That’s Her!

It looked more like a college than a high school graduation. The floor of the arena had over 1400 chairs lined up for the graduates who poured in from four different entrances.

From way up there in the nose bleed section, they all looked like marching ants, identically dressed in maroon caps and gowns. There was a Jumbotron showing random angles, but we really didn’t think we’d know which one was Kara until they called her name right before handing her the diploma.

sea of grads

I was determined to know where she was amongst this sea of newborn adults for the entire ceremony, not just at the end. I wanted to hang on to every single moment of her childhood, young adulthood, to her.

I quickly developed a method to find her. First, I placed an imaginary alphabetically ordered grid over the seats and predicted the section she would sit.

Next, I kept an eye on the entrance that fed kids into that area. I ruled out the tall kids, or any of them who didn’t have long, straight blonde hair. That might seem easy enough, but they all looked the same height from my perspective, and almost all the girls have long blonde hair. This is Texas.

I had to yank out the secret weapon.

I ran those kids’ “walk” though my “mamma-knows-her-kid” filter.

Kara has always had this walk like a ballerina. She tip toes with these light, brisk steps while her upper body tilts a little forward. Like she can’t wait to get somewhere (she can’t). Her head glides smoothly with each step. Reminds me also of a hummingbird.

When she’s nervous, throw in a dramatic arm swing.

That swing is what I noticed first.

“That’s her!” I yelped, and finished to myself, That’s my girl.

It was. And she will always be my Sweetpea, my girl.


Yay Kara!!!


Still Here

Lately I’ve almost forgotten I’ve got a blog. I’ve been doing a lot of writing elsewhere, rewriting my spec script for contests, a visual writing class, and then other busy things.

It’s been rough as I haven’t had the energy left over to do much blogging or take photos or get out in the sunshine. Now that my submission is in and the writing class is winding down, I should have more time to get back to The Show.

I’m still exercising like a maniac, that’s six months of good solid habit. I feel great and continue to push a little harder with each workout.

Got some exciting news, my son Blane and his wife are expecting their first baby at the end of October! Of course you know I will completely take over and spoil that to the bone. I haven’t thought of a grandmother name yet. I really don’t care for those names and would actually like to be called by my real name, “Kitty.”

I know this is odd. I don’t care. When I talked to my mom about it, she kept saying “ahahhaaha you are going to be a granny.”

I know twenty-five year olds who are “grannies.” I will never be one of them. I cuss and go to rock concerts and don’t even own a rocking chair. I need to get one of those.

I was at Blane Jr.’s house a couple of nights ago helping him paint a room. We were up at 2AM and I asked him if this was usual for him to be up so late on a work night. He said he was both a night owl and an early bird.

Now I’m not much of an advice giver unless someone asks, but I told him he might want to use the upcoming months to get ahead on his sleep. Once the kids come in the picture, there’s not a good night’s sleep coming for at least the next 21 years.

Then I told him about the first morning I woke up with him after we got out of the hospital. Kids, even when adults never outgrow hearing baby stories about themselves.

I was worried I wouldn’t hear him cry during the night because he sounded like a newborn kitten when he cried. I was just a teenager and had never been around babies. I was clueless and I knew it.

So that first morning I woke up after a full night’s sleep. And my baby was gone. I went into my parent’s room and found my mom wiping him down with a washrag.

Me: What ya doin’?
Mom: Giving him a sponge bath.
Me: Where is the sponge and why don’t we put him in the tub instead?
Mom: You can’t get their belly buttons wet!

There were tons of people around me for the following weeks giving out massive amounts of advice. That got old pretty quickly and you know, you look at these people and look at their kids and think, I really don’t want this person’s advice.

So I went to the library and checked out every parenting book I could get my hands on. When people would dish out advice, my mom would say (with sarcasm), “She won’t do it, that’s not what the books says.”

She and the old hens would cackle about this, but you know me, I’m fine with people getting a good laugh on me. In the end, I’ve raised (am still raising) a good batch of kids.

Portable Brain

See this thing right here?


That is what I call my portable brain. It’s my hard drive from my MacBook Pro that I took out last week.

It’s still good, it didn’t crash or anything, it just got filled up with thoughts, photos, videos… my life. Maxed out 100 gig. So I ordered a 320 gig and cloned the old drive with Super Duper (free software, yay) and dropped the new one in my machine and I’m good to go.

I wish I’d thought of this sooner. I had this massive photo scanning project going since last summer, about 10,000 photos in the dining room. I got about half way through and ran out of hard disk.

So there I was stuck in the middle of that. I didn’t think to get a bigger hard drive, the plan was to get the scanned photos sorted (decades of them which began before my dad was even born), move those over to an external HD and then finish the job of scanning.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the dining room has been a massive mess that I tried to pretend didn’t exist. Although I don’t usually roll that way, I managed for almost a year and surprisingly, Blane did as well.

