Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Past

Three days after Xmas, and more holiday to come:

  • Thursday New Year's Eve party, complete with fireworks, out in the COLD;
  • Friday Dinner with Little Sister and family;
  • Saturday J family reunion.
And then, End of Holiday. Sometimes I think it's easier to stay up all night than to get up in the middle of it, but we do plan to get *some* sleep on Saturday night, the better to get up Sunday "morning" at 2:30 AM to get M to the airport for his 6:01 flight back to West Point.

On a related note, I am still writing "Xmas" cards, only technically I have now moved on the "Happy New Year" cards. I still have miles to go, but I am sooooo far ahead of where I was at this time last year! And, after talking with a number of friends, I am pleased to note that I am not the only one in this predicament. It's a pandemic!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Continued

No kidlets in this house on Xmas morning. That is a first for us in the last 35 years. Not a happy first.

This year, my very first not to host Xmas dinner at my house, C and I are sharing the kitchen favors. My duty is to make the classic green bean casserole and the dressing for the turkey, which C is going to cook, and while I am busy not cooking the turkey, I am answering a series of phone calls from C.

Once we get everything ready here, we are off to the second shift of Xmas at C's house, where she and De have cooked their very first turkey. Everything is well in hand, the turkey is eminently edible! and, unlike last Xmas, this dinner goes off uneventfully.

C's extra guests include their sweet little neighbors, a young army family with two small children. Having gone home to Utah for Thanksgiving, they are, or would be, spending Xmas alone at home. They are pleasant company, and ever so appreciative, repeatedly expressing thanks for the invitation.

We eat, we visit, we open presents, we talk, we play games, we clean up. And eventually it is time to call it a day. So we divvy up the leftovers and head home, to our Xmas-less house. Well, Xmas-less it would be, but our cadet comes home with us, so we are happily blessed.

Another Xmas goes to memory, and another year. 2010 is just ahead. 2010??? Now if someone would tell me it was 1999 coming up, that I could believe!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the Week Before Xmas

Sunday ~ Xmas tree is leaning forlornly against the side of the house, waiting, waiting, waiting to come in! I give C instructions to take the turkey out of the freezer today. I start thinking about writing Xmas cards. But just thinking about it.

Monday ~ Today is spent last-minute tidying. M is due at 8:45 tonight, but his plane is early, of all things, and we find him standing on the sidewalk in front of the terminal. On our way home we stop briefly at C's to disrupt their bedtime and then hit the Taco Bell drive-thru.

Tuesday ~ Dark and early I am up to put Cajun Beef Stew, at M's request, in the crockpot, my very favorite kitchen servant. Ordinarily M spends his mornings at home sleeping. But today he gets up early-ish and brings in the Xmas tree! Then we go out for last-minute Xmas shopping and other errands. After lunch we head to C's to make Xmas cookies. Then we come home to eat and run. It's Xmas caroling night! When we get home M dresses the Xmas tree with lights, half of which don't work. They worked when we put them away last year, so....????

Wednesday ~ Another dark and early morning. M goes off with the chimney sweep. I stay home and write a couple of Xmas cards. The guys come back for lunch, and later C and crew come over for dinner. And Xmas-tree decorating. I may start a "Twelve Days of Christmas Tree Decorations" tradition.

Thursday ~ Xmas Eve! Snow flurries!!! Early morning grocery shopping. And that's it! Positively NO MORE shopping before Xmas!!!! More writing of more Xmas cards, and this afternoon M is off to spend the night at C's. Guess why? Because he doesn't think it's proper to wake up on Xmas morning in a kidless-house? I must say I agree. But, he is the kidlet of this house, so What? About? Us??? Except for the first Xmas we were married, we have never had a Xmas morning without kidlets, so I guess we are getting ready to find out what that's like.

Still to do
~ dressing and green bean casserole to cook, presents to wrap, still Xmas cards to write and plenty more where those came from.

We have to share S with his in-laws, so we had Xmas with his family last week; D, alas, is off in the wilds of Kansas, trapped, thanks to Global Warming, in the Blizzard of the Century, so we will not be seeing them anytime soon. But tomorrow, M and C+...

Christmas coming up!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas, First Shift

S and G and the Blue-Eyed Boy live in a maze in some remote part of the county. Every time we go there it's a whole new world, and we can't remember the way. Or maybe it's that we always come from a different direction...? In any case, yesterday was no exception.

We knew which exit to take off the highway, but...then what? When the road dead ends do we turn left? Or do we turn right? What to do when we get to the high school? And which way is the church that we have to pass in order to get to the bridge? Time to call S for directions. Again. The same way, I'm embarrassed to say, we have to do every time we go to their house. Too bad he isn't answering the phone...

Fortunately, the Chimney Sweep gets around, and after a bit of wandering like the lost tribes of Israel, he saw something familiar and got an inspiration of how to proceed. YAY!! We arrived just minutes after C and D, the BB's, and the Other Princess.

Dinner strayed a bit from the usual, all in a good way: fried turkey, green bean bundles, peppermint cheesecake. Oh, and what was left of the mashed potatoes after the crockpot tipped over in the car at the stop sign.

Presents, too, anything anybody could possibly want...

  • pj's
  • legos
  • books
  • games
  • scented candles
  • soft, fuzzy gripper socks
  • puzzles
  • gadgets
...and the first shift of Xmas passes to memory.

D is still off traipsing the wilds of Kansas and will not be home at all this year, but next year lurks on the horizon getting closer by the minute.

M, happily, will be home tomorrow evening. So...Xmas, Part II, coming up!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bah Humbug/Merry Christmas!

This morning found my Man and me cooling our heels at the post office in possession of a little orange slip informing us that we had something to pick up at the window. The line was long and slow, affording lots of time for endless speculation, but the little paper gave us not a clue, and we could not imagine what it might be or whom it might be from.

We eventually were next, and we handed it over to our Favorite Postal Clerk who scurried off to look for it. He was back right away with the news that we had a postage-due letter.

Did we want it? he inquired.

Well, we don't know...Who is it from? we asked.

He showed it to us, and we were no better off than we were before. There was no return address, but it was quite obviously a Xmas card. Having received only a dozen or so cards so far this season, and since my Man (quite out of the ordinary) had a $ in his pocket, we decided to spring for another one. AHA! Light bulb moment!

Xmas cards are/is? one of my favorite traditions of the season. They are sometimes our only communication all year with a faraway loved one, so I love getting and sending them, but the price of postage, higher every year, is frankly starting to suck the joy out of it. I hate spending untold $$$ on postage, but I also hate not sending the cards, so in recent years I have resorted to cost-saving measures such as spending a few cents less to mail postcards instead of regular cards with envelopes.

But this!!!! This is waaaaay better! If you send the cards with no return address, the post office cannot return them to you, and if you send them with no stamp, your victims friends will have to pay to get them! How can you beat that? Well, I do have one other idea for you: instead of spending $ to buy postcards, cut the fronts off the cards you receive and use those for postcards. Voila'!!! Free cards, free postage. Now, that you can't beat!!!

My Man forked over the $, and we were on our way. Back in the car we could not wait to see who it was from, so we opened it right away, and TA-DA! Nobel Prize for Economics, Holiday Hints Division, goes to none other than T&E!!!! T&E are two of our very favorite friends, so we were just the happier.

Bah Humbug no more! Given the state of the economy, in any economy at all, 44c for good wishes from good friends is a bargain indeed, and a tip like that...PRICELESS! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Greatest Show On Earth

Well, not exactly. That would be Barnum & Bailey, wouldn't it, as opposed to Carson & Barnes, which is what showed up here on the edge of town this morning.

Carson & Barnes, the last of the *real* circuses. The ones that play in tents. Wow! And this isn't just any tent. Nosirree!!! This tent is going to be set up by elephants. And, the public is invited to watch! So, early(ish) in the morning, C and her kidlets came over, and we set off to see the circus.

When we got there, a flatbed trailer sat out in the big middle of the field, waiting for its cargo to unfold into The Big Top. The elephants were lounging around, while a herd of circus men brought them wheelbarrow loads of hay, dusted them off, gave them pedicures, and basically waited on them hand and foot, so we judged we were in plenty of time. No hurries in this camp. We stood around awhile, thoroughly enjoying the elephants, but, I confess, beginning to worry a bit about getting this show on the road, so to speak.

Suddenly...worry no more! Hearing shouts and other assorted noises coming from the direction of the tent, we turned to see a multitude of men, harnessed to various belts and pulleys and all sorts of contraptions, d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g one section of the tent from the trailer over to the edge of a circle of stakes that had been set up around it. All I could think of was the massive backache these guys were going to have by lunchtime.

While we were waiting for the elephants to get in gear, we happened to run into Amanda, the Lady in Charge of the Circus. She looked like she might have been all of 18 or 19 years old (though I must admit pretty much everybody is starting to look like a teenager to me anymore), but in our conversation with her we learned, among other things, that she had a Master's degree, one which cost her parents $20,000 a year, and which apparently qualified her to ride elephants in the circus, dressed in sequins and feathers. Whatever.

