Thursday, September 29, 2005

Waiter, There's a Blattella in My Soup!

Can you trigger a bad experience by talking about a similar bad experience? Well, maybe so.

Hubby was explaining his difficulty in finding healthy food while at a rural meeting in South Carolina recently. The hotel restaurant was not appealing and expensive so his team headed for a local popular restaurant in the town. He looked through the menu and found out that everything on it was fried. I mean, he likes fried food but that is the problem. Finally his eyes settled on the following entrée - “Grilled chicken breast with roasted red potatoes and garden fresh zucchini.” This had to be healthy, right? So he ordered it. Guess what arrived. He got a grilled chicken breast, yep. Only thing is that it was covered about a half-inch thick with some kind of glutinous white gravy. He looked at the roast potatoes and they were first BATTER fried and then roasted and of course, you have guessed that the zucchini was also batter covered and fried. So much for a healthy meal.

Now, he was telling me this story as we pulled into a mall to eat after our builders meeting. The mall appeared to be only a few years old and had the traditional chain restaurants. I was craving a margarita and so we selected the chain On the Border. (Now, just so I don’t get sued, we have eaten at this same chain in a different location and found the food quite respectable along with the other services.) This time was a little different.

I ordered my margerita and the waitress asked if I wanted a “large or small.” This should have been my first clue, as I don’t usually frequent places that ask this question. When she told me how large the large was, my old-age judgment kicked in (along with my husband’s dirty look) and I ordered the small.

The drink arrived along with our order. I sipped the drink and it seemed a little bland and lemonadey – (this isn’t a word, so I don’t know how to spell it.) I am a picky, picky person about my margeritas and years ago realized the only place to get a good tasting kicker drink such as this is in Mexico, so I sighed and accepted that fact. Then the waitress started pulling the grilled steak and onions off the hot platter that she brought. She asked if I wanted onions and I said, “Yes.” (of course.) My husband also had onions with the entrée he ordered. We soon discovered that these onions had been left too long on the shelf or were picked green or something as they were chewy and dry! Ick. When the manager with the bleached teeth smile came by our table, we mentioned that he needed a new produce supplier as the onions were pretty much inedible. He apologized but didn’t give me the impression he gave a flipping you know what.

I continued to nurse my drink finding it blander and blander when the waitress brought another margerita. I looked up in surprise and clarified with her that I had not ordered a second drink.

“I know.” She said. “The bartender accidentally made two, so instead of letting it go to waste, I decided to bring it.”

Oh, I thought. I put the first drink aside and sipped the second. It actually had essence of tequila and I said to my hubby. “You know what? I think the idiot bartender forgot the tequila in the first drink and sent out this second drink so I wouldn’t complain.”

We continued through the rubbery onions, acceptable steak, and less-bland drink when something caught the corner of my eye. It was a Blattella germanica moving down the wall and toward the table. I am so very familiar with these having lived for years in the tropics. As this little brown nugget proceeded to cross the table toward me I put down my fork and napkin and immediately moved to the waiting bench near the front door of the restaurant, explaining the situation to hubby. I didn’t return.

When hubby called for the bill he elaborated on why I had left, and wouldn’t you know it? They didn’t offer us anything - not a free meal, a % off our bill, a free dessert, nothing. We could have been obnoxious and not paid the bill and let all the customers in the restaurant know the type of place they were eating in, but we aren’t that type. We just won’t eat at that chain again in any new areas!

The moral is don’t tell bad restaurant stories before you eat out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Martha, Martha, Martha

I have to admit that I never really liked Martha Stewart as a personality. I didn't watch her old show on TV and the few times that a friend gave me an old copy of her expensive magazine, I never found much in it that I had time to try or could afford to try. She was always a little too D.A.R. stuffy for my tastes. The smile was polite but cold and she never looked real, even in gardening boots.

