Monday, April 30, 2012


I have no idea why the previous post is green and in a different font.  I hate computers.

Musing Mondays -- April 30, 2012

Do you listen to audiobooks? If not, why not? And, if so, what has been one of your favorites, so far?

I have never listened to audio book but I have been thinking of giving it a try.  I am in the car a lot and I am finding that listening to music is distracting and makes me nervous.  I have been listening to morning radio talk shows but they changed the line up on the station I listen to and now it is all news, all the time, on a more or less continuous loop sort of like CNN and that is just annoying so I have been giving some thought to audiobooks.  I will let you know.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In My Head

It is a busy place, in my head.  There is always something going on in there -- conversations, telling people off, making lists, organizing, apologizing, planning, wondering -- all without saying a word or using a pencil and paper.  It gets more complicated when my husband finds his way into my head which seems to be happening more and more as we get older -- we seem to be able to know what each other is thinking and while that is probably something to be expected with people who have been together for as long as we have it is still a bit -- uh, spooky for him to verbalize what I am thinking.

It seems that my mind has been working overtime lately and I thought I would share some of the things rambling around in my head.

The first thing that I have been thinking about is that retirement and menopause should never, ever be allowed to occur simultaneously.

I have also been thinking about how the  sewing pattern companies are really stingy.  Have you priced sewing patterns lately?  Outrageous.  Plus, they print multiple sizes on one pattern which means you either cut a bunch of the sizes away or you have to do a lot of extra work tracing the pattern onto the material all for the tidy sum of at least $12, without a coupon. So, you get a lot less paper for a lot more money and I don't think that is ok.  For what they cost, I think we should get lots and lots of paper.

I have also been thinking about how items that we used to have have just completely disappeared.  Has anybody else, who had children in the 80's, noticed how few toys are available now? However, they come out with a new e-reader/tablet at least every six months.  I don't get it.  Did  I mention that I  would like the two new models that Nook has out, please?

I have realized that you are never too old to color.

The older I get the more I like sitting still and feeling.  Not thinking -- it is deeper than thinking -- it is feeling.

I think blogs are magical.

I am definitely on board with the trend toward small house living.  With one bathroom.  Why would anybody want four toilets to scrub? Sometimes I really miss my  little house on Schmeltzer.

Things that used to allude me when I was young are crystal clear to me now.  That doesn't seem quite fair when I needed knowledge and understanding then but now -- well, who cares?

I have tried to turn into my mother, my grandmother and my two aunts.  That is normal.  Now, it seems I am turning into my daughter! That is not normal but she has really good taste and buys really cool things.

I had a really nice day today and hope for a repeat performance tomorrow!

What an odd post from me -- I just haven't finished my book yet for a book review! I will try to get done so I can stop with the strange writings.

The Simplicity of the Day

It began as the light crept through the louvers on the shutter leaving little lines across the wall and my eyes.  One last snuggle into the blanket and I was awake -- a stretch and I was up.  Tea and toast -- my favorite breakfast -- brought back memories of a little kitchen with a little table and chairs.  She was pouring canned milk into the half cup of tea and slathering the bread with "real" butter.  A moment of missing her and I am back to today.

Pink and white flannel -- soon to be winter pajamas in summer.  Cutting, stitching, dreaming of pink buttons but accepting sticky tape instead.  An anchor?  Maybe an initial?  Whatever it will be, it will be navy.

A drive north, my mind jumping from one thing to another -- trying to keep the fears at bay, the sadness in its little box where I keep it.  How did that car get upside down on a side street?  The things you see on an ordinary afternoon! The curls, the puzzles, the first ever chocolate chip cookie -- smiling, sparkling eyes as she looks at mother for approval.     The perfection, the innocence -- miss her even before I leave.

Home again, home again -- dinner, a show -- the sun sinks slowly, the light fading from the behind the louvers -- the sleepiness settles in, the promise of a new day tomorrow with hopes of another simple day.


What are you currently reading?

The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory.

What did you recently finish reading?

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.  I was reading this concurrently with the Gregory book.

What do you think you will read next?

I have several new books on my shelf but the one I am eyeing is "The House I Loved" by Tatiana de Rossay.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Musing Mondays

I haven't done one of these in quite some time so I thought I would join in, again, this  morning.

The question of the day is:

Other than working at a job, what is the biggest interruption to reading?  What takes you away from your books?

