Sunday, April 29, 2007

High School Days

Stole this from my brother's MySpace (hi, Jim!).

High School Survey

Fill this out about your SENIOR year of high school! The longer ago it was, the more fun the answers will be.

1. Who was your best friend?
Tammy and Jessica

2.What sports did you play?
Get serious. But I went to football and basketball games.

3.What kind of car did you drive?
My parents' 1966 Mustang - that was one cool car

4. It's Friday night, where were you?
Probably working. I was tons of fun.

5. Were you a party animal?
Um, no

6. Were you considered a flirt?
No - much too shy

7. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
Choir. (Boy Kay - Tammy? Ha ha ha.)

8. Were you a nerd?
I'm thinking yes

9. Did you get suspended/expelled?
Not my senior year

10. Can you sing the fight song?
Didn't have one (though I remember the alma mater)

11. Who was your favorite teacher?
Mr. McLaren

12. Favorite class?

13. What was your school's full name?
Greenwood Labratory School

14. School mascot?

15. Did you go to the Prom?
Yes. In the cafeteria. Lame-o.

16. If you could go back and do it over, would you?
Not really interested

17. What do you remember most about graduation?
The party that followed; dancing to INXS in the driveway as the music blasted from the speakers in Robert Burk's El Camino. Making an illicit long-distance phone call.

18. Did you have any boyfriends/girlfriends?
Not so much

19. Where were you on senior skip day?
At Timm Smith's parents' cabin

20. Did you have a job your senior year?
I was employed at a local bistro on the wait staff (!)

21. Where did you go most often for lunch?
The lunchroom - no open campus, student lounge was closed

22. Have you gained weight since then?
Um, once again, yes - in my case, probably a good thing

23. What did you do after graduation?

24. When did you graduate?

25. Who was your Senior prom date?
Jeff somebody. But it's the party afterwards that I remember - that was a good time.

26. Are you going to your 10-year reunion?
Already did. I hesitate to mention which reunion is next.

27. Who was your home room teacher?
We didn't really have homeroom; I don't even remember where we met for class elections and the like or who our adviser was. But after PE my first class was speech w/Mrs. Stinson. Such a pleasant memory - that Mark Bell was a freak.

28. Who will repost this after you?
I'm hoping Tammy does.

29: Do you miss anyone you graduated with?
Yes, though I'm still in touch with the two best friends named earlier - we e-mail frequently

30: Are you friends with the person who posted this?
No way - we're related. It's an unfortunate genetic mix-up. (Hi, Jim!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In the news

First things first: Rosie is leaving The View. And I am sad.

To be honest, that show struck me, at first, as somewhat banal. The level of banter was less than inspiring. I had always liked Meredith Viera on 60 Minutes, but here, she looked like an idiot. And that Debbie Metanopolous? What an airhead. This was back in, what, 97? I watched once, and it was enough.

So ... fast forward to February 2007, where we were living in temporary housing in Houston. With nothing to do, I got sucked into daytime TV. And it continued when we moved and I spent days unpacking. Then came the Star Jones debacle, and I was hooked.

I've always like Rosie O'Donnell. I liked her daytime show, though I did grow tired of her schtick with "my Tommy." Gag - even then street talk was that she was a lesbian, and to see her mooning over Tom Cruise - not my favorite - was nauseating. Then she left the show, went radical, got *the* haircut, and I liked her again. (I admire a rebel.)

Having her on The View has been fun. Yes, she's outspoken and controversial. But without her, the others would be boring. Barbara is OK, but mild and ever the peace maker - she won't take a stand, because of her position with ABC, which is fine. Joy Behar is sort of dull, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck? An idiot. And not because she is conservative, either - I have seen times when Bill O'Reilly sounds intelligent and I will give him credit. George Will can make a sound argument. Hasselbeck gets riled at the merest suggestion that the GOP os out of line, and everyday she seems to simply repeat what she heard on Fox News the previous evening.

So Rosie has brought all the excitement. Sigh. Not sure I'll continue watching. Thanks, Rosie - it's been fun.


John McCain is running for president. Who knew?


