Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another golden tail

Many hugs and condolences to Kievas Fargo and Chartreuse Ova on the loss of their beautiful dog Fenway, who fought cancer for over a year. Kievas has posted some wonderful photos of Fenway and Little Sprout, growing up together. Blessings on Fenway's humans, and I trust that Fenway is running free with our other dear ones at the Bridge today.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Five Do Nothing Edition

It's snowing in south Texas this morning! Yes, it's a beautiful sight, coming down. It's not sticking at the moment, but as the temperature falls during the day, the roads should become slick later on. I have a confession: a combination of concern about the weather (we are supposed to go downtown to the ballet tonight, but we aren't willing to risk our necks for it), dealing with three dogs who do NOT want to go out and take care of business, and a couple of unbloggables for good measure, have got me feeling grouchy this morning. However, I am praying not to ACT grouchy and hoping the feeling will follow the behavior!

(Breaking news: the owner of the salon where I have a nail appointment later just called to ask if I wanted a trial appointment with her new massage therapist, about 90 minutes from now! Do I ever!! Now this should improve the mood...)

Well, anyway, here are five things I'm not doing to prepare for Christmas:

1. Racking my brain for appropriate little ditzel gifts for everyone and her dog.
We have been blessed with an abundance of pecans this year, and everyone can expect some yummy spiced pecans or Christmas cookies.

2. The jury is still out on Christmas cards. They've been purchased, but I haven't started writing an annual letter yet. I may not.

3. Going overboard with decorating. A wreath and garlands on the front door, the tree, and my angels placed around the house, will be about it.

4. Shopping till I drop. I took advantage of Cyber Monday, and now I'm almost finished.

5. Being at church every single time the door opens. I have no pressing need to attend Cookies with Santa, etc. Of course I will enjoy the regular services and our Christmas concert.

I won't play the bonus right now; gotta go get a massage and get beautiful! Maybe later!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some cheese with that whine?

I just took down an ultra-whiny post I put up earlier, droning on about the state of my masseter muscle and how it has taken a doctor, a chiropractor, a dentist, and some killer muscle relaxants to undo the painful damage I've been doing to my jaw this week by clenching in my sleep. The stress is not coming from work or home--it's coming from church.

I have to find a way to slough it off when people are mad at me because I scheduled a meeting at a time when it conflicted with their pet project, or when I am having to shoulder a responsibility that started out as someone else's (long story). I can and do say "no", in fact I just said no to a teaching request yesterday. But, you know, not only can I not please all of the people all of the time, I also have to learn to be OK with that and not take it out on my own body in my sleep.

As I told my chiropractor on Monday, God is a solace. God's people often are not.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to Riley

Real life has interfered with blogging recently, but I have been remiss in not posting about our newest family member! Sweet Amie had been gone about a month when I realized I really wanted another dog. We wanted another older heeler, and thanks to we headed off to Cajun country (Lafayette, LA) a week and a half ago, and came back with this fine gentleman!

Riley (who looks a bit timid in this photo because he is afraid of cameras) is about eight years old, and limps because of an old injury to his left back leg. But when he wants to run, he picks up that foot and takes off like a rocket on the other three feet! He loves people, other dogs, dinner, walks, and lots of attention. He is not fond of cats and was very proud of himself when he chased one out of our backyard the day after his arrival. He has been very well-behaved in the house, and seems happy to be with us.

The rescue group had called him Felix, but we decided that he needed a Cajun name in honor of his origins. We discussed and rejected Boudreaux, Thibodeaux, Gumbo, Boudin, Gator, Zydeco...I started thinking of Cajun and zydeco musicians. When I got to the great Steve Riley, frontman of the Mamou Playboys, we decided Riley was an excellent name for a boy dog!

My mother-in-law's dogs, Otto and Cody, are staying with us while she recovers from a recent surgery. Riley lived with six other dogs in his foster home (can you imagine?) and seems glad to have them around. But I agree with the Scientist: "This is a little too much dog!" More pictures soon, I hope.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Angus and Tuesday's Excellent Adventure

Hi! Tuesday here! We had a fun weekend! The Alpha and the Typist brought The Boy and me to see Aunt Zorra and Uncle Scientist! Here we are all ready to go to a place called Galveston. We rode for a long time.

Here I am with my Aunt Zorra. We had fun together.

Finally we stopped and walked around a cemetery. The Boy and I stretched our legs and Uncle Scientist took some pictures.

The Alpha found a thing called a geocache. All of the thumbhavers liked that. But geocaching makes you thirsty.
We walked around by some old buildings on a street called the Strand, where a lot of people were walking and having fun. All of the people thought we were very fine dogs. One man asked if The Boy was a "Callahoochie". Aunt Zorra didn't laugh out loud, but she thought that was very funny.
Then we rode on a big boat that looked just like this!
The Boy and I had to stay in the car. But when we looked up--there was the Typist!
Aunt Zorra sat with us in a park while the other thumbhavers went to see a boat and a submarine. She said she had seen them before and would rather sit with us.
Then the strangest thing happened. We went for another walk and saw some water that chased us! The Boy tried to catch it, but it kept running away.

