Friday, September 30, 2011

It is Friday, It is Texas, It is Autumn Which Would Explain -- Cough, cough, sniffle--

Yep, seems some determined allergen has blown up my nose.  I can't imagine how since I really haven't been out and yet, here I am, at the beginning of a gorgeous weekend taking Mucinex and anticipating a dose of Benadryl later on -- closer to nap time.  The nose is stopped up, the chest is a tad tight and the ears are all muffley and popping -- yes, it is autumn in Texas.

I don't really have much to post today -- the recent rant has left me wordless -- probably a good thing.  I am still reading "Duane's Depressed" and it is so enlightening -- expresses a lot of what I am feeling/thinking about right now.  Larry McMurtry is such a fantastic writer with such understanding of the human condition.  It is amazing and I haven't really been able to put this book down for long.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about meal planning this morning.  I recognize that we have a new, national, meal planning model in the form of a plate replacing the old food planning model in the form of a pyramid which replaced the even older meal planning formula that I learned in cooking class at this school.  I am not sure if it had a shape or not.

However, my husband is a diabetic that is a very picky eater.  By picky, I mean no soup, no stew, no casserole, no food mixed together at all unless it is Mexican food, no sauces get the picture.  So, it makes it really difficult to feed the meat-and-potatoes guy when all he wants is what he shouldn't have.  I still plan my meals according to the above mentioned junior high school cooking class plan -- a meat, a starch, two sides and, of course being from the south, iced tea.  Doesn't sound like it should be too hard, does it? Ha! The Hubs cooked last night and it was delightful -- a fantastic t-bone that he grilled right here on our patio during a burn ban -- loves living dangerously -- roasted fresh corn and a baked potato.  Too many carbs for the diabetic and a whole lot of red meat for the bypass survivor (him, not me) but it was scrumptious for sure.  He was even lauding himself for only dirtying two plates and a platter.  That was good for me!  Anyway, I digress ... I went online this morning looking for a meal planner to print out and threw that idea right out the door.  I mean, why use printer paper and ink when I can either print one and have it laminated to use like a dry erase board, buy a dry erase board, or use some of the notebook paper I buy in huge quantities during school supply sales.  Why?  I have no idea, force of habit, I guess.  Anyway, I found some lovely calendars to be printed here many of which would be useful if you are designing your own planner.  I might give it some thought but for now, notebook paper it is.  A spiral notebook might be a good idea as well and then you have a permanent record of your menus.  That might be preferable to the notebook paper.  This will definitely take more thought as I don't want to be wasteful.

The summer's heat has taken a huge toll on our garden and it isn't looking so good.  We had considerable landscaping done about three years ago and even some of those established plants are suffering.  However the cannas are thriving and actually flourishing.

 We also have a couple of interesting little creatures living under the kamado.

As best we can tell, they are male and female -- don't ask how I know that - one is just smaller -- so I won't be surprised if we have a bunch of tiny ones running around.

Last year I decided to plant a mint plant in a pot and true to my gardening form, it died a swift death.  However, this year it came up -- in the flower bed! I told the Hubs that unless he wanted it to take over everything he needed to move it to a spot on its on and he did and this is what it has done --

It has again surfaced in the flower bed and we will be making another mint bed on the other side of the patio soon.  I always heard that mint was hearty and difficult and I guess what I heard was right.

We made some silly bird feeders to try to lure the birds back after the building mess behind us was finished -- they are coming back and hopefully the bunnies will too.  I have heard via the neighborhood grapevine that the coyotes are alive and well -- and have gotten into the neighborhood.

We planted some verbena to complement the lantana and invite the butterflies into the yard.

And, thanks to Bean, we successfully installed our attack cat -- doesn't seem to be working too well as we now have a rather large, fuzzy, orange cat semi-living on our patio which I don't particularly mind except that he/she/it decided to try to get one of our cardinals and that just won't do.  I haven't been able to catch a snap yet -- maybe in the morning. 

