Friday, December 26, 2008

Xcitement at Xmas

...waaaay too much of it, and not the right kind.

Like every Xmas past, this one started innocently enough ~ up dark and early to a full house of noisy, xcited kidlets. At least it sounded like a full house, but a closer xamination revealed only two: the Princess and the Gingerbread Cookie. We had the dark part right, though, and the first round of Santa Claus took place by the illumination of twinkling Xmas tree lights.

Presents opened, trash cleaned up, ham in the oven, and here comes Part II: C, De, the Other Princess, and, reminiscent of Dr. Seuss's Thing 1 and Thing 2, our own BB1, BB2, and BB3. Ok, now it really is a full house, and so far so good.

After another bout of presents, the bulk of the kidlets went outside to play "football" with Uncle M. The ones that didn't go outside wanted to, and therein began the problem. D closed the door to prevent the escape of the Other Princess and the Gingerbread Cookie into the wild world of the front yard unescorted, and they began to sob with abandon, in the way I often want to, but, alas, am not afforded the luxury. While GC ran into the kitchen to pout and cry, the loud protests of OP were suddenly silenced when she lost her breath.

OP has been diagnosed with one of those acronymic conditions: "RAS," a seizure sort of a disorder. It isn't seizures so much in a neurological sense, but more a case of passing out when she loses her breath. According to the pedi-neuro, who has examined her extensively, this extremely common disorder which affects one out of four children is not life-threatening, but it is scary.

C, as always on the alert, tried to head her off at the pass. She yelled at De, who came running in from the football game, but their best efforts failed, and OP passed out. De tried to call 911, but true to form, our up-to-the-minute 3rd-world class telephone service had no dial tone, so 911 was summoned by cell phone while C continued trying to resuscitate her patient. I asked C what 911 normally did when they came, but she did not know; OP normally wakes up before they get there. This time she did not.

So when 911 showed up they placed OP in the ambulance, and while they worked on her they interviewed C, suddenly interrupting their medical questioning to ask, "Are you S's sister?" But never mind that. They could not wake OP up, so they took off with C and De aboard to meet the helicopter at the high school parking lot two blocks away.

D and my Man drove to the high school to meet them while I did the duty that never ends: KP. The food was ready to put on the table, but thoughts of dinner no longer figured on anyone's radar, so I put the food away to be considered at a later time.

C was allowed to accompany OP on the helicopter, and De came home with D and my Man. He rounded up the BB's and M and they took off for the hospital, 30 minutes away. D and I finished putting the food away, and then the rest of us saddled up to follow.

When we got to the hospital, we were met by S and Gi, who was on duty in the ER that day. She gave us the report: OP is awake and she is stable and they are waiting for the doctor. The doctor, when she finally showed up, was very cute and personable, but...she looked like a teenager! ACK! I'm not sure she was old enough to have a driver's license, but she seemed to know what she was doing and dismissed OP after a brief consult with the parents.

By this time it was late afternoon, and everyone was starving. C and her bunch headed for the in-laws, only a few hours late, and the rest of us came home to eat our Xmas dinner leftovers. (Are they still leftovers if they were never used the first time?). C and all showed up here again after dinner at the in-laws, loaded up their Xmas goodies, and went home. M went home with them, and the rest of us settled in for a long winter's nap.

OP turned two in November, and according to the pedi-neuro, RAS is typically outgrown by the age of three. So. Here's hoping to only one more year to go...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Safe At Home!

We got our boy home last night! Just barely. Thanks to his early TEE's, he was one step ahead of the evil blizzard that crippled travel in the Northeast, and hours ahead of his classmates, all of whom managed to make it out of West Point, only to become stranded at various area airports and other places.

Amazingly enough, even with all the snow and the scare and the delay, M's plane arrived in Austin ten minutes ahead of schedule. We, however, were lagging an hour late picking him up, due to the omnipresent traffic factor of life in the city. (How in the world do people manage to live with this sort of thing on an every day basis? Another rant for another time...)

I felt really bad about that, but as it turned out, there was no need to, because even though he was early, his suitcase was a no-show, and he spent the extra hour in the baggage claim office where he was next in line when we finally arrived at the airport. When we saw him through the office window, the Blue-Eyed Boy exclaimed, "Uncle M looks sharp, doesn't he?" And indeed he did! Out of the mouths of babes....

The baggage man said his suitcase was on the next plane, due into Austin in a couple of hours. They do not deliver stranded baggage as far away as we live, so would we like to wait, or would we like to pick it up later? We would like to do neither, thank you. Fortunately, M, seasoned traveler that he is, politely inquired if they could fly it to Killeen, and whaddya know, they could. Via Dallas. But that well-kept secret is not an option that is volunteered; as is so often the case, it pays to know the right ?'s. So. Providing the luggage actually was on that plane, and providing there was enough room for it on the next two planes, we should hear sometime today that it is waiting for us to pick it up at the airport.

Luckily, the suitcase doesn't contain anything immediately necessary. Just Christmas presents from West Point. Clotheswise, he brought none, but it happens that we have a closet full of clothes just his size, so no worries on that score ;-)

We had plans to go buy a Christmas tree this morning, but at almost noon, M is still sleeping away, and he may sleep the rest of the day away for all I know or care. He apparently has had very little sleep the last few days, so I will not be waking him up today. As for the Christmas tree, my Man will bring one home with him from work shortly.

Tonight we have plans for a Christmas carol party at a friend's house. I will feel compelled to wake him up by then, if he hasn't managed on his own, but meanwhile, M is safe at home, asleep in his own little bed ;-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


M is coming home! And he has his menu requests in. It is, surprisingly, a long list. And whatever M wants, M will have.

If someone had asked me, I would have assured him (or her!) that M does not really like my food. Actually, I would have said that about all of my kidlets. And my grandkidlets. And my Man. There's nothing quite like years of rebellion and refusal at the dinner table to put one on the defensive, but, to give credit where credit is due, or in this case not to give credit where none is due, I am not at all what one would call a "chef", though to go by the evidence, I have been at least "adequate."

So imagine my astonishment when I got a list of 21 favorite dishes he wants to have while he is home! He will be here barely two weeks, so I'm not sure we will have time to eat all that food, but we will give it our best shot.

Later, when reading the list to D, I had my second surprise when she seconded the sentiment! Now that all of my kidlets have left the best part of my life behind, I have ample occasion to wonder if they were doing any more than just passing through on their way to the future? Did any of it really "take"? Frequently I would have to say not, but then just as frequently I am astounded to find that they really were listening after all... which I guess is why one should keep on keeping on, even in the face of all seeming aridity and disenchantment. The unfathomable mysteries of life, and parenthood, are endless....

Well, M will be here tomorrow, followed by D a day or two later, so I suppose I should go and awaken the pantry and the kitchen out of their slumber. Cooking three (or at least two) meals every day will seem like a marathon after our recent empty-nested style of cooking only once every day or two.

D has asked that we not start eating until she arrives.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wicked Winter Weather Woes

YES! "Seasonal" weather! Winter is reaching its icy fingers down deep in the the Heart of Texas, and we are freeeeeeeezing. Really.

It is down in the 30's, and even downer into the 20's this morning. The cars are frosted, the road is ice-coated, and the wind is Azore-worthy. Accidents on area highways abound, from fender-benders to rollovers, and the police plead for everyone to stay home unless they have to be out.

Now that I think about it, I believe we have passed seasonal and ventured over into beyond. In fact, I notice the weather news is replete with reports of record cold and snowfall, ice storms, and power outages all over the country, and the season has barely started. It won't even be officially winter until next week....?!! What is up with that? Oh, wait, wait. I know!

It's gotta be that treacherous global warming!

Monday, December 15, 2008


"We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up." -Christopher Morley

And so it is.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Corinthians 13 Christmas

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family. I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, through harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust... but giving the gift of love will endure.

~Author Unknown~

A December Day

Sundays follow a sort of pattern around here. Generally pretty monotonous, but... thanks to my upbringing in the 50's and 60's, when the objective of parenting was training children, rather than entertaining them, I am pretty good at it ;-)

Since it is just my Man and I, Sunday mornings are no longer the frantic exercises they once were. Nowadays we get up and ready and then have time to do what we want until it is time to go to church.

The Blue-Eyed Boy spent the night with us last night, but his mom picked him up dark and early, just after 7:00am, so we barely noticed his presence this morning.

We left early, in order to have time to run off the bulletin before Bible study started. We have some new two-sided bulletin covers, the copying of which we had mastered, we thought, but we ended up doing a fierce battle with them and the machine before our eventual triumph, so it was good that we were there early. Our preacher is the best, and this morning his study and sermon were up to his usual standard.

Afterward we decided to try out a new Mexican restaurant for lunch. In the words of a friend who went with us, the place was "too upscale for a Mexican restaurant to last," specifically too clean and too light/bright. ;-/ The menu was very like the one at another place we occasionally go, only a bit spendier, and I ordered a chicken chimichanga, which was served with rice and beans. If you overlook that there was nothing green on that plate, the food was good enough, but too much to finish, and I hate wasting food!

Most of the afternoon was spent with the luxury of a three-hour nap. I have found that the most satisfying pleasures of life are the simplest: a shower, a good stretch, and, yes, a nap. By the time I woke up it was late afternoon, and we were off for the evening assembly.

