la grande turkey
I intended to get to the gym early. After all, I posted yesterday's journal last night. I then sat up very late reading newspapers, though. Getting through all the day's papers.
So it was eight o'clock when I woke up. No sweat. I've got all day, right? I mess around with the new journal format and then Forrest suggests we go to Sweetish Hill. He is taking the day off, for sure.
So we go down there and have a croissant sandwich and coffee and then wander in the three shops nearby. We buy a couple of gifts and some things for ourselves on sale.
Home again, I vow to be at the gym by two o'clock for a long workout. I work some more on the new journal format and on finishing today's in the old format. I wrap one of the gifts we bought (for our hosts tonight) and put stuff away.
I get to the gym and do a fair amount of stuff. Tomorrow they will be closed. The men working out are buzzing about various football games. Closest I got to caring about the bowl games was the NY Times crossword puzzle a few days ago where there were answers like 'Orange Juice,' 'Rose Garden,' 'Fiesta Ware' and 'bowl.' Ha.
At home I stuffed my face with leftovers and then took a shower. In my bathrobe I sat and read the papers and watched stuff taped on the DVR. We were going out and we usually go to parties really, really early but it New Year's Eve. If we want to make it through until midnight we can't go too early. I snack some more, watch more TV, dress and we go. There are only a couple of cars at the house (near ours) where the party is being held. I tell Forrest it's too early. He drives around and we look at some light displays in our neighborhood. Around nine we join the party. We marvel at the decoration. They have a probably 150-square-foot display of this Department 56 Snow Village. They have two trees, garland everywhere. The house is normally a display of many collectibles. It's a nice party with a nice display of food (some stunning beef tenderloin, shrimp). We talk to different people. Amazingly, besides the hosts, there is an overlap of only two people with our party.
We hang in until the toast of the new year and a little black-eyed pea soup. (Good luck tradition in this area.) Shortly we go home and sleep.
la Grande turkey
Anyway, I said I'd hang around while FFP went to the gym. When he got back, I'd entered this whole new rabbit hole.
You see, while listening to the guy knock around spraying under the house and drilling into slabs, I finished up my journal entry and was trying to decide what to do next. I ended up looking at my 'to do' list and organizing it a bit. I added an entry 'redesign journal' and then I was off goofing around learning and relearning stuff in an attempt to clean things up and make it more straightforward to do the writing here. I was looking at how to organize it and doing stuff in Fireworks and Dreamweaver and wondering if style sheets couldn't help. I spent a lot of time figuring out how not to do things. Although I admit I learned some things.
When I retired I said that one thing I wanted to accomplish was to learn more about HTML and the ever-growing other markup and WEB plug-in possibilities. One has to take the time to go down false trails. To do wrong things and learn from them.
Well, anyway, I ended up ignoring FFP while he accomplished some things around the house. I finally went to the gym and just rode the exercise bike, finishing one book and starting another. I came back all sweaty and started fooling with the redesign again.
And I would not have looked up to do anything else, probably, except FFP suggested going to mail something and stopping back by BookStop and Central Market. Which is how I ended up with a discounted French phrase-a-day calendar, a half price travel guide to New England and a oh-so full price guide to Cascading Style Sheets. And some take-out from Central Market that we added to a tomato and mozzarella salad to make our dinner when we got home. (I was starving since I had only a small bowl of cereal all day.)
So we ate really early. And then watched a DVD and some TV. I read papers.
Around 10:30, I decided that I needed to put the journal (old style) to bed and get up early in the morning and get a good workout. The club will be closed New Year's Day. (Resolutions about exercise would have to involve walking or something on Saturday.)
So I did. I did the old style journal, quickly. Hopefully I will start a new style with the new year. But I won't have the style sheets mastered. And I'll doubtless be in some new rabbit hole.
Sleep now. Machine dreams.
my niece and her little son enjoy a Christmas present
I've mentioned in this space that I'm leading a life I dreamed of before I retired. I mean I even wrote it down. Yeah, I described this life, wrote it down and now poof I live it. Well, almost.
This morning I stumbled out of bed a little after seven. Got ready to go to water aerobics and then a tennis match. Weather was overcast but warm. That was good actually. The gray sky. No sun in the eye for tennis.
I wasn't right on time at the pool but I was in the pool before the instructor who was showing a scarf she knitted to a woman in the class who helped her knit it. I got out of the pool early and went inside and showered and used lotion to get the chlorine itch off. It was a little after nine. FFP was still exercising. I think he's practicing retirement while there is this lull for the holidays at his clients' businesses. "Maybe I'll go to Starbucks and read a book," he said. [Ed. note: He did say Starbucks but maybe he just meant coffee shop. Like saying Kleenex or 'have a Coke' when really you just need a tissue or might drink a root beer. And, we'll never really know because he didn't do it. He went home and put on a white shirt and tie after his shower, just getting 'suited up' a little later than usual.]
I went off to the pro shop and signed us in for the court and got the balls. I thought I'd lose this match and I don't know why I didn't. For one thing my opponents powerful forehand and good serve were slowed by the clay. For another, she seemed distracted, happy to play but just as glad to win or lose. No edge. Not that I had an edge. I just kept playing to enjoy playing and ended up winning. I'm not sure of the score. Maybe 6-4, 6-2.
My opponent was happy. She said she was enjoying the tennis. She said she was going to have a beauty shop appointment (a "cut and color") and that made her happy. She said her maid was coming. She likes her maid and likes her house clean. We both agreed we were leading a life we'd dreamed of. We appreciate it. Her daughter was there for a while. She had been hitting with the ball machine and now was going to get picked up by her father. "He's a good ex-husband," my friend said. (I'm starting to feel like she's a friend and not just an acquaintance...happiness is infectious like that.)
After the tennis I went home and ate and got a shower. I asked FFP if he wanted to go see a movie (Finding Neverland) at five. He did. I read some of my stack of newspapers and magazines and watched some TV. FFP sat down to watch Northern Exposure with me. Soon, between our DVDs and DVRing a rerun that goes on at one in the morning, we will have seen the whole canon of this show. The Simpsons is harder as it had (and is still having) a longer run. I have quit watching M*A*S*H episodes much but when I do I find ones I don't remember. Which is not to say I haven't watched them. Contrast with this the fact that I don't think I've ever watched an episode of Friends all the way through. What do they say? Better pop culture than no culture at all. [Ed. note: She just made that up.]
We go to the movie at five. It makes me cry.
After the movie we decide that we are tired of leftovers. We go by the Fonda San Miguel restaurant. But it is so crowded that we can't find a parking place so we go home and eat leftovers anyway.Then we watch TV. The crime shows are in rerun mode. We read (I finish all the papers for the day including the crosswords.) Finally, sleep.
My life. I am happy with it. Oh, I'm disappointed in myself sometimes. I should be learning more, accomplishing more, doing something for myself and society. And occasionally FFP and I don't see eye-to-eye on every little issue. Today he suggested that, to save money, we should let the maid go. I said I'd rather give something else up. He says when he retires he will clean. He does plenty around here, really. Helping with laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, taking out trash, seeing about things in the yard. He keeps up with the banking and bill paying and he organizes other help we hire for the house and yard. But I have never known him to keep up with scrubbing bathrooms, dusting, mopping as the maid does. Nor even cleaning out closets, scrubbing out the frig or things like that. Which is fine. And yeah I should do more. But if I didn't have enough money for the maid, I wouldn't have retired. I do lots more cleaning now that I am retired. The maid doesn't dust enough. She does some or it would be an inch thick before I got to it. But I dusted the closet (all the shelves, containers and shoes) the other day and it definitely needed it. I dusted in all the other rooms, too. I definitely want to do more. But I want the house to be cleaner and neater and if we don't have the maid to do the big things here and there it will just spiral down. I'd rather give up a few bottles of wine, a party or some entertainment.
The thing about when FFP and I don't see eye-to-eye is this: we are both willing to compromise on things enough to let the other person be happy. He just wants to save some money to feel good about retirement. The housekeeping help is something I don't want to give up. But I'll compromise somewhere. And we will both end up reasonably happy.
