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Saturday, February 27, 2010

These Are the Moments

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        These are the moments indeed; I could not ask for more- driving down highway 16 in deep South Texas headed to my nephew’s play-off basketball game.  Four people all bound and crowded together in my husband’s truck headed to see our favorite common denominator- my nephew Trey.

        If you ever have a chance, look at this stretch of highway on a Texas map stretching from Hebbronville to Poteet.  There is nothing other than a few small towns and entrances to ranches- at least until you hit a really big ranch (125,000 acres) called the Duval County Ranch .

        My father’s comment from the back seat?

This country’s hard.”

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        Guess what I think? I think it’s beautiful.  Especially when we hit patches of this.

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        In order to get this picture, I had to ask several times.  It went something like this.

Me:  “Ooh- those flowers are so pretty- I want to take a picture.”

My husband, the driver:  “There’ll be some over that hill.”

Me: “Oh- those are REALLY pretty (craning my neck).”

My husband, the driver:  “I’m sure we’ll see more.”

        When we reached our destination (Poteet, Texas, home of the strawberry), and I negotiated a drive around town for junk stores, I heard my father say to his hunting buddy in the back seat, “She’s looking for ANTIQUES,”  and “I’m not carrying a piece of furniture home for 4 hours in my lap.”

        As we rounded a corner, and I saw an old buffet without drawers sitting on the curb with other trash- I shouted, “Stop!”

        Amid more mumblings from the cat hunters in the back seat, my husband said,

No. There’s a man in the front yard with a machete!”

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      Even without the convenient photo ops, the junk stores, and the machete protected dresser, I was in HEAVEN.

        We ate supper at Don Juan’s ( chicken fried steak, hamburger steak , and chalupas- not EACH), and then we headed to the game.     

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        I thought my days of butterfies before a high school sporting event were behind me.  After all, I had survived three daughters’ participation in sports, cheerleading, 4H competitions, lamb shows, and UIL debate.

        But no- they were back- until my nephew’s team had an almost 30 point lead and everyone was smiling.

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        Here’s the snack I bought for the ‘guys’ for the ride home. I bought them here.

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        The ride to and from the game took 9 hours… but I was in HEAVEN. I could not ask for more.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cherries in Winter

        Suzan Colon’s wonderful memoir, Cherries in Winter, reminds us all of the indomitable connectedness of food and family.

        Even during depression era ‘hard times’ and the hard financial struggles we all face, food and its preparation is the glue that holds families together.

        A good story for me is a universal story-  a story that tickles my memory and brings forward childhood memories and invites me to think that the writer and I have something wonderful in common. 

        In the case of Cherries in Winter, I had my fill.

I now feel like Suzan Colon and I are friends.

        I was reminded that-

*As my father often says to me about our family’s love of food and eating 

        “You came by it honest.”

*That I was mesmerized as a child to see that a distant relative in Port Lavaca, Texas baked so much she stored her flour and sugar in metal trash cans in the kitchen. Truth be told I was also fascinated by the seashell driveway and the crunching sound it made.

*That my mother became a wonderful cook because every day after school in Kingsville, Texas she walked home and ‘started supper’ because her mother (my grandmother) was still at work at the dry cleaners they owned.

*That as a young wife, having a butchered, packaged side of beef as a gift from my parents made me feel flush.

*That the ability to make delicious, smooth, perfectly textured and seasoned giblet gravy, cream gravy, and brown gravy is an art. The women in my family have that artistic touch.

*That women in my family, and the women in Ms. Colon’s family, could make something from nothing, could feed the multitudes, and still have something to send home with company.

*And that the words, ‘supper’s ready’ or ‘come fix your plate’ are calls of love .

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Join us at Lisa’s wonderful blog Hospitable Pursuits and join her book club. I can’t wait to hear what the next book is.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We Are Not Breaking Up

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        I have what I would describe as a healthy collection of milk glass. 

        Do you remember the state dinner metaphor and the silver plate? I have the milk glass to accompany it.