We ordinarily go out and eat with friends on Sunday night, but tonight we were still full of chimichanga and things, so we skipped dinner and came home to our empty nest. Tonight we are getting things ready for a full day of appointments tomorrow, including a filming date with Emily, who is doing a segment on chimney sweeping.

At the end of the day, I am thankful for my family and my church and my friends, and I am excited that my Man has been blessed with a fine, though probably only temporary, helper. All simple things, all the best.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Bloggy Woggy

It's the Season of Sweeping, there's no time to think,
There's no time to write; I can't play, eat, or drink.
There's phone calls and schedules and things to remember,
There's clients and Xmas to fill up December.
There's shopping and cleaning, and chimneys on fire
At homes where they thought that our price was too higher.

I'm worn out and ragged, it's getting old fast!
I don't know how long I'll be able to last.
I'm tired and tireder; the pace is too quick;
I lack the endurance of good old Saint Nick.

Just us and we're tired. We're waiting to see
If we can hang on, just till February?
Only two months to go till the chimneys cool down
And then, then at last, we can go out of town.

What's that, a vacation?! Can that really be?
We'll visit our boy at W. P!
It's Plebe/Parent Weekend, and we'll spend some time
With our boy, where he stays, on the taxpayer's dime.

And then we'll come home, all rested and new,
And next thing you know, the next year will be through.
We'll be back in the trenches, just sweeping away,
Madly awaiting our next chance to play.

So there ya go, girlfriend, all I can do:
Your own bloggy woggy. I wrote it for you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008


The usual Thanksgiving drill at our house is lots of grand/kidlets, and the aromas of turkey and dressing and rolls and pies wafting throughout the house before anyone ever gets up. Well, almost anyone. I seem pretty much always to be up, at least according to BB1: "Poke stays up late and gets up early."

But today, for the first time, we had none of that.

C and hers are at the in-laws' this year. I always wanted my kids to marry orphans, but I had not imagined that orphans would be in such short supply, and so far that hasn't happened. We have one more chance, and meanwhile we share. This year it is "their turn."

S and Gi are hard at work. The perils of life as a police officer married to an ER nurse.

D and the little girls have gone off to Kansas. Enough said.

M made out like a bandit. He took off after school yesterday to visit the aunt of one of his classmates (Is that what they call them?) somewhere in the vicinity of West Point; today he and a bunch of other strays are invited for Thanksgiving at Major Minor's; and Saturday there will be one more dinner, at the home of the chem prof.

So my Man and I had Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant for the first time in our 34 Thanksgivings together. When we go to Ryan's, which isn't often, I generally sample everything that looks remotely interesting, but, today notwithstanding, Thanksgiving is for tradition, so I decided to stick to traditional Thanksgiving foods: turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and pecan pies, and the like. It was an interesting change, but to be perfectly honest, our turkey and our pies are waaaaay better than Ryan's, and I don't think we will be repeating this experience. Now we are back at home, with no leftover turkey and no mid-afternoon pies ;-( No, we definitely will not do the restaurant dinner again.

My Man sat down to watch the football game and is now happily asleep on the couch, accompanied by Miracle on 34th Street, while I am looking out the window, thankful for the perfectly drizzly, perfectly grey, perfectly chilly Thanksgiving Day.

This year things are a bit different, a bit less comfortable than they have always been, but we always have something to be thankful for. The Scripture is replete with examples of gratitude and admonitions to be grateful, even when things don't look quite as we think they should, all summed up in I Thessalonians 5:18~"in everything give thanks..."

Now there's something to think about. And it's humbling to realize that there are worse things than being home alone for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

One of *Us*

So. Obama hasn't moved into the White House yet, but he's gearing up. And he's already made one important decision.

Unlike Jimmy Carter, an ineffectual but sincere (Dem, to give credit where credit is due) president from the last century who sent his daughter to public school while living in the White House, Obama has selected none other than the elite Sidwell Friends School, of Chelsea Clinton fame, for his little darlings.

Not that I blame him. It's just that, well, you know, we elected him because he's a regular, everyday guy. One of us. A champion of the downtrodden and the blue collar worker and all that. He's all about that equality stuff. Community. Sharing the wealth. That sort of thing. Yep, he's all about it. Until it comes to his family. All of a sudden we're not quite so equal anymore.

But I understand. Really. I wouldn't want my children in public school in Washington, D.C., either. No parent wants their children's personal security guards to be outnumbered. Or outgunned. Fortunately, unlike all those poor sods who elected him, he has the wherewithal to do something about it.

Welcome to the New USSA

Obama is now recycling the Clintonoids as his "new" cabinet. How's that for Hope and Change?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wah, Wah, Waaaaahhh...!

Disgraceful. I am less than even the slightest fan of NObama, but I do find this somewhat, uh ... "inappropriate." There is, however, the matter of *free speech* which the Dems invoke endlessly to legitimize a multitude of the most egregious of transgressions. Their transgressions, that is. More of that one-way business... It never seems to matter whom they offend, but woe betide the miserable cur who offends their delicate sensibilities.

Tonight on the news there was a good deal of hand-wringing going on amid loud lamentations over the anti-Obama posters in MacGregor: "Oh, my gosh, Obama hasn't even been inaugurated, and already he is the target of such hatred and criticism, and it is making the people and businesses of MacGregor look bad, and what has he done to deserve such animosity, and ..."

Now here is what disturbs me:

When Obama was elected, "At last, we have a president that represents all the people" was heard throughout the land (Huh?! I don't recall voting for him, and he certainly doesn't represent me.), followed by "It's time for everyone to set differences aside and support the new president." Hmmm....

The sycophantic media then proceeded to fawn over Obama in the most shameful fashion. He was courted by the press. He was featured prominently on television, radio, and in the newspapers. His every word was quoted as though from the mouth of the president himself. His ideas and opinions were sought after as if he actually had some authority. An alien dropping in from another world would have, altogether reasonably, assumed Obama to be the president. The media was, and is, doing its utmost to influence the mindless public in favor of its darling.

But now, all of a sudden, here is at least one private citizen who clearly isn't in love with Obama. And what does the media have to say about that? "Wah, wah, wah, it isn't fair, he isn't even the president yet, why does everyone hate him so much, what has he done to deserve this treatment, etc, etc...."

So here is my question: If Obama is worthy of pre-presidency laud and glory and honor, then why is he off limits for pre-presidency criticism? The answer, of course, is that the Dems are the masters of the Double-Standard. And it is that simple.

As I say, I find the posters tasteless. I would never display them myself, but, America being the bastion of free speech that it is, this guy is squarely within his rights to display his own posters in his own windows.

And yes, I agree. We should all come together and the Reps should support the new president. Perhaps in the same spirit in which the Dems have supported the current one....?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brain Overflow

  • If they scheme with you, they will scheme against you.
  • Forget what's right. People only care about what is convenient at the time, or whatever gets something for them.
  • I love America. I love that America was conceived by godly men.
  • I still believe in the "Silent Majority."
  • Lose the "get out the vote" mentality. If people aren't motivated enough to inform themselves and vote on their own, they don't deserve to vote. And they certainly don't deserve the right to mess up my life, because:
  • Airheads are easily enticed by lies and false promises, and:
  • Forget the heck out of tomorrow; shallow minds can't even see past the moment.
  • Colleges in general are bastions of liberal non-thinking.
  • It is the "young voters" the media is always catering to that are out of touch with reality, especially the ones of today who have grown up in lala land with the idea that life should be "fair." As if it could.
  • The governments are ordained by God, not necessarily for our comfort.
  • And how is it that the ignorant are so cocksure about everything, while the intelligent are full of doubts?
Faith keeps a close eye on the facts, and it is time to put our faith to practice.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Mourning, America

A week or two ago we had the choice of voting for socialism or capitalism. Socialism won. Now socialism is a wonderful theory, the problem being that it does not translate well into practice, though of course there are worse things than socialism: communism for instance, or fascism, or possibly anarchy.

The thing that disturbs me...well, one of the things that disturbs me, is that there are many, many happily oblivious socialistic countries out there, where all these short-sighted, welfare- and entitlement-minded miscreants could have moved to live happily ever after, but there was only ever one America.

Why is it that you don't see Americans, or anyone else for that matter, beating a path to any other country's door? No, people the world over want nothing the way they want to come to America.

A year or two ago, M had the pleasure of meeting several Frenchmen who had come over for an American history re-enacting event, an intriguing proposition in and of itself. They were professional, educated men in their 30's, and they carried on a good deal of thoughtful, intelligent conversation about politics and history and current events. At some point in the discussion, M asked them what they, as Frenchmen, thought about America. Their profound and simple answer:

"In our hearts we are all Americans."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Follow the $ Trail

Did Obama buy the election?

They Won the Battle...

Luke 22:3: "Satan entered into Judas..." leading ultimately to the crucifixion of Jesus. Satan won that battle, and he thought he won the war. But what he actually did was to further God's cause, only he was too stupid/prideful/arrogant to realize that God would use his own wickedness against him. I see a parallel here.