He said it did NOT taste good.
Then we went to a place where all the thumbhavers ate while we lay next to the table. Everybody had a good time and they were glad they could take us there.
We had a lot of fun. Aunt Zorra said she was very, very happy to have dogs in the house again.
She told us all to come back any time!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

We buried Amie's ashes today. We scattered some on what we call "the azalea trail", where she loved to walk back and forth, scratching her head and back on the azalea bushes, every day. Then we buried the rest where we can see the marker, and the white begonias I planted there, from our back window. I ordered a marker for Zorra too, to put next to Amie's as a memorial.

Thanks to my dear Dogblogger who called at just the right time this afternoon, and thanks to my pastor, who is also a dog person and understood that I needed a little pastoral care today.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An autumnal Friday Five

Singing Owl is feeling autumnal (why yes, I do like that word):

Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest. Jeremiah 5:23b

The Autumnal Equinox has just come 'round again. I took a look back at our Friday Fives and noted that it always seems to make the Rev Gals and their Pals think of changes.

There is something so nostalgic about this time of year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. The nights grow cooler, crops are harvested, for some of us the leaves are beginning to change colors. The scent of smoke is in the air, pumpkins are in the stores (or on wagons, or in roadside stands for those of us in the country). I'm thinking of putting away my summer clothes and pulling out the sweaters. And I have a tub of Fall-themed items that my husband just lugged up from the basement. I'm looking for my scarecrow.

For this week, let's share some memories along with some hopes and expectations.

1. Share a Fall memory.
In the heart of the Texas Hill Country there is a hidden nook known as Lost Maples State Park. One of Texas' few stands of bigtooth maples grows there on the banks of the Sabinal River, and in the fall they change colors in a way we don't usually see around here. Twenty years ago, when the Scientist's mom still lived on the edge of the Hill Country, the three of us spent a beautiful fall day wandering through the maples. I think it's time for a return visit.

2. Your favorite Fall clothes--(past or present)?
I love sweaters! I have to restrict my purchases every year, since here there are so few days that we actually need heavy pullover sweaters. A few weeks ago I did allow myself one Shaker knit turtleneck in charcoal heather, on sale. Maybe by December or January the days will be chilly enough for me to wear it!

3. Share a campfire story, song, experience...etc.
I have fond memories of the bonfires and wienie roasts at Girl Scout camp, and I still giggle when I remember the night one girl got a bit too exuberant, bouncing a hot dog on her wire hanger while shouting, "I'm a ROOTIN', TOOTIN'--" ...what? We'll never know, because at that moment her hot dog flew off the hanger and disappeared into the night while twenty girls shrieked with delight. OK, you had to be there--but forty years later, I'm still laughing.

4. What is your favorite thing about this time of year?
I love the first hint of coolness in the morning air, telling us that summer is over and autumn is really on its way. We've been enjoying that this week, with the arrival of our first real cold front on Tuesday. By mid-October we will probably be experiencing my favorite weather, clear days with daytime temperatures in the 70's and evening temperatures in the 50's.

5. What changes are you anticipating in your life, your church, the season changes and winter approaches?
The Scientist and I are trying to adjust to a big change right now: the first time in twelve years that we have not shared our lives with a dog. How strange it is to come home to an empty house. Our plan for now is to remain dogless until, as dear Dogblogger says, we find the dog who really needs us. But we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our houseguests Angus and Tuesday next weekend--and their humans too, of course! :)

Bonus: What food says "AUTUMN" at your house? Recipes always appreciated.
I love this Cranapple-Walnut Cake from the old Moosewood Cookbook. It's an ideal Thanksgiving dessert for guests who don't care for pumpkin pie. If you are blessed, as we are, with a pecan tree in your back yard, you can substitute pecans for walnuts.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The House Dog's Grave

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read--and I fear often grieving for me--
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that's too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

Robinson Jeffers, 1941

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two days on

Exhausted. Stomach's upset. Don't want to do anything. I think it's called grief.

Fortunately I've been able to stay home all week, while we've had workmen in the house. Our beautiful new floors and fireplace surround are finished, and I'll post pictures after all the furniture and doodads are back in place.

Because of her increasing indiscretions, and her fondness for fervently and vigorously scratching and pawing the floor (she never figured out that she couldn't scratch up a nest on the tile), I told the Scientist for months that we should not try to get our new floors until after Amie was gone. We decided to go ahead anyway. Little did I know the floors would go in the very day after she left us.

Missing you so much, my Little Biscuit.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A golden tail, and two broken hearts

We let our dear Amie go this morning. Her passing was very peaceful. She was the sweetest-natured dog I've ever had, and I miss her terribly. Thank you all for your prayers and warm wishes.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Checking in

Workmen were here on Friday to pull up the dining room carpet, allowing us to bleach the slab (removing evidence of canine indiscretions) before they return on Wednesday. I'll be taking a stay-cation of sorts this week, to oversee the remodeling. We are replacing the DR/LR carpet and the foyer tile with laminate, and putting new tile in the downstairs half-bath and around the fireplace. The Scientist is plastering and painting the half-bath, to give it a whole new look. I guess I'd better take some before and after pictures!

