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Friday, October 29, 2010

Brrrr...and I love it!

Since I knew it was supposed to get a little brisk last night, I pulled out the puppy's white, fluffy duvets and put one on each bed in the event they were cold over night.  Sometimes they co-bed, sometimes Sis kicks Wig out for snoring, sometimes he leaves because she kicks him so much in the night.  Either way, they were "covered" last night.  I tucked the elderly gentleman in his, first, between the layers like a sandwich, with him as the meat, and he always tries to climb out, until he gets all warm and toasty.  I usually scratch on him for a second while I wait for his body heat to warm up the bed.  OOO, la la...after that he doesn't budge until morning.   Sis dives down underneath her duvet for maximum snoozability.  She looks like a reverse Oreo--white chocolate outside with the dark chocolate center.  Deeeelish and the warm dog smell is pure heaven.

I just looked down below my desk and found Sis, hogging the entire donut bed, with old, arthritic Wigman sitting beside the bed on the carpet, all chilly and pitiful looking.  That is just soooo Sis, so I picked him up, shoved her enormous butt over and snuggled him in.  Now they are both snoozing happily.  I thought I had pretty much ceased parenting.  NOT.  At least not for these two anyway.

I haven't told the pups we are all headed for the Farm tonight since time ticks so slowly when you are a dog, waiting to go somewhere.  They will both know anyway once they see us packing up and then the frenzy will begin.  It's better not to have to deal with both of them going nuts until later.  I won't blog from the Farm since there's no WiFi connection at the house and besides, I'll be too busy stoking my fire in the fireplace, cooking burgers outside, and mostly chasing down Sis.  Geeeze....she's a full time job and with the tree men there??....Oh, Lordy...it's likely to be more excitement than one gal can stand.

JMO

Since yesterday I was in desperate need of a pick me up, I ran by to see Wolverine and the Fairy Princess, and baby sister, Avery.  They actually were not in costume when I got there, but after Wolverine appeared in his, F. P. had to go put on hers.  Nothing like two little kids in Halloween costumes to make you laugh, and honey, they delivered.  Big time.

Afterwards, on my way home, I went shopping for their Christmas presents....I know....before Halloween.... but this year, I've decided to get my shopping done early, and stress less.  Shuddddup....I'm gonna give it a try.  I got Wolverine's gift, but FP's has no come in yet, despite the fact it is on the front of one of the kid's store catalogs.  I'm on the call list for when it does come in, and it's gonna rock her world when she gets it.  Picture it: a hot pink, crushed velvet looking, machine washable, girl super hero cape, and matching reversible mask.  Ohhhhh, yeah, baby.  This is b-i-g stuff.  I can just see her flying through the house in it now.  And since Wolverine already has his cape, they will soon be able to do a dual fly- by.  Way cool.

  I'm still working on baby Avery.  Since she turns one a few days after Christmas, this year I may just do a birthday present--her big day.  After that, she'll get two every year--one for Christmas and one for her birthday.  As a December birthday kid, I know what it's like to get that "combo" present every year-- and ask any December birthday kid and they will all tell you the same thing:  December birthdays and a combo gift SUCK.  As do birthday gifts wrapped in Christmas paper.  Other birthday month people just do not get this, until you give them a "combo" gift wrapped in Christmas paper, on their birthday, in July.  And even then, they will act like you are nuts and they are fine-- they aren't-- they just have birthdays in other months so they are clueless.  And it's not about the present--it's about the combining--you wouldn't do it any other month, so don't do it in December either.  It's just wrong--take it from me--and that's just how I see it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ouch!

Yesterday I got the dreaded phone call.  The one where they told me mom needed someone to come with her, to get her hair done.  I had called them Tuesday to check something out and the Receptionist said things were OK.  No hint that we were there yet.  But after her appointment yesterday, they called and said she was a falling risk, and that did it for me.  Of course she's a falling risk...no question about it and I totally understood where they were coming from--it still just didn't make that news feel good.  Further down the tubes we go.

So, late yesterday afternoon, I made a quick call to the big Salon at The Edge, as we now call it.  It was 5:15pm so I figured I'd just leave a message.  Nope...it was even better than I expected.  Jennifer, the wonderful gal who had just recently done mom's hair answered, I recognized her voice, and told her what I needed.  DONE.  Standing appointments set up?  Yep.  Nails and pedi's arranged?  You betcha.  Even a facial and waxing if she wants it.  WOW....I cannot stress the relief I felt and kindness they showed both mom and me.  We got it set up for them to be paid weekly, as she uses them, and afterwards, I sat back stunned.  Boy, if you think there's not a God out there looking after you, ya might want to look more closely.  When I called my sister to report what had happened, she got really quiet and said "well...God's been busy, hasn't He?"

I realize hair appointments aren't a huge deal on most people's list of important matters, but it is on mine, where mom is concerned.  It's a quality of life issue and I don't know a woman alive who doesn't feel wonderful after getting her hair and nails done.  I just chatted with the Assisted Living desk at the Plaza and told them what I needed: someone to walk mom over to her appointment and walk her back afterwards.  It's close by where she is, but involves using a door with a code and I know that won't work with mom on her own.  Again I was told, "Sure...we can do that".  I hate to sound like a big weenie but when I hung up, I  almost cried.  Mom is just going down hill FAST.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Intuition on target

Dang.  My intuition was right.  No party this year for Halloween and I had to go to the dermatologist to find this out.  Seriously, I did.  While waiting in her office, in walked one of my nabes (neighbors) from down our block, so I got the full skinny.  Not only is there not going to be a party, but Cyrena sold her house to the guy next door, and he moved his elderly mom into Cyrena's old house.  Sure explains why I haven't seen Cyrena in a while.  It's also clear I need to stop pulling out the back way down our driveway and go down the front of our block, since I am missing out on all the block doings.  If it weren't for my trip to the dermo, I'd still be in the dark.  Another couple had volunteered their yard for the party but Cyrena couldn't decide whether she wanted to do it again, and by the time she decided, they'd made other plans.  Oh, well....a little Halloween candy and I'll be OK.