There were many, many times throughout history that God used ungodly leaders and even other enemy nations to bring His own people back to their senses. Perhaps we have finally come to that point ourselves. As a nation we have certainly become a shame and a disgrace. Well, at least some of us; there are *some* of us that still get it. The trouble, of course, is that the ones that get it are going to have to pay along with the ones that don't. It has been a habit through history that the innocent pay for the guilty. To go off on a tangent, it's why Jesus took the hit for us. With all due respect, on a whole different level, I see a parallel here, too.

I am not saying that Obama is the Anti-Christ, but whoever he may be, we may be assured that God will use him to His purpose.

...but they didn't win the war.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pie Party!

My friend Li had this great idea for a Pie Party! So tomorrow it is. Everyone is bringing their favorite pie, or at least a pie of some kind. I usually like to experiment on groups of friends, but I am afraid of too many desserts, so I am bringing an old family favorite:
Chicken Pie
chicken~whatever looks right
onions~little pearl onions are wonderful, but any kind will do
2 julienned carrots
1 c. peas
1 c. white wine
2 c. water or chicken broth
1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
pie crust

Cook chicken, onions, carrots, and peas in 2 c. simmering salted water or broth and wine until tender. Drain and set aside.

In large skillet, melt butter. Blend in flour and salt to taste. Add broth all at once. Cook and stir till thick and bubbly. Stir in chicken and veggies, and pour into casserole dish. Put pie crust on top, and you can put one on the bottom, too. If you want to make your own pie crust, you're on your own. Otherwise, use one of those pre-made ones, and if you're like me, not so crazy about those, well, forget about the crust. This stuff is perfectly good without it! Bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes.
P.S. A whisk is wonderful for that "cook and stir" part. I don't know why, but my mom never had one when I was growing up, so I never made its acquaintance until I had my own kitchen. My advice: If you don't have one, get one!

TA-DA! Another YUM-YES!

AN OrdiNary November Day

D and the Princess and the Gingerbread Cookie left yesterday, so after the last two+ months of continual, relentless little girl chitter-chatter, today has been unusually quiet.

D reports that it is snowing in Kansas today; M reports mist in New York. Here has nothing so wondrous to offer: It's a bit windy, though far short of blustery. But still, it's unmistakably fall. I hope that it mists and rains and snows in Heaven. That alone would make it worth going ;-) Well, almost. Any way it would be a definite plus.

I spent a good bit of the day just sorta catching up. Changing sheets, doing laundry, picking up, doing errands, answering the phone.

I packed up some goodies and mailed a package to M. He costs me way more at West Point than he ever did at home. But he's way worth it ;-)

Tonight we are back in "dinner at the old folks' home" mode. Small pans, small plates, small portions.

After dinner I am making a chicken pot pie to take to the Pie Party tomorrow night, followed by solo kitchen duty and laundry folding. Alas, now that D is gone, the work is all mine. Mine alone.

Who's Next?

So now the automakers need bailing out. When is this going to stop? Who will have their hand out next?

I know that car sales are down, placing the automotive industry in dire straits. My newest car is seven or eight years old, and I have an idea that will help both of us. Instead of a gargantuan gift of government grants to the automakers, I propose a bailout payment to the beleaguered taxpayer, who can then purchase a new car. Business growth for the car manufacturers, and a new car for me. Voila'!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New for November?

Barack Hussein Obama, America's first hAlfrican-American president (or is he...?).

Seen on the back of a t-shirt popular with black Obama supporters: "BLACK MAN RUNNING AND NOT FROM THE POLICE." This would be hilarious if it weren't so totally tragic. The clear implication is that when you see a black man running, the cops won't be far behind.

Question: Why, oh why, would a black man want to promote such an idea?

Because he just doesn't get it. Obama is culturally, educationally, socially, and financially, one of the elite. Hardly the type to need to run from the police. I wonder how long before his supporters notice?

And by the way, just how black is he exactly? According to the reports, he is 1/2 white, and only 1/4 black, with the remaining 1/4 being Arab. Rumor has it that his Arab family owned black slaves in Kenya, but maybe that's just a rumor. And why is his white half so blatantly disregarded? Could it be that it just wouldn't play well among the mindless masses who only recognize one-way racism?

Some of us may be in for some rude surprises to discover that Obama was one of "us" only long enough to influence and manipulate and use us in order to place himself in a position of power. Now that he has succeeded, he is already backpedaling. Already beginning to renege on his promises by trying to modify and lower expectations.

Some of us still get it. Unfortunately, we will be paying right along with those who don't.

Buckle up, America. Time will tell what "we" have signed up for.

Friday, October 31, 2008

October Is Out

Just a few days ago October was Fresh and new. But now it is Over. Old and and used and tired. Kinda like me at the closing of the day.

Today started pretty early. Right after we got up in the dark, in fact. As soon as everyone was awake, the Princess said, "Let's go trick-or-treating. We're all up!" Can't say we exactly shared her enthusiasm, but it continued, unabated, all day long.

I'm not sure we ever convinced her, but we spent the better part of the day explaining that there was no trick-or-treating until the evening. Made for one long day, but it finally came to its end, and off we went.

Trick or treating today bears no resemblance to what I remember as a kid. Back then we gathered up our little friends and walked, unescorted, throughout the neighborhood, where our neighbors gave out homemade candies and popcorn balls. No parents holding our hands, no parents chauffeuring us around, no safety reflectors on our clothes, no hauling off our candy to x-ray at the local hospital, and guess what? Our parents didn't worry, and nothing bad happened.

On the one hand, we are obsessed with guaranteeing a completely safe existence. There are laws and regulations in place for every minutiae you can imagine and some you can't:

  • Somebody gagged on a lifesaver? Outlaw hard candy!
  • Some kid tripped because her fairy dress was too long? Ban fairies!
  • Some other kid choked on a flashlight? Recall flashlights!

On the other hand, we live in fear like never before. The idyllic 50's may not have been entirely idyllic, but something precious was lost when we traded innocence for worldliness. Now we see potential harm and hazard everywhere we look. We are afraid to let our children out of our sight, and we wouldn't dream of allowing them to eat an unwrapped anything from anyone.

That said, unbelievable as it may seem, this era is going to be somebody's "good old days." Hmmm.... Maybe "progress" isn't always progress.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Can Opener Wars

AAAGGGGHHHH!!!! The can openers are in rebellion. Unlike some of their colleagues who are never on hand when you need them, the can openers are always where they are supposed to be. Only they don't do what they are supposed to do.

We have been limping along with our old can opener at half mast for I don't know how long. About three weeks ago it finally gave up the ghost altogether, and I finally broke down and bought a new one. Actually I bought two. How did I know??? Well...I just had a feeling.

And a good thing that was. The very next day when I came home, D rushed at me breathlessly confessing, "I'm sooo sorry! I broke your new can opener!!!" She held out her hand, and there it was, in three pieces. But remember, I had bought a backup, so she had been able to continue dinner preparations with the other new can opener which we used, with a measure of success, for the next two or three days when it, too, bit the dust.

I packed those things up, returned them to MoreMart, bought another can opener, and back to the kitchen I went, where I successfully and uneventfully opened a number of cans. My troubles were over! But not for long: It took only three or four days for this one to succumb to the siren song of its comrades, and before I knew it, we were again can opener-less, approaching the Red Alert level in the Can Opener Wars.

Have can openers always been this rebellious? They don't feature prominently in my memories, so I can't say for sure, but I'm thinking that may be an indication of a job well done and without a lot of fanfare.

My fourth can opener in as many weeks looks a bit fancier, with stainless steel handles, but...can it live up to its image? It doesn't look promising. So far it has managed to cut the cans, but not without a lot of slipping and sliding on every other turn of the handle, so it probably won't be long before it joins the ranks of the fallen.

My man says we should buy an electric can opener. I balk. As long as I don't have a broken hand or something, I don't find it that difficult to grip with one hand and turn with the other. Besides, I enjoy the simple things in life, and I am already out-technologied as it is. No need to introduce something with that many more moving parts to break down.

What I could really go for about now is one of those sharp little blades the Boy Scouts used to take on their campouts. Wow, I wonder where I could get my hands on one of those? That might tip the odds in my favor!

I need some sort of break in this hostile engagement, because so far...
Can Openers: 4; Me: 0.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Approaching Phoenix

Back in 2003, before the days of $2 gas, we took a drive to Phoenix. As we inched our way westward, gas prices inched their way upward, with the price at each gas station just a bit higher than the one before.

By the time we were leaving Tucson, we were in the danger zone on our gas gauge, but we soldiered on, insanely, inanely, impossibly fantasizing about cheaper gas to come. Hoping was an exercise in futility, and when we arrived in Phoenix we were running on fumes, but we made it safely to our hotel, where we were met by my nephew Ry.

That morning at a pit stop, we had discovered that one of D's shoes had fallen out of the van at an earlier stop, so we were obliged to make a late night run to MoreMart for a replacement pair. Ry offered to accompany us. We told him we desperately needed gas before we could go anywhere, and he directed us to the gas station across the street.

"We don't want that gas," we told him.

"Why not?"

"Well, DUH! It's $1.95 a gallon!" we pointed out.

Ry shook his head and laughed, shrugging his shoulders, and we went reluctantly across the street to buy $1.95 gas. We had not at any time on our trip, or ever before for that matter, paid that much for gas. But Ry was right, and for the duration of our stay, sure enough, we paid $1.95 (or more) for every gallon of gas we bought.