I was talking to a co-worker (a hippie-guy) about coffee the other day. I said that I read somewhere that French press coffee was supposed to be the best way to make coffee and I had found that true after testing it myself. I even found it better than espresso coffees I would buy at the restaurants in Italy. He laughed and said that I must agree with Martha Stewart, because he saw her 'coffee' show. But he explained that she always has to make things more complicated than necessary. She boiled her water and added her coffee but instead of letting it sit for 3 minutes she insisted that you had to stir it for 4 minutes---stirring coffee for 4 minutes is not the way I want to start my morning!

Well, I have started to watch her new afternoon show on The Learning Channel (not The Apprentice TV show which I hear is bombing.). She comes on at 6:00 when I am cooking dinner and it is a nice distraction. I cannot tell you how she has changed or how her real self has burst through or maybe prison has made her go a little crazy! She had P-Diddy on as one guest and was making "wraps" like dough wraps, wrapping paper, and of course, she even got down a little with him and his music. It was the funniest show! She was very comfortable, witty and kept things totally unawkward, even when P-Diddy held his dough wrap and stuffed it exactly as if it was a joint saying "I know how to do this!"

On another show the guest was Marcia Cross from desperate Housewives who plays a Martha Stewart type character. Well, Marcia clearly doesn't know how to cook and is really the opposite of the character she plays and making scrambled eggs with Martha Stewart was a such comedy of errors that kept the audience laughing.

Stewart comes across as that perfect witty hostess. She appears to be very knowledgeable about things that have nothing to do with being a hostess with the mostess and therefore, can appear with characters such as David Spade who appeared dressed just like her.

Of course, she still hypes each and every one of her K-Mart products with give aways and also advertises her evening show The Apprentice-Martha Stewart during the banter. Her TV studio is huge with lots of kitchen gear. In her personality change, she clearly hasn't lost her drive to make money.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Another Lovely Fall

I took this picture about three years ago when we took a long fall weekend in West Virginia. It is not the high resolution version, I couldn't find that one. But, I think it does look a little like a greeting card and it makes me excited for the coming weeks.

Monday, September 26, 2005

What's a Metrosexual ?

Daddy is definitely a metrosexual and never leaves the house without product in the hair and the perfect sport shirt. Looks like Xman has inherited his dad's genes and already has an opinion on what he wears. Actually I kind of agree that they look monkey-vomit-green!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Lazy Weekend

Don't stick your tongue out at your grandson!

After breakfast with our plastic surgeon (in his early 40's and not married, ladies) hubby went fishing and Ween and I proceeded to complete her SIX loads of laundry. After several hours of running between the laundry rooms on the floors we got clothes folded and back into numerous laundry baskets and containers.

Then we headed out to the large home store and she looked for faucets for the new sink and shower in her basement (which is still just a dark concrete room). She was lucky and found something almost immediately. We did some more looking and then treated ourselves to a pumpkin spice drink at Starbucks. We headed home to a dinner that hubby prepared from freshly caught fish and harvested oysters. Yum. Then some great ice cream and we watched the DVD Cold Mountain.

Slept in this morning as did Xman. Hubby prepared a breakfast of pecan pancakes (Yes, I do cook and you are right, I don't deserve him.) He packed for his week-long trip to New York and we headed out for shopping at the wine, make-up, blinds and Pier 1 Imports stores. I got the pillow below as my "inspiration" for developing the colors in my master bedroom. I have long wanted a sunset and/or fall color scheme and this pillow seems to represent that.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday Musings

Got up early this morning as my hubby had an "interview"” with a plastic surgeon. Hubby has decided that he does not want to retire cold turkey and his office is not amenable to letting him retire and come back part-time. So he is looking at CEO-’ing a project headed up by an M.D. with friends with money. I would someday like to be in the position where I have so much money that I NEED to invest it somewhere--not have to FIND money to invest somewhere.

Years ago Bill Cosby'’s TV show joke was that the black upper class TV family on his show were not rich "“because they all went to work for their money. Rich people have money work for them!"