Katie Couric may be in trouble. Her newscasts are losing viewers. And you know what? Told you so! I'm not a big fan. On the Today show, she, too, seemed like an idiot. I watched her do some of the stupidest interviews ever - though I turned off Today long ago, her star power grew and she turned up everywhere. I saw her interview JK Rowling when HP No. 5 came out, and she asked questions that were embarrassing - had I been Rowling, I would have been livid.

I have, however, watched her on CBS. It's habit - I grew up with Walter Cronkite, and I have not been able to switch. And I wanted to give a woman a chance. But should she go, I won't be too sorry. Bring back Bob Schieffer - him, I liked. I read today that Couric has acted like a *star* at CBS, has been patronizing to others. Hmmm. Time to go?


Good riddance to Heather Mills. The girls were asking last night why she is famous. Because she is ex-Mrs. McCartney, that's why. Charity campaigner? Please. Estranged wife should be her title. She wasn't even the worst dancer, but this is what happens when you screw over the cute Beatle.


Could someone explain to me just what Paula Abdul adds to American Idol? She mimics everything Randy Jackson says. My god, the woman does not have an original thought in her head. Other shows rotate who goes first, but they wouldn't dare let her comment first on AI - she would have nothing to say, and they would have to deal with an awkward and embarrassing mumbling as she tried to express her vacant mind. She looks stoned, or drunk, or both. Let's vote her off.

Some nights, I swear I do not hear what the judges hear. Jordin was FLAT last night! Blake did a nice job (nice song choice), and Melinda and Lakisha were fine. But Phil? Chris? Please. But Lakisha could go, even though it should be Phil or Chris.


Rant over. Bye!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I went to the dentist this morning. I hate the dentist. Hatehatehatehate. Ick. But I endured. Ran to Kohl's so I could use my gift card before I lose it, then came home.

And ... that's it. I am wiped out. Why does a trip to the dentist do this to me? Good grief - you'd think I'd done something actually requiring physical exertion. I did work out this morning, but that should give me more energy, not less. Devil!

Maybe I can blame it on staying up too late watching American Experience. Every week it's a new topic, and they keep getting better. From Sister Amie to Jonestown to Robert Kennedy to Haight-Ashbury - talk about quality television. I mean, it's nearly as good as Dancing w/the Stars!

(By the way, did you know RFK and LBJ held one another in utter contempt? I did not. RFK thought Johnson was "mean and evil"; Johnson referred to Kennedy as a "snot-nosed" kid, a privileged brat. These are a paraphrase - the actual quotes last night oozed venom. Ouch.)

I haven't even read the newspaper yet. Though I did go through some papers to file. My office floor is covered with papers now, sorted, but not yet put away. I found a months-old check that I need to deposit; hope they'll still take it (!)

I got a forwarded e-mail today that is false. I get these all the time - one was about how lead is in lipstick, another about a missing girl. Today's was a claim that Britain will no longer include the Holocaust in its history cirriculum.

People need to double-check before sending these on: They are all false. Some you can check on, others just a quick Google search. Be wary of your sources, of course, but be equally cautious of e-mails that make outrageous claims.

Naturally, I like to reply to the sender to let them know they've been propagating misinformation. I'm tempted - but only tempted - to correct their grammar and spelling while I'm at it (ie, "it's answer is misleading"), but I always resist the urge. I'm just nice that way.

Let's hope my energy level picks up. And soon!

I may go take a nap while I pretend to watch the news. Ssshhh - don't rat me out :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

First, the good

The weekend? A mix. Part of it was great - Saturday. Friday evening we just hung, ate our homemade pizza on the patio, then I read aloud to the girls. No television - nice night. Saturday morning Gary took Sylvia to her soccer game and I took Maddie to her first swim team practice. Came home, then went to soccer game No. 2 - they won - yay! Took Maddie to get a birthday gift for a party, then Gary and I went to the opera: Aida, at the Wortham Center.