So when Kara’s hard drive failed and we had to take her computer apart to replace it, I got the idea to do the same with my computer. Ah, the ideas that flow when backed into a corner with a gun to the head.

Okay, so I’m all sorted out with the computer things and the photo project is back on, piles are getting smaller, and the dining room is getting back into shape as the useless room that it is.

Here is a photo I scanned from my dad’s old box of negatives. I’d never seen this photo before, my parents must have sent the paper copy to family.


I just think it’s amazing to find something like this. It’s like going back in a time machine.

The boy with the big head is my brother Jim, the other is Shane, and the baby trying to break free is me. Funny thing about any baby photo of me, I’m always trying to get back into my dad’s arms. They used to tell me that I didn’t walk until I was three because my dad carried me all the time.

Back then it was considered a bad thing to hold your kids all the time, but my dad didn’t play by the rules. He did what he wanted to do and I’m glad he did.

When she was born in her birth suit…

Every time Spanky’s birthday rolls around I think of this Cajun song by Rockin’ Sidney, “Don’t Mess with My Toot Toot.”

The reason I think of that song is because of the lyrics, “When she was born in her birth suit, the doctor slapped her behind, he said ‘You’re gonna be special.'”

See, when Spanky was born and the doctor slapped her feet to get her breathing going, Spanky just looked up at the world as if to say, “Ah, so this is it what’s going on where that noise was coming from.”

She didn’t cry.

That worried me to no end. I’d seen a lot of births working in the hospitals and this was the first one I saw where the baby didn’t cry. They kept telling me she was okay, but I didn’t believe them, I thought the worst. I was right in the middle of a c-section and trying to lift my shoulders and head to see the baby to make sure. Probably drove them all crazy in there.

She was just chill for a little baby. When they brought her to my room, I didn’t think she looked like us. I secretly worried that someone had switched the babies. Then I found out she was the only baby girl in the nursery, there were ten boys and Spanky.

So she’s ours. For sure.



“You’ve had your fun, now pay for it!”

Remember the post about the time we went to Turkey, The Real Rulers of Istanbul...[are cats]?

In nearby Greece, it is The Dog.


They are everywhere. Some, very few, have collars. They are all friendly and healthy looking and very much a part of Athens as well as the one island we went to, Santorini.

They don’t bark or beg, we tried to feed one of them some leftover gyro, but he refused. I guess they get just as tired of them as we do.

We’d be walking around touring the place and a few would tag along, then they’d inch their way ahead of us as if to say, “Follow us, we’ll show you all the good stuff.


And we’d end up in a place like this…


…their favorite restaurant.

That’s pretty much how relaxed this trip was, just wander around and discover.

Going to the Greek Isle of Santorini (Thira) was like jumping into a post card rack. This was the first time I’d taken my digital SLR on a trip so I was pretty much smiling the entire time. Just about every minute on that island was a photo op. We were all smiling. Blane was happy because the dollar to euro was better than it’s been in years, Kara found a bunch of caves to discover, and Spanky got to see many of the things she learned about in her humanities class (but that was more in Athens).

Our hotel offered a free boat ride and volcano tour, something we thought for sure would be a let down. It being free, you know.

So when we got to the port (800 steps down a cliff, thank you treadmill) and we were sure this was our boat:


But it was this one.


Out on the water, I saw blues like I’d never seen before. Suck the breath out of you blue.


The beaches there are black sand from the volcano,


and I’m thinking that might be what gives the water that deep blue color.

On the way back from the port, we rode the donkeys back up the cliff.


Notice I’m wearing my coat. It was a little chilly, but not too bad.

At the top of the cliff we watched the sunset every evening.


Other days we drove around in our rental car.

Discovered all sorts of things.

Seaside villages…


And timeless looking things, such as this old donkey…


Notice the lack of tourists? The season didn’t start for about a month so we had the place to ourselves. 

So. Perfect landscape, gorgeous blue waters, tourist free, no rain, no dogcatchers…

I told the girls it was all too good to be true, that any minute some guy would crack a whip at us and say, “You’ve had your fun, now pay for it!” and turn us into donkeys like in this scene in Pinnochio.

Then we got to talking about all the stray dogs and how they won’t eat gyros… and Spanky asked, “What kind of meat won’t a dog eat?”


We were a little drunk that night. I had this little bottle of ouzo (a Greek liquor) in my backpack and Spanky had this hacking cough. It was late and all the drugstores were closed, so I thought, grampa’s cough syrup.

We all had a little of that.

After this part of the trip was over, we flew back to Athens where Sophia met us at the airport and escorted us to our hotel which was not too far from her house. Unfortunately one of her twins was ill, so we didn’t get to go out that night. The next day, Sophia met us at our hotel and escorted us back to the airport where we had some coffee and a long visit before catching our plane. What an amazing girl, that Sophia.