We had the most dramatic storm last night; very little rain, but lightning streaking across the sky again and again, such as we haven't seen in months. We were enjoying it from the relative safety (I guess) of the back porch until this huge flash and BOOM suddenly came from, it seemed, our neighbor's back yard! We went inside then!

Amie shows her age more every day. She sleeps about 20 hours a day now. A few weeks ago we learned her kidneys are beginning to fail. She won't eat the prescription diet from the vet, so I've been giving her a combination of chicken, sweet potato, and brown rice. That worked fine for a week, but now she walks away from that too. Over the past two weeks or so, she has shown increasing signs of canine cognitive dysfunction; some evenings she paces and pants for an hour, and often looks confused. The dog who used to dance and skip when it was time for a walk stands and stares at us when we call her to go out, and sometimes we have to gently lead or push her outside when we know she needs to go. Even so, she has had several accidents in the house recently. But she is still my sweet girl, even if she doesn't always remember that now. Tonight, after appearing disoriented and mildly agitated for most of the day, she came over and gave me a big kiss. It hurts to know that our days with this precious dog are drawing to a close.

Work is fine, but I'm looking forward to taking a break this week. Church is fraught with all the "joys" of serving on session and chairing a committee. At least I still get to sing.

Have a relaxing and peaceful Labor Day. Amie and I would appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Young client, noticing Amie's picture in my office: That puppy?

Me: No, she's a very old dog. She's like an old lady.

Client:...Like YOU!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Five:The Wild Animal Edition!

Mompriest reports on a family of bobcats in her desert neighborhood, and invites us to "share a wild animal story from your life." In April 2008 (pre-Ike), the Scientist, his mom, and I went for a hike in the San Bernard Wildlife Refuge, down in Brazoria County. The prairies and wetlands of coastal Texas are a birder's paradise in the spring, and water birds like this heron are abundant.
Not only birds thrive in these marshes. We spied this guy waiting patiently for dinner!
When we returned to the parking area, we happened to see two Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists who were weighing, measuring, and banding a young hawk they had trapped.
The hawk was not too happy about its situation...
but remained calm despite the handful of folks who had gathered (at a respectful distance) to watch.
If birds can feel relief, I'm sure it was relieved when the biologists let it go and we watched it soar out of sight.
Here's a bonus. We've had several fairly close encounters with deer: that's not difficult in the Texas hill country, where they have lost much of their fear of people and will ravage your flower beds!

Farther west, though, one seldom has a chance to get as close as we were during this 2006 hike in Big Bend.
Edited to add: The Italian island of Capri is named for the wild goats that still roam its rocky hills. We took a boat trip around the island one day on our 2007 Italian grand tour, and there they were! You may have to enlarge this picture to get a good view of them.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Saw an unusual sight this evening, as I was leaving church after our small (three of us) midweek service: an older man in Bermuda shorts, carrying a small white dog across a field. The dog was sitting upright in his arms, and they both looked calm and relaxed in the twilight.
No, I don't think it means anything. But I wish I could draw it.
Carry on.

Friday, July 03, 2009

It's All About the Look--Friday Five

In the throes of cleaning closets, Sally pauses to ask:

1. Are you a hoarder, or are you good at sorting and clearing?
I'm not really a hoarder, but it takes me a long time to get around to sorting and clearing. I usually wait until I get a semi-annual phone call from Purple Heart, since they will pick up right at your door. It's easier to put stuff on the doorstep than to find time to put it in the car and haul it somewhere else.

2. What is the oddest garment you possess and why?
I don't think I have anything really odd. How about a threadbare pair of brown corduroy bellbottoms, circa 1972? I can barely get my leg into them now, but they remind me of all the good things about my high school years (very few of which had to do with high school itself).

3. Do you have a favourite look/ colour?
Nearly everything in my closet (and in my house) is some shade of purple, blue, rose, mauve, or gray. That makes coordinating easy.

4. Thrift/ Charity shops, love them or hate them?
I'm happy to donate, but don't like to shop there.

5. Money is no object, what one item would you buy?
A gorgeous cocktail dress suitable for dinner or the ballet, that fits perfectly on the figure I have right now.

I still have three different sizes in my closet, but I did purge the closet recently. The things that are there now are things I actually wear--along with some favorites that I hope to wear again someday soon!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

RIP Sky Saxon

I just found out that Sky Saxon, the lead singer of the Seeds, died on the same day as Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. The Seeds were the type of mid-60's glorified garage band that made my mother yell, 'TURN OFF THAT HONKY-TONK!!" Their biggest hit was "Pushin' Too Hard", and I also remember a song called "The Wind Blows Your Hair". After the 60's, Sky joined a cult called The Source Family and moved to Hawaii. He kept making music, though, and oddly, he died in Austin.

I'm sure there are better videos of "Pushin' Too Hard" available, but I'm posting this one because it made me laugh (which I needed to do today), and because this is my blog, and I can. :) Enjoy it! It's gassy!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The mayor of Gary, Indiana says that Michael Jackson's memorial service in Gary will be "fit for the prince of peace."

