Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out"

The Big Guy and I were out to dinner with Ratchlet and M-t-G a couple of weeks ago.  Nothing special, but sometimes everyone is so busy, that dinner allows us to catch up without it being a huge project to coordinate calendars etc.

Somehow, and I really don't remember why, I mentioned something about the time I broke my right wrist and my left elbow at the same time.  It happened about 25 years ago or so, when I fell at a dance rehearsal for a production of "My Fair Lady" that I was in.  Both of my arms were in casts from just before Thanksgiving until about the middle of January.  I couldn't do ANYTHING myself, at least not initially!   I only had two fingers and one thumb that were not encased in plaster!  You can't do much with only two fingers and one thumb!  Trust me!!   I couldn't dress myself, I couldn't drive, I couldn't cook, I couldn't comb my hair, I couldn't even pick up a telephone!  I couldn't work for about two weeks, while I  learned  how to function with two big old clunky impediments attached to my arms!

The Big Guy did yeoman service helping me with my clothes, washing and combing my hair,  generally taking care of everything that required the use of two hands.  I remember very clearly how helpful he was.  He was terrific. The fall occurred two days before Thanksgiving and he did the whole meal himself.  My mom and Ratchlet (home from college for the holiday), were the helpers but I was pretty much out of commission because not only was I unable to do much, I was still in a bunch of pain!

As time moved on I slooooowly got back some function, but it was Christmas time and I just wasn't able to do a lot of shopping, or cooking, or cleaning, or writing, or decorating, or anything.  Mikey, Ratchlet and my mom did most everything and Christmas was as wonderful as always!  They were all terrific!  And I was really grateful.

So back to our dinner with Ratchlet and M-t-G a couple of weeks ago....I mentioned the two broken arms and I was shocked when Mikey said he didn't remember me having two broken arms. WHAT???  He didn't remember???  How could he NOT remember??  It was a major trauma!  It was a BIG DEAL.  It impacted his life almost as much as mine. I was basically out of commission for 8 WEEKS!  and he DIDN'T REMEMBER???  

I must admit I was floored, flummoxed, and flabbergasted!  And a little bit hurt.  We lived in the same house, slept in the same bed, did a lot of stuff together.  But somehow it slipped his mind?  That's just insulting!  I couldn't believe it and I was rather vocal about the whole thing, getting more worked up.  Then Ratchlet popped up and said she didn't remember it either!  WHAT?  Seriously?  Was I invisible?  I had two broken arms and they were in casts, couldn't they see me??    Did they even notice that I was part of their family??

At least Ratchlet was apologetic for not remembering..  I told her that I could kind of understand her not remembering.  After all she was miles and miles away at school for most of that time, but that her father had been right across the table!!

At this point M-t-G piped up and said, "How big was the table?"

Oh how we laughed and laughed and laughed!  Two points, Maddie!  Best line of the night!

(Still, I bet my mother would have remembered!)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Over the River and Through the Woods" 2012

It will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has ever known me that I am big on tradition.  And as might be expected from a traditionalist, I'm not fond of change.  In fact, I resist and drag my feet over every occasion when change is forced upon me.  From that you could justifiably assume that holidays around my house are filled with a lot of  "But we've always done it that way..."  And Thanksgiving is second only to Christmas for following the same traditions year after year.  The meal is generally the same:  Turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes, gravy, apple/onion stuffing, a green vegetable (sometimes 2), pickles and olives, cranberry sauce (the gelled kind),  plus the family favorites -- Creamed Leek and  Cinnamon Jello.  And of course, homemade pumpkin, pecan, and sometimes peach pies.

After dinner and dishes but before dessert, we play a couple of board games (depending on the age of any children in attendance.)  That generally deteriorates into reminiscing on family stories about relatives that are no longer with us.  For instance the Mom and whipped cream story, the Dad and the mashed potatoes story, the Aunt Marilynn mashed potato story (we like mashed potatoes in our family), the year it was like -30F in Chicago, the year the dog ate the leftover turkey while we all sat not 10 feet away playing Monopoly!  We add new stories as they occur, but mostly our stories are about years gone by and the people we miss.

