Sunday, December 25, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

First Monday - Traditions

For Sayre, who wants to hear about our holiday traditions.

It is funny but the holiday traditions that I hold closest are not the ones that my mom carried on for us but the ones that I have made for my children. My two very favorite Christmas traditions have continued every year, without fail, since my girls were little. Some years I did them without my girls and some years I inflicted them on strangers, but they have survived.

The first is the one that Moose and I already did this year - the Salvation Army angel tree. Giving, especially those years when you think you don't have enough, is good for the soul...and for the children in your life.

The second is my traditional Christmas dessert which is birthday cake for Baby Jesus. Even during the years when I was lost, when I wasn't really sure that I loved Jesus' Dad or that He really cared about me, I, and whoever was around me, had birthday cake for Christmas dessert. Some years it was homemade and some years it was mail-ordered and some years it was purchased from a bakery but it always was birthday cake. When my girls were little, there was some confusion about this. My sister's birthday is Christmas day and one year, Juls was convinced that my sister must be God because she had God's birthday!

I love the sights and sounds and smells of Christmas. I love the good will and cheer that is almost a palpable thing. I love that, 2000 and some odd years later, we are still celebrating the Baby's birthday.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Torch Passes

I promise to post pictures later but I did want to write this before I forgot to mention how proud I am of my child.

My mother always had very traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Me? Not so much. I tried the last couple of years to share my traditions and Juls very graciously participated. Did she like it? Not so much. Did I know it? Never. My child has very good manners.

Last year, at Christmas, she asked if we would like to come over for dinner which, while not traditional, was delicious. A good pot of beef stew (two different versions, no less) is the food for which winter was invented.

This year, she asked if we would like to come over for Thanksgiving. It was WONDERFUL! We had brisket, green bean casserole, apple stuffing, glorified rice, olives, and two desserts, one an absolutely terrific fudge pecan pie that she made from scratch. It was just the five of us and it was a wonderful, lazy (for me) day filled with family, food, and football...and the Cowboys won!

It turns out she never liked my tradition but was afraid of hurting my feelings. Rusty convinced her that it would be all right - that the kids were supposed to grow up and take over the hosting of the holidays. He was right.

She is doing a spectacular job of growing up. I am looking forward to the beef stew for Christmas!

Friday, November 25, 2011


Today marked the 12th year that Moose and I have shopped together for the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Granted, when he was 2 months old, he didn't have much of a choice. OK, he still doesn't have much of a choice but this year was SO good.

It is a rule of mine that everyone gets a hardcover book for Christmas - and this includes Angel Tree recipients. We also get a toy or two and then a complete outfit including jacket and shoes. This is the first year that Moose requested a specific book in advance. It was one that he just finished reading and really liked. It turned out to be the one that I had bought him for Christmas last year that he didn't want to read for the longest time. Then he needed to write a book report and his mother, unfair person that she is, required him to actually read a book he had not already read. Guess what? I was right. He liked it.

Anyway, I stopped on the way this morning and bought the book. Then we went to the toy store where Jeffrey lives and bought some military guys and military vehicles. Then we went to the mall, picked an angel off the tree and proceeded to shop. We always try to pick a child the same age as Moose and today was no exception. We used to go from store to store looking at different clothes and we always ended up at Sears. I don't even like Sears but for the last 5 years, that is where we have ended up. The young man we picked today wore men's size clothing but we still did all right. We got a pair of jeans, a short sleeve shirt, a long sleeve thermal, a jacket and a hat, all the correct name brand, for under $75. It is a running joke in the family that we (Moose's mom and I) are not allowed to geek out some other person's child.

We stopped then at the shoe store and got a really cool pair of "Shaq's" and then Moose saw a necklace with a cross and shield and wanted to get it, too, so the "OPC" (other people's child)would know that God loves him, too. Obviously, we got it.

We dropped all of this stuff off with the Salvation Army ladies and then got a cookie and some water. We picked up a couple of things for Moose's mom and then, hanging on a display in the store window, was the ultimate in geekiness - an argyle sweater vest. Moose's mom LOVES argyle and I asked Moose if I could geek him out for his mom's Christmas present. He agreed and even agreed to wear it "cheerfully and with a pleasant countenance". He does make my heart sing. I promise pictures after Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Mass this morning was very well-attended by the toddler population and their parents. About 6 rows ahead of us was a very cute little tow-headed boy somewhere between 12 and 18 months. He was very well-behaved and his dad and mom were just very calm folks. You know the kind. The surrounding toddlers ALL had pacifiers. We're talking somewhere around 4 to 6 other kiddoes, all within eyesight of the cute little boy, all sucking on their nasty, dirty pacifiers.

