Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sometimes you just have to laugh

That’s how I feel about politics tonight—at least Republican politics. Ted Cruz, clearly losing, appoints a vice-presidential choice way ahead of time. And not only that, he appoints Carly Fiorina who dropped out of the race because she was so unpopular. I saw a joke FB post today with Cruz saying to her, “And after we lose Indiana, we’ll appoint a cabinet.” Cruz apparently said Hillary is scared to death of Fiorina, and some pundit replied, “The only thing that scares Hillary is that Fiorina will sing to her.” Come on, folks, this is getting silly.

And yet it’s not. Donald Trump’s amazing sweep both amazes and scares me. I simply cannot see him with his hand on the red button to trigger international disaster. That scares me almost as much as Ted Cruz. I was surprised today at John Boehner’s leap into the fray, a leap that probably seals Cruz’s defeat.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that I see Hillary Clinton as the obvious choice for the Democrats and for the presidency. I used to love Bernie, and I still love his idealistic views, but I think they are impractical. And he’s turned from nice guy to bitter. I wish he’d kept to the high road, and I admire Hillary for doing so. Bernie once pledged to support whoever the Democratic candidate is—I hope he honors his pledge and urges the “Feel the Bern” supporters to do the same.

Meantime I had a good day—two grocery stores in one morning about wears me out, or at least wears my back out. Even though Amy, my traveling companion, as she calls herself, carries in all the groceries.

No long nap today—my brother and sister-in-law came to look at Uncle Bob’s white on white weaving. After much discussion, during which Cindy said, “If it weren’t the color of our walls,” and “I really do like this piece,” they decided to try it out. I will call my man who cleans Oriental rugs and ask him to clean it, and then they’ll take it. As John said, “We are not putting Uncle Bob out on the street.” He was dear to all of us, and we treasure his work. Now, then, there’s the painting of a pink chrysanthemum on a green background—any takers?

Uncle Bob was a gay man I met in the 70s through macramé classes (does that date me) who eventually became family, and when I was raising four teenagers alone he was a great help—most of the time. He taught them to drive and to ride horseback and to be polite at all times. Sometimes however, especially on trips, it was like having five teenagers. I remember one trip to Corpus….no, we won’t go there. He died of AIDS in the early ‘90s, a great loss for our family, and we all treasure the pieces of his art we have—except for that darn pink and green painting.

Tonight I had a nice, laughing dinner with my restaurant explorer friend Betty. We went to Fixture where I always love the Day Boat Scallop. I was ready to leave when I saw they’d taken it off the menu, but we’d already ordered wine.  We split a scallop and veggie dish plus a side of truffle mac and cheese. So good. Pleasant night to dine on the patio, though we’re expecting storms after midnight.

Tomorrow a used book dealer comes to look at my library, and in the evening we have my publication party. Rain all day may put a damper on things, but I’m being optimistic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Perhaps only anxiety sufferers will understand this, but I read somewhere that you should do something every day that scares you. That leaves me a long list of possible. Yesterday, as I reported, I met an old/new friend for lunch. It took a bit of courage, and I could so easily have opted out, pleading a migraine (no, I don’t have them) or a stomach issue (yeah, sometimes) but I didn’t. Scariest part for me was that I rarely go places alone these days but I did it, I hope with some grace.

Today I went to the nursery with neighbor/good friend Greg, having warned him I was unsteady on my feet. Again, I could have sent him with a shopping list but following my conviction that one way to combat anxiety was to get out in the world, I went. I was the most ungraceful person you ever saw getting into his jeep—but I did it. I worried if they had places I could sit if my back gave out. “We’ll figure something out,” he said. Greg takes life as it comes, with none of my anticipatory worrying.

I left my cane in the car because it falls out of the carts at the nursery—just held on to Greg. We got a cart for me to push and went through the nursery, with him saying, “Follow me this way.” I’m sure other customers thought how awful of him to let that old lady push the cart and order her around.  But I did follow him, we got everything on my list (no basil), and my back didn’t bother me. As the checkout a helpful employee tried to take my cart, and I said, “No, it’s my cane.” “Just trying to get it out of the way,” he said. I replied, “Well, then you’d have to get me out of the way because I’d be flat on the ground.”

The whole trip was fun, we got all the herbs I wanted and some other plants so my porches are in good shape. I sat on the front porch and then the deck while Greg planted and had a thoroughly pleasant morning. So two days in a row I’ve made myself do things I dreaded and had a great time both days.