What it boils down to is that I have celebrated Thanksgiving pretty much exactly the same way for all of my life.  That's a lot of Thanksgivings....a lot of turkey....a lot of tradition!  Up until my Dad died, dinner was always at my Mom and Dad's place.  It switched to our house after that and since coming to Austin some years we do the dinner and some years it's at Rachlet's.  Other than the actual venue however, it's the same dinner with whatever variety of relatives might be in the vicinity.

I expected the holiday to stay pretty much the same for all of my remaining Thanksgivings as well.  It is what we did.  It was TRADITION.

But this year, out of the blue, we changed!

Because of TA and Ratchlet's work and social schedules, this year's holiday just wouldn't neatly fit into the calendar as it usually did.  As we were talking about it, I rather jokingly said that we could go out to eat, so no one would have to cook a huge dinner.  Somehow, the little joke seemed a lot less of an travesty as it had at other times when the response was a resounding NO! from everyone!  This year it seem like it might be a good alternative.  Ratchlet volunteered to find out what was available, just on the off chance there was something we could all live with.

Guess what?  She found the perfect solution....she found paradise!  So we went!

Just outside of Bastrop, TX, a small town about 46 min. southeast of Austin, there is the Lost Pines, Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa, and they offered a Thanksgiving brunch/dinner fit for kings!  Although a bit pricey, it was worth every single penny!  The dinner was held in their Grand Ballroom (huge room) which was beautifully decorated, each family group had a private table configuring in a comfortable arrangement for the size of the group.  We only had a group of 5, still 2 waitstaff were assigned our table and they were very skilled and attentive throughout our meal.  The food was perfect!  I kid you not!!  Everything was delicious, nothing weird or odd, very traditional, plus hot (or cold), plentiful, with great variety, and attractively presented.  The carving station offered turkey, ham, prime rib, all of the traditional potatoes, gravy, stuffing, veggies.  In addition there were oysters on the half-shell, shrimp cocktail, salads, antipasti, Ahi Tuna, lox and bagels, fresh made omelets, a full range of breakfast offerings.  There was also the largest selection of desserts I have every seen at an event of this type.  Cobblers, pies, cakes, bread pudding, and brownies, cookies, and other small dessert offerings.  There was a separate buffet for young kids with mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, turkey and PB&J. It was a big hit with the 3-9 year olds!  They had a bouncy house for the kids, ping pong, and were showing movies just down the hall as well.

There was live music that was pleasant and unobtrusive.  There were six chefs manning just the carving stations!  Every single staff person was friendly, helpful, greatly attentive to detail, and genuinely glad that we were enjoying ourselves.  It was truly perfect!

The resort is on beautiful grounds and we strolled around after dinner to see all it offered.  Geared for families, there were many activities available, several places to eat, several bars, an ice cream shop, a gift shop, a huge pool, canoeing, horses, spa, and supervised games for the whole family.  We were impressed and may actually plan a stay at some point.

The entry to the property was actually "Over the river and through the woods", but the final destination was a whole lot nicer than just any old 'grandmother's house"!

We had a great time, a great meal, and a great Thanksgiving!  Rumor has it that we might never have a Thanksgiving at home ever again!  I vote Yes!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Counting Your Blessings"

Sometimes we are not as focused as we should be on what a holiday is truly about.  Life gets busy.  We get hung up in the trappings of the day.  We neglect to take time to think about what is important.

Thanksgiving is perhaps the easiest holiday to actually prevent that from happening.  It's right there in the name:  Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks.  Being grateful for all that is good in our lives.  Acknowledging our triumphs.  "Counting Your Blessings."  Taking the time to understand that even in the worst of times there are still blessings in our lives.