I just threw together my favorite quiche recipe and it's in the oven doing what quiche does, getting all custardy and deeelish.  The recipe says to put the green onions, the green chilies, the sliced ham/Canadian bacon/bacon (use what you've got), and cheese in layers but I've developed my own cut to the chase method that puts 1/2 of the cheese on the bottom, then I mix up all the other stuff and spoon it in the partially baked pie crust, throw on the rest of the cheese, and then on goes the egg, milk, pickled jalapeno, salt and pepper mixture that you whir up in the blender, and pour on.  Into the oven and up go your feet, for a nice little break.  A fruit salad or a green salad and honey, you are done.   It's even good nuked the next day for lunch, assuming there's any left.  Even the boys like this one so be advised.

Lastly, I tried a new biscotti recipe Sunday that was from the same cookbook as my favorite one--one of their alternatives, with pistachios nuts (green colored) and golden raisins.  At first, I was really underwhelmed.  Not near as good as their first one I made but ....this one grew on me.  And Fred, too.  It's only Tuesday and that biscotti is history.  Sure was good this morning with my coffee and I'm sure going to miss it tomorrow. Waaah.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sonic

It is with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I type this....  I go through this every year but this could be it.  The real deal.  The year our neighbor down the block, Cyrena, decides not to throw her annual Halloween Party.  I know I've blogged about it in the past--everybody comes or at least drops by, which isn't hard considering it's in her front yard.  And, it's the only time some of the older guard venture out.  Every year she has her Gypsy wagon with a magician, tables set up for dinner and a buffet, and she used to dress up her dog, Teddy.  We've had everything from Thai food to Wild About Harry's hot dogs and the last couple of years have been Mexican food.  If it's rainy, she does easy up tents, and if it's cold....welllll, just don't eat the ice cream and bundle up. But go.  'Cause it's fun.

Anywho, yesterday as I booked it down our block, I noticed she's having a new front walkway put in which will look really nice when they are finished.  The previously laid thin pavers, popped off after a few years and were not a good look.  The new front walk and all the work, is what has me wondering if the party is going to happen.   Arrgg!  It could happen --and since I regress back to about the emotional age of a five year old, for Halloween, I refuse to give up on this until I.... just... have.... to.  I'm just going to hold out hope that maybe I'm wrong.  She tried to sell her house earlier this year and Fred and I were already thinking "oh, noooooo" back then, but when it didn't sell, I figured we might still be in there.   Stay tuned.  If it doesn't happen, I'm just gonna have to big girl up and cope, but I sure do love that party.  And so does Fred....even more than me.  He practically runs down the block every year. 

Which reminds me, since we have eaten almost all of our Halloween candy--we do this every year--I 'd better get some more.  And I only get the good stuff which explains why we never have any.  Brian came by last night and all three of us were grab bagging around like little kids.

I've decided that for next Saturday's tree trimming finale, I'm going to cook burgers out on the grill for all the tree workers and anyone who shows up to help drag limbs.  Last week, Neil and John (Fred's baby brother's) bought the tree trimmers lunch from the Sanger Sonic, home of the backward blading guy who delivers your drive thru order to your car.  He's kind of nerdy --ok, a lot nerdy--but he's real nice and he loves to do all his stuff-- carrying your order.  I tip him extra 'cause....well....he's entertaining.  And seeing him skate back in, backwards, with the tray, and all his "moves", just guarantees I'm gonna laugh my head off on the way back.  Last time he told me to" have a great day" and I said "back at ya".  Then he said "well, you can't have a bad day on roller blades" to which I replied "trust me...ya can if it's me."   Man, I am old because he laughed......a lot.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Cow pic's


Since I've had a request to see the girls, vs that nasty snake, here they are.  The rest of the gals were hanging out in the same pasture--just way back there.

Oh, please...not again

The bull snake I mentioned previously was still on the screened in porch at the Farm when we arrived, since I guess he/she had no way out.  Fred was out in the yard checking out the partially trimmed trees when I headed to unlock the back door.  Oh, not again....this time it was way over by the far side of the swing on the back porch, but not nearly far away enough for me.  I hollered to Fred to come kill it and he was mad thinking it had gone back in it's crawl space because I was yelling.  Well, no...it couldn't get in there since he'd already caulked that up, so it was all crouched in the corner with it's tail hanging out, and the rest of it's body coiled up by the siding.
The next thing I know he's telling me he's going to "grab it by the tail, and for me to open the screen door"....ohhhhhhhhh, I opened the door all right, and then took off running.  Out he came with a writhing snake and tells me he's going to "throw it out in the pasture."  Ohhhh, no you're not.  That snake is way too well acquainted with the back porch and I don't wanna see him again.  Ever.  Admittedly, I get a little violent around snakes so since Fred was near the woodpile, I told him to grab a log and club it to death.  And I waited right there while he did, too.  I wasn't going inside until that snake was buzzard bait--good and d-e-a-d..  And then Fred threw him in the pasture.  Fine by me.  At that point I was about to hurl.

So, to distract myself afterwards, I took pictures of the trees that are trimmed, and some of the cows who are loving eating the acorns off the branches.  I knew pigs loved acorns but I had no clue Black Angus gals did.  Thank heavens all the gates to the yard were closed or they'd have been up in the yard, munching off all the branches that haven't been dragged off yet.  And those gals can tear up a yard, too.  Rain, hooves, and grass that was previously a yard quickly become mud, and lots of it.







I'm sooo glad that snake part is over.  I've just had enuf '.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

From Gardenias to Brisket

My gardenia bushes are enferma (sick) from either too much water, or not enough, and possibly soil that was not amended enough to mix up the clay.  As a result, they have dropped some of their leaves and the leaves have turned that sickly yellow color.  I can't stand by and do nothing so I headed to the nursery, leaves in hand, for a diagnosis.  For the yellow leaves we need to give them some iron--done--and figure out how much water they are getting and probably cut it back.  But what we really need to do once they are dormant, is dig them up, amend the soil more, and replant those babies.  Oh, yuck.  It seems that they can be dry on the top and even several inches down, but go down a foot, and they may be sitting in clay, with soaking wet roots.  I got the guy at the Nursery to tell Fred the bad news on my phone because otherwise, he'd think I was just over dramatizing.....  like I ever do that. 

And something is eating my sweet potato vine on the front porch, again.  The minute it gets all fat and fluffy, something finds it and the salad bar is "OPEN" for business.  I'm not sure what to spray it with but I'd like to do something organic so my geckos don't take a hit from the chemicals. I love those little guys.