She explained the workings of the circus to us:

  • It plays 300 days in a year. In a row. Without even one day off.
  • They set up early in the morning on the day of the show, and knock everything down immediately following the show that night.
  • To be in the circus, one must truly be a Jack-of-all-Trades. Everyone has a job "before the show, during the show, and after the show."
  • The truck drivers are the animal trainers are the tent setter-uppers are the acrobats.
  • Sleep is an unheard-of luxury, limited to the time between 1-2 am, after everything is packed up and road-ready, and 5am or so, when it is time to hit the road. She didn't offer any information on when they might possibly squeeze in time for a shower or a meal.
  • Outside of that abbreviated night, the "downtime" in circus life is from 2-3 pm, when everyone is allowed a one-hour nap, for a grand total of 3-5 hours of sleep a day/night, 300 days in a row...something you might want to keep in mind if you ever find yourself sharing the road with a circus caravan. It might be in your best interest to give them the road.
The relevant information we learned from Amanda, however, was that there would be no elephants helping set up the tent today. Or any other day for that matter. You see, the circus no longer employs elephants to do any work, thanks to the Animal Rights people who have intervened on their behalf.

I glanced over at the men's Herculean efforts to whip that tent into shape and wondered where the Human Rights people were. No word from them evidently.

Nothing from the Green Rights people either, even though by now several petroleum-burning, emission-spewing tractors and bulldozers had been called in to do what an elephant could have done effortlessly and fossil-fuel free. Elephants fart, though, so perhaps it's a trade-off in that respect.

Well, that was the circus. We entertained a vague notion of going to the show this afternoon, but showtime came and went, and no sign of Monga home from work. It's probably just as well, for me, anyway. I'm sure the kidlets would have enjoyed it; I have fond memories of the 1-2 times I went to the circus as a kid myself, but I'm thinking that as an adult, especially after the rude, politically-correct disillusions of this morning, I'm probably better off with my memories. Reality never quite measures up to the Good Old Days.

And just think... "These days" are someday going to be somebody's Good Old Days. Imagine that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Conservative? Or Liberal?

Just in case you might be wondering, this is how you can tell a conservative from a liberal:
  • If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't own one; if a liberal doesn't like guns, he doesn't want anyone to have one.
  • If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat; if a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants to ban all meat products for everyone.
  • If a conservative sees a threat, he thinks about how to defeat it; if a liberal sees a threat, he thinks about how to surrender and still look good.
  • If a conservative is a black or a Hispanic man, he sees himself as independent and successful; if a liberal is a black or a Hispanic man, he sees himself as a victim in need of government protection.
  • If a conservative is down-and-out, he tries to improve his situation; if a liberal is down-and-out, he tries to find someone to take care of him.
  • If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he changes the channel; if a liberal doesn't like a talk show host, he demands that the channel be shut down.
  • If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church; if a liberal is a non-believer, he demands that all churches be closed.
  • If a conservative needs some $, he goes to work; if a liberal needs some $, he puts his hand out and waits for *someone* to put some $ in it.
  • If a conservative needs health care, he shops for it, or he looks for a job that provides it; if a liberal needs health care, he expects his neighbors to pay for it.
And isn't it interesting that a conservative is proud to be called a conservative, but a liberal is *offended* to be labeled a liberal.

So...Any questions?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Thing About Moms... that once you are the mom, you are never not the mom.

It doesn't matter that your kidlets are grown up:
  • C is a competent, capable SAHM with four little kidlets of her own;
  • While I once patrolled the halls at night checking on all the kidlets sleeping safely in their little beds, now S, a police officer, is on the prowl out there making the world safe for me to sleep in;
  • D, mom of two, is halfway acroxx the country in Kansas of all places, making the most of what comes and the least of what goes;
  • And halfway acroxx the country in another direction, M is becoming a soldier who will have my back on another front.
That's it. They're all grown up. They are adults. They are all responsible, contributing citizens. And they are still my kidlets. I am still the mom. They still check in. We communicate. We visit, we txt, we email, we fb, we im, we talk on the phone.

And it was while I wandered around the house last night, talking on my cordless phone to one of the dd's, that I had my latest epiphany: Phones may have become cordless, but mothers never will.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Awesome Autumn!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

The air is crisp and snappy this morning. The sky is clear and brilliant beyond blue. I'm not a big fan of the sun, but the sunshine this morning is positively inspiring. It's not the heavy sun of summer. It is thin and airy and yellow and it promises a perfect day. A perfectly warm day. Not one of those hot summer days. This day is going to be perfectly pleasant! Warm enough ~and cool enough ~ to sit outside on the swing and enjoy it. No bugs buzzing around. No sweat running down my skin inside my clothes.

Today makes me want to DO!!! Forget about spring cleaning. Something about spring cleaning, besides the work factor, just doesn't appeal to me. But fall cleaning...that's a whole 'nother thing. Mow the yard one last time; put the outside things in the shed; winterize the cars; get out the winter clothes; harvest the last of the summer garden; plan holiday family times. Close down the work of this year and begin regrouping and preparing for the next one.

Well, not really. We don't live that way anymore, and it's our loss. But it's what we're wired for. To live by the calendar. To savor and enjoy every thing in its own turn. To take the time to make each thing special. Year-around, all-season living has taken something from us. We no longer recognize the uniqueness of any given thing. Something along the lines of "a feast every day is no feast."

Sure, it's great that anything that we want, we can have, any time we want it. Sorta. But it dulls our appreciation for the thing. It turns it into one more piece of clutter in a sea of too many choices.

So, I am for the simplicity of living for the day, one season at a time. And especially I am for simple living at this time of the year, when Nature gives her accounting and shows off her best.

What could be better than Fall? My deFinite Favorite!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

At Home At Home

It has been raining for three days now. The grass is starting to look, uh, a little weedy and unkempt. But I'm not complaining. There can never be too much rain for me. Anyway, I figure we are starting to make up for what we missed this past season. With the year-long drought, we only had to mow two or three times all season, and now that it's raining and the grass is growing, well, summer is well on the way out. Pretty soon the grass will be in hibernation for the winter, so maybe this is all for the best.

Though the Man of the House has been down with a mini-version of the flu or something the last couple of days, he was all set to suit up and get back to work this morning; but dark and early, before we were even up, the phone rang. It was our first client, 25 miles away, with the weather report at her house: torrential rain. Shortly after that we had a call from our next client, 25 miles beyond the first one...same song, second verse.

I got the picture and decided to call and re-schedule the whole day's calendar, though I did wait an hour or two, until I thought they might be out of bed. It can be an exercise in insanity, trying to schedule clients in a way that maximizes time and gas usage; fortunately, everyone on today's business is flexibly retired, so it was easy to move the whole schedule, intact, to another day. Hopefully a dry day.

So my Man ends up at home, on his fourth day of leisure, our fourth day at home alone together. Wow, I don't know when might be the last time that has ever happened. "We" have lots to do:

  • the usual household chores ~ never any vacation from those;
  • pumpkin cookies to make ~ with only two of us here, the vast majority of those, enough to last all year, are going in the freezer;
  • red chicken soup, an old family favorite, for lunch;
  • radio talk shows and tv, of course;
  • a week's worth of laundry to fold, and the once-a-month (or less) ironing;
  • books to read;
  • a constantly ringing phone to answer ~ weather like this suddenly makes everyone think about heating up the fireplace;
  • oh, and tonight, NCIS! It is M's favorite show, the only one we watch with regularity, and we watch it with IM in place, the better to bond with M.
All in all, a great day to stay home.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I am in shock. Again. But not in a good way. In case I was harboring any doubt/hope that we are not rushing headlong to hell in a handbasket, on the express, today's news sharply disabused me of that notion.

President Obama. "Humbled" recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Humbled??? What he should be is embarrassed.

Hmmm....What prestigious award could possibly be next? Surely there are accolades to come.

  • Since he loves NCAA basketball, how about a national championship? Or an MVP?
  • Perhaps a Motor Trend Car of the Year? He does know how to drive one.
  • Maybe a Blue Ribbon from the Illinois State Fair? He is known to like pie.
  • A Pulitzer for his books?
  • Or the NASCAR Sprint Cup? No one turns left like President Obummer.
A peace prize for what he wants to do, not for what he's done. The Nobel Peace Prize is officially a joke.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Army Of Our Own

Things tend to take on a life of their own.

So, I am moving my WP blogs over here.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I am in shock. For once in a good way. I am absolutely stunned to hear that Congress has overwhelmingly voted to defund ACORN.

According to the CBS News this evening, this will cost ACORN "tens of millions of dollars." Man, I hate their luck. But one man's trash is another man's treasure, and what ACORN loses someone else stands to gain. If Katie is right, there is $, $, $ by the pound ton floating around, and as was pointed out by a friend just a few hours ago, "There is no dormant $ in Washington."

So...What to do with alllllll that extra $? I vote we use it to fund WALNUT: Workers Against Lazy Non-producers United Together. Equal time/opportunity and all that.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This? Or That?