Tomorrow is the day that we all (or at least most of us) will celebrate the bounty in our lives.  Sharing a day with our families, being glad for our good fortune and knowing that even though life could be better, it most definitely be worse....much worse.

A blessing which we in Blogland share....the love, support, and gratitude for our cyber friends.  I am grateful for each and every one of you. I wish you all a joyous day celebrating with your friends and family, all that you have, all that you love, all that  brings you happiness.  I will be doing the same!

As has become my custom, below is my annual list of what I am thankful for over and above all the basic goodness of life:

26 Things I am Grateful For  -  2012

Today I am grateful for....

1.  Artichokes, Asparagus, and Avocados....definitely "The A List"....yum-yum!

2.  Blogging....even though I am struggling with writing just now, I will not give it up!

3.  Choirs....a group of people lifting voices in song with glorious harmonies and beautiful music.  Pure pleasure!

4.  Doughnuts....a perfect glazed, raised, round, light as a feather, nugget from heaven!

5.  Elections....grateful I live in America were it is my right and my duty and my privilege to cast my vote!  Also glad that the elections have ENDED for this round!

6.  Freedom! live in a country at a time when Freedom remains real and true and treasured!

7. there any better example of how evolution works to adapt each species to its own needs?

8.  Hearing....a baby's laugh, a barking seal, a cry for help, the voice of one you love...

9.  Intelligence....the ability to think, innovate, problem-solve, create, and learn!

10.  Jokes....Funny stories, witty one-liners, puns, satire....all that keep us laughing!

11.  Kids....Especially your own!  The best thing ever, the hope of the future, the miracle of birth, the gift of love!

12.  Language....the ability to speak, to communicate, to share, to express, to amaze, to say exactly what you mean!

13.  Men....Fathers, uncles, boyfriends, sons, "bad boys", husbands,  lost loves, granddads,  guy pals....where would we be without them??

14.  Naps....a few stolen minutes of peace, rest, escape, and dreams smack dab in the middle of the day!

15.  Okefenokee .....(The swamp in Georgia)....just because it is such fun to say.  Go ahead, try it....O-kee-fen-o-kee!

16.  Phones....Communication all around the world, connection to anywhere, anytime, anyplace, anyone!   Think about it!!  WOW!

17.  Quilts....the old-fashioned kind, with little bits of history sewn together to tell a story, made with care, and love, and beautiful handiwork.

18.  Reading....filling your mind with the written word found in books, magazines, billboards, medicine bottles, milk cartons....there is ALWAYS something to read!

19.  Summer....warmth, sunshine, days at the beach, fun, happy times, and vacation!!

20.  Trees....such a variety, all lovely, giving us shade, acorns, treehouses, foliage, places to climb, fruit, and flowers!

21.  Universities....amazing centers of learning, understanding, expression, and expansion of knowledge.

22. Valor....the courage possessed by so many willing to serve, defend, protect our homeland!

23.  Watermelon....Can't get around it, I just LOVE watermelon!!

24.  Xerox...One of the pioneers in making copies of just about any paper, book, photo, illustration, or post-it-note a piece of cake!

25.  Yellow.....a repeat to be sure, but I am ALWAYS grateful for YELLOW in any, amber, honey, sunshine, saffron, sunflower, lemon, banana, squash....

26.  Zippers....a genius invention, truly!

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Bits and Pieces"

Just a few bits of this and pieces of that.....

1.   Maddie-the-Great is having a great time at her new school.  Things are going well for her academically (mostly A's and a couple of  B's), she is making friends, likes her teachers (except one....there's always one!),

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Sweet Lorraine" (Reprise)

November 11 will always be a day of remembering, honoring, and sadness for me.  Of course, everyone knows it is Veteran's Day...a well-deserved day to recognize and honor those who have served in the military for this country.

But on a more personal level, it is more about loss to our family.  Nine years ago today my mother died. She was 83.  

I wrote this two years ago and want to reprint it today as my tribute to my mother, Lorraine Charlotte J., better known to us as Mom!  