And lastly, the brisket report:  I ended up doing a little of this and a little of that.  Inside in the oven, but with the Pecan Rub I'd gotten to use with my EGG and had never used before.  The meat was perfect but the Pecan Rub didn't blow my socks off.  Good....just not mind blowing.  I still prefer Grub Rub and my other seasonings.  I called Brian and told him if he was hungry, we had fresh, hot, sliced brisket and to come on over if he wanted dinner.  He said he was really tired--- but he'd be right over.  I'm going to fix him a little brisket stash and throw it in the freezer.  Then he can just pull it out as he leaves for work and it'll be thawed by the time he gets home for dinner.  He may be almost 29 but he's still my baby boy...I cain't hep' it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lunch in a minefield

Ohhhh...I could just club myself.  I am just not catching on to this older people stuff.  More specifically when to help and when not to.  And it changes with the day, the time, the person, the situation--you name it.  Yesterday's transgression, while minor, still made me feel awful.

At lunch with mom and my brother, we sat at a table with a lady I had never met.  All of the waitstaff know everyone and all their specific issues, and I was told before we were seated that the lady doesn't talk much, if at all.  I'm thinking "OK.....we'll still try to engage her and include her in our conversation", and we did.  And then her entree came.  And she just sat there.  And sat there.  And sat there.  Admittedly, I  finally went into nurse/mother hen mode, and asked her if she'd like me to cut up her chicken, thinking maybe she needed help.  She looked me dead in the eye and said "I'm not that old" and I just cringed.  And she wasn't smiling either.  Well, swell...I'd managed to insult her in under ten minutes.  A new record.  Dang.

Another lady a few weeks back needed the help, so whadaya do....?  I wish there was some kind of handbook for situations like this--especially with people who fade in and out right before your eyes.  As it turns out, this lady talked with us, if asked specific questions about herself and her family.  Was any of it accurate?  Who knows...but it sounded like it might be.   And she was as independent as a hog on ice, let me just tell you.  Help with her walker?  Nope.  Move that chair for you?  Nope.  Sort of explains the chicken, now.

When I got to my car, I called my sister to give her an update on mom and to tell her what happened.  She laughed so hard she started coughing....and then she made me laugh, too.  We've both decided that this is like going to lunch in a mine field, and you just have to "feel" your way along, lest you step on a trip wire, and your fellow luncher detonates.  Looking at it that way just makes it a game for me and sort of fun and funny......no one dies, and we all get dessert.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nothing in particular...

This morning I've got nothing in particular to cuss and discuss.  I'm set to have lunch with mom (hey...it's Friday) and I'm going over early to pull out her Fall/Winter clothes, since they are in her storage unit.  She wears one of her same three outfits every day since they are "familiar", and  my sister and I plan to burn them once we can get her out of them, and into something else "familiar".  You can just imagine how scruffy these look by now....totally worn out.  If they didn't look so crummy, hell, she could just keep 'um, but I just can't let my previously well dressed mom look like a street person.  It's totally MY issue--she doesn't care or even know how she looks--but I do, and somehow I've got to find a balance in here where she feels comfy and familiar, but not bag lady.

If I'm really honest about it, it's that watching her slip into oblivion is just rocking my world.  And even though she and I have had our ups and downs in the past, that mother-daughter tie runs deep.  At least for this old crusty broad it does. I made a promise to her long ago that I'd keep her the way she'd want to look--hair done, nails manicured, fresh and clean, waxed with whiskers plucked, etc., and a deals a deal.  I also have to be sure she never goes on life support or gets resuscitated.  She told me she'd come back and haunt me if I did. And she would, too.  She still thinks, despite my efforts to the contrary, that when she's ready to check out, I can just hand her some pills or "give her a shot".....I keep reminding her this isn't Sweden.  She still doesn't get it.

  If she's really adamant that she wants to keep her old stuff....awww hell...I know I'm gonna let her....but I m-i-g-h-t hide them for awhile. 

My sister just called,  she's sick, and can't come help.....oh, crap....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Satisfaction

Who knew early voting and the act of using my right as an American to vote AGAINST someone, could bring such satisfaction.  Tuesday I went to my nearby early voting place to vote AGAINST Judge Carlos Cortez.  Since I have been in this judge's courtroom and experienced his bias, enormous ego, and lack of judicial knowledge first hand, somehow voting took on a whole new meaning for me.  I wasn't just saying "Take that, buddy" -- I felt like I was doing my job as a citizen of Dallas County.  If my vote prevents anybody else from being in his courtroom, then my time was well spent.  Voting in Judicial races has always been a snore in the past, back when I did not know how the system really worked.  Now that I know, I am much more engaged.  I guess if something good has come out of this, it's been to get me to the polling place, early, to cast my one vote.  And yesterday, I made sure mom could vote early on a paper ballot by calling in to have them mail her one.  She and I got a great laugh over how much we both will enjoy voting against Cortez.  I guess there's a silver lining in just about everything.

Sis was back on squirrel patrol this morning at the usual time 7:45-8:30 AM and made another pest of herself, barking.  The older she gets, the more hound that comes out in her.  Wiggins is asleep right by my feet, snoring in his donut bed......he's had phase two of his breakfast so now it's back to the sack.  The funny part is, when I get up for more coffee, he follows me.  I'm not sure how he knows I've left but somehow he does and he'll waddle sleepily into the kitchen just about the time I'm on my way back, with a full cup of coffee.  Seems like a lot of effort just to keep tabs on me but whatever.

I have a big brisket in the refrigerator that I am pondering on whether to cook in the oven or, to throw on my EGG.  Decisions, decisions....sometimes it's the little stuff in life that stumps me.  There are two new books out that I am dying to read but I know if I start them, I will go totally underground and only come up for air and to eat.  And one of them is l-o-n-g.  The new Ken Follett,  Fall of Giants--book one of his new trilogy-- is just calling me but I have other work to get done.  I may let myself have it after this weekends tree trimming at the Farm, as a gifty prize for myself.  Hells bells...if I'm going to be dragging tree limbs and branches, I'm going to give myself sumpthin'



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hola, Fiesta!

It's been a very busy morning so far and it's barely 9:30AM.  Sis and Wigman have already had two different sets of pest control people here and they think that means they have friends over to play.  One guy is doing the annual termite check and the other guy is doing the usual quarterly service.  Sis loves it when they are here but gets real mad that it means she has to stay inside for 45 minutes while the chemicals dry.  Soooooo not good-- especially when this is the perfect time of day for squirrel hunting.  Alas, she is sitting sadly on the mat by the patio door, peering out, w-a-y pissed off, with the doggie door blocked. 