News flash: That title is already taken.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Five: Talkin' 'Bout...Pop Music

Mary Beth says:
Happy Friday to you all!
The sad news of Michael Jackson's untimely death has me thinking about music and its effects on us - individually, as cultures, as generations. Let's think about the soundtracks of our lives... 1) What sort of music did you listen to as a child - this would likely have been determined or influenced by your parents? Or perhaps your family wasn't musical...was the news the background? the radio? Singing around the piano?
I wouldn't say it was determined or influenced by my parents! By the time I was seven or eight years old, my little transistor radio was usually under my pillow at night. I adored the Beatles, of course...the Rolling Stones were a little scary...for some reason the Dave Clark Five were never really on my radar. A few years later, I used to stay up late listening to a disc jockey named Kris Stevens on WLS in Chicago (a clear channel station--it could be heard all over the midsection of the country, I suppose). By then I had moved on to Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors--and, oh yeah, the Monkees...

2) Going ahead to teenage years, is there a song that says "high school" (or whatever it might've been called where you lived) to you? Hmmm..."Stairway to Heaven", maybe (reminds me of a boy I was absolutely crazy about in 1972)? "Maggie May"? I think more in terms of singers and bands I loved than of specific songs, though. It was the heyday of Elton John, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Dan Fogelberg...such memories. I also discovered Dylan's 1960's music for the first time, and that was a huge part of my high school soundtrack.

3) What is your favorite music for a lift on a down day? (hint: go to and type in a performer/composer...see what you come up with!)
See #2! All of the above! We do love the music we grew up with.

4) Who is your favorite performer of all time?
Answering this question is simply not possible. Dylan? The Beatles? I love so many. As far as favorite live performers, I remember awesome shows by Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Joni Mitchell...In Memphis in 1974 I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd steal an arena show right out from under Eric Clapton's nose. A great concert.

5) What is your favorite style of music for worship?
Traditional choral music. I love to sing Mozart, Bach, Handel, Tallis, Byrd.

Bonus if you include a video of any of the above!
This is what Elton and his band looked and sounded like the first time I saw them in concert, about a year after this 1970 BBC performance of "Burn Down the Mission" (Tumbleweed Connection forever!!). My best friend Joy and I had rushed the front of the stage along with everyone else, and I got to shake hands with Dee Murray, the bass player!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beyond my powers

My coworkers and I are still puzzling over an unusual communique received today: a hastily scrawled note on a doctor's prescription pad, requesting,"Please evaluate ________ for speech and personality delay."

If I knew an effective treatment for "personality delay", I'd be a wealthy woman.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Unexpected guest

I opened the front door a few minutes ago and discovered this little visitor. About two seconds after I took this picture, I looked up in time to see an irate mama jay diving straight at my head! I got back inside in a hurry! According to our local wildlife rehab center, babies like this are fine right where they are; they are learning to fly, and their parents continue to feed and protect them. Cats beware!

There are lots of babies around now. I wish we'd been able to get some good pictures of the five little barn swallows that have been growing up right outside my supervisor's office window. Some days we don't get much done, because we're all in his office watching the birds! Four of the five have been making short forays to the nearby telephone wires, so I think they may all be gone by Monday.

At last

For several years I have hoped and planned to phase out my part-time private practice, and now I'm in the process of doing just that. After nearly ten years, next Friday will be my last day to see private clients, and at the end of the month I'm moving out of my office. I do so look forward to saying goodbye to managed care hassles and wondering if/when I'll be paid, goodbye to sitting and waiting for people who don't show, goodbye to the isolation and, yes, loneliness that can be part of a mental health private practice. The enjoyment I've received there--for example, the pleasure of conducting evaluations that are like solving a mystery or an intricate puzzle--is available at my "day job" too, along with a steady paycheck and supportive coworkers. I had supportive officemates at the practice, too, but spending all day behind closed doors with one's clients usually precludes more than a quick hello on the way to the waiting room.

Closing my practice has been a goal for several years, but every change involves mixed feelings. Ten years is more than long enough to spend on something I haven't really enjoyed. However, I'm not sorry I did it, and I won't say I'll never have a private practice again. But even if I should choose to get back into private practice in the future, in a few years most of my testing kits and materials will be obsolete. I decided to sell what I could, and placed an online classified ad where other local psychologists would see it. This morning a young psychologist from across town came to my office and got a great deal on some of my equipment. I know selling this stuff is the wisest thing to do, but when I handed over my WISC-IV kit, which I've probably used about 100 times, I felt like I was selling a puppy. I hope she gives it a good home!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Moving and Changing Friday Five

Sally has moving on her mind, and wants to know:

1. A big move is looming, name one thing you cannot possibly part with, it must be packed?
Since Amie is not a thing to be packed, I would have to say, family photos. Some of our oldest photos, from the 1920's and before, disappeared in one of my parents' last moves...since then I've carefully packed and moved photos myself, so that I always knew where they were.

2. Name one thing that you would gladly leave behind...
Useless, outdated paperwork and files. Last November I moved from my office of nearly ten years to a smaller office, which I will be closing at the end of June. I have not really enjoyed private practice and am not sorry to leave it behind. I did a thorough purge of my file cabinet last fall, so there won't be much to shred this time around.