Our big decision
of the day? To get an 'every ten year' termite treatment on the house.
Expensive but peace of mind. Caused us to speculate how much we spend
on the house that would go away if we had a condo downtown. (Over and
above the homeowners charge, of course.) "Well, if we had a place
that was smaller and actually had less taxes.... And then utilities.
We certainly wouldn't have all these expenses keeping the yard. We couldn't
entertain large groups, but that could save us money."
We often contemplate Cambridge Towers in these discussions. Condos just south of UT. They don't take pets. We know better, but we consider Chalow immortal in these discussions and anticipate having to find her a home if we move there. (She will be 14 in the spring.)
I meant to have a workout in the morning. All I accomplished was getting a cartridge refilled to try in one of my printers. (Saved about eight bucks. I'll let you know how it works.) Oh, and I picked up pictures at the drug store. (We bought a disposable camera when we took the whole gang of relatives out because everyone had forgotten a camera.) Other than that, prior to 3PM, I just messed around the house, reading, working at the computer (I even cleaned up my e-mail a little) and watching TV. I said I'd goof off between Christmas and New Year's but I didn't know how true that would be.
I played tennis at three. One of my winter clay court matches. The other people are either lots better than me (three of them) or evenly matched (two). This was one of the latter. Somehow I prevailed (6-1, 7-5) although this gal was younger and had an occasional blistering forehand. (I hit to the backhand when I could.) She complained of a knee problem which she even had an MRI on. These younger women all seem to have injuries.
I rushed off to shower
and FFP and I went to see the UT Women's Basketball team play Sam Houston.
We left at half time. The lead was, um, comfortable. (Final score was
a fifty point lead, I think.)
At home we watched TV, stuffed our faces some more and went to sleep.
I was a totally useless person today. Well, there's always tomorrow.
Dad before we opened presents
I didn't worry much about it, though. I fooled around with coffee and computer and then went to the gym. I didn't stay as long as I should have but it wasn't because I was worried about getting ready for company.
I went to the grocery store and got mini bagels, onions, iceberg lettuce in case someone wanted sandwiches. I dropped off film at the drug store.
After last week's big party and the whole social season, I'm feeling reclusive. But I did invite our friends, her mother, Gayle, and my dad over for leftovers and a screening of My Fair Lady.
Dad came around two. Gayle came about then, too, to work. We exchanged Christmas gifts. She brought along some packs from the store of raw vegies and fruit.
Dad and I sat and watched stuff I'd taped on the DVR and talked. He drank tea. I don't think he's feeling so hot lately. Just a guess. Lots of tea drinking.
I made a platter with a pack of smoked salmon I didn't serve last week, some parsley and red onion. I put out capers, olives, cream cheese, mini bagels, crackers. Our friends showed up. They are the ones who had us for Christmas dinner (the owners of the magic cats shown here who don't make me sneeze). They brought turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes and some bread and rolls. I pulled out mustards, mayo, horseradish, made a plate of lettuce, tomato, onion. I put out plates, forks (no napkins). We pulled out wine, handed out some beer. Soon we had chaos but everyone was eating. We watched the movie. Our friend Jon wasn't feeling well and had a business trip tomorrow. We packed them off, Dad left, Gayle left all at once. I put away and cleaned up quickly since they took away all their stuff.
FFP and I settle in and watched the DVR. We stayed up a little late. Bed.
a WEB journal needs a cat or two
We make it to the gym, together. Short workout. I clean up, I do my journal, I watch a documentary about documentaries. I read.
We go to a matinee of Closer. Get home around five. Snack on a gift of Icelandic smoked salmon. Watch TV.
Sleep. Sloth? Yes.
a WEB journal needs a cat or two
it Really Christmas?
After the movie, I eat a snack and we watch a thing I taped off TV about documentary film making. I pick some wine and champagne for my hosts tonight. We gather that up and a hostess gift and our Netflix DVDs and go to our friend's house. Other friends show up with offerings: wine, dessert, salmon with orange that a guest proceeds to go outside and grill while the deer watch him. Then it's all there: asparagus, turkey, dressing, gravy, ham, salmon, hot house tomatoes, sweet potatoes followed by a glazed grape tart. Wine, champagne, coffee.
We gather around the TV and watch Broadway: The Golden Age. Amazing footage of old New York and Broadway and surviving stars talking about it. We saw it at a film festival but hadn't seen it since.
After the movie we all gathered up and went home. At home I watched some of the extra footage from the disk and some other stuff off the DVR and read the papers.
Then Christmas (was it really Christmas?) wanes and we sleep.
Dad comes over around 1PM. I read the directions on my pre-cooked heat and eat turkey breast and plan what to do. My mother-in-law is bringing her two 'famous' salads (Waldorf and ambrosia), sweet potatoes, rolls. I will heat up turkey, dressing, gravy and green bean casserole (all prepared by someone else). So it's not like it's a lot of trouble.
FFP brings his parents over around five. I've had the turkey heating. I've read some of the newspapers and the week's Austin Chronicle. We have a toast (sparkling juice for the old folks and leftover champagne from the party for us, sealed with a little gadget so it's still bubbly). I time all my heating up and getting out and we set up a buffet. FFP and I get some of the leftover red wine. (Thank you, VacuVin.)
We eat and clear the table and then take the presents in to the big room. Everyone opens their stuff. I take a few pictures. I sort out Christmas bags and wrapping stuff to save and put the other in the trash. We settle in to watch TV (FFP and I finishing off the red wine and having a coffee drink).
After a while, I go in the kitchen and wash my china. My mother-in-law starts to dry and then realizes it is eight o'clock. Time to go home. We get them loaded up and FFP takes them home.
My dad stays a while. Then he decides to go home and wait a bit before going to the 11PM church service. I think he'd thought he'd stay here until then but he changes his mind.
I finish the dishes and leave them to dry before putting them all away. I have to say, it didn't feel very festive. It just isn't the same any more, Christmas.
We settle in to just read and watch some TV. We go to bed but later I wake up and I'm hungry and FFP has wandered upstairs to write or surf the WEB. I get up and watch an old movie and snack. Then sleep.
FFP's folks ready to open presents
is Goofing Off
SuRu comes by. FFP wants to eat leftover tamales so the two of us go to NeWorlDeli. We eat and then shop at this wonderful little shop in that center called The Common Grounds. It is a gift shop with very reasonable prices. They sell these framed botanticals that are wonderous and I would buy one buy we have no wall space for it. I end up buying a sturdy cheese platter and a gift for FFP. I'm always needing an extra platter. Need a gift and live in Austin...go to this place. Have a Reuben in NeWorlDeli while you are here...but bring a friend to split it with. You do not want a whole one. A cup of the black bean marsala soup makes it perfect.
What we do next may sound insane but not as insane as parking at Central Market this close to the holiday. SuRu wants a can of these organic kidney beans for her three bean salad (her family is doing a deli spread for the holiday). I need dressing and gravy and a vegetable, already prepared. I am going to do an easy, easy Christmas dinner for five. Of course, my mother-in-law is bringing cranberry sauce, two fruit salads, sweet potatoes and rolls. I have a pre-cooked turkey breast. Heat 'n Eat.
So...we leave our car at the NeWorlDeli center's parking lot and walk to Central Market. It isn't far, maybe a half a mile each way, down Guadalupe and through the little park at the back of that center. (There's a dodge...park in the park's parking lot. Looks like from the number of cars that other people have already thought of it.) I don't really take note of whether the parking lot at Central Market is insane but there are a number of people inside. Most are buying stuff like produce and chicken stock and turkeys and such and there are other candidates for ready-made meals. One woman says "I just found out I was making Christmas dinner today" at the prepared foods counter. They have some already packaged and I get a couple of gravies, some dressing and some green bean casserole. We don't even have a cart. We wind our way backwards through the store so SuRu can look at the remodel balancing our few purchases. She gets her can of beans, succumbs to a package of cheese straws. Little shopping dramas play out. We see a couple with no cart, she carrying two bags of (no doubt pricey) cheese puffs until the man grabs them away from her. I see a guy I know and stop to greet him. He has a huge butcher-wrapped package he is holding while looking at the vitamin supplements or some such. We greet him, ask him about the package. "We have prime rib for Christmas dinner," he says. He has pre-ordered this and his name is scrawled on the paper. I notice the price: $258 and change. Whoa.
