Thursday, December 25, 2008

I Gotta Hippopotamus for Christmas!

Story and photos to follow. I just had to POST that line. It was my Hallmark surprise ornament from my dear Chuck. It's darling.

More later about our long and eventful (cooking and cooking) Christmas Day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Day before Christmas

(With apologies to Clement Moore!)

It 'twas the day before Christmas,
and I was quite panic'd
nothing was wrapped
and not soul had gone manic'd.

The tree and the stockings
were in boxes (in the garage)
and my Dear darling
had hinted quite large!

Off to the wrapping paper
Likes elves I flew
With a twinkle I delt with it
Bows and a few.

Now everything is done
and even the cat is content
so I must stop
for good intent.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Memories

Here are some of my random memories of Christmas growing up in the 60's and 70's... and a few of later years.
1. My grandmother's white flocked artificial tree and color wheel.
2. Putting up our silver artificial tree and color wheel. (My mother was allergic to pine trees.)
3. Red glass ornaments on the silver tree.
4. Antique German glass ornaments from my parents early days together in the 50's... I have several of them packed away as they are very fragile.
5. Bubble lights on Aunt Marge & Uncle Jack's tree... I have a few sets collected in the 80's when these lights made a come back. As they heat up, the liquid in a glass cyllinder bubbles. (They were the Aunt & Uncle of my college roommate Jane... I sort of adopted them as an extra Aunt & Uncle. Sadly they both passed away in 2007, but I have great memories of them.)
6. Silver tinsel tossed on a real tree.
7. Coming out on Christmas morning to find the presents from Santa (unwrapped of course) and the wrapped ones from Mom and Dad.
8. Having to wrestle my baby sister to keep her in bed so that Mom & Dad could have a cup of coffee before she attacked the presents under the tree.
9. Collecting special ornaments during my lifetime. These include those made by friends & relatives and special ones received as gifts or purchased to remember some place special.
10. The red felt stocking with sequined animals and tree made lovingly for me by my Great-Aunt Pallie. I also have several wonderful old ornaments made by her. She was the creative one in the family.
11. The small tree of my father's old age that I took him in the nursing home.
12. My hi-tech fiber optic lighted med. size tree... that I need to put up soon.
13. Getting real greenery wreaths from a local Boy Scout.
14. Christmas dinner with my entire childhood family: Mom, Dad, Granny, Pop pop and little sister Beckie. Complete with turkey, corn bread dressing (regular and a special bowl of oyster dressing for me), sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, relish trays, pecan pie made by Mom, canned chilled asparagus (I know... yuck!), bake & serve dinner rolls, Mrs. Smith's pies, giblet gravy made with lots of extra giblets.
15. Uncle Harley visiting and bringing me a few more presents. I think he had a silver tree too at one point.
16. Sometimes, we had Christmas at home in the morning, then went across town to my grandparent's house for Christmas dinner. Granny probably cooked more dishes than Mom did for the big dinner.
17. Watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on the color TV.
18. Playing my few Christmas records over and over. One favorite is The Christmas Cowboy with Gene Autry singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
19. Having my washing machine pipe freeze on Christmas night... flooding the apartment below in 1983.
20. Special ornaments given to me by Florence & Dad after I moved to Plano.
21. Getting the flu and having my Dad drive me back to Plano from San Antonio in 1982! (My 1st month on my new job up here.)
22. Going to East Texas to a tree farm to cut down a live tree with Barbara while we were roommates.
23. Egg nog!
24. Hosting wonder Christmas dinners in our home now for friends and family.
The marriage proposal from Chuck to marry him on Christmas in 2000. A James Avery ring with Hebrew writing on it along with a "recipe" for love & marriage. He is SO romantic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

At least on the next row over from my cube. They decorated and even had a block party today with lots of gooey treats, hot chocolate and hot cider. I've visited three times for chocolate goodies and assorted other sweets. So I've been enjoying this Christmas season.

Last weekend, I wrapped and wrapped like a mad woman to get packages ready for Chicago (Oak Park), Boston (Roslindale) and San Antonio. Chuck had his own set of packages ready to go to Oregon and California. THEN, my friend in Chicago sent me a card asking if we could scale back on Christmas this year!!!

AFTER I had wrapped about 10 gifts for her AND mailed them to her. You see, we both like opening gifts so we buy many assorted things for each other. I love shopping for odds and ends for her, as she's a bit eccentric and finding just the right things can be quite fun. The gifts must include mustard (her favorite spice), something for the kitchen and a quite odd present. The odd present this year was given to me and immediately I saw the regifting opportunity. My BFF would love it. I'll go into details in a post-Christmas blog in case she's reading this, but it does involve doing almost obscene things to a chicken. :-) Use your imagination!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Carols Sung By The Fire

Well not exactly! We drove to Houston (Porter specifically) and back home again on Saturday. It's a 4 hour trip each direction. And the music du jour was the new & old Christmas mix CDs created by Chuck from our extensive holiday music collection. We listened and sang our way across Texas. It helped us pass the hours, when we weren't talking. As my friends know, both my husband and I love to talk.
I got to hear a good number of my holiday favorites. I'll need to get out the full CD of some of my all-time favorites to hear the whole thing: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Gene Autry's Christmas Cowboy, The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole. And many more!!!
May the weeks leading up to Christmas, Hannukah and Winter Solstice be merry and bright for all!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Loved the Turkey at 1st Bite

Yesterday, we had our "adopted" Chinese family over for Thanksgiving. Chuck prepared turkey with all the trimmings. And I helped! Let's see - we had cornbread stuffing (my family recipe), green beans with caramelized onions (my friend's recipe), fresh cranberry sauce, sweet potato puffs with pecans, mushroom casserole with spinach, special waldorf salad with cherries PLUS two kinds of pie (baked apple and a mixed berry tart).