Outside of the de rigeur academics and military science and sports, the life of a West Point cadet is full of opportunity. To name a few of the bigger deals in his one year there so far: M has gotten a New York state and a national EMT certification; he has traveled to Israel as a guest of the IDF; he has debated (and won!) against Harvard and Yale and others of their ilk. He has had occasion to shake the hand of the president (Bush, not N/Obama); and he has marched in the presidential inaugural parade (alas, N/Obama's). He has learned how to hack computers; he has driven a tank, coordinating a platoon (Is that the right military technology?) of tanks and hummers. He has even dislocated a jaw (his) and broken a nose (also his), courtesy of the evil boxing class required of all male West Point cadets.

This year is shaping up to be equally fascinating. He is on the debate team again, as well as MUN (Is that a team?), both of which offer the possibility of a trip to Oxford. As in England. And he is running for Class President. Nothing else occurs to me at the moment, but the year is young...

Well, a few days ago he called with a dilemma: "I could easily major in English," he said, "or history, IR, language, comp sci, or geography, or management, or philosophy. I would love to branch infantry, aviation, finance, transpo, MP, or JAG. I would love to skip the Army, be a SEAL, or work in the CIA, or be a stay-at-home dad, or a teacher, or a cop, but at some point it all has to narrow down..." :-( And that's the thing. You have to choose. Each is different from the others; none is necessarily better, or worse, than the rest. They can each be done well, or they can be done ill. But they can't be done all.

So this whole conversation, like too many other things I get involved in, got me to thinking. One can know a lot about a few things, or a little about a lot of things. One can be a master of one thing, or perhaps two, or even three, but one cannot be a master of them all.

And that whole line of thinking sent me off on another wonder: Once upon a time, people used to graduate from the 8th grade knowing pretty much everything there was to know. Now people go to 12th grade, college, masters, and beyond, and still don't know anything much. The more we learn, the less we know, because every time we find an answer, it opens up another ? or two, or three. AAAGGGHHHH!!!!!

Every time we say *yes* to something, we say *no* to something else. But, we have to say yes to something. Otherwise, we say yes to nothing.

Life is full of possibilities. At least it starts out that way. But "possibilities" is all most of them ever are, because . . . well . . . because there just isn't enough *us* to go around, and as things go along, things change. The changes are subtle, though, so much so that they generally go unnoticed, until one day....!!! Just like that!

All of a sudden, life is full of improbabilities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Three-Party Day

Friendships are like anything else of value: they come at a cost, and one day last month I paid in spades.

  • First up a baby shower, in a town 20 miles west of here, for a young mom-to-be, known to us before she herself was born. I had initially considered riding with a friend, but then I re-considered after realizing I would probably have to leave before the party broke up.
  • Next in line, back in my own home town, was a bridal shower for the daughter of a friend. A luau. This was the *dinner* part of my day, but due to a reluctant gas grill, no one on hand who knew how to operate it, and a steady wind that quickly put out any flame that dared actually to light, dinner was just a vision of dreams to come by the time I had to leave that party. Early.
  • The final event of the day, in the third town of the day 30 miles to the east, was a recital/high school graduation ceremony for another young lady who not so very long ago was just a little scrap of a girl. I coaxed my Man along for this with the promise of a reception to follow. Between our late start and not knowing exactly where we were going, we completely missed the recital part of the program, but we were there for the graduation. After the graduation was the perfect time for the visiting of old friends and the eating of cheesecake in a host of flavors we'd never heard of, but by that time my Man was hungry(er), and while I don't have any such qualms, he just isn't one to eat dessert before he's had some food. Not even cheesecake. :-(
So we compromised. I still got to talk with everyone I saw that I knew, but not for long. We took off for a quick stop at Chick-Fil-A to go, and then home again, home again, by...oh, 9:30 or so.

I'm really pretty much of a homebody. Give me an uninterrupted day at home and I am thoroughly happy, so a day like today wouldn't ordinarily be a great day in my book. But it is the price of friendship, and who am I to argue with that.

Besides, on reflection, it worked out rather well. The parties were nicely staggered, and we got to see a host of old friends, some of whom we had not seen in years... And, all on the same dress-up. ;-) Can't beat that!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finally! Fabulous! Fall!

Beginning with last May's triple-digit temperatures, we have just lived through one of the longest, hottest, driest summers on record.

Several days ago it began to rain with a vengeance. Flash floods. Washed out roads. Roaring-river streets. Closed schools. Canceled jobs.

Now the rain has stopped, but the clouds linger. We are having one dreary, grey, dark, cloudy day after another ~ my very favorite weather! We haven't seen the sun in about a week now, but I'd say we've had our share, and more, of the sun and summer ~ enough to last the rest of the year if you ask me ~ so it is definitely time for a break.

I've lived in Texas long enough to know it's not going to last. Any day now, I expect the sun will break through for a blazing round of Indian Summer. But for now it is Fabulous Fall. Time to live again!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New and Improved!

So what's the deal? Why is it that I can't watch tv without a written set of instructions (after a tutoring session from my kid, that is...)? I consider myself to be fairly intelligent. I can think logically and rationally. I can put a coherent sentence together. I can even add. So it isn't that I'm not smart enough. Nope. Nothing like that. In fact, if anything, I think I may be too smart. The deal is, that what I am not, is tech-y.

I'm thinking that to be truly tech-y, one must be very literal-minded. Nothing can be assumed or taken for granted, and evidently, my mind is given too far over to flights of fancy (perhaps why my family once unanimously voted me the person most likely to be abducted by aliens), but this is actually rather mind-boggling, because in reality, I am probably the most practical person God ever created. If not, I'd like to know who is. In any event, I am definitely a top contender.

I am not much of a tv-watcher at all. My tv consumption is limited to keeping my Man company ~ he watches nature shows and things while I knit and fold laundry ~ and watching NCIS on Tuesday nights with M ~ we "bond" by way of Google IM. That's the extent of my tv habit, so to get back on track, why do I even care that I need directions to turn the thing on? Well, as is soooooooo often the case, the reason I care is that I just can't help it: there is a serious streak of dyed-in-the-wool rebel in me.

I used to be able to turn on the tv, whether I wanted to or not, until the long arm of the Federal Government determined that we alllll needed better tv reception, therefore: Enter the mandatory digital signal. And just like that! with a snap of the Executive Fingers, we are obsolete. In the absence of cable or a dish or a satellite or some other such techno-wonder, a regular tv set "no longer works" and an antenna is useless.

But no worries! If you are unable or unwilling to ante up for new state-of-the-art equipment, Uncle Sam to the rescue with a $40 coupon for a box that will make everything alright again. Where Uncle Sam is coming up with the $ to give these out, and what, exactly, Uncle Sam's interest might be in making sure everyone has ready access to the God-given right of mind-numbing television is a whole 'nother rant, but the thing is, The Box doesn't make everything alright.

We have had The Box for quite a few months now, and while I have mastered the art of Turning on the TV, which is more than I can say for my Man who, in a bizarre turn of events, calls me whenever he wants to watch tv, I must say, the quality of our picture has gone from Analog-Acceptable to Digital-Dreadful. It is true that we get a lot more channels with The Box, but a great deal of the time the picture is broken up into little squares all over the screen. Other times we simply have a black screen displaying a/n (?) "Unable to get a signal for this channel" message. Don't recall ever having either of those problems with analog.

So ... Three or four channels that we can actually see? Or a myriad that we cannot? Which would you choose? Well. Not that you get a choice.

Welcome to yet another phase of Techno-Hell in the new, improved USSA.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Job vs. The Handout

I don't know who came up with this idea, but what a concept.

Like most folks in this country, we work for our living. Like many folks in this country, we do it in the form of a small business, at no small sacrifice to our personal lives. Like many small business owners, in addition to working for ourselves, we work for a national retail corporation in order to provide medical insurance which we could not hope to afford privately.

This is how it works: We work, we get paid, we pay our taxes. Perhaps I should rephrase that: We work, we pay our taxes. And then we get paid. And then the government distributes its ill-gotten gain however it sees fit. Great deal, huh? For somebody.

What's bothering me, outside of having no say over my work and my $, is this: In my Man's case, in order to be able to work to get that paycheck, he is required to pass a random urine test. I find that whole notion insulting, but, ok, maybe employers have a legitimate call on that, given the drugged up state of a wide section of the populace. What I seriously have a problem with is the distribution of our $$$ to people who don't have to pass a urine test.

So, here is my Question: Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because we have to pass one to earn it for them?

I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on his butt ~ doing drugs or who knows what else, while the rest of us are strong-armed into supporting the Lifestyles of the Entitled. . . . . Can you imagine how much money the government would save if people had to pass a urine test before they were given a public assistance check?

I guess we could call that program, 'Urine or You're Out'.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stunning September

Today is September in every way:

  • School traffic running up and down the street,
  • Dove hunting season,
  • Cool temperatures,
  • Cloudy skies.

So who needs all the extra traffic jamming up the road.

What in the world am I going to do with the doves besides clog up the freezer.

And "cool" is sorta relative, isn't it. The best I can say about that is this is still summer in Texas, so any temperature that falls short of three digits is a temperature to celebrate.

But the cloudy sky really is something to write home about at this point.

So, one out of four...Ok, not really stunning. Not yet, anyway. But, it has potential: It is September, even in Texas, and after one of the hottest, longest summers on record, we are on the home stretch!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Is this an empty-nested world or what? I suppose technically so, since M left over a year ago, but what with the frequent presence of the Blue-Eyed Boy, and then having D and the two little girls living with us for a few months, it was easy to disabuse ourselves of the notion.