This baby did not whine. He did not cry. He did not fidget. He just stared. He stared first at one other child and then at another. He just stared. And his little face got sadder and sadder. I was trying to figure out when I had seen that face before. Then it hit me. He looked just like this:

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Yesterday morning, I went out to breakfast with Shorty prior to a morning of errands and visiting. We went, as almost always, to the Ranch House. We sat in a booth and Joanne brought me coffee and Shorty a glass of water. Then Wayne (the Moon Man) came in and Shorty went table-hopping to visit and get caught up on what he had missed while he was gone.

All of this is to preface part of why this little corner of Texas feels so much like home. There is, at the Ranch House, a round table towards the front of the restaurant. I glanced at the table, through the salad bar and the grill area and just started smiling. There, at the table, were 5 or 6 of the elder statesmen from my parish and all of a sudden, it hit me.

They looked like my German uncles. I'm not sure why the identifier "German" is in there. I did not have any non-German uncles. There's just a look - a solid, trustworthy, stoic look - that I equate with my uncles and with a lot of the members of my parish.

Most of my uncles stayed in Iowa when Mom and Dad moved to California in the 40s. The visits, since everyone worked and money was never flush, were few and far between. They were, however, memorable. On my dad's side, I have very fond memories of Uncle Bud, who came out in the 50s with Aunt Eileen and my cousin Mike. On my mom's side, it would have to be Uncle Ole whom I remember the best. Uncle Ole and wife, Aunt Lorraine, came out several times but the time I remember the most clearly was the summer after Steve died and my oldest daughter was just a baby. My niece and nephew were visiting also. Uncle Ole was the penultimate grandfather. Kids and babies were drawn to him like ducks to water. The fact that he shared sips from his early morning schnapps probably didn't hurt. He was the one of mom's brothers who most resembled his dad, especially as he got older.

So, here I am, in a kind little corner of Texas. I belong to a church that, architecturally, is almost identical to the church I grew up in and is peopled by folks who look like family. No wonder I feel at home!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Greatest Generation

I was blessed, this morning, to be in class with some of my coworkers, more than one of whom is a veteran of our Armed Forces. We were talking about our veterans. I was telling them that my brother, a vet, had remarked that, although he served in the drafted Army, at least the guys only had to serve one tour of duty. We now have an all volunteer military and we just keep sending these guys back and back and back and back.

One of the guys I work with said that so many people, when they speak of veterans, think of WWII vets - the "Greatest Generation".

He said, and I could not agree more, that any vet, no matter when he served or where he served or how long he served or under what conditions he served IS the greatest of his generation. So here is to the greatest of all the generations - here is to our veterans.

God bless you and keep you. Thank you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fun Monday - Giving Thanks

Fun Monday is once again trying to survive, resuscitated this week by Sayre. Sayre would like to know, at the beginning of this month, what it is that we are thankful for.

There are a ton of things for which I am grateful; family, friends, our military, a job that I love, my critters (even the sick one), etc.

I am going to focus today on the town in which I live. I love this town. Like most Texas towns, ours is built around the courthouse square. We have a lovely old courthouse which is still serving the town. Our town is small enough to feel like a small town and large enough, as the county seat, to provide more than enough places in which I can spend my paycheck. We have more churches than bars and more schools than restaurants. We have original cobblestone streets downtown, pavement through town, and caliche roads outside of town. We have a bowling alley, a movie theatre, an aquatic center, a YMCA with a new weight room for the teens, a community center and a very active senior citizen's center. We have a terrific public library, a hometown newspaper, our own radio station and a museum. We have a new hospital scheduled to open next month and wonderful people to staff it. We have a new branch of Amarillo College about to begin construction. We are, in this economy, still growing.

Our service organizations provide just that - service. Tuesday is election day which means that the Kiwanis is hosting a pancake supper. The Methodist church always has a breakfast for the hunters on the opening day of hunting season. The VFW provides both a place for remembering our vets and teaching our youth to honor the flag. We also have Elks and Shriners, Moose and Knights, Pilots and study clubs, all striving to make our town an even better place to be. The community center, the high school, and the mart of Wal take turns sponsoring blood drives. In reality, the main problem we have in November is that, with so many churches and organizations providing Thanksgiving baskets, we have to make sure that the recipient families are not duplicated. Our youth are currently holding blanket drives, canned food drives, and looking for more ways to serve.

No, we are not perfect. Yes, we have problems. This is not the post for that. This is the post in which I thank God that I not only live in Texas, but in this little corner of Texas where, according to my daughter, the biggest problem is that the people are "aggressively friendly."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Raspberries and Roses

On Wednesday, I went to Lane Bryant to buy pants. Everything in the store was 40% off so I took a goodly chunk of change and went to buy 5 pair of black pants for work. I got to the store and there was one pair on the rack in my size. The nice lady checked in the back and found another pair. I bought both pair, different styles, and she commented that it was too bad that I was not one size smaller as they had "tons" of pants in that size.

I went home and put on a new pair of pants for class that night. They were loose in the waist, in the hips, in the thigh, and dragging on the ground. "Hurray," I thought. "I can go buy 4 more pair in the smaller size."