So, that is life in our garden.  After the year-long building project behind us and the hellish heat, I think it might be coming back to life -- if the allergies don't kill me today I think I might just enjoy it outside tonight and see what sort of photos I can capture. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good News and a Whole Lot of Randomness -- Warning, this is sort of a Rant

As reported here, in previous posts, a few months ago I began a campaign to help all mankind by keeping more of my money from the utility company and reduce my carbon footprint at the same time.  I started slowly with line drying clothes and washing dishes by hand more often.  The clothes drying has been absolutely theraputic and I don't know why, I just know I don't feel like a slave to the dryer anymore.  The hand dishwashing was a bit more difficult because I really don't like it but I persevered until I had company one day and had more dishes than usual and just couldn't help myself.  However, I did have the good sense about me to reconfigure my settings and use only a normal wash and air dry.  I mean, nobody was sick so I didn't feel the need to "sanitize" the dishes.  I have used the d/w twice that way and, again, felt like I was more efficient with hand washing.  So, the first bill after I started this little experiement came up $20 less! I was thrilled.  Well.....the latest bill came and it was -- drumroll, please -- $100 less! Of course, the Hubs reminded me that our weather has cooled down a bit and so the a/c isn't running as much but I refuse to think that my efforts aren't contributing to that savings.  I just had to share.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about things lately and I really don't know why.  I am not sure what set me on the path to save energy and money -- I have never been particularly ecologically concerned.  I have never been a wasteful person but I have never been so intrigued by the subject until now and I don't know why.  I am not sure whether the "simple living" concept really has anything to do with ecology or rather more to do with me being overwhelmed with stuff -- materially and conceptually.  I am pretty sure it has something to do with my age and feeling like all the rules of what I have to do and what I should be don't really apply to me anymore.

My recent haircut, for instance, is testament to the fact that I no longer feel the need to subscribe to any edict about what a woman of my age -- or any age for that matter -- is supposed to look like.  I just got tired of all the money going for product, all the time put into something that I didn't really enjoy anymore, and all the expectation of what I should look like when it didn't work for me anymore.  I am happier not having to mess with The Hair.  I think my hair is healthier for it, too, because I have really become conscious of all the chemicals in the products we all take for granted and I am not sure I really want all that stuff on my head! So, here is a photo of The Hair, taken in my bathroom by me so that is why you are only getting part of it -- sorry -- but the other side looks pretty much the same.

That brings us to the subject of cosmetics.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cosmetics.  I love looking at them and I love buying them.  What's the problem you say?  Well, I don't love using them!  I have a drawer in my vanity chock full of all sorts of makeup -- and I don't really use it.  I have narrowed it down to a few products --

Origins Tinted Moisturizer in the lightest color available 
Origins eyeliner in mushroom
EccoBella lipstick in Cafe Au Lait
I also have been using Jane Iredale mascara but they won't let me upload a photo.  I will not use it again after I finish what I have -- it is WAY too expensive to not be any different than any other mascara.

Now, the question is, what do I do with the pounds and pounds of other stuff?  I have purged this drawer before only to go out and fill it back up again -- that isn't very fiscally responsible nor environmentally responsible -- all those plastic packages have to go someplace!  My bad!  Maybe I need an intervention! The truth is, though, that I want to throw it away.  I am beginning to feel smothered by possessions.  I like the feeling of freedom that having less affords me.  I also like the feeling of freedom that I get now that I have learned that I am ok just as I am and I don't have to try to create a new me with tons of cosmetics.  It doesn't work anyway, I am still me!

Another thing that has crossed my mind is how I spend my time -- when not hanging laundry or washing dishes, that is.  I have been a quilter for years.  I have a really nice sewing machine that the Hubs decided I needed to have a few years back and I really like it.  For some reason, however, I have the unbridled desire to hand piece a quilt.  I mean, what is THAT?  Torture?  I don't think so.  I love magazines to a fault and most of my mag purchases are quilting or cross stitch in nature.  I look at the photos and the quilts are getting more and more sophisticated requiring more and more equipment to produce them.  If you want really professional results, you need a long arm quilting machine to do your quilting.  Well, I would have to add on to the house for that but what if you don't want a "professional looking" quilt, you just really, really want to sit down with little pieces of fabric, a needle and thread, and mindlessly sew?  I used to be a purist and want everything to be hand done and then I got the fancy sewing machine and have been more and more frustrated as time has gone on.  I was fishing through some fabric a couple of weeks ago and I found a little piece that I had done by hand -- it isn't finished, of course, and I think I was just doing it to try my hand at it but it is so nice.  It is accurate and the back doesn't look like a tangled web of thread.  I have been working on a top for a few weeks -- a Disappearing Nine Patch pattern.  It is the second I have made from this pattern and I am pretty sure the Disappearing Nine Patch is going to disappear from my go-to list of patterns.  NOT HAPPY!  So, I have decided that from now on, I am going to only employ my favorite technique for piecing -- paper piecing or I am going to hand piece.  I am not going to clutter my mind with what the magazines say I SHOULD be doing.  I am going to be my own quilter.

