special request to Santa when she was about three. She still puts them up in her room .... I suspect this is our last year to have an actual Santa believer in our midst.

It's all charming; it's all beautiful. And when it's time to put it all away in January, it's a huge relief. One month a year is enough to have our house overrun with red and greenery, displacing furniture. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the most hectic. As glad as I am to see it come, I'll be equally glad to pack it all away.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The excitement builds ....

I have spent much of the last two days figuring out our New Year's schedule and all the possibilities - namely, how will we manage traveling to a bowl game?!??

If Missouri wins Saturday, it's easy: We go to the BCS Bowl in New Orleans Jan. 7. If we lose, then it's all up in the air - we could end up at the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Alamo Bowl (all doable), or at the Orange Bowl, Holiday Bowl or Fiesta Bowl (which really aren't - too far away). I've sent out some feelers to friends. If we go to the BCS Bowl, then my brother can't come. But if we end up in Dallas, then he and Barbara will drive down.

So, do I root for Missouri to win? Or to lose and end up at the Cotton Bowl, where we can meet up with John and Barb?

I know, I know - it's really not even a question. Much as we would love to hang out with John and Barb, I really want to go to New Orleans and vie for the national championship. But tickets may be hard to get ... John and I will talk Saturday night or Sunday after the game.

I got a remarkable amount done today - for me. Lately I am more than a little lazy. Hint for the day: Target is very un-crowded at 8 a.m. on a Thursday, even if it is in the weeks before Christmas.

I think I may forgo Christmas cards this year - I'm not feeling up to it. But I've been known to change my mind. I really love getting them, even those holiday newsletters that others find obnoxious. Of course people only write about the good stuff - what do you expect? A detailed treatise on the family's travails of the past year? Maybe the people who resent them are people who don't like to write or are not good writers. Or maybe it's envy. Or they are easily annoyed. Who knows ... I happen to love them. (And often write one of my own ... though I've made them shorter over the years - Gary's aunt writes one that is two full pages, and she could use a good editor; we don't really need to hear every detail of her bike riding trips ("... then on day two ...") I'm down to half a page, and I think it's long enough.)

In other excitement:

• Cleared some clothing out of my closet today. Prompting me to wonder whatever encouraged me to purchase these items in the first place.
• The closet is not noticeably emptier.
• I found my favorite peppermints at the grocery store yesterday - seemed worth noting.
• Have not figured out how to purchase replacement vacuum piece - my e-mails to the company have gone unanswered.
• Where is my check? For work finished weeks ago? I'm getting testy - those e-mails are also going unanswered.
• It's in the 70s again.
• My favorite TV shows are running out of new episodes. Give the writers what they want!

Must make the tennis lesson pick-up. Sigh. A mother's driving is never done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thoughts for the day (warning: extremely random)

When does wanting justice shift to revenge?

This crossed my mind as I read an article about a woman whose daughter was killed in a car accident and the driver of the car - who was intoxicated - left the country, returning to her native Peru, thus avoiding prosecution.

The driver was a college friend of the girl who was killed. A group of them had been out partying, and the driver was drunk. The accident killed one girl, paralyzed another. The penalty that was in plea bargaining negotiations was for manslaughter, which the mother wanted to reject.

I understand all of this - the mother's feelings, the outrage that this girl (now woman) is back in Peru and facing no consequences for her actions - she did kill someone (extradition did not cover her specific crime). But I also know her daughter was in the car and had also been drinking. Underage. Had she been the one behind the wheel, would the mother feel the same way?

I'm not suggesting people should get away with drunk driving - we need to educate our kids better, and penalties need to be stiff. But I'm just curious about the mother's motivation.

And while I'm at it, why is the death penalty seen as justice? Isn't it more about revenge? I am surprised at how many Christians I know are all for executing criminals, when the Bible I read seems to stress forgiveness ...

Further, I'm not blaming Mitt Romney for the ex-con who killed two people, just because he was furloughed (or released or paroled or whatever) by a judge who was appointed by Romney; I am not going to hold him personally responsible. If he were using his crystal ball then OK, he's to blame. My guess is we're all human and tragedies happen - if we could all act differently and make amends I'm sure we all would - who hasn't made a decision that in retrospect may not have been the best one? Yes, this one is more tragic, but as I said, I'm sure it was unintentional. Should someone pay? The criminal, sure. But how high do we want to go? Should we hold responsible all the voters who put Romney into office? His campaign manager?

Hillary (does she even need a last name?) is in town today. (It's Clinton, in case you're not sure.) I am not going. I kind of wanted to hear her speak, but I'm on the fence about her. I don't hate her, don't even mind her. But she isn't my No. 1 choice at the moment. And seeing/hearing her was going to require a hefty donation, and I'm not sure I'm prepare to shell out that sort of money for her. Yet.

I was, naturally, flattered to get a personal invitation. But I'm not so deluded that I think I'm really that special - please, anyone they thought might pay got one, I'm sure. But I can pretend, just for a moment, that they went to only an elite few.

And for my final thought: Thank GOD that Marie Osmond got booted off first last night. Dancing with the Stars - sorry. At first, I thought she was fun to watch. But she began to get on my nerves. I watched her on Larry King and she bugged the hell out of me - she is all about not taking any responsibility for what goes wrong in her life. The twice-divorced Ms. Osmond said, If only her parents could rear all the men in the world ... OK, I get it - you are divorced - twice - because the men are to blame. You are without fault. Nice. Spoiled brat, more like it.

And on DWTS, she could not accept criticism graciously - she would defy the judges, saying, I refuse to accept that. Excuse me? And as one blogger pointed out, I do not want to hear her say, I'm a doll designer! I'm nearly 50! or I have 50 kids! ever, ever again. Good riddance!

And even worse, people who watched that show live had to endure Celine Dion singing not once, but TWICE! Thank goodness for TiVo ...

Happy Wednesday, all!

Monday, November 26, 2007


The cleaning woman broke my vacuum.

Of this I am absolutely sure. She was the last one to use it. Trust me - I didn't even to have ask the girls if one them didn't sneak in and use it without permission; I just know.

Naturally, I am annoyed. I called her, the owner of the company, to complain. Which I say I hate to do - I don't like to be a whiner, someone who's never satisfied.