We didn’t turn to donkeys, but Blane, Spanky, and I ended up sick like dogs after we got home. Probably picked up some bug in the airport. We’re all better now and our fun has been paid in full.

Greece is the word

I’m sitting here looking over the photos from this trip and I don’t even have a clue as to which ones to put up here because I have never taken such a stunning set like this before.

I still can’t believe we’ve gone there and come back. It doesn’t even seem real. The entire thing was like a dreamscape.

Where to begin…

First, we went to Athens to see my friend Sophia whom I know from an online writer’s workshop. Sophia is a brilliant writer who never fails to make me laugh until I cry. It’s the strangest thing, I always knew I would end up meeting her. I’d only seen one or two photos of her, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to spot her out from a crowd.

When we did meet, it was pouring down raining, a little chilly, and we’d just gotten off the train to her suburb. We’d forgotten our umbrellas at the hotel, but I had a cowboy hat over my head (I’d brought it as a gift for her husband) and Sophia spotted it, ran straight to me and engulfed me in one gigantic hug.

We all went to her house for the evening and her mom cooked us a big fat Greek dinner that was outrageously delicious. Her mother didn’t speak English, but she spoke French, so we were able to communicate just fine. It was the strangest thing, I felt as if I’d already met her mother a long time ago. I felt as if I’d met Sopia as well, but I’d “known” her for three years via the workshop.

Sophia’s husband speaks a lot more English than we expected and is a kind, hilarious, and amazing father. The twins were a riot, seven month-old little giggle babies! You just look at them and they explode in laughter. They are also the prettiest little girls in Greece.

One other thing we had to do in Athens was visit the Acropolis. It is beautiful at night with all the spotlights and is amazing up close during the daytime. Here are some architecture students from Germany studying the angles of one of the temples.


There are no straight lines in the columns of the Parthenon. It amazes me that the Greek architects of 2600 years ago knew that the human eye tends to warp straight lines, so they tapered the columns so that the eye would see them as straight.


Hell, I’m tired. I’ll do a Big Fat Greek post tomorrow with some pretty pictures, I swear. Blane has the flu or something and I feel as if I’m off my game as far as writing a blog post that is remotely entertaining and since Greece is so amazing, it deserves better than what I can deliver today.

Just want to let you all know I’m alive and well and back home.

I’ve got a couple of photos over on my Flickr page. Keep checking back there, I’ll try to put up a new one every day.

Spring Break Neck

My kids are going to kill me for what I’ve done to their spring break.

A week from tomorrow we will be heading to Greece. A few days ago I scoured the internet looking for tickets that would get us to the Galapagos Islands  and somehow ended up with tickets to Athens. Sorry, giant tortoise, maybe next time…

We wanted to go someplace warm but not a place where the spring break crowd would be (I speak for everyone but Kara who wants to be a part of that pack, but I have power over her for now). Someplace far, far, away. I was supposed to look for tickets a long time ago, but I don’t know, I don’t like planning things too far in advance. Or maybe I just don’t like committing to anything. I hope I never figure out the whys to that and remain flexible and open to stuff at the last minute until they lay my body into the ground. I thrive on that shit, new things coming at me really fast.

So hell yeah, Greece, let’s go.

I’ve got a buddy who lives there who I’ve been dying to meet, Sophia, a girl I met in Max’s online screenwriter’s group. It’s strange, I feel as if we’ve already actually met in person. It also seems as if she lives over in the next city, not on the other side of an ocean.

It’s a short trip, just one week (that is short for visiting Greece), but I am sort of looking at this thing as an intro. We’ll be in Athens for a couple of days, then head out to one of the islands. Funny thing, I didn’t book the Galapagos thing because it involved too many flights, but ended up with the same situation, too many flights. There are no straight flights to Athens from here, so we stop over in Amsterdam on the way there and back. Another flight to the islands. By the time this trip is done, we will have taken seven flights.

My kids are going to kill me.

Before that, though, we get to see this:


Man o man. 

See, if I’d booked this three months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night waiting for this trip. 

I love my life. Even if my kids are gonna kill me.

When is food too old to eat?

I cooked a gumbo about eight days ago. Normally, if it doesn’t get eaten in about 3-5 days, it gets pitched. Gumbos are big so I usually portion some to go in the fridge for leftovers and some for the freezer.

So, for lunch yesterday I was digging around for some grub and noticed the one I made for the freezer was still in the fridge. I felt rotten and irresponsible for not putting it away, what a dumb assed thing.

It smelled okay. It was seasoned up pretty well too, I mean, what could grow in that?

So I put it in the micro and ate it.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a stomach like a dog. I have never had food poisoning in my life. Not once. 

Yogurt? I have eaten yogurt three weeks past expiration. 

Cheese? That stuff doesn’t go bad until the furry stuff grows on it. And I have cut that off and eaten what’s inside. 