Well, the Blue-Eyed Boy has started school :-( so we do not see him as frequently as we used to; and D and the girls have long gone to Kansas, to be seen only on very special occasions. So "home alone" is now pretty much the norm around here.

Some things stubbornly remain the same: the grass still grows just as fast, dust collects just the same, the cars still need the same amount of washing. But other things relentlessly emphasize the empty nest:

  • There is no more sleeping with one eye open waiting for the squeak of the door that announces the last kidlet's return home for the night;
  • Laundry, once done at the rate of 2-3 loads every day, is now done 2-3x a week;
  • Cooking has dropped from 2+ times a day down to once every day or two;
  • Even dishwashing, the once-upon-a-time, 3x-a-day dreaded chore now happens maybe once a day.
But the other day something happened that well and truly struck home, reinforcing once-and-for-all, that the empty nest is official. It was a simple thing, really, as turning points often are, recognizable only in retrospect. It happened like this:

The other day, somewhat desperately wondering "What's for dinner?" I decided to make an omelet. My mother taught me growing up to keep two dozen eggs on duty at all times, and this I have done faithfully for the last 30+ years, though over the past year, it has pretty much gone to one dozen. Well, this particular evening, I reached for the one lonely dozen in the refrigerator only to notice the *expiration date* of August 6th. Hm... only three weeks out of date.

And that's when it hit me: We not only don't need two dozen eggs on hand, one dozen is even too much. I have always pitied those blue-haired little old ladies in the grocery store buying their little six-packs of eggs to stock their little kitchens. And now . . . NOOOOOOO . . . I am just like them!!!! Well, not quite. I don't have blue hair. But other than that . . . I am, sadly, too much like one of them.

Eggs . . . or the lack thereof . . . an apt measure, indeed, of an empty nest.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

Celebrity Death Alert: announcing the demise of Ted Kennedy. I don't mean to be irreverent or anything, but I'm having a hard time working up any angst over his passing.

I know that in some quarters, the mere f/act of dying automatically qualifies one for sainthood, and such is now the case with Ted Kennedy. A man whose legacy includes such sterling character qualities as alcoholism, debauchery, sexual harrassment, and second-degree murder is now being lionized on every hand.

Regular programming on television this morning is being hijacked to laud and exalt "The Lyin' of the Senate." One reporter had high praise for Teddy's role in such legislative acts as: Americans with Disabilities, Civil Rights Act of 1991, Ryan White Care Act, No Child Left Behind, etc. Government-run health care is reported to be a more recent one of his pet projects. Government-run health care for the masses, that is. Curiously, Teddy and his cronies would be exempt from the health care disaster they are attempting to foist off on us. But I digress.

So off with tv and on to the internet, only to find it awash with lively debate. According to one fan there, he "impacted and will continue to impact millions of lives." Uh, yeah. Exactly the problem, if you ask me. Another fan admonishes us to "show some respect" to this noble, self-sacrificing soul who has spent his entire life in "service" to his country. Service? A term in the Senate does not automatically equate to service, unless, of course, you consider self-service. In any event, Ted Kennedy was a drunk and a womanizer, and no amount of service changes that.

Poor Ted Kennedy, devoting his entire adult life to nine terms in the Senate. NINE terms? Depending on how far into his ninth term he was, that translates to, what.... something on the order of 50 YEARS!!!!! Now there's a record to be proud of: 50 years on the dole. The man never held a real job in his life, so how is it exactly, that he purports to "represent" the people? One thing is certain: the founding fathers never intended a senate seat to be owned the way Ted Kennedy has owned that one.

The Kennedys on the whole are a bunch of self-centered egotists, a family of privilege unequaled, and now that Teddy is out of the picture, what we have to look forward to is... more of the same, because there are plenty more where he came from. Those Kennedys are like the hydra: chop one head off, and two more grow back in its place.

In all of the day's reporting by the news media, the one thing conspicuously missing was any recollection of his misadventures on Chappaquidick Island. The sole mention of this ding on his otherwise stellar CV was from one of M's friends on his Facebook page: "Hey, if they bring up Camelot, we get to bring up the Lady in the Lake," sparking a spirited discussion that, hours later, is reverberating still. Teddy has definitely hit a nerve.

All in all, I would have to agree, Teddy truly was a major player in changing the face of America. Sadly, thanks to 50 years of him and his pals, we are now headed squarely in the direction of socialism.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Year In

We are one year, and a little bit more, into a seriously empty-nested life.

A few days ago we had a surprise phone call from M. His only agenda was chit-chat, and he asked what I was doing. "Knitting a baby blanket," I told him.

Then he asked what his dad was doing. "Watching a PBS show about Pennsylvania diners," I said.

And then there was a l-o-n-g pause. "Did I call the house" asked M, "or did I call the old folks' home?"

Hmmmm....good question.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

School's In!

The thing is, what passes for education today is not education at all. It takes no account whatever of the person; it makes no effort to capitalize on the student's strength or to strengthen the student's weakness. Instead, it insists on treating everyone "equally," meaning, for example, that a group of 5-year-olds will all be "taught" the alphabet, even though some of them already know how to read, while others haven't learned the shapes and colors yet. This results in a great deal of frustration to a significant number of children on both ends of the spectrum.

Rather than actually teaching, mentoring, or discipling by word and example, "educators" today very much prefer to stand themselves up in front of a group to tell and lecture, but there is a disconnect between the lecture and the lives of those in the audience, and while the lecturer may be willing to answer questions, woe betide the student who questions the answers. This is not education. This is brainwashing.

Rather than pose problems requiring thinking and discussion and discernment, it is far, far easier to set up a "test" of true/false, or multiple choice questions: Little to no effort required from either the teacher or the student beyond the memorization of a head full of trivia.

This has come about because in America today , the goal of "education" is no longer the development of mind and character. Instead, its object is for all students to come out looking like the same piece of bologna; it is preparation and conditioning for young people to take their places as cogs and robots in a mindless socialistic society and economy where they will be plugged in, interchangeably, at the will of the state.

Yes, there are some wonderful teachers out there, but even the best are hogtied by the rules and regulations of the bureaucracy under which they must operate. And yes, there are those students who come out of the public schools and excel, but I suggest that these succeed in spite of the system through which they are forced.

I don't mean to be facetious, but the detractors of homeschooling are almost always people who don't have a clue about homeschooling, or even education really. They generally labor under the misconception that going through the motions somehow assures learning, and that learning happens only in the classroom. I admit that learning can happen in the classroom, but I submit that more of it happens outside the classroom, in real life.

After a day spent learning to tie her shoes, my then 4yo daughter once said to me, "Now you just have to teach me how to read, and then I'll know everything." What wisdom from a child. If you nurture your child's curiosity and make sure he has the tools to learn ~ reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic ~ he may not know everything, but he can indeed learn anything.

Sadly, there is no longer any place in "education" for the creativity or imagination or inventiveness which once served as the foundation of the grandest, noblest of all social experiments: America.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Madame Secretary

Hilary Clinton is a No-Class Act.

So maybe she is the Secretary of State, while her husband, on the other hand, is just a has-been president.

So maybe she feels she wasn't given her due, what with being upstaged by the shadow of her husband and all.

So maybe she was stressed out on her If-It's-Tuesday-This-Must-Be-Belgium whirlwind tour of seven countries in eleven days. Sorry, but "stressed out" is part of the job.

So maybe there was a language barrier. Could she maybe have waited to make sure she understood the question before she rose so testily to her defense? According to the followup, it was explained later to her that there had indeed been a misinterpretation. Did she offer an apology, as Democrats are so very fond of demanding from others? Perhaps an "Oh, I'm sorry, I misunderstood the question?" thereby giving everyone, including herself, a face-saving opportunity? She did not. Her comment to the hapless questioner was, "Don't worry about it."

So, so, so...She signed up for the job. Could she have been even a little bit more, uh, diplomatic? Tact and diplomacy should be the #1 tools of her stock in trade. She is, after all, as she so emphatically pointed out, the Secretary of State of the Unites States of America. Very highly placed indeed, and she certainly ought to have herself in hand. But no. Instead she engaged in a tirade reeking of insecurity and jealousy and immaturity. Basically an adult temper tantrum.

Once again, Madame Secretary has managed to make herself (and, alas, us) look like a childish, egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic prima dona who just can't get over herself, providing another round of ammunition to a hostile world just waiting for another excuse to launch yet one more round of potshots in our direction. As usual, Madame Secretary leaves me scratching my head and rolling my eyes, wondering what "we" have signed up for.

Her behavior is a shame and a disgrace.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Whose body is this, anyway?! I am feeling hot and old and tired. Everything hurts. What doesn't hurt doesn't work. And some of what hurts doesn't even work.

My hair is turning GREY!!! At least around my face. That way, when you see my face, I look o-o-o-ld. The back isn't so bad. It's still mostly dark brown, but, being in a braid down the middle of my back, it's a well-kept secret. I guess I could dye it, but I don't know how much time I have left, and whatever I have, I know I don't want to spend it on a new career keeping the grey undercover.

