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Sunday, November 29, 2009

My own version of The Help

This is a shameless plug for my new favorite book, The Help. It took me straight back to my childhood of Arvela Gaston and Eva Lou Sims--the two black ladies who raised me. Actually, Arvela really raised me--Eva Lou was just there in the beginning. They were both my white starched uniform world and I loved them more than anything or anybody. As I was number three, I spent a lot of time with them and Arvela taught me everything I know about cooking. I would stand on a chair up next to the "stove", as she called it, and my job was to stir whatever it was she was making--whether it needed it or not. Unless it was hot grease for fried chicken and then this baby chile wasn't allowed anywhere near that stove or I'd get pretend "whupped" with a wooden spoon. Law...she would have killed herself "if something had happen to her baby white chile".

Eva Lou was the one who fixed our hair in the tightest pony tail God ever created. That was back in the rubber band era and it hurt like hell to have that rubber band pulled out so I used to beg for Eva Lou to just cut it. She'd pull my hair so tight I swear I looked like I'd had one of those Miracle Lifts on TV--my face was literally s-t-r-e-t-c-h-ed. Arvela made the droopiest pony tail but it didn't hurt--it didn't stay up--but it didn't kill ya either.

I only remember Arvela bathing me probably because I was afraid Eva Lou might hold me under water. I remember being toweled dry with those gnarly brown hands and then powdered up with bath powder before she put on my nightgown. I even remember the step stool we had in our bathroom so I could brush my teeth, and our bathroom was that 1950's yellow tile.

Eva Lou scared me to death after she held me over the washing machine while it was going. Conveniently, I've forgotten what I did to make her that mad but Arvela saved me--that much I do remember. When I told my mom on Eva Lou, mom either didn't believe me or just figured so what...she had three children under four years of age so unless she wanted to be maid hunting, as long as Eva Lou didn't put me in the washer, no harm was done. Thank God when Eva Lou quit to go to Nursing School. Maybe she was just a tad under challenged with us. Or just flat mean. Either way, gone was good.

Arvela could fry chicken you will only ever taste again in heaven and taught me to make potato salad that I still make to this day. It's just never as good as her's. I remember loving to watch her iron...spritz with water...hit it with the iron....sizzle....stroke......ahhhh...smooth fresh clean cotton. This was w-a-y before spray starch so her starch came out of the box and went in to the final rinse. clothes ever smelled so good.

You never forget the people who raise you, no matter who they are or what color their skin is. I can still hear Arvela's laugh to this day and boy, do I miss her chicken.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am Thankful...

....that my jeans still zip even after lunch today
....that gravy is a food group
....that Paula Deen's sweet potato recipe is published and has no marshmallows
....that the weather was purrrrfect to sit outside around our fire pit all afternoon, smoke poufing
....that chocolate meringue pie was ever invented--God bless whoever came up with it
....that robes don't have a waist and are "adjustable"
....that great books and fun reads still happen
....that fat wood sticks exist--makes fire starting so easy without gas
....that I got to be with my family and extended family today and everyone was healthy
....that I have good health, a roof over my head, food, and electricity

I am truly blessed and count my blessings daily. Happy Turkey Day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Near disaster avoided

Holy cornbread dressing for tomorrow was almost dead on arrival. My recipe calls for 3 boxes of corn bread mix, made according to the directions. No problem. I got that done a few days ago and put it in a zip lock in the fridge. Feeling all "cooking show", I pre-chopped my onions and celery so I could saute' with minimal hassle when ready to assemble. I browned my sage pork sausage and sauteed my onions and celery in the remaining fat, per the recipe. Oh, baby, I was all over it. I dumped in the seasonings, cornbread, sausage, and onion and celery mix.
Clearly I was in the home stretch and feeling pretty cocky. I started dousing it all with chicken stock, stirring, dousing, stirring dousing. Moment of truth: I checked for seasoning to see what it might need.
As God as my witness, I almost hurled....what in the tasted like some sort of "funk" you'd step over if you saw it in the alley. I salted, I peppered, I stirred--- all to no avail. I tried to put perfume on that pig but it was still a pig and it tasted sweet and just nasty. No amount of CPR was going to save this beast.