I wouldn’t feed that to my kids though. I have a whole different set of rules for them.

So here’s what I want to know. When are leftovers too old to eat?






Rice? (I recently had a cousin insist  10 day old rice in the fridge was still good)

Yes, I know I can look it up on the internet, but I want to know what y’all think, because see, yogurt? That expiry date is too conservative.

Finally, what’s the craziest outdated food you’ve ever eaten?

My God What Are They Doing?

Blane asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told him I want a big-ass cake, big enough to jump into.

I was kidding of course. I always thought it was a bit backwards that people jumped out of cakes and not into them.

Anyway, I didn’t think anyone would make me a cake today because it is a work and school day, but this house does smell the cake right now and I’m not allowed in the kitchen. They are all saying I will have a monster cake.

I’m ready to take the dive, man, ready.

I’ll update with photos later tonight or tomorrow.

This is also the last day of Holidailies and I’d like to thank Jette and Chip and everyone else who participated. It was just as enjoyable as I thought it would be.

Update: Here’s what they were up to.

The girls made me a monster cake with 5 layers and bought a healthy torte. I had made three layers last night and left them to decorate since the girls had school, but Spanky said, “No way, I have to bake it.”
So she baked two more layers and Kara did the icing.

It was so big the cake cracked while we were out eating.

I lit the candles with my little shotgun lighter.

Want some?

There’s enough for everyone, even the dogs got some.

Delicate Destruction

I love it when we have ice storms. Today was a strange one because the temperature fluctuated betweeen freezing and dripping (32-34 f).

Which means icicles. Yay!

This one is of the last minute of sun shining through the little spikes on the street sign. Reminds me of a lamp I used to have.


And Vegas dancing girls’ costumes.

So Spank and I went out to that bridge by the frozen woods and found a lot more icicles.


Just after I took this photo she did what any self-respecting kid would do, she ran her finger along the rail and sent every single one of them tumbling to the ground.

It sounded like a tiny piano, when you run your fingers across all the keys real fast.

I like that kinda stuff.

sock it to me

Years ago while Blane and I were in school we took a friend over to my parent’s house for Christmas. He was Jewish and all of his family were gone, so he didn’t have anything to do that day.

This guy came from super wealth, like industrial strength money, and we weren’t used to having guests like that over. My parents house was this little wooden one by the railroad tracks. So close, the house would rock when the train passed.

Anyway, when he walked in everyone was quiet for a while. They knew who he was, knew of the family he came from.

It was sorta funny, the house was full of people, our people, and this guy, he didn’t stick out like you’d think. His appearance was a bit on the sloppy side whereas we were all probably wearing new Christmas threads. But mostly, it was his background that made him seem so different. Right now I have this little Sesame Street tune in my head, “One of these things is not like the other…”

We didn’t have enough chairs for everyone to sit, so this guy, when he got tired, he just sat on the floor. When he did that, everyone realized he didn’t have any shoes on. AND, his socks didn’t match. Not even close. One black one and a white.

It was so quiet at that moment, maybe everyone was expecting the guy to have on designer socks.

My older brother Shane broke the ice, “Oh, you have a pair of socks like that, you, too, huh?”

All I can remember from the rest of that day was everyone laughing nonstop. It was that sort of good time.

Which brings me to this:


I finally found a use for all those mismatched socks that have been hanging out in the washroom. My kids have been stealing my good socks and I had to have something lest I get blisters on my feet. Can’t believe I never thought of this before.

I’m on my ninth day of the treadmill thing and am sore all over, I tell you. The exercise habit is well set and I’ve lost a couple of pounds already. Maybe a little more, not sure what is water weight, but my jeans are fitting a little better already.

How are you guys doing with that? Don’t make me come over there, now.

Without a Guide

Despite his alcoholism, my father was a brilliant man. He was in the Army Intelligence, so he had to be smart. It was that part of him I patiently waited to come out day after day. Walking home from the school bus, I used to wonder, What I am I coming home to today?

He wasn’t abusive, it’s not that. He did tend to have depression and would sometimes accuse us of things we did not do or complain about things we did not do enough of. The thing is, the alcoholism was a mask that went between what was an amazing person and the rest of the world. He would turn into this obnoxious and embarrassing person. Sober, he was a quiet and pensive man with an endless amount of patience.

That was when I had a real father. He had worked all over the world and knew so much about so many different cultures. I was fascinated with this. Still am. He was the sort of person to step off the trail or go past the “end of road” sign and explore The Beyond without a guide. He especially liked seeking out nomads in the deserts of North Africa and in the jungles of South America. I greatly admired his fearlessness with regards to the world and The Unknown.


This is a photo someone took of my dad in Tunis

At home however, the things he did know caught up with and devoured him. Too much time to think about them, I guess.

One trip he never talked about was that two year hitch in Korea. The War. We always thought that was the thing that made him drink.