Well, it seems I have been on quite a rant, now, doesn't it.  I don't know what has come over me.  I just know that the more I get rid of in my life -- stuff or ideas or opinions -- the happier I am becoming.  I have always tried to please other people and never myself first and for some reason I am now looking at how I want to live and think and be and the only word I can think of that would describe it is uncomplicated.  Yes, uncomplicated.

So, on that note, I think I will go grab up my book and sit and read for a while -- the dishes are done and the laundry is drying so I think I can devote the time to it.  I will leave you with a photo of  a recipe I made the other day on quite the spur of the moment.  I have been testing brownie recipes to try to find a scratch recipe that tastes like boxed. So, I was looking through the Pillsbury cookbook and decided to try their brownie recipe but I also decided to try the Pumpkin Bars that were on the same page.  They were listed in the bar cookie section but they were much more cake-like and they turned our completely scrumptious! So did the brownies, by the way! Pillsbury -- who knew!  Sorry Mark Bittman -- they beat you out!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays -- 27 September 2011

Since the Hubs retirement, we have been having a bit of a time remembering what day it is since we are perpetually on "flex" time -- I had to look at the calendar to see if it really was Tuesday! Heaven help me when Daylight Savings Time rolls around -- somebody really should do something about that, BTW!

 Ok, well, here is today's Teaser, again, from "Duane's Depressed" by Larry McMurtry.

"He walked straight over to Tenth Street, where he knew there was a good bike shop; within an hour he had spent five thousand dollars on a top-of-the-line bicycle, complete with helmet, biking shoes, goggles, night lights, water bottles, side packs and a dog seat.  He bought shorts, gloves, a windbreaker, and various little trail packs of high-energy foods. He bought a tool kit to repair his bike, and an excellent pump for the tires.  He bought an odometer and even a little device that would measure his pulse and his heartbeat as he rode.  The young couple who ran the store had been looking lonely when Duane came in, but were looking extremely happy as they totaled up his  purchases."

Ok, maybe that wasn't the most compelling teaser but it was a turning point in Duane's depression -- I will say no more except that at this point in time, this book was tailor made for me.  It is funny, even though I am not sure if it is supposed to be, it is addressing a number of things that I am feeling at this time -- coincidence that Duane and I are the same age?  At any rate, the book is zipping along nicely -- yesterday I had a hard time putting it down but if you are going to follow suit and read it I would suggest you start with "The Last Picture Show" and "Texasville" for the complete backstory -- it will make more sense even though the book is standing alone nicely.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Musing Mondays -- 26 September 2011

What does it take for you to give up on a book you're reading?

It takes a lot, actually, and while I don't usually give up on a book, I will give it a time out and come back to it later.  I don't like to give up on books or feel as if I need to give up on a book.  Having been the sort that did lots of creative writing in school, has taken creative writing courses and such, I know what goes into writing and I appreciate all authors efforts.  However, since people's reading/writing tastes differ, I try to choose books that I know I will finish because not finishing a book, to me, is an insult to the author.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

21 September 2011

Happy first day of autumn! It is a gorgeous day here, waiting for a cool front to blow through and maybe a chance of a shower! Ok, now on with WWW Wednesday for today.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading "Duane's Depressed" by Larry McMurtry.  I am also trying to read "Aunt Dimity's Good Deed" by Nancy Atherton at the same time but I am not too good at reading two books at one time.

What did  you recently finish reading?

I recently finished "An Amish Christmas" by Cynthia Keller.

What do you think you will read next?

I am thinking that something by Sarah Waters -- possibly "Night Watch" will be on the list. Obviously, this will be after I finish the Aunt Dimity book.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays -- 20 September 2011

Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading.  This is my teaser for this week.  It is from "Duane's Depressed" by Larry McMurtry, page 101.

By the time she drove the half mile to the Dairy Queen there were already six pickups parked in front of it.  A cluster of oilmen, wanting to postpone their day's work as long as possible, sat at the long table in the rear of the room.  Karla rarely hit the Dairy Queen that early -- when she swept in, in her  bathrobe, several of the oilmen looked at her askance.  :What's the matter, J.T., never seen a woman in a bathrobe?" she asked one who was pouring himself a cup of coffee.

Gotta love McMurtry, gotta love Dairy Queen -- ah, Texas has a culture all its own and it is alive and well in this book.

Monday, September 19, 2011

19 September 2011

The question is -- How often to you read a book just because you feel like it.