Anyway, we took him to breakfast at a nice chain restaurant nearby that has huge and fairly well-prepared breakfasts and talked "“turkey." (Must have poultry on the mind today.) Actually it was some other animal, but I am trying to stay somewhat anonymous on this site. The doctor is in his forties, tall and attractive and did I say he was a face surgeon? (Yes, ladies, I am thinking what you are thinking.)

Well, this all is in the very earliest stages since it requires a very long process to get this thing up and running. So, this meeting was just a get-to-know-you first-date type of meeting. The two of them went off fishing and I am sitting in the apartment waiting for my sweet daughter and little one so that I can help them do laundry. (Remember her stupid idea to gut and remodel the basement shortly after Xman was born?)

Once that gets done, —which should take at least a couple of hours, our day is free. Maybe we will do something cool? (Remind me to tell you about my daughter's most recent plans for an Italy trip. This also needs some tweaking in the planning.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Life Story #2

One of the joys of living a long time is that you have a lot of life stories to carry you through the years. The story that goes with this picture above is not mine. It is my husband's, and since he doesn't blog (he can barely use the computer), I get to tell it.

This picture was taken in Cuba sometime in 1959 or maybe early 1960. Those of you that know your history realize that this was the year that Fidel Castro took over the Cuban islands driving out Batista in the Cuban revolution. The picture is of my husband with his mother and father in front of a fort somewhere on one of the islands. Here is the story of how they got to Cuba and what happened after they got there.

My husband's family lived in Florida at this time. They went to one of those fun beach parties which had some contests with prizes. Since my father-in-law was in real estate this was probably a company party. One of the contests was a 'limbo' contest. I am not going into details about limbo (look it up.) Anyway, hubby was very limber and youthful then as you can tell from his body build in the photo above and he WON the contest. The prizes were a bottle of Cuban rum, and even more significant, a trip to Cuba.

His parents were certainly surprised when he ran up to them with this good news. As soon as they could they made their arrangements for this trip and flew to Cuba. Their hotel was one of those beautiful hotels with marble everywhere. They were certainly confused to see collections of rifles in the marble urns at the entrance to the hotel, though. They were also surprised to see so many revolutionary soldiers in the streets and so many weapons being carried about. But the hotel staff greeted them warmly and acted normally and checked them into their room. This put them at ease. While they were in the lobby they saw Castro and Che, et al. When they asked the desk clerk about the all the activity he told them about a new government in Cuba. They spent one day in Havana and the next day left for Isle of Pines.

After checking into the hotel at the Isle of Pines, they went down to the dining room at the dinner hour. They were very surprised to see that the tables in the dining room had been arranged into one long table for Castro and his "generals" and one tiny table in the corner for them! Of course, they were a little uncomfortable as they crossed the room in front of Castro and his contingent and proceeded to be seated. Then to their surprise Castro waved his arms to the waiters and insisted that the American tourists join him at the head of his table!

My husband's father (and my husband also) are gregarious and friendly people. So the evening was filled with lots of drinking and laughter; and god, I wish I had been there. Hubby said Castro was a very interesting and good host.

My husband had persuaded his parents to arrange a fishing trip for him...the love he has clearly had since birth. The next day my husband awoke early for his fishing trip and as he headed out, pole in hand, toward the dock to meet with his fishing guide, a jeep with Che Guevera in it passed him and stopped. Che asked where hubby was going and hubby explained.

"Get in." said Che. Hubby didn't hesitate since there was a man standing through the open roof of the jeep with some impressive weapon in his hand.

The jeep proceeded to the dock, but since Che and his buddies were also going fishing, they insisted that hubby join them on their boat instead. Their boat was much, much nicer anyway. Never one to pass up an opportunity, the twelve-year-old boy jumped in their boat and spent the entire day out fishing. They didn't return until well after dark.

When hubby got back to the hotel he found his dad drunk at the bar and both mad and terrified at not knowing where his son had gone for the day since the fishing guide was still there.