If my father was working Stateside, he was extremely unhappy and restless. He was always mumbling, “I want to work overseas.” That was his mantra. But we never thought he was trying to outrun us. He wasn’t.

One time, he tried to take us with him. When I was fifteen, we were inches from moving to Spain. Everything was lined up, he had a place there, and the details sorted out. He was working in Libya at the time and the plan was for him to meet up with us in Spain during his off days. At the last minute something happened between the US and Libya and the entire thing was called off. Americans were forced to leave Libya, so he lost that job.

So I never did get to travel abroad with my father. Not physically. Through his stories and thousands of photographs, I did. I also inherited his restless spirit, that need to explore new places, new people, to get the flock outta here.

After I became a nurse, when I’d get new issues of my nursing mags, I’d skip all the way to the back, to the ads about traveling nurses. I looked at all the different places I could go and daydreamed. There’s been a worldwide nursing shortage for a long time and I worked with a lot of nurses who did this thing.

All I could do was dream though, Blane always had the higher paying job, so his career plans trumped mine and eventually I stayed at home to raise the kids and quit nursing.

This I want to go overseas thing became my mantra, but not until after my father died. I didn’t need to have a job abroad to travel. We could just go there. And we did, many times. Always took the kids with us, too.

I can’t say I took them to all these places because that is what I wish my father had done with me. I don’t wish I had a childhood like them.

I’m glad I didn’t go until I was an adult and wanted to explore all these new places. It is very different when someone takes you somewhere versus you taking them along.

I still have these daydreams about being a traveling nurse. I haven’t worked in the field in years, but you know where I see myself one day? On a medical sailboat (it exists) that travels the world giving immunizations to people in remote locations.

Not all of my dreams are nomadic in nature. I also fantasize about sitting at a typewriter in a cottage somewhere in the English countryside writing a novel. About what, I don’t know, but the image is in my head along with one of me in a wooden house near the French Quarter doing the same thing.

None of my “visions” have me here where I sit writing this blog post. Not one.


That is a a photo one of the girls took of me on this trip.

Don’t Smother Me Bro

The only traditions our family had for New Year’s were to eat some black-eyed peas and cabbage. One is for good luck and the other for money, but I always wanted both so I just knew to eat a bite of each and I was good for a year, no need to memorize what goes with what.

I do think cabbage is the money one since lettuce is slang for dollar bills.

So I went to the grocery for the ingredients. There is no tasso (smoked pork chunks) here, but I did see some smoked hog jowls. I have never eaten that before, but what the hey, I’m a Cajun and it looked ghetto enough to go in my smothered cabbage.

Does that sound scary? Smothered cabbage?

It always did to me, especially when I was little. How about smothered chicken? I could just hear the poor chickie squaking as my mom shoved the lid down on that pot.

Anyway, I’ve been gone from Louisiana so long I second guessed myself on how to smother cabbage. I think my mom used to boil down the cabbage first, then smother it. But I don’t know, it seems like that would boil out the vitamins.

So I checked the trusty internet and found this recipe on

pam”s smothered cabbage

Okay, I know you won’t hit that link so I’ll just show you an excerpt. This is a real recipe.

Saute onion, garlic and bell pepper in butter. Remove all stuffing from pillow and replace with sauteed seasonings. Set aside. Wash heads of cabbage using warm water and a mild shampoo. Dry thoroughly using a blow dryer and diffuser. Place cabbage heads on a soft surface. Cover the cabbage heads with the pillow and press firmly until cabbage is completely smothered.
(You will know they are smothered when they stop screaming). Remove pillow…


Anyway. Here’s how I do mine.

2 heads cabbage
some bacon, tasso, or hog jowls
salt and pepper
onion and bell pepper
can of chicken broth

Cut cabbage into two inch cubess. Put in a gigantic pot of boiling water or steamer and cook until wilted. While that’s cooking, fry bacon and drain off almost all the fat. Throw your onions, peppers, and garlic in there and saute. Add can of chicken broth, then toss in the steamed cabbage a little at a time because it can’t all fit in the pot at once. It cooks down a lot. As it shrinks, add more cabbage. Keep the lid on tight while it cooks on medium low flame. Stir often.


That’s my steamed cabbage being added (upper right) and the smothered cabbage (left). This is how much one head cooks down. The whole deal takes about a couple of hours to cook.

And that’s it for the holiday cooking season. I’m exhausted and damn glad it’s all over. I feel like a new person already.

Who are these people and how did they get in here?

I have a casual household. People come in and out all the time, especially on weekends, so it’s not too unusual to go in the kitchen and see a stranger digging in the fridge. Usually it’s a friend of Kara’s. Or a friend of a friend of hers.

Sometimes it’s a mix of Kara’s and Spanky’s friends. I can usually tell who they belong to by their look. Kara’s entourage has a punk edge while Spank’s are studious with natural hair colors.