In a word: Amazing. The music: Flawless. Sets: Amazing. Costumes: Fabulous. Dancers, acrobats. Sigh. The costumes comprised a dazzling color scheme - gold, green, orange, bright yellow, brilliant blues in cerulean, aquamarine. It was a stunning effect. I enjoyed every minute. Season tickets are tempting me .... but we are more than 30 minutes from downtown, and the effort of eight operas - more than one every two months - would take a toll on us. If you get tickets for Tuesdays, they are a steal, but a weeknight is so hard for us. When they were small I could just get a sitter and go. But now that they are older, someone has to be home. Homework, projects, computer, Tae Kwon Do, swimming, music lessons .... someday we'll do it. But not this year.

However, we may go to the symphony in a couple of weeks, as they are doing An American in Paris. Gershwin - be still my heart. I am a big fan of the early 20th century American composers: Berstein, Copland, and yes, Gershwin. Throw in Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, and I'm in heaven (and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak !).

Then came yesterday. We were to go to church, then to the International Fest. So we're all in the car, but Maddie, who went upstairs after she came home from her sleepover. Gary went up to get her, and she threw a fit: She wasn't going. Even after he told her to get in the car. The minutes tick by, and by the time I got up there to talk to her, we were going to be 10 minutes late to church. Which I hate. Plus I got a glance at the other girls' rooms, and no one had even made their bed. Keep in mind that is 11 a.m. by this point.

I was livid. I didn't stay mad at her too long - she's only 12 - but we did have a talk later (no festival). I made it clear that on weekends, especially when we're going to church, no one gets to opt out. Secondly, when a parent tells them to do something, they are to do it. No arguing. (I tested this twice later, when Maddie asked for ice cream and her dad said no, and when she asked to use the computer and I said no.) I felt as if my weekend had been hijacked - we hung around Sunday, did some laundry, did a little reading. But that wasn't the plan. I am not taking a second car into the city, and I am not going to make a second trip in (Maddie calmed down and said maybe we could go later - no way. It's too far, too much gas, too much waste).

All in all, everyone settled down and the day was OK. But those girls need to learn to do what they're told. And that our family is not, sadly, always a democracy. I like being a fun parent, and giving my children lots of say, but I would never have dared talk back to my parents the way my girls do. It must change.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Here comes the weekend

(Hum Dave Edmunds to yourself, everyone ...)

It's Friday - yippee. I've not done much today. Read a little ... and that's about it. So much for my list of things to do. I am home full time, and I got more done when I had a job and my kids had multiple activities. Sigh.

I've read all the op-eds this week on gun control, no gun control. Ted Nugent seems to think if we all carried concealed weapons none of these mass shootings would happen. Sure - let's return to a vigilante society. That way, every time someone is mad or loses their temper, they can whip out a gun and shoot the object of their wrath. That will make everything all better.

Others suggest that we went too far in the '60s liberalizing laws with the mentally ill and commitment procedures. But I'm not a big fan of the involuntary commitment days, when a family member with questionable intentions could have someone committed. Do we really need to go there? Yes, this kid at VaTech had problems. But what about someone who, for whatever reason, has raised the ire of family members - a spouse who wants custody, a *radical* teen who won't tow the family line, do as they're told? People who aren't truly mentally ill, but who are deemed as trouble makers? Makes me nervous.

And why do these mass shootings seem to occur more often than not in the USA? Other countries tighten gun laws when this happens. Why do people need handguns anyway? Don't go all second amendment on me - read the words. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This is not about handguns. I wouldn't suggest taking hunting weapons away - I don't get it, but hey, it's a sport, and I can accept that. But handguns? The evidence does not support the NRA's suggestion that people successfully use handguns to prevent crimes. From Time magazine:

"There is far more research on the question of who is most likely to get killed when someone keeps a gun at home. In a 1986 study called 'Protection or Peril?,' Dr. Arthur Kellermann, a University of Tennessee professor of medicine, and Dr. Donald Reay, chief medical examiner of King County in Washington, concluded that for each defensive, justifiable homicide there were 43 murders, suicides or accidental deaths. Out of 398 gunshot fatalities in homes in King County between 1978 and 1983, only nine were motivated by self- defense ... The one-week survey by TIME found a similar ratio on a national basis: only 14 of the 464 gun deaths resulted from defensive firing. An alarming 216 were suicides, 22 were accidental, and many of the rest involved homicides among people who knew each other well rather than citizens gunned down by strangers."