3. How do you prepare for a move
a. practically?
Cleaning out junk and things we no longer want. My mother-in-law will be moving to a nearby retirement community in a few weeks, and the process of cleaning out, giving away, or selling all the stuff that neither she nor her children want, has been going on for months. Condensing a three-bedroom house into a one-bedroom apartment is never easy.

b. spiritually/emotionally?
Entrusting the people and places I love into God's hands, and looking forward to a new adventure. Praying and trusting God to continue leading me as I move forward along the path that appears to be the right one.

4. What is the first thing you look for in a new place?
The Scientist and I have not moved in seventeen years, so I had to reminisce a bit while considering this question. In a new community, initially I just try to get the lay of the land, locating the nearby supermarket, drug store, dry cleaners, etc. In a new home, I'm most interested in the size and convenience of the kitchen.

5. Do you settle in easily, or does it take time for you to find your feet in a new location?
It depends on whether I'm already a bit familiar with the location and whether I already know people there. Moving from Memphis to San Antonio right after college was difficult, and I needed more than a year to really feel at home there. That's the only time I've ever moved to a place where I knew no one, and it was probably the toughest move I've ever made. (Having my first apartment burglarized when I'd only been there a couple of months didn't help.) When I moved to Houston to take my first job, it was with the encouragement of two friends, native Houstonians who were returning home. And when the Scientist and I moved to California a few years later, we found a whole new world--but we had each other there, and the pleasure of exploring together.

The bonus for today: a new opportunity has come up for you to spend 5 years in a new area, where would you go and why?
Five years is a long time. If it were only for a year or two, I'd say Boston, San Francisco, or New Orleans, three cities I would love to get to know as more than a tourist. Or perhaps beautiful Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, where we already have many friends. Maybe Asheville, NC; it's beautiful country, it's in the South, there are lots of Presbyterians around, and I have some lifelong friends there. But five years...I probably wouldn't go any farther from here than Austin, or the adjacent hill country. Come to think of it, five years in Austin sounds great!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Five: Vacation, all I ever wanted...

Mary Beth has vacations on her mind, and wants to know:

1) What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? Or did you have stay-cations at home?
Summer was my father's busiest time of year, so we stayed home then. If we got away during the winter, we usually went to visit relatives--seldom more than a few hours' drive away. I can only remember a few big trips: a visit to Eureka Springs and surrounding areas for the Folklife Festival when I was in sixth grade; trips to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (my first visit to the beach) a little later, and a trip to Nassau (my first airplane flight) when I was about fourteen.

2) Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:
Two years ago, the Scientist and I were blessed to spend three weeks in Italy. We were with a congenial, very small group as we explored Sorrento, Pompeii, and the Amalfi coast, followed by sojourns in Rome and Venice, day trips (not enough) to Florence and Siena, and a whole week of roaming around Tuscany. Wonderful scenery, interesting sights, and you can imagine the food and wine. I hope I am never so old that I forget the things we saw and did on that vacation.

3) What do you do for a one-day or afternoon there a place nearby that you escape to on a Saturday afternoon/other day off?
We have lived in the suburbs for seventeen years, but we are urban creatures at heart. We love to spend an afternoon around our old stomping grounds in Houston, wandering through one of the museums or some out-of-the-way gallery, then having supper at one of our favorite restaurants, or trying out a brand new place.
Because Houston is so hot and humid much of the year, the office buildings and other public buildings downtown are connected by an elaborate tunnel system, full of shops, restaurants, and other businesses--a subterranean city. At midday during the summer, most people are underground, and the streets are nearly deserted! We keep saying we are going to take a day off sometime to explore the tunnel system--maybe this will be the year.

4) What's your best recommendation for a full-on vacation near you...what would you suggest to someone coming to your area? (Near - may be defined any way you wish!)
Anyone who enjoys city life and its amenities, including art, music, and good food, could have a great vacation in Houston. In October, November, March, April, and May, it's beautiful and the climate is pleasant. Take your pick of ballet, opera, symphony concerts, along with music and dance provided by smaller local companies too. There are a number of fine museums and interesting small galleries. Because Houston is such a multicultural city, you can probably find whatever you would like to eat, from mom and pop cafes of every description, to the finest of fine dining. And bring your swimsuit and flip flops so you can go and stimulate the Galveston economy!

5) What's your DREAM VACATION?
I dream of going back to Italy, with enough time and money to roam at will, as long as we wanted. To spend a week or two at an agriturismo in Tuscany or Umbria, or to rent a little apartment in the Dorsoduro district of Venice, or to see everything we wanted to see in Florence and Rome, and then wander north to areas we missed last time, like the Lake Como region. Maybe someday!