We finish our tour and check out. It doesn't take that long, we just wait behind one person. We get two paper bags with handles and walk back to the car.
When we get back, I unload. I give SuRu some leftover tamales and she leaves. She'll head to her family celebration in Waco later in the day or tomorrow.
I think I'll go work out later. But what I really do is do my journal, try to dwindle the pile of stuff in front of my computer waiting action, wrap FFP's present and settle down in my chair in the bedroom, thinking I'll nap. I end up watching TV and reading. I stay up too late again.
Sleep. Need sleep. So I do it.
Christmas toys on the mantle with photo cards
I started out in bed catching a little extra rest I knew I'd need. I had a little stomach ache, too. Nervous? Ate too much yesterday?
I told myself I'd bypass the club and focus my energy on the party. I knew I'd need to relax here and there during the day to stay up for the party though.
Until about 11:30 I alternated between doing little things to get ready and sitting in front of my computer. At 11:30 I bought ice and iced down the beer and soda, reserving a couple of bags in case people wanted iced drinks. Then FFP and I went out to 34th Street Cafe for lunch. We ordered a salad and sandwich and split both. We drank water.
I picked up the pace a little then. I ground fresh coffee beans for caffeinated and decaf coffee, readied the filter pot for the first making, made food tags and selected dishes for the food. Dad arrived way early to avoid traffic and got a book and started reading. When SuRu arrived to help me, I was whipping cream since it will do fine in the frig for a few hours. She really got down to it then. She made cheese and salami and salmon displays and put them back in the frig. She made a hard cheese display. She put out the cookies. As time approached, she put out salsas and relishes and snacks, made cracker plates. Gayle, the bookkeeper, arrived early on her way home from a client. I made the coffee and put it in thermos containers. Tony (a ballet dancer) arrived for his gig serving and got the tour showing him where things were. I preheated the oven for the mini baked bries and heated the steamer for tamales. We got out guacamole (OK, I buy that stuff packaged by slave laborers in Mexico). Tick tock. I popped the first champagne, Tony got other wines open and...some people arrived.
And...it is a blur. Until after one in the morning when I'm drying dishes, Tony is washing and FFP is buzzing around picking things up and Kevin, our young friend the singer, is chatting us up.
Actually the party progressed in those waves of guests (a bunch arrived at exactly seven taxing our ability to orient them and greet them) that you always experience. My friend Curtis and a couple arrived approximately at the announced start time. Some people came after nine. People left early, some stayed late. Some came really late, too. People who hadn't seen the remodel took tours. Forrest's paintings got a lot of accolades. (Some even before he admitted doing them!)
The recycling bin filled up with bottles. Champagne was popular. Ditto red wine and white, too. There were beer and water drinkers but fewer. The coffee with whipped cream and liqueur was popular. I didn't eat much, pausing once for tamales and a few other bites and nibbling a nut or two here and a cheese straw there there. I did drink red wine and a spiked coffee with whipped cream. (Yummy. I don't make whipped cream hardly ever because FFP can't have dairy but it is sure yummy.) I even had some of my 'son' John's glug.
I tried to move from conversation to conversation, introducing a few people to others who had similar interests, joking, talking, helping refresh drinks. I heard conversations I wish I could have concentrated on. I wanted to spend more time with all the people there.
Big hits of the party? Well, like I said, the red wine. (They drank about a case! Which is seventy-two drinks of red wine for fifty people.) The Guatemalan Free Trade coffee bought Monday, ground today and made fresh and stored immediately in my Nissan Stainless air pot was a hit. (The whipped cream was popular, too.) A fair amount of Champagne. (Three? Four? bottles.) The tamlales and the mini baked bries seemed popular. And there were no leftover cashews. Green olives stuffed with garlic were a hit, too. Not so popular was beer, soda and water. I didn't actively serve mixed drinks but told Tony to try if someone wanted one (no juice, though, so no Screwdrivers or Bloody Marys). And I saw him providing a gin and tonic and giving the guy a choice of gin. Tony was amazing and kept bottles open and glasses cleaned and stayed into tomorrow washing dishes.
It was nearly 2AM on the morrow when we collapsed into bed. My feet hurt. I had been on my feet almost continuously for twelve hours so no surprise there. My head felt a little messed up (alcohol? that dang Glug with EverClear in it?). I took a Motrin and two Aloe Vera gel caps. That's my prescription for waking up in the morning feeling all better.
As with every party there were delights and hostessing mistakes. But more of the former, I think. We had one beer spill. (I only heard about it...Tony cleaned it up, no problem.) Two glasses got broken in the washing process. And except for hostess gifts (candy, nuts, tea, fish figurines, wine, cookies and such) nothing was left behind. Well, my dad left his muffler but he always leaves something. It's sort of a talisman. [Ed. Note: She spoke too soon because after writing this she would see the dog sniffing behind a chair and find a slightly soiled canvas bag with nothing inside except a flier from Austin Wine Merchant. Maybe left by the person who prepared the app on the spot?]
Off to sleep. To finish dealing with the aftermath tomorrow.
decorations down for the count
Like it Before They Come
Spent the morning over coffee and computer. Ate a few more things that were just taking up space in the frig. (Which is getting pretty empty now since most of the food I bought that needs refrigeration is at Dad's house at the moment.) Cleaned up the kitchen from FFP's breakfast, from my lunch. Got some more chairs out of storage and made sure they were clean.
The electrician came by and finished fixing something in the yard and I paid him.
I burned a CD off Rhapsody with a bunch of versions of "Have a Merry Little Christmas." FFP had loaded the CD player up with Christmas music so I replaced one of these disks and ran the stereo playing Christmas music at my empty rooms.
The maid came and I dodged out of her way. I went to the gym. I didn't do as good as a workout as I would have liked but I did something.
Back home, the maid was finishing up. Forrest has some bank stuff so I drove down to the bank and went through the drive through.
And that's how it gets to be four o'clock in the afternoon and I haven't taken a shower. I do that, watch a little TV and get ready to have some dinner with my Dad and SuRu while FFP goes backstage to the last Nutz performance.
SuRu comes over and we go get Dad and go to North by Northwest and have dinner. Then we get all the stuff we've stored at Dad's in his extra refrigerator. And we get his little frig with the adaptor just in case we need it. I want to get his extra chairs, but SuRu talks me out of it. She's probably right, we probably have enough seating.
At home we unload. SuRu puts some of the sodas, water and beer in the ice chests, ready for icing down. After she leaves I start our laundry and make a dill mayonaise sauce for the salmon and refrigerate it. (How can one mess up the kitchen so making a three ingredient sauce?)
FFP comes home from the final The Nutcracker performance of the season. Later he notices some of the Christmas lights have shorted out, those powering our flamingo 'reindeer.' Ah, well. There doesn't seem to be much else to do so I watch some TV and read papers and stay up too late. Finally sleep. As I doze off I vow not to get up too early and to not wear myself out totally before the party begins.
Nutcracker ends another season in Austin.
Central Market has finished their remodel. At this time, morning of a weekday still a few days before Christmas, it's not terribly crowded. They have widened the aisles and made more thoroughfares for quick access and backtrack. I daydream about just shopping for stuff for FFP and I. But I need fresh dill for the party. And no superfluous stuff for the frig since I don't have an extra frig in the garage any more!
Just inside the door they are offering sparkling apple juice and I get some. I always offer some non-alcoholic sparkler and I have a few bottles of sparkling grape. And I'll bet I don't have many takers. But you have to be ready. I get some parsley in case I need some garnish for the salmon. And I find the fresh dill. I remember I need red onion which I plan to serve with the salmon and pick one. I see the grapes and think that a few on the cheese display would make it look less forlorn. So I put some grapes in the basket. FFP and I need a few bananas for the next few days. I put three reasonably ripe ones in the cart.