It all depends, of course, on who collects and analyzes the data - do a quick search and you'll find plenty of evidence by pro-handgun groups that will dispute these assertions.

No easy answers. I just can't see that having easy access to guns is helping anyone, ever. Ask those families at VaTech; I'm guessing they might agree.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Marathon Mah Jongg

I am strangely tired. So tired. I'm having trouble staying awake.

I'm blaming it on the Mah Jongg.

For future reference, four hours of Mah Jongg? About two hours too many. Lucky for me, I looked at my phone about halfway through, and I had a *message* and had to cut out. I love to play, but this new system (Wright Patterson, not national) is different. I'll learn, but I'm just getting used to it. Keeping score, counting flowers and winds, pungskongsquints, prevailing winds, honors and terminals ... my head is spinning.

Went grocery shopping today. I mention it because I've been putting it off for some time. But now it's done. Then, rather than put away the Easter decorations (I know, I know ...) I called a friend and yakked for about an hour, then read aloud to Sylvia several chapters of These Happy Golden Years. We are loving the saga of Laura and her *beau.*

This one of my favorite parts of parenting, reading aloud beloved books to my girls. Especially at the expense of other must-do tasks.

There's always tomorrow. For putting away said Easter stuff, for exercising, for finishing my book, for making the return to the hardware store. Must buy a baby gift, pick up a chair for the sunroom, select paint colors. And on and on.

But tomorrow is Friday. The weekend begins.

Adios, Sanjaya. I think he made the whole American Idol experience more fun. Whom will we laugh at now? I'm rooting for Melinda to win it all, which pits me against the girls, who want Blake or Jordin. We shall see.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bacon, eggs, and a sense of order

It's TAKS week - the state of Texas's mandated testing. It's our second go-round this year. It's all taken verrrry seriously - no after-school activities the day before the test, the day's routine is all switched around. The kids are told to get plenty of sleep, eat a good breakfast.

Don't even start me on these asinine tests, on this whole No Child Left Behind nonsense. The entire system is inherently flawed and our children, our schools, are paying the price of bureaucratic mismanagement.

Yesterday Maddie says, Is bacon protein? Yes, I said. A few minutes later she says, I've been thinking. Maybe I should be asking Daddy this. But they tell us we need a really good breakfast, you know, with protein.

She pauses. Do you want me to cook you something for breakfast tomorrow, I ask.

Yes, she said. Bacon and eggs.

So this morning she came downstairs at around 10 after 6. I was awake but still lying in bed. You don't have to get up and cook for me, she said. No, no, I said, I really don't mind. So I made her bacon and scrambled eggs.

It was all sort of sweet. It's funny how doing such a small thing for my daughter makes me feel as I've moved a mountain. It was so important to her, and I could tell she really appreciated it. In turn, it made me feel good, that I could do this small thing for her.

I love it when the girls leave the house in the morning in a good mood, with everything they need for the day, on time. A sense of order, calmness, serenity. Life as it should be.

All for the cost of four pieces of bacon, one scrambled egg. Would that every day were so easy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My kind of town

Chicago is. Not one of my top five (only NYC, Washington DC, and San Francisco in the U.S.A. make the cut), but it's still a fun place.

And this weekend was no exception. However, that had more to do with the company we kept than with the location. Alison and I met our best friends, my friend Helen and her daughter, Claire. We met when Gary and I moved in up the street from them in 1995; Alison and Claire are about nine months apart, and Maddie and Richie are only four months apart. When Helen called me from the hospital to let me know her youngest daughter was born, I told her I was pregnant with number three. The little girls are, naturally, good friends.

I've moved away from Helen twice. I'm not sure she's forgiven me for either move, but we have stayed in touch. She is one of those people that when I talk to her, it's as if we just talked yesterday. We have similar child-rearing philosophies, similar outlooks on life. We both can't stand the likes of Kathie Lee Gifford, Brooke Shields, Kirstie Alley (it's nice to have a friend with whom you can have a celebrity hate-fest!). We read a lot of the same books, like many of the same movies and TV.