From November 11, 2010:

I don't often post twice in one day, but November 11, is a day that is important to me.  Veterans' Day is to honor millions of Service Men and Women, some of which were heroes.

The other reason to post today is to honor one sole woman who was very definitely a hero, she was my hero!  She was my mother, and she died seven years ago today.  I miss her all the time and I can't believe it's been seven years. 

She was a hero to me and my family because, quite simply, she did whatever she needed to do to keep us fed, clothed, safe, housed, educated, and above all, loved.  

Dad always worked and brought home a paycheck, but Mom did EVERYTHING else.  Dad never wanted to own a house, by renting, the landlord was always responsible for fixing big stuff, so we rented my whole life....houses when I was a child, and then apartments.  If anything little broke down Mom would fix it.  She wasn't always successful but she tried.  When I married Mr. Fix-it (aka the Big Guy), he was always available to help with things like drippy faucets so that was one less thing mom had to do.  Both she and Dad treated the Big Guy like a son and he loved them in return.

She didn't work outside the house until I was 17 years old when she was forced to by circumstances.  Before that, Mom was!  She cooked dinner just about every night, she washed clothes, she did the shopping, she drove us around town for whatever, she ironed (until I was old enough not to burn up the family wardrobe),  she dusted (until I was old enough to do the job to her satisfaction), she vacuumed, she baked, she made crafty things, she rearranged the furniture, she wrote letters, she looked after Dad and me and then she looked after my sister as well.  She disciplined  us, she praised us, she waited up until we were home once we were old enough to date, she taught us stuff, she turned holidays into lovely events filled with traditions.  From her we learned morals, and ethics, and honesty, and how to be a great mom.

When Dad died she persevered in looking after my sister and the apartment, alone, even after Little Sis moved out.  She turned into a wonderful grandmother who loved her grandkids almost as much as we did.

Due to ill health, her last years were difficult and disappointing and she didn't cope with it too well.  She had always hated being dependent on anyone for anything.  When she had no choice, she hated it even more.  The quality of her life, was not good and that depressed her and made me very sad. 

Ending up like that was  not much of a reward for a mom who did everything for her family her whole life.  She deserved better.  That, of course, can't be changed, but she made my life full of love and opportunities and laughter, and music and she was ALWAYS be a hero to me.  My mother, "Sweet Lorraine".

I miss her and always will.  I love you Mama!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"My Kind of Town"

Austin has an un-official motto that is extremely popular and really true...."Keep Austin Weird!."   Now I don't know if Austin has an official motto, but for my money, I think the un-official one is just about perfect.

I had occasion to go into downtown Austin this afternoon.  While I was only on the fringes of downtown (i.e., south of the river), I wasn't in one of the quirky parts of the city.  It was a mix of offices, restaurants, and cultural stuff, pretty mainstream and quite well-travelled.  As I was waiting at a stop light while looking for a place to park, there was a guy walking by who was clean, dressed casually but not oddly, about 30 or so and carrying a backpack.  He was using his iphone, or ipad, or kindle or some sort of electronic gadget while he was walking.  On his right shoulder was a tail-twitching, highly alert squirrel.  The squirrel didn't appear to be attached to a tether or anything.  He was just sitting there looking around. Of course, it never occurred to me to whip out my phone/camera and snap a few pics.  It never does (sigh), I'm hopeless when it comes to photos, so I can't prove a thing!   Was he a pet or just hitchin' a ride??  Don't know, but it's not something you see every day.  Weird!

About an hour later, after I completed my errand, I was walking back to my car on the same street where the guy with the squirrel had been, and along came a cowboy riding a horse....neither the horse nor the cowboy were anything special, they weren't all gussied up like for a parade or a rodeo or anything....just a guy in jeans, a plaid shirt, boots, and a big Stetson riding a big brown horse.   Now I know that Austin is in Texas and Texas is home to lots of cowboys, but they are not typically riding down the street in Austin in the middle of rush hour!  Austin is a very urban city!   I've lived here 12 years and I've never seen a cowboy riding his horse through downtown before. I smiled, and the cowboy tipped his hat....very gallant!  Still.... Weird!