I wander through the new meat and fish area, buying nothing. Already have smoked salmon and salami from Costco for the party and a turkey breast for Christmas Eve dinner. Beautiful place to shop, though.
I wander through the wine (have plenty!) into the bulk area. Maybe I should get some nice coffee beans for the party coffee. I end up with some almonds, some cashews, and regular and decaf beans. I need some peppermints for our candy dish so to avoid going to another store I get some bulk cinnamon peppermints from here.
Wandering out of bulk I'm in packaged food. I have plenty of crackers. But what about some packaged cookies? I buy a couple of boxes of my favorite: Carr's Ginger Lemon sandwiches. I'm not much of a dessert person so people shouldn't come to my party looking for fabuluos desserts. I buy an extra bottle of Raspberry Chipotle sauce because I'm reminded of how handy it is after we used it on Mooshu pork last night. (Peony never gives you extra sauce for takeout. What is it plum sauce?) I notice that they have those wasabi peas and end up with two boxes of oriental snacks that include them. Yeah, I'm thinking cover for the fact that the cheese, salami, smoked salmon, tamales may run out with little snacks.
I wander through frozen food and spices and as you go through dairy they have all these seasonal things. Hmmm...King Leo peppermints would be great for the coffee bar and dessert table. Pick up a tin of those.
I have almost bypassed the wine and beer but there is a display of some supposedly hard to get Pinot Noir in front of me. (Samantha Starr.) I put a bottle in the cart.
Backtracking, now into this idea of packaged stuff, I get a tin of these fantastic cheese straws I took for the Thanksgiving feed. I see some of those crispy filled tubes called 'piroulines' and think that they will make a nice offering with the coffee, too. Clearly things are getting out of hand.
Now I'm in dairy. Usually, in this area, I might buy White Mountain nonfat natural yogurt. Or some cottage cheese maybe. But I'm offering coffee with liqueur and syrups to a crowd. So I buy a four pints of heavy whipping cream, a quart of whole milk and a quart of half and half. (Later I think that some people like skimmed milk and I think 'to hell with them!' I never use cream in my coffee although a little whipped cream on top this time of year sounds great.)
I swing through the baked goods. Two days to the party. Hmmm. I buy two packages of those crispy chocolate cookies that are so delicious. I'm sure they'll be fresh enough Wednesday.
As I turn the corner past the cakes and deli counter, I spot some Hell of a Relish which I decide will make a nice condiment with the pork tamales. A bottle of that is squeezed into the cart. (I took a small one because, you know, I was just buying fresh dill.)
I head through olives and cheese but I've already shopped at Costco for these for the party. I stop to look at the prepared holiday food, thinking I'll come back on Thursday for some dressing and gravy and maybe some vegetables.
I'm almost to the cash register but decide to backtrack to produce (through packaged goods and bulk) to snag a few lemons and limes. I'm not serving mixed drinks. But people like lemon or lime in coke or water or bubbly. And, of course, if someone asks for a mixed drink we will try to make it. I mean we could come up with a gin and tonic or a Manhattan or even a martini or a margarita but we won't be equipped to serve mass quantities. And don't come expecting a bloody mary or a Screwdriver because I don't have any tomato or orange juice in the house. People tend to drink what you offer within their limits. If you push diet Coke and white wine, then they will go through a ton of that.
Anyway, I get some lemons and limes. Enough to get me through ten parties. But hey, we may drink a lot during the holidays!
And that, my friends, is how you spend $132.04 (with $2.88 sales tax) on fresh dill.
There is a cashier begging for work when I check out! Who says going to Central Market during the holidays is a horror?
I go home and put up the groceries.
I update my journal and pour over a list of things to do. I eat some breakfast and not that long after, lunch. I do little tasks for the party: scatter Bendy Santas (and reindeer, snowmen, penquins, elves) around. I make a centerpiece with them and a glass vase. I iron a tablecloth for the kitchen table which will be shoved into a corner and made the dessert table. I locate and wash the cream pitcher and fill the sugar bowl and find some fake sugar. I wash up dishes a few times from messing them up.
Around four I decide to go to the gym. I don't work out as long as I should. I don't have as much energy this time of day. But at least I do something, I tell myself.
Back home, FFP is leaving for the visitation for one of his friends who died and then he will go to the ballet. I didn't really know the guy or his wife. Not sure I ever met her. FFP knew the guy from before he ever met me.
I have dinner, watch TV off the DVR. I try to get through the papers. There is a pile in my office of newspapers and magazines that is the size of a small child. Sigh. After the party. During the party, my office will be the dog jail and FFP's office more or less off limits. So we don't have to have guests gawking at them. So if my office looks like Howard Hughes is living there, OK.
Forrest gets home and I download his pictures from the camera and fix them up and optimize them for the WEB. Then I'm back to sloth!
We stay up too late. Then sleep.
one of the most beautiful ballerinas I've ever seen
SuRu is supposed to come over at two o'clock. I still need to finish up some cleaning and organizing before that. She's going to help with festive.
I decide not to work out 'until later' which turns out to be 'not to do it at all.' I do some work at the computer and then go around getting things organized and straightened, cleaning off areas for serving, moving a few things around. I sort through the magazines that are in the kitchen and media room and eliminate several sack loads to recycling.
SuRu arrives a little early. I show her a few things about what I'm going to do and we work together some and independently a lot to make things festive. She's much more artistic and comes up with some good ideas. We are a little shy of festive making stuff although she finds some package decorations and makes things look pretty good. Around four we decide to go to World Market for some more stuff. She looks at decorations while I go pick out a little more white wine. We keep inviting people! We find some Christmas dish towels on sale and buy a stack of them. I'll give them away next week at Thanksgiving if we don't need them. We buy some ornaments to fill vases for centerpieces, some little wrapped tiny empty boxes similarly. I get some plain tea light holders, a bag of tea lights. We grab a few other decorative items.
As we head back we realize we are hungry and that we wanted to buy a string of lights to decorate the glass-topped table. I forgot my phone so I use SuRu's cell and call home. (Amazingly I do this about three minutes after FFP has left a message on my cell which is at home. His message is, basically, 'what do you guys want for dinner?') We agree on Chinese that we will pick up at Peony and he will call and order. SuRu and I duck into Randall's and get sodas for the party and a string of lights. We pick up the food and go home and eat it with FFP.
SuRu and I continue the decoration and such until we are tired. FFP and I finish the evening reading and watching TV. He's done yet another backstage at theThe Nutcracker (with Shawn Colvin as Mother Ginger).
I go to sleep, figuring I've got lots of stuff done for the party and it will be easy from here. But I'll think of more and more stuff to do, no doubt about it.
the time of year when thoughts turn to food
When I finally get up (oh, it's not all that late) I tell myself that I'll do my journal and stuff and then go to the gym while FFP is down at Bass Concert Hall, watching yet another The Nutcracker performance from the wings and supporting the celebrity Mother Ginger. (Today it was Beth Chiarelli, wife of Maj. General Peter Chiarelli, Commanding General, 1st Cavalry, Fort Hood. I don't think this had anything to do with the dream, though, because I never remember who is when. FFP is very wrapped up in this since he spends a lot of time all year recruiting and arranging and promoting this celebrity deal.)
FFP suggests a trip to Upper Crust. So we grab some newspaper sections (him: today's The New York Times; me: a couple of sections of older papers) and go. I think he is getting the rush of thinking 'when I retire I can hang out in coffee shops.' We have strong coffee and he has some juice and we happily eat pastries and read. This being Austin I have a Texas Croissant (stuffed with a goodly number of jalapenos and some cheese) and he has a Mediterranean one (yeah, sundried tomatoes, olives and stuff inside). He goes back from some other thing and I have him get me a big Christmas sugar cookie. I'm bad. I'm going to gain back all that weight!