Tonight I’m exhausted. Jordan arrived late afternoon, rearranged all the books, and moved them back into bookcases in the sunroom. I sorted as best I could and mostly watched. Then she realized I hadn’t looked at the bookshelves flanking the fireplace, so nothing would do but we check them. She works under the deadline of the book dealer who’s coming Friday—and probably won’t take even a tenth of the books. I have orders to sort one more carton and one bookshelf before tomorrow afternoon. She is so organized and so full of energy—I’m grateful beyond measure, but I’m sometimes a little tired.

Life is looking good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Storm watch, lunch with an old friend, and a book triumph of sorts


We are in the bated-breath stage waiting for the predicted PDS storm to hit us—I think those are the initials, and they stand for something like Possible Disastrous Storm or equally awful. Apparently, it’s a designation only rarely used. But they say we could have baseball-size hail, tornadoes and heavy rain. I worried about Jacob, because they didn’t call his baseball game, and he, always nervous about tornadoes, didn’t want to go play. But he and his mom are safely home.

Earlier this evening I sat on the deck—supposedly to think about my novel-n-progress but my mind wanders. The breeze was lovely but with that pre-storm feel, and the air had that funny color, not green, just different, that it gets before a storm. I could hear distant thunder to both the east and the west. But so far nothing has materialized. I hope I don’t have to eat those words.

I met an old friend for lunch today—except we’d never met. When he came in and recognized me, I said, “We haven’t ever met, have we?” and he said no, but we’d talked on the phone when he used to interview me and review my books (pre-social media, probably late ‘80s or early ‘90s). Years went by with no contact and then he friended me on Facebook—one of the beauties of that program is the friends you make.

Randy said he’d read enough about the Old Neighborhood Grill in my books that he wanted to try it. I said if we set a date, I’d meet him, and so today we met. Lots of fun. Wide-ranging talk, but a lot about kids, grandkids, and—gulp!—how we were handling our estates. But also some book talk—he’s a prolific author—and a collector way out of my range, with original art and first editions. Funny—both of us on canes and neither one of us can hear well, but we had a good time. Thanks, Randy.

Since the weather was to storm tonight, I had my usual Tuesday night supper for lunch—meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes with cream gravy. Asked for a big to-go box but surprised myself by barely saving half the meatloaf and eating everything else on my plate. Great meatloaf sandwich tonight—my favorite.

Took such a sound nap I wasn’t sure I couldn’t get up in time for Jacob but I did. Jordan came along, in a tizzy about what to do about baseball and the storm. But we unpacked boxes of books and suddenly—the last one was done. We had unpacked 46 cartons of books damaged in the storm and sorted them into destroyed, saved, and barely damaged. Now to figure out what to do with them—her goal is to empty my dining table of the stacks and stacks of saved books. Damaged beyond saving are packaged to go to a recycling place and there are boxes for women’s shelters and schools. We of course had to toast our accomplishment, but she still has an ambitious agenda—clear the guest room (which we’ve used as a junk room) so the bunk beds can come in before Megan and Ford arrive.
Other than a brief period of anxiety this morning, all this activity has kept me feeling much better. Work, I’m convinced, is good for the soul.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A tiring good day

Guess what, folks? Unboxing and sorting books is tiring. And that’s what I did all morning. A used book dealer is coming Friday morning, and the librarian/archivist friend who arranged this warned me to take out ahead of time the books I want to keep. We don’t want her to choose one only to have me say, “Oh, no. I want to keep that one.” So I did the long bookcase in my office this morning. I was amazed at how dusty the books were and how dirty I felt when I got through. Don’t know how thorough I was but I am getting ruthless. Some of my books are, I’m quite sure, collectors’ items for people who research the history of the American West, which I probably will never do again. But there are a couple, like Foster-Harris’ The Look of the Old West, that I can’t bear to part with.

Jordan also got two boxes from the dwindling stack of cartons for me to sort—they were supposedly saved, but some are well beyond recovery. I did those, so tonight she got two more boxes down. That and my lawyer’s bookcase are on the list for tomorrow.

Today, the groomer also came for Sophie. I love it—they pull up in front in a pickup with a trailer that has everything: water connections, heat and a/c, electricity. Sophie gets so excited when she sees that truck. And tonight she looks so pretty. And the restoration company sent two men to spot clean the places I’d found on the couch. So it was busy around here—probably just what this anxious soul needed.