See, that un-official motto makes more sense now, doesn't it?    You just never know what you are going see when you're in Austin.  Keepin' it Weird!!     :)

"My Kind of Town?"  ---   yep, gotta love it!!

Another A Cappella

The election is over, the votes have been counted, and a winner declared. President Barack Obama has won re-election to a second 4-year term. The popular vote was very close at 11:45 pm there were 3 state votes counts still too close to call and 2 states where the polls had not yet closed (Alaska and Hawaii). However, the electoral college tally showed a very clear victory for President Obama....303 for Obama vs. 203 for Romney. I'm sure there will be calls for recounts and accusations of fraud or other misdeeds, still barring a discovery of enormous tampering, the outcome will more than likely remain the same. So, the U.S. has re-elected Democrat President Barack Obama.

Obama supporters are, of course, thrilled. Everyone likes having their candidate be the winner! I, personally am very glad that Mr. Romney was not elected, for many reasons, the most important of which relates to my concerns regarding the treatment of women in this country in relation to health care, reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, and so on.

Facebook is filled with celebratory posts about the winner and naturally, those supporting the loser are also expressing their opinions on the election result. I would like to share with you a very disturbing exchange posted by a friend of mine (Friend A). (All names and identifying info has been deleted.)

Writer #1 is my Friend A....a lovely, funny woman whom I like very much. When I met her she informed me within our very first conversation that she was a CHRISTIAN, and considered Jesus to be her personal savior. She is very active in her church. I subsequently discovered she was also a very staunch Republican. I know nothing about either Writer #2 or Writer #3. Within a half hour of the declaration of President Obama as the winner, the following exchange took place:

W #1: OMG Four more years of hell. Lovely

W #2: Amen

W #3: It will be worse in 4 years ....there will be more ppl dependent on the system in 4 years to vote democrat

W #1 Grr u are right. What a lovely thought.

W #1: Well, hopefully eyes will be open when we realize that our dollar and our country wont be worth squat. Good chance he will be impeached from the benghazi issue..

W #3: the liberals have overtaken us....there will be a full crash now, possibly followed by a civil war. Why did we have the civil war? Slavery (i.e. MORAL VALUE). what with the democrat platform taking God out of the constitution and endorsing abortion (with no conditions) and gay marriage....this is now a MORAL issue for today

W #1: Very true. It's scary.

W #2: Fox News said PA voted for BO - most are dependent on the system right now. More and more people everywhere else will become dependent on the Govt over the next 4 years, brainwashed into voting Dem next time.

W #1: Bunch of lazy ass people who want a handout. If they truly want socialism...move to Russia!


Now I have another friend (Friend B....who doesn't know any of those people and did not see their postings), a dear, sweet man I have known for many, many years.  He is truly one of the nicest people I know.  He also posted about the election after the results were announced.  Here is his posting:

Friend B:    America is blessed with many things. Not the least of which is the graceful acceptance of a losing candidate, be they the incumbent or the challenger. There are no military take overs or candidates being dragged from their homes at midnight and shot in the woods. Regardless of the rancor of the campaign, once the election is over everyone shakes hands and wishes the other well. If the world could only learn that from America, life would be so much better in so many places.

Some time after reading the postings from Friend A, I wrote the following:

Breathing Again! 
Must say though, I have lived through somewhere around 15 national elections in my lifetime and I don't believe there has ever been a popular vote this close. So even though there is a clear electoral college total, approximately half the country is unhappy....perhaps even angry. That doesn't bode well for getting anything done by either side. 
I know it's a radical idea but, maybe if everyone put aside their differences and worked together, things would get better sooner rather than later. 
Well, it was just a thought..... 