The next day they returned to Havana for one final day of sightseeeing before heading back to Florida. Imagine their surprise upon checking into their hotel in Havana when they found it was the headquarters for Fidel and his 'army.' Fidel was meeting with his generals there that night!

Hubby's parents had arranged for a trip to the local tourist nightclub (I really think it was called the Tropicana) for a floor show that evening. They had reservations for a very good table center front stage. Things got a little creepy when after being seated, the couples at the tables on either side of them were replaced by men who certainly looked like revolutionaries. That night they were starting to be glad the vacation was coming to an end.

The next day at the airport before departure they were separated for a security check and hubby said his mother indicated she had NEVER been searched as fully as she had that day. They made it safely back to Florida and only years later realized how close they had been to history.

Fun trip, huh?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Salt and Peppa!!

I had been pretty depressed about the prejudice that became so obvious in Katrina's aftermath. I am one of those stubborn liberals that refuse to believe anyone could be so stupid, afraid and heartless as to ignore or deny someone help based on their background. When I read some of the accounts I ended up feeling guilty as if these were my brothers and sisters (i.e. Barbara Bush's comments) reflecting me and my beliefs.

Well, shortly after that we went to a free jazz concert that was part of our community's revitalization efforts and also a last minute support for the Katrina revitalization.

There were some wonderful jazz groups such as Marcus Johnson who kept me moving. The headliner was Winton Marsalas. The night was perfect, warm and sexy, the moon was almost full and smile-beaming to the beat in the sky. We ended up standing on the third floor of the parking garage as we could see the stage better, had a wonderful breeze, excellent sound and could people-watch the audience on the space below us.

I noticed that it was a very diverse audience of thousands of people. The majority of our community is black, some poor, but not as poor as New Orlean's citizens. I saw black and white faces in about equal numbers, young and old, children and grandparents and dogs. Everyone was in a gentle and friendly mood. A 50-something black man adopted my husband and proceeded to spend a good part of the time befriending him. Yes, he was three sheets to the wind (the black man), but he wasn't obnoxious. My husband who is a non-drinker was the perfect gentlemen to this.

Even the people who were visiting from Israel and standing behind us talking about how they really didn't like jazz finally drifted away and we enjoyed a langourous enjoyment of "Down by the Riverside."

I left that concert thinking that this is what America is supposed to be about. Accepting our differences and finding that common ground, in this case jazz, baby, jazz, and sharing our love of it.

Sleepless in the Mid-Atlantic

I went to bed completely exhausted about 9:00 PM and was in deepest slumber by 9:15---didn't even hear hubby sneak into bed after Monday night football. Now it is 1:30 and I am wide awake. Same thing happened last night! I can't quite put my finger on the reason I have been having sleep problems lately. My life is morphing so much now, that I am sure this has something to do with it. I am a grandmother for the first time, I am approaching retirement, I am building a house, I am apartment living in the city for the first time in decades...all of this is changing and challenging me. But, this restlessness occurs mostly on the week nights, so the insomnia probably relates more to job stress than anything else.

As I wrote a while back, my work program is morphing also. I spent late yesterday in a meeting with others (one pompous ass that should retire ASAP, two gung-ho young technical writers and PR types, and one career woman about my age) meeting to plan how to meld my program's public image with another new progam web-wise. We must have one consistent approach. They have the budget now, so I have to be realistic about the direction of things. But, it takes tremendous patience not to scream when they spend hours discussing the aspects of the subject area...since they are each learning about it for the first time. I know the history, I know the customers, I know the accomplishments, I know the issues. But, I have to let them try to figure out how to prioritize because I can't take my marbles and go home. I have no marbles. (Marbles being money...not brains although sometimes I think that is open for discussion as well.)

They recognize that I have decades of work in this subject area and at least five years of work with this particular department. It is just that they come with a political/policy agenda and I come with an education/research agenda. So, we have different goals and approaches. You can't really teach an old dog new tricks. You can just update their act and add it to yours.