Today, I went to town to buy the pants. I got there and there were none in that size on the rack. A different sales girl asked if she could help me and I explained why I was there. She went to check in the back and I happily browsed, humming a little song under my breath. That is, I was humming until she returned and told me that they had NO pants that size. The girl who had waited on my 2 days ago was there and I turned on her and said, "But, SHE told me that there were TONS of pants in that size!" SHE went back to look and said that they were still there but that another customer had put 4 pair on hold until the 8th and she could call me if the customer did not pick them up. I told her I would rather she ordered me some and had them shipped to my house. She went to do so and then told me that the company did not have ANY in that size.

To say that I was not amused would be such an understatement. I left the store, rather loudly telling my husband that if I ever started to go in there again, he should shoot me.

We had lunch then with Juls and Rusty and it was a very nice meal. We laughed and snarked and solved the problems of the world.

Shorty and I then went to the mart of Wal to buy a steam cleaner for the carpet and a battery charger for the Lincoln so that he could go to a gun show with Rusty on Saturday. The cleaner, the liquid for the cleaner, the battery charger and a movie, along with a small cash advance came to a little over $500. This is not my complaint. My complaint is, that with 4 cashiers standing in the main alley waiting for customers, not ONE of them greeted us or asked us if we were ready or any other thing. We picked a line, the cashier rang up our purchase, I paid and we left. He never! smiled, made conversation, or asked any of the gazillion questions that I KNOW the mart's cashiers are supposed to ask.

I was so annoyed and so disheartened that I decided to make one more stop on the way home. I stopped at the United Grocery Store in Canyon, TX. I used to stop there almost daily but my job changed and I had not been there in a very long time. I walked in, browsed around and bought a thank you card and a couple of paperbacks. No fewer than 7 people greeted me. 2 cashiers asked if I was ready. The cashier I went to, Chase, was pleasant, conversational, smiling, efficient, and just generally nice. The girl who bagged my purchases smiled, spoke to me, and thanked me for my business.

The thank you card that I bought? It was to send to United because I had faith that their employees would still have the same wonderful attitude that they have always shown. The copies of the thank you card that I made after I wrote a little note? They will go to the home offices of Lane Bryant and the mart of Wal.

It's not hard, people. If you work with the public, smile. If you can't smile, get a different job.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Words Matter

...or how political correctness and self-esteem protection are ruining our youth.

I know a person who is 21 years old. She graduated from high school. She has held one job in her life and that for a total of about 4 months. She is currently receiving food stamps, WIC, medicaid, housing assistance and other assorted monies supplied by our government. Oh wait, that's us. Yes, supplied by us. All told, she is the recipient of approximately $1900 monthly in aid.

This person was with my child in a government assistance office today. My child was acting as chauffeur. My daughter mentioned that she felt awkward, since she had never taken advantage of public assistance. This person said that she really resented people who did.


I am not saying the people do not need help. People do need help. When I was 20 and widowed and left with a 4 month old injured child, I needed help. I applied for food stamps and got them. As soon as I got a job, I went to the food stamp office to tell them that I no longer required the help that I had been receiving. The lady there told me that I still qualified and spent some time trying to convince me to stay on them. I declined.

I think that maybe if we just called welfare, welfare, people would know that it was not an entitlement but an act of charity by those people who do support themselves and their families. As I used to tell my daughter, "You can call it a rock an elephant if you want to, but it doesn't make it so." So you can call it food stamps, but it is welfare. You can call it WIC (Women, Infants, Children), but it is welfare. You can call it Medicaid, but it is welfare. You can call it Housing Assistance, but it is welfare. And welfare is charity.

When I was little, I learned that the 3 theological virtues were faith, hope and charity and that the greatest of these is charity. Nowadays, I hear that the 3 virtues are faith, hope, and love and that the greatest of these is love. It is an act of charity, an act of love to take care of those who cannot care for themselves, be it permanently or temporarily.

I am not even going to address the fact that an unemployed, not making an effort to be employed, non-student is making as much in tax-free aid as I am making working full-time and paying the taxes that support her.

I just think that we are all so worried about not making someone feel bad because they need help that we have failed to realize that a great many of them don't feel bad. They think it is their right.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hallowe'en Heroes

My grandson goes to Holy Cross Catholic Academy. Since it is a Catholic school,Hallowe'en is celebrated, being originally a religious holiday (Hallowed Eve, the night before All Saint's Day). The paragraph below is taken from HCCA's facebook page and explains the parameters of their school costumes.