Tonight my Canadian daughter (her real mom lives so far away, we’ve adopted each other on a make-do basis) and her partner came for happy hour. Lovely evening on the patio, and we had a good happy visit, laughing a lot. Jordan spent the afternoon at another mom’s house working on the kids’ group science project. She has threatened Jacob with death and destruction if he ever signs up for another group project. But they’re done! She came in and poured herself a most generous glass of wine.

And suddenly, I’d lost my starch. Was so tired I didn’t even want to think about supper. I had knocked a hard-boiled egg out of the fridge and cracked it, so decided I should eat it for supper. Too lazy to even devil it—just cut it in half and put salt on it. With cherry tomatoes and a big slice of heavily buttered Parmesan toast—and a bit of dark chocolate. Got my starch sort of back this evening (maybe I was just hungry) and did some good guest work.

If you read my newsletter or follow me on Facebook, you already know it’s party time Friday night at the Wine Haus, 1628 Park Place Avenue, to celebrate The Gilded Cage. Nope, you don’t have to buy a book—just tell me you’re happy for me. You’re on your own for wine, but I’ll provide snacks. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Down in the dumps

This blog is sometimes where I work out problems that are bothering me, so here goes: I’m doing to dump about my dumps. A blue day in which I felt sorry for myself for no good reason. I have so much to treasure in life—a loving and supportive family, creative work that keeps me happy, a new book out, lots of friends, a loveable dog, a comfortable house and exciting plans for its future. So what’s bothering me? My lifetime enemy, anxiety.

I decided tonight that the problem is that I spend too much time home alone. On that note I decided to take my daughter up at the last minute on an invitation to supper. But I woke from a nap feeling blurpy, stayed home, ate leftover chicken. While I often enjoy my aloneness and quiet, I am also a person who feed on people, is energized by them. So why do I stay home?

Because it’s easier. Home is familiar, with paths I can follow from room to room. Outside my home, I’ve gotten insecure about walking (actually my walking is better—I’m doing my exercises). I scheme and connive so that I rarely go someplace alone but always have an arm to lean on. I have even hired a wonderful travel companion—we go to the grocery together. It’s called drawing the circle tighter, and I need to push back that circle.

Even at home, I’m most comfortable at my desk, so I tend to ignore things that should be done around the house. As a result of that and other things—downsizing and storm damage—my house is pretty much a mess. And I’m used to having people come in and exclaim about how warm and welcoming it is. Today I did laundry, watered plants—but I need to sort the last nine boxes of books, fill the shelves of my new filing cabinet, and restock the laundry area—items from it are all over the kitchen alcove and it looks awful. I can’t rely on Jordan to do all that.

This week I have several opportunities to push back the circle, and I am by gosh going to take advantage of them. I’m to meet a Facebook friend for lunch Tuesday—I’ve known him a long time, not sure we’ve ever actually met though we may have. So easy to send a message saying I can’t make it, but I’m not going to do that. If I have to call the restaurant and ask someone to help me in, so be it. I’m actually looking forward to lunch.

Wednesday I’m to go to the nursery plant shopping with Greg who keeps my yard. If I have to cling to him until he gets me a basket to push, so be it. And if I have to say I need to sit, I’ll sit (too long on my feet and my low back screams at me).

I’ll go to dinner with friends Tuesday and Wednesday and try my best not to cling. I am going to get out of the house. And when I’m home, I’m going to forsake the refuge of my desk—that’s what it’s become—and dig in.

Watch my dust!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A staycation day

 In spite of my own protests, I turned into a recluse today and spent the day at home alone—well mostly. Confession: I had such a good time at my own dinner party last night that I overserved myself with white wine (who, me?) and wasn’t feeling particularly well this morning. I think it could be described as shaky with a headache. Finally had a banana and a cup of tea and began to feel better.

The restoration company returned my couch today—it’s a sectional with more pieces than you care to count. And it goes together in a weird way—when it first arrived, six months or so ago, it took us weeks to unbox, unwrap, and assemble. And we might never have gotten it done if Jamie hadn’t come over—he has a Lovesac and knows how they go together. Today, watching the three men try to puzzle it out provided an hour’s entertainment. I could offer an occasional hint, and after many tries—and taking it apart and starting over again, they got it done. I cheered for them, and they thanked me for my patience.

