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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blogger Business

        Lately I have read that many people are having difficulty posting, commenting, and downloading pictures on Blogger.

        For whatever it’s worth, I have a few trial and error suggestions.

Time Out:  Right now, my middle daughter Lauren, the elementary librarian and technology go to person for her challenged/challenging parents (while in college, she left us index cards with instructions on how to operate the VCR and later the DVD player) is screaming:

Are you kidding me? Don’t listen to her!!! She just called me to ask me where pictures go when you accidentally delete them!”

        Anyway, I have found it more helpful to:

*Use Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer because …I don’t know why…it just works better and Lauren said to switch (the librarian) so I did. This can be downloaded free, and placed on your desktop.

*Use Windows Live Writer instead of Blogger for posts. Rhoda at Southern Hospitality recommended this, and it changed my life and my sanity.  I don’t know why. It just works better.  You can still go to your Edit Posts tab and make changes.

*Windows Live Writer posts pictures better, but again I don’t know why.  Windows Live Writer is a free download.

*I use Google’s Picasa for my photos because it is free, does basic things, and I have a feeling I would have to call Lauren too much if I had something more complicated. I am already on a short chain… Sarah from Memories on Clover Lane recommended this.

Oh- and just so you know that I am a reliable authority, I just deleted all of the photos on my camera’s memory card as well as from some folders on my hard drive… At this point in my life, adrenalin surges are not always healthy.

Oh#2- I saved my gift cards, Christmas money, and any loose change I could find, and I now have a new camera: a Canon Rebel Xsi.

I want to be able to use it without the flash on its specialized settings (ie. macro), but ‘it’ won’t let me.  Can anyone address this?

I can not call Lauren…

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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        It really is true that actions speak louder than words, and as a lover of words, this is a tough admission .

        This week, though symbolic in the highest of high realms, has offered me the opportunity to put what I want to say into action.

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        The act of making a trip to Wal Mart with my husband and two grandsons to buy garden project supplies (and Blue Bell ice cream) says we are going to do things together.

        The act of buying colorful flowers for them to pot and give to their mother says your mother is special ,and she will enjoy this gift.

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        The act of creating an assembly line with my oldest grandson to load plastic eggs ( that I bought at the Bluebird Circle Thrift Shop in Houston), says I respect you, and I want to complete tasks with you.  We laughed when we talked about your little brother finding the golden egg that has quarters in it.

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        The act of Poor Po (my husband’s grandfather name) hanging a hummingbird feeder in your yard says look around you. There are wonderful things to see and enjoy. They are in your yard.

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        And we can watch the actions of others too.  When my husband baby sat alone all day Sunday, so I could drive to Warrenton for the blog party, he was saying something to me.

        When I came back with a buffet and a hutch and a some wicker shelves in the back of the truck that afternoon, things were better left unsaid.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Cascarones Tutorial at My Neighbor Karen’s Blog

        Hello all.  Just a quick note-

Go to my friend and neighbor’s blog, Ladybug Creek for a wonderful tutorial on making cascarones, confetti filled Easter eggs.

        Enjoy!

Here is the link:http://karen-ladybugcreek.blogspot.com/2010/03/its-time-to-make-cascarones-for-easter.html

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Blessed Week

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Dear Friends,

        I am taking a short break.  I am out of town babysitting my grandsons, Round Top and Warrenton are in full swing, I have plans to go to the blogger party, and a break right now feels right . I won’t be home for another week.

      I value you all so much- each and everyone of you. You have transformed my life. Thank you for commenting and saying some of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me.

        Laura

       

       

         

       

       

       

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ten Questions

       I’ve been tagged by the wonderful blog All Things Southern and Preppy to answer a few questions.  She is a kindred spirit because we are both members of that very unique, sometimes bossy, usually opinionated group:  retired high school English teachers.

        Give us a list of 10 simple questions, and you are probably going to get more than you may have expected.

1. Who is your style icon? 

     My three daughters, without a doubt- I have shared before about their wordless looks of “No, Mother,” when I have held up something that I think is really cute, but I keep trying because their approval is hard to beat.

2. What is your favorite socialite lit book?

     If this counts, I love anything by Julia Reed, a writer for Vogue ,who has written several wonderful books about growing up in the south and the cooking and entertaining that entails. Her tales about funeral food and chafing dishes are great.

3. Favorite party theme?

        Anything based on one simple premise:  what can I do to knock their socks off and use all of my dishes?

4. Go to Halloween costume? 

        I’m not wild about Halloween costumes that make you look worse than you did before you put it on.

5. Extravagance you cannot live without?

        I have simple needs:  Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, flea markets, junk stores, my yard.

6. Living person you admire? 

        Anyone who wakes up each day with a sweet and generous spirit and does the next right thing- even when they don’t feel like it.

