Category Archives: family thingies

I Need Some Help

Since I have decided to leave my family, there are a few hot-point days that I want to make sure that I am not at home.

I’m looking at the first three dates and thinking that I will take each of the pups for a road trip.

The question is:  which pup would enjoy what trip.

None of these are mutually exclusive, but I will be taking them one at a time.

I love Galveston.  And I think every pup should get to swim in the Gulf.  I also love Stephen F. Austin National Park.  Or at least I did.  I haven’t been there in years, but I have fond memories of it.

So, since I have already decided to take one pup on one adventure this spring/summer, who should I take where and when?

Suggestions of other parks are cool, too.  I’m looking at leaving the night before the day and then coming home the night of the day.   (So, no, Roberto, no need for you to sit with — unless you just want to 🙂



The Only Part of My Childhood I was Allowed to Have

I left my family home abruptly and could only take what my friends and I could carry.  At that point, I didn’t much care about all of the things that represented my childhood.

Over the years, my nieces inherited most of my childhood possessions, including  clothes — especially the ones that meant something to me, like my recital outfits and prom dresses.

A few years ago, my mother and sister gave me a box containing the few things I guess they couldn’t find any use for in their drive to buy my nieces’ love.

Earlier this month, I burned the bridge I had with those two women.  Oddly, I felt no remorse or guilt.  Why hadn’t I done it years earlier?  I don’t know.

Today, in doing my BIG TIME spring cleaning, I came upon that box.   What was inside made my decision solid.

It contained music from when I played, a diary, a couple of little notebooks, a diary,  a small Gideon New Testament bible, an empty bottle from Baylor’s 1980 Cotton Bowl, along with some things that clearly weren’t mine.  (Those two women have always had a habit of treating me like a Sand Dollar drop off.)

In one little notebook, my 11 year old self wrote about “daddy’s day” and needing to “rap” his present.   In the diary, my 12 year old self wrote about coming home late from a game because a friend’s mom was late, but that “mother wasn’t mad for too long.”

And that pretty much explains my life.  I loved my dad.  When he died, everyone fell apart, except for me, except for a while.  I stayed at the hospital and made the decisions.  I had always known that I was the least loved of us kids.  My dad was in Louisiana on duty in the Army when I was born, so he never really took to me, but I always loved and idolized him.

My mother has always been angry.  My sister has been angry for a long time, too.  Both of them have mostly been angry at me when they don’t have a better target.  Up until a few weeks ago, I had always tried to get them to love me.  Now I know it’s just not worth the effort.

Since I had that realization, I have been working on the house in order to make it easier to have people over.  With Dora wanting to kill Tammy, I have had to keep them separated.  The house arrangement has worked well for that, but it makes having company just about impossible.

I really want to get this done as soon as possible because my middle niece has asked several times over the years to come over.  I’ve always explained the pup situation to her, but now that just doesn’t work, and I can see how she hasn’t been able to understand it.

I will chronicle it as best I can here.  I really hope that I can invite her over when the garden is in it’s prime.

Free at Last

I’m looking forward to my life without the one person who has dominated it for so long.

It started last Friday and has been better than I expected.

From now on, I am living this life without that one very negative influence — and I cut it off just in time.  No vacations with my mother.  Ick.

Things just got a lot brighter.


Tracking Santa

Well, at this point the old guy is still across the pond in Ireland.   I enjoy watching this and looking at the pictures of the places he’s gone.  From the local news report, NORAD got more calls than ever from children asking about Santa, and Santa is the most popular person on Facebook or something.

In just a bit, I’m going to go wash the turkey.  I thought that would shave a little time off of the morning schedule.

I bought a roasting pan and rack from Nordic Ware this year.  Made in America, of course! I plan to rub the bird with herb-butter between the skin and breast and all over the outside.  I’m following the suggestions here at epicurious.  I’ll stuff it with an orange and fresh rosemary.

Once the turkey is going, I’m going to boil some new potatoes to make smaded potatoes.  I thought my nieces might like to help smash them and then add the butter, bacon and cheese.  I’ve never made these before, so we’ll see how they work out.

Then I’ll put together the trail mix.  I have dried cranberries, apples, and bananas.  I’ll mix that with pulverized granola bars and mini chocolate chips.

I’m taking some homemade pickles and hot pickled okra, too.

Tomorrow should be fun!

Somewhat Successful Shopping

I did the local shopping for Christmas today.  I had to call my mom to confirm the color of foundation to get from Merle Norman, which led me on a hunt for a silly toy for my nieces, but also led to something good.

I started at Target to look for the Fijit.  It was sold out.  I bought some travel size baby care stuff for my littlest niece, who has a “Baby Alive.”  Don’t ask if you don’t know . . . all of it made in the U.S.A.  I also bought sheets made in Pakistan, and wrapping paper and ribbon made in the U.S.A.

I hit the Target on San Felipe next.  No Fijits there.

I went to the Williams-Sonoma store to look for some canisters made in the Netherlands.  They weren’t quite what I needed, but I did see some nice utensils made in Italy that I might ask for my birthday or go buy for myself.