We had to explain that over-eating was required. They loved the turkey; it was their 1st time to have it. Two people from China eating turkey in our kitchen. It was an all American holiday served up just for them. Our friends Carl & Lei brought her parents over plus the two children. We had a full house for the evening. Everyone went home full. Even the three year old... he ate a lot. Including several mouthfuls of Redi-whip, courtesy of Uncle Chuck!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Being Thankful

Thanksgiving isn't supposed to be about the FOOD. It's supposed to be about being thankful. I need to stop and reflect about what I'm thankful for this year. Express some gratitude to people in my life that helped me this year.

I'm thankful that when my husband had his heart attacks in March, he didn't die. I'm thankful that his health has continued to improve so much this year because he's been eating less carbs and less in general PLUS he's been religiously working out 3 times per week. I'm very thankful that he's my husband, a wonderful cook, someone with a great sense of humor, someone who loves me with all my flaws and even calls me beautiful.

I'm thankful for my health. I have plenty of health issues, but heart problems were ruled out this year. I'm thankful for great medical care and insurance to be able to afford it. I'm thankful for my great doctor, who really listens to me and helps me when I'm sick. I'm also thankful for my therapist who has taught me a lot about listening to my body and helping to feel better.

I'm thankful that my dear dog is finally at peace. He was part of my life for 18 years. I'm thankful to have had him around so long. I do miss him and cry when I see photos of little Jack Russell puppies (seem to be all over the place). But I'm thankful that he's at peace and no longer in pain. I'm thankful for his vet, Dr. Ward and his staff who were wonderful this year.

I'm thankful for my friends, spread all over the U.S. I love to hear from them either via phone, email or letters/cards. I know that I can call on them when I need them and they will listen.

I'm thankful for my extended family including my step-children and grand-daughter. Riley lights up our life when we get to see her. She'll be 2 years old in a few days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter Coming

Here's a depressing thought. Winter may arrive today. It's supposed to get very cold out. I'm thinking bundling up and staying in bed sounds good. But I've gotta be a work. Bummer!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Finally Fall

I wish I could write poetry. I would write one about fall in Texas. It's not like fall in other places. We don't have many pretty leaves. They usually just turn brown and start falling and filling the yard. I don't rake mine... which probably annoys my neighbors to no end. But I like the randomness of the piles of leaves in the front yard where the trees are and in the back yard where they blow in from other places. My back yard has no trees just some attack bushes. Holly bushes love to attack and scratch you when you attempt to go past them. I haven't been in the back yard much since Blarney died. It makes me a bit sad to go back there. I know I'm rambling here, but that's how fall arrives in Texas. We ramble back and forth between the end of summer (warm weather) and fall (cooler weather). I think the temperatures finally dipped below 30 degrees F last night, so it's definitely fall.

How am I doing? A bit down. Work has been stressful. When I'm home, inertia takes hold and I don't accomplish much. On weekends I manage to get the laundry done and pay the bills. But I generally just lounge in bed reading books. Chuck isn't too demanding that I do anything at all. Inertia is a good way to describe my weekends. But time for cleaning house and company is coming. We have plans to host an "American Thanksgiving" for our friends and their family that is here from China. If you remember my story about shopping with Gia, this is the same family. A big turkey and all the trimmings is being planned by Chuck. I'll be the chef's assistant.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I realize I have not yet blogged with glee about the election results. Here it is: GLEE, RELIEF, PRAYERS have been Answered, relief, gladness, happy, joy, joy, disbelief. Yes, the first emotion I had was disbelief that it actually happened. I woke up on Wednesday morning and had to turn on the morning shows. I had to see if it was all a dream, or if Barack Obama was really the President-elect. It's TRUE! So I guess I can now settle in to belief and acceptance.
I know there will be tough times ahead for him and his administration. We're in very tough times in this country and around the world. And people like me, Obama supporters, have HIGH HOPES for him. We hope for an Obamatopia, but realistically I know that's just a fantasy. But let me hold onto my dreams for a few days!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sweet Memories

Thanks to a gift from my Aunt Alice, I had some sweet memories come back to me today. Last weekend we went to her house for an extended family gathering. She gave me a pint of pear preserves. I opened them today and memories came back to me. My mother was famous for her annual pear preserves. My father would spread cloths on the ground, then get a ladder and go up and shake our two pear trees. The harvest would be turned into many quart jars of pear preserves. I never learned to can preserves at all. It's something that my mother and grandmother did with food. I was too young to help other than peeling the pears. The gift from my Aunt brought back tender sweet memories of my mother to me. Thanks Aunt Alice!
P.S. The preserves were excellent on sourdough bread toast!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Painting the Country Purple

A blogger friend of mine (only via email) calls herself the Homesick Texan. She writes a food blog but her current blog hopes for HOPE. She made it out of hoe cakes. A bit loony but it's a gentle political blog sort of, hoping for our future. That whoever is elected will stop being partisan and step up and be the President of the United States of America. Not just the President of the Democrats or the President of the Republicans. I want a MODERATE as President, whether he be Obama or McCain. I think the answer is Obama, but I have listened to both sides before making up my mind intelligently about who reflects my hopes and dreams for America AND who shares my values. That includes respecting the right of women to control their reproductive lives... birth control and having a choice! Since anti-choice is a big plank of the Republican manifesto aka platform, I can't vote for any Republicans. It would be against my conscience.

However, I would vote for painting the country purple! I'm in the minority here in Texas. It's no fun being a Democrat in Collin County Texas... only Republicans run for office, so I never get to select them as I don't vote in their primary. ;-) I think all local/county/school board/judge offices should be REALLY non-partisan, not just lip service to being sort of non-partisan. That's the state of Texas politics in my neck of the woods (prairie).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stop and Go 75

Chuck invented a new term today... "stop and go 75". It was ridiculous. The traffic stopped and then started up fast again and then stopped again. Over and over. Such is life on I-35 in Texas, heading north from San Antonio to Dallas today. It was a tiring drive.