My skin is giving in to gravity. Don't even wanna talk about that.

My hands look like overworked old lady hands, with spots and veins, and skin worn so smooth it shines. There are no fingerprints left.

My legs are patterned with varicose veins. Don't wanna talk about that, either.

My neck is killing me. I can't turn my head without suffering excruciating pain. I hurt it engaging in the strenuous activity of washing my hair. Leaned my head back to rinse, and *snap*!!! The neck bone is connected to the wrist/ankle bone, and every time I lift a finger or take a step, the pain shoots all the way up my arm, or my leg, straight to my neck. So in an effort to minimize the misery, I am mostly sitting, ramrod-straight. No movement = no pain, right? Wrong. No movement = different pain, this time in the form of stiffness and tension caused by not moving, leading to the mother of all headaches in a band of pain creeping up the back of my neck, over the top of my head, and settling in squarely behind my left eye.

Unless my Man happens to go to the store with me, I am reduced to buying the small bag of dog food for my over-sized dog, because I can barely pick up the big bag anymore! And if we manage to get the big takes both of us to dump it into the feeder.

Getting into and out of the car...a production.

There are a whole lot of other things to complain about, but...I can't remember what they are. I can't really remember much of anything anymore.

All I know for sure is I didn't sign up for any of this.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Senses Of Summer

A feast for the senses! The scents and sights and sounds from deep in the heart of summer...

  • Newly mown grass
  • Petrichor after a welcome, surprise thunderstorm
  • Cool mint, mowed down right along with the grass
  • Fresh dirt clinging to garden bounty
  • BBQ grills fired up all over the neighborhood
  • Fresh air and sunshine on line-dried laundry

  • Sheet lightning in the distant nighttime sky
  • Rainbows in the spray of the hose
  • Neighborhood kids running through the shimmer of the lawn sprinkler
  • Red and white striped tents at the farmers' market
  • Piles of fresh veggies straight from the earth
  • Fresh laundry billowing in the breeze
  • Fireflies blinking their presence in the evening

  • The crackle and sizzle of summer lightning
  • The rumble of thunder early in the morning
  • The plop of heavy drops on the sidewalk when the rain finally comes
  • The trill of crickets and cicadas in the heat of the day
  • Marching band music wafting up the hill from the high school
  • The whirring of window fans, tower fans, box fans, ceiling fans...
  • Kids splashing in the pool next door l-a-t-e into the night
  • The snapping of sheets on the clothesline
  • And did I mention the wind chimes on the front porch? Great in any season!

Ok, it looks like I'm enjoying summer a little too much. Don't forget, it is still August in Texas. It is still Africa-hot. It is too hot to escape the sweat running down inside your clothes. It is too hot to cook anything in the oven. It is too hot to sleep under a cover, even just a light sheet. So, on the other side...

  • A hot dog, languishing in the sun
  • The overpowering scent stench emanating from the too-infrequently-picked-up dumpster
  • The rotting of the compost pile (although eventually this changes to rich chocolate-brown dirt, see #3 above)
  • Mildew odors on wet towels
  • Chlorine smells evaporating from swimming pools
  • Sweaty clothes
  • The acrid smoke from a grass fire

  • Overweight women in if-this-size-fits-you-have-no-business-wearing-it bikinis at the public pool
  • In any public place, the skimpiest of clothing leaving bra straps hanging out on the top, butt cheeks hanging out on the bottom, and nothing to the imagination
  • Old men in short shorts exposing their hairy white legs and knobby knees
  • Yards full of sad yellow grass
  • Parched, wilted, saggy, droopy gardens

  • LOUD crap rap music blaring from passing cars with their windows rolled down
  • Air conditioners working overtime
  • The ice cream truck coming down the street (The Princess calls it "the music truck.")
  • The increased traffic of the comings and goings gearing up to start school (We live in a Bermuda Triangle amid three schools.)
  • The screeched protest of an overworked fan
  • Crispy, dead grass crackling underfoot
  • Gangs of motorcycles revving up to hit the road

So. For better or for worse: Summer. In all its glory/misery.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Already August?

Can it be? This year, which started out like all the other years, fresh and new, is now, like all the other years, more than halfway wasted spent, and it didn't take that long to get that way. So. Time to get a grip before the rest of it slips right through our fingers, and the next thing we know, the whole thing is lost and, like all the other years, no more than a memory.

August. Quite emphatically my very least-favored month of the year. August in Texas is Africa-hot, sultry, and humid. Absolutely nothing to redeem it. August doesn't even have a holiday to its name. Wait! I take that back. August is the month of BB3's and Gi's birthdays, so there is that.

In a transparent effort to ingratiate itself, this August came sneaking in on the heels of yesterday's most welcome thunderstorm, capitalizing on the happy mood and cooler temperatures (and tempers) left in its wake.

So today we have the windows open, filling our ears with the sounds of summer...the buzz of cicadas, the whir of fans, the melodies of wind chimes, against the backdrop of the sun less its sizzle.

Can autumn be far behind? Well, yes actually. Autumn is nowhere in sight. Not even close. But, it's absolutely worth waiting for!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And The Winner Is...

I thought the squirrel call from Pascagoula, Mississippi was pretty funny. But there has to be some kind of prize for the call we got this morning...

Right away, like I always do when the phone rings, I noticed the caller ID: "NC call." In this day of cell phones, sometimes the guy down the street is calling from another state, so I didn't really think a whole lot about that. And then the caller identified himself as a soldier in North Carolina. Hmmm.... well, perhaps a little unusual, but we do occasionally get phone calls from all over the country, so still not unheard of. But the conversation that followed.... Definitely one of a kind!

After establishing that he had indeed reached the chimney sweep, he informed me that his fiancee lived in an apartment complex in Copperas Cove and was plagued with a cat problem. ????? Surely I didn't hear him say cats??? Surely it was just our bad dreadful connection. I turned up the volume on the phone. I plugged my other ear with my finger. I concentrated on his voice and listened intently. And sure enough, he kept talking about cats...?!

I still thought I must be "mishearing," and after awhile of this I tentatively asked, "Are we talking about...CATS?" I wanted to ask him if they were coming down her chimney, but the customer is always right, so I refrained. Finally I said firmly, "This is the chimney sweep." I thought that might jar something loose, but no. He pleasantly agreed and let me know that he had seen "Animal Removal" on our website. AHA! Now we're getting somewhere.

I took the opening and just as I began to point out that "Animal Removal" refers to animals, usually dead, that are captive inside of chimneys, I heard him drawl, "Oooooohhhh, I'm reading on down the page and I see that. I'm sorry I wasted your time." Whew! That was easy.

But instead of hanging up, he continued, "Do you have any idea what she could do about the cats? There are five strays forever wandering around her parking lot, and she is deathly afraid of them, and she can't go to work, because they are out there just waiting to pounce on her."

All I could think of was the obvious: How about calling Animal Control? His reply, "I've already done that. They said she could come and get a cage, and after the cat is caught they will come and pick it up." It may take awhile, with one trap, to catch five cats, but good, bad, or indifferent, that's the way it works around here. I can personally vouch for that. Do-It-Yourself animal control at its finest. Not a good solution in this case, though; she doesn't actually seem to want to do anything herself. Her involvement seems to be limited to calling him, wherever he may be, and he is a little too far removed to participate in any significant sort of way.

My next suggestion was the other obvious: Didn't you tell me she lives in an apartment complex? Tell her to call the manager and let them deal with Animal Control. His answer to that was, "Yes, I guess I am going to have to call the manager."

I replied, "Yes, I guess you are, and good luck to you!" That's what I said.

What I wanted to say was: So...I'm catching on to a problem here, and it isn't the cats. Are you sure you want to marry this woman? There you are, doing your duty, halfway across the country, and she is calling you to deal with some stray CATS?! What is she going to do when you are halfway across the world in Iraq? She may have to make her own phone calls then, and do ya think she can handle the stress? You want my advice? Perhaps you should reconsider and find yourself a girl that's not scared of cats.

For my part, I may consider changing my phone number. :-P

As I relayed this little story to C the next day, she offered one more idea: Take a can of tuna a few houses down the road, and leave it on the porch. All in all, that sounds about as good a solution as any.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A(nother) Random Weather Report

Here we go again. Another "cool" day in the hottest summer of the century. This morning is cloudy ~ no promise whatever of rain though (more like an empty threat) ~ and coooool. Well, I suppose it's cool. It feels cool. But it's all relative, isn't it. It could be 98 degrees, and at this point we would find even that cool.

By late morning, we have reached a whopping 86 degrees, with a heat index of 89! But not to worry. There is plenty more where that came from, and long before the end of the day we should be well beyond our usual 100-degree mark.

In the words of our local weatherman, our area averages 21 days of 100 (or higher)-degree days in a year, so, going as we are, into our 23rd day of 100+ temperatures in a summer that is less than 23 days old, those days are behind us, and we are well due for some Hope and Change in the weather department. In fact, according to the non-prophets of The Weather Channel, this weekend will have "an almost fall-like feel," and the highs in August will fluctuate between 92 and 95. It's hard to place any confidence in their predictions, but...I want to believe them!