Well, that would be every time I pick up a book.  I am not a part of any book clubs and the only reading challenge I am involved in is a year long challenge on Good Reads and I have NEVER been lucky enough to get an early edition to review even though I try!  So, all my reading is because I want to and with that said, it seems like that is ALL I want to do some days!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Different Sort of Sunday

Today was a different sort of Sunday. It was unusually quiet and slow -- something I am not used to -- and it has been the laziest day I have had in a long, long while.

It started out with me waking up much earlier than I had intended and, true to form, I couldn't go back to sleep so I got up, made my tea and toast, and had my breakfast on the patio.  It was just cool enough and just dawn enough to be really pleasant.

We had made plans to attend an earlier church service because it fit in better with the Bean's new long-afternoon-nap schedule so we set off to church at 8:30 instead of 10:30.  I wasn't sure how I was going to like it because our earlier service is Rite 2 rather than Rite 1 and I am used to Rite 1.  It didn't much matter at all because I spent the hour, except for Communion in the nursery.  Bean has only been to the nursery once and, that one time, even though I stayed with her so her Mama could go to church, the separation anxiety was a bit much for all of us.  She was there for a little while and tried to get interested in what was going on but she sat on my lap and sniffled and finally just melted into a puddle of misery.  Fortunately, Mama was quick to arrive to get us for Communion and she was fine.  That has been a while ago so Mama decided to try again today.  It was a totally different situation -- when they walked in Bean tried to cry but Mama stayed with her for a while.  When I showed up I told Mama to go to church and I would stay with the Bean.  Mama really likes church and it has been a while since she has been able to sit through an uninterrupted church service.  The Bean is too little and yet too big and too wiggly to sit through a service quietly -- she is a girl on the go and would rather run than walk and she was much happier in the nursery.  It was different today because she didn't melt down, she did play with the toys and make herself at home and even though she was the only girl in the room with four boys she didn't back down -- when a scuffle ensued between two of the older boys -- approximately four years of age, she got right in the middle of it -- she wasn't fighting, she just got literally in the middle and, in essence, stopped the fight because they didn't know why the girl was getting in their way.  It was a very interesting situation to observe -- she did well with her second visit to the nursery.  We will try again next week.

Of course, getting out of church two hours earlier than usual completely threw me off course.  I kept thinking it was getting close to three when it was really just noon.  I thought  I would get a lot done because I had so much time but all that really happened was I got a headache and sat most of the afternoon.  I did get a couple of kitchen drawers cleaned out and my kitchen towels sorted and re-arranged.  I hope I can remember where I put everything!

This evening we decided to go the our local Barnes and Noble to browse.  I am sort of on a moratorium from magazine buying.  I culled all my cross stitch mags a few months ago and immediately recognized the error of my ways as the recycling truck picked them up so I tried to restock, swearing to never throw another magazine away again.  Well, that is all fine and good but I need to put them someplace besides where they are which is everywhere.  That may happen tomorrow - we will see.  I bought nothing at the bookstore which is strange for me.  I was looking for cross stitch reading material but all they had were British magazines which are gorgeous to look at but really expensive.  So, I passed those by.  Oh well, maybe I will find I don't need any more when I go through what I have.

So, now we are going to watch a movie.  Nice quiet end to a pleasantly long day.   I hope everybody else's was as nice.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

15 September 2011

The question is "have you ever finished a book and loved it so much you went right back and started re-reading it again?"

My answer would have to be yes and no -- I have read books that I loved that much.  The Mitford Series books as well as the Fr. Tim books and the Woman of Substance Trilogy were a few but, I didn't go back and re-read them because there was always the next book waiting for me.  With that said, however, I do have a few that I am going to take a look at re-reading this winter because they are just comfortable books to read!
15 September 2011

I don't know that I have run across any new thrifty tips of my own this week except to say that I am shopping for a toaster oven and I have been looking at my crock-pot cookbooks.  I used the dishwasher a couple of times and it broke my momentum and now I have to get on track again -- my hands looked better when I hand washing the dishes -- go figure.

The one thing I did do may not qualify but here goes.  I used to get my hair done every week (isn't that what ladies of a "certain" age do?) and I started cutting back on that a year or so ago.  Then I decided to go longer between hair cuts -- not an especially good idea but an idea made worse when I decided to go back to cutting my own hair, something I did all the time, for years, when I was younger.  A little teasing and a lot of hairspray covered up many ills back in the day.  Well, I could no longer handle the situation -- for some reason my difficult, thin, dry, gray hair decided to grow -- a lot -- and long.  So, off to my stylist I went -- the same girl I have gone to for almost a decade and told her to do something different.  Brave, you say?  Well, as I am getting older and with the recent growth spurt, my attitude is -- it's only hair! So, we went through magazines, something we have never done together, and only one thing caught my eye and that is what we went with.  Next time, we will go shorter.