But the fact is, I have complained about the cleaning woman before. I have complained several times. One week, she totally skipped the half bath. Another week, it was our bathroom. One week, all of the sinks looked dirty; yet another week, the floors did not look as if they had been mopped. The trash was taken out in half the house (I would prefer that she didn't take out any of the trash, but why, then, only half? When I had asked them to leave it be?). Underneath the desks was not vacuumed.

I sound really picky. But I also know the size of the check I write, and I think I should get what I'm paying for. She's a very nice woman, but she does not clean well. I can only be nice for so long before I get resentful.

Looks like I'm out whatever the price of a new vacuum piece is. It's big piece. They offered to pay for it, but still, it's a pain.


An acquaintance of mine told a story in a blog. This is someone I've known for a long time (though I no longer see this person) and she told a story that I know, for a fact, is not true. It hearkens back to our youth; I was there, and she totally distorted what happened.

Why do I care? Good question - I suppose because it makes her out to be someone she isn't, someone much more important. And I know she is only being half truthful. I suppose it could be the way she remembers things, but I doubt it.

I have decided not to call her on it (and I doubt if she read this, which she doesn't, she would recognize herself - she is too self-important to read this, and I'm guess she believes her version of events). I am not one to leave mean comments - why bother? When people write things I dislike or find fault with, I am not inclined to comment - I so rarely leave positive feedback, why bother with snippy comments? I guess I prefer silent loathing.

But to clarify, the vacuum story? Totally true.


I grew up with a friend who was a bully.

This came back to me as I read about a workshop held in the Houston schools to help girls identify with bullying. Girls who make unkind comments about their friends, belittling them, making them feel inferior, these girls are considered bullies. And one of my "friends" displayed this behavior.

There was a group of us - at one time four, then three - and the one who somehow considered herself the most *important* constantly made cutting remarks about the rest of us. I'm not sure why we tolerated it, but we did.

And they were mean remarks - insults about how we dressed, about our houses (which never lived up to hers - though I don't recall that her house was amazing), about our families. She called my brother names, made fun of what I wore. She made fun of another friend's parents, of their jobs, their pets. We did class reports in Spanish, talking about our parent's jobs, and when one guy said his dad was a mail carrier, she somehow found that funny. (I told my mom later, and my mom, who worked in personnel at the post office at the time, said she should watch it - that boy's dad probably made more than her dad did.) Another time I mentioned going shopping after Christmas when things would be cheaper and somehow she found this worthy of her disdain - the idea of having to save money was beneath her.

(This was a not wealthy family, just so you know - she was a middle-class kid, just like I was, who grew up in a modest three-bedroom ranch house. Nice parents.)

She moved away in junior high, and when I look back at how she behaved, why she treated us, her friends, that way, I am at a loss. Why would you want to make your friends feel badly about themselves? How did this make her feel better?

I saw her a few years ago, and I am happy to say she has changed, that she outgrew this destructive behavior. I keep an eye on my own girls, and I would not care to see them participate in this behavior. Girls needs to support their friends, not victimize them.

Such a waste of energy. And for what?


Must go online to order new Missouri sweatshirts ... we'll be needing something to wear in New Orleans ...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We're No. 1?!?!?

Could be ... No. 4 (or 3) defeats No. 2 Kansas, leads the entire game. OK, so they had a few too many penalties, so they could have held Kansas back, not allowed so many long passes. But it doesn't matter - they won! And they could be No. 1 this week.

Missouri will play Oklahoma in San Antonio next weekend. We likely will not go, but it will be exciting, none the less. Go Tigers!!!

Hola! from San Antonio

San Antonio is touted in the guide books as a charming city, known for its mingling of Native American, Deep South, and Old Mexican cultures. The eighth largest city in the United States, it boasts the lovely downtown Riverwalk, museums, restaurants, and the history of 300-year-old missions.

Each of these features is a true delight. Each is undoubtedly much more enjoyable when it's warmer outside than 45 degrees. And not raining. But I'm not complaining - we are actually quite enjoying the cooler weather, a welcome break after so many months of really hot days.

None the less, we are loving it. Thanksgiving day was spent at home, where Gary, the girls and I cooked for our guests: turkey, stuffing w/prunes and apricots, sweet potato casserole, green beans w/bacon (I cringe from the recipe that calls for cream of mushroom soup and those fried onions - can't do it), Gulliver's corn, baked mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, rolls, pumpkin ribbon bread, and pumpkin pie. None of it is low-fat; all of it is wonderful. Gave us a chance to use our seldom-used china in our rarely used dining room. We started the day with the neighborhood Turkey Trot two-mile walk/run and finished by playing lots of Mah Jongg and drinking. Can't think of any better way to spend the day.

All I'll dispense with listing the many things for which I am thankful - I know how fortunate I am.

Friday morning we left for San Antonio. (Can you believe I drove away from all those leftovers? We'll have plenty to eat when we return home ...) We have a lovely hotel on the Riverwalk, and everything is within walking distance. Yesterday we walked to the Alamo, past the historic Joske's department store, the Menger Hotel, La Villita, St. Joseph's Church, Hemisfair Park, and the Riverwalk. It was lovely. And it was cold - 45 and drizzly. We did dress properly, but wow - that wind can go right through you.

Dinner was at Hard Rock Cafe when we realized the kids had never been there, and we figured Alison would get a kick out of it - never mind that we have one in Houston. Man, there is a lot of pointless rock "memorabilia" out there.

Last night was the lighting of the holiday lights on the Riverwalk and the parade of barges down the river. We considered watching from the hotel balcony, but it was very windy out there, and we were up high enough that it was hard to see well. So we went to the Riverwalk right behind out hotel and were able to watch from there. It was great - the lighted barges all had music - some had live bands - so it was more of floating concert to the strains of Jimmy Buffett, Van Morrison, Freddy Fender, Los Lobos, and countless showtunes. Such fun - we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Today we drove out to see several of the missions on the outskirts of the city. We only toured one - you get the idea - but we did like the movie about the development of the missions and the way the indigenous populations were treated by the conquering Spaniards - interesting stuff. We went to lunch at the Liberty Saloon, a funny little place in a building that lists - noticeably - to the left. The food was great and the atmosphere fun, even if you did have to make sure your things didn't roll across the room (!) Their pies were fantastic.

The girls wanted to check out the Children's Museum, so we did, and I'm sorry to say that we have nearly outgrown such places. Came back to the hotel, went to Happy Hour and played Yahtzee - four Yahtzees, four dances (you have to do the Yahtzee dance, even in public), and Alison tested all of my and Gary's drinks - we are so proud of her knowledge of mixed drinks. It should serve her well should she continue her interest in drama and need to sideline as a waiter or bartender - !