Jordan warned me to inspect every piece—I didn’t quite do that, but I did find two pieces with stains still on them. The company will send someone to spot-clean Monday. So just to be sure I suggested she come by and examine the couch—I didn’t want to be accused of missing something obvious. She didn’t find much more except for some light water stains. The room is beginning to return to normal—I now have a long (empty) bookcase, a table and chairs, and a couch, plus a working TV if we can find the remotes. And the new paint and floor look wonderful.

Jacob is here tonight—he played all afternoon with the sons of friends, and I didn’t realize he wanted to spend the night and was invited. So I suggested they have him here by eight, and he came in unhappy about not spending the night. A grandmother’s dilemma—I should have let him stay, though Jordan had not mentioned it, but I sure am glad to have his company. He soon brightened, talking about all the Rubic’s cubes he has and is going to get. I swear when he’s sixty, he may have a valuable collection—like some people who collected comic books way back when. Today those ubiquitous cubes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes—he’s ordering a pyramid and a multi-sided.

On my staycation day I wrote a guest blog, cleaned up some details, and spent much of the day reading a book. Somehow reading is such a luxury that I often put it off for work to be done. But, hey, I’m retired, and I’m my own boss. So I’m going to finish the night reading. Only problem is Jacob confiscated my iPad and I’m reduced to reading on my phone. It’s okay.

Friday, April 22, 2016

On becoming a recluse...and cooking for others

I said to a friend tonight that I thought I was increasingly becoming a recluse. He asked if I liked to have people in my home, and I enthusiastically answered yes. Did I like being alone? No, sometimes I get bored. “Then you’re not a recluse,” he intoned.

So my problem is not being a recluse but the anxiety/mobility that makes it difficult for me to leave my house—been there, done that some forty years ago so I know I can overcome it again.
Meanwhile my reclusiveness was interrupted tonight by Subie and Phil, good friends just back from a long trip to Argentina. They called to ask if they could come for wine. Of course they could. Then Jordan and Jacob arrived, followed by Christian with much-needed dog food, and finally David who doesn’t come for visits often enough. David was Jordan’s first boyfriend, is now a close friend of both Christian and Jordan, and in his SuperDave cape takes Jacob to TCU ball games. He’s family around here.

I tried to get Subie and Phil to stay for supper but they wouldn’t, so the five of us ate on the deck. I fixed a super chicken dish I think I found in a NYTimes cooking column: spray a roasting pan with oil of some kind, cover the bottom with onion slices and sliced shallots, put chicken thighs on top. Season with salt and pepper and slide into a hot oven (I did 450 and it still took about an hour and a half). Layer croutons in a serving dish and arrange chicken on top and dump the roasting pan on top of it all. My only complaint--the croutons didn’t become as soggy as I expected. I served it with Christians’ green beans—cook some bacon and retain the grease, drain bacon and crumble. Dump green beans into grease, douse liberally with cider vinegar and, when serving, crumble in the bacon. That and one of Jordan’s good blue cheese salads was dinner. So good.

High old time of visiting and friends. Tomorrow I work. And maybe I won't be a recluse

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Whirlwind days

This afternoon I woke up from a lovely peaceful nap, with Sophie at my feet, to find Jacob’s friend Hayes in the dining room doing homework, Jacob and his tutor in the sunroom with their math, and Jordan flitting about doing all the chores I should have down. After an hour, when they were all gone, I felt like a whirlwind had left my house. But within maybe two hours Jacob was back and hungry, and an hour later his parents arrived and we sat and talked about—I don’t know what. I am so glad my life is never dull. It will keep me from getting old.

And when I woke this morning I thought life was dull. Soggy dull morning, and I had no get up and go. Had to make myself go shopping, though Amy, my traveling companion/caretaker, kept assuring me the sun was coming out and sure enough by the time we left the second grocery store it was out and bright. But two grocery stores make my hip ache and I am limping around tonight, although in a better frame of mind.

I was inspired today by the Queen’s birthday (do we need to specify what queen?). Ninety years old and look at her dignity and good spirits…and her long and apparently loving marriage. I know there are rumors of awful family rifts and conflicts in the royal household, but they sure manage to keep them under wraps, unlike some of our American leaders, and I cannot help but admire her. She rules with an iron fist in a velvet glove. As I limp along in my late seventies, I think I want to be like her at ninety.  I may not ride horseback as she does, but I have to do my yoga more. And today the day has gotten away from me and I won’t do it again. Tomorrow for sure.