I then went to Buffalo Hardware and found the Lodge (made in the U.S.A.) griddle I wanted.  They also had a six pack of two gallon Ball canning jars (made in the U.S.A.) which will work perfectly as canisters for me.  I just wanted something to hold the ingredients I use to make puppy cookies.

I made my way up Kirby to the Merle Norman on Rice Blvd.  There was parking and why was evident as there was a little post it on the door that the clerk wasn’t there.  Luckily, I had looked up other locations before I had left.

Next was Fly High Little Bunny.  I bought my sister-in-law some pretty silver and pearl earrings there.  I like that place.

Barnes & Nobel was next on the list.  I used to go to the one on Alabama, but now I have to go to River Oaks.  I found the CDs I was looking for.  I also found a beautiful day planner for next year made by GLC/Kudu — made in Maine.  All the rest (except for one other brand) were made in China.  While I was choosing a color, another customer picked up three of the ones I was looking at!  It’s a great planner and I will use it for everything from what I plant when and when to get pups their medicina.

I decided to get a bite to eat and call mom.  They still hadn’t found the Fijit, so I told mom I was going to a Merle Norman somewhere on Ella and that I would go out to the Target if needed.  At that point, they had had no success.

I stopped by Sonic (I love Sonic) and then moved on down to Ella, driving slowly and looking for a sign.  Things are kind of crappy out that way, compared to where I had been shopping, and I was worried I wouldn’t find it.

It was drizzling and I used that to excuse my cautionary driving.  Sooner than I thought, I saw the sign and pulled in right in front, just as another woman did.  We walked in one right after the other.

The clerk was a young cute girl with braids pulled back in a clip and a sweet face. She asked us both if we needed help.  I told her what I needed — jumping in first! — just as another woman came in and demanded samples because she had lost her job.  And I am sympathetic, but the woman wanted the samples NOW and certain ones.  (Thinking about it now, perhaps that is not such an unusual thing.)

The young woman had to go to the back to get the third thing I asked for and while back there, the demanding woman was muttering to herself and looking around the cramped store.  As she rang me up, I asked if she was ok.  She said yes, but I said I will look around for a bit, ok?  She said yes.

After she checked me out, I looked around and she got the woman some samples.  The woman wanted certain things, and as an after thought, said she would come pay when she got he paycheck etc.  I stayed until she left.

Once I was sure she was gone, I left too.  The clerk said thank you twice.  I’m not a fearful person.  I’ve always been aware of myself and my surroundings.  This young woman needed reassurance that someone was there for her.  It made my day.  I just left a really positive comment on their website about her.  Perhaps it will make a difference.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t find a store that had been in a place before and I couldn’t find the Fijit, but my mom did.

Now I just have to figure out when to thaw the turkey, how to get the smashed potatoes together, and then remember that we have a meet up with our buddies from Moscow day after tomorrow.


It’s Never Ending, But Things Move On

Another session is in the books or almost.  I didn’t finish all of my paperwork today.  There are books to sort and lots of other paperwork to clean off my two desks.  (At times I wonder what I would do if I only had one desk.  Probably put stuff on the floor, like I do now when I run out of desk space.)

I expect there will be no shortage of tears tomorrow as some students get the news that they didn’t make promotion.  It’s difficult to stay on an even keel when you’ve been on a roller-coaster or  in a spinning teacup for the last week.  I think I did ok today.  I only got a little testy when someone used the “I’ve been teaching for 25 years” defense for failing to address cheating during a test.  If you’ve been teaching for so long, then you know how to handle cheating and additionally should have reported it instead of waiting for your supervisor to bring it up.  meh.

Sometimes I feel invisible at work.   I work very hard to make things run smoothly through the term and finals and then scoring.  My co-workers’ smooth experience through all of it is my goal.  I rarely get any appreciation for it.

Today, I did hear from a couple of people.  It was good.

Otherwise, I am mostly invisible.  At times I wonder if anyone thinks about how finals or scoring would be if X (name your co-worker) were doing it.

Never mind.  I don’t even want to think about that.

Our family cooking tradition is this weekend.  We’ve decided on pizza.  I volunteered to make the pizza dough and sauce.  My Grandma — dad’s mom — loved pizza with pineapple.  This was back in the 1960’s.  It’s a cooking memory, which is what we are recreating for the girls.  It’s not one of the recipes in the BOOK, but I will help my middle niece make brownies — recipe from my same Grandma — which is in the BOOK.

This non-official holiday experience is quickly overtaking Thanksgiving as my favorite.  It’s a mixture of frenzy and patience.  Hurry up and get it done and waiting until something is just right.  Care and love mixed with what the hell are you doingness.  I love it.

And then Santa comes by on a firetruck, and we get to tease the little one about how she used to hate him but now she loves him and cries.

I’m really looking forward to next Saturday.

Hell, I’ve got to look up a good pizza dough recipe and try it out before then.  I’ve got the sauce covered.