"This Halloween, HCCA will be celebrating the lives of moral heroes and heroines. Students may dress as someone whom they consider to be an example of virtue, integrity and a genuine concern for others. You may choose someone who lived a long time ago, or someone who is alive today. (Note: The person does not necessarily have to be a religious figure; there are plenty of moral exemplars who are not explicitly "religious"). Or you may choose a fictional character, a cartoon character, or a character from TV or the movies. The moral hero or heroine you choose does not even necessarily have to be a human being! The only requirement is that she/he/it be someone you admire because of the morally upright way in which they live. So... you have a little more than 3 weeks to get ready. Choose well, be able to explain why you chose the person you selected as a moral exemplar... and maybe you'll be one of our lucky winners! Prize suggestions are welcome; the grand prize will be announced soon!"

It turns out that Moose and his mom have differing opinions as to who or what was a suitable costume. I was lucky enough to pick up the Moose at school today. His mom and sister and nephew were with me and we started discussing his choice. Time is getting short and his mom's vacation ends tomorrow. I suggested Michael the Archangel, his mom suggested any cop or serviceman, I suggested any single mom who was working to support herself and her child(ren). He liked this last one and thought maybe he'd go as a waitress! His sister suggested a stripper and we reminded her that he did attend a Catholic school. Then, complete with light bulb over his head, he said, "I could be a bolton".

A bolton. What is a bolton, buddy? "You know, like Doug or Rhonda".

Ah, a Bolton!

His mom asked him to explain what made the Bolton's moral heroes. He said that they go to church, they do not take advantage of people, and they take care of animals.

Yep, heroes. He did well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Soapbox Time! Again!

I am doing this rant on my blog because if I did it on Facebook, I would be doing the very thing that I intend to rant about.

To all of my relatives: if you are having a problem with your spouse, child, co-workers, or the universe in general and dealing with this problem requires you to spew venom or air dirty laundry about your spouse, child, co-worker or the universe in general all over the internet - DO NOT DO IT!

First, no one really cares. If they did, they would be sitting next to you on the couch, watching chick flicks, eating ice cream sandwiches and commiserating with you.

Second, no one really cares. The person about whom you are spewing will, however, have written confirmation of every nasty, stupid, and juvenile thing you say not to mention the actual crimes to which you confess. Assault is a crime, you know.

Third, no one really cares. The "friends" you have on facebook are people who know people who know people who know people you thought you knew in high school. They are NOT really your friends. Your friends are the people who read your blog.

I addressed this to my relatives because I have already unfriended the "friends" who use a social networking site to be anti-social.

I feel better now. If you have a problem, call me. Send me a message. Send me an email. Ask for prayers. Just don't expect me to join in your hate-fest. Thanks.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Food

Sayre is hosting Fun Monday this week and she would like to know what foods we crave in fall. It seems only fitting that one of the first things I fix when the weather gets cooler is a recipe that I am pretty sure I found on Sayre's blog once upon a time.

I have, of course, tweaked it. It's what I do.

Crock pot roast

Take some vegetables, whatever you have on hand, although I favor the traditional carrots, onions and potatoes. Chunk them and put them in the bottom of the crock pot. On top of these, place a frozen roast. I prefer a nice little pork tenderloin. Put enough California blend garlic salt on the roast to completely cover it. Put the lid on and turn it on. I usually just turn it on high for however long it will cook. Can you tell that I am not really crock pot savvy?

That's it. I know it sounds too simple and easy to work but this is the best roast ever! Oh, and if you don't have veggies in your house, the supermarket carries a frozen stew blend (onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery) that works well also.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Music to calm the savage breast

I have changed my Church-going habits. I recently signed up for a study group that meets at 7:30 on Saturday evenings, right after the 6:00 Mass. This works out very well for me. I can get home early Saturday morning, sleep until the dogs wake me up and then go to Mass.

On my way Saturday, I got into a disagreement on the phone with someone. I was hot, tired, cranky, disgruntled and generally out of sorts when I got to Church. I asked God to take the garbage out of my mind and allow me to focus on why I was there.

I found His answer in the 2nd reading - Philippians 4:6-9

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you."

I have several friends who were also touched especially by this reading. His timing is impeccable. Sometimes, words are the music that calms the savage breast.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Beware of Dog(s)

On a lighter note, I NEED this sign...only redone with a Catahoula/Sharpei cross!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Soapbox Time!

A school district near us removed from the shelves of it's "Intermediate and Middle School Library" a book that was deemed NOT age-appropriate. I am not going to mention this book by name or title. I am going to include a paragraph from this book which is about young adults at a resort in the Caribbean.

"I looked up and my heart plummeted, I swear, into my colon. Because there, standing above me and ripping off his shirt was the guy. The guy from the diving board. The guy with the muscular calves and, oh god, the swimsuit riding low enough for me to conjure up some serious imagery."

The above-referenced book was removed from a library whose clients are students from 5th through 8th grades. These kids are roughly 10 to 14 years of age.

I am old but I do remember being that age. I do not remember reading anything even similar to that until I was out of high school.

I remember, when I was in about 4th grade, being guided away from inappropriate books by our very wonderful town librarian.