Last night there was some big fight on Pay-Per-View, so Blane said he was inviting a few people over. I’m always cool with that. Sometimes I go up there and watch with them, other times I let the guys hang out while I do my own thing in another part of the house.

Nobody expects me to entertain on fight nights. That’s Blane’s thing. He’ll grab some snacks and beer- Guys are so much easier, they don’t expect much and the house doesn’t even have to be tidied up before they come.

So last night I let a few of the “regulars” in and directed them upstairs then went to my room and hit the treadmill. Turned the music up and stayed on that thing for about an hour. Took a long bubble bath… Unboxed my new light stands I got for Christmas… Then I went into the living room to read.

I noticed an unusual amount of noise coming from upstairs. Screaming, clapping, stomping… So I’m sitting there and this guy and a girl appear out of nowhere, people I’d never seen before, and they asked me where they could go to smoke.

I couldn’t figure out who they belonged to. They looked a little to old for Kara or Spanky, but too young to be a part of our gang. Then some more people wandered into the living room. People looking for other people I didn’t know. And this house, it is huge, with two staircases and an unpredictable floor plan. That is one of my favorite things about having people over. Watching them walk around lost and disoriented.

So I went up to the media room to talk to the guys and realized this wasn’t a small group. It was a house party. About thirty people. Most of them were guys, but there were a few women.

I felt awful, really awful that something like this was going on in my own house right under my own nose and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t hear them all come in because I had my earphones on and was exercising. I wasn’t expecting it either. Gee, I hope these people didn’t think I was some sort of freak loner. I did join them for some video games.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I hope you are all having a wonderful day with friends and family.

I’d like to share two of my favorite family photos with you.


That was Baby Oh Oh.


Nothing like having a super strong big brother.

I have a winner for the Ice Road Trucker Season Two DVD set.


Ginny had the closest guess of August 7th. Scrappy’s whelping date (DOB) is August 5th.

Congratulations Ginny!

They Grow Lemons in Portugal

One of the best and worst trips we’ve ever taken was the one over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday of 2000-2001.

It was one of those things where we were sitting around wondering where we could go real cheap at the last minute. I found some flights to Portugal leaving on Christmas Eve, arriving on Christmas Day.

Flying on Christmas sounds awful, but it was  great actually. We had the plane to ourselves and stretched out across all the seats and slept all the way there. It was supposed to be a seven hour flight, but since air traffic was so light, we made it there in five hours.


I’d wanted to go there ever since a relative of ours (a travel agent) mentioned, “Portugal is such a beautiful country, I don’t know why no one ever goes there.”

Portugal is also the bargain basement of Western Europe. Everything from hotels to transportation and goods is inexpensive. 


The people are friendly, helpful, and it didn’t matter that we didn’t know how to say more than about three words in Portuguese.


And there were so many lovely things to see.

Problem was, it rained almost the entire week we were there. And it was unseasonably cold. I had promised everyone sunshine. They grow lemons there, weather’s gotta be good, right?

Look at those mad kids!

We brought jackets, but they didn’t seem to keep us warm enough. Especially that night we got stuck at that castle.

We’d gone all the way up the mountain by bus to get to there. Mostly what I remember about the ride was looking out the window and seeing the tires right at the edge of the road, and then nothing. As in, steep drop that seemed to have no bottom. 

After touring the castle and grounds, we stood out and waited for the bus, the last one of the day. The scary part was there were way too many other people waiting in line. 

So we kept waiting for what would certainly be a fight to get on that bus. We waited, and waited, and waited. It got dark, it got cold, and this creepy fog rolled in along with some drizzle.

An hour and a half goes by, and no bus. 

All this time, no one in the crowd could (or would) speak a word of English. There were no phones and the castle and grounds were locked up at that point. 

When the bus finally did come, people were shoving to get in, but you know what? It was already full when it rolled up. Maybe two people got on, and the bus didn’t even make a complete stop when it did get there. I just remember the driver saying something to the stranded and panicked crowd as he drove off. 

What he said, I don’t know. 

One girl, a lone backpacker who looked as if she hadn’t bathed in a year stuck her thumb out to hitchhike. It seemed hopeless as there weren’t many cars coming this way. It was the top of the mountain, why would anyone come here?

But someone did drive by and she got out of there.

So we had some choices. Walk five or so miles back down the mountain, stay with these people and hope another bus was coming but risk death from exposure, or hitchhike.

We stuck our thumbs out and the next car that came along (tiny, tiny, tiny) stopped. We piled in there, all five of us, and left the rest of those tourists up there.

The driver was a skinny college-age kid, someone we could take down in a minute if he tried anything crazy.

He turned out to be a really cool guy who spoke great English and was a drummer in a local rock band.

The last day or so there, the weather had cleared up a bit and there was this amazing fireworks competition over the river. Three countries competed with back to back shows and it was all choreographed to classical music. I’d never seen anything like that in my life before or since.