Over the years since that trip, gas prices have reached unreachable heights, and we have often reminisced and laughed about, and longed for, that $1.95 gas in Phoenix.

After a high of almost $3 a gallon for the last several months, gas prices, for whatever reason, have actually been in decline the last couple of weeks and this morning on my way through Lampasas I was giddy with excitement to see that the gas at MoreMart was $2.11! It killed me not to stop, but I was on a tight deadline, so I zoomed on by only to discover $2.04 gas a few miles down the road in Marble Falls!

The crowd at the gas station reminded me of the lines of 1974 when the first gas "crisis" came along, but fortunately, the line for gas on the passenger side of the car was only two deep, so my wait was short. I happily filled up my tank and went on my way.

I spent the afternoon enjoying BB2's birthday party, and when I reached Lampasas on my way back, the $2.11 gas had become $2.07 gas! So I filled up again.

It's a bit scary to think how easily we can be conditioned to think of something outrageous as "normal." All "they" have to do to make us happy to pay for overpriced $2+ gas is to hike it up to $3 for awhile, and then when it starts to come back down, we think we are getting a good deal.

Who knows how long it will last, but that's where we are now, and no doubt about it, $2.04 gas is a relief. The price is inching down by the day, slowly approaching Phoenix, only this time that $1.95 gas looks really good.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just a Thought

On my way home this afternoon I had the misfortune to fall in line along with eight other cars behind a school bus taking its ease as it stopped every 2-3 minutes to drop another kidlet or two or three along its route. It would begin to flash its blinking yellow lights and then the red ones, before stopping and flapping its "STOP" signs on both sides, causing every car in the vicinity to come to an immediate halt. Never mind that traffic was starting to pile up in both directions, some of the kids that got off didn't even have the decency to cross the street! The ones that did cross did so in the leisurely manner befitting the entitled around whom the world revolves.

I am certainly in favor of pedestrian safety; I myself am a careful, courteous driver, but I'm not so sure that it is in our kids' best interest to teach them that every car on the road will stop the instant our little darlins' poke their little toes off the curb.

Maybe our kids would be better served if somewhere along the way we took some time to instill some personal responsibility, training them how to look both ways and cross the street safely. What a concept.

Do it for them, or teach them to do it for themselves...? A no-brainer in my book.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Day of Simple Pleasures

  • An early morning shower,
  • Cafe' con leche,
  • Getting to church on time,
  • Running off the bulletin on a copier that works!
  • Sharing the toy soldier's picture with friends that love him,
  • A nice lunch with my Man at a nice restaurant for $1.07, courtesy of the CC Chamber of Commerce,
  • A phone call from a friend,
  • A sunny~but not hot~afternoon,
  • A cup of chocolate-swirled vanilla ice cream,
  • Navigating the converter box/VCR/DVD player/TV maze all by ourselves!
  • A cat purring in my lap,
  • Computer word games,
  • Time to read,
  • Time to write
  • Cinnamon-scented pinecones

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday...Still, Silent, Sedate

So this is what it feels like, alone in the old folks' home on Saturday night. I had forgotten, after several weeks of Princess and Gingerbread Cookie in the house interspersed with the occasional Blue-Eyed Boy and a couple of visits from BB1, BB2, BB3, and the Other Princess. Yesterday the girls went off to Oklahoma for a few days; this morning the Blue-Eyed Boy's mom came to pick him up bright and early, and my Man was off to work in the dark. So, I really was home alone! Not such a common occurrence anymore.

You might think that with a whole house to myself for a whole day, I would actually accomplish something. But that would be wrong. I may have been by myself, but I wasn't really mine. The time went, as it usually does, taking care of someone else's business rather than my own. Always something bigger than myself. Hmmm...come to think of it, that would be just about everything, wouldn't it...? Anyway, that's what I signed up for when I became the Mom, and there are worse things. I could, for instance, be home alone all the time with nothing but myself to think about.

Fast forward to Sunday. I just got a text message from D. She and the little girls are on their way back. I'm not sure when they will get here, distance being only one thing. The other main issue factoring in is stops. Stops for something to eat, followed by stops for something to drink, followed by potty stops. And when traveling with babies, just crying stops in general. So I'm thinking nighttime. Several hours away yet...just time enough to get ready for Monday...Mayhem.


This is the perfect Winnie-the-Pooh blustery day recipe! Looks like a lot of work, but what it is is a lot of ingredients. Really, hardly any work at all. Well, if you have a decent can opener, that is.
1 lb Polish or smoked sausage, diagonally sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 15-oz can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
2 med carrots, cut lengthwise in half, then sliced thin
2 small parsnips, cut lengthwise in half, then sliced thin
1 rib celery, sliced on the diagonal
1 med onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 T honey
1 c broth
1/2 c wine
2 T fresh thyme OR 1 t dried leaves
2-4 garlic cloves, pressed

Put everything in the crockpot. Cook all day. How much easier can it be?
A couple of observations:
  • It makes enough for the Army. However, it freezes very well, and if you aren't feeding the Army and are so inclined, you can freeze it in one-serving portions. That way you will have to cook only once all winter, and there's a lot to be said for that.
  • It is ok to experiment! Use what you have in your hand. *Somebody* invented this recipe. Might as well be you.
  • If you don't have carrots, try a sweet potato. If parsnips are unfindable at your store, use a turnip. You could probably even use white potatoes, although I'm not sure I would go that far. Ssshhhh, don't tell anyone, but...I am about tired of potatoes. That is practically sacrilegious in this family.
  • This recipe is actually my tweaked version. The original calls for 1 15-oz can of crushed tomatoes and 2 T of tomato paste. I can't stand chunky tomatoes floating around in my soup, and what do I do with the rest of the can of tomato paste besides wait for it to spoil in my refrigerator so I can throw it away? So...tomato sauce. The whole can.
  • I'm not a big fan of refined sugar, so the 1 T honey is my response to the 2 T packed brown sugar in the original. There are those who believe that honey = sugar, but I am not one of them. I figure that as the only food for one of the hardest-working creatures in nature, honey has to have something better going for it.
  • Broth? Use chicken or beef, or even veggie. Whatever you have on hand.
  • Wine? Red, white, burgundy. Your choice.
  • Don't be afraid to add last night's leftover roast chicken along with the sausage. Or instead of the sausage.
  • And when it comes to garlic, go for the max. Or more!
  • One more thing: the recipe really says: Mix all ingredients in a large, heavy, lidded pot. Bring stew up to a simmer on top of the stove; cover and transfer to 375-degree oven for one hour. Forget the heck out of that. Give me my good old crockpot any day!
  • Oh, and serve with crusty French bread.
This stuff is soooo good, even those who shall remain nameless like it, and that is definitely a compliment.

YUM-YES, as the Princess would say. This is just GOOD. Try it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Surprise! #1

Dark and early phone call today:
Aunt Le is getting married!
No contest, the very biggest surprise of the day.
Might as well go back to bed and wait for tomorrow.
Nothing is going to top that!

Congratulations! ;-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Good Day!

We got up this morning to rain and rain and more rain ~ shaping up to be a great day! Except for two dark heavy clouds hanging over us. Oh, wait, bad metaphor. I love clouds...

#1 seriously big bad brain-consuming event coming up this morning: M's last two minutes of hell. Well, boxing hell at any rate. M was scheduled for his last graded bout of the course this morning at 11. He was on profile for his broken nose, so he would be boxing with a cage on his face. The nose and the cheeks are natural shock absorbers that protect the brain from a blow, so the bad thing about boxing in a cage is that, ironically, to protect the face is to expose the brain.

We spent the morning with one eye on the clock, waiting to hear the all-clear from our boy. We were in MoreMart when we got a text message: "I'm alive." YES!!! We figured if he had gotten knocked out he wouldn't have been able to text, so...we'll take it. He told us later that he will get a good, strong B for the course.

#2 "cloud" of the day was my dentist appointment which has been hanging over my head for weeks. It was just for a cleaning, but...I have had some teeth *issues* and I was afraid of some kind of dental nightmare on the horizon. It was my first visit to this dentist, and the first time I have had my teeth cleaned by the big guy himself; no hygienist in that office. Dr. S was sorta talkative. I never know if I should try to respond when a dentist talks to me. Am I rude if I don't? Anyway. The good news is everything is perfect in my mouth. My teeth are as perfect as my eyes. The other news is that there is no explanation for all those things going on in my mouth. I'm guessing it's all in my head.

So: good end to boxing; good report from the dentist; and, of course, rain, rain, rain. All is well and very well in my empty-nested world.

All in all, a good day!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ordinary October Day

My Man has just gone off to work. It was his day off, but his manager was in a bind and asked if he might come in for a few hours and bail them out. My Man appreciates his good managers, so he agreed to help. "I feel like a relief pitcher," he commented as drove off in my van, which he has been driving for the last several weeks while his little truck has been out of commission.

This morning woke up grey and cloudy and beautiful. It actually rained at one point, something that has happened less than rarely this year, so right off the bat, this day was lifted way out of the realm of ordinary. So, even if *gloomy* wasn't my favorite weather, it would have been a beautiful day. I never, never, never get tired of rainy weather.

Our house is full of little girls today. Well, only two, but it sure seems like a houseful at times!