I remember, when I was in high school and the Franco Zeffirelli production of "Romeo and Juliet" was in theatres. I was in an honors English class in high school and we were doing a comparison of "Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story". My high school planned a field trip so that we could see the movie. This was done after the priests had seen the movie. This was done after the nuns had seen the movie. This was done after a parents group had seen the movie. This was done after letters were sent to our homes and each and every one of our parents had the opportunity to view the movie themselves or to trust the school. My parents allowed me to go. One of the girls in my class was not allowed to go. Her parents made this choice. It was their choice to make. However, the rest of the class was allowed, with much discussion of proper behavior and appropriate response, to go. We did go and saw a very well-made movie. This movie is still one of my favorite versions of this story. Let me reiterate, though. I was in high school. Our parents and teachers still got to decide what we were exposed to.

The school board in the neighboring town followed procedure. The parents of a student had a concern with profanity and sexual content in a book their child got at the library. They went to the district. The district referred the matter to a review committee who, after reviewing the booked, deemed it not appropriate for the age group served by this particular school library.

I have been reading comments about this story in the newspaper and I am astounded by the number of people who say that, since you cannot keep your children from being exposed to sexually explicit images in song, movies, and television, you should not be able to have a book removed from a school library. When did they quit teaching critical thinking? This is not a freedom of speech issue. This book was not removed because it offended a particular race, creed, color, or religion. This book was removed because it is not appropriate for the age of the students who use that library.

Our job, as parents, teachers, grandparents, and adults in general, is to protect, to the best of our abilities, our children. If there is a parent of a 5th grader somewhere who thinks that their child needs to read this book, they can either buy it or get it from the public library. It just won't be available at their school library.

I say hurray for that school board for addressing the concerns of a parent and for having the courage to protect the children who are in their care.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pain - or lack thereof

This picture was taken in June, about a month after I had my first (and only) sciatica occurrence. I was on 3 different medications, taken, of course, at 6 different times of the day and living in absolute terror of feeling that pain again. Juls and I had planned our vacation for a long time so she drove and I hobbled and we both actually had a really good time!

All of this is to preface an amazing fact. Yesterday, I realized that I had forgotten to take the one and only nsaid that I am still taking for two whole days! For this amazing occurrence, I have the wonderful doctors at the Acute and Chronic Pain and Spine Center in Amarillo to thank. A little over a month ago (actually, the 11th of August), I had a "procedure". I have arthritis in my spine. It is what it is. The lovely doctor injected a cocktail of drugs into my spine. If the pain was relieved, then down the line, when that relief wore off, the doctor would take a laser and cauterize the nerves in those three bottom vertebrae. The pain was relieved, the limp disappeared, the cane was put in the back of the pickup and life became, once again, easy. I was always a little on edge, though, waiting for the pain to return. It hasn't and I quit the stronger medicine right away. By this week, all I am taking is prescription strength Aleeve twice daily....and I forgot to take it!!!!

Thank you, God, for the talent and the knowledge You give my doctors! and for my insurance covering almost all of it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Secret Family Recipes

I was reading Guideposts magazine the other night and, as usual, finished feeling slightly more uplifted than when I started. I always find some thought or nugget of inspiration to help me. This time? God help me, I found a recipe. It was not the healthy recipe that Guideposts includes on their recipe page. This recipe was tucked away inside an article about Kristin Chenowith, who is a talented actress and songstress and one of the tiniest people I have ever seen. Ready for her recipe? which she stole from Kristi Dawn but included in her autobiography? Here it is - and to all of my kids and grandkids, feel free to steal this as a family recipe!

The Top Secret Recipe for Kristi Dawn’s No Calorie Left Behind Butterfinger Pie

  • Crunch up six king-size Butterfinger bars. Smash them up in a plastic bag or beat them with a rolling pin while they’re still in the wrapper. Exercise your aggression. Very therapeutic.
  • Take a twelve-ounce deal of Cool Whip and mix it up with the candy-bar shrapnel.
  • Plop all that into one of those graham-cracker crusts. (Just get over yourself and buy the premade kind. Don’t be all Barefoot Contessa about it.)
  • Freeze! No, not you, the pie. I mean freeze in the freezer, not in the theatrical sense. This is important. If you skip this step, people will assume it’s French onion dip and stick their potato chips in it.
  • Serve with a smile on paper plates. The kind with the rippled edges, whenever possible.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fun Monday - Movies That Make You Think

Our hostess this week is Sayre, who makes me smile. She recently saw the movie, "The Help" and now wants to know what movies have we seen that make us think. I did see "The Help" and it made me think but I didn't want to be a copy cat. So I started thinking back to the movies that I watch over and over again.

I love musicals. I am the only person in my family who loves musicals with the exception of Julie, who only loves "Annie" because it makes me crazy.

I first saw this movie when I was in my 20s. Believe it or not, when it first came out, in 1967, I was not allowed to see it because Guinevere and Lancelot committed adultery. I rather miss that world.