Yet we are very different. She is a devout Lutheran; I, an equally devout Unitarian. I love The Office, she loves Grey's Anatomy, and neither of us watches the other show. She is a health care professional, I'm a writer. She likes Nicholas Sparks, I can't stand such schlock. And - here's a surprising fact - she is a REPUBLICAN. Big one. I am ... um ... not. But she knows this about me, and I know about her, yet we respect one another's opinions and remain best friends. She does not forward me e-mails that she knows I would find offensive; likewise with me. (But this doesn't mean either one of us is above the occasional jab or two ... and she has enough of a sense of humor that she doesn't take it personally or get upset - another reason I like to be around her.)

But she knows me and understands me. She has been a true friend and would do anything for me - when I had to take Maddie to the hospital and Gary was out of town, she was in my driveway to pick up the other two before we were off the phone. That is the kind of person she is. Fun, kind, generous - and, like me, flawed. This, I suppose, is why we get along so well.

Thus a weekend together, with our daughters, was wonderful. We stayed in a charming, funky little hotel (Hotel Blake on Dearborn), well within walking distance of Michigan Avenue, where we spent much of Saturday. The girls were on a quest to find Urban Outfitters; we dutifully followed. Dinner followed at Bistro 501 - fabulous food, complete with Cosmos.

Then, the piƩce de resistance: Wicked! Alison and I have read the book, listened to the cast album in preparation - we know all the lyrics. Helen and Claire said no, no, they prefer to go in fresh, not having heard any of the music yet. The show was wonderful - better than I had even thought, and I have been enjoying the music for months. I am not usually big on prequels or fake sequels, but this one intrigued me. I like the idea that the Wicked Witch was misunderstood, that there's more to her story than originally thought. And I like that Glinda isn't really as good as she's made out to be. It's just fun - and the songs are smart and clever and catchy.

However, the performance was somewhat marred by the behavior of the women right behind us, who sang along with the songs. Unbelievable - sang right out loud! And, even worse, with every joke, they said the punch line OUT LOUD before the performers on stage could. I could not believe it - I'm not sure I can fully express my outrage. As I said, Helen and Claire had never heard any of it, and these women (adults - over 60, I think) were ruining it for them. And I did not pay $100 a seat to hear them sing! Can you even believe it? A few glaring stares in their direction seemed to solve the problem, but not until the second half. I was preparing to say something, but it seemed to be taken care by that point. People really have forgotten how to behave in public performances - you hear cell phones ringing in movies, people talking out loud. Perhaps a reminder is necessary to let people know what is and isn't acceptable. Though it should be obvious. Really.

After the show, we indulged in more Cosmos, along with some extravagant dessert. We might have lingered in the restaurant longer, had Helen not seen an unwelcome visitor of the rodent variety. I didn't see it, and she had already finished her Cosmo ... but we'll say she saw it. We left in a hurry (though not without informing the hostess, who seemed somewhat incredulous at the suggestion ... it is a major urban area, and I think these things do come with the territory).

All in all, a delightful weekend, filled with fun. A fantastic show, great food, nice shopping, a lovely city. Late night giggling. But all of that was because of whom we spent it with. I miss having these amazing women as part of my everyday life. Maybe we'll be neighbors again someday.

Thanks, Helen - it was fun!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So much to do, so little time ...

How does someone (me) who is at home all day, kids in school, find herself too busy to get everything done?

I know - it's a shocking state of affairs. And yet, it's true - I still do not have enough hours in the day to do everything I would like to do. You'd think that I would have long, leisurely days filled with hours and hours in which to shop, read, and generally have "me" time.

Yet anyone with children - well, anyone with a life, really - knows this isn't so. There is always some errand to be run, some worker to let in the house, an unexpected phone call, a surprise task. There are days when - horrors - I don't enough get around to updating my blog.

