Sunday, June 29, 2008

'Twas the Night Before R-Day...

...and all through the hotel, all sorts of nervous "cadet candidates" (to become "new cadets" on the next day), parents, and other family members were stirring. They were everywhere: checking in, filling ice buckets, standing outside smoking, loitering here and there.

What they/we should have been doing was going to bed early, especially those of us with the 0630 report time in the morning. (The *official* 0630 call, that is. It seems that in the Army "early is on time," whereas "on time is late."). But no. We were more like antsy little kids waiting for Santa to drop in.

Our cadet candidate was in that 0630 group, but instead of going to bed early, we wandered upstairs to the balcony/deck for some solitude to ponder the enormity of what was coming up in a few short hours. However there was no solitude to be had. The balcony was full of others out there, just like us, with just the same thoughts on their minds.

So there we sat, alone in the crowd, and then invariably the small talk would start up. "Where are you from?" is always a favorite, and we learned that the young man sitting at the table with us was from Texas. YES!

Nighttime is not the best time to be away from home, particularly when facing a life-changing event, but there we were, bonded together into an odd fraternity of strangers. There was a big well-kept lawn going down to the road, and across the road was a body of water of some kind. It was beautiful, but foreign and uncomforting, giving rise to all manner of disconcerting thoughts.

And then...what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a skunk waddling around on that immaculate lawn. I poked the person next to me and whispered, "Is that a skunk?!" Yep, it was, but by the time he looked, there were two skunks. And then there were three. WOW! Just like HOME! And here we thought Texas had the corner on the skunk market! It wasn't long before the whole crowd began snickering and pointing. And it wasn't long until a fourth and then a fifth skunk showed up, milling around like a garden party.

By that time the skunks had the attention of the entire balcony assembly, though not that of the couple who stood on the edge of the parking lot, just a few feet away from a stand of tall grass where the skunk party kept going in and out. They (the couple, not the skunks) were hotly discussing something or other, completely oblivious to their peril.

Our focus began to shift somewhat from the skunks themselves, to wondering who would notice whom first, and speculating on all the possibilities that might occur? It happened that the people noticed the skunks before the skunks noticed the people, and they began pointing and inching away. This provided a whole new wave of amusement to those of us not immediately in harm's way. Fortunately the skunks behaved themselves and continued their marauding without making any sort of statement.

I often wonder what prompted God to create the skunk, but at least for that night, the funny little creatures provided some welcome comic relief to a poor band of uncertain ex-patriates.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

...and we're off...!

In a few hours we are beginning the journey of a thousand miles. Off to drop our boy at West Point.

Is everything done? Let's see...bills paid, yard mowed, mail stopped, newspapers stopped, dog and garden care arranged, police and neighbors notified, suitcases packed...what else? I'm sure I'll remember at least one more thing after it's too late. Still to do: clean out fridge, clean out car (that's M's), pay one more bill, pack bathroom bag, and do some errands on the way out.

I'm feeling rather overwrought, overwhelmed, overworked, overloaded, overburdened, and overstressed, but I will probably feel a wee bit better after we are on the road. No more decisions to make.

If I can adjust my attitude a bit, this can be an adventure. Lots of fun on the way, but at the end...the Trail of Tears.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Happy First Birthday, Gingerbread Cookie! Our last grandchild and no more on the horizon for awhile. It's almost sad how fast they grow. Truly, like the Bible says, life is just a vapor. I hate it that we missed her birthday party Saturday, but that's what you get when things are like they are. We will already be passing through there tomorrow on our trek to West Point, and with the price of gas being the exorbitant $3.80+ that it is, we just can't justify two trips.

And speaking of our boy... woe is me... tonight will be his last night in his own little bed.

My whole perception of *me* is about to change, and change is painful! Even when it's good. And here I vacillate between "confidently ready" and "a nervous wreck." Which one is the *real* me?

Monday, June 23, 2008

One Week To R-Day

Today I took the last green link off the countdown chain. Next week at this time we will be on our own, wandering around West Point, waiting for the swearing-in ceremony, which will be our last glimpse of our boy until...? If by some far and away chance we do manage to see (and recognize) him in a sea of 1,000+ "new cadets" (Is that the right term now?), there will be NO acknowledgment, and definitely NO contact! So, in a way, I hope we don't see him. Then we don't have to pretend we don't see him.

M is off on more last suppers and last visits and last errands, and I am frantically trying to do every last-minute thing around here. Laundry and packing most definitely. Make sure all the bills are paid up ahead of time. Stop the mail. Stop the newspaper. Mow the yard. Clean out the refrigerator~well, at least there won't be any more cooking going on in there until...oh...sometime next month! More last things than last minutes, I'm afraid, and I'm sure there are a good plenty I haven't even thought of yet. Probably one thing I really don't have time for is sitting around p/reminiscing...