Tomorrow Will Be Easy

Since my mom and sister are the Hardest Working People on the Planet, tomorrow will be easy for me.  Also too, I only have to make potatoes and gravy, and we have the afternoon shift.

My brother ordered turkey and some such, even though I offered to cook one for us this year in plenty of time.  Mom says it’s because she should be painting instead of cooking. *rolls eyes*  For people who have most of the year off since they cater to holiday sales, you would think that the rest of my family would get it, but they don’t.

Back to the potatoes.  I plan to try to make them as creamy as the best fried chicken places.  I will whip them in the Magimix and add milk, butter, cream cheese and sour cream.  YUM.

After years of trying, I will NOT make gravy at my mom’s house.  I cannot cook on an electric stove.  PERIOD.  Since I won’t have the store bought turkey to use for starters, I bought some turkey bacon to start the rue.  I’ll make the gravy her with that grease and some vegetable broth.   I’ll add the boiled eggs and some turkey bits when I reheat it tomorrow.  Not ideal, I know, but the gravy will be gravy without all of the “that’s never gonna get thick” I have heard the past few years.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Allen Wrench

I know how to use one.  My sister struggled with the TV stand until I got there.  After I did, she was slow and almost useless.

I have learned a few things living out here in the wild that she hasn’t, having lived with the parents all these years.

Of course, I set myself back by losing my phone and having to meet them half way.

Tammy got out again and Murphy didn’t.  I think Tammy’s cancer may have made her wild again.  There is no other reason.   I can’t figure out how she gets out.

My Niece is One Smart Cookie

There was a birthday party today.  It was the last of the family oriented parties clearly.  My youngest niece now has age group appropriate friends and it’s not just all of us old people giving her gifts and her posing with them for the camera.  She has school friends now, and lots of cousins who are here local.  My poor mom and sister are not taking it well.

The youngest niece ran and played at the gymnasium where the party was held, totally ignoring mom completely and my sister for the most part.  These public parties have their own rhythm.  The young adults who lead them are mostly ok, some even good.  Today there was one manic guy who almost planted his foot in my middle niece’s face and then complain later when she did a cartwheel and her feet came far less close to planting him than hers had earlier.

But never fear.  That little girl is very strong and he did not get the best of her.  It seems that when I thought she was just get some air she was actually reading.  And then my little 9 year old niece had the chutzpah to ask one of the grown men a question.   She read, “Life Guards on Duty” and she asked the nitwit who had chastised her about her cartwheel and his face a simple question:  was this a pool?

She swims competitively and knows her way around a pool.  She knew.  The simpleton said “yeah” at first, then said “I’m kidding.”

She told me all of this while the party was winding down.  All of them were tired — flushed long before the crying about get a cone from the cake — another story in and of itself.

I had asked her about her birthday and she was sad that even thought her birthday was in the summer, her class had not recognized it and wouldn’t either in the fall.  I told her that when she was a teenager, she would not regret it.  Then the oldest niece came over and said she had a test on her birthday, and I took the advantage to say that look having a birthday in summer is a good thing looking forward.  We then talked a bit about how summer school in the early years is different from college, which lead me to ask her what she wanted to do.

This is so critical.

This one.  This girl has imagination.  I want to nurture it.  She loves the Diary of a Whimpy Kid stuff, and I have encouraged her to write.  She is very funny.  While shopping for the little one at the bookstore, I was thinking of the middle one.  I asked if she would like a book with only lines.  She said it would be  ok. And then she said she was writing a story.  I asked her if she would like a book with lines and a lock with a key.  EYES LIGHT UP.  YES is the answer.  When I say ok, that’s your birthday, she complains that she has lost her train of thought.

I suggest the story she is writing.  Then it all flows.  She tells me the plot and the characters.  I ask if she will be illustrating it, then tell her how to do the by-line.  She’s not sure about the dad’s name, and I give her suggestions.

This girl is a writer.

I will do everything I can to encourage her.

She had imagination.  She has an idea.  She’s always had ideas.  My mom and sister and everyone else thinks she is a liar because of the stories she tells.

She’s not.  She notices things and is not afraid to say something.

The place we were at had a lot of deep places filled with spongy things for kids to bounce or fall into.  The same perceptive niece felt something buckle underneath her.  The ahh moment came when she told me and Granny about her conversation with the adults running the show.  She had figured it out.

And now the gift I will give this beautiful mind is blank paper with a key.  And more blank paper so perhaps she and I cane make her own book.  I will show her Roberto’s book and then it starts.


It’s what I wished for when I blew out the candle.  My sister and nieces did an end run around me and celebrated my birthday early on this Easter Sunday.

We had the second shift this year — meaning that the girls and their parents had lunch with the in-laws.  I missed the making of the deviled eggs, but came along soon enough to suggest a little bit of dill pickle juice.

I cleaned out the carrot bed and picked some lettuce.    I also picked the lonely radishes.  My brother claims to have a squash, I have none.  I did make beets and a salad solely from the garden.  Talk doesn’t walk this Easter.

There is always too much food and too many eggs.

It was a very good Easter.