Anyway, when I first saw this movie, I wanted the kind of love that Guinevere and Lancelot had - love that could crush a king, love worth risking everything for, love - to steal a line from "On a Clear Day" - "beyond anything".

I saw this movie again when I was in my 30s. I could not, having lived a little by then, believe the lack of loyalty and fidelity displayed by the two people Arthur trusted most. I no longer envied Guinevere and Lancelot. I was disdainful of them. I pitied them, that they would betray the man who loved them both.

In my 40s, when watching this movie, I was so angry at Arthur that I could not finish watching it. How could he? How could he put his ideals ahead of the woman that he had sworn to protect, to love, to honor, to cherish? How could he not fight for her? How could he just abdicate everything, including Guinevere's heroic rescue, to Lance? How could he succumb to the evil that was Mordred?

I watched this movie again not too long ago. I was just sad. Arthur lost his kingdom. Lance lost his honor. Jenny lost both of the men who defined her without ever discovering who she was. Ah, well, maybe in the convent. The only winner in this story is us - the inhabitants of the future, if we are smart enough to learn any of the lessons in this fable.

I still love the music. I love Camelot. I love the dream, the chivalry, the code of honor. Hmmm, must be time to watch it again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Tonight, I had a meeting wherein we discussed readings for the church for Advent. There were several options and we took turns reading them aloud to see which ones spoke most to our souls.

We chose a booklet of reflections from Mother Teresa, which will be wonderful.

One of the other readings, though, is running through my head. We all know that whatever runs through my head must exit out of my mouth (or fingertips).

The writer, Mark Neilsen, asked why, during Advent, we still waited for Jesus to come? Hadn't He already been born, long ago, in Bethlehem? Yes, He had.

We wait, still, for Him to return in the future, as God promised.

Mr. Neilsen then made the point that we don't have to wait at all. We just have to ask. Jesus is waiting for us. Let me repeat that. Jesus is waiting for us, for me. All I have to do is ask and He will be with me. He will stay with me. He will protect me. He will guide me. He will laugh with me, and at me. He will comfort me. All I have to do is ask.


Monday, September 12, 2011


I got my first tattoo when I was 31. I am planning my next one.

Tomorrow, Lily gets tattooed. I know of horses who get tattooed on their lip or their ear or some other part of their anatomy for identification purposes. The Lippizzans are tattooed and/or branded in several different places.

Such is not the case with Lily.

Julie can tell you all the technical names for what her horse is. Her horse is a paint. One of her horse's eyes is surrounded by white hairfurcoat (whatever it is that horses have). Horses whose eyes are thus positioned are prone to cancer of the eye. So, much in the manner of a football player, a black line will be tattooed around her eye to give her protection.

I was campaigning for a daisy or a sunflower. Juls wanted the Gene Simmons eye. Nope. The vet says a plain old line. Oh, well.

I am posting a before picture of Lily now.

OK, this is actually a picture of Julie on Lily. I just like the picture.

This is a better shot of Lily's eye.

The after shots will follow fairly soon, I hope.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembrance 2011

We DO remember

Father Mychal's Prayer

Lord, take me where you want me to go;

Let me meet who you want me to meet;

Tell me what you want me to say, and

Keep me out of your way.

Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M.Chaplain,

New York Fire Department

Copyright ©2001 Holy Name Province

While researching Father Mychal, I came upon this picture of a stained glass window in his memory at St. Francis of Assisi Church in NYC.

Please keep all of our heroes, civilian and military, both home and abroad, alive and deceased, recognized and unrecognized, past and present and future, in your prayers.

I posted this last year and I probably will next year. I think that Father Mychal bridges the gap for me between the civilians who died on 9/11/2001 and the first responders who died then and the military who are still dying. He, as a priest, was a civilian. As the fire department chaplain, he was a first responder. As a warrior of God, he was, and is, the ultimate military hero.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How do we honor them?

I have been thinking, today, of tomorrow. Tomorrow will be 10 years since 9/11/2001. There are a plethora of television specials and numerous memorial events, including one at Ground Zero. You know, they can name that holy space any name they want. To me, and I think a lot of other people, it will always be Ground Zero.

It is easy to honor our military. It is easy to honor our law enforcement. It is easy to honor our fallen firefighters. There are rituals already in place, steeped in history and tradition. We know the steps to take, the songs to sing, the prayers to say.

How do we honor those 2735 civilians who died in the World Trade Center? How do we honor those 87 passengers and crew members who were aboard American Airlines Flight 11 that hit the North Tower? How do we honor those 60 passengers and crew members who were aboard United Flight 175 that hit the South Tower? How do we honor the 36 passengers and crew members who were aboard United Flight 93 who died in Pennsylvania, having stopped 4 more hijackers from attacking another building? How do we honor the 64 passengers and crew members aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon? How do we honor the 70 civilians who died at the Pentagon?