Why was it one of the best trips?

Because of all the rain, we spent a lot of time in the hotel room watching cable news that was in English. Over and over they kept reporting that the American economy was “going down the drain.”

At that time, we had our savings in the stock market. All of it, and I was day trading with it like a gambler spinning a roulette wheel.

Get back home and what was our news reporting?

The exact opposite. We took everything out the market and by the end of that month, the market crashed with the dot com bust.

That trip saved these angry childrens’ college funds.

I just noticed Spanky’s giving me a thumbs down!

I wish I had a photo of the lemon trees. They are everywhere and this time of year, they are full of gigantic lemons.

The Pink Tide

I never imagined I would live in a girl controlled house. It seemed when my baby brother was born, the fourth boy, the last one, I was forever doomed to male dominance. We had a democratic household when I was growing up, but the guys always overturned any ideas of fun I had.

Play princess? Forget it. Cowboys and indians or cops and robbers.

Play dolls? Are you kidding? We’re going fishing. 

My entire neighborhood was also nothing but boys. There were no other girls in walking distance until I was about 13. Almost grown up by then.

I never got even until we played barber and I had the scissors. Boy, did I cut some hair. 

My first child was a boy and I had to put in another eight years of being overruled on anything girly. We weren’t even sure if we could have any more children for a while. Then Kara came along. First time in my life, we were tied. It felt strange just to have an equal say in how things would go. When Spanky came along, that was it. The tide had turned, and it turned pink.

Girls rule. FOREVER!

First Christmas, we threw out the wooden train stuff and plaids and got the pink tree. 


Which was a gift, really, from whatever had made my life so male dominate for my first twenty-nine years of life.

I was only looking for a tree with a blue tint. I spotted the one I wanted and asked the store manager to get me a fresh one still in the box. They were 70% off. 

All they had left was the floor model and the manager said if I bought it, he’d give me all the lights, ribbons, and ornaments on that tree for free.

I got about $500 worth of stuff for $30. Best deal I ever got, depending on who you talk to, of course. Everything was pink, the ten light sets, the ribbons, the bulbs, everything except for the miniature birdbaths.


(I let ’em off easy this year and used the white lights.)

We were consumed with power. We got flowery wallpaper and drapes, ballet pink carpet (not kidding, it looked like cotton candy) and skunked the house up with perfume every chance we got.

We got control over the remote. Now that’s real power. I can’t tell you how many cage fights and wrestling matches I’ve had to endure. Now it’s a parade or E! Any time we want.

“Oh, you want go deep sea fishing this year? Screw that, we’re going to Paris. You can come along if you want.”

“You want a big dog? No way Dude, I want something I can hold in my arms and dress up like a baby. Girl dogs! Two.”

And now that Blane Jr. is out the house, that leaves us three femmes to one homme (plus two bitches).

But seriously, we only went overboard with the decorating in the other house.

And we never really got control over the remote. Come on, do you really think a guy would ever give that up? 

Remember that “Want to Play a Game?” post from Wednesday? Here is a great place to slip in a fair and square game in which the winner will receive season two of Ice Road Truckers.

You have to guess Scrappy’s birthdate, the month and day only.


I have never mentioned her birthdate on this blog or elsewhere, so everyone has a fair shot at this. I’ll give you one hint. She was born in the summer (that is June 21st to September 20th for you guys Down Under).

Put your answer in the comments and I’ll announce the winner on Christmas Day. You can enter one guess only and the person who comes closest to her birthday wins.

I’ll mail the DVD to you or to a person of your choice. Good luck!

Ice Road

We had some freezing rain cover everything yesterday evening, so when it came time for Kara’s boyfriend to leave I offered to bring him home. These icy roads are tricky. They look normal, you can’t see the ice, but it’s there and it’s dangerous.

I lived in Michigan for a year, so I know how to drive on ice. But this is Texas and this is a rare situation for most drivers and you have to watch out for them. We were lucky, we pretty much had the streets to ourselves.


(You can make your own Ice Road Trucker background by going :::here:::)

It took 45 minutes to get to his house. I had to drive 20 mph because any faster and the car would slide all over the road. Kara kept saying I was being overly cautious and that it didn’t feel like we were moving.

I was. I totally enjoyed driving like a slug and wanted it to be excruciating for both Kara and her boyfriend. I had advised that he not come over because of the storm, but she insisted that he come.

So in the car she kept turning the radio station every twenty seconds, something that drives me crazy, but it didn’t break my concentration (what is it with this generation that they can’t listen to even half a song?).

I thought maybe we’d have a chance to talk once I dropped him off, but they kept texting each other on the drive home.

At least I had the radio to myself.

Just as we were rounding the corner to come home, she looked up at the road which looked normal and said, again, that I was being ridiculously over cautious. I told her I was a skilled driver, that I made it look easy, and we were in an extremely treacherous situation, but she wouldn’t know that because she was so distracted with her texting.