Bonus: Any particularly awful (edited to add: or hilarious) vacation stories that you just have to tell? ("We'll laugh about this later..." maybe that time is now!)
We laughed until we cried when this happened (you had to be there), and it still makes me laugh! In Italy we fell in with two couples about our age; one couple had deep-south roots, and the other couple was from New Jersey. The week we were in Tuscany, it rained--sometimes a little, sometimes a lot--every day. We didn't really care. But on our last night in Cortona, the six of us were walking to a local restaurant when, with little warning, the sky opened. We dashed for a nearby archway, where we huddled, drenched, watching sheets of rain blow across the street. No one spoke, until our Jersey girl, in her pure Joisey accent, muttered, "Tuscan sun--my ass."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Five: A Bug's Life

Sophia says:
As I was walking the beach today, I was surprised and delighted to find it swarming with ladybugs. The sweet little red beetles are one of my favorite insects and also my daughter's blogname--though as of this morning she was thinking of changing it to Butterfly. I'll keep you posted.
This got me thinking about spiritual insect trivia: Did you know that medieval mystics and theologians esteemed the bee for its dedicated work and transformation of ordinary ingredients into sweetness? That Spider Woman is an important creator Goddess to many Native American tribes? Or that Francis of Assisi was reminded of Jesus not only by lambs being led to slaughter, but also by worms (think "I am a worm and no man" from the Psalms)-- so he picked them up and took them out of stomping-vulnerable spots?!
In that spirit, this week's Friday Five is a magical mystery tour through God's garden of creepy crawlies!
1. Ladybugs or ladybirds? Pillbugs or roly-polys? Jesus bugs or water skeeters? Any other interesting regional or familial name variations?
Ladybugs, roly-polys, and water skeeters. I probably would have been scolded if I had called them Jesus bugs. Can't think of any variations...
2. Stomp on spiders, carry them outside, or peacefully co-exist?
Either stomp, or peacefully co-exist, depending on my mood. An exterminator once told me that the chemicals required to kill spiders are so toxic that you really don't want them around the home--plus, after all, spiders do eat other bugs. I've never seen a black widow or brown recluse at my house, so I tend to leave the spiders alone.
3. Favorite insect?
Butterflies, I suppose.
4. Least favorite?
Roaches and silverfish!!
5. Got any good bug stories to share?
When my friend Joy and I were children, we often passed part of a summer day by staging roly-poly races on my back steps. Champion racers would race again and again, as long as they didn't roll up into a ball to escape!
Sophia's account of the ladybugs on the beach reminds me that one of my pleasant memories of California is of hiking in the mountains with friends and coming upon a fallen tree, covered with ladybugs. That was the only time I've ever seen such a thing.
Bonus question: share a poem, song, quotation, etc. about insects.
When I was a child I had the odd little book pictured above, by Edward Gorey (creator of the cheerfully macabre intro to PBS's Mystery!, among lots of other cheerfully macabre works). The Bug Book is a simple story of a group of bugs whose peaceful existence is threatened by the appearance of a large bully bug. They confer, drop a big rock on him, and celebrate his demise with a party. That's it. Pretty strange. What's even stranger is that the first edition of that book goes for about $885 now!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BE memories

Coming a bit late to this post...Alas, I forgot my camera, but my memories will last.
*Joyfully meeting up with the DFW-area crew at the airport, where they kindly waited for me to eat lunch, and sympathized when I dropped tomato soup on my white sweater. (It came out.)
*Our shuttle driver, who seemed to be enjoying his passengers, but wasn't quite sure what to think about a van full of lady preachers.
*Sitting in the sun with old friends and new, amid beautiful healthy roses, watched over by a seven-foot statue of St. Francis.
*The joy of seeing RevDrKate so in love.
*The icons in our beautiful worship space, and the joy of worshiping God together there.
*Roaming around Old Town Scottsdale, following RevHoney and the Vicar on the trail of a geocache, then introducing Sue to fresh guacamole at a place called the Salty Senorita!
*Saturday morning with Mid-Life Rookie, walking the trails behind the retreat center, then sitting and gazing out over the desert as we talked. So different from gazing out over the beach at Cozumel, but just as relaxing.
*She thanked me for not mentioning the tarantula I saw, until after it was gone!
*Delving into the "begats" of I Chronicles and rejoicing to discover Sheerah, builder of cities (I Chron. 7:24).
*Singing with Sophia, Mary Beth, and Dogblogger. My longing to sing with the RevGals was satisfied by this, and by the singing we did at our final worship together.
*Hanging out around the bonfire together, then later singing and praying together some more, surrounded by the sounds of the desert night.
*Wil's gorgeous golden vestments, Mary Beth's reading, Mompriest's breaking of the bread: a few mental snapshots from our Sunday worship under the clear morning sky.
And many more...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Arizona bound!

Tomorrow, that is!
And because a few (very few) inquiring minds want to know: the pedi is OPI's Pompeii Purple.

My toes are ready for their closeup, Mr. DeMille!
Be back next week!

ETA: That picture has been up more than long enough.
Back from Arizona! Happy and tired! Good night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing, this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Prayer request

I've been asked to consider serving on the session again. I haven't been on session in years, always using my Presbytery activities as an excuse. But I'm not doing anything with Presbytery right now, and PNC is over. Please pray with me as I pray for discernment. Thanks.

Of course she did!

Yesterday the Scientist sent me a link about bravehearted Sophie Tucker, a stalwart and remarkable canine who fell from a boat in rough water off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Her grieving humans could not find her, and gave her up for dead. Meanwhile, Sophie swam five nautical miles to a nearly-uninhabited island, where she survived by hunting wild goats until she was rescued and returned to her humans, four months later! She has readjusted to suburban life and is doing fine.