I didn't get around to posting yesterday. However, my back door is now fixed, I have arranged ground transport from the airport to the hotel in Chicago, my office desk is clean, I have a coffee table for the sunroom, and my gift wrapping closet is semi-organized. Plus I quickly re-read These Happy Golden Years in preparation for reading it to Sylvia.

(Side note: I am reading to her from the same set of books I read as a girl. I got them for my ninth birthday, end of third grade. The price tag on each book says 95 cents. The paper covers are completely dog-eared; some are in tatters. These Happy Golden Years is in possibly the worst shape - I think it was my favorite. I read those books over and over to myself, and I've read them through out loud three times. Did you read that they are updating the illustrations? Apparently girls of today no longer relate to Garth Williams' classic drawings - it's a sacrilege. My girls were outraged.)

So, in my absence yesterday, I was unable to comment on Don Imus. And now, he's gone. I didn't want him to be fired, just for the marketplace to work and for him to go that way. Did you read his comments about Gwen Ifel (from the Jim Lehrer Newshour - may have spelled that wrong)? Worse, almost, than what he said about the Rutgers women. I'm not sorry he's gone.

And I haven't had a chance to wax philosophic on reality TV. I predicted both of them correctly - I have no proof, as I didn't write about it here, but I did - truly! Though I only predicted the bottom two on AI, and it hardly took a genius - Haley was in the bottom two for the last couple of weeks, and her performance was weak. On DWTS, Leeza Gibbons was in the bottom two when the judges loved her. This week they hated her - you could see it coming a mile away. So yes, I predicted it, but it didn't take all that much foresight.

I've been feeling icky most of the afternoon; I've been forced to lie on the sofa reading. Rough day. But tomorrow Alison and I are off on a road trip - a mini-break with our friends Helen and Claire. Can't wait!

But for now, the TiVo'd Office awaits ...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Free speech. But.

I'm all for free speech. It's in the Bill of Rights. And I'm a journalist by profession. Thus I am all for freedom of the press. It's one of our tenets of democracy, one of the rights that sets us apart from other nations. Even in western Europe, not all countries and culture honor this right we take for granted.

I've been thinking for a while about free speech, since the Supreme Court heard arguments in that "bong hits for Jesus" case. My feelings there are a bit mixed - yes, I am fully supportive of the kid's right to say what he wants. And I confess, the naughty part of me thinks it's all sort of funny. But it was a school activity, and naturally, the school cannot condone illegal activity (regardless of your thoughts on legalizing pot, it is illegal ... which is a discussion for another day). I'm pretty sure had his sign had a racial slur, the answer from the school would have been the same. However, had it been denigrating toward women, I wonder if there would have been any reaction - I fear not. Or had it had an alcohol reference. And there it gets sticky for me. Alcohol is, after all, legal. Not to those under 21, but none the less, it's not contraband for adults.

Thus I haven't quite made up my mind on this one. But I am leaning toward allowing it - he wasn't actually smoking pot, he simply had a sign that suggested it. And it is legal to publish a book on how to grow pot, thus why not a sign that jokingly suggests that "bong hits for Jesus" might be a good idea? I'm not suggesting I want my kids to carry such a sign - I'm just supporting free speech.

Which brings me to today, and Don Imus. And I don't think he should be fired.

But that doesn't mean I support him. Or even that such speech should be protected.

You have to question his motivation. He is all tears and contrition today but come on - he knew exactly what he was saying. I won't stoop to repeating what I consider to be a totally tasteless comment - he meant it as a pejorative. He says he was just trying to be funny, but this isn't exactly his first offense. And frankly, I'm not going to support someone who apparently can't think before he speaks. He's a radio personality, for crying out loud - he should know better. The after-the-fact crocodile tears mean "oops! I got caught."

There should be consequences for his actions. Which means that everyone who can should boycott his show. Let the ratings slide, then he can lose his job for that reason. As I said, people should be allowed to say what they think. But there should be a price. And Imus should have to pay.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Houston: City of no beauty

We were supposed to go to the ball game.

It was the plan all week. We'd drive to Brenham and check out the wildflowers, then return home and go see the Cardinals play the Astros at 6.05 p.m. My parents were to meet us.