In a moment of clarity, after yesterday's announcement of the recent findings of HRT and increased chances of later stage breast cancer and death from it, I pulled myself off of mine.  I was leaning that way anyway, but yesterday's announcement just tripped my switch.  That, and close friends who have had recent diagnoses.  I figure why push my luck.  Yeah, right, and when that first greasy hot flash hits me like a hormonal tsunami, remind me this was my choice. Sleeping naked as a jay bird in January, with the windows wide open??  It could happen.  I'm feeling sweaty just thinking about it.

Because I had a wild hair to make sour cream chicken enchiladas, I went to my first Fiesta grocery store yesterday and I swear....the store was divided down the middle with an imaginary line with westernized products on one side and more Hispanic ones on the other. When I asked the Dairy guy for Crema in my best Spanglish accent, he took one look at me and kind of laughed.  Hey....I said it with an accent and everything.
Two other ladies helped me find the right one since there are at least three versions.  Who knew??  Then, I went to the area marked Tortillera and asked if they had fresh ones (tortillas)--the ones I saw were like hockey pucks.  The lady behind the counter said "No" and I was about to ask "what the HELL TORTILLERA means ", when two other lunching ladies overheard and told me where the fresh, still warm in the bag ones could be found.  Ohhhhh, man.  White corn, yellow corn.... all in bags that were toasty to the touch.  I had to buy the big bag since they didn't have fresh ones in a smaller bag.  Then Mrs. Maria, our family's right arm, dropped off fresh ones this morning from her favorite tortilla place since I had asked her where to get them fresh.  Again, still warm and sweating in the bag.  O- O- O la la.....   I'm guessing we now have, roughly, enough fresh corn tortillas to shingle our roof.   So if you need some, let me know.  I have plenty.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holidays--Just how I see it

As I was showering (my office), where I do my best thinking, I decided to do a tell it like it is blog for the upcoming holidays.  The no holes barred, lay it on the line kind we all feel better after reading.  So, with that said, buckle up 'cause here are my thoughts.
1) Do not expect your husband/SO to understand what all goes into the cooking of a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, if he has not stood in the kitchen and helped you.  He doesn't know what he doesn't know, until you involve him.  Once he's done it --the chopping, the slicing, the stirring, the standing for hours and the incumbent backache to follow, suddenly he has a whole new frame of reference for all the work that's involved.  There's a sh** load of it--- and guys just need to get up off their a** and help.   And don't wait for them to volunteer--ain't gonna happen.  I'm not suggesting you play martyr (tried it--doesn't work) --just ask for help--HIS help.  Fred is now one of the finest sous chefs around and he's fun to have in the kitchen even if I have to watch Jason and the Argonauts or Secretos.  He makes me laugh but I have to tell him what I need.  He's NOT a mind reader.  If you don't want to host or cook this year, don't.  Just say NO.  It's a complete sentence.  You can still have the holiday even if you don't cook. 
2) Cut every corner imaginable so you won't get too tired.  Exhaustion is the enemy of any holiday or family gathering.  If you get too tired, your gonna be crabby.  If Uncle Butt Head only wants homemade rolls?  Great.  Tell him to either make some or bring some.  Otherwise, grab some Sister Schubert ones at Tom Thumb and don't burn 'em.  Plenty good enough.
3) The only person who is going to critique you is YOU.  You are the only person who is going to say it wasn't puuuuurfect.  Everybody else just wants to EAT and getter done.
4) Bury the 50's mentality FOREVER.  Don't buy into all that nonsense about how some body's mother made everything from scratch (manipulation), back in the day.  That was then and this is now and that's just horse sh**.  She only did because shortcuts hadn't been invented.  No woman in her right mind would slave if a super dooper alternative is right in front of her.  And, she wasn't working full time out of the home, either.  Different time, different options.
5) Make your kids help, too.  They are not "guests", though mine usually act like it until their momma gets a hold of them.  If you are hosting, they are hosting.  And don't make your kids eat turkey twice in one day, just so you can see them.  Once is enough for anybody.  Just like toddlers, we all need to share--even our kids.
6) Ask people what they'd like to bring or tell them what you need.  You do not have to do the whole deal.  Some "olders" may want to "retire" from bringing something-- and that's cool-- but if they want to eat, they can contribute, even if it's just something nominal like dish washing or drying, when the dishwasher gets full.  You are never too young or too old to help, so if they try to play that card, hand 'um a dish towel.  They ate, they can dry.  Guys, too.  Plus, this is when you hear some of the best stories...the old wisdom being handed down from the matriarchs, assuming they have any.  I'm not hatin' here....I'm just saying some do and some don't.
7) Cut yourself some slack and realize there is no way in hell you are going to please everyone, so do not  try.  Communicate what you need, don't get too tired, and just let it be what it is.  Reality check??  It's... just... one... meal.  And it comes again next year.  Just like the flu.

Boots, ahhhhh....

Clearly they are this season's must have--even more so than last year-- but the new twist is the over the knee boots.  Boots that go on forever.  Here's what I wanna know....if you are fortunate to be so young and frisky that you can pull off that look, how exactly do you sit down?  Some of them have a little break at the back but others???  I'm not thinking you are supposed to sit in some of them, period.  So unless you are riding a crotch rocket or Harley, how do you get around town?  You sure can't walk very far since some of the heels are stilettos.  Maybe you just lie down to drive....ahhhhh....or have a driver.


Now, don't get me wrong here.....I adore boots.  Any old kind of boots and I'll play.  Or at least look.  But I'm still jonesing for that pair I saw in Basalt, Colorado....the velvet suzanni ones.  Not very practical but so whaaaaaat????  Neither is a boot that goes halfway to China.....Who cares??   We're girls and we like 'em.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bacon...oh, Lordy

We've just gotta talk about it.  Yep.... we do.  That wicked streaky stuff that is supposed to kill ya, but never does....or at least not yet.  There's the grocery store stuff---- and then there's the REAL DEAL.  The peppered bacon from Virginia that takes bacon to a food group all it's own.  It's no longer just humble old pork---nuh, huh.  This is 12 ounces of pure heaven.  And the black pepper on it?  Brilliant.
  Admittedly, Kuby's peppered bacon is pure deee sinful and, yeah, it's local and closer....and no shipping...but when the Edward's Virginia bacon is a gift, it even tastes better.  Last year, we managed to score two, three packs of "God's Pork" and tonight, we are down to the last package.  Uh, oh....that is not good. 