After last rites over the trash, I realized I had gotten cornbread muffin mix-- not cornbread mix--- and it had sugar in it. wonder. I'm happy to report my dressing is now made, again, and tastes great. I won't make that mistake again. And I'm going to be especially thankful tomorrow, with all the Harris clan and other guests assembled at the Farm, that I tasted that first recipe of dressing. I'd have never heard the end of it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hunger....up close and personal

Last year around the holidays, I had an eye opening conversation with Maria Martinez, who has been a part of our family and my personal shrink for years. There's no subject we haven't covered and none too tabu to tackle. She's one of my closest friends and I look forward to hearing her key in the lock on Tuesdays.

We were talking about our childhoods around Christmastime and things we remembered. I told her about my job every year of having to decorate the Christmas tree with our yardman--a task my mother assigned me--until I was old enough (and strong enough) to say hell no. I hate decorating trees to this day, though I loved our yardman. He would always try to make me laugh but it just wasn't exactly a warm fuzzy for me. I thought I had the best sob story until Maria told me about her childhood in Mexico.

It seems her dad was a bit of a drinker, skirt chaser, and though he made decent money, being faithful to Maria's mom was just not part of the deal. One year he took off permanently with the latest girlfriend, and left Maria's mom with eight children and zero pesos. Maria watched as her mom tried to scrape together enough money for food--never mind presents. Tears ran down her cheeks as she told me about the tiny tea set her mom got her baby sister, and the candy she made for the older children. She said it's a tradition in Mexico to make tamales for Christmas and her mom, being a proud, strong woman was not about to beg for money to make them for her children. And her dad, with all his money, did absolutely nothing to help out financially. He was too busy drinking and partying to even consider his children might be hungry. The staples for the tamales wasn't the hard part to come up with--it was the meat to go in the tamales that was the b-i-g problem. No money for food-- much less meat.

Christmas Eve came and suddenly out came all of the needed supplies for the tamales--including meat. Maria could not imagine how her mom could have come up with the meat. Into the kitchen they went, as a family, to make the tamales. The look in Maria's eyes, as she describes those tamales made me tear up. She was so proud of her mom and her ability to provide for her children--her work ethic, quiet strength, and her humility. Her kindness to all.

It was only a few years later that Maria realized where her mom had gotten the tamale meat. Around the same time of the need for the tamale meat, their family dog had "disappeared". Maria's mom told the children it must have run away.
For someone who has never missed a meal except by choice, the reality of hunger and a mother's love knocked the wind out of me. I had to sit down. I wondered if I could have done something that tough. I pray I never have to find out.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hud and Had

I just realized the other day after I verbally let old Sarah Palin have it for having daughter Bristol in the audience at the Oprah interview, that it wasn't Bristol--it was her sister, Willow. bad. It doesn't make me like Palin any better---I just feel a huge sense of relief for Bristol.
My testosterone free zone continues since the guys are still gone but a huge cloud of it is headed my way. Benji is on the highway from Nashville headed home and Bruce and Brian are en route from the Ranch. They are headed to Kuby's for processing of Bruce's buck so I have a little more time to enjoy my girldom.

Yesterday I was finally able to record the The Night Before Christmas (Hallmark) book I had gotten for my sister's two grandchildren. I never thought I'd throw myself under the Hallmark bus, but I did. Once I saw it on a commercial, I had to have one. Since I don't have any grand kids, I borrow hers and get to do all the fun stuff with them. We bake cookies, we go on walks, we read books, we just piddle. I've spent the night with Hudson as a newborn and he spent the weekend with me so his parents could attend a wedding. I have been strongly cautioned by both sons not to use it all up on Aunt Gretchen's grand kids. Whatever.
Hudson is three, almost four, and Hadley is two, almost three and they are the funniest children I know. (Avery Caroline is still in the hopper and will make her first appearance right after Christmas.) OK, back to the book. It wasn't hard to do but I did cuss a couple of times when I screwed up so I had to re-record. Nothing new there.