We are now watching Kansas v. Missouri - we saw one of Gary's college friends on Game Day this morning who now works for ESPN. Truman the Tiger Webkinz is watching with us for luck ... I am really hoping I can e-mail my former colleague who went to KU, giddy with victory. It's a little too early to gloat - I'll just keep my fingers crossed.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Little bits of nothing

Fall has come to Texas.

By fall I mean that temperatures are below 75, with the nights down in the 40s. It is really lovely. And I am just crazy enough that I actually wish it were colder.

I like warm weather - truly, I do. I love swimning, the beach, summer dresses with sandals. But I love warm weather when it's appropriate. And being one who grew up in the Midwest, with four distinct seasons, I want fall. And winter. When we moved here, I thought I would relish the warmer temperatures - I was thrilled to leave the cold and snow behind.

And now? I realize that I actually miss the change, that i do not want to wear sandals in November, capris in December. Chalk it up to lessons learned.

I had to smile the other day. It was mid-60s, and I saw a woman at Target wearing capris and flip flops, another wearing a turtleneck and boots. Another guy had on a parka - ! Gotta love the Texan reaction to the "cold."

The weekend has been somewhat less productive than I might have liked. Gary came home, so I once again have a co-parent (handy when Alison called at 3.15 am that she was home from Fort Worth and needed someone to pick her up at school). Maddie decided she wanted to see Psycho, and as it was the one weekend of the year when it was not on cable - naturally - we cashed in a video rental coupon in order to enjoy some classic Hitchcock, complete with a "Making of ..." documentary (I love those) and the theatrical trailer. It remains one of the scariest movies I have ever seen - even when I know what is coming. I love it.

Bought new black boots to replace the ones I bought several years ago that have officially worn out. I've been looking for years (I am very picky regarding heel height and style, and while I can always find the characteristics I seek, I am not always willing to pay the requested price). Last year, I found the perfect pair, but I opted to buy them in brown, as my brown boots were hurting my feet (they were clearly purchased before one of the girls was born). I didn't particularly want the same boots in two different colors, so I waited. Now, out of absolute necessity, I made the black purchase. And they are stunning.

By this point I would imagine you are regretting logging on to read this - who finds the minutiae of others' shoe shopping even remotely interesting?

But it gets better: We went to a party last night with great live music. But we had the two younger girls with us, and they were "too tired" by 10 pm. (read: bored) so we had to leave. Made a mental note next time to leave them at home.

Made my shopping list and to-do list for the week, in order to get ready for Thanksgiving here on Thursday. Not a huge crowd - just us and the grandparents - but I do enjoy hosting. I love to cook for this holiday - I have a fantastic set of recipes from a class Helen and I took. The best part? It can all be made ahead of time. So I'll be busy the next couple of days, cooking in advance to that Thursday morning is not a frenzied mess. I only make the pie on Thursday (and the turkey, of course) - everything else is done early.

But I will have to clean off the desk in the office - slash - guest room, which is piled high with my works-in-progress. A semblence of tidiness will be in order.

This, sadly, is my entire list of accomplishments for the weekend. There is much more I could have, should have, done. But I no longer beat myself up about these thngs. Life is short, and some days, it's OK to just take it easy, watch Missouri football on TV, watch a movie with the kids or play Yahtzee (all of which we did). We all enjoy life in different ways; sometimes, a little enjoyement is worth a lot.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stress relief

Lots of ways to put off doing what I should be doing. Lots of ways to deal with stress.

Like blogging, for example. Or shopping. Which I did today - nothing like a stop at Ann Taylor to make me feel better. Plus a run through Dillard's. I need a dress for a Christmas party. So I looked, a bit, got some ideas. Found lots of separates, lots of spangly tops with sequins. But I'm not sure that's the look I'm going for. I browsed in Dillard's, found a stunning coat (that I would wear once a year), a couple maybes. Then I hit the part of the store where the sweaters have large cats on them ... I was done.

Who wears those? I mean, really?

I am already down one husband this week, and tomorrow I'll be minus a daughter, as Alison heads off to Fort Worth for the thespian convention. It will be strangely quiet around here.

Saturday night, we went to dinner, the entire family. I ordered a drink, and the waiter asked for ID. You are kidding, I said. No, he was completely serious. I complied, and he returned it, saying, You don't look that old.

Flattering, naturally. But I'm thinking that it's not so much a testament to my youthful glamour as it is a sign of his cluelessness. I mean really, what did he see? A couple with their three daughters? Or Gary with his three daughters and his teenage girlfriend?

Scary stuff. But it's always nice to know I can pass for my daughter's elder sister.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Youth Lust

Or: Yes, I watched The Osmonds on Oprah today - how about you?

I know, I know - I have a jillion things to do. But I could not resist weighing in. The Osmonds! And I was never a huge fan, even.

When I saw the promos, I knew I'd be tuning in - how could I pass up an hour of traveling back in time, watching Donny and Marie - and little Jimmy, too? Takes me right back to fourth grade - I have distinct memories of watching this show at a friend's house. Though my memories go back much further - I remember listening to Puppy Love on a 45 at my friend Debra's house in first or second grade, and I remember my friend Janet having a major crush on Donny (it must have been her post-David Cassidy phase).

Besides, who couldn't love those shots of the Osmond jumpsuits? The 70s. They were one happening decade.

And I have to give them credit - they seem like a nice family. You only get to see the public side, but still. And Donny has aged well - he looks better now, at 49 (!) than he did as a teenager. (And he wore a purple shirt -!)

But. I'm not really one to lust after my lost youth. First of all, it isn't lost just yet - I feel fairly young, and the parent of one of Alison's friends told me, at pick-up one night, that I looked like one of the students (flattery will get you everywhere, sir ...) And secondly, I live in the present. And for the most part, things today are pretty good. Or they could be worse, anyway.

None the less, it is always fun to revisit parts of my youth. It's a little surreal to watch it through the filter of time - and I have to gently remind my giggling children that they, too, will have this experience - all those clothing styles they love will, one day, look equally dated. Trust me.