We had the good fortune to stop by and have some of Texas' best BBQ at Smitty's in Lockhart, again. We've decided that they are our favorite. A big plus was that they were open. The other famous BBQ joint in Lockhart, Kreutz Market, was closed on Sunday. We got some yummy smoked shoulder beef, an inch thick smoked pork chop and two rings of "hot" (sausage). The sausage is made by Smitty's and is fresh and loosely packed inside the casing. It's the best darn sausage in Texas. :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall in the Hill Country

This weekend has been spent in transit. Friday we drove from Plano to San Antonio. Today from San Antonio to Kerrville and back. Tomorrow reverse Friday, detour by Lockhart for some of the best damn BBQ in Texas.

I love the Texas Hill Country. True we don't have beautiful trees with fall colors... wrong state for that. Unless you find the Lost Maples State Natural Area in Bandera County. It's glorious there. But today we saw some of God's country aka the drive to Kerrville on I-10. I love that drive through the hills. It's a beautiful view of the hill country. It brings me back to my paternal family roots. My great-great-grandfather Phillip and gr-gr-grandmother Margaretha were German immigrants to the hill country of Texas. When I'm in this area, I think about them and their lives and those of their children and grandchildren.

My great-grandparents - Helwig & Anna lived in the hill country too. Probably had a "town" house where they lived when in town... the small town of Boerne Texas. My grandfather Albert started the exodus from Boerne as a young man. He went to seek his fortune in Mexico around the turn of the century (1900) at age 20. He didn't marry until 1916. His bride was a young woman born in 1895. They had a Victorian romance in 1915-16 and exchanged love letters between Mexico and Texas when he went home for a visit in 1915. Mary was born to an Irish immigrant mother, a school teacher and principal of a private "french" school in Mexico City. Her father is a mystery. We know his name but his heritage is mostly unknown. His last name, Bauche, is thought to be Bohemian (Czech) or Austrian. His mother was probably Spanish or Mexican. We don't know... too much time has passed and nothing was written down. But I have the love letters. Some day I'll write their love story to share with the world. Today I shared the letters with my cousins and some Aunts who didn't know that they existed. It was a special day in the hill country.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One Day at a Time

What a cliche, but how true! I'm taking it one day at a time now. I'm still thinking a lot about Blarney's life. My memories of him as a puppy and young dog are especially coming to my mind. He was a little rascal. I remember him chewing on everything! My wooden kitchen chair bore scars on their legs. His "nanny dog", Lady, put up with a lot from him, but she would also teach him how to behave. My friend Barbara said that he's probably in heaven playing with Lady now. I'm visualizing some games of fetch with my Dad also. My Dad is the one that first played fetch with him. Hard rubber balls were about the only toy that would last. All other toys got chewed up quickly. I would buy those little doll shaped fleece toys with a squeeker in them. He would chew on it until there was a hole. Then pull out the squeeker and all the stuffing (all over the floor). He would happily keep the empty toy and chew on it for weeks. Just being Blarney.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Working through my tears

I've been pretty good today. Haven't had too many tears. Everyone (at work and friends online) have been incredibly nice and supportive of me. It's great that people understand that a pet is an important part of your life. Life does go on. So will I. It's just that there is a very sad place in my heart where Blarney resides. I'm happy that he's out of his pain though. I will work it out and stop crying eventually. Until then, I'll be working through my tears.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Tribute to Blarney

Please read this piece by my hubby where he write a sweet sweet piece about my dear departed dog Blarney.

Best Endorsement Yet... Colin Powell

I don't know how to embed a video clip.. so visit my friend Bill's page to see it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Palin Flow Chart
Check this out. A funny diagram by one of my fav cartoonists - Dan Piraro of Bizarro.

Here's another political one for you... twisted and funny

Good-bye Dear Canine Friend

Yesterday, our vet, Dr. Ward, said that it's time to say good-bye to my friend... my canine friend. Blarney has been with me since 1990. That's eons in dog years. So why is it so hard to say good-bye. He's been around longer than most of my friends, co-workers and husband. I don't know how to say good-bye to him. It's like loosing my child almost. My dear husband is afraid this will "undo" me in a big way. I think I just need to have a period for my grief to pass. It might be a long time, but I'll get through it. It's not like Blarney is suddenly sick. He's been having problems now for months. I have been dreading this day. Now I have a weekend to come to terms with it and Monday afternoon it will be over. We've given it the good fight. He's had lots of pampering, love and attention over the years. And I'll miss him, even his bad behaviour. Barking in the middle of the night. Peeing and pooping on the floor. Being a bit testy at times, but never biting. I plan to have him cremated and his ashes will join Natchez in our small atrium. Two really good dogs. Both loyal and dear. Good-bye dear friend.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Funny Guys!

New favorite blogger Dan Piraro, cartoonist of Bizarro fame.
I've loved his cartoons for a long time, having a semi-twisted sense of humor myself. His work reminds me of my beloved Far Side cartoons that I used to treasure. His blog is funny and shows some insight into his personality. He's also a liberal and posted about his views on the current Presidential race also. Another reason to love his blog.
P.S. If you want to read some anti-Palin stuff click on the Bloom Blog listed in my favorites on the right side of this blog.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wash On, Wash Off

I spent a bit of time yesterday uninstalling Internet Explorer 8 Beta. It turned out to get corrupted by some other software that I installed. Plus it was starting to get fatal errors all the time. Sometimes it seemed to be in a loop because it tried to restart automatically when an error occurred. I think I understand why end users without a computer degree get so frustrated with computers. I'm finally in the category. There is more that I don't know than I do.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lovely Afternoon

I just spent a lovely afternoon at a Garden Party. It was in a backyard garden, but not just any garden, it was the most excellent garden that I currently know of in Plano. My friend Jo has transformed her backyard into the most wonderful place. It's got a pond, a fountain, numerous trees, lovely blooming plants, roses, shrubs and everything. We had a nice gathering of 20 or so ladies that are all quite super to be around. I think I even enjoyed myself. It's been a bit hard to relax lately. Anxiety has struck and it doesn't seem to matter that I have little to be anxious about. It's just with me. Not exactly depression, although I have been sleeping alot. Last night I think I had 12 hours of sleep if you can believe it. That seems like way too much sleep for a normal person. Another thing to be anxious about.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can You Imagine?