I ran by yesterday and dropped off the book for the kids in the mailbox, since no one was home. Later in the afternoon, I got a hilarious thank you call from Hadley being coached by her mom in the background. At the end of some gibberish, she screamed THANK YOU and hung up. Welllll....that was wonderful but now I had to talk to Hudson. When I called, he heard his mom say AC (Aunt Caroline) which is what they call me, and he headed over to the phone. First he wanted to know "how did you make that book have your voice?" I tried to explain it was a special book that could do that. No good. "But how did your voice say that book?......And why did you give me that book with your voice in it"? OK, now I'm really laughing and so is his mom. I told him I wanted him to have a Christmas book that he and Hadley could share and hear a Christmas story, with me reading to them, anytime they wanted to. Here's his three year old response: "Why didn't you just come over"?

Kids....they're just the greatest.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ahhhh...sweet freedom

As of this morning, I am existing in a testosterone free home for the next twenty four hours. Bruce and Brian are deer hunting in Throckmorton, Texas, and Benji's not here yet for Thanksgiving. It's quiet, there are no hunting shows or football on TV--in fact, right now it's totally silent except for my keyboard pecking. Even the dogs are quiet.

So far I have cooked a little, read the paper & had coffee, run a few errands, picked out some beee-u-tiful flowers to send friends as a thank you, and had a facial. Ahhh....being a girl sooo rocks. I spent a good twenty minutes, unhurried, picking out the flowers & looking for just the right container since a) I LOVE flowers and b) so does my friend c) there was a fat sleeping cat in the store that I love named "Sofa". Flowers and a cat? How good does it get?

We went with neighbors last night to the Screen Door for dinner and then to see Billy Crystal at the new Windspear Opera House. He was hilarious and it made me wish that gentiles had the same relationship with each other that the Jewish seem to have. His Jewish humor was for everyone but you could just tell those in the audience that were Jewish, really got it.
I was not overly impressed with the new Winspear. Give me the Mort Myerson anyday. And as it has already been pointed out in the press, they need lots more or larger capacity "facilities", for the ladies. Guys? Who cares about them...they don't even wash their hands and can group pee in a trough for all I care.

Ahhh, being female is bliss.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Parkland've gotta love it

Yesterday was the check donation drop off to Parkland. It went off without a hitch. And Parkland is still Parkland. Here's what went down: Brian and I were to meet in the hospital lobby. I was stuck in traffic so I called to tell him to go on up, and I'd be right behind him. As it worked out, I beat him there and made it to 8E only a few minutes late. NO Brian. Finally, old one crutch shows up.

Moment of truth: they want to snap a photo of Brian and me with Parkland Leadership Team and Brian is giving me the noooooooo look ...not now...not ever, hairy eyeball. I'd rather wear Sarah Palin's ugly shoes than be photographed. Ditto Brian. So it was a war of "the look" between us. You know the kind...the big stare down. The one who blinks first has to do it. Since Brian has direct Harris mule genes, I knew I was not going to win this one. Brian could out wait a rock. I caved.

Once snapped, I said my good bye's and took off. Truthfully, I was disappointed not to see a few of my favorite staff people but reminded my ginormous ego that Webb, Charlotte, Joyce, Tanya, etc. do actually have jobs to do and to just get over myself.

I was almost home when Brian called me asking "where are you"? Huh? Whaaaat? I'm on my way home, remember? It seems there was a small gathering downstairs by Physical Therapy on the first floor, where staff had gathered to say thank you, only no one had told Brian or me about it. As much as I would have loved to see everyone again, I loved it that Brian was the only one there to accept the thank you's.

The last and final funny? Cindy Scott, the Foundation officer I'd been working with gave me a small token from Parkland, in a little white box with a purple bow. Very kind. She stressed it was just a token. I forgot about it until this morning. Want to guess what was in it?
Nothing. It was empty, and I just about spit coffee all over the kitchen, laughing. You gotta love Parkland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It just wasn't what I expected.....

Monday's Oprah interview with Sarah Palin just was not what I expected at all. As most people probably know, Oprah was a huge Obama supporter and that had to make Palin just a tad uncomfortable. Don't we all pretty much want to be first choice? I know I do, as toddler as that sounds. But as "civilized" as it was, it just didn't "feel" honest, to me. I'm a big "feeler"--- I rely on my intuition and the "sense" I get of things to determine what's real and what's not.