At home, I finish up my journal and then tuck into finishing cleaning the pantry, getting stuff out I need to entertain (wine buckets, ice buckets, serving stuff). I end up breaking something I'm trying to wash and cutting myself slightly. I carefully dig a couple of slivers of glass out of the garbage disposal. I learned my lesson on letting it try to grind up glass!
FFP goes off to the Nutz performance and I continue the cleaning. It seems to be going oh, so, slowly. Finally I head off to the gym and do a so-so workout. Back home I do a bit more on the cleaning and FFP comes home. I clean up the room that we call the 'bonus' room which is really just sort of the end of a hallway and transition to bedroom and (once) backyard and (now) entertainment room. It does have a built-in bookcase and a closet, though, and it houses a small wardrobe, a large deco bar, a Clavinova (electric piano), a small end table with a lamp and a largish round table. The table usually has books that are 'in play.' Which means that someone might read them soon or is in the process of doing so. I move all the books elsewhere and clear off a tray and some dried flowers. I'll use the tray elsewhere. I'm going to put a cloth on this table and use it for serving something. I dust everything in the room. Well, not all the books, of course. I drag votices out of the closet in there for decorating.
This housework is dirty and exhausting. FFP takes a bath while I sit and watch some TV and then I shower up. We both snack some dinner and then we head off to pick up a friend. She is also our reflexologist and massage therapist. We are all going to see Ann Hampton Callaway in an Austin Cabaret Theater production.
The performance is
at the Mary Moody Northern theater on the St. Edward's campus. Years
ago I took a few classes there. In accounting if you must know. After
picking up our friend at her apartment on Blanco, I find myself guiding
Forrest to the St. Ed's campus via my old route when I went to classes
"Turn on Oltorf off Lamar...there is a taxidermist and a grocery store." Well, you can't see the taxidermist anymore that well, though it's there, and the grocery store is an Office Depot. I feel this time warp to a couple of decades ago. Has it been that long? Yep.
We get to the theater, check in, get a drink. The performance is a great combination of standards, original material, comedy. Ann makes up songs before our eyes twice. The first time she does it uses phrases from the audience. The result is a hilarious love song to Rick Perry, the governor of Texas. For example: "We could celebrate Hanukkah! (Stuart, we need a translation...he thought I said harmonica!)" At one point, she singled out an older Jewish man we know (the father of one of the show's sponsors) and said he was her ex-husband. The naive woman next to me ask if me after the performance if that was true!! Ann wrote "I've Dreamed of You" which Barbra Streisand sang at her wedding to James Brolin. Frankly I prefer hearing Ann sing it, but that's just me. Wow, I love Ann. I'll go see her any chance I get.
It is late. But when we get home we snack. I read the paper while I do it. Finally sleep. More dreams.
Stephen Mills during the bows at seventh (yeah, I think so) major The Nutcracker performance for Ballet Austin this year
I don't pop out of bed too early but, once I do, I get to the club at a time that would allow a long workout. I quit after a moderate one, though. At home I do a few things in the kitchen cleanup and sit at the computer a little before showering up for the late lunch I have scheduled. I get to Chez Zee early and my lunch date is a couple minutes late so I sit there for a while. We have a leisurely lunch, discussing my friend's health problems, holiday plans, my travels, etc.
At home again, I try to organize a 'to do' list for the party. Around three I go to Party Pig and buy some seasonal dispoible serving pieces and napkins. Then I go to Grape Vine Market and get some wine glass name tags and a few bottles on white wine. The South African party wine they'd assure me they'd save for me in white isn't available. I buy a couple of bottles of inexpensive white wine for the party, too.
Home again I don't accomplish much. I change clothes and watch some TV and get ready for tennis.
The tennis match (single, clay) is fun in the cool and getting cooler evening. There is a wedding or wedding reception at the club. A bagpiper plays in the parking lot (warming up?) such selections as Jingle Bells. The match goes to three sets. My opponent who is consistent and should win falters as a hip problem flares up and succumbs in the third set. I enjoy playing with her and feel for her. She should have won. When I realized she should win, I just started playing as hard as I could and trying to have fun. She still would have won but for the pain she started having, I think.
I am pretty tired and my knees are slightly tender. I go home, snack, watch TV, talk to a friend on the phone and once again make no more progress on the house stuff.
FFP comes home from the ballet and we watch some TV and I look at the papers. Then to bed.
roofs in my, um, eclectic neighborhood
to my Own Devices
I enjoy the play. We get through two sets before someone has to go. The second set ends with a tie-breaker. My team has prevailed with two different partners. I should go work out some more but I don't. I head home. I needed to mail a package to my aunt and uncle (they bought something at Costco that wouldn't fit in the car to go home) but I'd forgotten to bring the address. I go home, change into jeans without even showering and go do that. I start messing around cleaning out the pantry and cleaning off the shelves where we keep drinks and mixers. SuRu comes to go help me shop for food.
We fortify ourselves with Mexican food at El Arroyo which has a location on the way. We kid about making lunch on the samples at Costco but, seriously, we don't want to be there in the heart of the lunch hour. We go to Costco. It isn't that crowded really. We get food (smoked salmon, salami, cheese including those herbed mozzarella balls, mini baked bries, chips, tamales, guacamole) and drinks (case of moderately-priced champagne, a case of Shiner Bock, a case of Rosemount Shiraz, a case of Bud Light, a thirty-five count of bottles of water) plus plastic plates and a lifetime supply of plastic forks. I also get a turkey breast for Christmas Eve dinner with the folks.
Because I only have one frig and it isn't huge, we go over to Dad's house and put the party and Christmas food in his fridge until next week. We go back to my house and unload the wine, beer and water and a couple of things we bought for our normal consumption. I still have to buy things for the party: soda, cream for coffee, white wine. But, all in all, I have a lot of the stuff I'll serve.
This shopping has been really exhausting. I don't know why. But it has. SuRu leaves and I look at the mail that has come and finish my journal. I'm starting to think the journal will need a redesign in the new year. I'll wait until the first couple of weeks of January, though. Suggestions welcome.
We have an open house party to attend at a lawyer's office downtown. I shower up and dress and we go, stopping to deliver some copies of The West Austin News to someone Forrest has written about in his column. We are early arrivals at the party. We look at the art and artifacts. The office has some great art work, French posters. Even the Christmas decoration is a tasteful array of artistic Santas. The food is pretty good and we have a drink and some of it and talk to a couple of people. It is the kind of party where there are lots of lawyers and and judges and politicians. You hear snippets of conversation like "never argued a trial" or "I don't have to quit my job to run, I have to quit my job to win." It's a party where someone introduces themselves and asks if we are "both family lawyers." We talk to the lawyer who invited us about art, about Christo and the coming Central Park project and exit. It's early, just after six. We see a judge we know on the way out.
I feel so tired when I get home. But I don't know why. I haven't done that much. Maybe that's why! I sit and read the papers and watch some TV and have some snacks and coffee. Fall asleep in the chair several times before going to bed and sleep.
fragment of a shelf displaying bendy collection before they went to storage
I go to the club with FFP in the morning. I complain to Roadrunner about an e-mail problem before and after. I fiddle with FFP's machine. I get my journal updated, get a shower, have some breakfast, do this and that. Dad brings his sisters and his brother-in-law over. We tour the house a bit, watch some TV and I take them to the club for lunch.
We go back to the house and I take my aunts to a party store so one can buy paperware for her Christmas dinner with her kids. Then I let them walk through an antique mall. Back at the house we play a game of Spinners which I lose at again. (Strictly a game of luck!)
Then it is time to load everyone up. FFP takes my uncle and goes to get his parents. SuRu comes and we load everyone else up in the van with her driving. We avoid Mopac and get downtown wonderfully with FFP right behind us. We get everyone into Finn and Porter (the restaurant in the Hilton). It's pretty good and everyone seems to have a good time. We have a big table all by ourselves in an alcove with plenty of elbow room. We eat, have some wine. No one has remembered a camera so FFP goes and buys a disposible one at the coffee shop in the hotel and we take pictures. We have a dessert for Forrest's parents who have just had their 66th wedding anniversary. My aunts have bought cards for them as has FFP to cover the fact that we missed it Saturday. (Although FFP was tied up with Ballet Austin anyway.)