I'm still in shock about the damage to the Texas coastal area from our recent hurricane that struck Texas - Ike. My relatives and friends in the Houston area still have no power after several days without. It's hard to imagine. All the food in your frig/freezer and at the grocery store frig/freezers going bad. No TV, no radio, no COMPUTER, no communication unless you have a cell phone with service. We've been worried about our relatives. Found out that the grandbaby and her mom went to stay with family in Center TX, away from the mess. We haven't heard much from my step-son and step-daughter, but they are OK. Thanks to God everyone we know there is OK.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seven Short Years!

Tomorrow will mark seven short years of marriage. C & I married 4 days after 9/11. It was an anticlimax to the national disaster. But for us, it was the start of seven years together. I won't say great because we've weathered some big crisis together, but we have weathered them TOGETHER. There's a song that comes to mind but I can't sing... even by keyboard. I'm always off KEY. Why am I so happy? Because love does really grow stronger, at least in our case, as our years together increase. I love him more now than I did on 9/15/2001.
Now, granted, he's no Cary Grant. He doesn't sweep me off my feet but has the capacity to make me LAUGH so hard that I cry. He's a great one to keep around for many more years. I once told him that he better be sure that he wanted to marry me because I didn't intend to get divorced again... I would rather just shoot him if he wanted a divorce. So far it has worked... He's still here and so am I.
Today we shared a pre-anniversary lunch at a big name chain Chinese restaurant. It wasn't a great meal except that we were there together. I think this is what it means to be in love and have a best friend that loves you back.
Happy Anniversary honey!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Number 5, Blogging

I'm guessing that blogging during lunch would be a no-no here. But heck I'm already breaking her rules so I might as well blog too. Nothing about "here" of course. I work in Dilbert land... a cube farm the size of a big ranch, it seems on some days. Acres and acres of cubes broken up by high wall offices for managers and project managers and some analysts. Not me, I've been cubical my entire work life "here". It's been almost 20 years. Hard to imagine! I've had a variety of work assignments all in IT (Information Technology). IT is the moderately new buzz word title for Information Systems, Computer Department or whatever you call us. "Here" is an office dedicated to IT in the "big here" of the corporation. It is ironic that I'm afraid to mention names of people or companies. But I would rather not be "dooced". If you don't know what "dooce" is go use Google and find out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

4 Things Not to Do at Work

According to my supervisor this is her list:
1. Don't talk about religion
2. Don't talk about politics
3. Don't talk about some one's children
4. Don't wear anything someone might object to or against policy

I think I usually break 1, 2 and 3 on occasion.
I love to listen to my former conservative boss Rick talk about his views on religion. He's really a minister in corporate jeans. ;-)
I do bait a real right winger on occasion at the office with my liberal views AND I do by-God put on my liberal bumper stickers even if I can't wear the t-shirt(s) to the office.
And I see nothing wrong with discussing children even though I don't have much experience to draw upon... that's the listeners issue not mine.
Our "Diversity" program at work has embraced religion... We have a Muslim initiative, a Christian Values initiative and probably some others. No Jewish one, no Unitarian Universalist one... I do feel left out, but the number of UUs is small. If I was Jewish, I would start one. It's nice to have a group like the Indian's, African American's, Vietnamese, Chinese and other ethnicity/heritage based diversity groups.
I belong to the Women's Initiative and the Hispanic Employees Initiative Forum (HEIF). I'm hispanic by virtue of having a father born in Mexico and growing up in San Antonio... IMHO. My grandmother was Mexican regardless of her ethnicity.
Why can't we have an initiative for liberals? We're an under served minority in my conservative fortune 500 corporation. Would they agree? I think I'll ask... after the election.

Monday, September 8, 2008

More on Palin, Check out Chuck's Blog

Click the title and go to Chuck's blog....

Is it FALL yet? Not in Texas

I should take a picture of the green / brown outdoors here and show it to the interweb. When you still have to put up the windshield reflector because the sun is shining (very warmly) then it's not FALL. Even though all the stores, even in Texas automatically change clothing seasons. I can get some great Texas winter clothes now from Lands End, because it is FALL in Wisconsin. We never need real WINTER clothes here, only if we travel or it comes a blue norther. My husband isn't "up" with this practice of buying winter (fall) clothes in September because he's a GUY. Guys don't understand that in January when it's cold here, they won't have any winter clothes left as Spring clothes will be coming into the stores. Fashion... I'm not a fashion person, but I've got to have some clothes to wear that aren't too old. Otherwise, the elastic ages and falls apart.... (a long story about my swimming suit). :-)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Funny Only to Women My Age and Older

I just got home awhile ago from seeing Menopause the Musical. It was LOL funny. It was hilarious. And I'm not yet in menopause... maybe peri-menopause (the time just before). But I asked my hubby if he wanted to hear about it... He said NO. It was a musical and just for women. He got it. I wonder what the guy in the audience thought. I recommend it if you haven't seen it. If you live here in the Dallas area, go see it at the Eisemann Center. It was fantastic!!!