Well, regardless, in the meantime, it's a welcome relief for the chimney sweep, who has curtailed his $-making activities to early morning and late evening hours until further notice.

This perfectly pleasant morning doesn't fool me, though. It may masquerade as spring, or fall, but I know that it's really only the mask of a hotter-than-Phoenix summer in disguise.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


...I creep myself out just a little.

Like last Friday. I had gotten up a little after 5 to get my Man off to work. Usually I just stay up, but that day I decided to go back to bed, and the next thing I knew I was sleeping and dreaming away...

In my dream, I and some family members, one of which was D, were in a room in a house I didn't recognize. Notably absent was the Princess, which is about as strange as it gets. She is four years old and doesn't go places without her mom.

But even stranger, M, who was still at West Point, had gone to pick her up from wherever she was, and we were just sorta milling around and waiting for them. Finally I asked D when they were coming back, and she replied, "Any second."

So I went over and looked out the window, and sure enough, there was M, Princess in tow, coming up the walk. They came through the door, and I was just as excited as if I had really been awake, and M and the Princess were really walking through the door!

The waiting and killing time were over, and the best part of the dream was coming! Only just then the beeping of the phone woke me up. It was a text message from M. :-D

Summer Morning

It's a cool cool summer morning. Every cool morning is cool in Texas, especially in the summertime. But today... :-D

  • The air is pleasantly cool and clean.
  • The sun is peeping up over the horizon. That is, the house across the horizon, huh? But, for better or for worse, it's my horizon...
  • My windows are open wide, and there is a cool breeze blowing in!
  • The birds are still happily chirping out there. Later in the day comes only silence.
  • Today, unbelievably, I have been a grandmother for ten years! Happy Birthday, BB1!
  • I get to stay home today. That is a cherished rarity. Could only be better if the phone would stop ringing.
  • No updates on MJ's funeral yet this morning! That's a biggie.
  • Temperature-wise, this morning was so cool, my Man put on a jacket when he went off to work at 5:30. I know it isn't going to last, but for right now...can't beat it. Well, I take that back, because
  • I hear the phone beeping now. It's a text message from M, off in the wilds of Camp Buckner, with the latest land nav report.
Can't get any better now. This morning is maxed out. Cool on so many levels!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Comeback Tour!

CBS Evening News and Katic Couric (and probably all the rest of them, but this is the one I saw), Be ashamed!

The CBS Evening News led off with Katie Couric, live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, hours after Michael Jackson's funeral had come and gone. What could there possibly be to say? I can't think of a thing, but then 'nothing to say' has never stopped the new breed of "journalist" from saying it.

Twenty minutes into the 30-minute broadcast, they finally moved past the funeral on to President Obama. First things first, he offered his solemn presidential 2 cents' worth on Michael Jackson, and then, almost as an afterthought, he went on to comment on the current threat posed by Kim Jong-il: There is nothing to fear from North Korea. They are not going to do anything nuclear, because if they do, they know the international community will frown on it.

Whew! What a relief! It's good to know that is all settled. No more worries about being nuked in our sleep. But I'm glad I don't live in Hawaii.

And then back to the Things that Matter: Katie Couric with the post-game analysis and commentary on the Event of the Century.

My observations:

  • MJ's family was out in full force, which is as it should be. But was it necessary for them to be decked out in ridiculous MJ fashion, complete with glittery gloves (one each) and dark glasses in a place that was already dark?
  • One of his celebrity entertainer friends got up to remark on MJ's diaphanous presence, shining blessings down on this idolatrous gathering, from his perch high up on a crescent moon. Well, I admit, the point of a crescent moon would not be too strange a place to find Michael Jackson.
  • Then there were the religious figures, the caricatures of godliness, one of whom declared to Michael Jackson's purported children: "Your daddy was not strange. Strange things happened to your daddy, but there was nothing strange about him." HUH?! Strange things may have happened to MJ, but being strange and having strange things happen are not mutually exclusive, and I guaran-dang-tee, Michael Jackson was STRANGE.
  • And can the politicians ever be far behind? One of them carried on at length, praising MJ's tireless efforts on behalf of the black man, while making the point that the color of one's skin doesn't matter. Well, we all know that race doesn't matter. So why do the lefties keep differentiating among the races? It's almost as if they don't believe their own words. And why did MJ spend half of his life trying to be white and the other half trying to be a woman? Just wondering...
On a related note, has anyone heard about the condition of the economy lately? Particularly the economy in California? I'm not sure where Los Angeles stacks up relative to California in general, but the state is currently paying its bills with IOU's, and now the City of the Angels has been saddled with the $3.8 million bill for this ostentation. I understand the city presently has its hand out via a website, where one may make donations to cover the cost of this extravaganza. Add California to the list of Places I'm Glad I Don't Live.

So whaddya know. Michael Jackson had his Comeback Tour after all. Is there anything beyond obscene? If there is, clue me in. And sign this up at the top of the list.

Friday, June 26, 2009

And The Heat Goes On...

107 today, the 11th day of 100+ temps. Since we "average" 21 days a year of 100-degree days, I'm hoping that this means we are getting them all out of the way right up front, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Good news for the weekend, though: Temperatures are going down. Should be no more than 101 by Sunday.

This is getting boring, isn't it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I learned a few things today:

  • The last time it came close to this hot was on this date in 1943, when the record-breaking temperature of the day was 104. Today it was 106 degrees, a new tongue-hanging-out record. A dubious distinction indeed.
  • According to the local weatherman, in this neck of the woods we have, on average, 21 days of 100-degree temperatures. In a whole year. So far this year we have had nine such days already. And summer is only four days old... AGH! This can't be good.
So far, this is shaping up to be A Summer To Remember, a summer on steroids. All I know is it's a darn good thing I have decided not to care about the summer heat anymore.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

  • First call of the day bright and early from D in Kansas.
  • Church with C and family.
  • Cookout lunch and backyard swimming and Wii games with C's family and S's family.
  • Baseball game with S and Gi and the Blue-Eyed Boy.
  • Phone call from rain-drenched M, standing at the foot of Cell Phone Hill at Buckner.
And that is everyone heard from and accounted for. What else can a dad want? Happy Father's Day!

Happy Summer!

Not. It is Summer in Texas. With a vengeance. Actually, it has been summer for days already, it just hasn't been official summer yet. Well, it is now, and it is already 100+ degrees with humidity to match, and there's nothing quite like a hot breeze blowing in through the open window. I know a lot of people love their fun in the sun, but I am not one of them. To be honest, I have never understood anything fun about baking and sweating and burning to a crisp...? I just don't get it.

Shortly after I moved to Texas waaaay back during the last century, it was one Africa-hot summertime. My mom and I were "downtown" in SmallTown, Texas and had wandered into the "variety store" where we overheard part of a conversation between two little old ladies. One of them said to the other, "Hasn't it been a nice, cool summer." My mom and I looked at each other, eyes incredulous and mouths gasping open. Nice? COOOOL????? Had they seen the thermometer at the bank? The one that registered 112 degrees at 6 PM? Had they been outside? Were we even on the same planet? "Hasn't it been a nice, cool summer" has become a family joke over the years ~ The hotter it gets, the more it is invoked, complete with the rolling of eyes and the shaking of heads.

So now here we are, hotter than Phoenix, and I have a True Confession: As much as I ha-a-a-te to admit it, after aaalllllll this time of actively despising the good ol' summertime...I'm not saying I like it, what. So what that it's 100 degrees by mid-morning. So what that I am out here with the sun pounding on my head. So what that I am melting into a puddle, or that there is sweat pouring down between my eyes and running down inside my clothes. So what that the heat of summer shimmers up off the road in waves, and the pavement is so hot it is actually oozing. So what that you can bake cookies in the trunk of your car, or put a pot of rice and water out in the sun and it will be cooked by lunchtime. So what that you can get a third-degree burn from the steering wheel or the seat belt buckle when you get in your car. So what....

So it's summertime in Texas, that's what, and I'm starting to worry about myself, because after 30+ years, I have just decided not to care anymore. I can't afford the effort or the energy. Hmmmm....Maybe those little old ladies were on to something...??? Whatever...

By the way, Mom, wish you were here. We sure are having a nice, cool summer.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Good Day

I was all set for a night of tossing and turning, but surprisingly enough, I slept soundly last night after propping my foot up on a pillow. My ankle hurt quite alot, enough for even me to consider the ER, but the specter of BB1's recent marathon in that pestilential hellhole reinforced my natural inclination to allow my fearfully-and-wonderfully-made body the opportunity to heal itself. So I had gone to bed last night, barely entertaining the possibility that I might make a trip to the ER this morning, and I was ready to get ready when my Man got up dark and early to head to work. Imagine my everlasting amazement when I got out of bed and did not crash to the floor on my bad ankle!

It was still sore and painful, and I couldn't really walk, but, no swelling or bruising, and compared to crawling around last night, it was a miraculous recovery indeed. I was positively giddy that we had elected to stay home, saving ourselves probably $500 and getting a restful night in the bargain.

Today I am profoundly excited about being able to get around all by myself. I don't remember ever feeling pain like I felt yesterday, and I have never been so invalidated.