Then I hit the brakes and let the car slide down the road to show her how slippery it was. She laughed when I told her I could be an Ice Road Trucker if I wanted to.

The Only Curse That Ever Worked on Me

I was the only person my paternal grandmother seemed to like. About my father, she used to say, “I should have pinched his head off when he was born.”

We didn’t see her too often due to the miles between us. Once every couple of years or so. But when she’d see me, she’d always look me over real hard, smile, and say, “All my friends say you look just like me.”

I always knew this was why she liked me. She’d parade me in front of all her friends at the beauty shop, the ladies circles, the this, the that, anywhere, just so she could have them tell her again, “Oh yes, Lottie, she looks just like you.”

Maybe she was like that because she never had a daughter. She was a refined lady. She knitted, quilted, embroidered, and knew all the rules of etiquette. We were all pretty much barbarians according to her. I was always asking my mom, “Why do you keep lighting those matches?”

So when I was about nineteen years old, my mom and I went to visit her. Mom told her about the quilt I started making after picking up a magazine with a pattern in it.

I thought for sure she would say “Oh, you’re just like me,” or “That’s wonderful, you’re my favorite person in the world,” or something like that.

What she said shocked me. “You’ll never finish it.”

I, not too experienced in sewing and having never seen a person actually work on a quilt thought she must know something I didn’t know. She was an experienced quilter, had an infamous silk embroidered quilt in a box under her bed which we got to see progress every single time we went to visit.

My quilt, to this very day, looks exactly as it did on the day she cursed me.


I never put another stitch into the thing. I don’t blame her really, I shouldn’t have been so stupid to allow what she said affect me. As time went by, the curse wore off, I did believe I could finish it, but along with the changes in me came changes in my tastes. I stopped liking the colors in it.

Still, I always wondered why she would say such a thing to me. Why did she doubt my abilities? Was it because I wasn’t a refined lady?

I figured it out yesterday by chance.

I was pulling out all the Christmas decorations, going through boxes I haven’t been through in years. I should’ve figured it out right here with these reindeer my grandmother made.


It wasn’t until I got all the family heirloom stockings together, those from Blane’s and my sides of the family.


The blue one was made by one of Blane’s great aunts. The other two by my grandmother. All three are of the same fabric handmade by two people of roughly the same age around the same time.

My grandmother never finished hers. Look at those cross hatch stampings on the stocking at far right. Those are supposed to be beaded. It’s supposed to have sequins all over it.

And that explains why there are only three reindeer. 

And most likely why she said I’d never finish my quilt. Not only did she believe I looked just like her, she believed I was just like her.

Santa on and off the Hook

Blane had this really cool camera, the Canon 5D Mark II on order for me. It is yet to start shipping and Blane is getting nervous that the thing will come in while (if) we’re out of town. Don’t want to leave that one on the porch.

I told him to cancel it. I felt bad about asking for something like that when I am pretty fresh in regard to handling a DSLR. I still don’t know much about artificial lighting, in fact, maybe I should get a fill flash and some of those shiny umbrellas before upgrading.

I go back and forth, maybe I’ll get the thing. I don’t know. For right now, it’s been cancelled.

I’d like to get out of town for the holidays. Look for some cheap tickets to anywhere and haul it.

Thing is, Kara (AKA Sweetpea-that is a name I call all my kids, btw, so it confuses the hell out of family who read)… Kara has a friend from out-of-state coming over while the kids are out for  the holidays. I’m a bit pissed about it, that this kid’s parents bought her a plane ticket here without calling me. We almost always head out for the holidays. Kara had asked a while back if we were going anywhere and I told her not that I knew of. I always say that because we make last minute plans.

She does have other friends she could stay with, so we are not grounded because the kid must stay at my house, but she is coming mainly to see Kara.

So Kara doesn’t want to go on any trips. She thinks since she is 18 she doesn’t have to come with us anywhere anymore.

Not to Paris.

Not to Italy.

Not to England.

Not to the Carribean.

Not home to Louisiana.

I guess she’s right. She doesn’t. But I don’t feel good leaving town without her. I could leave her with her older brother, but I don’t feel good about dumping my kid on another one of my kids.

I hate being grounded like this. It takes conversations in this house to the soap opera level.

The kid who’s coming, she used to live here and can’t quite get over her relocation. This is her second or third time back and they have no family here. If this was my kid? I’d tell her to suck it up and road trip it when she is college age. I bet when she has to buy her own tickets back here we’ll never see her again.

And Kara? I don’t know if she realizes I won’t be buying her tickets to fun places once she’s all grown up. All grown up in my book is college grad so she’s got a few more years of fun times. Time off from work, however, that doesn’t come so easy. Not as easy as getting off for school vacation and holidays.

And I won’t even say I told her so.