While I have worn my hair short for the entirety of my adult life, this is shorter.  My hair would never curl well until it was quite long and then it would curl with no abandon -- not a good thing in the 60's when girls wanted long, straight hair -- and now, with all the gray, it isn't curling at all so to keep a short, shaggy look, I had to really work at it.  Well, no more.  It is short, caters to the "straightness" and gives in to the unruly grays.  Do I like it?  Not sure -- hanging a bit long in my eyes but we will see.  Will I keep it short and straight?  Probably because at my age, I really just don't care anymore.  My time is more important to me than fretting over my hair.  Are people going to look at me strangely?  Probably, especially The Girl.

So, how does this work into my thrifty plan?  Well, after forking over the $45 (tip included) for this new do, I figure it takes no time to dry which saves on electricity and it requires much less product so I figure money saved there.  She flat ironed it -- not an attractive look on somebody with a fat roundish face so that will save money not having to run an extra appliance and I didn't use a curling iron or anything else -- just going straight.  Maybe it isn't a huge savings but it  is some and isn't that what counts.  Plus, my time.  My time is more valuable than anything else.  Plus, in the winter, I can throw a scarf over my head and not figure I am wrecking "the do".  After this horrific summer, I have no idea what the winter will be like, either -- it could be shorts weather throughout or we might be preparing for blizzards -- in either case,  my hair will work. 

No, dear blog readers, I won't be posting photos.  Just imagine Jamie Lee Curtis hair (a little longer) on Roseanne Barr and there you go! Ok, not going to win any beauty contests but I am still a fun girl and that is all I need to be!

Off to the dentist which may leave me without any hair at all! Have a wonderful day!
14 September 2011

I like to participate in WWW Wednesdays hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading but I am a little late this week.  However, better late than never I suppose so here I go.

The rules for participation are to answer three questions -- what are you currently reading, what did you recently finish and what do you think you will read next.

I am currently reading "Duane's Depressed" by Larry Mc Murtry.  I love Larry McMurtry and want to visit his book store really, really badly.


I just finished "An Amish Christmas" by Cynthia Kelly.  I really enjoy Amish fiction and I don't  know why -- I am not Amish and I am not sure the representation of the group is completely accurate but I still like the calmness and simple way of life that is portrayed -- a true escape for me.

As far as what I am going to read next -- well, I don't know -- I need to shop my own bookshelves first but if I don't have something there hit me, I may try to find a copy of "A Plain and Fancy Christmas" by Cynthia Kelley (I think all the hot weather has made me wish for an early Christmas!) but more than likely I will read the third in the Aunt Dimity series -- "Aunt Dimity's Good Deed".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

13 September 2011

Teaser Tuesdays  is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.  Here is mine for this Tuesday.

Then, pleased with his decision and even rather enjoying the crisp cut  of the norther, Duane took the first walk of his new life, a short one of some three quarters of a mile along a dirt road to his office.  His departure was observed only by Willy, the grandson Julie had presented them with only a few days prior to her seventeenth birthday; now Willy was nine.

 This excerpt is from Duane's Depressed by Larry McMurtry, page 12.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Musing Monday - September 12, 2011

 Musing Monday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.  Each  week, a question is posted in regards to books and reading.  This week's question is --What is the one (or maybe two) qualifiers a book must have for you to pass it along to your best  friend as a must read?

The first thing a book must do for me to recommend it is grab me.  If it doesn't hold my interest I won't recommend it.  In order for a book to really catch my interest it must have strong characterization, a great setting and the action must flow and not be  draggy.
Which one doesn't belong!

Yes, I said it out loud -- thank goodness it is Monday.  Things seem a bit more normal today -- I mean Target was already crowded at 8 a.m.  I can't even begin to tell you what I did this weekend -- either the memory is going or I just didn't do much -- I think it is the latter.

I did wash sheets.  We have a king size bed and I was so tempted to throw those sheets in the dryer but I resisted and figured out how to hang them on my little drying racks.  It involved folding and re-folding once as they dried but they dried really quickly and the good part about it is -- they are already folded up! I realize that I could have clipped them to hangers and dried them on the shower curtain rod which is my hanging spot but this worked and I am happy.

I did make brownies.  I have been experimenting with making brownies from scratch with various recipes. A while back I made a batch with a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything cookbook.  I didn't have the proper sized pan but I made them anyway and they were to die for.  The second attempt -- not so much.  So, I figured third time's a charm right?  Armed with the proper sized pan and the knowledge that even a minute of over baking is a bad thing, I forged ahead.  They must not have turned out too badly because here are the remains.