Here are some of the the things I noticed: While Palin wasn't awful, both ladies shoes sure were. Oprah's were gold sequin peep toe and just wrong no matter how much they cost and Palin's were black with a platform that made them look like one of those "special shoes"--an orthotic one---only when you checked the other foot, it was just the same. I call that "double ugly". I also noticed when Oprah would ask Palin a question, Palin never seemed to need air, as if she thought maybe she could control the interview, by talking on and on, and maybe running the show out of time. Her responses sounded a little pat but I can promise you if the Big O was interviewing me, I'd have practised, too. A LOT. I was impressed that Oprah didn't resort to interrupting Palin, though towards the end, when Palin slowed down a little & Oprah craftily slid in another question, you could tell Oprah was tired of Palin's yabber. I sure was. And her repetitions. And just Palin in general.

Another thing was both women's body language (and no, I don't read body "language" as much the "feeling" I get from looking at each one of them). Palin was clearly on alert and nervous but didn't fidget or give anything away facially. But, boy she sure did with her voice on the Thanksgiving Levi question and whether he was invited. She glossed over it pretty well until Oprah pinned her down and you knew, despite her smile, that HELL WOULD FREEZE FIRST. Oprah could afford to be comfortable--it's her show--but I only noticed a few times when you could see in Oprah's eyes that she wasn't buying Palin's load of fertilizer, no matter how much Palin tried to wrap it in red, white and blue. The rest of the time, Oprah appeared on the outside "professionally neutral"--no matter how hard she was screaming on the inside. I'd guess that's why she's Oprah.

I also noticed when Palin's daughter's Bristol and Piper were shown sitting in the audience, neither looked comfortable at all. Given the embarrassment that Bristol has already been through with her unplanned pregnancy splashed all over the world and teary phone calls to mom during the campaign, why in this world would Palin have her come sit.... in..... the.......audience? As a show of support for mom? What.... about..... Bristol? Don't you think that was embarrassing and humiliating for her, all over again? Oh, yeah....I forgot....this is all about Sarah.

My belief? Palin is tough and ruthless. She's not above using her own daughters to make her look good and to possibly deter Oprah from asking any really tough questions. Can you say manipulation? I can.

And that's just how I see it.....

Stuff in my head

Lately, I've become all to aware that sometimes I just can't follow directions. Doesn't matter what what they're for, I just have to throw a curve ball. Example: White Chicken Chili recipe--it says to chop the tomatillos and I did, the first time. Now?......hell, no. I throw them in the blender or food processor. Is the texture different? Well, yeah. Do I care? Hell, no.
If a recipe says to add a teaspoon of X, and I like the flavor of X, you can bet the farm I'm going to add more X. If it says add a little, well, on any given day that could happen, but it also might not. If I like X, well... there's going to plenty of it. I know cooking is all about chemistry, (which I did NOT "ace" in high school but I did OK,) and so far, I've managed to sneak around any really serious disasters.

And what's really weird is that in other areas of my life, I've spent 55 years a total Rules Girl. Boy, howdy, if an invitation said to be there at noon, I was there at noon or five minutes before noon. Or if an invitation said black tie, I was out scouring the city for something "black tie" to wear. What did I think they would do...ask me to leave because my outfit was close, but just not quite black tie enough? Did I think there was a black tie meter or something, that would go off if I was "under dressed"? I think back about all the time I have wasted following rules I didn't even like or understand--just blind allegiance---and laugh out loud. And here's the scary part--I thought it was important. Isn't that what all of our parents taught us? That we simply h-a-d to conform. Hell, yeah.

Remember the "no white shoes after Labor Day" thing?? Or what? You'd be arrested by the fashion police? What dufus decided that? Was there a vote on it or did someone just issue it down as " fashion law"? And why in the world, as intelligent(?) women, did our mother's teach us that nonsense?