We get the whole gang home with some Christmas light peeping along the way. Dad drives his visitors home. FFP and I collapse in front of the TV after a while and I read papers. Time for a new phase. Absent the visitors I'll turn my attention to cleaning the house and getting ready for a party.
my uncle and his sister-in-law, my dad's next to youngest sister (Dad is older than everyone except, of course, FFP's dad who is 94)
Moving a step slower
at all times.
After a shower and grooming I went to Dad's house. Dad and I fixed a seatbelt in the van that was jammed, we got everyone jackets and bathroom trips and the six of us took off, me driving. We drove to Salado. We stopped in a an antique mall but didn't buy anything. The place had a bunch of stuff, all priced very high. The sisters enjoy seeing stuff they own with high prices they know they couldn't get for them. My Uncle E. sat in the van but my dad gamely toured the store with them. Then we went to Stagecoach Inn to eat. The food is so-so, I suppose, largely unchanged for decades, but they have the best hushpuppies in America and they give you six or seven (I think it was seven, really, and they are huge) with a tiny cup of broth no matter what you order. I didn't need anything else but I had a chicken salad plate and the tomato aspic off my aunt's salad plate. They put a banana fritter on every plate and I tasted it. But I was full of hush puppies.
We swore we'd never eat again, had no dessert and headed to Temple, me driving, Dad reassuring me about the route to the Texas Veteran's Nursing Home. Dad found a public room that wasn't used, put the aunts and uncle there and got my other uncle and brought him in. They visited, I went down the hall to visit FFP's uncle and found him in the hallway in his wheelchair, bright-eyed and recognizing me right away. They back to my relatives to take a photo or two and visit some more. Uncle James was reticent, but seemed to enjoy the visit. Dad called a halt when he decided we needed to get on the road to avoid traffic.
I drove us home and we got everyone water, coffee or hot chocolate and settled in for a rest. Then my uncle wanted a pizza so I ordered one from Papa John's and went to pick it up. We ate pizza, watched Wheel of Fortune (a favorite of this set) and then played a couple of rounds of a domino game called Spinners while teasing each other unmercifully.
I went home and did nothing constructive except rescue one more plant from the impending freeze, tried unsuccessfully to finish The Times crossword and watched a little TV. Sleep.
my dad, his three sisters, and his older brother, front
I signed up for a clay court singles tournament. (I know, what was I thinking??) Anyway, we have to schedule our own matches with a schedule showing who to play each week. The person I'm to play this week suggested this morning. So I don't go to water aerobics. Instead, I battle wind, clay and a younger opponent, losing 1-6, 0-6. But it was fun, right? Well, yeah, actually it was. I go to the gym for a stationery bike ride greeting my dad and the ladies who are doing the water aerobics on the way in.
I go home and eat some breakfsast, shower and dress and fiddle around with the ongoing pantry cleaning (it's been too long...I find some disgusting specimens) and eat some of the food FFP cooks for lunch.
I pack up the phone/answering machine I bought for Dad that I've been testing and go to his house. I set it up and read the paper. At two his sisters and brother-in-law show up. We visit a while and then I take my one aunt and uncle to Costco to look at luggage. They decide to buy something but say I'll need to ship it to Mesquite...with the two aunts and luggage they don't have room in the car. Fine, I agree, no problem.
It's four when we get back. Cocktail hour. My ex-military aunt and uncle have their usual Seven and Seven (only my dad bought Canadian Mist but at least he bought them some Canadian). I have a short Jack and water. Dad says he has quit drinking.
We decide to go meet FFP for dinner at 34th Street. It is not the best idea we have. We run into horrible traffic on Mopac. They agree to split some meals but make us apportion them. They forget one order and it takes fifteen minutes to get it. My fish of the day is too salty. Everyone else loved their food, though, from what I could tell. The aunts who have spent many moons in small W. Texas or Maine towns marveled at the traffic.
Back at Dad's we play a game. When it's over, I tell them that I'll see them in the morning.
At home, I know I should do something useful, but I sit down and work a crossword puzzle, read some newspaper and play the day's quiz shows off the DVR. I'm very tired with my pen making a dark mark on the puzzle in The New York Times when I fall asleep. I've been staying up too late. I go to bed. And sleep.
picture taken in '02 as part of my mural preservation project
of the Curve
I got up at a reasonable time in spite of being up at the late hour, futzed around with coffee, went to the gym for an acceptable workout. Home in plenty of time for some food and piddling around and a shower. [I was determined to eat more healthful things today but when I came home from the gym, FFP had stopped at Randall's on his way home from the gym and bought fried chicken.]
FFP went off to encourage the mayor backstage at The Nutcracker. SuRu picked me up and we headed to Harry Ransom Center. FFP had already seen their Walker Evans/James Agee show and the Graham Greene/Evelyn Waugh and he was doing the ballet thing.
We did the Walker Evans show pretty thoroughly. It was the last day for it. "Let us now praise famous men." Such a bold title for Evans (and Agee). They had Agee manuscripts, too. There was a young girl named Ida, a part of the most disfunctional family, the Tenges I think they are. That little girl was really haunting. Then we got interested in a show called "Miguel Covarrubias: A Certain Clairvoyance." I never heard of this guy. But his caricatures and other works and those of his friends and 'circle' were fantastic. (Friends with Kahlo and Riviera and shared a studio with Hirschfield who said he 'learned a lot' from him.) We looked at the Greene/Waugh exhibit a bit but, by then, we'd run out of steam and reading the hand-written stuff through the glass cases with old eyes was getting hard. Also standing in musueums is more tiring than walking the same length of time, to me.
"It's spring," SuRu said as we exited. It was warm with the lightest of breezes. As we made our way to the car (in that awful Dobie garage) we decided that it demanded a place to sit on the sidewalk with a coffee and a snack. And so it was after putting forth this option and that, that we ended up at Dolce Vita with tiny cups of gelato and espresso (double, me) and hot chocoloate (SuRu). We sat outside and listened to some youngster discuss "these really old bald guys about forty-five." Tonight temperatures will drop, if not plummet. We had a few calm moments of a different season dropped in. Yeah weather forecast is cold overnight. But today it's spring or even summer.
At home, I made some tennis arrangements, watched some TV, read some and did my journal. I ended up staying up too late watching TV and reading The New York Times Magazine. It's their annual 'Year in Ideas.' It's said really. There aren't that many good ones.
our mayor, gotta love him
I dawdled over my computer making me get to the gym only around eleven. I wasn't just updating my journal and surfing. I was doing a little planning for the party. Constructing a list of people I'd invited. Yeses, noes, maybes. Estimating the turnout. (Current estimate: 45.)
I didn't do as much as I would have liked. Both SuRu and FFP had left messages on my cell when I left the club. FFP wanted me to buy some grated cheese. I didn't want to go to the store. I told him where some grated mozzarella was in the frig. SuRu had brought some presents she wrapped for me (actually they were for Dad) but she left my house before I got there. Perhaps because I was threatening to clean out the pantry.
I reheated some chicken FFP had made, cleaned the pans from that, had a spinach salad.
FFP went off to be backstage at The Nutcracker with his Mother Ginger victim. Dad came by. He brought some stuff to give us and took his presents I procured and had wrapped for him. He went next door and visited with my neighbors. He sat and read the paper. I was working on the pantry. He went home to take a nap.
I did laundry and I cleaned about a third of the pantry. Didn't even get to the dreaded food storage section. I cleaned up our filter coffee maker, our bean grinder and an espresso machine that had been in the pantry, unused since Capresso came into our life. That machine is acting up. Still making coffee but we wonder for how long. So. Attention turns to other makers. Plus I will use the filter coffee maker to make coffee for the party (to put in thermoses). After I cleaned the grinder I did an espresso grind of some beans and made a little pot of espresso and drank it. Then I cleaned up the espresso machine again. This was unbelievably tiring. Perhaps it's just the tiredness that comes from the depression of seeing stuff you bought and never used and maybe now never will. I left off and put things away to pick it up another day.