Good girl, Sophie! You could only be an AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG!!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

One reason why I live here

Road trip and retreat

Here's where we spent the weekend: in a luxurious cabin at a dog-friendly B & B that's fifteen miles from downtown Hip City, but a world away. Phones, TV, and wi-fi were all turned off.

We roamed acres of woods that opened onto a bright meadow where even old cattle dogs (and their people) can run free.

We sat in the swing on our screened porch watching birds that we seldom see in our area of the state, waded in the creek (well, Amie did), drove through miles of rolling hills and bluebonnets to visit dog-friendly wineries, ate sumptuous breakfasts prepared with local eggs and meats, and in the evening we grilled squash with locally pastured pork chops, right behind our cabin.
Everybody slept well.
We had to stop at a sporting goods store to buy a second cooler for all of the meat and wine we brought home! Now I'm already planning our return....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring update

The sweet alyssum has almost completely gone to seed now, and I should probably go ahead and pull it out. But the pansies and the cyclamen are still hanging on!

Our azaleas are nearly gone now. These pictures were taken a week or two ago.
If you look closely, you can see that azaleas of three slightly different shades were accidentally planted next to one another--but I think it was a happy accident.
This bougainvillea might not look like much compared to some you've seen, especially the ones I remember, cascading over tall white adobe walls in southern California. But this one is magnificent to us. The Scientist has alternately coddled and threatened it for years, and this year it has finally burst forth, blooming all over.
Please bear with me when I post all of these pictures; this is only my second spring to have a nice garden!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tired and happy

Our new pastor preached his first services with us today. I am very happy. We worked hard yesterday and today getting ready for, then cleaning up from, the welcome luncheon for him and his family.

Our fifteen months of prayer and work on the PNC are over. We're having a last-hurrah meeting tomorrow night. I have loved it.

God is good.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If you've ever wondered...

...what I look like on a typical weekday when I head out to do battle with the forces of ignorance and sloth, well, now you know.

"My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure."
Or something like that.

(Hat tip to PG.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moving along

Well, we had such a great weekend with all the Dogblogger crew...arrived on Friday just in time for the Alpha's fabulous barbecued brisket. On Saturday we enjoyed the Tutankhamun exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, then met the Vicar for an excellent Indian meal...then on Sunday we went to church and enjoyed hearing Mid-Life Rookie preach! A lot for one weekend, yes? The dogs mostly got along, although Amie did tell that young whippersnapper Tuesday to settle down once or twice. (Tuesday wasn't doing anything wrong; it's just that Amie is OLD.)

"I had a good time, but now I'm ready to go home."

Unbloggables at work are weighing on my mind tonight, so I thought I'd escape to the garden:
When the landscapers planted our caladiums last spring, they supposedly disposed of the previous winter's cyclamen bulbs. But when I started getting this bed ready for fall, I found seven dormant cyclamen that had been overlooked. They don't usually last more than a year, but I replanted them, and lo and behold, here they are. (Amie has nearly stomped the pansies into oblivion.)

The camellias have been wonderful, too.

After I recharge the camera, I'll get some pictures of the azaleas, too.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday five: Hasty Pudding Edition

Our regular poster, Sally, having been oppressed by Blogger today, I bring you a hasty Friday Five on the subject of pudding. If you are not a fan of pudding, then you will feel solidarity with Sally, except that you will be oppressed by pudding instead. ;-)

1) First of all, thumbs up? or thumbs down? Do you like pudding?
Yes, I love pudding.

2) Instant or cooked? (Does anyone make pudding from scratch?)
There are two from-scratch recipes in the old More with Less Cookbook, one for vanilla and one for chocolate, that are very easy. When we have pudding at home (very rare), that's what we have.

3) If you had to choose, would you prefer corn pudding or figgy pudding?
Corn pudding--yum. Great side dish. I think the figgy pudding of the song is actually something like a fruit cake. That's OK too.

4) Have you ever finger painted with pudding?
Probably, many decades ago.

5) Finally, what is the matter with Mary Jane?
Her parents don't yet know that she's allergic to rice--the pudding makes her tummy hurt!

Bonus: Share a favorite recipe that includes pudding!
Instead of vanilla wafers, layer vanilla pudding with sliced bananas and your favorite granola. Easy.
Now we're heading out of town!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Guest blogger: Amie

How do you like my new pants? You do? I'm not sure I do. Mama and Daddy say I have to wear them whenever I'm in the house. They said I have to get used to them now, because I'll have to wear them this weekend when we go to Angus and Tuesday's house. Please pray for us when we are riding in the car tomorrow (I'll probably go to sleep until we get there). I will be happy to see Aunt Typist and Uncle Alpha. I think I'll be glad to see Angus and Tuesday too. Mama says I have to be polite, and I will! See you next week!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nice Facebook juxtaposition

On the left side of the screen:
"The Girl Effect (
Change starts with a girl."

On the right side of the screen:
"Do you know about the Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori?"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yet another golden tail

This is Harley, my sister-in-law's gentle basset hound. Harley appeared in her driveway, a half-grown puppy, about thirteen years ago. He arrived with a scar on his nose and a broken rib. I wonder if he sensed that there was already a basset in that house (Rosebud, the queen, gone on several years ago) and that he would be safe and loved there? Harley was a good companion all of his life; he loved people and other dogs, and got along with everyone. He became blind a couple of years ago, but didn't lose his interest in people or his love for life.