Exciting and anxious times around here this week.

And Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Friday, June 20, 2008


All around I see/hear all manner of people celebrating all manner of summer joys and summer fun. But summer is my hands-down, no-contest, very least favorite time of the year. Is that because I live in Texas? I'm not sure, but, whatever it is, I just don't get it.


My favorite things about summer:
1. summer storms;
2. sleeping with the windows open;
3. waking up to rain on my face and the smell of petrichor;
4. mowing the grass (very early morning and very late evening);
5. early mornings before the sun warms up (before 8 a.m.);
6. farmers' markets;
7. fresh food from the garden;
8. a walk in the early morning (see #5);
9. kidlets' birthdays;
10. ?????

was mega brain-taxing!

While this:

My least favorite things:
1. heat;
2. humidity;
3. sweat running down inside my clothes;
4. sweat, period;
5. higher electric bills;
6. a hot kitchen;
7. mosquitoes;
8. a breath-takingly hot car;
9. daylight "saving" time;
10. the sun staying up past bedtime;

was a no-brainer.

Must be something about the...duh...HEAT!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

One More Week

This time next week, we will be seeing Texas in our rearview mirror. Not really. This time next week we won't have a rearview mirror, and Texas will be so far behind, it will be just a fog in my muddled mind.

So this is the week of lasts. Last weekend at home, last Sunday at church, last time to lead singing at church, last visit to CTC, any number of *last suppers.* The countdown chain is
short, with just a few more links to go, and it's all, well, rather final.

What a dilemma. My head is proud and happy and honored that he is going. WEST POINT! WOW! Whoever would have thought my little homeschooled boy even had a chance. But West Point apparently knows a good thing when they see one.

And then there's my heart. My heart doesn't really want him to go. How can he go?! He's too little. There is so much stuff he doesn't know about yet. He doesn't know...ummm.... or.... umm...??? Well, maybe he does know a thing or two.

Roots and Wings...If only I could get my head and my heart on the same page.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cool Front

YES!!! Yesterday evening a cool front came through and lowered the temperature 10 whole degrees...all the way down to 90! And now I hear from our faithful weatherman Rusty that we can expect cooler temperatures by the weekend: High temperatures down in the mid-90's... And just think, only three more days until summer. Now that's something to look forward to!

Tomatoes Are Back... McDonald's and Burger King! I wonder how long before Green Onions are allowed back at Taco Bell?

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Dress Rehearsal

Well, M my boy is off to visit C and De and their little kidlets for a few days. "For a few days" is the operative phrase; he will still be back. But next time he takes off, he will be gone, not to be seen again until Christmas (with a slight possibility of seeing him for Thanksgiving, but not counting on that).

So, when reality comes barging in after I forget and start to wander around looking for him, I am just going to pretend he is off on a speech, choir, or some-other-such related trip and will be home after I have tucked myself into bed.

Two weeks to R-Day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Quiet Night

Wow, it has been middle-of-the-night quiet here tonight for the past three or four hours. Very, very unusual, so it feels a LOT later than it really is.

M went to play paintball today with his cousin and a couple of friends. They stayed out there all day in that hot Texas sun shooting at each other. Doesn't that sound like fun? M assured me he drank plenty of water, and he was already sunburned from swimming the other day, so what the heck.

He got home around 6, drank a lot of water, and hit the shower. Then he came out to the kitchen and drank some more water. And then he went to his room. I figured he was computing in there, but when I went to ask/tell him something, he was laid out on his bed, fast asleep. He is down for the count, and I won't be waking him up. It is inalterably against my policy to wake a sleeper (unless the house is on fire and I have to get him out). Besides, this particular sleeper definitely needs all he can get (and then some). He has been operating on a serious sleep deficit for the last two years, and the next four years don't look so promising in that department. Maybe he can store some up?

And then there's the Man of the House. He went to work at 4:30 this morning, so his day was already long. We were watching The Red Green Show, and I was, as usual, laughing out loud (Ok, I confess. I find it hilarious.). But only silence from the Man, so I looked over only to see him snoring away, sitting straight up. I removed the hot little computer off his lap, which woke him up, but only long enough to get off the couch and into bed.

It is getting later by the minute, and now...Well, now that it is as late as it feels, I can get busy on the things I still need to get ready for tomorrow. And, since I do not generally enjoy getting up to the dirty dishes, I really oughta think about doing them. Miles to go before I sleep...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th

Everybody's favorite bad-lucky day. Sometimes I feel like if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any, but today my bad luck was seriously curtailed, so it was certainly a favorite day for me.