We also spent a little time Saturday morning at a craft fair at my cousin's church in Arlington.  It wasn't very large and there wasn't a huge variety of things there but we wanted to go to see the offerings as the Hubs and I are thinking of doing craft fairs as an activity. After our visit at this one, though, I am wondering if Etsy isn't the better way  to go. I had meant to take the camera and shoot some snaps but, once again, I didn't.  For some reason I just can't get in the habit of throwing the camera in my purse so I always have it.

Saturday evening we spent visiting the Hubs brother and his wife.  It was a good time, dinner out at a local barbecue spot and coffee after.  Plans are in the works for my MIL's 90th birthday party and I am afraid I am going to be put in charge and that is a job I don't want.  Really - don't - want.

Yesterday was spent avoiding the tv and cooking.  It was a sad day, even without the tv.  It was a surreal day -- how could ten years have already passed when it feels like the events of 9-11 just happened? As I read Facebook posts, some of which angered and frustrated me beyond reason, I thought about the days of my youth that were so seemingly innocent and stress free.  Maybe they weren't, maybe I just grew up.

So begins another week with yet another visit to my friendly dentist to finally get a bridge.  I am nursing this poor, broken temporary along as I haven't had time to get back to get another made -- this dental adventure has been a bear and I hope I don't have another for a while.

Time to get on with it -- see ya later!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11, 2001--Where Were You?

I rose early this morning which I often do.  I spend my early morning time on  the computer, sipping tea, gathering my thoughts, taking my blood pressure, all those things a person does when she has a few minutes alone.  My computer time is spent checking the newspaper of my hometown, not the town I live in, catching up with Facebook (yeah, sorry) and reading my favorite blogs.

One of my favorite blogs is Old Centennial Farmhouse.  Today Joni, the owner of the blog, asked where we were on that morning.  She then posts a very poignant account of what her day was like that fateful day that changed our lives forever. After reading her post, I wish I had journaled the events of that day and our feelings because Joni's post was so real and fresh and it brought back all those fears and moments of disbelief that I think we all harbor to this day to some extent.

Even though I didn't journal it, I remember it quiet clearly.  It was a usual day in our house, the Hubs had left for work and DD was getting ready for her classes at college.  I was making tea and dishing up cereal.  Having grown up in the home of a news journalist we always had the tv or radio on listening to what had happened overnight and that morning was no different.  DD always turned on the Today show which I promptly changed over to a popular quilting show the minute she walked out the door.  That day was no different.  The older I get the harder I find it to take the news of the day before  I have had my first cup of caffeine.  So, the day proceeded like every other before -- DD left and I flipped the channel, got my tea and was lost in the beautiful world of fabric.

It couldn't have been more than ten minutes after my daughter left than the phone rang and it was her telling me to put the tv back on the news (she knows me quite well) because something  horrible had happened.  I did and I thought I was watching a rebroadcast of the event when, in reality, I was watching the second plane fly through the building.  She continued to school and I watched.  A short time later I spoke to my son who was at work and he told me to tell his sister to come home.  They both attended a local commuter college that had a large, diverse population, many from the Middle East.  He said she really didn't need to be there so I got her on the phone and relayed the message.  It didn't  matter, she was on her way home already.  She was beyond upset.  It seems that when she walked to the parking lot after learning that the school  was being closed, she witnessed a group of Middle Eastern students throwing cndy and shouting in celebration of the mornings events.  Of course, by the time she got home, the Pentagon had been attacked and I was trying to locate my family in the DC area.  They were safe, my kids were safe, my husband was safe although his work day had dissolved into everybody sitting around a tv watching -- nothing was done.  We were safe -- but were we?  Would we ever feel safe again?  What had happened to our country?  What had happened to the world?

As we went about our business, the empty skies were ominous.  We lived reasonably close to an air force base that can be viewed from a high spot behind it.  We took a little drive and it was disturbing how quiet it was.  We wondered why those fighter jets that called this air force base home weren't gassed up and ready to leave, to  avenge this attack on our very soul.  The quiet was deafening, like the end of the world.  We went home and waited.