I have equally fond feelings for most TV shows I watched all those years ago: That Girl. Batman. Partridge Family. Brady Bunch. What's Happening. Maybe because it's like watching your childhood - we weren't armed with round-the-clock video surveillance, so watching those shows is like taking a step back in time. Or perhaps because it takes me back to a simpler time - a time when life was easy, when my only worries were which friend to call, which game to play. No job, no bills, no real responsibilities.

I wouldn't trade places, mind you - no need to return to the days of track shorts and tube socks, feathered hair and shag carpet. But it's fun to take a peek.

This is the second time this week I've watched Oprah - probably the second time this year. I had to check out yesterday's show where she covered dressing for the ages. As with most makeover shows, those women looked fantastic with some fashion advice. I had to laugh with - not at - one woman, who was wearing clothes she had had for years. I laughed because I recognized every outfit they showed as something I would have worn in 1990. (And I confess, guiltily, a few of those items still hang in my closet ... unworn, but they're there ... ) One woman, who was in her 60s, looked amazing in her before shots - maybe the tops were a little low and the pants a little tight, but she could get away with it. I hope I look that amazing at 60.

But really, I'm OK with the age I am. It's great to be 29 ...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Surfin to Success

I could title this - yet again - something along the lines of Wow, I have so much to do, and so little time in which to do it.

But that doesn't exactly make me special - everyone is busy; everyone has stuff to do.

Yet it's no less true. I've added an additional project, and it is taking up much of my time. So when I'm done, I'll have more time to dink around. In the meantime, I'm busy with some ... stuff.

But before I sign off, let me leave you with this image:

Picture, if you will, an elementary school auditorium. It is designed for a maximum capacity of, say, 350 people. But there are 200 third-graders in the school ... you et the idea. Chairs are set up for about 350 people, and another 150 stand, lining the perimeter of the room. The 200 afore-mentioned third-graders take the stage, all outfitted in bright colors (my own third-grade participant had on a bright red dress and a brightly colored lei - a birthday party leftover favor). And we are entertained by the sound of the Beach Boys, but for the lyrics "Surfin USA" substitute instead, "Surfin to Success."

Ah, yes - butchered Beach Boys - as if they aren't unbearable enough in their original form?

And still, with all its campiness, the evening was charming. Botched music, too many people (they need to schedule one more than one performance), parents with cameras blocking the view - all those annoyances were canceled out by the delight on the face of my daughter. She was front and center - and we were there early enough to get good seats - with a huge smile on her face the entire time. She's been practicing the lyrics at home for weeks and was so proud to sing for us.

I won't be sitting through elementary school performances for too much longer - only two more years. There's plenty of time for me to be cynical. For now, I'll just relax and enjoy the childhood of my youngest daughter. Surfin' to Success, indeed - she is well on her way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I remember when I was about 6 or 7, I dressed up as Wacky Witch for Halloween. No one remembers her, I'm guessing - she was a comic book witch - maybe even on TV on Saturday mornings. She wore orange clothes and had a green face, and I think she was friendly. This was back in the days of wearing those plastic masks and carrying plastic pumpkins. Mine was really small but my older brother's was huge. So my dad's coat pockets were full of candy as I tried to keep up with my brother - who was dressed as a devil. Another one of those dime-store costumes with a red plastic mask.

Our own house was the last stop. We would ring the doorbell and shout Trick or Treat - my mom would look surprised that it was us. When we came inside, we dumped our candy into giant bowls. My dad came through and took a piece from each of us. Then we would swap out the candy we didn't like with whatever my mom was handing out. We'd trade a bit, and we'd plan on carrying our lunch for the next few days so that we could pack candy for dessert.

I'm not sure Halloween is all that different these days for my own children. The decorations are more extravagant, but most of it is the same: carving jack o'lanterns, creating costumes, getting candy. And on a school night, no less.

It's always been one of my favorite times of the year. I can respect people who don't celebrate it - it's their choice, naturally. But I don't get it. Sure, Halloween has ancient Pagan ties. But so do other holidays - Christmas, Easter. Plus, my guess is that those who are anti-Pagan have no clue what Pagans really believe.

But part of me can't believe you would want to pass up this night of fun.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


The surface of my desk is now nearly clean.

Though I must stress nearly. And I should probably point out that the floor of my office is now covered with nearly a dozen piles of paper, all of which require filing.

Thus I've come to a conclusion: I hate housework.

This isn't exactly news to me. I've already hired out the yardwork, hired out the heavy cleaning. Monica will be here tomorrow to take of the floors, the dusting, the bathrooms.

But I need to figure out a way to get the rest of it done. I am, as always, drowning in paper. I have a small planning desk in the kitchen, which holds mail, notes from school, coupons, brochures, and items of that ilk. My upstairs office (alternately known as the guest room, as it holds the futon; the workout room, as without a basement, the elliptical must live here; and the library, as it has two walls of bookcases) has the filed-away paperwork (of which there is plenty) and my myriad notes and interviews and files for projects on which I am working - of which there are also plenty.

Lucky for me, I have no shortage of ideas. Unluckily, I am a paper person. Meaning I cannot merely put these into electronic files - I like the use of actual paper and pen. Which means all this paper takes up a lot of space. And while I like to think I am organized, sadly, the reverse is more likely true: I cannot keep things tidy. I mean, they're tidy enough - trust me, as I've seen what a truly untidy office looks like. There is no pathway to the door lines with piles. But my desk is never clear of paper. At present there are no fewer than five post-its, a pile of CDs, a pile of computer CDs, pens, a pile of really relevant papers, a pile of school notes, and qutie a large pile of notes that holds log-in/password info for all those online sign-ins that I cannot remember without help.

This is a vast improvement from earlier today.

There are a couple of closets I need to get on. We've only lived here 20 months, and I've cleaned these closets before. How often must I do this task?

I'm thinking that what would really help is daily help, someone to come in, put things away (in a logical place, such as where I would have put it had I actually gotten around to it), unload and load the dishwasher, fold and put away laundry, and do a general once-over. Leaving me time to read and envelop myself in the creative process.

Wish me luck - I'm adding this to my Christmas list.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday so soon?

Time alone with my computer has been fleeting, so say the least. Kids, work (and work time on the computer does not count as quality time, just for clarification), fruitless volunteer efforts, house stuff ... you get the idea. It's generally referred to as life.


I had to punish a child last night; while the girls may disagree, it is not a task I relish. But sometimes, as was the case last night, it was necessary. Maybe someday she'll thank me; I doubt it's tomorrow.