        I have used it, loved it, stored it, forgotten some of it (just being honest), and used it all over again, for years.

         I started collecting it at least 25 years ago, and at first I was so excited to find it inexpensively- I was not very discriminating.

        In fact I have many white florist vases to show for that zeal. 

        I graduated to opalescent pieces, but although stunning when held up to the light, I set out to collect solid, opaque pieces, larger in scale.

        I began the search for cake pedestals and bowls, and ice cream dishes to match my mother’s, and 12 place settings of dinnerware, and pitchers and matching goblets.

        So-

        (This is not a lead up to a decision or an announcement that I am ending this relationship and getting rid of it all.)

        We are not breaking up.

        How would I set the table for spring table settings, or a white Christmas, or baby showers in my home, or pour the cream into my coffee every morning of my blessed life?

        I used my milk glass at my daughter’s wedding reception, I have hauled it to other friends’ homes, and when I have found new pieces (the photo above is a piece I found at the flea market two weeks ago), I have joyfully bought them to share with my daughters who are also collectors.

        As I look at things to place in my booth at the antique mall, I realized that the size of the party I would be having, to require the use of 3 milk glass punch bowls and matching cups might indeed be a tad LARGE-

         But… there is always the chance…

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I am linking to White Wednesday at Faded Charm.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cleaning the Refrigerator Thinking

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        As I sat down to write this post, with the quilted throw shown above in my lap, it occurred to me that putting all of the random ideas I have dancing in my head in writing is like cleaning out the refrigerator.

        Why?

        Because the task of cleaning out the refrigerator may not be my first choice (I have writer’s block , and I am at a loss for an interesting topic),  doing that is far better than eating Girl Scout cookies- which has far reaching consequences (pun intended).

        My logic works like this.

A. I can’t think of anything to write.

B.  Writing down random thoughts reminds me of cleaning out the refrigerator.

Therefore-the refrigerator will be clean, and I will have cleaned out my thinking of expired, random thoughts as well.

Conclusion: I have a topic.

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        This is the back side of the throw.  I bought this today at Ross for $12.99. It is now my new family heirloom.

                                 Random Thoughts

*My left eye has been twitching off and on for about a week.  May I say that this is VERY ATTRACTIVE. I have been told by friends that I am not getting enough sleep ,or I may be looking at a computer screen too long. Hmmm.

*Watching the winter Olympics takes nerve.  Everything looks like it hurts, yet everyone is smiling and proud. I hide my eyes half the time, even during ice skating. I am exhausted.

*Several people asked about my journals.  They are from Barnes and Noble.  I fell in love with them for these reasons: when open, the journal is completely flat, the lines are wide ruled, and I like the collection process of having more than one.  The problem is that when I first started buying them about 4 years ago ,they were around $16.00 – which I know is expensive. Now they are $26.95 (unless my eyes deceived me- the print was small). Yikes!

*I wish I still had my Schaeffer fountain pen with peacock blue ink cartridges.

*In March ,Daughter #2 and I are going to have a small booth at an antique mall.  I have done this before. It was not a money making proposition- I price things too low. How does this rate sound?

$50 a month rent for a 4’ deep by 6’ wide space

the owner charges 15% on each sale

Am I crazy?

Now my eye is REALLY twitching.

 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday: Odds and Ends

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        I am typing this while hiding my eyes while watching Olympic figure skating.

        Mercy.The stress of watching plus listening to the announcers say, as the skater revs up to take flight into a quadruple jump-

They haven’t been able to do this in practice… let’s hope.”

Or-

This was a disastrous performance.”

        So I am escaping from reality by thinking about what I tried on Sunday afternoon.

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        I planted tomato seeds.  I called A&M’s extension office and asked about planting schedules in zone 9. 

        The nice gentleman I spoke to said that he plants his tomato seeds on Valentine’s Day and other vegetables or plants on March 1st.

        So my husband planted the seeds on Valentine’s Day while I pruned my roses and fed them.  Why? because my friend Aissa said that is what her mother recommends.