Bill Maher: Read This Opinion

This is one hilarious rant. Let's say that I agree.... Obama is smart! We need a smart President for a CHANGE. Yes, We Can!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Totally Awesome Humor

Tonight I had the privilege of listening to three humorous speeches and three funny tall tales at an "area" Toastmasters speech contest. The speakers rocked.
My favorite tall tale was "How the Rio Grande Was Formed". It had something to do with a flatulant cockroach that grew to seven stories tall eating bean burritos with jalapenos, fajitas with jalapenos and enchiladas with you guessed it... jalapenos. That was one awesome FART. It carved the Rio Grande and the kid who owned the cockroach filled it with his tears. This one came in 2nd place in Tall Tales.
I don't think I can write down the 1st place Humorous speech by the same lady, Irene, because it's too reliant on accents, gestures and facial expressions. You will just have to go to the "division" contest and hear her. She was awesome!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Good News! Yes, I'm OK... it's OFFICIAL

The cardio doc... Dr. B... said I'm OK. My tests were good with no problems "at this time"... guarantee for 1 year or less. She said the same thing that I already know... need to seriously LOOSE WEIGHT and EXERCISE daily if possible. Hello bottled water, good bye to the Real Thing (Coca-Cola) and Dr. Pepper. Hello gym and water aerobics! Good bye sitting on my butt watching the TV or reading tons. Hello hard work... good bye weight! That's the good part. If I do it, the pounds should diminish... I must do it. But 1st for a bit of dark chocolate to celebrate!!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Passionately Pink for the Cure

Click my link and donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation via my Passionately Pink for the Cure page. It's fun to wear pink and promote this cause. THANKS in advance.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Meet my parents: George & Dorothy

I believe this photo was taken in the 1950s prior to the birth of yours truely. They look younger than I remember. I believe this was either taken at my Uncle Harley's house or Dad's parents' house. His mother, Mary, died in 1960 a few months after my birth. His father, Albert, died in 1967. Albert lived with my parents in the early 1960s, but I don't have any memories of it.

My Photo

The blog photo is one of my childhood photos at a studio, Studer's Photos, San Antonio Texas. It's no longer in business but I have fond memories of photos taken there. My grandmother Anne loved to have photos taken of me. She took me every year for a studio portrait until I was in first grade and the school photographer took my photo. I'll publish some of them later so you can see my photos from childhood. The funny thing is that I have a pose of my mother that is so similar to this one... She's about the same age too. I'll post that later too. They are both 8x10 photos that I framed the same way.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dog Days of August

My dog is very old.... very very old. Yesterday we took him to the vet. I was afraid that he would have to be put down as he was only walking on 3 legs. Dr. Mulkey of Spring Creek Animal Clinic came to our rescue. Our usual vet, Dr. Alan Ward, is out of town for the holiday weekend... and can you believe it, there isn't an on-call system for vets. We had a late 5:30 appointment with him. He reminded me of James Herriot. Very old fashioned and serious. He examined Blarney and said he has a torn ACL. Like a sports star. My dog is a sports star. ??? Anyway, we have some super duper pain meds and he's walking like a champ again. Until we can go and see Dr. Ward next week at the Plano Animal Clinic. Dr. Ward is my hero keeping Blarney alive long past his prime. Vets, the unsung heroes of our lives!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vacation Memories

My husband loves to plan our vacations. In the last couple of years, we haven't taken a long out of state vacation unfortunately.

Here's the line up of past Bloom productions (you might notice the theme of baseball running through the vacations... well Mr. Bloom is a die hard fan. His goal is to visit all the major league ballparks in America some day.)

  • 2002 - Trip to a conference in Atlanta
    Great drive-in (The Varsity, the world's largest such place), great downtown fun (Atlanta Underground), wonderful history (MLK National Memorial), tallest escalator (to the metro), and a great ballpark (Atlanta Braves)
  • 2003 - Texas to New York with many stops along the way.
    Tennessee (great Memphis BBQ (Corky's) & Chinese Giant Pandas at the Zoo and Greenville - home of President Andrew Johnson)
    Virginia (Manassas battlefield and home of a good friend of mine in Fairfax Co.)
    North Carolina (Durham Bulls game and very good peaches)
    New York (NYC & Catskills stayed in the homes of a college friend of Chuck's; on 4th of July attended a game of the Hudson Valley Racoons minor league team, the best baseball game I've ever been to, ever!) and Cooperstown, home of the baseball Hall of Fame, and the Hudson Valley, Hyde Park (FDR's home and the Vanderbilt Mansion - both national park sites)
    Mongomery, Ala. (visited the Southern Poverty Law Center headquarters and saw the Civil Rights Memorial)
  • New Orleans, visiting with Chuck's son and wife, and Shreveport.
  • 2004 - Texas to Michigan & Chicago with many stops along the way.
    Highlights: Chuck's daughter Kelsey came along; visited Lincoln's birthplace & national historic site; visited Oak Park and Frank Lloyd Wright museum and attended Sunday service at Unity Chapel that he designed; Chuck & Kelsey attended a Cubs game at Wrigley Field; University of Michigan; a great art museum on the campus; Ann Arbor; Detroit; Kentucky (the famed Kentucky Horse Farm); Cincinnati chili and much more; stayed in Oak Park with my BBF and her hubby; Arkansas (home of a good friend of mine and Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball game)
  • 2005 - California & Oregon
    Chuck drove from Dallas to California (LAX) to meet me there (saved a few days of vacation time for me); He visited New Mexico and Arizona along the way with Joshua Tree, Saguaro and other national park destinations; San Diego: zoo, water front, famous hotel (Coronado del Rey), Chuck's sister Vicki and her daughter Alissa; Getty Museum in LA; San Francisco: ship museum, Ghiaderelli square, wonderful Dungeness crab; Aquarium under the Bay; Golden Gate Bridge; Muir Woods; Redwood forest; Oregon visiting Jennifer & her little girl; Harry & David factory store; Crater Lake; Ashland home of Lithia water (natural lithium in the water); ZZ Top concert outdoors; Yosemite National Park; Whiskeytown in Redding, Calif.
  • 2006 - The Texas Tour
    Gonzales: visited the Gonzales Masonic Cemetery and saw the graves of Dr. John Turner Tinsley and his wife, Nancy Willis. Ancestors on my mother's father's mother's side of the family. Her name was Cordelia Tinsley, daughter of Fountain Gillespie Tinsley who was John Turner Tinsley's son. Dr. John Turner Tinsley was a patriot of the Texas War for Independence.
    Bigfoot: my maternal grandmother's home town, visited my great-grandparents graves, John T. and Cornelia Boyd.
    San Antonio: family home
    New Braunfels: German Texan history
    Boerne: Zoeller Family Reunion
  • 2007 - Family Reunion & Austin
    Louis Mueller's BBQ in Taylor (one of the top five BBQ places according to Texas Monthly) and Kreuz Market in Lockhart (also in the top 5)
    Austin, TX (research at the Texas State Library)
    Boerne, TX
  • 2008 - Family Reunion & San Antonio - some highlights of where we visited
    Smitty's BBQ in Lockhart (guess what? Also top 5)
    Fredricksburg, TX plus Enchanted Rock, Luckenbach TX (famous due to Waylon Jennings-Willie Nelson song). Passing through Sisterdale & Comfort. These were all German settlements of the mid-1800's like Boerne, TX.
    San Antonio Riverwalk & Jazz at Jim Cullum's Landing
    Brunch at the Menger Hotel (next to the Alamo)
    Luling City Market (great BBQ and the fourth of the top 5; sausage 1 blouse 0)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Homage to BBQ