Sometimes on Sunday nights, we have BFD (Breakfast, for dinner), and  I can smell it right now.  The bacon, that is.  It's sizzling and on it's way to crisp heaven, in my mouth.  Throw in some scrambled eggs or a Belgian waffle and what's not to love??  It's worth a by-pass or two for just such bliss.  Harris's are notorious bacon eaters--- as are my people--so our boys got a "double" on the bacon gene.  DO NOT come between us and a piece of bacon, if you know what's good for you.  And you better ask before you snarf the last piece...eating a piece or two, on the sly, if you are the one cooking it, is kosher.  Random fly by's, through the kitchen to snag still warm bacon, before everything else is ready, is just wrong....and sanctions can be harsh.  There is bacon etiquette after all. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hopelessly out of step....

Well...there you have it.  I.... am.....hopelessly....out ...of ....step...and I don't even give a rats fanny.  But it was a reminder that Father time is right behind me.  The reason??  Fred and I went to the store to buy the drinks for the party last night and neither of us had a clue what kind of beer thirty somethings drink these days.  When we couldn't reach the honorees or their family members, we had to call in an expert--namely Brian-- since he was available.  A few quick suggestions later, and we hit the store like commandos.  Bruce grabbed the beer as I shouted out orders.....and then we moved on to the wine.  In short order, we were in and out in a heartbeat.
Truthfully, though, we did have a brief consultation with a young couple who looked younger than thirty and when we asked them what kinds of beer to get, the guy only wanted to know how much fun we wanted to have...  Dude....not that much fun....they all have to drive back to Dallas after dinner.  Sober, too, please. He agreed, but that shot us back to old fart status immediately. 

Yesterday was interesting......after visiting with my sister, I got an update on my brother and his wife's "potential" move to LA.  I say potential only because that's how they made it sound initially.  I always felt it was a done deal but then what do I know??  What a difference a week makes.  They have found a renter for their condo here, qualified for a loan to buy in LA, and my money says they are there before Christmas.  Holy Cow.....that was FAST.  I guess when something is supposed to work, the Universe and everything in it, green lights the whole deal.  I personally cannot imagine living in LA.....I think the traffic would undo any enhanced quality of life the beach and mountains might provide.  Great place to visit--don't wanna live there.  Besides....there's always that earthquake prediction and I don't want to be shark bait floating out there in the Pacific, like a big bucket of chum.  Nooooooooo.

Sister is out in the backyard pellet gun hunting with her dad, Jed Clampitt, and they've already killed one squirrel and missed one--or winged him--- and he's gone off to croak somewhere.  Not to be hatin', but you already know the squirrels and I are not friends.  Once you chew my fence and my pillows and dig in my pots, you are off my list.  The only good squirrel is a dead squirrel.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hairball on TV

Last night there was a show on TV called S*#* my Dad Says.  It's based on a real father and son and is hilarious.  William Shatner (Star Trek, Boston Legal) is the dad and the son is, wellllllllll....my nephew, Harrison.  While the actor's name in real life is not Harrison, it might as well be because he looks just like Hairball.  Brian was here for dinner (I had put out the chalupa call) and separately, both of us had seen the show before and freaked over how much the guy (Justin Halpern) reminded us of Hair....so much so that we were howling every time the guy would move.   When I went to see Cold Mountain eons ago, I thought Jude Law and Harry were twins.....not now.  What a crack up to see Harrison every Thursday night if I just turn on the tube.  He's already one of my most favorite people and funny as they come so this is just a nice-nice.

And speaking of look alikes, someone I adore (Hudson) has decided to be Wolverine for Halloween...OK...I just love how that sounds.  Anyway, get a load of his six pack.  I think he is missing his "claws" in the picture so just mentally sketch those in.  Word on the street is, Hadley is going to be a fairy princess and according to her mom, her costume is hilarious.  I don't have a preview to share here but maybe they'll shoot me one so she'll get equal time and "pub".  They went to the Fair yesterday so I can only imagine what the kids thought of it.  I'll gather the scoopage and report back.

To All:  have a wonderful weekend and enjoy this incredible weather.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Naps

Naps are possibly the most underrated restorative activity there is.  Just the sheer act of surrender makes me relax but somehow to do it right, when I am feeling less than great, the act of actually putting on my pj's and crawling between the sheets, takes a nap to a whole different level.  Snoozing on top of my coverlet, with a soft quilt or blanket just says, I'm tired.  Putting on the pj's is serious napping....the I don't feel so great and my wheels are coming off type nap. Either one is fine and both work, but somehow the pj's under the covers nap is the one that makes me appreciate how my body actually works, and how it repairs and restores itself, if I'll just do what it's telling me to do.

I used to just keep on pushing on and on when I was working, because the unwritten rule at the hospital was, be a martyr.  Nobody would ever cop to that, if asked, but you just knew what you knew.  It was fun to sit back and listen to people (especially Managers) tell their sad tales of woe.  As a Supervisor, I always wanted to sneak over to one of the On Call rooms and take a nap--especially right after lunch.  I can't help but think the work force today would be loads healthier and less sleep deprived if we could nap at work.  Someday in the near future we will--California's been doing it for eons---we're just s-l-o-w to the party, as usual.

Now, I don't know about you but napping for me needs to occur in a dimly lit room--no bright sunlight--soft fluffy pillows that are mine, and familiar.  I like my sleepmate sound machine on high to combat any barking, hammering, or Tejano music and singing of workers near by.  That accomplished, I may need to read for a few minutes or, just give it all up and close my eyes.  I'm like a big old toddler...give me an hour to an hour and a half nap, and my engines are roaring again ready to go.  I figure if it's good enough for my dogs, and they are World Class Nappers, there's something there for me as well.
I gotta get busy...I'm burnin' daylight here.  I've got to figure out how I'm going to cook my Thanksgiving turkey on my Big Green Egg (BGE).  The official EGGtoberfest is this weekend, in Hampton, Georgia, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but I already have plans for this weekend, so there goes that option.  I'm sure I could have asked any number of Eggheads for suggestions but whatever.  I'm just going to have to wing it.  My first really critical decision is whether to go horizontal or vertical-- cooking wise, that is.  Do I get the vertical roaster so it looks like it's still walking upright (think beer can chicken) or just go with the old school, totally predictable, boring horizontal roaster pan.....  I have to use a pan either way, to catch the juices for gravy, but I need to elevate the turkey to get it brown.  Decisions, decisions....sometimes cooking is just so complicated.  I'm definitely brining my turkey again unless someone has found another use for my brining bucket--- and I have a sinking feeling it's already happened.  $10 says it's now a car wash bucket.  Eeeeeww.