        I am a gardening FOLLOWER. Just tell me what to do and when to do it.  I look forward to finding and learning my own solutions some day.

        I am amazed at what people do to create beautiful gardens.

         My to do list is long.

* I still need to create my front fence line bed. I am not looking forward to that back breaking job.

* I would love to create some small patios and walk ways, but those projects may be too expensive.

* I want to build a long raised bed for a zinnia cutting garden. We’ll see.

        Have a wonderful Wednesday and go see other Outdoor Wednesday posts.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Shrove Tuesday, the Flea Market, and Metallic Pipe Cleaners

IMGP1219         I have the pleasure of decorating our parish hall for our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper this week.  Sunday afternoon, while at the flea market, I found these.

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        There sitting on a table were packages and packages of Mardi Gras decorations.  This fit my plan perfectly.

        I am going to doll it up with glitter and beads and sparkle and fun.

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        I fell in love with these metallic pipe cleaners.

        And then- as often happens in unexpected places (the flea market)- God stirs the pot.

        The vendor’s wife asked what I planned to do with all of these decorations.

        After I told her, she said-

       “You can have all of these free of charge.”

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        As I paid for my other decorations, thanking her for her generosity, her husband said-

You’re Catholic aren’t you?”

(Time Out: I wondered,  is this a trick question???)

        I smiled and said, “ No, I’m Episcopalian.”

        He said, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…”

And then we both died laughing.  His parting words were, “Have fun!”

        I already was!

Side Note:  Now that I have been formally re-introduced to pipe cleaners, I am amazed at their  twisting abilities. I was able to twist them around my finger and make martian looking accessories.

        I found these bright yellow flowers at Dollar Tree and the green vases were a purchase years ago at the flea market.  I bought a giant box of floral vases in green, milk glass, and clear glass.

        Again I ask-Is anyone having a state dinner anytime soon? I have vases and silver plate.

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        Everyday is a new day at my house.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day To You and Silver Sunday

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        This amazing red heart was given to me, as a Christmas gift, from my dear friend Suzanne. She bought it in San Miguel de Allende, one of my favorite places.

         Today it is for you! Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this year of blogging so much fun.

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       For Silver Sunday at Beth’s Gypsy Fish Journal, I am confessing to a trip to an indoor flea market last weekend , and some purchases that are right up there with my all-time favorites.

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        I found this wonderful decanter, with its own inner container that can hold ice.

One problem.  I had just bought this and was low on cash.

Not because it was expensive- it was only $10- but I hadn’t planned to pull into this flea market, but I did.

Is this all too much information?

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     I know it has worn spots and dings and dents, but I couldn’t resist.

     Back to the money.

      I had my wrist stamped with a smiley face, became distracted with Yellow Box look alike flip flops on display by the exit and walked outside looking for the nearest ATM.

      Two blocks away, on the same side of the expressway was a meat market. I started walking. I am sure I would be just as determined to walk two blocks if- say- I was walking to the dentist, or the gym to exercise, or because I had a flat. (Sure…)

Meat market, money, silver… go figure.

       I found an ATM, got my money and returned to buy the decanter and this.

        I may have a problem with silver plate.

        Is anyone having a state dinner for 1000 people?  Are any foreign dignitaries going to be visiting soon?  Just give me a call, and I’ll drive up with a million place settings.

        You would really be helping me out.  Please call- if I loan it out, then it will somehow all make sense, right?

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        And lastly, I went to the farm this morning and picked up my box of vegetables .  Guess what was in the box?

        Carrots! I think they look so pretty on this pewter cake stand my friend Anna gave me for Christmas.

        Anna and I have a theory.  If we want to keep what we are buying for ourselves, then the other one will like the gift.  I love this gift. (Anna I am glad you didn’t keep it, but you can borrow it IF you borrow the silver plate too.)

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Have a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Claim it: I am a writer.

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        In my world of thinking, I don’t always know the moment or the day that an idea will come full circle and get tied into that satisfactory knot.

        Today was the day for me.

        I am a writer.