I can't really say it any better than Chuck, so follow this link (in title above) to his post about our Texas BBQ travels.
Here's the links to the best BBQ joints in Texas:
Louie Mueller Barbeque (Taylor, TX)
Southside Market (Elgin, TX)
Kreuz Market (Lockhart, TX)
Smitty's Market (Lockhart, TX)
I wish I could send a link to smell-o-net... but it doesn't exist. Maybe someday!
I can't recommend these places enough. We've had some wonderful meals at all of them. And brought home some sausage from Southside Market to cook for ourselves (soon!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Missing 2%

Read the linked article on It makes sense. Even I have friends and family with no land line.... Mostly just younger people. In my case, probably less liberal than me... BUT I live in Texas! Heck, if Verizon keeps charging me so much, I might cancel the land line soon. $4 plus tax, if I don't use any long distance! If the polls read the younger land-line-less voters wrong, then it might be very interesting. VERY INTERESTING. Especially since McCain is a couple generations older than Obama. VERY INTERESTING. (OK, so I'm not a Vulcan, but I can pretend to be logical and objective... just don't increase the magnification, because under it all I'm a liberal with a capital L, Democrat and woman.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

BFF: Barbara... Thanks for 19 great years so far!

Do you know what BFF means? Best friend forever! She's been my friend since we met in 1989. I advertised in the Plano Star Courier for a roommate to share a house in Plano, because I wanted to get a dog. She wanted a house because she had a dog. Lady, her dog, was a rather macho female dog, part Chow, part Pit-bull, part loyal black lab. Lady was a wonderful dog companion for many years to Barbara.
We found a house together near where I live now. It was a typical rent house with three bedrooms, two baths, a fenced yard. A few surprises were all the rose bushes and fruit trees in the back yard. The leaks in the attic with buckets under them. The other crude repairs made with caulk and/or duct tape around the house. The master bath had 70s wallpaper with silver and brown designs... but I ignored it. Somehow I lucked out and got the biggest bedroom with TWO closets! Room for a sitting area, very neat.
The kitchen was the center of the house. Barb loves to cook and in 1989 she loved to cook mostly vegetarian food. She was slowly becoming a vegetarian, first giving up red meat. Lovely turkey chili. Yummy polish plum dumplings. Red cabbage. Interesting pumpkin pie from scratch. Experiments in the kitchen. That's what I remember the most about cooking with Barbara... it was always fun and an adventure!
In 1990, I located my puppy. Blarney was about eight weeks old, a bundle of spring loaded Jack Russell terrier energy waiting to happen. Barbara's dog, Lady, became his mentor. She watched over him, like a good surrogate mother and taught him all the doggie things like going outside to potty and how to play tug o' war with a rope toy. He loved Barbara and me, but Lady was his first dog friend. She was his "nanny dog".
Later in 1990, we all moved. Blarney and I moved to Richardson to live with a nutsy lady named Anna for six long months. She loved to put him in his kennel at night since I was working late and he liked to bark in the yard. He's a DOG! Anyway we moved as quickly as possible, leaving the deposit behind, to move back to Plano in a two-story townhouse. Barbara had moved with Lady to a neat little duplex over in Carrollton. We got together often along with Barbara's boyfriend David H. David H. worked for a company that was in the telecom business... with her ex-husband Pete. At this point in my life (30), I hadn't yet been married, just was wishing for it and children.
The three of us took trips to East Texas to pick out Christmas trees and visit Grand Saline and the salt palace. We went to Dave's pool and he cooked Chinese for us. It was a good friendship but lopsided since I didn't have a boyfriend for most of the time except when I dated TH, a co-worker of mine who also had worked on the 990 computers. He was a nice guy that was too recently divorced to get involved with. Later I heard that he settled down and remarried. While I had been living at the house of Anna, I answered a personal ad from a guy named DS. DS worked for the same company as I did! It was weird but it's a big company and we didn't cross paths there. Barbara approved of DH so we dated for a long time, eventually living together and contemplating a marriage that didn't happen. He would never commit (you guessed it, previously married and burned by it, he was gun shy). While we lived together, Barbara moved back to Chicago and her family, met and married a great Italian guy named Steve. I was stuck in a rut... dating guys that didn't want to commit to marriage.
I moved to Dallas after completing Leadership Plano. I fled is more like it. Brokeup with DS and Plano simulateously. I lived in a lovely rent house in Lake Highlands with Blarney. We had a chain-link fenced yard full of huge crepe myrtle trees in the back. The house had crank-out windows, wood floors and an antique tiled bathroom... a 3/1/1, it was cozy for me and my dog. I hated living there! Squirels apparently loved the neighborhood. They loved by attic. I thought we had RATS and called the exterminator. After getting to know him too well, he discovered that I had a giant squirrel infestation in the attic. He came over one afternoon and found a "king-sized" squirrel up there. His face was blanched when he told me that, "it was the BIGGEST squirrel" that he had EVER seen. This squirrel infestation evenually drove me to marry the wrong man in order to move back to Plano. Not really but it's a good excuse.
Barbara has stood by me through thick and thin. Friends at a long distance but our hearts never separated. We are sisters without common parents. She was an only child, I was an only child for my 1st 10 years. My sister Beckie is 10.5 years younger than me and has a great deal of room for improvement in the sister business. Barbara is PERFECT (well you know, practically).
When we met, we found at least 6 things in common. We were both the zodiac sign of Cancer, born 20 days apart in 1960. Her father was born on 2/26 exactly 10 years after my father was born on 2/26 in the 20s. Our mother's both smoked like chimneys (my Dad did too). We both loved dogs. We both loved men. We had lots of stuff in common that I can't recall but it was like WOW, are we really sisters that were separated at birth or just cosmicly linked somehow. It's like finding the perfect pair of shoes... they were meant for you. That's me and Barbara. We were meant to be friends and we have been since 1989... 19 years and counting.
Thanks for being my BFF Barbara! I'm looking forward to turning 50 in a couple of years. Hopefully we can find a place that we both want to visit... and celebrate our 50th birthdays together again. It might be Burning Man, it might be Canada or UP Michigan... wherever it is, we'll be there together.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Perfect Birthday! Thanks Honey!