FFP came home. I took a shower, optimized some pictures for him and ate junk because I was suddenly hungry. I watched stuff off the DVR. Ho hum. FFP joined me. We had an optional social thing, a party with no RSVP, a benefit thing. We decided to blow it off. Soon it was late. He went to sleep and I sat in the kitchen, snacking some more and reading The New York Times.
one of FFP's volunteer jobs is getting celebrities (local or national) to get into this outfit, climb onto a large contraption and then play the role of Mother Ginger in The Nutcracker,,,here's Peter Bay, musical director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra ready for his turn
a Bit Rushed
First I dawdled over my party planning and my journal and made a casserole for Dad. When I rushed off to the gym, it was nearly ten. I took along my bag and some clothes. I forgot my book and was reduced to reading the paper and the likes of Family Circle. Did only a couple of things besides the exercise bike. Better than nothing and I felt good. Rushed through showering, brushing teeth, drying hair and got to the restaurant (which was Zin, closer to the gym than my house) before everyone else. They find my friend's reservation (for six) and I look over the menu and the wine list while they arrive. The meal goes slowly with the entrees coming really slow, but the food is good and I enjoy talking to all the folks. I also have a couple of glasses of wine.
When I get home, SuRu comes by with gifts she has wrapped for me. I do some more thinking about the party but don't accomplish much. A little after four, I pre-heat the oven to heat Dad's spinach casserole. I dress to go to the ballet. But Dad comes early. Seems he has to pick up some food from someone who can't make it and stop by for another widow and he has one in tow when he comes by. I pop his casserole in the oven and he shows her around the house. He is in a hurry and takes it before I think it's reheated thoroughly, promising to heat it some more at church.
FFP and I rush to the Performing Arts Center for a backstage, pre-performance deal for Amy Henry who will take the role of Mother Ginger in the performance. I don't watch reality shows but she was on The Apprentice. We visit and Amy arrives. FFP gets her to sign the book she wrote, we go to the pre-performance talk, watching dancers finish class and notes on the stage and then FFP goes backstage again to usher Amy a little and I go get a drink and talk to one of the dancer's parents. They come from the San Francisco area to see almost every performance. She will dance a different role tomorrow night so they are coming back then. Sweet people with a sweet daughter.
The performance is great. Sure it's the 'same old' The Nutcracker with the glorious music but the dancers and Stephen always vary something so that you can have your nostalgia and a surprise or two as well. We enjoy the after party backstage, eating, drinking, talking to dancers and patrons. We are tired when we get home. But we read and watch some TV.
Santa, the head flamingo, has stepped inside for a drink of Christmas cheer
Started off goofing around the house, picking up a bit. Then I went to play tennis on the clay courts with the women on a certain age. It went OK except, near the end, I called a fault. The server questioned it and I laughed it off, showing a mark I thought was the ball, outside the line. Unexpectedly, this set the person off. I guess she saw it in. Earlier I'd seen a serve of mine hit a line and get called out. Happens. Big deal. Causal game. But it was just unexpected how much it upset her. Oh, well. Wonder if they will ask me again. These folks are so consistent. Funny, they kept hitting to my partner when I was the one to be counted on for mistakes. Oh, I had a few angle put-aways but few and far between. Wonder if they will ask me to sub again? I sent an e-mail trying to set up a match for my 'schedule yourself' clay court singles tournament last week and haven't gotten an answer. Guess I'll have to call. I hate calling.
Another thing I've been working on is having a party the week of Christmas. Of course I want to have the house neat, decorated (well, a little, bah humbug) and have the food and drink in order. Did I mention I don't like calling. Been getting FFP to call people.
After my tennis match I didn't go to the gym. I came home, determined to do some housework. I had to eat something first, of course. My maid never dusts enough to suit me. So I started in the bedroom. I dusted stuff and dusted shelves and lamps. I dusted in the closet, dusted the shoes and clothes bins. It took a long time. Possibly because I stopped to read papers, work a puzzle and watch some tube. I watched a DVD, too?
Before I knew it, it was time to shower up for the party tonight. We were supposed to go out to eat with some folks after the party. But one of the couple is sick so that's canceled. We go to the party. It's strange. It's a party for the Heritage Society (FFP's on the Advisory Board). It's in this house in Hyde Park that I always wondered about. A house with a German half-timbered old world look. Turns out it belonged to Swiss woodcarver Peter Mansbendel. The guy who owns it has only had it for a few years. But the grand-daughter of the woodcarver was there to talk about it, too.
We eat, drink, talk to people we know and meet new people.
I feel really weary when we are going home, so I end up drinking water and reading newspapers and watching DVR selections. I should be making a casserole for my dad's pot luck tomorrow. That means I'll have to do it in the morning since the maid may be in the way tomorrow afternoon. Dusting? Casseroles? Yeah, not the usual for me.
a dramatic sky--from a couple of nights ago, Tuesday, I think
Of course, I want to go to the club anyway. We have no water. FFP waits for the plumber. They answered the phone a little after seven. Twenty-four service didn't work out for them, they say. Yeah, I see. So.
At the club, I get into my bathing suit and do the class. Then I change, do a little bit in the gym and shower, dress, brush my teeth, dry my hair, use the toilet. Yeah, water. Nice.
The plumber blames the rupture on the water pressure the city is providing. I guess. We end up paying for a regulator at our meter. Actually we had one, he says, but it wasn't functional. I never heard of such a thing. I'm trying to organize a few things (it's a long story) while FFP is paying the guy. I'm looking for the DVD remote for the big room. In the process I knock over a lamp. Fortunately it just breaks the bulb and not the glass shade. I sweep that up. I get dressed for my lunch.
My friend Allan is having his fifty-ninth birthday. He arrives and I drive us to the Four Seasons. I should have made a reservation but I didn't. It's OK, though. They accommodate us. We have a pleasant meal, talking about his play, another play he wants to write, how much of his sense of taste has returned (since a truck hit him while he was walking). He can taste Pinot Noir. That's good. Some wine he can't quite get any more.
After our leisurely lunch, I see that the day looms. I don't have anything to do this evening. I could get a lot done. But will I? When I get back, FFP has gone to the club. Good for him! In the middle of a weekday. Of course, it took the whole water thing to get him off schedule. I change and decide to do a few things done. But do I? Well, I do a few things to prepare for a party I'm throwing. A party I call impromptu. So, it shouldn't need preparation, right? Wrong!
FFP decides to celebrate water with a bath. FFP goes to get a massage. Sadly, I stuff my face and watch TV until he gets back and then I do that some more. I find myself up late, disappointed at the junk TV I'm watching and reading old newspapers. So, late, I join the husband and the dog in sleep.
holiday cheer in the pink
I eat a few snacks the host team has provided and talk a bit to people and take off. When I get home our handyman (and his handy wife) are putting up Christmas decorations. I go inside and shower and SuRu comes over. She is going to help me finish a little Christmas shopping. First we go to the drive-through and pay the property taxes on our house. Going to take them off the taxes this year and don't want to forget to pay them before the end of the year. We continue up Lamar, with Target as our Target. We stop for some lunch at a Mexican Rotisserie chicken place called Pollo Feliz. Happy Chicken? Blessed Chicken? Auspicious Chicken? Anyway food is good and cheap.
We go to Target. We are briefly side-tracked by the dollar stuff at the front but then continue to get some containers for some of my gifts and some stuff to go in them. We also buy some decorations for the gifts. SuRu buys a fireplace screen and I get a couple of leather look baskets for putting beside my chair in the bedroom to control the 'to be read' and the 'recycle' newspapers. This takes a long time. We spot back by Grape Vine Market to get some gadgets that are going in my gifts and some other stuff for the gifts. I also shop for some party wine.