Tomorrow I have a stupid two-day training class for three hours each in a general apsect of my subject area. I only signed up because I was making an effort to learn new tricks, but I am sure I will come from this not having learned much new. Make me wrong, please.

Feeling a little grouchy like this 'bear' in the woods.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Day of Start and then Start Again

Today was appliance shopping as my builder told me we couldn't fit the refrigerator/freezer that I had already selected easily into the kitchen. I think he is wrong and am asking for a kitchen designer, because a refrigerator is a VERY important appliance that is used daily and I want to be able to use the one I picked. We went to one of those large everything and then-some stores to look at all the kitchen appliances. As we left, we found some celadon green dinnerware that we decided to buy, since we do not have a complete set of dishes at this time what with the recent move and all. This store is at least 30 minutes from where we live and, of course, when we got home we found 5 plates, one bowl and one cup broken. I called the store and they at least said we did not have to bring back the whole heavy box; they just wanted the broken items, please. With gas prices what they are our dish set just went up another $3.00!

While at the store we also were looking at CD players since our old player seems to be ignoring the CDs when we try to play them. This is a somewhat fruitless task with everyone moving to digital stream technology. We couldn't find anything simple and decided to try out a CD cleaner disk instead. I'll let you know if it works. I've got a feeling that there is more to this than a dirty disc player.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

For the Rainy Days

Someday in my life,when the rain doesn't seem to go away, these are the pictures I hope to keep in my mind until the sun breaks through.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I did some research...

Checked out the nice restaurants in our area. That little platter of broiled oysters that I posted yesterday would cost about $50.00 here! I think hubby has got himself a good hobby. The sauce I made over the top was as follows for those of you who may have access to bivalves to eat.

2 tablespoons melted butter
4 cloves of garlic heated in microwave and chopped fine
1/4 red onion chopped fine
one stalk of fennel chopped fine
seasoned salt
very light sprinkle of spicy chile powder mix (Tabasco also works)
Heat all together until simmered
Add juice from one lemon and 2 tablespoons of white wine
pour over raw oysters and then broil

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Me and my shadow.

I have not watched the news or read so much about Katrina's results by choice this week. I have contacted a few friends in that area and their homes survived; but they are frantically working on rebuilding research labs or classrooms and libraries. I have contributed as best I can, and need to back off from the images and stories for now. Interestingly, the thoughts still permeate my life. Most recently in the form of food. Last night we harvested and ate these.

As we relished these freshly harvest oysters, we also thought about how the oyster industry in the Gulf area along with all the seafood (caught and farmed) had been devastated. How some of the shrimpers lost their homes and are now living on their boats and have nothing to harvest.

Then today as I live on liquids and find food constantly tugging at my thoughts and food smells driving me bananas (see even my descriptors are edible!), I chastise myself in that I can have nutritious liquids and I am not thirsty like the hurricane survivors nor will I ever be as hungry as they must have been.

My concern for the procedures of the medical appointment early tomorrow is nothing like the fear they must have tried to control.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Two photos fell to the ground. Life Story #1

I had just finished putting together a little photo album about my two weeks with my grandson. As I was moving some of the photo albums I have in my bookshelf, these two fell to the floor. Boy do they bring back the memories. I think the guy with the GREAT thighs and totally sweet personality was called Lazarus, if I remember correctly. He was an elder selected as our guide and was helping my husband and I get some drinking coconuts since we had gotten thirsty while touring an area for an environmental study on a possible reef airport. (The reef won, thank goodness! That story involved an angry native and a spear and danger...another blog for another time.) The second photo is me standing next to probably a million dollars--that will never happen again. These giant doughnut shapped stones are money on the island of Yap. They represent a family's wealth. They come in all sizes, but this one has to be worth a LOT! Nice memories of a long time ago.

It's pink and long and clean

I lost my font, has anyone seen my font?

Starting tomorrow I get to drink 3 ounces of sodium benzoate and as many tons of clear liquids as I like. Yes, it is that time again where I let some gastroenterologist satisfy their prurient interests and hopefully tell me that my inside is as sexy as my outside on Wednesday. Wish me luck as this procedure is not that much fun, even though they pretty much knock you out.