On a totally different topic, I have decided to give myself a personal day (off) from lunch at the Plaza with mom this Friday.  Frankly, I just need a break from all of that and the old people "cuisine". Sometimes you just gotta do what you've gotta do and my tank is on empty right now. 

I think I set a new speed record yesterday for driving up and back to the Farm, for the sofa delivery.  I was there by 8:50AM, sofas arrived around 9:35AM, and I was back on the highway by 10:10AM.  I barely got to drink the coffee I made!  I saw them out of the window trying to decide which house was getting the sofas.  Lest that sound glamorous, let me just say two houses are tee tiny, and then there's the bigger house.  Two sofas, one delivery....seems pretty obvious, no?  I finally got their attention so their problem was solved.  Two of the cushions on one sofa got squished a little during shipping and they said it should "relax" out in a week, or they'll fix it.  I think I'll just lie on it.  That oughta flatten it out.

Look to the left and you'll see why I coluldn't shoot a pic of the other sofa--it was really bright this morning and the other sofa's back, is to a big window.  Not a great photo op.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm taking a post flu shot, achy and tired blogiday.  See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Toast, lightly buttered

This morning seemed to start like any other with one exception:  someone in a furry brown suit would not stop whining.  Not sure why.  Tried everything.  No good.  Finally, threw a piece of 12 Grain bread in the toaster oven, for myself. Buttered it a little.  Ahhhhh....problem solved.  Wiggles wanted toast, lightly buttered, for breakfast.  His breakfast.  Forget me.  He was all about the toast.  Now he's quiet, in his little donut bed underneath the table.  OK...change that....he's whining again, but I'm not fixing anymore toast.  Just fagedaboudit.  If he wants coffee, he can just damn well go fix it himself.

Tonight I am taking dinner to my friend who had surgery a few weeks ago.  Menu?  Grilled pork tenderloin, fresh baby spinach salad, and something else I know not what.  Desserts are off limits as is anything spicy or oniony, so maybe I'll just go see what looks good.  She's a real workout gal so naughty stuff is just off her radar.  I'm thinking the pumpkin crisp I made last night might blow her totally out of the water since it was naughteeeee.  To the max.

Today I am cooking and gathering up things we need to take up for the party.  Quilts to lap over the fence around the backyard, colored tablecloths for the tables in the yard, mums, pumpkins, hay bales...you get the idea.  Fred just called to let me know they will be delivering the sofas tomorrow morning between 9-11 AM so now the big dilema is, do I drive up tonight and spend the night, or haul the mail up there in the morning.  I can't head up there until after about 7pm so who knows what I'll end up doing....life can just be soooo complicated sometimes.  Dogs, food deliveries, sofa deliveries... a real life altering decision here, no?  I'm leaning towards just going tomorrow, early, coffee in hand, with my music playing, sun shining. 

I just looked up and since the clock says it's 8:30AM and has been saying that for quite a while, I'm thinking I better close and tend to some other things around my house that need tending.  It's just always somethin', isn't it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Advil, anyone?

This morning I have a hitch in my get-a-long and from the looks of Fred, I'm not the only one.  We had another Farm frenzied weekend and over did yet again.  Old dogs just do not learn new tricks--like not to over do-- but the good news is, the Farm is starting to perk up, and with additional love and care, she's going to look like she did in her youth.  Now, lest I sound like this is some sort of obligation--rest assured it's not.  No one is holding a gun to our heads saying all this stuff has to get done.  Quite the contrary.  WE are the NIMRODS who love doing stuff like this so pass the Advil, and I'll shut up.

I did find a big old snake shed on the South side of the house that would have made any snake proud.  I think our bull snake family has gotten the memo that the hole is now plugged so they might better head somewhere else.  They are great snakes to have--just not this close to the house, thank you very much.

Fred said the horse trough had a leak, so while I meandered down to feed the horses an old bag of carrots I'd brought, Ms. Super Snooper had to check it out.  Keep in mind I know zilch about horse troughs or the auto fill mechanism, but with a little poking, I managed to get it to run so I could figure out where the leak was.  Sure enough when it got filled up enough, the pressure from the water, thank you physics, pointed out the tee tiny oozing leak.  That's on next weeks "to do list", before the party.

On our way back Sunday, we happened to strafe past the La-Z-Boy store off LBJ, so once we dropped off the pups at home ....we.....went.....back.  Yep, we did.... and we must have looked like two homeless street people, but whatever.  Well, hell....when it says SALE, ya just gotta stop....so we did and we can now add two new swivel, rocker, recliners to the new furniture tally and they are nice.  I got Fred to call his mom to come pick out the fabric and be sure she liked the chairs, since I knew better than to try to do that alone.  She came, we all agreed, so in eight weeks or so, Green Trees Farm is gonna be looking loads better after her mini face lift.

Back to the horses and I'll close.  One of the horses was all about the carrots and the others wouldn't even try them.  As a result, he followed me all over everywhere as I kept handing out the carrots.  He was like a giant dog following me....he and a big hornet, but that's another story.  (The hornet liked my white shirt and I had to wave my arms around like a crazy woman to get him away.)  Anywho, you could just tell one of the others was dying to try them but just could not break down and do it.  Dude....snooze, ya loose.  Take the risk.  That one horse snarfed an entire bag of mini carrots and loved it. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Back to normal...whatever that is

Yesterday was "take back your life" day for me.  I finally got to do my errands.  I got my oil changed and I don't know why that always makes me feel so grown up, but it just does.  When I was in High School, I didn't even know cars needed or had an oil doodad, so that's a pretty good clue how often that got checked in my car.  I guess my dad did it.  And it wasn't until I'd been married awhile that most "filling stations" (remember that?), went self service.  To this day, I don't think my mom EVER filled up her own car...she was all about FULL service and everything that went with it.  Makes me laugh to think about it.