"Would you get me a drink?" "Would you climb up in the closet and dig out the Epsom salts?" "Would you reach my nightgown off the hook?" "Would you warm up that leftover soup for dinner?" "Would you lock the door, close the window, answer the phone, turn on the light, bring my book, fill in the blank?" It disturbs me mightily to be waited on at all, never mind so completely.

I am a good patient, if you consider my outward behavior. I demand nothing, and I ask, ever apologetically, only what I absolutely cannot manage on my own. I have certainly waited on endless multitudes in my day, so why does it bother me so much to be on the other end? I have never understood people who enjoy being the center of every attention, but I believe there's something here on a deeper level. True confession time: as much as I hate to say it, I think there is an issue of pride at work. In my case, anyway. There is something humbling about being at the mercy of someone else...something God is still having to try to teach me. Poor Guy.

So, am I ready to take the lesson...? I want to. I would hope so. My head gets it. But, alas, I know me. My spirit is basically rebellious and independent. Rebellion and independence...Good servants. Bad masters.

I still can't actually walk. There's a whole lotta limping and hobbling going on, but I am ever so thankful that today I can do whatever I want/need, even if it takes me a little bit longer. It is, as they say today, "all good." It really is!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Ok, so that's what I get for watching tv. Only I wasn't really watching it. I was hanging out in another room, within earshot of the offending commercial, held captive by a never-have-I-felt-so-much-pain-EVER ankle, injured when I stepped in a hole this afternoon.

It seemed perfectly ok at the time; I even walked on it back into the house to start the arnica protocol, and then went on to finish what I had been doing, after which I sat myself down with an ice pack and a book and elevated my foot. Only to my sad surprise, my ankle not only hasn't gotten any better, six hours later it is actively worse.

First it got harder impossible to walk, and then it progressed to no standing; at this point forget flexing, extending, rotating. In fact, forget even leaving it alone. There is no comfort for it in any position. I'm almost considering a trip to the ER, but I feel quite certain there will be no driving on that foot, especially not in a car with a standard transmission. Besides, I can suffer endlessly in my own home, just like I can in an ER, but for free and without the chance of getting SARS or swine flu or a staph infection or who-knows-what-other-ailment lurking about amongst the halt and the lame of a hospital "emergency" room.

So anyway. I was minding my own business in one room, not really paying attention to the murmuring pitter-patter of the television coming from the other room, when suddenly I heard a woman's voice shout, "Am I in MENOPAUSE? You bet I am!!!" Whooooaa!!!! And then, of all things, she started singing the praises of JACK IN THE BOX!!! You know, the hamburger joint.

"When I'm having hot flashes...." she began, and I can't really say what came next, because she pretty much lost me after that. Actually, Jack in the Box pretty much lost me after that one. Not that I go there with any degree of regularity whatsoever....Ok, ok, to be honest, on the survey I would have to check the "less often than once a year" box, but still. Now I'm going to have to check the "less often than less often than once a year" box.

I'm thinking this little episode basically documents what I have been increasingly afraid of the last few years, and getting worse all the time: There are no limits to indecency anymore, and no limits on where you might witness it. I would like, just once in awhile, to go someplace where I am not assaulted by somebody's perverse notions of open-minded self-expression.

In fact, as I'm writing this, I hear that the tv has moved on to a "sitcom" in which a group of men and women are talking about, what else, menopause. Sigh. Excuse me while I run crawl in and turn off the tv. I'm thinking I probably should have turned it off when I left the room, but I'm a hands-on watcher when it comes to tv, and I didn't think I had the endurance to hobble all the way across the room to turn it off in person. So now, well, here I go again. Like I said, that's what I get for watching tv.

Menopause...Jack in the Box...What can the connection possibly be???

Friday, May 22, 2009


M has been home for a week today. Well, sorta. Last night, and the night before, he spent at C's, so it was like the old folks' home here once again. Well, it would have been had not M's friend, Ko, dropped in with Oreo cookies and Blue Bell ice cream. The night before that he spent at Ko's, and tonight S is on the schedule.

A short trip to visit Little Granny in the nursing home in Kerrville is on the agenda today. I may or may not go with him, depending on if he gets a better offer. I will be perfectly happy to go with him. And I will be perfectly happy to stay home.

D and the little girls will be here from Kansas this weekend, just to be sure they get a glimpse of M before he is off to Israel on his first step into the world of International Travel; Monday the plan is for a mini family reunion/group birthday party. There just isn't enough M to go around, and we have to share.

Now the early morning sun is coming up. The windows are open, the birds are singing, and my Man is off to work. Summer is coming on, with the same dreadful anticipation as always, but right's the perfect springtime day in central Texas.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way." ~C. S. Lewis

I hope someday to be one of the former; I have certainly had more than enough opportunity, but I fear I am probably still too much one of the latter. A myriad of situations and circumstances have surfaced around here lately, a great many of them not at all to my liking, and what to do?

One thing I can always do, and sometimes the only thing I can do, is to pray. Prayer calls on the Lord, the only One ultimately, Who can do anything about, well...anything. It might be my most under-rated resource, calling on trust and faith to take the place of worrying. That is hard. But there is only so much I can do, and I suppose that it would behoove me to stick to that and leave the worrying to God. But often that is hard, too.

So...Which one am I? I wish I knew...

Saturday, May 16, 2009


  • I got a new can opener for Mothers' Day. Leave the perfect gift to C!
  • M is safe at home in his own little bed. Let the sleeping begin.
  • Swine flu continues to be the biggest non-event of the year so far.
  • My sister directed me to $ Tree for good old-fashioned 60- and 75-watt light bulbs, priced at 4 for $1. They are probably the exploding kind, but I won't know for sure until I use one; un/fortunately, most of my lamps and light fixtures are currently manned by the "new, improved" variety of light bulbs, so I should have an opening any day now. But how, oh, how, can I dispose of the used bulbs?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Yesterday the Unknown Caller phoned. I am always just a little bit afraid of answering, but since M's # shows up that way, and chances to talk to him are few and far between, I am always afraid not to answer as well. You never know what you're going to get...always a surprise, but not always a good surprise. Well, this time it the voice of Cadet A at West Point. That in and of itself is surprise enough. But even moreso...!

M was granted grad leave! Several months ago, when he realized accepting the opportunity-of-a-lifetime, too-good-to-turn-down, all-expenses-paid trip to Israel would mean little to no leave at home this summer, he applied for grad leave. Having heard nothing since, we reasonably concluded that it was denied and went to Plan B: four days between Graduation and Israel. So, yesterday, at the very last minute, he got the good word: Grad leave approved! This means not only that he is authorized to miss marching in the Graduation Day parade, but he gets to come home for almost two whole weeks. This, as the currently hot saying goes, is huge, calling for a huge change of plans all around, but we're up for it.

All M had to do, after his final TEE ("final" in civilian) was finished this morning, was get his typhoid shot for Israel, pack up and move out of his room, sell his books back to the bookstore, change his airline ticket, and arrange a ride to the train. If he seriously put himself in turbo, he could have made the 5 o'clock plane tonight, but that allowed only for everything to go smoothly, and things don't generally happen that perfectly in our world. In any case, this way he gets to go to a show on Broadway with his friends tonight and then sleep a few hours at the Soldiers', Sailors', Coast Guard & Airmen's Club, Inc for only $25, unless, of course he checks out early. He plans on catching the 3 a.m. bus to the airport for his 7:30-ish flight, so I'm pretty sure that qualifies. That puts the cost down to $10 for the night, and if he notifies them ahead of time, well then it goes down to $5. One more cadet perk, and you just can't beat that!

All I had to do around here is cram into one day what I had planned to do in the next almost-two weeks. Dust, vac, tidy M's room, put fresh sheets on the bed, and the same in the guest room for D and the Princess and the Gingerbread Cookie, who will be here for a week in honor of M. M and a couple of the little kidlets have birthdays in this time frame, so there is that to plan for, not to mention, speaking of HUGE, daily rations for a big boy who is tired of dining hall food. And speaking of even more HUGE....I have been re-arranging some furniture the last couple of days, and one room in particular is a disaster, but oh, well.

If we have learned anything from this year, we have learned that in order to get along with West Point, you have to be two things:

  • Extremely structured. Things are planned to the nanosecond more than a year ahead of time, and you better be ready to hurry up and wait; and
  • Extremely flexible. It's all about the last minute, and you better be ready to jump at every eleventh hour opportunity.
The last I heard from M was a text message: "We're on the train." M is on his way home! Me, I am on my way to bed. Gotta be ready for that drive to the airport and back tomorrow.

Welcome home, M!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Welcome to the Neighborhood

I used to think Copperas Cove was the most highly regulated city in the country, but I couldn't be more wrong. That dubious distinction actually belongs to Killeen (the ironically motto-ed "City Without Limits") where C and De recently moved. They were ever so excited to be in their own house, after ten weeks at the in-laws', but it wasn't long before the snake showed up in Paradise.

Barely two or tree days after the move, as C was busily sorting out the kitchen, she happened to look out the front window to see a man at the curb taking pictures of her house. Dropping what she was doing, she went to the door, only to see the man taking off in a city truck, so, still in her slippers, she sprinted off after him with the Other Princess hot on her heels. Fortunately, he was compelled to stop at the sign at the corner, giving her the advantage to catch up with him.