I am thinking ahead to spring break, where our travels should take us. The girls want Hawaii, but I'm not sure that will happen - going to Hawaii is akin to taking the entire family to Europe. We've considered Big Bend National Park, a cruise, or an island. Sylvia wants to go to Colorado to see my brother and his girlfriend. But we've been to Colorado fairly recently ... and more importantly, Barb won't be there, as she'll be visiting her mother. So many places to go ... we're still thinking. We are going to San Antonio over Thanksgiving. It's one of those Texas must-see destinations. Thus we must see it.

The recycling initiative? Failed. The HOA board wants more evidence that residents want it. More than a 90 percent approval rate, I guess. Disappointing, to say the least. But we shall persevere - maybe next year will be the year?

Hope the rest of my day is not as dull as what I have just written ... maybe I'll spend some time searching for my muse, who appears to be hiding.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall at last

The temperature dropped today. At 8 a.m. it was mid-70s; by 11, it was 57 degrees.

It was also rainy and windy - winds were gusting today up to 28 mph.

It was intense, grey and threatening. Yesterday the sun was shining and the air was muggy. What a difference a day makes.

I listen to the news all morning (though it's pledge week this week - bleah) so I knew the forecast; I knew to send my girls to school in jeans with sweatshirts. But I saw kids at the bus stop and other people today who clearly had no idea. It's tough when it changes so quickly with so little warning. Though I am stunned by how many people - not just here, but other places I've lived - do not read the paper, don't pay attention. How do they know what's going on?

I have stew in the crock pot, so it's like an actual fall evening here. Made myself some warm cider this afternoon. But I'm not expecting miracles - the weather will be warm again in the next few days. I'll just enjoy it while it lasts.

We've been successful with the recycling petitions - of those asked, more than 90 percent have said yes, they support adding curbside recycling, even for a fee. We've had a few no's, some from people who aren't interested, some who are ambivalent, and some from people who would do it but don't want to pay. But it shocks me when people are against it - who is against recycling? What kind of person opposes it? It is baffling.

The big presentation to the HOA is tomorrow. I have my outfit chosen - first things first - so I'm set. Oh - and I do know what I plan to say in the five-minute presentation. Wish us luck!

A Night at the Opera

Music. Drama. Passion. Fancy dress and prom dresses. Add every connected gay man in Houston, and you have opening night at the Houston Grand Opera.

You can also add me, as I was lucky enough to be in attendance, courtesy of my friend Nancy, who had press tickets. She often needs a date, since her husband travels, and I was fortunate to be No. 1 on her list.

The entire evening was wonderful, from the pre-Opera talk - which I never think to attend, as it starts at 6.15 p.m., which requires leaving the house at 5, but was well worth it - to the actual performance (Verdi's Masked Ball). Plus we enjoyed all the sidelines of a night out - getting dressed up, a glass of champagne before the show, dessert at the intermission.

And the best part? I didn't have to drive! Well, not that I ever do, as Gary does the driving when he's with me. But still ... with a friend, it's always a possibility.

As it was opening night, it was black tie for much of the crowd; the patrons had a ball of some sort, complete with masks, beforehand (alas, our tickets must have been lost in the mail) ... So half the fun was picking out the prom dresses (there were several), opera suits (worn by those over 70), and the trophy wives - several of those, too.

What to wear is such a crap shoot these days - there is no consistency. Nancy and I wore the basic black skirt combo - a perfect choice, by the way - just ask us. But there was an extreme variety, from those in sundresses and flip flops to the afore-mentioned opera suit and gowns that looked like poor relations of Academy Awards gowns. Nancy said on Sunday afternoon, you're likely to see people in Birkenstocks.

Not that it really matters - I was there for the performance, which was, as always, fantastique! One of the advantages of the big city is the arts, so it was fun to take advantage. I can't quite swing a season ticket - they have 8 or 10 operas a year, so it's nearly an opera a month, which is tricky to coordinate with three children at home. But this one was perfect - Gary was still out of town, the girls were un-busy, and I was definitely in the mood for some Verdi.

Bella Noche.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where did the week go?

The humidity has broken. It's about time - the heat here is killing me. As I've mentioned before - so pardon the repeat - I am missing fall. Turning leaves, cooler temperatures, apple cider, bonfires. I feel a strong need to reclaim that part of fall.

It will happen eventually. But not soon enough for me.

It's been a busy week. Gary has been gone, which means I'm the only parent. Lucky for me, our girls are pretty even-tempered and we have not had any major meltdowns. And in some ways, I don't mind it when Gary's gone - no elaborate cooking, my time is my own. But I miss him, too, and I know the girls do.

Tuesday I had lunch with Maddie; Thursday was Alison's turn (I took Sylvia lunch last week). They both invited me to stay. And let me tell you, high school and middle school cafeterias are not for the weak at heart. They are loud. Crowded. And full of food that is anything but appetizing. Alison's friends were eating school lunch: Pizza, tater tots, and rolls. ??? To be fair, they purchase these items a la carte. And I saw other kids with salads (the salad line was shorter, one of her friends said). But mostly, I was turned off. But not by seeing Alison - it was fun to visit her in the middle of the day.

Stupid work stuff this week. A friend mentioned that she knows a career counselor - sort of like therapy without having to discuss your dreams and your parents. I should get her number and decide what I want to do when I grow up. If I grow up.

At present I am importing CDs into iTunes. Gary told me he had put in about everything he wanted from our music collection ... which I mistakenly took to mean was everything I like, too. But a quick glance at all the CDs he did not include was shocking - no Nick Lowe? Dwight Yoakum? Paul Simon? REM? Tom Petty? Beatles? Van Morrison? Are you as outraged as I am? And that's not even the full list. I may have to file for divorce. I mean, really - this is almost unforgivable.

He'll be home in just a few minutes ... perhaps he can redeem himself with gifts from Germany. One Ritter Sport ought to do it. For the uninitiated, they are chocolate bars. The best. Let's hope I'm eating one later tonight ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Crisis of holidays

When I was a girl, everyone celebrated Halloween.

We all donned masks and costumes, gathered our plastic pumpkins, and went trick-or-treating. We had parties in school - complete with costumes - and we sang pumpkin carols (courtesy of Hallmark and Charles Schulz) in music class. My mother hung pasteboard pumpkin cut-outs in our living room windows, and we carved our jack-o-lanterns. Dishes of candy corn sat on the table in the living room, and we ate mini candy bars for days afterwards.