The fun of living a long life!

Friday, September 09, 2005

An Now Something to Make You Very Very Scared

I have been schizophrenic today. Came cross this link while I was eating a late lunch at work and found that I got a message that said something to the effect I do not have "permission" to open this link. So, being the strong supporter of freedom of speech I sent the URL to my home email. (If I get fired tomorrow, you will know why!) Anyway, here it is. I just got back from a FEMA Detainment Camp Before you read this, keep reminding yourself that you are in the United States of America and that these 'refugees' are not people captured in I-r-a-q. I am so afraid that Katrina is going to split this country wide open. I know that racial prejudice exists, but I never really knew. I never really knew. If you can't open, let me know and I will post the text.

Curdle that Milk in Denmark

I had barely made it inside the apartment door and the phone was ringing. Dropping my mail on the chair I checked caller ID. It’s my mom, of course. She has been reading news on that damn Internet, I realized.

“Hi, Mom.”
“What are you doing home so early? It’s not even five.”
“I put in almost nine hours, Mom. Besides, I work for the government. Five-week vacations, long lunch hours, you know.”
“You should be working more. Get on that fast track. Take on more than you can handle easily.”
“Mom, what in the hell are you talking about?” I said this, knowing full well where this conversation was leading. I also had been reading the news over lunch.
“Haven’t you seen the news about stress? Stress is good for you. Stress prevents breast cancer, for god’s sake! Did you call your Ex today about the payments?”
“Mom, I love talking to you. But I need to unwind before I start dinner.”
“Tension is good. Stress is good. You do not ‘need’ to unwind. You need to get a second job. Maybe that way you could meet someone nice and get married again.”
“I have to say goodbye now, Mom. Thanks for the healthy dose of stress.” I hung up gently and headed for the wine rack.

I was going to write something about curdled breast milk and cancer and stress, but kept my wits about me. Of course, none of the above is true—but can’t you just see this? What on earth is the media thinking when they report this stuff so out of context!!! We need more qualified medical journalists.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Smokin some stuff

I am taking a note from The Cerebral Outpost and trying to find humor in the chaos of news these days. This morning on the Channel 9 morning show they were going outside the studio to introduce a new barbecue restaurant. Standing at the back of the building was the chef with some really great looking ribs on the grill. The newscaster (spokesman) joined him and said, "Well today, folks, we are here to help you plan an outdoor dinner for the Labor Day holiday. I am sure some of you are planning on smoking some stuff over the holiday." He really said that. Didn't even blink. I am sure his studio folks were falling off their chairs.

Insomnia 1 in White

I am off my sleep schedule due to grandson's visit last night. He had a bad night and was up every two hours! So tonight I went to bed at 800 and now I am totally awake at 2:00! My glasses are back in the bedroom, so I can't really see what I am blogging here.

But, I had fun cropping these two photos I took this weekend. One in a greenhouse and one at the side of the road on a bike ride. One has to fend for itself against the elements to survive and one is totally nurtured by man. The luck of the draw.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Can There Be Too Much Togetherness?

I get to reading blogs on an early Saturday and come across some stories about spouses and their disagreements that make me wonder how the people can still be together. But, having said that, there are days when I wonder how my hubby and I are going to work out this 24/7 retirement thing.

Right now he travels about 30% of the time. So, even though we go to work together, there are times when I have that precious, marvelous, restorative alone time that I so need.

When he is home we do most things together except for work time. We are not a glued-at-the-hip couple, but we do enjoy each others company and like similar activities and adventures. The hurdle that I see coming in the time ahead is my hubby's addiction to water activities and fishing. I mean, if he could, he would take out his canoe or boat every single day until he died to make sure he has found every fishing hole, every school of fish, every bird feeding group, etc. He even jokes that if he gets too old and has to be taken care of by others, that he wants me to put him in the canoe with his best fishing pole (like I would know out of the dozen he has!) and just push the canoe offshore into the ocean. I tell him that even though I love him, I am NOT going to jail for him.