I think that we honor them by living.

I think that we honor them, not just by the great and heroic acts that some of us will do, or have done, but by the little things, the every day things.

My husband, with his son, daughter-in-law, grandkids, grandkids-in-law, and assorted other family, will be at the drag races out in California this evening. I do not know what they plan for tomorrow.

I will be at the ceremony to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks just before 8:00 a.m. Sunday at the flag circle at Veterans' Park. I will be at Mass at 9:00 a.m.. Then, I have a horse show (my daughter is riding), a Church meeting, and a Boy Scout family function in the evening. I will take care of my dogs. And through it all, I will remember. I will pray. I will thank God that I have the opportunity to do all of the mundane things that we all take so much for granted.

I will remember.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I love words!

When I was a little girl, back before Pizza Hut was invented and when no one ate frozen foods (except vegetables and stuff that your mom made and froze, like pies) my mother bought a pizza kit called Appian Way Pizza. It came in a box and, as a special introductory offer, with it's own cookie sheet.

You made the dough, spread it in the cookie sheet, put the canned sauce on it and then the special package of cheese, which didn't melt. Very scary stuff. The scariest part was that it wasn't round! Everyone knows that pizza is round. That pizza was just wrong. I think we only had it once.

Fast forward to tonight. I wanted pizza for dinner and, since our local pizza place does not deliver south of the tracks, I took my refrigerated pizza dough out of the fridge. It was kind of stuck in the tube thing so I pried it out, pieced it together and cobbled together a dough that sort of resembled South America. I drizzled it with olive oil and then layered on sliced green olives, bacon crumbles and the custom blend pizza cheese from the great mart of Wal. Seventeen minutes later, I had a wonderful pizza.

No, it didn't have sauce. No, it wasn't round. No, it wasn't wrong.

It was artisanal.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hearing Tests

I was reminded today by a friend's prayer request of this little bit of family history. It actually explains so much.

When Moose was 2 months old, he and his mom and his dad and his four sisters all came to our house for Christmas. It was the first time that Shorty had met Moose's dad and siblings. Duck, also, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Anyway, the girls had the back bedroom and Moose's crib was in with his parents and Christmas was basically EVERYWHERE in the house. It was a wonderful, crazy, stressful, happy time and to say that Moose had everyone wrapped around his pinkie was an understatement.

Having said that, there was just something about the baby that didn't seem right. Juls and I had followed my mom's example from the day the baby was born and put him right in the middle of the house. No silence for one of our babies. Babies need to get used to the world. I remember when Juls was little and Mom put her in the middle of the living room and vacuumed around her!

Moose was a very good baby. He slept. He ate. He pooped. He slept. He ate ...well, you get the idea. The one thing that I didn't think he did well was respond to noise. I would stand over his little crib and clap my hands. NO REACTION! Absolutely none. I panicked and, being the sharing person that I am, spread this panic to his parents and his grampits. Moose's dad was in the Navy at that time and, after they got back to California, took the little man to the doctor for tests. By this time, Juls and I had already planned what steps we would take for her poor deaf baby for the next 18 years. We had researched schools and camps and therapies. We were prepared for anything.

Except the actual diagnosis.

The Navy doctor, after checking out the Moose and running some tests, said (and I quote), "His hearing is fine. He's just the youngest as*hole I've ever met".

Too much noise and stimulation, evidently. He didn't care for all the hoopla so he just checked out. That's a lot of control for a 2 month old!

So, today, please pray for my friends' grandson, Will. With all love, I hope that he is just another as*hole!

**the picture is from 2 years later. I just like it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Help

When I first heard all of the buzz about the movie, "The Help" based on the book of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, I immediately ordered the book for my Nook.

While I like movies, I love books. I love the detail and the nuance often contained in a book and missing from a movie. I have to tell you, I loved this book.

I was a child of the late 50s and early 60s. I was as insulated as a middle-class child of that era could be. My parents did not have "help". We had my mother! None of my friends' parents' had "help". To be perfectly honest with you, I did not personally know a black person until I was in high school. Much of this book is foreign to me.

We did study current events in school, though, so I was aware of the civil rights movement. The physical manifestations of it just did not occur where I lived.

I have, since I have grown up, travelled a great deal across this country of ours. I have witnessed occasions of prejudice, though few and far between and not always against persons of color. I have heard the criticism of this book, chastising the author for daring to speak in the voice of a colored maid.

I think we should just thank her for speaking. If you have seen the movie, read the book. If you read the book, please stop and think. I know our world is not perfect. I know our country is not perfect. But can we not appreciate the fact that 45 years after Medgar Evers was killed in Jackson, MS a black man was elected President? I am not suggesting that we, as a country, sit on our laurels but can we not, just for a moment, appreciate the strides that have been made?

I am climbing off of my soapbox now. I am going to get a cup of tea, a slice (or two) or chocolate cream pie and sit and re-read my book.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Whose Story Is It?