One word? Fear. We simply had to measure up to someone else's pre-determined idea of what was OK. many people had their creativity and potential stifled by such tight restrictions? How many kids went into careers they weren't even interested in because it was the accepted norm of the time and because their parent's would be pleased?

What if we'd all been free to follow our own paths, with unconditional parental emotional support? I wonder if we'd have as many drug addicts, murderers, serial killers? Maybe. Maybe not. I wonder.....

Lastly, to those of you who were just sure I'd be rippin' on old Sarah Palin today, stay tuned. I'm still cogitating on that. Heh, heh, heh.....

Monday, November 16, 2009

I think I have a probelm.....

I think I have Multiple Personality know...that condition where you are several different people or personalities. For example, I'd love to live in England and be English....but then there's also France. I feel more English and I hope I don't act French--although looking French would kill. I'd l-o-v-e that.

Then there's my list of interests: interior design, cooking, writing, reading, gardening, antique silver and china, jewelry, --the list is endless. Maybe I'm just a Martha wannabe. Everything but the prison/felon part. No jumpsuits for me, thanks.

I also want to be Oprah....I don't want to struggle with some of her issues but I think she's an extraordinary woman and so interesting. Not to mention an empire builder and "creator". I also love her honesty around fear--I'm thinking a billionaire bank account makes that a lot easier but still the pressure to succeed must be enormous. And I'm loving her admission that she has 150 million dollars set aside in her "Bag Lady " fund. She said she's afraid of living without modern luxuries such as running water the way she had to as a child. After our recent leak repair, I get that.

And what about Julia Child, Alice Waters, Ina Garten, and all the other great chefs of the cool would that be to know you have those skills and abilities. I like to cook but these ladies are..... off the chart. I couldn't even be one of their prep knife skills need too much work.

The good news?? Today I get to just be me......whatever that looks like. I'm not famous and don't need to be. I have the freedom to do whatever feels right to me, on any given day. Can't put a price tag on that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Woo hoo...the check is here

We got a call late Friday afternoon that the check was ready for Parkland. I am about to "bust wide open". I've put a call in to Cindy Scott, the Foundation Development officer, to set up a time maybe on Wednesday, for "the drop". Sounds like a drug deal.

Brian goes to Parkland on Wednesday and Friday for Physical Therapy so it just seemed like one stop shopping. I also asked Cindy for a copy of the Wish List for 8 East and I can hardly wait to see what's on it. If I were Mona and her staff, I'd have made two lists--a real one and a fake one. The fake one would have said stuff like pool table, chef for 8 East, margarita machine for the staff know.....the kind of stuff that would fry.... people's.... eyeballs. Then I'd slip them the real one. And if I did this, I better have my purse with me and my office packed up 'cause Security is going to be called to walk me to the door. Buh, bye. See ya. It would be hilarious, though...sort of like the show "Punk'd".

I should hear back from Cindy on Monday so check back later. Since one of my pals will be having surgery right around the time of the check drop off, we're hoping to send some really good healing, surgery Karma Woo Woo her way.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oh, I can hardly wait

I was just reading about the latest from the Sarah Palin--Levi Johnson war of words. Sarah will be on the Big O's show on Monday, and you can bet the farm I'll be watching. They've already leaked probably the best parts--will the Palin's be inviting Levi to Thanksgiving dinner, and did Palin mention Levi in her book, but I'll watch anyway. It just gases me no end to watch people
try to look honest when they are only telling half of the story. I do applaud Palin for admitting she and her husband were devastated when they found out Bristol was pregnant. Let's face it.....none of us would want that for any of our kids.

I just can't wait to hear some of Ms. O's questions....I thought the Thanksgiving one and Levi was hilarious. OMG....can you say awkward?? What nineteen year old guy would want to walk into an armed camp like that, even without a baby involved? And you know he's not invited. I do think Levi could tone it down bit and stop dumping gasoline on a four alarm blaze but for some reason, it's Palin I'm enjoying watching. You can tell she's used to dishing it out and having people/staff/family do what she says, without question. And.... then..... there's..... Levi.