Sadly, the answer to this question is easy -- falling asleep in front of the tv.  Most evenings, after dinner, the Hubs and I sit down to watch a bit of tv and on the nights that he picks our viewing pleasure, I generally read (one can only watch so much "action adventure").  On those nights I choose to read as I "watch" -- it is generally easier to do this on an e-reader.  However, I have a tendency, however, to get too comfy and after about fifteen or so minutes, I am sawing logs and wake up only long enough to trot myself to bed!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Soul Searching

I know I am aging, not so much by the hair color or the little wrinkles but more by the way the things of life affect me.  I am an ordinary person and have had no more bad things happen in my life than the next person and not nearly as many as some people.  I have been lucky in that way but I have not been immune to losing people either through death or estrangement and I am not sure which is the most difficult.

I adored my paternal grandfather but I wasn't able to be around him much because they didn't live near by   and because there were too many family "politics" to deal with. He passed away when I was six and I missed him.  However, after I was an adult I re-established a relationship with that side of my family and I didn't mourn the people who passed on  as much as  the time I missed with them.  In November I suddenly lost a dear cousin from this family  and again I was reminded how much time was lost over irrelevant "things".

Today I learned that my mother's baby brother passed away last Wednesday.  In addition to her brother, my mother had two sisters, both now gone.  Between them all there were five of us girls -- all stair stepped in age except for the last one who was ten years younger than me.  There was a point when I was close to the three older ones.  We would go to movies, have sleepovers, go to dances, go to each other's graduations, we were in each others weddings -- we had a close relationship.  Then, something happened and the relationship changed.  I am close enough to my eldest cousin to consider her a sister.  The other two, the daughters of my late uncle, are like strangers.  I don't  know why, I wish I did, I wish we could fix things.  So, when I think about the passing of my uncle, while I am sad for the loss of the last of my mother's siblings, I am even sadder at the loss of the family that remains.

I guess it is a sign of age that I can remember well the relationships and how it felt to lose them but can't seem to recall the reason why the change occurred.  I guess, as I age,  I just can't get my head around how childish situations of the past could be more important than family.  It is a shame we have to wait until we get to a "certain" age to see priorities clearly.

Wow, what a depressing post but it has been that sort of day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bringing up Bebe -- Pamela Druckerman

Yes, I know, I am too old to have much interest in child rearing.  I did my job, good or bad, and I have to say I raised two really good, really smart people in spite of myself.  Did I make mistakes -- oh yeah.  Being an only child with a very nervous mother put me at a huge disadvantage in this area.  I wasn't around children much so when they handed me my first little bundle of joy a panic ensued that can actually still be seen today.  We didn't have many books back in the mid-70's, I think I had a copy of a Better Homes and Garden's baby care book that showed me how to take temperature.  I did learn, however, through trial and error and now, at my advanced age, I can see clearly where I should have done a few things differently but the kids are fine and I am relatively calm unless the phone rings at an unusual time.

While I am not in charge of any more short charges, I am actively involved in babysitting one small future adult.  When this book was mentioned in conversation, I thought I would check it out so a week or so ago, when I was locked out of my neighborhood due to the Komen Race for the Cure, I spent a bit of quality time with my Nook at Barnes and Noble.  A lovely hot chocolate and a rather sad coconut macaroon was involved but I can't talk about that -- what a waste of $1.95.

As I sat down with my little indulgence I opened up the book on my Nook (you can read for free for an hour if you are in a store) and started checking out "Bringing up Bebe" by Pamela Druckerman.

  This is a book about a 30-something American woman married to a British man and they have a 18 month old girl-child fondly referred to as Bean (she does have a proper name, the author assures.) They are living in Paris. As I have a 30-something American daughter married to a British man with a 22 month old daughter called Bean, all living in the US,  I felt I needed to read the book.  It got me from the first page.

This is not a guide for raising a baby with a lot of clinical information.  It is a comparison of parenting styles in France contrasted to parenting styles in the US.  The author, living in Paris where there American and British ex-pats are not unusual, begins to notice a difference in the behavior of the children in social situations.  The French children seem to be calmer and more able to do without their parents attention for reasonable periods of time.  This behavior was especially noticeable in restaurants and the playground.  After making this observation on a number of occasions, Druckerman decides to research the French children's behavior to see what makes the difference.  As I read on, it seemed to me that it was less a study of the differences in the children (there really weren't any) and more a study of the differences in the reactions of the French and American/British parents to the children's behaviors. 

The main focus of the book is "the cadre" -- or framework of parenting.  There are set rules that are not broken, the French are very strict about this, but within that framework there is a great deal of freedom which, they believe, allows the children to blossom.