7. Greatest Fear?

        At this point in my life, with all of its glorious attention deficit distractions, it is the flavor of the day:  Where are my keys? What causes vertigo?  Are all of my loved ones safe and sound? Why did I walk into this room?  What if my new plants die while I am out of town? Is it so wrong to just want to be in my house? What can I write about today?

8. Trait you dislike in yourself?

        Thinking I can read people’s minds.

9. Which talent would you most like to have?

        I would like to sing like Aretha and feel comfortable making small talk at social gatherings.

10. Greatest Achievement? 

        Aside from the blessings of a loving, generous husband who makes me laugh every single day, a God in my life that rolls his eyes and has a sense of humor, the wonder that my three daughters are mine, and the fact that I have 2- count them 2- to die for grandsons,

it would have to be suiting up and showing up with my game face on and my brain cells crashing ,while I faced a room full of 30 high school students, multiple times a day, for 30 plus years, trying to inspire them to snap out of it and think, read, and write for themselves, all the while wondering where we were going to go for lunch.

If you are reading this, I invite you to create your own list and post it for all to see.

Plus- I would like to give a shout out to 3 South Texas bloggers who happen to be good friends, and this is an invitation for them to do so as well!

Karen @ Ladybug Creek

JB@ JB’s Jibberish

Nancy @ Nancy’s Notes

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dear Daughters- Gardening Part I

Dear Daughters,

        Not only do I Hope You Dance, as the song says, but I hope you garden too. 

Why?

        Because it is part of your heritage, it keeps your hands busy, your attitude humble, and it teaches important life lessons (things don’t always turn out but a new season is right around the corner).

        Your grandfather, Papa, was as you know a dry land farmer- the ultimate dice thrower in the face of South Texas heat and drought. 

        Couple that with the fact that he didn’t believe in crop insurance , and he became our own modern day Don Quixote, tilting successfully at many farming windmills ( which he could build by the way). Most years he won.

        When his land came out of the CRP program several years ago, he simply cleared it, and put in a crop . 

        That was a job easier said that done. His equipment was older, his crew was older, and all 650 acres of El Perdido was covered in brush.

        Once his crop came in that year, with my brother’s help on his days off, he cut his grain himself. He was 79 then.  I have never seen him happier.

        His only comment was that he wished his rows were straighter.

        When Papa met his new farming neighbor, a young man putting in his first crop, the neighbor told Papa that he was advised to-

do everything the viejo (old man) does.”

        We can talk about ways you can begin.  When I was your age I plopped a sweet potato in a Bama jelly jar and put it in a window. 

        Instant gardening. I was so proud.

        You may want to try house plants. Here is my theory on house plants- plants weren’t born to live in a house.

        This is an enormous subject, and I am just getting warmed up.

        Stay tuned for Part II (Grandmother Mills’s cuttings in coffee cans, Nonnie’s green thumb, and your mother’s struggle with a yard that is an acre in size and has archaeological surprises at every turn of the hoe).

        I love you,

        Mom

       

       

 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spinning

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        I don’t know if my head is spinning from the vertigo I have had for the past two days or my to do list.

        My to do list is much more fun to think about.

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        By Friday morning I have to:

*plant 50 plus caladium bulbs

*plant 20 liriope

*plant 20 Aztec plants

*plant 5 ligustrum

*plant 6 purple lantana

*plant 2 new rose bushes, an Arizona rose and a Lowell  Thomas rose

*hope that my new antique rose from my dear friend Aissa doesn’t get angry and keel over while I am gone

*pack for a long weekend of baby-sitting my grandsons

*pack my cart to go to Round Top and Warrenton

*think of things to blow my grandsons’ minds

        My head really is spinning.

 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Old School And I Don’t Care

 

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        I know I have gone a bridge too far in my discussions with my daughters about what I call ‘the study’. The centerpiece of this discussion is the couch, which is covered in the fabric above (old school Waverly). This couch has been covered in this fabric for at least 20 years, and it is soft- very , very soft.

        If you have adult children you know what I mean.

Me to Them:  “Let me just ask you one question-just one, I promise. What should I do about the study?”

Them:  Eyes glazed, heads rolling loosely on their precious necks.

Or Worse:  “Mother, I thought we had decided that.”

(Help! Could someone refresh my memory please? What did WE decide?)

        So, I quit. I give up. The couch stays as is because it is soft and the perfect spot to take a nap.

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        On one of my many random trips to TJ Maxx, I found the Ralph Lauren blue and white pillows for $10.  I know they are part of a bedding set- but that makes sense, right? After all napping is an important part of this room. This makes the room more about blue and white I think.

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        The pair of lamps on the library table behind the couch were a great find (on sale) . They are easy to reach if you have been reading and you get sleepy.

        I have such a hodge podge of things in this room that have served me well.