It's bad enough that Levi and Bristol got pregnant together. Let's remember, it does take two. But the Palin media loves to make it sound like Bristol wasn't even there--that it was all Levi. Hello....I think she was. But the corker for me, has been the Levi, naked with only his stick....ok...sorry, I meant hockey stick..... Playgirl pictures. Talk about a one-two punch.....he's getting paid and "givin' it" to Sarah Plain, at the same time. You gotta love the guy. He's Palin's worst nightmare. You can see in his eyes he's having a pretty good time knowing old Sarah is twisting, politically and personally. He knows he can put her political career on life support, if he wants. Talk about "Going Rogue"......that should have been the title for Levi's book.

Humor aside, I hope that Palin is smart enough to get out of her daughter's business and let Levi and Bristol work out their issues--parenting and otherwise. They all need to act like adults and do what's in the best interest of the baby. My belief?? If the Palin's will get out of the way, that might just happen.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


For a nurse, I am a lousy patient. I hate feeling bad so I tend to whine a little....ok, maybe a lot. Whatever this bug is, it sucks. I keep thinking that because it came on so quickly, it'll leave the same way. Uh, not....... yet.........

Brian came by last night to pick up some muffins I'd gotten him Tuesday at Highland Park Cafeteria , better known at our house as the "Geezer-a-teria". He came in using his crutches while I was on the phone. The next thing I knew, he limped into the TV room, sans crutches, but walking. Unaided. Whoa....I got a HUGE "muffin" in my throat and had to put the phone down for a second. Geeze....stuff like that just hits me sometimes and I am rendered speechless. I just want to take it all in--sort of freeze frame it--so I can experience that feeling over and over again. And the look on his face was a total flashback moment for me. He looked exactly the same way as a toddler when he first got walking all together, and knew he could do it. Alone. All by himself. Wellllllll....looookie heah.....Mr. Brian is all growed up---again.

He said Donna, the PT lady he works with, wants him to wait two more weeks before going to a cane, for a while --his leg is just not quite strong enough yet and they don't want him to fall and re-injure himself. Wellllll....yeah....there is that.

No news on the Parkland check yet and I'm sort of glad. I don't want to miss seeing Brian give it to them and they sure don't need my germs down there. They have signs posted all over that no kids under 12 can visit on patient floors and if you are sick, not to visit patients. I kinda thought that last part was a no brainer but you'd be surprised.
I'll let you all know when the check happens and will give you the 411 here. I can hardly wait. Shoooooweeeee.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Be careful when you go to sleep

Last night I went to sleep as a woman, but woke up a man--at least that's how my voice sounded. I knew I'd been coughing a little bit yesterday and that my throat felt sort of weird--like when a sinus infection heads down your throat-- but no pain like I usually have with pharyngitis. Not until now. Now, I feel like I'm going through puberty again---only this time as a guy. My voice cracks, totally disappears, and hurts. The only thing I don't have (yet?) is the giant Adam's apple guys get....oh, please Lord, No.

Since Brian had a follow up Parkland appointment early this morning, I had said I'd take him. (Translation: I'd pay for it. Hey, if you want to be able to ask questions, you have to grease some wheels.) Anyway, when he got here this morning and heard my voice, he hooted out laughing. All this from a guy on crutches.

I'm wondering what tomorrow morning will bring.......probably no voice, a hot steamy shower, a boat load of hot tea with lemon and honey, and maybe a Z-pack. Borrrrrrrring. But it'll be worth it to sound (and feel) like a female again. This voice thing is creepy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I swear I think I spend more time charging mine than I do actually using it. What is up with that? And I hate the "call of the dying cellphone"....that insistent duh-da-duh...duh-dad-duh. On an irritation scale of 1-10, it's a 15, in my book.
And what about cellphone etiquette.... or more like the lack there of? Why do people think they are entitled to talk on their phones anywhere they want? I saw two guys nearly get into a fist fight at the movie when one guy would not stop talking on his phone. Hello? Do you really think we all want to listen to you, dude? We didn't buy a ticket to your phone call-- we bought one to the movie.
Ever been out to dinner and had to listen, ad nauseum, to someone else's one sided phone call? And worse still, what about when it's someone at your table? Even the stink eye doesn't work. They just keep on talking. If it's at another table, at least you can complain to your waiter (like that'll really help). On an airplane, you might as well just go ahead and stroke 'cause you are trapped and likely to hear w-a-y more information than you really want to know. What will we do if they start letting people talk in the air, too.......damn, I'll either have to wear those Bose noise reduction headphones or hunting earplugs. Won't that be a fashion statement.
Have you seen those ladies out for a cardio walk on a beautiful day, jabbering on their phones, completely oblivious to everything going on in the world: the leaves changing, the puppy in the next yard, the flowers on the bush they just blew past? Ladies, are you solving World Hunger? Are you ending the War? Are you discussing the solution to World Peace?
If not, hang up already.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A different kind of Thanksgiving....