And then plans changed. None of this is a big deal - it's just funny to note the evolution of the day, from having company to going shopping.

Friday we spent hours and hours purchasing new speakers for the family room. We bought a new stereo receiver in order to maximize our surround sound, which also meant buying new speakers, a center channel, a sub-woofer. The service guy at the store was soooo old and slow - nice guy, but he was having some difficulty getting the audio demonstration to work.

We also got outdoor speakers so we can have the patio wired for sound. Exciting stuff ...

Sadly, they had no HD radio, which I am wanting. With HD radio, I can listen to NPR talk shows all day long - this I am dying to do. So, yesterday, after my parents announced they would not drive over in the rain (it was icky and sleeting - I think the entire Midwest and South are affected by this sudden unseasonable cold snap) we went out and got furniture for our sunroom. We did well, shopping at Pier One. I was hoping for something not too wickery, but still with a sunroom look about it, but not patio furniture. And Pier One was the only place that had what I wanted wthout spending a fortune (it's just a sunroom - not my living room). Thanks to big sales, we did very well.

And the dog is so pleased - the sunroom, just off the kitchen, is where her crate is kept, so she seems to think we redid the room just for her.

Gary finished getting the surround sound installed (it sounds amazing), then realized we needed to leave for the game, but there was no time to run by the electronics place that stocks HD radios. Got to Minute Maid, and they only had standing room only or $50 seats available. So we decided to take a pass and instead went to the electronics place.

Thus the title of this post.

Everything in Houston that lines the freeways (big chunk of the city) is ugly, absolutely lacking in character. When I used to visit my parents in Tucson, I commented on the look there - it has the feeling of a city that was developed in the late 50s then abandoned. Parts of Houston feel the same way, and the area on I-45 between 610 and Beltway 8 is devoid of any aesthetic quality whatsoever. The feeder roads (access or frontage roads to those of you not local) are lined with abandoned apartments, architecturally insubstantial strip malls, empty asphalt lots. Not a pretty sight. To be fair, there are areas along I-10 and 59 that look the same way - I would hate to discriminate in labeling the North Freeway as the only unpleasing area of the city.

Once again, I wonder how we ended up here. Inside the loop, there are lovely areas - depressing ones, too. And our neck of the suburbs is pretty enough, if not bland and surrounded by strip malls and chain stores.

But all in all, I do not feel surrounded by beauty. And it's tough. The beauty I do see feels very manufactured.

It's what I live with, every day. But it's manageable, for now. We did find our HD radio - gotta give Houston credit, as one can find everything one's heart desires somewhere in the city. From excellent sunroom furniture to stereo equipment, it's all here. And that is worth something, one must suppose.

Happy Easter, all. We hid 78 eggs for the girls (26 apiece), and all but two have been found. We're grilling salmon, and I'm making a lemon meringue pie. It's freezing. But The Sopranos return tonight.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Guilty pleasures

I'm monitoring my spam intake. My e-mail program has an excellent spam filter, and it catches everything. But generally I go in and clean it out as quickly as I can. Today, just for fun (?), I let it accumulate, just to see how much I get. So far, we're up 21 messages. They are on the usual topics - you know, ways I can, um, enjoy my life more. Suggestions on earning money. Or offers of great pharmaceuticals. Tempting, but no thanks.

Watched American Idol, and they are rid of that rocker chick. Not only did she have that funky red streak in her hair, but I hated her voice last night. I don't care for that fakey pop-singer vibrato - you know, the way precocious 12-year-olds who think they belong on Broadway sing? It's annoying. But we're rid of her. And Sanjaya was saved - you rock, buddy! Way to go!

Along with American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, my girls and I have another guilty pleasure: House Hunters on HGTV. We love it - the best episodes are the ones where they look at three houses then you have to guess which one they buy.

Just like the buyers, we are on the edge of our seat. Will they get the house? Will their offer be accepted? Oh pleasepleaseplease!