It is now ten years later.  The person who masterminded this attack is swimming with the fishes -- a little anticlimactic, don't you think?  Do I feel safe?  No.  Do I feel like our innocence, if you will, was stripped away.  Absolutely.  Growing up after World War 2, in the middle of the cold war when we would have disaster drills and sit under our school desks and cover our heads as we were crouched in the hallway, never did I feel as violated and threatened as I do now.  I lived in a town in south Texas that was home to five military bases and was a target during the Cuban missile crisis.  I know my parents felt the threat but I , as a child, did not.  I can't say that the children of today feel that secure in their lives anymore.  It is a sad reality but a reality it is.  The real reality is, however, that even though we may have lost our "innocence" we are still America and we will stand together and we will get through whatever comes our way.  We are strong and vigilant and intelligent. We are America and God bless us.

Friday, September 09, 2011

9 September 2011

Friday Finds is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.  I don't participate in Friday Finds very often but this week I feel I have a really good find and I don't know if it is because I am suspecting it is going to be a good book or because I got such a good deal.  I ventured into the last remaining Borders in the area yesterday just to see what was left.  Precious little was left and not what I went in looking for.  However, I was able to grab a copy of  "An Amish Christmas" by
Cynthia Keller. 

I have looked at this book before but, at the time, had been reading lots of Amish fiction and had a number of things on my bookshelves to read so I passed it by.  However, yesterday, due to Borders misfortune, I just couldn't resist getting a $16 book for $3.22. 

It is a small book, short read and that is what I will be reading next.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

Thrifty Thursday is hosted by Angela at Tracing Rainbows.  I followed Gill and Jane there after they posted some thrifty tips of their own.  It is a very interesting site with great links.  In today's post, I especially liked Angela's discussion of paper and some great ways to reuse the paper in our life.  I was also glad she mentioned using handkerchiefs over tissues.  This is something I have been thinking about since I have a nice collection of hankies that were destined for a quilt but since I can't stand the thought of cutting into them, that will probably never happen.   I love to buy the hankies at our neighborhood antique mall and always come home with one or two so I might just as well use them!

I don't have too many thrifty tips of my own since I am, at my advanced age, trying to learn how to be more frugal and more conscious of the affect of my actions on others.  I have been washing dishes by hand and hanging laundry which is the subject of past blogs and I saw a difference in my utility bill.  This month I am trying a new approach to dish washing which is to load the dishwasher but only run when it is full (opps! yes, I am guilty as charged) which takes us two to three days to get it full since there are only two of us and to run on the regular wash cycle only -- not extra hot and no warm dry.  I am running it before bed and by the time I get up in the morning, the dishes are air dried and all is good.  I will see, this month, how this affects the bill.  I have to say, though, that after washing the dishes by hand for a month I sort of enjoyed it.  I will see -- my choice will all depend on the $$$.

So, visit Thifty Thursday for some good hints and some good links.

8 September 2011

Booking Through Thursday has posed the following questions --

What are you reading now?
Would you recommend it?
And what is next?

I am currently finishing up "Aunt Dimity and the Duke" by Nancy Atherton.  It is the second in the Aunt Dimity series that consists of about fifteen titles.

I would recommend this book but I would rather recommend the series. I didn't realize this was a series and read one of the books sort of in the middle of the series.  It was stand alone, as they all are, but it is much nicer beginning at the beginning because they do build on each other.

As far as what is next, it would be an obvious choice to read the third in the series but I might take a break and do something else.  Sitting on my bookshelf calling out to me each time I walk by is a copy of "When the Light Goes Out" by Larry McMurtry.  It is the sequel to "Duane's Depressed" which I haven't read. reading the back of the book, it describes "Duane's Depressed" as "one of McMurtry's most moving novels" -- Texas Monthly.  So, maybe I shouldn't skip over that one -- I might miss something.  So, in answer to the question -- I am not sure but I will let you know!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

I figure I better post this now, while it is still Tuesday!  This has been a strange day, probably due to yesterday being a holiday but it doesn't seem like Tuesday and it doesn't seem like it should be dark already -- cold front and the days are already getting shorter.  Go figure.

Ok, here is the teaser.  It is from the book I am still reading Aunt Dimity and the Duke, page 197.

"Don't suppose I should take such pleasure in this," he said, crossing from the windows to stand before a lute-strumming marble angel perched upon a marble pedestal, "but it's really quite wonderful.  Watch."  He grasped the angel's head and tilted it forward and the wall behind the pedestal swung away into darkness.

I haven't gotten to this part yet so I don't really know what is happening here -- but I have an idea!

Monday, September 05, 2011

5 September 2011

Well, it is time for another Musing Mondays over at Should Be Reading.  Today's topic is "who do you think is the hottest male/female character from a book?"

I don't read historical romance -- you know, the books with the Fabio type guy and the cleavage spilling gal with masses of cascading hair on the cover.  So, I guess my answer is going to be a bit -- well -- old.