I wish I had a photo of his other side; he had a perfect white UT Longhorn right in the middle of his left side. Good thing my SIL wasn't an Aggie.

Recently Harley has had very little energy, and last week my sister-in-law found out he had lymphoma. Yesterday Harley had no more strength left, and it was time to let him go. He was a very good boy, always. I hope that when we get to the Bridge we'll hear Harley, "Aroo"ing to welcome us.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Random stuff

  • Valentine's Day: Beautiful flowers, candlelight, the good china, and our traditional beef stroganoff and molten chocolate cakes. So far, so good...until we looked up from our mutual reverie just in time to see...the dog, peeing in the living room.
  • This came on the heels of a relaxing afternoon, enjoying a glass exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Craft, then driving past our old duplex in West U. and remembering strolls through the neighborhood, nearly eighteen years ago.
  • Unbloggable extended family stuff is driving. us. nuts. Prayers for patience and wisdom are appreciated.
  • On Sunday, the congregation voted to call our new pastor. No dissenting voices were heard. (Yet.) I'm so glad he will be here soon, but actually a bit sorry to see the PNC come to an end.
  • At work I made a stupid mistake that will affect the provision of services for one of our clients. I have an idea about how to rectify it, but I will have a lot of egg on my face. "What! You mean you're not perfect?" my friend D said. No, I surely am not. I hope that straightening this out will be less miserable than I anticipate.
  • As Scarlett said, I'll think about it tomorrow. Good night.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Pets

Sophia says:

My son's tiny beloved lizard, Elf, is looking and acting strange this week. His skin/scales are quite dark, and he is lethargic. We are adding vitamin drops to his lettuce and spinach and hoping and praying that he is just getting ready to shed his skin--but it's too soon to tell. Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her precious Molly, the amazing dog who is well known to readers of her blog as a constant sacrament of God's unconditional love. So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known.
This has been a difficult week. Sadly, Lutheran Chik's beloved Cassie went to the Bridge this morning too. I am sure LC would appreciate a kind word tonight.

I have been owned by five dogs:
1. Boots was a black puppy my dad brought home from somewhere out in the country (bought from someone who had a litter, I think--not a stray) when I was about six. He grew up rambunctious and wild, and I was too small to manage him. I don't think average families put the effort into training their dogs then, that most people do today. My dad used to recall Boots jumping on my friends and me and knocking us down, and would say, "He didn't have a brain in his head." My parents gave Boots to a family with several boys who could run and play with him and wear him out! I saw him occasionally when we happened to drive past their house, but never got out to pet him.
2. After Boots, we went to the local shelter and I picked out a friendly yellow puppy that I named Chips. We dropped him off at the vet to be bathed and wormed, but Chips never came home. Mama told me, very gently, that he had died. Years later I understood that, like most dogs at the shelter, he had probably been very sick and the vet had euthanized him.
3. Then we had Janie--short for Lady Janice of Elmwood (our subdivision). A big Beatles fan from an early age, I named her for Paul McCartney's girlfriend, Jane Asher. She was described as a "field cocker", some mix of cocker spaniel and a leaner, rangier breed. Janie was our companion for about nine years. She loved my mother and would follow Mama around the yard while she gardened. After we sold our house at the beginning of my senior year in high school (a story for another day), Daddy gave her to a farmer friend who gave her a loving home. Many years later Daddy told me that Janie had died peacefully in her new home about two years after she left us.
4. I didn't have an animal companion again for nearly twenty-five years. Then I found Zorra, my precious girl. Two years after her death I remembered her here. She was the most beautiful, funny, maddening dog I have ever known. There will never be another like her.
5. My sweet Amie is lying at my feet right now, waiting for her daddy to come home. In late 2004 I started looking for another heeler because we thought Zorra might need a companion (alas, Zorra didn't agree, but that's another story), and on I saw a sweet-looking dog described as a "quiet, unassuming, slightly overweight older dog who likes to sit back and watch what's going on." The dog was described as a male, and they had named "him" Frayser. Frayser's picture touched my heart, and as I told the Scientist, "No one is going to go to the shelter to get a fat old dog." So I took the car and the Scientist loaded Zorra into the truck (so they could meet on neutral territory) and we all headed to Lockhart, Texas to bring Frayser home. Well, he was a she, and much older than advertised. She took immediate possession of the Scientist, warning another dog to leave him alone before we ever left the shelter! Zorra kept her distance. I drove Amie home, softly talking and singing to her most of the way. She wasn't too sure about Zorra (and vice versa), but she became attached to her humans very quickly. She is still a quiet dog who likes to sit back and observe before getting involved. She has survived homelessness, shelter life, and cancer surgery with a sweet, loving spirit, and I love coming home to her every day.

Here's my favorite picture of Amie and Zorra, sitting on the back porch with the Scientist's mom:
Zorra, as always, is queen of all she surveys...poor Amie seems to be wondering, "When is this thing going to turn on me?"