Well, the problem is that he does not have a real fishing buddy other than I. His friends and colleagues are all busy with their lives. And even though we have the rare dinner together, they are not giving up their free time for fishing. And I can take fishing or leave it...usually leave it. We 'fight' over our weekend time. I like to run errands, work on crafts, take pictures, houseplan, watch chick flicks, blog, garden. He likes to fish. And on the days that have crappy weather he likes to fish even more. So I hope when we move into the new area there are fishing addicts and boating addicts to feed his needs.

I realized a few years ago and re-realize it every year that some (many?) women frequently give up our fun times to babysit while hubby golfs (my daughter), to go on long outdoor fishing vacations with husband (my sister) or to go boating on rare free times (me) to keep those we love happy. Then as we get older and the children fire us and maybe hubby slows down, we realize that we have put that whole creative self-pleasuring side of ourselves on a shelf somewhere. See that picture of that high school girl or college graduate? Who were we anyway? When was the last time we focused
for so long on something we loved that we forgot the time? We need to be more like men.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Going Back in Time

For a total of 10 days over a three week period, I was the daytime caregiver of my little guy. Ten things I learned as a new grandmother in charge of daycare:

1) Your daughter (son?) will remind you of yourself at times in her approach to things and at other times you will wonder where she gets such crazy ideas.
2) “Quality time” for working parents consists of two hours in the evening which also includes changing out of office clothes, sorting the mail, cooking dinner and watching some stupid reality show that has been TIVOed. If you don’t know what TIVO is, you are better off than the rest of the world because you actually have a life. The kid does get some eye contact time, some belly time and usually a diaper change in all of this. Morning quality time, while more peaceful, rarely lasts more than a few minutes before everyone is off and running to greet their day.
3) When taking a baby for the daily stroll you actually think about things like the breezes in the leaves, happy dogs with wagging tails, the sounds of the suburbs and approaching fall colors.
4) Don’t expect to get any lengthy sleep while you are there overnight. Especially if parents are trying to get baby to drop night feedings.
5) Most Daddies are not intuitive about babies and it is sometimes funny to watch the discombobulation.
6) The strangest songs will come back into your memory when you are talking to the baby and you will actually sing them to him…at least partly, if you can remember most of the words.
7) Bath time: Babies are slippery as hell when wet!
8) There is nothing more addictive than ANY drug imaginable as having a little guy (gal) curl up tight in your arms, look you straight in the eye, and then drift off to blissful sleep.
9) Baby smell is certainly the next addiction…didn’t want to shower when I got back home!
10) You will lose weight ( a little). Lifting baby up and down, getting up and down from the floor, pushing a stroller, going up and down the stairs dozens of times each day and forgetting to eat all contribute to this.

Taking it One Day at a Time

Watching the news this week, the discouraging images were so familiar to me. In the late 1970’s upon returning from living in the South Pacific, Hubby and I excitedly purchased our first real home as a married couple in southern Texas. The house was located in a small and lovely suburb surrounded by shady live oak and sweet gum trees covered with Spanish moss and bordering lush green lawns. The house was a three bedroom, two bathroom ranch in excellent condition. We owned about a half acre. The back yard also had a garage-size greenhouse that kept all my tropical plants protected through the short winters of southern Texas. The former owner was a landscape addict and the yard was spectacular; we even won an award one year from the local garden club. Across the street was a slow moving bayou that my husband explored in his canoe on weekends. My daughter was almost four at the time and my son was about 8 months old. I was still nursing him, which later became a blessing.