I was thinking in the shower (where I do my best work) how this Thanksgiving will be different from other years. In previous years, my thoughts were generally around where we were going, what I was cooking, to brine or not to brine the turkey, etc. This year will be different. Way different. This year, I'll be grateful for so many things that I just glossed over in the past or just never really understood in the way I do now.

My kids and Bruce? Always a given. But this year, I now really "get it" on a different level. Brian could so easily have died back in July. All he needed was to have been hit by a car after the crash or a big fat complication while in the hospital, and he'd have been g-o-n-e. Tomorrow he turns 28.

This year I'll think about Bruce's steadfast help taking care of Brian at 3am or bathing Brian in the solar shower outside in 100+ degree temperature. I'll think about the vacation he gave up that he was soooo looking forward to, to sit daily with Brian at Parkland. It's beyond what I can even wrap my brain around. I'll think about Benji's calls to check on Brian and his honest admission that "mom...I'm almost glad I'm not there....I don't think I could handle seeing Brian like that". Friends and family that came out of the woodwork to help.....I'll never see that the same way again.

I'll think about the surgeon who removed Brian's ex-fix and how scared I was since we'd never met him until 20 minutes before surgery, knew zilch about him, and was saying the exact opposite of what the other surgeon, we had met, had told us. Turns out later, I found out he is one of the best, in the world. People come from all over to have him operate on them. Whoa.

I'll think about the donation from the Draggert Foundation that 8 East will be receiving shortly. Brian is going to go down to Parkland (on his crutches) to give Mona Frazier, the Nurse Manager of 8 East, the check. I'll be a fly on the wall but I'll be there just to witness it.

It's going to be a different kind of Thanksgiving for me this year....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I admit it

I love to cuss. I know some people find it offensive and I get that. But for me, it's just a necessary evil and a damn fun one. I try to be mindful of what I say around other people and if I really give a hoot, my language is acceptable. But on those occasions when I'm hangin' with my pals, kicked back and havin' fun, you can bet I'm not going to watch my language. To me, there is an art form to cussing. You can't just say the words--you have to arrange them cleverly so they sound funny while painting a picture at the same time. This takes practice. You really have to pay attention and think.

I heard someone say that cussing was the result of an inferior intellect and limited vocabulary. B******t. Translation? Nuh uh. I figure lettin' it rip once in awhile is good for the soul. As long as it's not pointed at anyone, and out of earshot of anyone who'd be offended, who exactly does it hurt? I'm not thinking the walls or furniture are gonna get their feelings hurt. And sarcasm is o-u-t. Just good, clean cussing. There's a relief in lettin' it fly that's w-a-y- better than chocolate, and if done well, ends up making me LOL.

It's a beeeee-u-tiful day outside and I may just have to go out and cuss a little.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The annual Halloween Party

Saturday was my most favorite Fall event hosted annually by a wacky neighbor down the block. She's single, middle aged, and just "different". But, man, her Halloween bash for our block is just the most anticipated event every year. She has this cool Gypsy wagon that she has delivered to her driveway that you can actually climb up inside, and every year, she hires a magician or buttonholes a neighbor, to do magic tricks. The wagon is all painted--inside and out--with "gypsy colors", is all lit up with those hanging pots that look like fire, lights inside, and a wooden step so the kids can go in and get up close and personal with the magician.