It's always been one of my favorite holidays. One year, we had a party in our garage, complete with apple bobbing and a fortune teller. Every year I pull out my well-worn copy of Harvest of Holidays and read my girls The Blue-Nosed Witch, a story they love.

It's just fun.

Thesse days, the girls don't celebrate at school. The celebration has been pulled because - and I"m just assuming, but I'm sure this is accurate - some people do not celebrate this holiday, and the schools don't want to offend famlies or exclude children who don't celebrate this day.

Political correctness run amok? Perhaps. But it's a decision I can live with, even support.

In the doctor's office the other day, I overhead several of the nurses and lab techs in the hallway, bemoaning the fact the our school district no longer calls the December break "Christmas break." They no longer have a Christmas pageant or have Easter vacation. Oh, they said, if they had kids in the district, they just wouldn't tolerate this.

But what about parents and children who don't celebrate Christmas? Or Easter? Why should they have to take part, however tacitly, in holidays that are not part of their religion or their tradition? Why do Christians get to assume everyone is the same?

We are a country of varying beliefs, a melting pot of nationalities and traditions. If schools celebrate any religion above another, or lead prayers, then it implies that this is the ONLY religion, thus excluding children with other beliefs. In the United States, this goes against the Constitution.

Come December, we will put up a Christmas tree - or four. We will sing carols and give gifts. And we will go to church on Christmas Eve. But we will go to our church and hear the Christmas message the way we believe it. In the weeks before Christmas, we will celebrate the winter solstice, and we will light the menorah for Hanukkah. This coincides with our beliefs, and I appreciate the freedom we have to worship the way we choose. If this means sacrificing a school Halloween party in order to respect others, it's a compromise I can live with.

By taking these celebrations out of the public schools, we don't lose anything, really. We have our pumpkins out and orange lights on the porch. My children will trick-or-treat, as will their friends - our neighborhood takes its Halloweening very seriously. But I have to respect those who do not care to participate - it's their right.

I like a good, scary Halloween as much as the next gal, but I am terrified by taking away or belitting someone else's rights. I'll settle for the minor scare of the Boo! from hoardes of trick-or-treaters at my door. I think it's a fair trade.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday: The week begins

When we get some rain, we get a lot of rain.

This is how the rain operates here in Houston. We have either a dearth of rain or an excess - nothing here in moderation. So I was happy to cancel the eye doctor appointment this afternoon and just curl up with the girls. Glad I did, as there were flash floods all over and the freeways were a mess. It poured for the better part of three hours; last I checked, it was still coming down.

The vast amounts of concrete here contribute to the tendency for floods here. Chalk up yet another of Houston's charms.

Gary left on a business trip today. On the bright side, we are accumulating miles in anticipation of spring break, and flights to Europe help. (Plus he needs to maintain his Platinum status with Continental. Though we've noticed, here in Houston, EVERYBODY has platinum or gold status. And what is having special status when everyone has it? It doesn't really feel exclusive ... fortunately, at other airports we do ...) I noticed on the credit card bill today that Macy's gives double miles, as does CVS. I'll stop paying cash there, I guess.

On the down side, however, I am a single parent for the week. But it's kind of fun in a way - the girls and I get to hang out, eat what we like for dinner without someone putting the pressure on us to cook "real" meals and eat at the table - we sort of like to eat in front of the television, watch DWTS.

Let's just hope the girls behave all week. We're off to a good start - Maddie helped Sylvia with her math flash cards while I loaded the dishwasher and put the laundry in.

I sent in an invoice for a bunch of articles I wrote - it's sort of a big one. I know, I know, not that fascinating. But I have to find my joy where I can.

Trash goes out tonight. Which I must do, as the only adult around. I hope the rain has stopped.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is this stuff for real?

I missed the mail today. I have had thank you notes from the girls' birthdays - all of which occurred more than a month ago, oops - on my desk for weeks. All I need to do is put stamps on the envelopes and put them in the out-going mail.

Apparently this is too much for me. Maybe I can ask the housekeeper to do it for me; it's the only way I can get anything done is by outsourcing.

That Ann Coulter is back in the news. I hesitate to mention this, lest it give her more notoriety. But really. Does she really mean anything she says, or is she just trying to stir up controversy? This week she's on a roll: First, she has suggested that we (the United States) would be better off if women did not vote. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, according to Ms. Coulter, women voters are to blame for electing Democrats. If women didn't vote, then we would no longer be in danger of having Democratic presidents.

I won't even dignify her comment with a response. But her next one is a real doozy: According to Coulter, life in America would be much simpler if we were all Christian. When she dreams of a happy America, she thinks back to the Republican convention. She sees people who are all alike, and it makes her happy. Besides, she says, Jews are halfway to being Christian anyway; they just need to be "perfected."

There is no way I'm making this up - I am not that creative. I just keep wondering what her motivation is. Publicity? Attention? Provoking others? Hearing the sound of her own voice?

This week has been exhausting. Kids, work, blah, blah. I finally - finally! - have some of my life under control. Let's see if I can corral the rest this weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MId-week musings

I am drowning, drowning in a sea of uncompleted work. Laundry, bills, paperwork, filing, Halloween decorations that need to be pulled out, crap to put away, blogs to read ... you get the idea.

But really, is anyone's life different? Is there ever a day that is totally down? Nothing needing to be done? I'm not busier than anyone else - I just bitch about it more ;)

Yesterday I had a boatload of running around to do. Pick up one daughter, pick up another, run to Target, get dinner, run the youngest to Brownies, go to recycling meeting, blah, blah. Eldest daughter threw a monkey wrench in the plans when a) she asked me to give her friend a ride home (not around the corner, way out of my way) and b) her play practice ran late. I waited for nearly 20 minutes, finally left and came home. Did not make it to Target. Grrr. No sooner was I home than the phone rang: I'm ready! But by this time I really didn't have time to run her friend home. Long story short, I did (what would you say to a kid standing there without a ride?) but I was pissed. But I did get Sylvia to Brownies on time, so really, it wasn't the end of the world.

But close.

However, two bright spots on my day. One, the recycling meeting went well - 20 people on a weeknight? That is impressive - especially when you figure how many people sent regrets. Wow. We are charging forward on getting curbside recycling. It will cost - gasp - more than $2 per household/month. The horror.