I took clothes to the resale place, I shopped and bought jeans and some new tops, I forgot about a tea (boo hoo-Not) and followed all that with a grueling, double dog wash.  Oh, yeah....and Sister was first.  I figured it was better to wash her while Wiggles ate so I knew exactly where she was.   Since she'd made two trips to the Farm, running all over the pastures, the house-- you name it-- and hadn't had a bath, she was almost begging for one.  She likes the new sprayer in my sink but she did comment that she thought I was getting a little personal with it.  Well....pardon me.  She kept head butting my hand as I was spraying her head and neck, to keep doing it.  They also get a full body massage as I dry them off.  My dog wash is a full serivice operation.
  I swanny....there is just nothing like a farm house sink when it comes to bathing dogs.  It's like a perfectly sized mini horse trough, right at the perfect height, only nicer.  Sis almost fill ours up-- but with Mr. Pigglesworth, there's plenty of room.  The catch with him now is, you have to hold up his back end or his back legs slip and he "baby turtle's", like on the hardwood floorsAnd when you try to scrub him, he just flattens out.  Not a good look and probably doesn't feel too good either.  Maybe next time I'll throw a towel in the bottom of the sink so he can get some traction.
  All of their bedding got washed and aired out in the sun so they can sleep on fresh, fresh.  Ears were cleaned (and other unspeakable parts--Sis would die of embarrassment) and all that was left was switching their tags to their new collars.  Fred can do that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

As of yesterday afternoon, I have set a new personal best in the spending department.  Never in 56 years of life have I purchased three sofas in 24 hours.  I found the last one, for mom, yesterday morning, and pulled the trigger on it after lunch.  I wanted to be sure it was the "right one", so I decided to think about it for a few hours.  I had also hoped my sister might have time to run take a look at it, but she couldn't, so we texted back and forth, and gotter dun.  Then, I ran to get mom new sunglasses.  She'd been asking me for ages and yesterday was just IT.  Talk about weird, though....what kind of sunglasses does an 83 year old lady wear?  I tried on two pairs and decided the Coach ones were right up her alley and she'd look cute in them, so I just went with it.  Buying things for someone else, when it's not a gift, is just downright stressful.  Some people really don't care and are thrilled with anything---and then there's my family.  Picky, picky picky.  Me included. It's genetic.

The nicest part is, mom is sooo much easier these days.  She's no longer Queen of the Pickies.  No more snarking if it's not exactly what she had in mind because she doesn't have anything special in mind.  Or, if she does, she doesn't articulate it, even when asked.  Wow.....that leaves lots of room for personal interpretation.  Amen to that.

The bunny report is, no sightings in the last week but I did see one of them a few weeks ago.  Fat, sassy, and hopping all over my neighbors salad bar.... uh, yard.  They must be keeping them in a bunny hutch or something because I don't see them near as much as I used to, or they've plugged up the escape holes in their fence.  My moneys on a hutch.
  The garden has been a total back burner item lately and I'm evaluating whether I even want to do it next year, given the soil blight problem.  Unless I'm willing to totally replace my soil with a truck load of healthy (?) soil, and that makes my back ache just considering it, I may give up my patch.  Even flowers were a dismal failure once the blight got going full tilt and that's just wrong.  Not sure I can cope with that kind of disappointment again.....(drama, anyone?)  Besides, I should have some whopping gardenias on my new bushes, so I may just go with that.  We'll see.  My basil plant is still going strong despite my fairly recent surgical procedure on it.  I may get one more load of pesto out of it yet.  Since we've been working on the pesto--I made some pesto chicken angel hair pasta last week and we polished off one of the containers--I may need to restock.  Man....its just always somethin'....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Munchkins

I dropped by yesterday afternoon to see Hudson, Hadley and Avery, though I figured Avery might be napping and she was.  When I got there and Had saw me, she immediately started laughing and smiling, and then ran and hid in the kitchen.  Lydia, the most wonderful lady in the world, hence forth to be called "EEEE-ya", looked at me and just started laughing.  As soon as I rounded the corner to the kitchen to put down my keys, Had was all chatty and and ready to play.  She showed me her empty bottle as we walked up the back stairs.  I don't think she uses one anymore--I think she was just playing with it.  When we got up to the playroom, there was the cutest boy ever, lying on the couch, watching Nickelodian, and looking sleepy.  Had came over and I scratched her back and we talked and then it was Hud's turn.  By this point, all of the previous snoozy sleepy was gone, and Hud was ready to play.

First we played with his pirate ship and discussed wheter we thought it would float in the bath tub.  After looking at it and turning it over he told me "it has holes on the bottom so I'd need duct tape for it to float".  I kid you not....that's exactly what he said.  PURE Man-Boy with the solution of duct tape.  While we were playing, I gave him a back scratch, too,--we always do--and then he wanted me to crack an egg on his head, as part of our usual repertoire.  I always make sounds while I do it and sometimes he laughs, and sometimes he's just quiet and relaxed.  Sometimes he lies on the floor and I'll tickle his arms and legs, too....just depends on how limber this old bod of mine is, on the carpeted floor, on any particular day.  Both mommy and daddy came home by this point so I got to see everybody.

Then luckily for me, Avery woke up and was ready to be up.  I got to see her and scratch on her, too, while Mommy held her, since she was still a little sleepy from her nap.  How great was that....all three munchkins in one trip.  The joy these three little people bring me is just indescribable....they are beautiful, fun, funny, and just such special little people.  They make me laugh, remember my own boys, but mostly just fill me with such  a sense that the world really is a good place--no matter what the newspaper, Internet, or TV says.

See...made you laugh, didn't it??

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dillards...who knew

Well....thank you, Dillards.  The Farm sofa drama has ended and can I get an amen on that.  On a lark, I went to Dillards this morning, so I would feel like I'd looked absolutely everywhere only to find that the sofa I really liked best out of all of them, had just been marked down, again, and was already on clearance.  Ohhhhh, HELL yeah!  I had them check to see if they had two, put them on hold until the end of today, got a second opinion from my sister-in-law, and pulled the trigger.  Man... these are nice and now I can't wait to ditch the old ones.  Of course, now it's "buy a door knob and build a house" since now everything else is going to look like a thrift store purchase when the new sofas are delivered next week.  Hmmmm...maybe with the $ we saved on the sofas, we could....(fill in the blank).....  Oh, yeah, baby.  Two sofas down, one to go.