I know the British monarchy is sort of an outmoded idea, but I love it and hope it goes on forever. Will and Kate are the hope of the future for maintaining the dignity of all that Britain stands for, and I value that, especially since some of our presidential candidates have by degrees lost all sense of dignity. I love the pomp and circumstance, just as I love the traditional Protestant church service.

Long live the Queen!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

No profound thoughts tonight

My living room tonight
I’ve been thinking about Bernie and Hillary a lot lately and intended to be profound about that contest—but I just heard a tentative report that she won NY. (As did Trump). My thoughts were going to come out on the side of Hillary, even though so many people hate her—maybe I’ll write about that soon. Meantime, if you come across a Facebook site “Becoming Anti-Bernie,” I’d suggest you read it.

But instead of being profound, I have to confess I pretty much frittered the day away. There are things that were on my to-do list this morning that are still there, and I can’t point to a whole lot I got accomplished—posting some marketing things for The Gilded Cage, answering emails, etc. There were painters here most of the day, and that’s not conducive to concentration. The put plastic down to protect the floors, especially in the dining room where they were patching water leaks in the ceiling, and I was leery about slipping on it. They were most kind about either moving it or taking my hand to help me. But still it was a distraction.

Do want to make sure you all know I’m giving away free copies of The Gilded Cage on Goodreads—you can enter April 23, so don’t dally. Here’s the link:

Went to lunch with two special friends at Nonna Tata and had what is probably my favorite lunch—braseola with a vinaigrette potato salad. Several years ago, when I first ordered it the waitress said, “I don’t know. It sure smells funny.” Good marketing. In case you don’t know, braseola is the Italian beef version of prosciutto. It comes dressed with greens, grana cheese, and a light lemon vinaigrette. Delicious light lunch—really an appetizer, but enough for lunch for me (especially if I come home and have some chocolate).

During lunch yesterday and today I kept trying to think of the name for trimming trees or bushes into three tiered, rounded balls. A web search yielded “poodle trees” which I thought apt but not what I was looking for. Tonight out of the blue I thought of the word—topiary. I quickly wrote the three friends I had lunch with yesterday and today, and one wrote back, “Ah, good, now I can sleep.”

Would you believe at 9:45 I was waiting for a nine-year-old to be delivered from a baseball game (they lost)? He’s home now and, I think, off to bed. Will follow him soon.

Tomorrow: a busier day: got to finish that to-do list and rewrite the first 2000 words—did some online research on the actual case in the back of my mind, and I need to rethink things.


Monday, April 18, 2016

A rainy launch day

Today is the official launch day for The Gilded Cage, but as so often with such things it feels a bit anti-climactic because I’ve been talking about the book so much. Still it’s been a good day—Amazon helped me boost it. One of my friends got an email from them announcing publication, so I gather others did too. Then they asked if I wanted to promote it to my Amazon friends and I of course said yes. So I presume they sent out another announcement with a blurb.

No launch party today. It will be April 29—Fort Worth folks, mark your calendars (and please note some of you may have gotten an earlier mistaken date—it’s Friday, not Thursday). Five to seven p.m. at The Wine Haus, 1628 Park Place Avenue, Fort Worth, 76110. You’re on your own for wine but I will provide snacks. Let’s party! I’ll for sure be reminding folks again. I’ve already heard from several who say they’ll be there and some who have ordered the book because they can’t come. It’s on Amazon—but do come party. I’d love to see you.

Today I’m worried about my kids and grandkids in Tomball, about 40 miles northwest of Houston. The picture above is a composite of their property looks like—lake high, half-finished swimming pool full of rain water. The last picture is what happened when my grandson put buttermilk on his cereal. Makes me laugh. They tell me they are okay, all stayed home today including my workaholic son. Only problem is a roof leak which he optimistically says is no big deal. Houston has been declared a disaster—much worse there than in Tomball, and even Austin had a two-hour school delay.

Rain is gone for now here but apparently coming back. We had lots of thunder in the night, so I had a dog curled up on my bed. Now it’s just gray and dreary. My day was brightened by lunch with my good friend Melinda—felt like a happy camper after food, wine, and sociability, and came home and unpacked three more boxes of books. Goal for today is five. Many of those I found today were beyond hope.

Miles to go before I sleep. Must unpack two more boxes of books, do my yoga, and write 500 words on the new wip. So I’m signing off.