There were some concepts in the French parenting style that I agreed with completely.  Their emphasis on food and eating was, in my opinion, one of the healthiest I have ever heard of but I still can't get my head around two pieces of French baguette with a chocolate bar in the middle -- that doesn't sound good  even to me.  They don't believe in snacking and the observation is that French women don't walk around with little ziplock bags of pretzels and cheerios in their designer bags.  They believe that children should be required to taste everything on their plate but they don't have to eat it if they don't want it.  It is the general concensus that children can handle more sophisticated tastes at an early age and they are fed accordingly.  They eat the same as the parents every day with the food being chopped or pureed according to age.

The other main consideration is sleep.  Naps aren't really part of the conversation but bedtime is.  Bedtime is rigorously enforced and that is something I can completely agree with because it helps nurture the other thing that is prominent in French parenting -- The Couple.  The French believe that not letting having children interfere in the parents relationship is a priority.  That sounds negative but it isn't -- they just feel like having the parents relationship stay strong is as important to the children as it  is to the parents.

Another main point that I can agree with is treating children with respect and listening to them, taking their thoughts into consideration, the whole time retaining the concept that the adult is in charge.  I wish I had had a better working knowledge of this concept when I was raising mine.

There are a number of things that I don't think would work here in the US or that don't personally agree with.  I can't imagine one child going snackless in a world of little ziplock bags.  Not that the child wouldn't be better off, mind you, but I can just imagine the tears, chaos, and possibly even hostility in the playgroup.

I am not a fan of sending a four year old off to some camp someplace for several days at a time without a supervising parent.  That just wouldn't fly in this house.  The only camp my kids ever went to was Camp MeeMaw and yes, for the record, I am sure they felt terribly deprived -- at least one of them does.  However, that is the mood in the US -- to ensure your child's safety which doesn't seem to be a priority in French parenting -- at least they don't seem to be quite so neurotic about it.  Could we lighten up?  Probably.  Will we?  Probably not.

And then there is the question of those chocolate bar sandwiches.  I just don't get that -- it must be a cultural thing!

I would recommend this book to any person who is or ever has been involved in raising children.  It is an eye opening, thought provoking tome that makes me wish I could go back and do some things over again with this more "worldly" view of things.  However, we are in Texas, not France, and I just don't think it is a concept that can be fully embraced here. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A View From a Window -- Thursday --

Ok, I didn't post last Thursday and I know it isn't Thursday today but I keep THINKING it is Thursday so I am going to post this today just on the basis of me being a bit late and a lot confused -- blame it on the allergy issues.

For the last several months, I have been joining in Jane's "A View from a Window" adventure and was very appalled that my "views" didn't vary, at least very much, until Hubs decided to do some re-landscaping and then things looked  a bit different.   We also have a new resident at one end of the bed -- a new crab apple tree.  It is a lovely shape -- I hope it grows quickly.

This end is where he started and it is mostly finished

The cannas, oregano, basil and ajuga seem to be doing quite well in  pots

Another mint bed -- he just could bear to throw all that mint away

Pincushion plant doing well

The lantana on the side of the house that has come up in an awkward place all on its own but we  can't bear to get rid of it

The other end awaiting new mulch

Ornamental sweet potato vine -- I hope it does as well as my neighbors did last year

More vine

Husband battling the sage bush -- the husband won

New crab apple tree to replace the sage bush
You can barely see the new tree but it is there and isn't the new mulch nice?

And to share some other photos -- the Easter Egg hunt at church was a huge hit with the shorter crowd -- see what you think

Bean assessing the situation
Mom -- is it really ok to just swipe these eggs?

Bit of a scuffle over an egg but Bean was a lady about it and then proceeded to give him several more eggs

I don't know his name but his little brother was baptized  earlier  and his family wore traditional Korean  formal dress


Lively group

And then there was the fog --

One way to try to hide the condo behind us

And Target

Kinda Spooky!
Next time I might have to change my view to the front of the house as the Hubs is tackling that flower bed next!

Monday, April 09, 2012

And this one time -- in Home Ec

Many years ago, in about 1963, I took Home Ec at Mark Twain Junior High School in San Antonio, Texas.  It was not a happy  time for anybody.  The classes were divided up and for one semester we took cooking and the other semester we took sewing.

The "kitchen" class room was really sort of cute  -- very 1940's with four "kitchens",  each with a sink, cabinets, chrome tables with four chairs and a stove.  There was a professional refrigerator for use by everybody.  Each "kitchen" had dishes and supplies.  Sounds like fun, right?  For me, not so much.  We had four kitchen mates and we would rotate duties on a weekly basis.  I was fine with everything except lighting the oven.  It was a gas oven that I am sure was there when my mother attended the same school.  I would almost have anxiety attacks when I had to light the thing, with a match, so I made a deal with my friend Anne that she would light the stove when it was my turn and I would do whatever she was scheduled for.  As a result, I grew up really disliking cooking.  The teacher was a hoot, though, and she was also there when my mother was there, right along with the stove -- but that is another blog!