It is very hard to write my story because it is not just mine. It is my childrens', my husband's, my mom's, my dad's, my siblings', even my dogs'. It is very hard to write just about MY story.

Many years ago, amid much turmoil and strife, I was given the choice. Divorce your husband or lose your children. Stay with your husband and lose your kids or divorce your husband and maybe keep your kids. This choice was worded not so much as a request as it was an ultimatum. I felt trapped and backed into a corner. I felt scared and alone. I made my choice.

I cannot, in all honesty, say that I regret that choice. Living that life, the life that ensued from that choice, brought me where I am today and made me who I am. I do regret the pain that making that choice caused other people.

Leaving my husband now, amid very little turmoil and strife, has once again caused pain to those whom I love the most.

I can only say that I am no longer trapped, no longer backed into a corner, no longer scared or alone. I know who I am and what I am worth. I know who you are and what you are worth and what kind of example I want to set for you.

I want you to be strong in the love of God. I want you to be as blessed as I have been and as I am now. I want you to make better choices than I did but to know, that if you don't, you always can.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bonnie the Pack Rat

We own 3 real dogs and a Chihuahua for reasons which have already been discussed. Bonnie is the chihuahua. I have always maintained that chihuahuas are not dogs at all but vermin. I now have proof.

If any of you have ever been visited by a packrat or even an ordinary house mouse, these pictures will make more sense to you. We all know that mice chew, destroy, shred, and mutilate things in order to feather their nests. I now take you to......

Bonnie making her way out of bed

Bonnie rearranging her bed

What the dog - oh, wait, the vermin - left.

The gold bed in the background is Bonnie's actual bed. The last time I saw a dog in it, it was the Boxer and no, I didn't have my camera. Holly is fond of sleeping with her head in the little dog bed. The windowpane check in the foreground is one of 4 large beds in our bedroom. It's matching counterpart is on the other side of our bed. The 3 large dogs take turns sleeping on them, depending on who gets to the good ones first. That is a $70 bed. Bonnie has systematically burrowed, chewed and removed the stuffing from the bed. She can now make her way inside the bed, throw out more stuffing, and make herself comfortable.

She is a very expensive free dog.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011, The Last Day

On the way home from Fredericksburg, we stopped in Big Spring for lunch. As we drove into town, we saw this:
Yet another hovering helicopter

There had been a grass fire earlier and this helicopter was checking for hot spots and dumping retardant on them.

We had lunch at Al's where the brisket was good, the potato salad was mashed and the cole slaw was pink. Not bad, just different!

and this is why I love Al's! and small town Texas towns!

Between Big Spring and Post, we saw this coming up on our left.

As seen on TruTV -

on Black Gold, it's the Big Dog Drilling Rig!

From here we drove safely home, collapsed into our respective lives and are planning the next trip! Thanks for a great vacation, Juls!

Anticipation? or Trepidation? or Nausea?

There need to be more words. Do you remember how you used to feel the day after Labor Day when school started? When your pencils all still had erasers and your lunchbox wasn't dinged and your new school shoes weren't scuffed? When the whole bright, beautiful year was just waiting for you to unfold it?

That's sort of how I feel...when I don't feel like throwing up.

I am starting over and I am a little old to be starting over. There is no rush to my moving since I will be dogsitting for my own dogs for the next month or so while Shorty is on a road trip. Now I know how dads feel when someone says they're babysitting their own kids. Anyway, I digress.

I am not changing towns, just houses. I have found a rental which is really quite nice. It's a duplex with off street parking and big trees and someone else to mow the lawn. However, with interest rates what they are right now, we are contemplating trying to buy a house for me to move into.

First step taken today. We met with the mortgage lady at the bank and got the paperwork to fill out. I will probably do that tonight since I am sleep deprived today. I do feel a lot like I did, though, when I was taking the entrance exam for high school.

So, pray for me (and us). Thanks, y'all.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011, Day 7

On which day, Juls and I left Corpus Christi and returned once again to Fredericksburg.
Does anyone know how to keep humidity out of your camera lens?

A truly amazing store in Fredericksburg

that goes on...

...and on.
This is where your knight in shining armor lives.

This may be my next purchase...

but I would have to put wings on it!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baby Pictures - Corpus Christi 2011

This is my baby. This is the smile you see EVERY time you point a camera at her face. There are NO non-smiling pictures of Juls. She decided early on that there would only be smiling pictures. I love this face.
Irish eyes (even is she is half German)

The requisite picture of the picture taker.

Then I got bored, waiting for the boat to depart on it's little cruise and I just started clicking. I think it was the sea air but Juls indulged me with an expression or two. I do have her permission to share!
Oh, fine!

You know I hate this

Smile? I show you a smile!

Sad Juls

Happy Juls

Smart alec Juls

You're actually taking these?


Wow. You do know that I love you...

... a lot!
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