Oh - and the survey they did last year? 2600+ houses in this subdivision - 150 surveys were returned. That is statistically insignificant if you ask me. And it failed by one or two votes. Stupid. My entire neighborhood is stupid. Any neighborhood that sends you a letter because they can see a glimpse of our trash cans is stupid.

And bright spot No. 2: I found a Web site that posts the music from my favorite high school band for free. Fools Face, they were called, and they were great - in that early 1980s, power pop kind of way. Everyone in the Missouri-Kansas-Illinois-Arkansas area would agree. Trust me. They were edgy, with tight harmonies and a fast beat. They made us feel smart and edgy, with their pseudo-intellectual lyrics that dealt with social commentary, from space colonization to handgun control to let's party.

They were the coolest. I'm not even sure all my college friends ever got the chance to see them - they played Columbia, MO, bunches - inside one of their albums is a band party photo, and my husband tells me it is the men's john in the Blue Note, which is only THE coolest club in Missouri (trust me, anybody who was/is anybody on the college/alternative music scene in the 80s played there). But the Fools left to hit the big time in California in late 1984. It sort of didn't happen, though apparently one of them became a decent producer out in LA. They play a reunion show every now and again back in my hometown of Springfield.

So, I downloaded not only their albums, but their singles and a couple of live shows - which reminds me of why they were so much fun live. With an eclectic mix of 50s and 60s covers following their set of originals, they seemed to play all night.

Once again, I am transported back to the 80s. I don't need to stay long, but it's always fun to visit.

Tomorrow I am home. Yay! Let's see if I can get anything accomplished ... I remain eternally optimistic.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Checking off the list

The leaves are changing color, and the season is changing.

But not here in Houston. And for the first time, I am really missing fall.

I didn't think I would; I thought I'd be OK with summer all the time, no cold weather. But I'm not. I miss the cooler temps, the switch to sweaters, the smell of the cold mornings. Here it is still 90 and humid. I'm sick of all my shorts and sandals, and I'm tired of the hot air hitting me in the face.

I want to wear sweaters, sit at a football game and sip hot chocolate. I want to curl up in front of the fire, put on mittens, and enjoy cozy winter afternoons.


I've done a bunch of little things today. After a weekend - OK, the last entire week - of not doing anything significant, I am playing catch up.

So I called the eye doctor about contacts; turns out they did call ... or so the chart says. But I'm not the first one to say I never got a phone call and have the chart indicate otherwise. Called the pest control guy; called the AT&T support line. Went grocery shopping.

I'm hopping.

Tonight is the big meeting for those of us in the neighborhood who are interested to meet and try to figure out how to get our HOA to institute curbside recycling. For whatever reason, it was put to a vote of the residents (a survey was sent out, and they calculated the results that were returned - needless to say, the return rate was low, yet it only failed by a few votes). But nothing else is decided this way - the board votes. So why was recycling put to a community-wide vote? We don't get to vote on other issues or the way the board spends money. My guess is that board members do not want to go on record as opposing this.

Drives me flipping nuts. So we'll see what we can change. If anything.

This is my life, such as it is. Jealous?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Feeling so '80s

It's like a sudden craving. Every once in a while, I just feel the need. And I can be instantly transported back to college. Or high school. And for three minutes, it is so much fun.

To be 18 again ... if only for a short time. But it's good to come back.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Go Mizzou!

Big night here - we're off to Buffalo Wild Wings with our neighbors - fellow Mizzou alums - to watch Nebraska and Missouri. Fun stuff ...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Obnoxious parents, to the nth degree

First-time parents are something else.

And I don't mean that in a good way.

We met some of Gary's colleauges for dinner last night. There are visitors in from Germany, so one of his subordinates decided to have the group over for dinner. It was a very small part of the group, but that's another story. The couple who hosted is a young couple. They have one daughter, who is about 18 months old..

The entire evening, for them - our hosts - was about this kid.

They talked about her incessantly.

They had her dance for us.

And held her up to kiss us.

They showed off her toys.

They talked about their nanny situation.

They literally shoved her into the arms of unsuspecting adults to be held and cuddled.

It was all somewhat nauseating.

Don't get me wrong - I am fond of children. I have three of my own whom I love dearly. But I try not to assume that the rest of the world is as enamored of my offspring as I am. I understand that other people have their own children, whom they can shower with love and affection. It's not all about my kids, all the time.

These two clearly do not get it. We had no sooner walked in the door when the dad was trying to get this little girl to kiss Gary. Later, on the way home, we concurred that this is a bit odd, not to mention unhealthy - really, what do they know about us? I think it's OK, even advisable, to teach children some boundaries.

And the general rule is, you don't ask others if they want to hold the baby; you wait until they express an interest. You don't want to force babies on people, or set yourself up for awkward refusals. But before I could respond, he dropped the kid in my lap. She, the wife, commented, but he ignored her, saying, It's OK - she knows how to handle kids.

Um, yes I do. But I get enough handling of my own children, thank you.

Poor Sebastian, one of the guys from Germany. He doesn't even have kids and was probably screaming to himself. The last conversation at the table had deteriorated to a lengthy discussion of how they put the kid to bed, how much milk she drinks in the bottle, how many stories they read and songs they sing, and how it has changed over the last couple of months. I was squeezing Gary's hand under the table, trying to keep from crying out in pain. It was all so self-absorbed.

And as we were leaving (having taken advantage of the first break in the conversation to plead our goodbyes) the dad says, Just so you won't worry, we don't usually keep her up this late.

Gee - thanks for the reassurance. Now I won't have to lie awake tonight worrying. About your child.

(As if I don't have enough concerns with my own three.)

I have nothing against children at dinner parties. But I think there should be a balance - somewhere between children should be seen and not heard and making a toddler the focal point of the evening.

And these two need to learn that the sun and moon do not revolve around their child; we all think our children are special.

When we came home, we went upstairs and kissed our three wonderful daughters, all of whom were asleep by this time. And I racked my brains, hoping upon hope that we were never such obnoxious parents as those two.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On technology, migraines and recycling

In the old days, I would have passed the time in the waiting room of the orthodontist with a book. Which I have on hand. But being a modern mom (not to mention a fun mom, a cool mom), I have other options: I can blog.