        Every inch of my humbly raised, don’t brag about your own truth, or claim your claim to fame feelings said it is OK to say this out loud today.

        I am a writer.

        If not, pray tell, what are these?

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        The journals on the left were filled in the last three years; the journals on the right, covered in cellophane, are waiting to be filled.  I am currently writing in the journal down front. There are many, many more that have been stored or even thrown away- only because I knew more would come. This does not include the  300 plus posts I have written.

        I taught writing everyday of my working life in a classroom with teenagers who all had stories to tell.

        My technique at teaching writing (which is almost like saying I teach SOULS-how ridiculous) changed over the years.

        It is true. You really do get wiser. I first played by the rules. That black and white thinking was a life raft in the maelstrom of teaching at the high school level.

        Jamming your heart and soul thinking into a five paragraph essay is a painful and futile exercise.

        Then something loosened.  Aah…

        I began teaching writing by saying

‘An educated person has the ability to manipulate his/her own language.”

        And then I would say-

Get after it.”

        I am a writer. Not because I have a degree in English and Journalism, not because I am and always will be an English teacher, not because I have a masters degree or because I have taught at both the high school and college level, but simply because,

        I am a writer.

        I have the requisite thanks but no thanks letter from a magazine publisher to whom I sent an essay . The editor’s thank you note was even hand-written. What a contradiction in terms: civil negativity.

        Today I no longer categorize writing as something published by others.  I can’t afford to wait that long. The withering that might cause is a nightmare I can’t stand to think about.

        That to me would be like saying you are not a mother unless you have received an award.

        So this morning I say to all of you, in my own unique attempt at a DIY tutorial for anyone reading:

Claim it. Say it.

        I am a writer.

 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Horse and My Opal Kadet

        As the daughter of a ranch foreman, I was given a horse by the owner of the ranch when I was about nine. 

        Let me re-state that.  When I was about nine, my father selected a horse for me.

        Tuesday night while driving to the basketball game,  I had the chance to gather more details about how that horse was chosen.

                       My Interview

Me:  Daddy, how and why did you pick Regalito? (Regalito means little gift in Spanish )

My Father:  Pause… Well , the other foreman had first pick for his kids.

                        Pause… And he picked all of the good mares.

                        Pause…  I didn’t like the looks of the  mares that were left.

                       Pause…  So I picked a stud horse- a stallion.

                        Pause… The stud fees from your horse went into your savings account .

        I used that money to buy my first car to take to college, when I graduated from Saint Mary’s Hall.

        It was a used, red Opal Kadet.

        What is the moral of this brief story?

        I am not sure, other than it tickles me that while the other foreman was selecting gentle horses that were suitable for pleasure riding (and breeding of course), my father did things his way, on my behalf, and picked a stallion that I would never ride.

        But ride I did, in fact, in my little red Opal Kadet, with a stick shift and a loud AM radio.

        

 

Monday, February 8, 2010



FOR TODAY... February 8, 2010



Outside my window... my bougainvillea thinks it won the battle we had yesterday, as I trimmed all of its dead, THORN FILLED branches .

This is dangerous work. Really. Who drew first blood? Guess.


I am thinking... about how much I love to write. I enjoy the arrangement of words as much , if not more, than anything else in my life I have arranged.


I am thankful for... the willingness I have had this week to eat delicious vegetables, ruby red grapefuit, drink water and decaf iced tea, move away from artificial sweeteners, exercise, and OVERLOOK things while KEEPING MY MOUTH SHUT. (That one almost killed me.)


I am wearing... my new black cotton knit nightgown with little pink flowers that I bought at Ross. I like it so much I wouldn’t mind wearing it to run errands.

Note to Daughters: Don’t worry. I am just kidding.

I am remembering... two post topics I thought of today while driving.


I am going... to wash the supper dishes after I finish this.

I am currently reading... my new Vanity Fair magazine.

I am hoping... my grandsons get their Valentine package by Sunday.


On my mind... my new roses that I will plant this month.

Their names: Touch of Class, Grenada, and First Prize. They are in shades of pinks, peach, and light coral.