When I was thinking about this question the first thing that came to my mind was Larry McMurtry's The Last Picture Show which I read well before the movie came out.  One of the book's main male characters was Duane Moore which coupled with the book's main female character, Jacy Burrows, was obviously the "hot" one because of, if for no other reason, his relationship with Jacy, the small town's racy, sexy and obviously only high school senior girl.  Ok, there was another girl and she was so NOT racy or sexy, even though she tried, that I can't even remember her name.

As far as "hot" female characters, I guess I would have to say Jacy Burrows of the same book.  She was definitely portrayed as gorgeous, rich and bored which led her to try to cure her boredom in what ever way struck her fancy.

There is another book, however, that I find the characters just as "hot" as  Duane and Jacy.  The book is A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford.  Even though the main female character, Emma Harte, seemed to be simple Welsh girl working as a domestic in a large manor house, she proved otherwise.  She was pretty but not gorgeous but she certainly had a way with men but learned early on what it was like to be hurt -- from that hurt, she learned to use that "way" for financial gain and independence.  The male character that I found to be "hot" was Blackie.  He worked in the manor house as well and loved Emma from afar, only able to be her best friend rather than the lover he would have preferred to have been.

Even though these books took place in different locales and different time periods there were similarities such as unrequited love, illicit affairs, sadness, determination, insurmountable difficulties, illness, etc which, in my opinion, are all elements that will contribute to a character's "hottness".  

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Uh Oh -- A Little Backslide!

It is a beautiful day today -- the breeze is blowing in a cool front that promises to reduce our 100+ temps to mid-80's by tomorrow! I couldn't be more thrilled.  I used to dread winter -- still do considering our winters have become so icy the last few years -- but I really dread summer.  It has been so hot that it hasn't been safe for outdoor activity at all this season so I am really looking forward to this cool front that is ushering in autumn. I don't believe any rain is in our forecast even with all the tropical storm activity in the gulf but that is ok, I won't be greedy -- I will be more than content with the cooler temps.
We had a lovely get-together last night for our DD's birthday which is actually on Tuesday.  She had a couple of good friends join us and a good time was had by all -- Beanie really enjoyed herself although it was determined that my high chair is way too big for her and sort of swallows her up.  I might have to look at an alternative but as soon as I do, she will be out of it so I don't know if it is worth the effort or the expenditure.  We did miss our son and his family, though, but he was home with a migraine.  I will check on him later and see if he is better.

The Hubs cooked kabobs -- beef and chicken and veggie for B our vegan friend.  I had rice and a large tossed salad.  Hubs also made a wonderful apple tarte tatin which he served with heavy cream.  Yum.  I made devils food cupcakes.  Trust me, his apple thing was much, much better than my mix made cupcakes.

It proved to be a quiet afternoon except for the accidents.  In the course of thirty minutes a cabinet hinge gave way, Hubs dropped something and broke one of my canister lids and then he broke a coffee cup!  We made him sit down for the rest of the evening.  he is not usually so accident prone but I felt like he was on a roll and needed to be stopped!  And then came the back sliding part ----

with every dish in the house dirty, I broke down and ran the dishwasher.  I was so sad that I didn't have the energy or the desire to stand there and wash all those dishes.  However, I used the normal wash cycle instead of the high temp cycle and I turned off the dry cycle so they dried on their own so I guess it wasn't a complete disaster.  I now remember why I don't like using the dishwasher -- my dw is across the room from where the dishes are kept and I don't especially like unloading a huge load of dishes.  It is much easier to unload the dish drainer on the counter and I prefer it so this mornings dishes were washed by hand and are happily drying right now -- in fact, they are probably already dry.  I guess I am back in the groove so to speak.

I have been trying to complete a quilt I started -- a  disappearing nine patch -- and it just isn't going together well at all.  I thought this pattern would be a cinch -- there is nothing to it -- and I have made one before but if it isn't cut accurately, it is just a monster and that is what has happened with this one I am afraid.  So, I have been struggling with that declaring under my breath that I am never going to make another one of these again!  I also found a section of a quilt that I was hand piecing and I seriously think I am going to try that again.  The accuracy is unbelievable and I much prefer handwork over being hunched over the machine.  I am going to finish that one and see how it goes -- who knows, I might actually prefer it.

So, it is labor day weekend -- the weekend I gave birth to my daughter -- very appropriate, don't you think?  I think the rest of this weekend I am going to rest, enjoy my tea outside in the cooler weather and just enjoy this wonderful change of season! Have a great weekend everybody!