The home buyers they highlight are such idiots! I wish I had a dollar for every one who bitched about a wall's paint color (then re-paint!) or walked into a room and said, Wow, Iove the windows in here (duh - it's a room, of course it has windows). You cannot imagine the level of scintillating conversation. They are obviously instructed to make small-talk about what they see, so make inane comments like, Love the crown molding. Nice space in here. Oh look - a garage. It's 30 minutes of stating the obvious (Wow - the house has indoor plumbing!)

Sometimes the homebuyers are awfully picky. Everyone needs three bedrooms, even if it's someone who is single. They bitch that the rooms are too small, the bathrooms too small, the kitchen doesn't have granite and stainless steel. Good grief - it's your first house. Sometimes they show a lower-end family who is happy to be able to afford anything, then one week they showed this couple with money who bought a literal mansion for just the two of them - and turned down certain houses that just weren't quite big enough for them.

Equally tiresome are the jokes about how the kitchen won't get used because the wife doesn't cook (though they are demanding that everything be top-of-the-line) and the jokes from the guy who says, The master closet may just be big enough for all my wife's shoes. Hahahaha ... you're so original.

Among our favorite moments:

• The woman named Lilly who married someone named Brian LIlly, thus her name is Lilly Lilly. Yes, she did change her name.
• The wife who said, in a chirpy, upbeat voice, Oh, this is so nice, to every single house she saw, even the one that was a total dump - you could tell she had trouble saying it, but she just could not bring herself to say, this is awful!
• The woman who needed outdoor space for her gourd-carving hobby.
• The couple who made sure the master bathroom was big enough for the wife to shut herself inside in order to make private phone calls. Every house, this is what she looked at. In the final scene, we laughed because the youngest kid, a toddler, is running out of the not-fenced-in yard, just after the dad has poured the kid a sippy cup full of Dr. Pepper. Where is the mother? Locked in the bathroom on the phone, we can assume.
• The couple who had to have physical contact at every second - they were all over each other constantly. What are you, junior high? Get over it already.
• The realtor partners nicknamed Ladybird and Rambo (?)
• The guy who kept saying, I need lots of space to work on my projects, said in a tone of voice that made you think he must have to ride the short bus. (But what he did with the house he bought was amazing ...)

The show is incredibly corny. The dialogue is awkward and mundane, almost to the point of idiocy.

Yet we watch it all the time. Nice to know my kids only watch quality television!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Mah Jongg

I found a Mah Jongg group - I am elated! Or was ... I don't mind being the youngest (as I was in Lafayette - I think I am always the youngest of my friends). I don't mind meeting new people.

But they play Wright-Patterson, and I play National Mah Jongg. Can I adapt?

I am really wanting to play, and if I learned one way, then surely, surely I can pick up a new way. It can't be that complicated.

Can it?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Brand-new me

First, a confession: Yes, I did watch biography of The Partridge Family the other night - thus the title of this post.

But I couldn't help it. Come on, if you're part of my generation, David Cassidy was a hottie. My brother had one of their albums (the first one - I Think I Love You!). Not only did I watch that show first-run, but I reveled in those reruns for years. Brady Bunch, Star Trek, Gilligan's Island, Daktari, this is what we watched after school (along with Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, and Bullwinkle and Rocky). My kids come home to Oprah and Dr. Phil. Sigh.

We had a nice weekend. Gary came home and we had a nice weekend. Heavy rains Saturday canceled the soccer games, so while Sylvia went to the movies with a friend, I took the other two clothes shopping.

I am officially old: I do not understand teenage fashion. My girls want to shop at Abercrombie, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Hollister. Those places are so loud they make my head spin. But, being the tolerant mom, I am patient; I endure.

The girls want to dress exactly like everyone else. I'm sure I was the same way.

I think I'm coming out of my funk of the last several weeks, the mini-depression that set in after my job went up in flames. Now that I have some distance, and some perspective, I've decided that I can deal. I've been doing some freelance work, and I finally decided the other day not to pursue anything more. I'll work a bit, stay current, and spend time with the girls. I'll enjoy my house, swim, travel. I am just going to settle down. I have friends - most of them are just not here. So I am just going to relax ...

With my new philosophy, the pressure's off. I feel at last as if my fate is in my own hands. It feels good.