        This top to a piano is sitting on top of a faux fireplace mantel I found on the side of the road.

        All of these pieces were painted white.  One of my favorite memories was seeing a million pieces of my furniture sitting out in the yard being sprayed white by my painter. I was in HEAVEN.

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        The month prints are from Warrenton and the lamp is something I found at the flea market.  The electrical trades teacher at the high school where I taught wired it for me. The base is cracked, but I don’t care.

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        So , what about the study? I think I’ve decided.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Never Knew

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        There are so many things I never knew about what happens in a yard when there are four actual seasons and periodic rain.

          In south Texas we have actually had a winter, we actually had rain, and we are at the beginning of an actual spring.

         In fact this is so unusual I have even questioned the results.

Why is the grass green?”

I didn’t know my rose bush could do that.”

Why is it blooming like that??

IMG_0238         I never knew I could grow a daffodil .

IMG_0264            Or that some day I would have a raised bed for zinnias and tomatoes. I planted these this morning.

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        This gives me such pleasure .

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        I never knew how much fun a rotating garden seat could provide on a narrow patio in front of my garden shed.

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           I never knew that considering whether I will paint my garden shed porch chair purple, yellow, or turquoise would be so much fun-   IMG_0262

          Or that drinking Community Club coffee (medium roast), in my Spode Blue Italian mug, while listening to NPR radio , digging in my raised beds, could create such a sense of relaxation and peace.     

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It’s Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time.  Join In!

  

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Making a Round

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        Although there are some self-imposed calls on my time (my garden, blogging, spring cleaning), I am ‘making a round’ right now.

        ‘Making a round’ is a term my father used my entire life to signify he was off to check on things on the ranch or at his farm. It involved driving around to look at things- to check on things.

        Where I live, people may also say something very loosely translated (in that hybrid of Spanish/English) like-

I am going to make a little vuelta.” 

(in the Spanish pronunciation substitute a w for the v)

        So I am making a round. I am on a little vuelta.

        First return stop was back to my oldest daughter’s house for my oldest grandson’s birthday party.  We were at his house last weekend (6 hour drive away from ours), to celebrate his younger brother’s birthday, and I had given him his gift. 

        My grandsons’ birthdays are a week apart.

        But on Friday morning, as I began my day, I thought, what am I doing? I need to get there; I must get there.

        Yesterday, while at the birthday party, my youngest daughter texted me with a sweet invitation to visit.

        I thought, what am I doing? I need to get there; I must get there.

        So I am headed out again.  Daylight savings time has this beautiful Sunday morning on a runaway train anyway- so, I am taking my time.

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Note about my spring header:  I took the pictures of the zinnias in my new header.  They are from the small farm coop that I visit on Saturdays to get vegetables.

Outlining the beds of vegetables are rows of zinnias. I admired them one Saturday, and as I was leaving, I heard someone say,

“Senora?”

I turned and was given a wonderful gift.

       

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nail Guns and Lockdown

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        Clearing the fence in our deep backyard uncovered more than I wanted.

        In my zeal to get that project marked off my list, I didn’t plan on being able to see clearly into my neighbor’s backyard where he is storing a large

        PEPSI DRINK MACHINE, A SUBURBAN UP ON BLOCKS, and a TRACTOR.

        As a result, one thing really does lead to another.

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        So now, instead of traveling across Canada or visiting some exotic locale, people will know where to find us. 

        Where are John and Laura? 

        I think they are sitting in the backyard staring at their fence.

        Believe it or not, we are used it it.  This house and yard, which was a condemned HUD listing, has been a consistent money pit since we bought it in 1989.

        I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

        My husband’s comment to me after this last unexpected expense?

        “Shut it down.”

        While the fence men were here  ( especially since I am now on lockdown), I decided to ask them for a FAVOR.

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           I asked them (in my best Scarlet O’Hara voice- which is really hard for me) if they would be willing to nail 4 boards together with their gigantic , loud NAIL GUN.

          Of course I was asking this from across the yard because nail guns terrify me.

         Ever since my husband and I watched all 5 seasons of HBO’s The Wire, through our Netflix subscription, I now see nail guns as the tool of a serial killer. 

         But…I needed these boards nailed and my little tack hammer wasn’t going to get the job done.

Choices:

A.  Ask husband to nail boards. Hmm.

B.  Overcome nail gun phobia and ask fence men for help.  Check.

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        This morning I searched for the best morning sunlight and started moving things.

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        Next project (after I prepare the beds, plant my tomatoes, and plant a million caladium bulbs)?

        I would really like a swing…

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

White in the Yard

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        My yard smells amazing right now. I wish you could be here.  The orange blossoms are fat and bursting with fragrance.

        It gives me such a sense of well-being.

        My next surprise this morning was this.