Tim Russert, the big NBC Bureau Chief, suddenly dropped dead from an apparent heart attack this afternoon. That was a shock. Definitely a bad luck-y day for him. The man was only a few years older than I am, so, as always when something like that happens, it was a sobering reality check...coulda been me.

On his way home from work, the Man of the House came upon an accident, one requiring three ambulances, one helicopter, and the closing down of the east side of the freeway for three hours. Another sobering reality check there. If he'd left work a little bit earlier it coulda been him. News update... one dead, four injured. Severely unlucky day for them.

Worst luck of my day: After rushing through every usually-leisurely morning activity to get to my 10:00 appointment on time, I walked in the door to hear, "Your client canceled. I was going to call you and tell you, but I didn't know if you were coming for the appointment." Huh?

Well, if that's my worst bad luck, I am ashamed to complain about it, and anyway, it was my own fault. Someday I am going to quit depending on other people to be competent and/or courteous.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Welcome home, D and the Princess and the Gingerbread Cookie! I bet it's a c-o-l-d day in the Promised Land before Kansas sees the likes of you again!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saving $ Saving Gas

Yeah, right...

Just this morning I was contemplating going to the post office. Considering the almost $4 price of gas, I started thinking of all these extra things I could do while I was out. You know, combine the trips and save $ by saving gas.

Well, things started coming to mind: Since I will be at the post office, I might as well stop by the bank next door and make a deposit. Oh, but before I do that, why don't I go by and pick up my check from the weekend and include that in the deposit. And since I have to pass by the other bank on the way, I might as well take all those coins we rolled to add to our "pool fund." Oh, and you know, I need to pass by the church, so let me just run in and use the paper cutter and dump off my donations for the clothing room. But wait, I need to finish rounding them up and loading them in the van first. And I oughta take advantage of being out and run by WalMart to return that cute little lady bug book I got which I CANNOT get the price tag off of. And then while I'm there I should just go ahead and get a gift card and put some 3c-off gas in the van. You get the picture.

And that doesn't even count getting the Blue-Eyed Boy in and out of the van a hundred times. Nope, I think I'll just stay home. Well, that saves energy, too, so...Mission Accomplished.

By the way, if the exorbitant price of gas is truly due to supply and demand, how come with demand going down now the price is still going up? Has anyone considered putting a muzzle on Wall Street?

Home Alone With the Blue-Eyed Boy

"Poke, I need to wash my hands." "Poke, can I have a drink?" "Poke, I'm hungry." "Poke, I need some yogurt." "Poke, let's play that game with the timer." "Poke, I want to play checkers." "Poke, can we go fishing tonight?" "Poke, will you help me clean up this mess I made?" "Poke, will you cut my fingernails?" "Poke, tell me stories." "Poke, let's go outside." "Poke, I don't wanna rest." "Poke, I spilled the marbles." "Poke, where's the hammer?" (Uh-oh, I wonder what that was about?!) "Poke, where's Papa?" WOW, how I wish I knew!

Sunday, June 8, 2008


We are definitely moving up in the world! We spent the afternoon in the high society company of every sort of distinction. Generals and other West Point graduates and military retirees everywhere we looked. Decidedly not our usual crowd. However, they are just a bunch of people, and if you talk to them they talk to you. If you don't talk to them, they come up and introduce themselves. Nice guys in any event, so, either way, get ready to be regaled with all manner of war sagas. It makes a very entertaining afternoon.

We spent quite awhile chatting with a man named Prosper. I love his cool name! He used to be a country boy from Abilene before he was transformed into world-class by West Point and the U.S. Army (class of 54). He had a lot of funny stories, but he called M "cannon fodder." ACK!!!

It was interesting to meet a number of people who knew us or of us, whom we did not know. I'll tell you one thing, it pays to keep your nose clean, because you never know who is checking you out!

And, we finally were able to hook up with the mythical parents' club. That is one hard-to-get group of people. I was actually beginning to doubt their existence, but apparently they are for real ~ presently headed by a lovely Dutch couple, parents of QUADRUPLETS!, one of whom will be a Firstie ("senior" in civilian) at West Point next year (Now there is a woman who deserves a medal! She survived college applications for four children in the same year.).

So tonight, it's like the old folks home around here. The Man of the House is already fast asleep, and I'm thinking I will be soon, while M is off with a friend to the movies and maybe the batting cage.

Three weeks to R-Day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Blowin' in the Wind

Wowee! Wild and Windy!!! This is starting to remind me of the Azores. Well, at least the windy part.