I've know for quite a few years that my husband is a "keeper", but this week he has outdone himself. I've been dined and pampered and treated like a princess. His presents were terrific surprises. Hand-crafted chocolates from the chocolatier in Addison - J. Dorian. A beautiful butterfly necklace from James Avery. The mani-pedi gift certificate that I requested. And the Coach wallet from the factory outlet store in Allen (that I picked up!)

Tonight was the piece d'resistance! We dined at Roy's, which is always a treat. I got permission for a glass of wine from my doctor (meds do interact with alcohol)... and had a lovely flute of Perrier Jouet Champagne from France. It was very very dry champagne but went exquisitely with the salad (pears, chevre and arugula). We started with a complementary appetizer. The menu wished me happy birthday personally and the table was strewn with Happy Birthday confetti. C had the lobster pot stickers and I had the shrimp salad rolls (like a Vietnamese spring roll). For the salad course, he had a Maui Wowie salad with Maui onions. Entrees arrived after a decorous space and my salmon with Gorgonzola was lovely served with some asparagus and new potatoes. YUM! C ordered Mahi mahi encrusted with macadamia nuts. Dessert was orgasmic! Chocolate lava souffle with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. Plus we had two $20 gift cards courtesy of the restaurant to get a good discount on our meal. Plus de meme chose. I don't remember what that means, but it sounds great! Viva le Roy's! Viva le CB! and long live my husband... the dearest in all the land to me.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Reflections on white privilege

The linked article on Salon is about a website, called Stuff White People Like. Sounds like a sociology book for non-white people. In NOW-speak, talking about whiteness was always linked with acknowledging our unspoken, unacknowledged state of being (if white) called white privilege.

What's white privilege? Well it's the things you take for granted. No unlawful search and seizure when driving through the wrong suburb. Plano used to be like that. See a beat up old car pulled to the side of the road with a police person talking to the non-white (Hispanic, black) driver... just checking to see why they are OUT OF PLACE, because of course Plano has no poor people. Oh wait, that part over the highway...EAST Plano, it might have a FEW poor people, but we do have a QUOTA don't we? And of course no one is ever homeless, abused or hungry in Plano since it's a paradise. OK, what have I been smoking?

There are ACTUALLY people in Plano who think those thoughts! It was pretty alarming to me when I moved here almost 20 years ago. I told people that I moved to Great White America. Coming from San Antonio, the lack of diversity, the lack of anyone of color (other than pale or tanned white people) was a utter SHOCK to me. I had always lived in a place that was diverse. There was a Mexican restaurant 1 block from my childhood home. Hispanic people lived across the street. My friends in school had been white, Hispanic, African-American, Native-American and Asian. PLANO was a shock to my culture radar.

Even in college, at the elite Trinity University, we were not all white... just mostly. Mostly upper middle to upper class, white kids of privilege. I learned a lot about myself and others while at Trinity University. Some of my prejudices and biases were challenged and others were formed. I learned that there are 18 year-olds that drive Jaguars. And there are also others that take the bus because they don't have a car. Both were students at Trinity. One of them was me... living at home my freshman year and riding the West Ave. & Hildebrand bus routes to Trinity's NW corner by the Ewing Halsell building. The building that became home away from home for a Computer Science major.

I met people of different religions and cultures at Trinity. My first close Jewish friend became my 1st boyfriend, after he hit his roommate over me... on an ROTC field trip to Colorado Springs (Dec 1978). Randy was my 1st boyfriend and we played platonic games of kissing and cuddling, listening to Michael Franks sing Popsicle Toes on the (LP) stereo. He introduced me to bagels with cream cheese, the San Antonio Fiesta Israeli festival at a local synagogue... and must more. He was probably my 2nd best friend that was a guy... Ricardo Vela at Edison was my 1st guy best friend in high school. Randy wrote me over the summer and slowly unfolded his desire for his best friend (guy) in Miami. He was discovering that he was gay and came out to me before anyone else. I wasn't too thrilled to loose my 1st boyfriend, but at least it wasn't to another girl... We stayed friends through Trinity and beyond. Now we don't talk much, but he knows where to find me, and I him... he's a bigwig real estate developer in Portland Oregon now. Still guy, still alive!