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        My strange jasmine that I planted last year, that has almost reached the top of the fence, finally decided to bloom.

        I love white flowers and I am humbled by the fact that this hyacinth is still blooming.

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        My daughter’s outdoor furniture, that she bought in Canton (I think), is on loan- due to her limited storage.  It looks wonderful on the white limestone area I did last summer.

        Is there such a thing as a FOREVER LOANER?

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        I don’t know how or why my Aztec grass survived the freeze, but it did. I am going to get more this weekend if they are available at the flea market.

        And finally for White Wednesday, my lion by the back door. I think it needs a Boston fern underneath it, don’t you?

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        Visit Kathleen at her wonderful blog Faded Charm for more White Wednesday posts.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Watching Seasons Change

        This past long weekend of travel, basketball, and family was the perfect backdrop for watching seasons change.

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       On our trip from Houston to Austin to see my nephew’s play-off game, we had a traveling guest- our youngest grandson Mills.

        We stopped in Brenham for lunch , and while I was taking a picture of these vibrant pansies, he picked one to take into the restaurant.

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        The seasons were changing in Brenham,but some things never change- thank goodness. Must Be Heaven Ice Cream Parlor is the perfect example. 

        We ate lunch there, and it was delicious. I had wonderful broccoli cheese soup.

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        That afternoon we watched Trey play his heart out. His team didn’t win, but there was nothing else he could have done. He had a great ending to this year’s season.

        Back in Houston it was birthday party time for Mills. He is now 3. Next week his older brother will be 6 – another changing season.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Whirling Wind

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           At 1:54 left in the regional quarter final game last night, with the opponent up by 2, it was hard for me to see because-

I was outside the gym pacing and periodically looking through the glass in the gym door. 

        The wind was whirling, as the temperature dropped for another cold front, and I was saying,

“I know Mother. He’s at the free throw line right now.”

For you see from the minute my mother passed away in 1996, she has come to me in the wind. It comes out of nowhere and wraps around my neck , whirling gently, sending me whatever message I need.

She was really whirling last night.    

        Trey made the first one, I paced and waited to hear the crowd, and when they roared , I knew he had made the second one to tie the game.

        They scored again and the victory was theirs.

        I thought of all of the practicing he has done in a dirt floored barn that my father built, on my father’s farm El Perdido.  My brother and Trey live on the farm.

        Last night, while driving home, my father tried to act gruff by saying-

My poor old combine. It got moved out of the barn so he could shoot baskets.”

And then he smiled.

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Post Script:

The newspaper stated that San Isidro, Texas has a population of  260 people. I think there were about 400 at the game last night.

My previous post was loaded with typographical errors. I must have had crazy eyes, I was so nervous before the game.

Photo above: L-R

Jim Mills, Jim Mills III (Trey), Jim Mills, Jr.

Next game:  Friday, 4:00 pm, in Austin, against Burton.

The girls and I had breakfast at a church in Burton, one Saturday morning driving into Round Top. We have happened upon great garage sales in Burton too.

I’d like to think we have kinfolk there.

       

       

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday at My House

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        Last night as I was reading blogs and admiring everyone’s abilities, creativity, and willingness, I reflected on the fact that lately I haven’t been showing and telling much on my blog. 

        In fact, I may realize at 10:00 pm that tomorrow is a Tuesday meme, and I’ve missed it again.

        Instead I am sharing what’s on my mind and heart, and I am grateful for readers, both real and imagined, who periodically travel along with me.

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        Have you ever smelled orange blossoms on an orange tree?  The fragrance is heavenly.  When my husband and I moved to the Rio Grande Valley 36 years ago, I was amazed at the smell.  It is a real blessing.

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        Over the weekend, my husband and I went to an outdoor restaurant called El Charco.  We sat under a jalapa, ate aguacate (guacamole), listened to a one man band who sang Charlie Rich songs, and watched winter tourists dance.

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Just a note:  when you order guacamole at a restaurant, never , ever , ever pronounce the g. It is soft and is pronounced wa-ca-mo-le.

        Instead of chips, we had totopos. Totopos are freshly fried, home made corn tortillas- slightly salted and sometimes dusted with a paprika like spice.

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        On Sunday, my daughter and I moved into our small booth at the antique mall.  We washed, dried, inventoried and priced out on the patio in the sunshine.

        I need to not shop at the antique mall!

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        And finally, this beautiful Monday, my trees are being trimmed.

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        I really have simple needs.  When I look out in my backyard and see a big trailer being filled with limbs, brush, and tree stumps, I can hardly stand it.

        I hope you are having a wonderful week. I think I’ll start a no pressure meme simply titled-

What are you doing/thinking today?

PS:  Play-off basketball game tonight at the local university at 7:00 pm CST.

        You know where I’ll be.

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