"Why are you taking pictures of my house?"

"Umm.... which house are you in?"

"Duh, the only one you took pictures of..." Gotcha!

It turned out that this was one of Killeen's code enforcement officers, and he was there to take pictures of all the codes that were being violated:

  • Thou shalt not have boxes on your front porch. Never mind that they are all flattened and clearly labeled with the name of the locksmith who had been by earlier and asked to have them, promising to pick them up that night.
  • Thou shalt not have a trailer full of boxes and other miscellaneous moving detritus on the grass. It's a rodent hazard. Never mind that the only rodents that had been encountered came from the facility where their stuff had been stored for the past three months (Maybe this diligent public servant could find time in his busy schedule to check them out?). And when asked how moving the trailer to the driveway, as he strongly suggested, would be a deterrent to rodents, he neatly sidestepped the question and deftly changed the subject.
  • Thou shalt not have bags of trash out here by the dumpster. Never mind that, courtesy of the last occupant, the dumpster was already FULL when they moved in, and if the city is so worried about the volume of trash, why don't they pick it up more than once a week? Could some of these code officers maybe go on garbage detail?
  • Thou shalt not park you car so that the tail end of it hangs a foot over the sidewalk. Never mind that it is your car parked in your driveway.
  • And on. And on.
C: Do you think it looks like we might be in the middle of moving in here?

Code Enforcement Zealot Officer: You never know. This is a military town and you would not believe how some people live.

C: So. Given the transient nature of the military, don't you think you oughta know what moving looks like? And what, exactly are you implying about the military?

And, given the overwhelming majority of military population in the area, I cannot imagine a civil servant making an offensive remark like that.

The man went on to explain that he was one of five code enforcement officers in Killeen, public "servants" whose job it is to drive around seeking whom they may harass. Given the dreadful state of the economy, are we sure Killeen can afford to keep these guys on the payroll? Perhaps the city could do everyone a favor and get rid of some of the dead weight, but until they do: Movers beware!

Commenting that she was unaware of the local codes, C was informed that she should have looked on the internet for the complete Rules of Engagement. Oh, well that solves everything, doesn't it? Like that is her top priority. Like she has plenty of time to sit and do battle with a sometime-functioning internet, leaving the children to run wild and make their own little living, while the unpacking chores pile up and proliferate. If the city's Code of Conduct is so all-fired important, why doesn't the city furnish copies to realtors and property managers?

Moving has to rate way up at the top of the list of stressors in modern life, so thanks, Killeen, for piling on a little bit more. C's final comment: Had we known, we would have never moved here, and we will never consider buying a house here.

Welcome to Nazi Germany Texas.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The End of an Era

Provided, of course, that they pass, the plebes at West Point had their last class as plebes today. Tomorrow begin the TEE's, "Term End Exams" by the Army's fondness for acronyms, commonly known in the civilian world as "finals." And just like that, M and his classmates will be through 1/4 of their career as West Point cadets.

Impossible! Well, it sure seems that way. It is the tritest and tiredest of cliches to say that time flies, but, as cliches are wont to be, oh, how true. Actually, if there were something faster than flying, that is what time would do...At least from my point of view. M suggests that the year went a lot faster for me than it did for him. ;-)

I've been remembering and reminiscing with myself about this time last year. The countdown chain, which once draped around three sides of the room and ended in a puddle of colored paper links on the floor in the corner, was down to barely stretching along one wall, and we were frantically trying to keep up.

Admission papers, medical forms, shot records, parking passes, reporting instructions, bus schedules, packing lists, hotel reservations, plane tickets, rental car information, google maps, snacks for the airplane, a ride to the airport.... Did I forget anything? Maybe not, because everything went smoothly. Well, there were a few quirks and glitches along the way, but overall the trip was uneventful, and when it was over, we were all present and accounted for.

I remember, and thank God for, the hot and heavy e-traffic on the candidate-net where the newbie parents were huddled together in a fog, and friendly moderators had the answer to every question. Now we are seasoned veterans of a year of plebe-net, where a whole day can actually go by without an emergency or even an inquiry or comment.

So now it's someone else's turn. Right now, there are approximately 1,300 cadet candidates all over the country stressing out about things that we are now taking in stride. And if there are that many cadet candidates out there, there are twice that many parents ~ and more, in this age of step families when pairents no longer necessarily come in pairs ~ freaking out about turning their children over to Uncle Sam and their own personal Trail of Tears that will follow.

By this time, all of us, plebes and parents, have come to terms with some of the basic changes in our lives. We have become resigned to the fact that USMA now has first claim on them. Our plebes remain our kidlets, but we have been relieved of responsibility and authority. Oddly, I have a bittersweet feeling about the whole thing.

The bitter part is easy: no more M coming home every night; he will still come to visit, but the time of him actually living at home is getting shorter and shorter. Already his shouldabeen three-week leave of this summer has been abbreviated to four days, and we wouldn't even have that if not for the kindness and generosity of an airline employee who graciously offered M a buddy pass for the trip home.

The sweet part is harder. What is there that's sweet about the end of our family life? Well...mainly that it is as it should be. No matter that we might not like or want it, there is rightness in kidlets growing up and leaving home. This past year, we have all learned a lot about ourselves and about each other. And of course, memories.

After next week, M and the Class of 2012 will be rising yuks, going on to bigger things, and the misery of Beast Barracks will fall to the hapless candidates of 2013. So here's a toast to the end of plebedom, with a hope and a prayer for the new yuks. ;-) Only 36 months to go!

What a difference a year makes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's Slingtime! the Blue-Eyed Boy would say.

You know it's springtime outside when:
  • the world is turning green;
  • the grass goes from freshly mowed to ankle-deep overnight;
  • the birds are chirping and twittering incessantly (outside the window, fortunately, at my house; but in other houses the chirps come from inside the chimney);
  • dense fog at dawn; raging, roaring, rolling thunderstorms in the morning; a steaming sauna by mid-afternoon;
  • sweat happens :-(

You know it's springtime inside when:
  • the table is served with fresh green food;
  • the refrigerator and the pantry get a cleanout in the same week;
  • the windows stay open day and night;
  • the closets go from flannel and long sleeves to shorts and t-shirts;
  • the two-shower day is making a comeback.

Definitely Sling!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


PANDEMIC! The Swine Flu is upon us. Or is it? Not so sure, since we have now been instructed to call it the H1N1 virus, or something like that. Apparently "Swine Flu" is giving pigs a bad name. Well, whatever...a virus is a virus is a virus.

Ok. So to believe the media hype, the Swine Flu H1N1 is pandemic. Imagine...a Global Epidemic. That means everywhere. But, according to the same media, as of last night there were six people hospitalized with H1N1 in the entire country. Six? Pandemic? How many people are hospitalized in this country with TB or pneumonia or AIDS or HIV or who knows what other host of infectious diseases? I bet it's a whole lot more than six, and I don't hear any outcry going on about those.

So one person has died in this country with the virus. I feel bad for that family, I really do, and I don't want to trivialize it in any way. So what about the 36,000 that die from the regular flu every year? They don't call that a pandemic. Does one death from Swine Flu = Pandemic? If it does, then every infectious disease in this world is in a state of pandemiconium.

My Man always says if you really want to get to the root, just follow the $ trail. Hmmm...Well, let's see, Obama has graciously doled out $15 bil to the pharmaceutical industry. Of course the media stands to gain revenue from the ratings, and when it comes to ratings in this Age of Excess, the more sensational/spectacular/scandalous the better. So there are two possibilities.

The ludicrous inconsistencies coming from higher up are creating panic, but perhaps that is by design, allowing that giving the beleaguered public something new to worry about will take its mind off of its current economic and other woes. Besides, who knows what kind of wheeling and dealing might be taking place in the back room while all eyes are focused on the Virus...After all, why waste a perfectly good crisis?

  • We have a pandemic for Pete's sake, and yet the borders remain wide open, come one come all, and bring your latest diseases with you.
  • Outdoor sporting events have been canceled, but child warehouses child care centers and most schools remain open. A quick check with the Public Health people would reveal that outdoor events aren't really problematic. Closed spaces, where little people cough and spit and sneeze on each other and breathe recycled air, are, however, a different story.
  • They say we have plenty of flu medicine available, but they tell people there's no need to stock up.
Well, WHICH IS IT???? If it's truly pandemic, then let's get serious and give it its due. Lets shut the borders and close public places and quarantine the infected, and inconvenience be hanged. If it's merely the newest strain of flu showing up for the year, as happens every flu season, then could the media just stop whipping up hysteria? And if the Powers That Be really don't know, then could they find out and take some appropriate, rational action instead of all the knee-jerking they are doing?

Personally, I am depending on the time-tested methods of avoiding illness: wash hands often, don't eat/drink after anyone else, cover coughs/sneezes, wash hands often, stay home when sick, eat good, healthy foods, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, wash hands often. And if I feel the need to medicate I am well-stocked with Vitamin C, elderberry, echinacea, and GSE.

And on that note, Will the Real Story please stand up?