Monga took them off to feed the ducks at the park, and while they were gone I put myself in turbo. Nothing special, you understand, just bare maintenance...started laundry, tidied kitchen, showered, made the bed.

Other than the off-and-on rain that continued throughout the afternoon, the rest of the day was just as ordinary: made/answered lots of phone calls, paid bills, worked on tax school~ACK! Did some errands: post office and three banks. I had an idea I might like to visit the library, but that turned out to be a dream unrealized.

Exactly how ordinary can it get...?

I missed my ordinary day last month because...? Oh, yeah, I remember, no computers in techno-hell.

Monday, October 13, 2008

M Transformed?

Not really.

We had been warned over and over to expect changes in our boy the first time we saw him. Good changes. He'll be more grown up, more confident, more mature, we were told. So when he surprised us on our doorstep two weeks ago, we really weren't sure what to expect. The first thing we noticed was that he was taller. Really? We finally decided that was due mainly to his uniform: the gig line and the stripe down the outside of the leg and the high waistline. And maybe he did stand just a wee bit taller in his handsome uniform. But different...?

I wish we could have talked more, but time was short, friends and family were many, and there was only the one M to share, but it was more than we had expected, so...can't complain.

It was enough time to interrogate him~in a friendly way~about his new life: Do you like it? Is it what you expected? Do you "fit in" there? Do you feel comfortable there? "At home"? Are you learning anything? What are you learning? How do you feel about what you are learning? It was a good conversation.

It was enough to be sure, in case I didn't already know, that M has what it takes. He is learning a lot. Some things are being taught, some caught. Some direct teaching, some not so direct. Some things good, some bad. He is well-grounded and confident. But he was already that way before he went. He knows how to take the lesson and spit out the bones, and he will take advantage of every opportunity.

It was enough to hear about life in the Army: platoon leaders, sergeants, TAC's, formations, battalions, companies, classes, projects, section trips, authos, knowledge, SAMI's and WAMI's, duties, TEE's....

It was enough to hear how reality measures up to anticipation and expectation.

Of the three days M was here, every day was my favorite. He may be packaged a bit differently, but he is still our own M, and not a day goes by that he's not missing from my life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Raccoon Rodeo

Friday morning, creeping around in the dark so as not to wake the Princess or the Gingerbread Cookie, I heard the eeriest, creepiest growling and hissing outside the dining room window. Normally, as soon as my foot falls into the room, Chudleigh is exuberantly greeting me at the window; one of these days he is going to break through it and find himself right here amongst us having breakfast, but today he didn't even show up. That in itself was strange, and coupled with the growling and hissing, it really called my attention.

I went over to the window, and there was Chudleigh, running circles around a...a...a...what was that out there in the dark?! Chudleigh was bowing, face close to the ground, butt sticking way up, and tail wagging to beat the band, as our 102-year-old Granny would have said. He was bouncing and prancing, sometimes daringly closing in for a better swipe and always jumping quickly back out of the danger zone, obviously wanting to play. But the growling...well, I have never heard anything quite like it, and it seemed a pretty clear indication that whatever it was out there didn't share his enthusiasm.

It took a few minutes before I was able to discern that it was a raccoon. Interesting! But I was in a hurry to be out of the house early that morning, and the whole scene was beginning to cause me some irritation, even while it fascinated me. It took another few minutes to realize that the raccoon was wounded. Now what? I could have left Chudleigh to his own, I suppose, but I feared for his safety, even though he clearly did not. What to do...? Well, as is so often the case... I decided to call on my Man. I easily managed to rouse him out of his sound sleep, however, I did not manage to win his interest. The Great Possum Hunter heard me out and then turned over and went back to sleep. Uh-oh.

It then occurred to me that we have an animal control officer in this town, though I was doubtful of getting in touch with him at this early hour, so I decided to call the police. Once I had a plan, I began to put it into action. Or tried to, but right away I hit a snag. I didn't really want to call 911 as we did not have a real emergency here. Yet. So that meant calling the non-emergency number. So far so good, except that, even though we have three current phone books around here, I could find only one...the one with the non/emergency numbers page ripped out. Well, the best laid plans...and I was back at Square One, only now in a bigger hurry. And then I vaguely remembered ~ The last time I called the police on non-emergency business, the phone number was the same as our street address back in the far-away days of Hermitage. Go figure. But sure enough, almost immediately I had the friendly local police dispatcher on the line.

It was, as I feared, too early for animal control, but she promised to send over an officer. I had to leave before long (Actually, I should have left long before.), but by this time, the Great Possum Hunter was up and dressed and outside with his flashlight checking things out, so I left the situation in his capable hands.

He told me when I got home later that morning, that the officer had asked to see the raccoon, but when he saw that there was a dog to be "controlled" along with a possibly mad raccoon, well...sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. He got back in his car and called animal control out of their warm beds, and Chudleigh found himself shut up in the garage in the meanwhile.

I was gone when the animal control guy came, so I missed the whole thing. I missed the animal guy parrying with and poking at the raccoon. Its back legs may have been paralyzed, but it did not have any trouble whipping itself around to face, and threaten, its tormentor. I missed the wrestling match, ending with the noose around the raccoon's neck. I missed the raccoon's deportation, with Chudleigh frantically trying to scratch through the garage door.

In the two days since the raccoon's banishment, Chudleigh has been behaving very strangely, barking and pawing at the places where the raccoon had rested before being hauled off, so in a weird sort of way, the Raccoon Rodeo lives on...

On a totally unrelated note...This morning as I was getting out of my car at the post office, I noticed a man with a splint on his nose going in. Later, as I related the incident to D, she began to laugh and said, "I just came from Walgreen's, and there was a man with a splint on his nose in there." After we finally stopped laughing, we both said, "Don't you think it's the same guy?!" Has to be. We have never seen anyone with a splint on the nose that we can remember, and how many can there be in a small little town like this?

Like we said.... It rains it pours...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It Rains It Pours

I was babysitting and cleaning the kitchen and starting lunch for the little girls when the phone rang. I am always tempted to ignore the phone when the caller ID says "unknown caller," but I have learned that I ignore it at my own peril. Of course, I answer it at my own peril as well. No doubt about it, even in the age of caller ID, answering the phone is a crap shoot. But I digress.

The stove was sizzling, the water was running, the microwave was beeping, the little girls were crying (and I wasn't far from it myself), and suddenly the phone was ringing. I took a chance and answered it, and there was M!

Normally that is cause for sheer delight, but this time... It was the hesitation and the tone of voice and my instant gut feeling, but *something* was wrong. It was another one of those "Mom, I'm OK" calls I got from S not so long ago.

This one said, "Mom I broke my nose. I'm going to the hospital to have it set at 3:00." Oh, no, nooo, NOOOOO, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" I see a disturbing pattern developing here, and I am hating boxing more and more by the minute (Is that even possible?). M was supposed to have had almost a week to recuperate from his not-quite-dislocated jaw before his next graded bout, but today he got pulled to make up the bout he missed while debating at Smith College a couple of weeks ago.

He had a few minutes to talk, and he informed me he is absolutely determined to finish this class, even if it means...well, what more could it mean now? A concussion? I hate to even imagine. But I am with him. Dropping out, or being dropped by the doctor, even at this late date, with only one 2-minute bout to go, would mean he would have to take the whole nine-week class all over again. It would mean his non/dislocated jaw and his broken nose didn't even count, and that just isn't happening if he has any say whatsoever about it. Two more minutes of excruciating pain vs. nine more weeks of misery and agony...well, there's really no contest.

Next stop Keller Hospital. He was in and out of there so fast, my head was spinning. 3:00 appointment and he was calling at 3:40 to say he was already out. The doctor numbed his face a bit (but not enough) and manhandled his nose back into place; then offered him a splint for his nose (?) even while commenting that he didn't think it would help any, so that was easy enough to turn down. After all, he is going to debate at Harvard tomorrow, and how geeky would that look?!

So. Here's the prognosis: "If you can't breathe in three or four months, come back to discuss possible surgery." And meanwhile, the doctor was kind (well, kind-ish) enough to put him on profile, meaning that he will be allowed/ordered to wear a cage for his last two minutes of hell graded boxing next Tuesday. And that will be that. As far as boxing, that is. Still to come: military movement, close quarters combat , knife-fighting (ACK!!!), unarmed combatives, and who knows what other evil surprises lurking in the shadows.

The hits just keep on coming....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

WAAAAAH Burger and French Cries

That's it. Party's over. M needs to come home now. I know, I know...he's a big boy.

It seems that he has dislocated his jaw. From a bout in boxing. And he did not even tell the teacher, but he did take himself to the school nurse's office, where he found that they are not allowed to touch jaws, so instead they referred him to dental sick call or something for early tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, he can't really open his mouth big enough to eat, so he put himself on a diet of canned soup (no soup in the dining hall) and Pringles (has to suck them), and he is limiting his talking.

He will be getting a decent grade in boxing, but, Oh My! I am just happy that it will be over with for him next week.

M detests boxing. Thank goodness. But he did sign up for West Point, and when you sign up for West Point, you sign up for a six-week course in boxing. At least if you are a male you do. I had no idea...

So...what do you think we have here? Nothing other than one more case of Kid's dream = Mom's nightmare.