It's been a rough start to the week. Migraine started Sunday evening, which has rendered me virtually useless. But the world waits for no one, so onward I trudge. I got my prescription, so let's hope things clear up soon. I got some work done yesterday, but more awaits. Plus the kids. I've resigned the kids and husband to canned soup again tonight - not a problem for me, as I have no appetite. Maybe I have some good bread in the freezer; I can slice up some strawberries and we'll call it healthy eating.

My crazy subdivision is up in arms, once again, over - of all things - curbside recycling. In short, we don't have it; part of the neighborhood wants it, and an equally vocal group is against it. Frankly, I am stunned - we had curbside recycling in Peoria, IL, back in the early 90s, and you could hardly call Peoria a progressive kind of town. Here, the city of Houston has it, but since we live in unincorporated Harris County, our neighborhood would have to contract for it. But it would have to be the entire neighborhood - companies will not contract with individual houses. The reasons given, among others, are that people do not want their homeowners association fees to go up. Well, newsflash: They're going up anyway, probably a good 10 percent. Cost of recycling? About $3 a month.

And the nasty messages fly on the Yahoo group. You would not believe how vitriolic the discussion has gotten - a while ago I was interested in working for this cause, but when I saw how heated the discussion had gotten, and the name-calling that went on, I backed off - I am just not up for that right now. But others have started, and emotions are running high. Reasons to be against it? Our fees will go up. We don't want people spending our money for us. Those who want to recycle are free to do so (sure - by driving 15 miles or more down to Katy). Why should we all have to?

I do hope it passes - and yes, because it is a convenience, but also because it is the right thing to do. We collect cans, and there are drop-offs for paper/cardboard at the school. But it kills me to throw away glass - all of which is 100 percent recyclable - and plastics. And I would argue that I pay for a workout room, pool and tennis courts that I never use - it's OK, because they make the neighborhood a better place.

The neighborhood was polled last year; residents were asked to respond by post. About half the neighborhood sent in their ballots, and the measure barely lost. Those who worked for recycling wanted to poll the neighborhood with a face-to-face canvas, in order to get a more accurate count, but were told No.

Who would have thought that recycling would get people in such a snit? The board has said it will not revisit this issue again, but there are enough people who care and are being vocal that I think that may change. Though it may be tough - the board meets on weekdays (without pay, as they like to point out ... cry me a river - they all do it by choice, and we have more candidates than board seats open every year), which is not so convenient for those with other jobs. It seems like there is enough momentum to finally get this through; new residents seem to be stunned that we don't participate. Frankly, if I had known, I might not have moved here.

Yet another reason I am a suburban misfit. I knew when we moved here it wasn't forever; some days, frankly, that thought brings me great solace.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

For those days when I have nothing else to say

It's boring; it's sort of dull. It's nothing new.

And it's all I've got this morning. (Yes, I know, some numbers are missing; blame my source.)

1. Real name – If you don't know this, I can't help you. Hint: My name is not a nickname; it's the real thing. See birth certificate for verification.
2. Like it – Not particularly, but I would never change it.
3. Single or Taken – Taken - for a long time.
4. Zodiac sign - Gemini
5. Male or Female – If you know me, then I don't need to answer this (!)
6. Elementary - Guy A. Cowden Elementary, Greenwood Lab School, and a year at Repton County Primary School
7. Middle School - We called it Junior High back in my day. Greenwood.
8. High School - And still Greenwood.
9. Eye Color - Blue, with green.
10. Hair Color - Blonde. Naturally.
11. Birthplace - Lincoln, NE
12. Parents' names - Jean and Russel
13. University - U of Missouri-Columbia, Bradley University (and a semester where I was enrolled at SMSU, to take advantage of the tuition break while I studied in London)
14. Allergies - I am allergic to all sorts of stuff I put on my face. Have to be very careful.
15. Are you a health freak - Not a freak, but I give it my best effort.
16. Height – 5' 4"
17. Do you have a crush – On people who are unreachable: Aidan Quinn, John Edwards, Paul Simon, Viggo Mortensen.
18. Do you like yourself - Sure.
19. Piercings- Ears, 2x each.
20. Tattoos – Nope - much too permanent.
21. Righty or Lefty - Righty

22. First Surgery – Still waiting on that one, thank goodness, unless you count oral surgery at 13.
23. First piercings - Ears at age 12 for the first time, second time in my 30s.
24. first best friend - Debra Curington
26. first sport - To participate in? Never really did.
27. first pet – Dog.
30. first love - Love, or like? Like was Mark Spencer, first grade. Love? I think I married my first true love, though there were a couple trial runs along the way.

49. eating - Nothing
50. drinking - Nothing
52. listening to- Diane Rehm show
53. waiting for - This to be done; I have errands to run.
54. wearing - T-shirt and capris.

55. want kids? I already have three - aren't they enough?
56. want to get married - Already am, thanks.
67. careers in mind - Haven't quite decided what I want to be when I grow up. I'm working on making writing my career, but I need to get out of the house more.

68. lips or eyes - Must I choose? I'm a personality girl.
69. hugs or kisses - Can't have one without the other.
70. shorter or taller - Somewhat taller - at my height, that's an easy one.
71. tan skinned or light – Doesn't matter
72. romantic or spontaneous - Either is nice
73. dark or light hair – Doesn't matter
74. muscular or normal - Normal
76. similar to you or different – both, actually...

78. kissed a stranger - Not really
79. drank alcohol - Um, yes.
80. broken a bone - Never.
81. climbed up a tree - Yes, but not lately.
82. broken someones heart - Yes, but it ended well.
83. turned someone down - Yes. It's not easy.
84. liked a friend as more than a friend - Yes, who hasn't?

86. yourself – Yes, I do.
87. miracles- Maybe - define miracle.
89. Santa Claus- Absolutely.
91. angels - Once again, define angel. Probably not in the way the question is intended.

92. you are missing someone - Yes, every day.
93. whom do you love? Many people, but my husband and daughters are the top 4.
94. Are you cool? At one time in my life I might have thought so. Now? Just ask my daughters. Though I certainly strive to be a fun mom, a cool mom (!)

95. Text message - I don't really text, though I did get one from AT&T telling my rebate form was received and will be processed in 6-8 weeks.
96. Received call - Phone has not rung today, but I got some e-mails.
97. Call made - My daughter.
100. Person you hung out with - My family
101. You hugged - Sylvia, on her way to school.
104. You slapped- I don't slap anyone; I never hit my children. Spanking/slapping is lazy parenting.

105. Destination - The Container Store. Yippee! Then I am going to get some work done. Cheers!