You  probably can't imagine anything worse than 16 weeks of misery in a kitchen you were afraid of but there was something worse -- the sewing room.  I didn't know much about sewing except what I learned watching my mother sew but I did recognize that the machines were old -- probably purchased when the stoves were -- and that the little, pleasant looking teacher was really a  SewingNazi! We actually had to sew real clothes -- a blouse and a skirt.  There was a pattern for the blouse that we bought from the teacher and the skirt was a gathered skirt that we just took measurements and sewed.  I got through the blouse ok and we started on the skirt.  Mine was made from some lovely yellow polished cotton fabric with white polka dots. I did a miserable job. The teacher got so mad at me she ripped it up, threw it at me and told me to take it home and do it over.  My mother wasn't happy, to say the least.  I won't repeat what she said but I remember it well -- let's just say that my little Mama turned into the MotherNazi.  She remade the skirt, sent it back to school with me along with a message and the teacher never said so much as "boo" to me ever again.  And, for years, that ended any desire I had to sew anything -- at all.

Then there was geometry.  Let it just suffice to say I am mathematically dysfunctional so I chose to take plane geometry during summer school.  I thought it would be better to ruin half a summer than a whole school year and I was right.  The good thing was I got to see one of my best friends from 9th grade, Delphine, who went on to a different high school.  The bad thing was we all had to take gamma globulin because Lois had mononucleosis! I got through it but I am not sure how.

So, where is all this back story going?  Well, you wouldn't expect me to pour over cooking magazines, collect cookbooks or quilt, right?  Well, I do.  Anybody who has read this blog for a while knows that I have been quilting for years and have figured out ways to deal with all that geometry.  I spent a long time sewing clothes for myself after  high school -- I liked making dresses and skirts on occasion and I really enjoyed sewing  clothes for my kids and oddly, I sewed more for my son than my daughter! However, I always had an interest in quilting and finally gave up garment sewing for quilting.  I have done a lot of it but now I have had the opportunity to do a bit of sewing for my granddaughter.

I have been away from my blog for the last few weeks sewing a couple of things for the Bean.  Not having bought a children's pattern in YEARS, I had to try a couple of things before I got it right but I finally hit on the correct size and managed to produce a reasonable Easter dress for our baby Bean.  My daughter is very, VERY picky and very, VERY preppy -- her middle name should have been Lilly Pulitzer! So, I was really pleased, and relieved, when she thought the dress was perfect.  So, here it is!

And here is the sweet Bean modeling it!

This was taken right after the Easter egg hunt at church yesterday -- she made quite a haul and even shared with a friend!

Oh, and about the stoves.  About ten years after the disaster sewing/cooking year, I was working as an administrative secretary for the school district that I attended school in.  Late one afternoon we got a call that there was a fire at Twain -- one of the stoves had exploded.  This didn't surprise me.  Not one bit.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

It's A Revolution!

Jane at The Maple Syrup Mob invited all her friends to participate in Astra's Happiness Revolution.  The rules are easy -- grab the button and then list ten things that made you happy this month and share! So, here goes!

1.  The beautiful weather we have been having

2.  Being able to spend time with my granddaughter

3.  Having the Hubs home all the time now

4.  Watching Hubs re-landscape the back garden

5.  Talking to my son

6.  Spending time with my daughter

7.  The beautiful service and fun egg hunt at church this morning

8.  Being healthy

9.  having good books to read

10.  the 1940 US census on line!!

The list could be much longer but I am only allowed 10!  This is an exercise we should all do on a more regular basis -- accentuate the positive, as the song goes.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday Fill-ins, April 6, 2012

I haven't done  one of these in a while so here goes!

1.  eggs benedict.

2.  The weather is awesome.

3.  When I look in the mirror I am shocked at the old lady looking back at me.

4.  Filet Mignon, baked potato and salad --these are things I like for a special dinner.

5.  Currently I am focused on house cleaning -- up and out.

6.  Mind games

7.  And, as for the weekend, tonight I am looking forward to Melissa's must see TV, tomorrow my plans include cooking Easter dinner, and Sunday I want to attend church and be with my family.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Spring Time in Texas! Gotta Love It!

There isn't too much to say except that it was a rather tense day but we are all fine if you discount DS's car -- windshield taken out by hail about the size of a baseball and some body damage but not as much as was expected, given the windshield and all.  I hope it is a quiet night.