Monday, October 6, 2008


So, can you believe it, 13 years to the day OJ Simpson was found *not guilty* of the cold-blooded murder of his wife and her friend, OJ was found guilty on several criminal charges including kidnapping. All I can think is "It's about time."

There was objection from some quarters, most notably the defense attorney, that the jury was judging OJ not only on this present offense, but also on his history. Such may well be the case. But this time I can't really generate too much sympathy for the losing side. In an ideal world, the jury actually would ~ and could ~ honor the instruction to disregard all but what was put before them for their particular case; of course in an ideal world, no one would ever have to go to trial at all, but especially not for something so violent and heinous as the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Apparently there are times when the justice system has to work in a flawed way for there to be any justice at all, and here is the proof. Disillusioning in a way, but then again, offering hope that at least once in a while, the truth gets another chance, and eventually, one's sins will find one out.

Guiltier man there never was.


My Man woke me up early this morning loudly whispering "It's raining!" WOW! That was definitely worth waking up for, even if it was still dark.

The steady, gentle rain, going on for the next three hours, was the longest rain we have had all summer, downgrading to a drizzle for the next several hours after that.

Now as for the rest of the day... grey and gloomy and dreary and cloudy, mist hanging in the air...the best of all possible days. I am ready to hibernate!

Friday, October 3, 2008

WhataWeekend Saturday

Saturday started dark and early. My Man was off to work by 5:30, and for M, formation (or whatever they call it) was at 9, so soon it was time for the *boys* to get up and on their way. Off they went, with instructions to let us know when they got there.

A couple of hours later we got a text from Ko: "Just left Caldwell. We passed our motel. It looks crapy." I'm not sure if he meant "creepy" or "crappy," but whichever, I was pretty sure I got the message. Not worried about it, though. As long as it was good enough for Edgar Allen Poe, it would be good enough for us. Besides, it isn't like it was the purple motel in San Antonio where we were afraid to all close our eyes at the same time. No, we are talking about the motel next door to the MoreMart in Caldwell, for Pete's sake, where people aren't worried about being murdered in their beds.

So what if our rooms were upstairs and the balcony/deck/walkway seriously sloped toward the parking lot...? There was a rail to stop us if we should happen to slide too far.

So what if the pool was green...? It wasn't full of green water; it was filled in with dirt and had green grass growing in it. Quite a sight, complete with lawn chairs around the "pool" and a ladder going down into the grass.

So what if the luggage rack/stand fell apart when I opened it...? We only had one small overnight case which fit easily on the counter next to the sink.

So what if the chair almost fell to pieces when my Man sat down in it...? He just sat quietly and didn't make any sudden moves.

So what if the water tasted nasty...? There was an ice machine outside the front door, and if you suck on ice it numbs your taste buds.

So...It was early afternoon when we arrived in Caldwell. While walking around to our room, the Gingerbread Cookie stumbled and went down with a thunk like you have never heard, right on the big middle of her forehead. Good thing babies' bones are soft, and of course I carry arnica in my purse...melted that knot right off her little head.

As soon as everyone got there, we walked over to check out the MoreMart. It was a non/super MoreMart like we hadn't seen in years, and M hadn't seen any kind of a MoreMart in years...oh, wait, I mean in almost three it was fun buying snacks and colored pens and band-aids and all sorts of clearance items.

After our little shopping trip, *some* of the boys began to wrestle and roughhouse and suddenly we heard the second THUNK of the day, followed by a scream from BB1. He jumped up with his hand to his head and M noticed "He's dripping blood!" This time we had our whole medical entourage in the room: M, who in his less than two months since CBT first aid training, already has three head injuries (not his own) to his credit; Ko, an EMT presently attending paramedic school; and Gi, an ER nurse currently enrolled in nurse practitioner school. And of course we still had arnica.

Once that little glitch was taken care of we went outside for a photo op and then off to dinner and the playground. It was so much fun for me and my Man, sitting on the park bench like old folks, watching our kidlets, big and little, on the playground. Monkey bars, jungle gym, merry-go-round, swings, swirly slides, they played them all. It would have been really fun if we hadn't been quite so busy scratching and swatting at the horde of burly, belligerent, Texas-size mosquitoes.

We had an early morning the next day, so we were soon off to put our swarm of little kidlets to bed. S and Gi went home and the rest of us drifted off to our rooms. There is nothing at all quite like making memories with your family. After all, to tweak a quote from Samuel Johnson, "To be happy with one's family is the ultimate result of all ambition."

Edgar Allen Poe never had it so good.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fresh October

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

I remember this poem by Sara Coleridge not from my childhood, but from my kidlets' childhood/s. It was in a book of nursery rhymes that I read all the way through. Many, many, many times. In fact, with a 13-year difference between my first child and my last, I was probably reading the book continually for, oh...18 years or so.

Anyway, this poem is a winner! It goes through every month of the year and evokes all sorts of memories, or at least imaginings, of living with nature in the seasons ~ my favorite way to live ;-)

Oh-so-sadly, that book was one of the casualties of the floods last year, so the poem was only in my head. I couldn't quite remember every detail, and it finally occurred to me to google it last night. I found many listings for it, but alas, every one of them said "Brown October..." Brown October? I could have sworn it was "Fresh October," but page after page came up brown. Am I going crazy/er? Or is it another case of the reality not measuring up to the memory?

This morning I had an epiphany to google by the October verse instead of the January verse, which is what I did last night, and whaddya know... Right there it was: "Fresh October." Vindication!!!

It happens that brown is one of my favorite colors, but for October, for Fall, I much prefer "Fresh!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wild Goose Chase

Yesterday we spur-of-the-moment decided to go visit mil in Kerrville. We tried calling ahead, but no answer. Then we tried the cell phone, but still no answer. So we decided to go anyway. Good choice, huh? But it was my Man's only day off this week, and, besides, mil is ALWAYS there!!! Except for yesterday, that is ;-/

We would have easily fit into our minivan, however the a/c isn't working, and this was Texas in September, so we loaded up into D's SUV. For a big vehicle, it's pretty crowded, but we managed. All Monga had to do was contort himself into a pretzel shape while crawling in through the front door, squirm around into the back seat, and wedge his skinny little self into the back seat between the two tiny girls in their space-age (BIG) car seats. D was driving, and that left me comfortably in the front seat. Or it would have been comfortable, had I been a double amputee. The floor under my feet was full of purses, water bottles, kleenex boxes, books and homework, oh~and my feet. Well, it was only for 2 1/2 hours, and we did have the a/c. Good thing, because that's about the only thing that was right.

After an hour or two in the car I gave the phone another try. Still no answer. Hmmmm....??? Odd, but not alarming. As I said, mil is ALWAYS there, and I was sure there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. As soon as we arrived, D and I got ourselves and the babies out, Monga did his contortions in reverse, and we walked across the parking lot into the nursing home. D and I and the Gingerbread Cookie headed for the ladies' room while the others searched out mil. When we met up again in the hall, Monga and the Princess were mil-less, but they had a report. They had checked the dining room and her room, to no avail, and they didn't really know where else to look. I suggested asking someone, so we took off down the hall to the nurses' station where we were told, "She went out with Le." Ok, then.

It was noon, and remember that we had two tired, hungry, cranky little girls with us, so we decided to go get something to eat, with a stop at CVS for lots of free-coupon goodies, and then try mil and Le again. Only Le beat us to it. I told her we figured we would find her in our wanderings around Kerrville, and she said, "You'll find us in Bandera at John Grover's funeral." Uh-oh...

So. So much for visiting mil on Monday. Instead, we went to the river and introduced the little girls to a place that held lots of happy memories for Monga. They sat on the bank, throwing rocks and sticks into the river, watching it go by, occasionally trying to jump/fall in, while reminiscing on Monga's growing up. After a time of pleasant leisure, it was naptime, so we loaded everyone back in the car and headed for home.

The whole back seat was asleep before we got out of town, and the ride home was quiet and uneventful. All in all an enjoyable day, especially for a wild goose chase.

WhataWeekend Friday!


Friday night D and I were sitting at the table planning our next-day trip, the one we were taking to visit M, who was going to be 'here' at the Army/A&M game for the weekend.

It was late-ish, around 8:30 or so, I think, when the doorbell rang. D and I looked at each other. She said, "Who is that?!" as I said, "I bet it's M." So I went to the door, and there was our friend Tr, the mom of one of M's "West Point 'Texas Trio." With a BIG smile on her face, she said, "Is this yours?" And there was M!

Magnificent! Tall and handsome, sharply dressed in his 'wog' and shiny black shoes and white cover, backpack in hand, he stepped into the room, and we looked up at him. And up. And up. "Is he taller?" we wondered. Lots of all-around smiles and hugs and kisses and more hugs and pats and smiles.

M was ready to change his clothes and get comfortable, but being the last-minute trip that it was, he had not brought his duffel with him, not even a toothbrush. But no worries. We have extra toothbrushes (new ones~not those old clorox-ed guest toothbrushes Granny used to keep on hand), and as for clothes...well, we happen to have a dresser and a closet full of clothes just his size.