Hurricanes were common in the summer months in this area of Texas but none ever reached our area. In 1979, Tropical Storm Claudette moved in from the gulf and while we expected lots of rain and flooded lawns, we knew it would move on as these tropical storms always did. But Claudette was contradictory and decided to stay awhile. She moved up to Alvin, Texas and then proceeded to sit there like a drunken sailor sucking up moisture from the Gulf and dumping it on our heads. 42 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. According to Wikipedia: “Claudette was a long-lived (August 15 - August 29) but fairly weak storm that spent almost its entire life as a tropical depression. Claudette formed in the mid-Atlantic east of the Windward Islands. It had two spells as a tropical storm; the first was a brief one east of Puerto Rico. The storm passed directly over the island just after weakening, where it killed one person from flooding. The depression moved casually through the Greater Antilles and moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Claudette restrengthened into a tropical storm south of Sabine, Texas and made landfall near Port Arthur, killing one person from floods. Damages from flooding in Texas were enormous, totaling $400 million dollars. Claudette was one of the costliest storms on record that never reached hurricane intensity.”

After hours and hours of gray rain, fear was starting to set in. By early evening I could hear the water gurgling beneath the bathtub in the children’s bathroom. It was a strange and unsettling sound. In the dusk, I tried to see where the level of the bayou was in the neighbor’s backyard across the street, but the rain was so heavy I couldn’t make out anything but gray water against the window. Uneasy, we put the kids to bed and then headed to bed ourselves. The numbing sound of rain continued throughout the night. We slept on and off, and in the morning, woke up to about six inches of water in the bedroom! We hurriedly packed some clothes, got the kids dressed and talked about what to do next.

I remember getting my daughter her breakfast before we left. The water had come up another 8 inches by that time. I put her on the kitchen table and fixed her cereal. Although the electricity was out, the milk was still cold from the fridge. She was fascinated with the swimming pool that had previously been our home. While eating she suddenly squealed in delight. When I looked up, she giggled. “Mom, look, there’s a fish under the table!” In verification, there was a small 4 inch fish swimming around the legs of our kitchen table as if it was his own small wooden reef.

The water continued to rise, and we eventually had to leave our home by that reliable old canoe. As we paddled down our street I noticed that the waters were teaming with balls of fire ants climbing over each other in order to avoid drowning. We had to be careful not to brush up against those lovely live oaks and sweet gums branches, as they, too, were covered in fire ants and harbored their share of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes as well. We paddled out to the nearby freeway and then hubby returned to pick up our neighbors. Eventually a school bus took all of us to the local elementary school. While the rains stopped, the water continued to rise for another day. We got over 3 feet of water in our house. When we realized that it would be days before we could get back home, friends took us in. After several weeks of living with them, we accepted that we had to find some place to rent for the longer term and fortunately we had the limited resources to do that. I remember thinking that although I had lost the inside of my house and most of my belongings, I was so thankful we were alive and uninjured.

We returned to a neighborhood of refuse-covered lawns. People were trying to determine what could be salvaged and what had to be thrown out among their treasures. I still have in my mind the nightmare images of soaked furniture, buckled oak flooring, and days and days of doing laundry when the electricity was finally restored. My neighbor’s dryer worked and my washer worked and we ran them non-stop together for days. You have to wash EVERYTHING you ever owned that is washable. We probably thought we were washing the flood away.

We retrieved the chest freezer from the neighbor's swimming pool where it had floated out of our garage. All of our food was lost, of course.

Months passed before we could get a contractor to help us rebuild. We gutted the house ourselves in the interim. The fireplace had not been pushed off its base and we did not have a can of diesel oil on a counter to tip and spread everywhere as one of our neighbors had experienced.

I ended up having to wean my son earlier than I wanted, because we had to shop for cars (both of ours floated away) and handle tons of insurance paperwork and loan paperwork. (This was the flood, by the way, that gave Texan, Dan Rather, his first big newsbreak and helped move him forward as a major news anchor.)

As I see these people in the Gulf who are so thankful just to be alive, I know that months from now when they will have to accept they have a long road ahead after the initial shock wears off. They will need the help of the charities more than ever and the support of their relatives and friends to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel. As my blog emphasizes, you get through these things One Day at a Time.