So what is my point?? I find Friend A's response truly disturbing on so many levels.  I cannot understand the hatred and vitriol that must exist to generate such an exchange. Slavery was a Moral Value???  Nooo, it was an abomination against humanity!  "Bunch of lazy ass people who want a handout."  CHRISTIAN??  If that is a Christian response, I can guarantee you that I will never become CHRISTIAN!  Impeachment??  Civil War??????   

Good God, protect us from fanatics!

Friend B is closer to what I believe about American elections and morals, but perhaps in light of Friend A's posting, we shouldn't tout American elections as a role model for the rest of the world just yet.  Maybe we'd better focus on our own citizens first.  

And as for my hope for working together in this country to make things better, well, that pretty much looks like it won't happen in my lifetime or maybe even in this millenium!

How very, very sad!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Wisdom of the Ages"

A very wise man, Mr. Jefferson.... 

One of the truly extraordinary men 
who shaped the framework of our Country's Freedom 
over 225 years ago.

Photo: Today, please remember this from our Thomas Jefferson.

Exercise your privilege and VOTE

....but keep it in perspective!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It should have come as no surprise.  I've done similar things before, with similar results.  Somehow though, I thought, that this would be a different kettle of fish.  After all, this isn't something that I've had to force myself to do.  It doesn't give a physical pain, or require a great deal of physical effort, or even (if truth be told) a great deal of mental effort.  So, I thought it wouldn't be a problem.  But it is!

What the heck am I blathering about?  Basically, how easy it is for a break in a good routine to become the kiss of death to that routine.  In other words, I am having to force myself to sit down and write this, because it is becoming increasingly obvious, that if I don't purposely get back to writing on a regular basis, it will result in the end of the Musings....

Several times over the years I have started and tried to establish "good habits" such as exercise, or working on a project of one sort or another.  I will diligently work to make an effort to establish a pattern, a time table, a level of consistency which will become so automatic that I won't even notice  I will just become proud of my new-found commitment to walking, meditating, crafting, cleaning, or whatever.  I will keep at it for several weeks or even longer and I forget all about that "Pride goeth before a fall" thing.

Because sooner or later something happens to break the routine....I twist an ankle or change my schedule or get involved in something else that interrupts my "good habit"  Hey, it happens.  Life does not remain constant (which is really a good thing!)

When the interruption crops up, I can give myself permission to stop the new habit "for a little while" until ....whatever!  The ankle heals, the conflict goes away, or the project concludes.  But I just don't ever get back to the "good habit" EVER!  Once the pattern is interrupted it cannot be reestablished.  It might be that I have lost interest or just keep postponing, or just flat-out forget about it.  My original commitment disappears completely and I never go back.

From August until the beginning of October you may recall that I was involved with a show, "Bus Stop".  We rehearsed four nights a week and there were other time requirements that pretty much took all my time and energy, so I didn't write much.  I thought all the while that it was just an interruption and I'd get back to writing more regularly as soon as the show closed.

Well the show closed a month ago and I haven't returned to writing regularly!  At this point, I doubt if anybody much cares anymore.   My blogland friends have pretty much given up on me I think....and I certainly can't blame them.  Why ever would anybody want to keep visiting when there is nothing new to read??  I wouldn't visit another site with the same problem, so I can't expect anyone to do any better than I would.

The thing is, I really like having this outlet for my own thoughts and opinions and I like writing it.  But as I said, once a habit is broken, I find it really difficult to resurrect it!

So here's the deal, I need your "Help" in the form of encouragement or interest or some sort of acknowledgement that I actually have readers who care where or not I return.  I have always loved your comments and visits, but at times, when it seems as if no one is even reading this it takes more effort to make it continue.  And now with a three-month hiatus and a bad track-record on re-instituting a "good habit", I have a lot of lethargy about getting back on track.

I never wanted nor expected that "Bus Stop" would be the end of the line for the Musings, I should have known better.   Is anyone still on the bus??  :)

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