Off he went to change, and when he came out, he was just plain M again. D and I agreed that it must be the gig line and the stripes down the sides of his pants that made him taller. Not to mention wearing his uniform pants at his actual waist ('up to his armpits,' he would say) instead of at his hips where he usually wears his pants. Anyway. Still our own long-legged M!

We talked and laughed and caught him up on everything around here. He showed us pictures and pictures and pictures of his new life. We heard about his roommates and his classes, debate team (loves it), boxing class (hates it).

Pretty soon Ko showed up, and it was like they had never been separated. They made a midnight run to MoreMart for Oreos and Pringles, went for a ride in Ko's "new" jeep, came home and demo-ed boxing for us. EEK!!! I can hardly bear thinking of MY boy getting pounded on. And then we finally trickled off to bed. At one time I got up to see the glow of the computer coming from across the hall, and here was M sitting in the dark, fixing whatever has ailed this computer for oh-so-many weeks.

Next morning came really early. My Man was off to work by 5:30, and for M, formation (or whatever they call it) was at 9, so soon it was time for the *boys* to get up and on their way, leaving the rest of us at home to pack up and get ready for A&M Adventures, coming up!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Eyes Have It

A few weeks ago I made my occasional "annual" visit to the eye doctor. Being the non-doctor person that I am, I would have preferred to save it for some non-existent future time, but I had already had the appointment for three months, and I was tired of dreading it. Besides, so far, I am a seeing person, and I would like to stay that way. With a family history of diabetes and glaucoma and cataracts, and with a personal history of a pterygium ...well, the eyes have it, so off I went to visit Dr. Chang.

I can still read a road sign long before anyone else even sees the thing, but when it comes to reading, sewing, knitting, writing, all the close-up stuff that I love to do, well...forget the heck out of that, unless I wear my glasses. And getting out a splinter...? Can't even do that with the glasses. They are just beginner glasses from MoreMart, but still.

At this point I have about six pairs of the things. One in my purse, one in the car, one in the other car, one at the computer, one at the desk, one on the night table. That's where they are supposed to be, and you'd think with that many pairs of glasses floating around, one might show up when called for. But can I ever find one? Rarely. When I finally do manage to find them, they pinch my head, they pull my hair, they get in my way, and I forget to look through them, trying instead to look around them. What a nuisance. One more perk of getting old.

But Dr. Chang loved my eyes! His Girl Friday got them prepped and droppered and dilated before he came in for his look, and after scanning her notes he asked me if I had had lasik surgery, causing me to shudder and gasp. "NO WAY!" The mere thought of someone poking around in my eyes, to say nothing of cutting and slicing on them...Well, I cannot begin to express the CREEPS that gives me!!!! So Dr. Chang was incredulous that I might see as well as I do without having the surgery, but the thing is, I don't think I see all that well. I did for a long, long time, but once I hit "that age"... things sorta started falling apart: fuzzy words and blurry letters, itching eyes, and seeing things as though through tinted windows. Of course, there's no knowing what sorts of eye horrors he has seen, so to him anything may look good.

In any case, I've made myself a note, for next time I start worrying about my eyes, to remember Dr. Chang's parting words: "I'll see you next year. Or maybe in two years." So, whaddya know, after all the dread, Eye'm perfect! least my eyes least in Dr. Chang's obviously imperfect eyes...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

TAMU Coming Up!

All set for our first look at our boy since R-Day! M was one of the *selected* to attend the Army/Texas A&M football game right here in TEXAS, only two hours (or so) away!!! So, Lucky Us!!! (Just imagine ~ $60 a ticket...They'd have to pay me a lot more than that!)

What an ordeal...but finally we are all ready to go. Well, besides the packing and loading. But that part's the easy part. It's figuring out what to pack and where to go that takes up all the brain power: hotel shopping and schedule coordinating, with only the scarcest bit of information...

We are learning that when it comes to planning, it's all about the last minute. Maybe that's part of the grand scheme of teaching cadets to be flexible and think on their feet ~ all well and good for them, but I didn't join up. On second thought, maybe I did... When I signed on to be the mom those oh-so-many years ago, it appears that I was also, unknowingly, signing up for a great many things I never even heard of before, and every now and then another new one pops up to haunt me. But, as they say today, "It's all good." And it really is.

We booked this Patel hotel sight unseen, so I can't really vouch for the place. According to the online reviews, it is a "good, basic hotel, and clean, with a MoreMart next door and a McD's down the street." So far so good.

But you know what? I don't care if it's the Black Hole of Calcutta or if it looks like that purple hotel where we once-upon-a-time stayed in San Antonio. I don't care if it's good enough for Edgar Allen Poe. All of our kidlets will be there, including the one we have not seen in almost three months. What more could we possibly want?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Once You're the Mom...'re never not the mom. You sign up for life, to have your heart taken out, trodden on and broken by the very objects of your heart's affection. I was reminded of this once more last night when I got an unexpected phone call from S while cooking dinner:

"Mom, I'm ok. I don't know if it will be on the news tonight, but just in case, I thought I'd call and let you know before you see it there." And then he proceeded with the story of the woman who turned left in front of him and HIT him. I asked him if she stopped, and he said, "Yeah, my motorcycle was under her car." AAAGGGGHHH!!!!

Questions, questions, questions... "ARE YOU OK?" "Where are you now?" "What happened???" "Why did she hit you?" "Did she get a ticket?"

Answers... "My back hurts," "I'm at work writing up the report, going to go home after this," "She didn't see me," "She didn't want to be leftover," "Yeah, they gave her a bunch of tickets."

  • He has a three-day weekend to recover and get right back out there on that motorcycle, which he loves, and the rest of us aren't so crazy about. Men and their toys...
  • It's gotta stink that you have to write up your own accident report, but actually maybe we should just be thankful that he can, and at least he gets to go home early.
  • I just bet she didn't see him. People that see motorcycle cops generally slow waaaay down below the speed limit, guilty consciences hard at work.
  • Yellow light accelerators never want to be leftover (All sorts of troubles come up when yellow light accelerators meet green light anticipators.).
  • And about those tickets...well, lady, sorry about your luck.
You might think that once they grew up and out of your house, they might grow out of your heart as well, but let me disabuse you of that notion. It isn't bad enough that they go and join the police force. Nope, then they have to join the motorcycle brigade. But you have to "let" them, because if you don't, they will do it anyway.

And your heart...well, tuck it back in and hope for the best. It's all we can do when all we really want is to give our kidlets roots, but we have to give them wings.

And it is especially bad when Kid's dream = Mom's nightmare.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Almost Autumn

Summer doesn't fool me. I know it'll stick around waaaay past time for it to go, like a naughty kid that will do anything to stall around and postpone bedtime just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit longer. But, sooner or later, the inevitable always happens and it will have to go. I can wait. Having survived another round of summer's worst, I can afford to be a gracious winner.

Now, blessed with the ever-so-faintest hint of cool autumn ahead in the air, I may actually sleep under the covers tonight. Well, at least under the sheet...

YES!!!! It is Almost Autumn...and I am ready!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Escape from Techno-Hell

Well, not entirely, but maybe we're getting closer. My Man and I figured out, all by ourselves, how to fix the phone and the internet. Not to take too much credit, all we did was pull the plug on the whole operation. When we plugged everything back in a few hours later, voila'! It worked! What an unexpected victory! And it sure beat spending three hours on hold with our internet provider's non/tech-support.

That big little success encouraged us to tackle the TV/VCR/DVD dilemma, so after a long-distance consult with one of the kidlets, my Man crawled up in the entertainment center with a flashlight and managed to locate the loose/missing connections. Well, some of them. The DVD player is still on the injured list, but the VCR and the TV are now back on the job.

Meanwhile, it was decided to accept Foxfire's offer of an update to the New and Improved Foxfire3. Alas, unbeknownst to us, Foxfire3 and Vista are engaged in WWIII, and we were drafted. So, it's back to Square One on that computer.

Our other desktop computer dropped out of our little home network quite awhile ago, leaving only our little laptop. Sadly, it was out for surgery, which left us in techno-blackout for the last week and a half, with the exception of a little 17-hour window between our initial victory over our ISP and our induction into WWIII.

Fortunately, our laptop was released from Intensive Care yesterday, lifting the blackout. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it will be able to keep up with the demand for its services. My Man uses it quite a bit for work; I have enrolled in two online classes; and D, who is here for a few weeks, has also signed up for an online class. ACK! We may all have to tighten our belts and go on a severely restricted internet diet.

In the meantime, it is doubtful that WWIII will be resolved, but we have a couple of leads on how we might win our own little battle (Don't worry, M, we won't actually do anything without strict supervision.). be possessed of the elusive techno-gene.... Can one inherit it from one's kidlets?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On the Gulf with Gustav

Well...not exactly. That would be the cruise before us.

Our trip, which was to have been the five-day cruise with calls at two glamorous ports, was instead, coutesy of Gustav, the three-day Cruise to Nowhere. Really. Rather than disembarking (debarking?) in exotic foreign places, we floated around out there, one "Fun Day at Sea" following another. A Fun Day at Sea consists of all manner of activities, sublime and ridiculous. Activities whimsical, physical, comical, or informational, take your pick.

Now about the food...It's true what they say about the food on a cruise: it is limitless. There may be two or three hours out of a day that you can't find a place to eat~perhaps between the hours of 3am, when the Gala Midnight Buffet shuts down, and 6:30am when the serving of breakfast begins. But don't worry. If you just can't make it that long, give the 24-hour room service a call.