True confession: I am not a fan of knockout roses. I like BIG, chubby roses.


Noticing that... I have books stacked everywhere.


Pondering these words... ‘Ooh Child.’

From the kitchen... I made stir fry for supper with fresh vegetables and chicken. I bought this delicious stir fry sauce at Canton back in January.

Around the house... things are looking better.

One of my favorite things… Philosophy Amazing Grace lotion.



Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Gift In My Garden

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        One day in 1996 , during the early spring my mother died after a battle with ovarian cancer, my sister-in-law called me to ask if I wanted some of my mother’s Easter lilies from her front yard bed at the ranch.

        My mother had planted those lilies, and because my sister-in-law and brother were living in the house , where my mother and father had lived for years, they were surrounded by my mother’s gardening.

        I said yes, knowing I was in over my head ( I knew nothing about lilies), but I had felt in over my head since her death anyway.

        What was one more example of how I was supposed to now be grown up and wise and in matriarchal charge of our now disjointed motley family?

        How was I to know how to make things grow as she had?

        So when the lilies were graciously delivered to me, I planted them in my front flower bed, knowing we were all at risk:  the lilies that had survived and thrived for years for my mother, and me , because I couldn’t stand to lose anything else.

        Then on May 18th, my birthday, as I walked across the street from the high school where I taught, and I began to walk through my yard, I saw it.

        One single lily. Just one. Just for me.

Happy Birthday Laura,

                   Love Mother

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        This memory was triggered this afternoon by another gardening surprise, illustrated in the photo above.

        My hyacinths are starting to bloom. Again- I do not know why. They are not supposed to grow in my area.  We just had a freeze.  I planted them feeling as insecure as I did that spring 14 years ago.

        Thank you Mother.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Game Night

IMGP1158         This stoic face , the face of my father, is watching his grandson play basketball.

          I was sitting behind him poking at him, getting aggravated at the referees, aggravated at the fact that no one wanted my courtside analysis, aggravated that certain players on the court were not playing the way I wanted them too, and aggravated that the coach did not call time out and ask me what I thought.

        I was in HEAVEN.

        My husband and daughter #2 were sitting behind me, and my brother was sitting behind them.

        The game was the epitome of what I love about high school sports, small school gyms, and my love and respect for small, South Texas communities- far from ‘town’. 

        It was standing room only, more people than not had on cowboy hats and mud splattered boots-including a sheriff  (holster,gun and all), popcorn was popping in the concession stand, and technical fouls were called .  One player from the opposing team was even ejected.

        I was in HEAVEN.

        My father also had after the game plans.  Two of his hunting buddies were with him, and all three of their trucks, filled with barking, hunting dogs, were waiting in the parking lot.

        His plan?  He was headed to the nearby ranch that he managed for many years ,to his camp, to go cat hunting- that night.

        As I stood in the parking lot after the game watching his caravan of trucks, friends, and dogs pull out, I thought,

        I’m not the only one in HEAVEN.

        I am off to bake banana bread .  It’s game night tomorrow.

        Guess where?  Agua Dulce.

        

         

Monday, February 1, 2010

Utility Room Craft Cabinet

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        This isn’t rocket science. We all reach a point when we open a cabinet door and say a stapler falls out, lands on our little toe and almost decapitates it.

        Though I exaggerate, and this hasn’t happened yet, this cabinet in my utility room was just about ready to spit something out at me, if I didn’t do something about the mess.

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        So I emptied everything out, made a huge mess, and found buried treasure.

        Like these.

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        And this pattern- so I could re-visit my plan a year ago to create Tory Burch look-alike tunics.

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        However, my favorite find was this-

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        My mother’s cap for her sprinkling bottle when she ironed.  This was definitely worth the mess. So now things look like this.

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        Does anyone else get irritated making labels?  I do- I rank making labels right up there with wrapping gifts.

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        And what about the stuff that was taken out of the cabinet- and not returned?

I’ll think about that tomorrow.

                                Scarlett O’Hara

 

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