Then there are the tables in her front yard, decorated with pumpkins, candy,& votive lights so you can sit down with your plate, after the buffet. Did I mention food? One year she went Thai with all kinds of satay and stuff on skewers. Another year it was Wild About Harry's Chili dogs and then cinnamon ice cream. And for the last few years, it's been Mexican food--flautas, tamales, salsas, guacamole, rice, beans & chips, bunuelos or soft serve ice cream. Yeah, baby. There's beer, a frozen margarita machine, Cokes, waters, etc. in the coolers. She must have a generator stashed somewhere to power all that stuff. And thank heaven for the outside lights so that you can actually see neighbors, as you visit. Sometimes this is about the only time I see the "end of the block" bunch--especially the old ones.

But this year, someone was missing. Her giant dog, Teddy. He had been declining in past years so earlier this year, he caught the train. Yeah....that one. You know the one I'm talking about.

She used to have birthday parties for Teddy and invite all the dogs on the block. She'd drop invitations in your mailbox and there were goodies for pets and their owners, paper hats, cake, and she held it outside on the yard at the church down the block, so all the dogs could run around. But Teddy's Halloween costumes were the best. One year he was a pirate, and wore the whole costume, cape, and hat. And for a couple of years, he was a ballerina, in a pink net tutu, clearly miserable but always a great sport. One year he was a pink "something", and wore large pink wings on his back. When he'd sit down, which was often because he was old, his wings would flop over in the grass. Other dogs would have chewed those babies off. Not Teddy. He had the best disposition of any dog I know--especially a cross dressing one.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wish he'd been my dad....

A friend growing up had the dad I always wanted. He was big, funny, and always had a project going. He was also crippled by polio and except for his obvious limp, you'd have never known. He did stuff other dad's would never do. He sang at the Bluebird's Father-Daughter banquet and wasn't embarrassed. My dad looked like he was going to throw up. He wore shorts with his withered leg in full view and didn't care.

My friend's dad would take us fishing at Little Sandy, and laugh when I kept casting up into the weeds. He couldn't fish for getting my line untangled. When I finally did catch a fish, he made it tinkle on my leg. He knew right where to squeeze and, presto--fish pee. Well, I hope it was pee anyway. He bought a player piano out of the classifieds--and kept it in his garage. Along with the turtle eggs he saved on his way back from a Rockport fishing expedition and buried in sand to try and hatch. I can't tell you the hours his daughter and I wiled away playing songs on that player piano in the garage, waiting for those turtles to hatch. And then there was his Vespa. Another classified ad purchase. Sometimes if I was going over to their house, my friend would get her dad to pick me up on his Vespa. He was a huge bear of a man and looked just like the bears in the Circus, riding a scooter. I would always crack up laughing as he rounded our block, buzzing his horn. There was no safer more fun place in the world than climbing on the back of that scooter, wrapping your little kid arms around him, and taking off. He was so big you could only see side to side, but who cared?? You were with him and it was a blast.

Then there was the Fiat he bought that looked just like a cartoon car. No doors, a fringe on top, and the lights on the front looked just like two bug eyes, on a face. I doubt it was even street legal but we drove it everywhere anyway. We even drove it on the golf cart path at the Dallas Country Club until we finally got caught. Her dad didn't get mad--he just laughed.

He was also a great cook. No matter what he was making, every recipe started off with a tablespoon of chili powder. He was also known for his pranks. When the squirrels kept invading his bird feeder, he covered the pole in Tabasco. Then he put the bird feeder pole on a spring so when the squirrels jumped on it, it threw them off. Then there were the duck decoys he loved to float on their pool. They looked just like the real thing and cracked up kids and adults alike.
As much as he hated the raccoons that lived in their alley, he sure loved to frustrate them. He would put out a bowl of water and a bunch of saltines for them. Then he'd sit back and watch them wash those crackers until they dissolved into mush--completely inedible. We'd hear him laughing his hyena laugh, and run to see what he was up to. When you heard that laugh, you knew something fun was going on.

NOBODY was as much fun as he was and his impact on my life was HUGE. He's been dead for over ten years but I still miss him. He taught me to sail, to cook, to have fun, and that even though you had a withered leg from polio, you could do anything.