And let me tell you, you aren't going to find any chicken-fried steak or fried okra or black-eyed peas or pinto beans on this menu. None of that "down-home" stuff. Try lemon curried lentils and Caribbean pepper pot. Grilled portobello mushrooms, tiger shrimp cocktail, pumpkin soup, charred corn, tempura veggies, and poached salmon. Even the lowly potato takes on the scent of rosemary. On the salad bar ~ a veritable garden: veggies fresh and pickled and marinated, lettuce in endless variety, dressings and toppings galore. And for dessert: mango cake and tiramisu, cheesecake in many flavors of both fat-free and yummy versions, coconut cake, banana cream pie, jello, and pudding, 24-hour ice cream and frozen yogurt, orange cake, and apple pie with ice cream. That's the sort of thing to find on the cafeteria-style line, and if none of that suits you, well, try the pizzeria, the deli, or the bistro. Or the grill, where you can get backyard fare of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, onion rings, sauteed onions, and the like, just outside the door by the big pool.

To drink: iced tea, coffee, lemonade, fruit punch, apple juice, orange juice. Really, the onliest thing they didn't have was...water. Well, they had water, but...well, ick.

That's the menu on the casual Lido Deck. If it's the fancy stuff you want, go to one of the dining rooms where you will be served by a staff of attentive, impeccably-mannered waiters, uniformed in vests and ties, who will serve your drinks in elegant stemmed glasses, and bring you menus of starters and entrees and desserts to die for. Some nights they will even dance and sing for you, and when they come marching and clapping down the aisles, it is hard not to get up and dance and clap along with them.

Did I mention the Chinatown Restaurant and the Rolls Royce Bar? You really can go from restaurant to restaurant for the duration of the cruise, and if you don't want them to have to roll you off, well...try out the gym. We opted to stay in shape by using the stairs. We walked from our cabin on the Main Deck (Deck 5) deep in the bowels of the ship up to the sea breezes of the Sun Deck (Deck 12) for putt-putt golf probably about 26 times a day. We did use the elevator on three separate occasions as a treat at the request of the Blue-Eyed Boy.

Just in case you might like to do something besides eat on your Fun Day at Sea, you can choose to swim in one of the four pools, play miniature golf, run/walk/jog on the Olympic track, play volleyball or basketball on courts totally enclosed by netting, play ping-pong or shuffleboard, or bask in the sun with a book from the ship's library. Play Bingo, or go to the beauty shop and/or the spa for the pampering of your life: hair fixes, mani/pedicures, massages. Get your portrait taken at one of the many photographer's stations set up at various places around the ship. Go to the card room for a hopefully friendly game of...whatever.

If you are traveling with a kidlet, as we were, you may want to check out Camp Carnival. They have a whole schedule of age-appropriate games and puzzles and parties beginning at 9am and going until 11pm (Shouldn't those little guys be in bed by then?)!

Need something more scheduled? Check your handy little Carnival Capers paper which is left in your cabin each evening by your devoted cabin steward, along with chocolates on your pillow, cookies with faces for the kidlet, and pillows folded into animal shapes, a different animal every night. In the Carnival Capers you will find a complete hour-by-hour listing of every activity on the ship: shows, classes, games, contests. Even menus ;-)

Oh! Don't forget gambling in the casino! I can't really speak with any authority on this, but if the jam-packed crowds and the clouds of cigarette smoke billowing out the door were any indication, this might well have been the most popular activity on board. Well, besides eating. And besides the unending army of bar staff around every corner handing out champagne, rum punch, Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, whiskey sours, wine, and the occasional "non-alcoholic fruit punch" (For more *ambiance,* try the Starlight Lounge or the Neon Bar or the Stripes Bar.).

And then there's everybody's other favorite: shopping! There were stores galore, and sellers of gold and silver chains and other jewelry in kiosks on every deck. Not being a shopper myself, I can only speculate, but there must have been some really great deals, because most of the people I met around the ship were burdened with bulging shopping bags.

Art aficionado? Go check out the Art Gallery and sign up for the drawing/contest to win a Picasso! No thanks, I think I'll pass...

If you are a night owl and can tear yourself away from the Gala Midnight Buffet, you might want to go to one or more of the shows. And don't worry about your kidlet. Just deposit him in "babysitting" (for a small fee of invisible $ on your *sign & sail* card) where you can leave him until 3am!!!

So, you see, a Fun Day at Sea really is a fun day (and night) at sea. Even for a non-smoking, non-drinking, non-gambling, non-shopping stick-in-the-mud like me. Because on a cruise, particularly on a Cruise to Nowhere, you have a luxury unmatched in your everyday life: Time. Time to sit and enjoy the timelessness of time. Without a timetable.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Welcome Home...

When we got off the boat Nellie had a dead battery. That was our first clue.

When we got home we were met by:

  • dead telephone,
  • dead internet,
  • dead tv/vcr/dvd connection,
  • clutch out on Old Reliable,
  • expired inspection on the War Wagon,
  • lapsed registration on the Road Warrior.

After getting the internet back on track, we have Vista at war with its mortal enemy Firefox3. the Twilight Zone!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

See You in September!

August is breathing its very last. The hottest, awful-lest part of the year is past, and the very best is at hand.

September! September has everything to recommend it. It's the month of my birthday, so there is that. But even better: it's the month that begins FALL! My hands-down, no-contest, totally favorite time of the year, fall is as good as it ever gets. Nothing else even comes close. Well, Heaven maybe, but still.

I love the crisp snap in the air, the blue, blue sky, the smell of wood smoke, crinkly leaves crackling underfoot, the colors of the leaves. Even in Texas. But fall isn't only a feast for the physical senses. It is a gala for the emotions.

Fall makes me homesick for someplace I have never been. It is the time of harvest and plenty. The intense work of the year is finished, and now it's time to slow down and savor. Fall is the time to gather in and reflect and take stock. It is the hint and the promise of home-centered life to come, when the world takes a break . . . or so it was before we determined to change the order of nature with our techno-superiority. live by the seasons....

There is still plenty of summer to come in this part of the world, and I wouldn't even mention it, except, well...I am as always, ecstatic that the calendar of summer is joining history. Its days are numbered, even in Texas, and it will eventually have to cede to the better season...

Autumn...absolutely worth living for.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Eggplant Casserole

Fresh from the farm:
Eggplant Casserole

eggplants (I used the skinny little Japanese ones)
flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
olive oil
some onion, sliced
some bell pepper, sliced
more olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
minced garlic (recipe says optional, but I say garlic a must)
bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese

Slice the eggplant about 1/2" thick. Dip slices into flour and saute in some olive oil until almost tender. Arrange half of the eggplant in a greased casserole dish. Then add half of the onion and half of the pepper on top. Season with salt and pepper and garlic and then drizzle with olive oil. Repeat the layers. Mix the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle this over the top. Dot with butter. Bake at 350 till done. Original recipe says 4 minutes, but I'm thinking more like 40...
Voila'! Another potluck hit!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gustav vs. Katrina

Hurricane season is on, and Gustav ~ PC-ness even in the world of hurricane-naming, but that's an altogether different rant for a different time ~ is gearing up for the big time according to the weather guys.

Ever since Katrina, the weather people are afraid of the ensuing hue and cry if they accidentally miss anything, so they bend over backwards to dish out some severe over-hype any time the smallest possibility of weather presents itself, making it sorta hard to take them too seriously anymore...sorta like the boy who cried wolf. The Age of Excess is alive and well. But I digress, and that, too, is another rant for another time. As for Gustav...well, time will tell...

Meanwhile, I keep hearing in the media about FEMA and Gustav's potential, and I got to thinking that this entire topic merits a closer look.

As far as I can tell, the discontent seems to center around the FEMA trailers that were made available for the refugees from Katrina. Well, ok, maybe they weren't the Hilton, but...any port in a storm, right? Apparently the trailers were better than the waterlogged, snake-infested, low-lying swamplands they were escaping from, or, I imagine, the evacuees would have stayed where they were, right?

Not only were these trailers not top-of-the line, according to the news reports, but "FEMA put those people in those trailers and kept them there for three years." WHAAAAAATT?!!!! FEMA put them there? I wasn't aware anyone had been taken against his (ok...or "her.") will. And FEMA kept them there? How'd they do that? Locked them in? Put armed guards around the perimeter? Boarded up the doors and windows so they couldn't get out? And not only did FEMA put and keep them there, they kept them there for three YEARS!!!! Am I just waaaay off here thinking that three years is enough time to find a job and start taking some control of your own life back?

So. Fast forward to the present: Gustav is presumably coming along next week and when/if it does, another batch of refugees is going to be forced to move into another batch of bad FEMA trailers, and history is going to repeat itself, because according to whiner wisdom, "FEMA didn't learn anything from Katrina." let's agree that FEMA didn't learn anything. What can we say about all these upcoming refugees? They are back where they were pre-Katrina, seemingly none the smarter for their ordeal, trusting FEMA to provide better trailers for next time. If FEMA is the abysmal failure they think it is, and I'm not saying it isn't, why, oh why, are these geniuses depending on it?!

Who didn't learn anything here, anyway?