I am looking out the window, watching my neighbor's carport flapping to beat the band, as our 102-year-old Granny would say, waiting for it to break its moorings and come crashing through our bedroom window. Oh, wait, that's not going to happen until later. Sometime after bedtime, I'm guessing. That way it can kill us in our sleep.

Surprise! Here comes FedEx. YES! It's sorta like Christmas when the FedEx truck shows up. You never know what you're gonna get. I run to the door and throw it open, only to have the wind rip it right off its hinges. The FedEx lady is nowhere in sight, and even worse, no evidence of a package. Huh?!

Oh, look! There she goes! "STOP!" I shout. But it's too late. She is Gone With the Wind, helped along, no doubt, by a vicious tail wind. But where's my package? Another look around, and behold! It's been swept off the porch, down the sidewalk, and across the yard, where it is finally stopped by Nellie, our little red Cavalier, valiantly standing guard in the driveway.

Well, I guess I better go catch it before it sails off again. I take off across the porch and the yard, and...Success! I retrieve a small bubble-wrapped package with my name on it. I can't wait to see what's inside! I bring it in the house, and the guys gather 'round. We peel it open, and there inside, is...a free sample of tick and flea killer for the dog! I shoulda let him chase it down.

Adventures With Grandma

Whoever could have imagined that a week with two little old ladies would have provided such ex-treme entertainment for a just-turned-20-year-old young man?! Some things are better left untold.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

...and on Hillary

Looks like Hillary is going to throw in the towel. Interesting, isn't it, that those who vote for Obama because he is black are racists, while those who vote for Hillary because she is a woman are...nope, not sexists... enlightened! What's up with that?!


Here it is, the 3rd day of June, and the not-yet summer has long worn out its welcome. I wish the seasons would respect the calendar, but noooooooooo...It's already in the record-breaking 90's, with humidity to match. I have always aspired to live by the calendar instead of the clock, but with calendars like these, who needs clocks?

Sooo...Why do I live in Texas again? Oh, yeah, I remember... because, to quote my darling daughter, "Texas is the place to be."

Computers and Moms

Well, then... I went to "Moms and Computers" class this afternoon with an empty brain. Not knowing what I don't know, I found it sorta difficult to discuss intelligently, or even to ask an intelligent question. I did have an epiphany or two along the way, though, so if I can manage to remember what they were, I will practice, practice, practice... Remember, practice makes perfect. Well, perfect practice makes perfect. Mediocre practice probably just makes mediocre.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ponderings on Ted Kennedy

"Ted Kennedy Has Surgery For Inoperable Brain Tumor" proclaims the headline. Huh?! Surgery? Inoperable? Sounds like an oxymoron to me. But what do I know? "I'm not a doctor," and certainly not privy to the rarefied level of first-class health care to which his high-ranking position entitles him.

According to Dr. Allan Friedman, "...his patient was awake during the 3 1/2 -hour procedure...," suggesting, perhaps, that he is, ummmm...already brain-dead? There again, what do I know? I'm still not a doctor.

"Forty-six years is, indeed, a long time to be a senator," says Ron Mills, the Shoeshine Guy. Yeah, no kidding. Lots of people don't even live that long. Ted Kennedy has owned that seat in a way never intended by the founding fathers who set the whole thing up, which means that the man has never had time to hold an actual job. Imagine, a lifetime career on the dole. Now there's something for the whole family to be proud of.

"I might not be in the Senate had it not been for him...," Obama said on MSNBC...One more strike against Ted.

"Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family have faced adversity more times in more instances with more courage and more determination and more grace than most families have to," said Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) Shame on everyone who thinks the Kennedys' hardships trump everyone else's hardships. The fact is that many, many families have faced similar adversities, with only their own private resources to depend on.

I don't actually wish this sort of misfortune on anyone, not even a Kennedy. I am not really happy that Ted has a brain tumor, but don't get me wrong, it's nothing personal. Just sympathy with a fellow human being who, despite every imaginable trapping of wealth and privilege, is now facing the uncertainty that ultimately comes to every human being. Everyone gets one turn, and no one gets more than one turn. At last, equality.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, C!

A good lot of water under the bridge since I became a mother 33 years and 6 minutes ago. Thirty-three years...can that be right? If it's true that "Time flies when you're having fun," I must be having a lot more fun than I know about.

We went, Blue-Eyed Boy in tow, to C's birthday party, one hour away. How many times did I hear, "Poke, are we almost there?" I can't say with certainty, but one thing I'm sure about: regardless of what all has happened in the years since I confronted motherhood, some things just haven't changed at all.