Sofas?? Please.

Ahhhh....such drama....and all created by me, between my ears.  I swanny.....I can make even the smallest things into Mt. Everst.  I am on the hunt for two different, yet similiar, projects.  A new sofa for mom and two new sofas for the Farm.  Now, you'd think that would not be a daunting task, but for some reason, it is for me.  I keep forgetting my mom is no longer the nit-picker perfectionist she once was and just needs something lovely to sit on that is comfortable.  It's ME that's trying so hard to please her and have it be perrrrrrrfect.  My sister is the one that could do this in the blink of an eye but she is only available on Fridays, due to her work schedule, and her Friday's fill up FAST.  The second drama is new sofas for the Farm and while I've found a couple with the help of my sister-in-law, Margie, I'm reluctant to pull the trigger.  Damn.... these are expensive and I'm not so sure they aren't a little too "Happy Trails Yee Haw".   While the scale is lots better, I'm just not sure we need more Western kitch than we already have, and if the object is to be thrifty, well.....good luck on that. 

I had lunch with mom last Friday and saw a side of her I'd never seen...at least not like I saw it then.  We were sitting at a table with another lady at the Plaza, whose dementia was a tad bit worse than mom's, and mom kept taking care of HER.  Even though mom couldn't decide what to eat for lunch, she watched this lady, nonchalantly, and would quietly ask me to "help her".  I cut up the lady's food, took her pickle away (she hated pickles), wiped her nose, etc.  Mom, meanwhile ate her lunch, but was uncannily aware of this lady.  What immediatley went through my head was, mom must be thinking this will soon be her.  That may not have been the case at all but by the time I left after lunch, I was so glad to be heading to the Farm as I could feel "the sadness" coming on.  And I hate that.
There was a softness--a gentleness--and a quiet dignity that mom had for the other lady that really got to me.  Before, mom's always just been sort of bossy and superior--or that's how I heard it.  This time it was different.  Really different.  Wow....the lessons just keep coming....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A pink barn?

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.  After going up to the Farm yesterday and pretty much working non-stop, by the end of today, I was w-a-y over it.  That, and the bull snake I encountered on arrival on the back porch that was sunning, until I interrupted everything.  At first I thought maybe the snake was fake--a little "surprise" from Brian and his bunch--but, ah, noooo, this was the real deal.  Once I saw the flickering tongue, that was it for me.  I ran to the car and grabbed my cell to call Bruce--he absolutely loves snake sightings--maybe not on the back porch-- but it just adds to the Farm "charm".  Me??  Not so much.  By the time I got back, the snake had slithered between the foundation and the wall, in a tiny little crevice.  FINE BY ME.  Except, I did have to go a little closer to get the back door key.  Mission accomplished and I was inside.

  Then Rodney, the caretaker, and his nephew came walking up last night in the dark to get the riding mower he'd left earlier, by the gate.  Did I mention it was pitch black outside, and his nephew was carrying one of those spooky Halloween type flashlights that make the light sort of shimmy and shake, and then turns off?  I was walking around the house turning off lights, headed to the back to read, and even when I knew who it was, it still scared me, even though I was laughing.  Rodney and I were still laughing about it this afternoon.

The barn is currently Pepto Bismol pink, due to the primer, post power wash, and with the Texas flag painted on the side, it's a sight to see.  The red goes on once it's all dry but that pink is, well......pink.  The wood man delivered a cord of wood, and since we have some trees at the little house that have to come down due to disease, we're gonna have plenty of wood for a good, long time.  Santos, our tree man, came up with Bruce this morning to give us a bid,  and will get started the weekend of the 16th, at the little house, taking down the sick trees.  Then he'll head up to the big house, the following weekend, for the trees in the yard there.

The HVAC man came today, the phone guy came to repair the old line, the Dish guy came and got us all set up, and the new TV is in place and rockin'.  I made a run to Denton for 2 new lamp shades, a new vacuum cleaner, fresh new towels, and some other supplies, and my wheels finally came off about 4pm.  I c-r-a-w-l-e-d into bed, post Advil, only to be told I needed to switch rooms, unless I wanted to try to sleep through the satellite guy hooking up the back TV.  Josh was nice, but not that nice, so I went next door.  I woke up at 5:35pm.  We just got home and I am ready to call it a day---more like a weekWhatever.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Drum beat

Can you hear the tribal tom-toms?  Yep...it's the prelude to the holidays and all the clans are getting theirs out to beat, or have already started banging.  It's as predictable as me gaining back any weight I lose....families are just gonna do what they do.  And I used to think they were doing it to me....they aren't.  They're just doin' it, period ---because that's what they do. Everybody has to decide, right now, exactly what they are going to be doing 10 weeks from now, for lunch.  One meal.  And it's just lunch.  Same thing we do everyday--- at that same time--- only this one is The Big Kahuna.  Not.

Admittedly, Thanksgiving (TG) is one of my favorite holidays and I think even more so than Christmas.  No tree to set up and take down--just a few pumpkins and some leaves and berries, and you are pretty much there.  You give thanks, eat a great lunch, clean up, and it's o-v-e-r.  I love the simplicity of that.  Squeeze in a nap and it becomes the purrrfect day.

I recently got a chance to put my money where my mouth is, regarding one of the boys.  If I want my guys to be happy and free to do whatever they choose, I better be sure I'm not just talking it.  I better be walking it, as well.  I won't go into detail here --word travels way too fast--but I will say after talking with a close and trusted friend, what I thought was a big deal, simply imploded.  As I was processing it loud to her, and heard what I was saying, I realized what had been true in the past, was really no longer part of the equation.  The person I wanted to attribute all of these "wrongs" to, was really just being who they are--not doing anything to me--just doing what they do.  Wow.  Huge awareness for me and what enormous freedom to slide out from under all that old stuff.  Suddenly, it was all OK-- Paris was no longer burning and my hair wasn't on fire.

On another note, Fred loaded our pictures from Aspen and Snowmass somewhere on here, but I have yet to find them.  If I can find them before I leave for the Farm this afternoon, I'll post a few.  You gotta see the triangular showers.