Some other differences I learned about at Trinity happened in my Sociology 101 class. Dr. Briseno wanted to shock us. He called the class project a "sociological tour of San Antonio". We were to visit certain neighborhoods and put our new eyes that had been reading sociology to work on these places... and report back. I got paired up with another San Antonio girl, Chris. She had a car and I didn't so it worked out.

We started by driving across Hildebrand street into another world. Olmos Park Texas, is OLD money, understated money, very wealthy people. We observed the smaller homes on the edge (formerly a black neighborhood for the servants of the upper crust residents of Olmos Park). We observed the houses, the yards, the people walking, biking, lounging and driving around the beautiful pristine neighborhood. It looked like crime and pollution/trash had taken a holiday... Because like Plano, Olmos Park didn't look like a city for the most part, it looked like a park.

The other neighborhood we visited was on the near west or east side of San Antonio... I don't recall the exact neighborhood, it was either black majority or Hispanic majority but it was poor. Very Poor! We saw cardboard shanties that people actually lived in. (At that point in my life, I didn't know what homelessness was... can you imagine?) We saw houses with yards full of trash and old cars and other junk. We saw mangy dogs, scruffy cats and neglected children roaming. We locked the doors of our car and got the heck out of Dodge!

Both extremes shocked me. A child of San Antonio, I had grown up in a middle class, probably working class actually, neighborhood. All the kids had enough to eat, OK clothes, mom & dad living at home usually, siblings, one or two cars, one or two bathroom, two or three bedroom simple ranch or bungalow style houses (one story), no pools except on certain more upscale streets, "trash" trees like the mesquites with thorns in our yard. I thought I was normal... average.

I learned at Trinity that my family wasn't average, it was working class / poor. My father never made more than $25,000 while I was in college. I was making that salary when I had been out of Trinity about 3 years. I think I learned about white privilege and also about class-ism and a few other -isms at Trinity. That's the price of a college education for a scholarship kids like me. Moving out of your comfort zone... expanding your horizons... learning about change and changing. Isn't that what college is all about?

Monday, June 30, 2008

She Shopped Until I Dropped!

I did a favor for a friend and went shopping with her sister. Her sister lives in China... the province that had the earthquake. My friend Lei just had a baby girl Caroline a few weeks ago. Her parents had arrived for their first visit to the United States the previous day! Caroline was 16 days early. Lei & Carl are proud parents. Lei's sister Gia came this past week for a 3 week stay. The grandparents are here on a six month tourist visa so they will be here until the end of November 2008.

I did a favor for Lei and took her deprived fashion conscious sister shopping... until I dropped! (almost) Lei & Carl & Charlie & Caroline live in North Frisco, so I started over from East Plano around 12:30 pm to reach their house by 1 pm (our preset time for our shopping expedition). I figured it would be a couple of hours at the factory outlet. NOPE! Four hours later, we finished up when the stores closed at 6pm. Thank heaven for A/C, water bottles and walking shoes. Cell phones and short too. Forgot the sun screen! Oops! I had a small pink glow after all that walking outside between the stores. ;-)

The Allen Outlet Mall is a big place! We parked near two of her destinations... "Tommy" (Hilfiger) and Polo (Ralph Lauren). In between we stopped in Guess, Calvin Klein, Ann Klein and a few more I can't remember. I took frequent breaks in chairs as they were available... and kept my spending to a minimum. $15 designer "Tommy" flip-flops. A $30 beautiful Ann Klein watch. Then I steered her to my favorite shoe store - Cole Hahn. Not to her taste... too old. But I got a terrific deal on some summer mule loafers in tan/taupe suede. Only when it's not raining will those shoes tread pavement. No plus size clothes at the outlet except at Liz Claiborne.

We got back into the HOT car and drove across the parking lot towards BCBG & Coach. Three or four more destinations. I got a new black wallet from Coach as my birthday present from C. (I told him later!) BCBG was fasinating and took at least an hour. Very hip and young, nothing near my size, or that of anyone above a size 10 probably. Very pretty chic stuff. Oh, BTW, she was walking around in heels... I didn't notice that until we were walking towards the Liz store.

We didn't even stop at the chocolate store. She's not into sweets. I guess that and good genes explain her being a size 4. Last of all we visited one of my favorite stores Liz Claiborne. I found a new black fall jacket with hood ($20 originally $200). My friend's sister Gia probably spent $750 easily on clothes, clothes and more clothes, plus a couple watches. She says that designer clothes made in China are less expensive here in America, especially at the outlet. Plus the girl loves her some fashion! She got presents for several friends too. But the lioness' share was all for Gia. I would too if I were 25, size 4 and looked like her. She's married and trying to have her 1st baby. It's their dream she said.

We had no trouble communicating. Shopping is the UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE for women of all nations. Her English is OK... no long conversations about culture, Just easy short sentences. If it got difficult, I was to call her sister. I only had to call once... she didn't understand why the clerk had to take the watch to the register so that we could checkout... after standing in line. I guess they don't steal watches in China.

When I took her home to Frisco, she was SO appreciative. I was invited in and fed cake and cantaloupe plus a large glass of water. A bag of home grown basil, rosemary and other herbs was waiting for me to bring home to C for cooking this week.

Everyone in the Frisco home got to take naps while we were gone except Lei. Her three year old is attached to her by the hip (sort of) and is jealous of all the attention paid to the new baby. So he doesn't let her rest much. She said he's DEFINITELY going to nursery school (3 1/2 days per week) starting in the Fall. She's going back to school to complete her PhD while her mother is here and is minding the baby. Her father is out digging in the backyard. They don't have much grass, just a medium sized garden in the backyard... full of vegetables, roses, flowers and herbs. It smells GOOD.

I did a favor for a friend and made a new one. Guess who's been invited to visit China and have her own personal tour guide? WOO HOO!