While this shopping is exhausting, we find the ommph to dig out some Christmas decorations when we get back. SuRu puts ornaments around, on the mantle, on the old dresser we have collectibles on and in the glassware and cups displayed. This looks marginally festive. That and our Christmas lights might fools someone into thinking that we are into Christmas!
SuRu goes off to see Polar Express at the IMax with a friend and FFP and I get ready to go to a cocktail party. I'm in the bedroom, folding the rest of our laundry, when FFP goes to find the invite for the party and says, "What is that noise? And then 'help!'" Well, a pipe has ruptured near where the little leek was fixed a week or so ago. We go outside and come in the garage and use the cutoff to cut the water off into the house. We try calling the plumber who worked on it. No answer. So. We have no water.
So, of course, we go to the party. What else to do? We park downtown and go to the Frost Tower. First time we've gone upstairs in it. Nice party at a law firm. We wander around talking to people. We are disturbed about our plumbing problem, of course. But I feel better after a couple of free drinks.
The scattered food tables don't really cause us to fill up. So we stop by 34th Street Cafe on the way home and have some food. We both go to the toilet to save a flush. Going outside and fetching water to fill toilet tanks doesn't sound like fun.
We settle in and watch some TV. I get some water outside for hand washing and for the dog. Sigh.
We don't appreciate having clean fresh water delivered under pressure to all areas of the house, do we? We sleep.
dog at the wheel from an old photo
When I wake up remembering a dream I feel that I was revisiting the dream from another time, continuting it, but I can't remember dreaming anything particularly like it before. In the evening, on the recumbent bike at the club I'll read something in my book about a dream and remember my dream in reverse order again.
In the dream we were redoing a house. In the back yard we'd planted grass seed. It had come up in these perfect patterns, like stylized flower shapes with the grass only growing to make the pattern against bare earth. If this was fantastic and beautiful (if puzzling), we had done far worse inside. There was a room with a floor of slick tile 'chunks' that were haphazardly placed and upended in many places. The pieces were huge like giant ceramic curbs. Someone said something about the weight and a wall near by rumbled and crumbled. Out the front door I led various relatives including my Aunt Mary who is deceased. She wore sturdy old lady shoes and wrapped a sweater around her arms but she was very tall and stately. When we turned to come back the ground was muddy and covered with small snakes and I had to help her across.
I didn't think much about this dream. I got up and got ready to play tennis. I was waiting until time to make the drive to Circle C to play but not paying much attention to the weather. I finished yesterday's journal. I had the phone answering on the main line (FFP was at the dentist) but I fished out a call from the team captain saying she didn't know if we'd play. I unhooked the answering service. I waited until nine and figured if they did play at 9:30 that I would be late so I started out, telling FFP to call my cell if he got a call. It kept raining and raining as I drove and drove to Circle C's tennis club where I'd never been. Things have changed down south. The rain didn't stop. It just kept raining. I figured might as well see where the club was since I'd gone that far. Sure enough I got a call from the captain as I got near that the match was off.
I headed home, deciding to do a workout in the evening. Usually I don't keep those promises but since we didn't have anything to do in the evening and since FFP hadn't gone in the morning, I thought I just might make it.
At home, I worked on finishing the VB course. I made a thank you note for the party we attended Saturday night. I made a swipe at cleaning out the frig. I ate. I worked on my 'to do' list. (Don't laugh.) I called a couple of people and invited them over the week of Christmas for a drink. I emailed a few other people. I did finish reviewing the VB course, wondering how much I'd really learned about the language and Windows programming. I took the final exam. That didn't prove much.
At one point, FFP decided to go to Book Stop and I went along. He bought a book for his business, I bought nothing. In the early evening we did go workout, together. We almost never go together.
At home, we both ate, different things. I ate some of the leftovers that were edible discovered in the frig cleaning and some other stuff. We watched TV and I read papers. We are boring. Then sleep.
shop window glass
So I get to workout late. Then when I get home I get involved in telephone conversations with friends and end up not doing much. Well, I have to discuss parental unit crises and life crises with my friends, don't I?
At some point I eat and I shower. But. I get involved with old Simpsons episodes and, when FFP gets home from wrangling Kinky Friedman as Mother Ginger in The Nutcracker, his projects.
Oh, sure, I've looked over my 'to do' list and ordered a present online for my father-in-law. (I hope it gets here.) I've studied (or should I say reviewed) my VB course. There is a deadline to take the final. Truthfully, I need deadlines although I am self-motivated about some of my education tasks.
We get off to the club's annual Christmas party. We meet and greet. But I don't ever clean out the frig. So what?
We get to the party early to get a parking place and a table. But we don't stay too late. We do a circuit of the room saying hello to people. People in my water aerobics class, people we see in the gym, people I play tennis with, people who read Forrest's column. In this crowd, a lot of people read West Austin News. The most interesting person, a person I didn't really expect to meet at my club's Christmas party (is he a member?) was Bob "Daddy-O" Wade. And, no, Andy Roddick wasn't there. He was off losing on clay in Davis Cup. We just built some new clay courts, Andy. They are 'fake' however. One of the people ask me if I'd played the new clay ones. Nope. He said they were 'softer' than the old ones like maybe that wasn't a good thing.
We aren't the first to leave but we aren't the last. FFP goes up to work on a special edition of his WEB newsletter for the ballet guild, staff and principal partners. I watch some TV. He joins me watching a (DVR-delayed) Sixty Minutes interview Bob Dylan.
And then, of course, sleep.
shop window star with ladder
FFP feeds the dog and lets her out and then we do a little more bed time before getting up. Saturdays are different because FFP gives himself more freedom.
After a little coffee and computing, FFP suggests we go out for a migas breakfast. Normally I don't eat before working out, but I agree to this. It feels a lot like our 'old times' Saturdays when we first married. Except now, instead of going to the east side, to Cisco's, we go to Aranda's on Burnet Road near our house.
When we get back from our neighborhood Aranda's, I do a little more on the computer, letting my meal settle. Finally we both go off to the gym. In separate cars.
I do a fairly good workout. I don't feel the pressure I usually do on weekdays. At home, I extend this freedom by reading some papers and watching some stuff off the DVR. Is this less stressed attitude due to FFP not working or is it just me giving myself a 'weekend?'
Then I decide to do something 'constructive.' That would be (1) review my Visual Basic class; (2) download some computer fixes from Sony for my main machine which I've read should be done before installing XP Home SP2 which I'm still avoiding doing; (3) cut a CD for FFP from Rhapsody; and (4) update my wish list on Amazon. Only the first two are on my 'to do' list which I decide to print out and look at. Which brings to mind a couple of things to add to my 'to do' list...to make sure we have plenty of white 'all purpose' paper and to look at the reason my laser printer is occasionally putting bars on the print.
I conclude, after working on my Amazon wish list, that I really don't want anything for Christmas. I would like to buy a new anorak, hiking boots, bathing suit, warm up sweats and tennis shoes (specifically shoes for tennis) but none of these are desperate needs at the moment either. I can't even think of any gadgets that I want. There is software that I want but which I've decided I have to use the demo or restricted or old versions more before I'm 'allowed' to buy anything new. Has this really happened? I don't really want anything??? Yikes. It's necessary to have desire! Well, I want trips and workouts and tennis matches and live performances. And I already have my several newspaper and magazine subscriptions and I can shop for books on our many shelves. It's not like I'm living in a static world.
I make FFP his CD after doing a little battle with Rhapsody. This is a Bob Dylan inspired CD. He read an interesting editorial about Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone and its path to publication (and later being declared the greatest rock song of all time). Dylan. A great poet, really.
My goofing off continues. I am reviewing the VB class I took before taking the final exam. Not that it matters how I do. I'm just interested in really learning what this class teaches about the language. I've done battle with many programming languages in my day. This is, however, really the only IDE (integrated development environment) I've ever used. And...I've never really programmed for Windows. My PC programming pre-dates Windows! Yes, DOS programming. I'm a dinosaur!
Soon it's time to go to a party at the home of one of Forrest's clients. He's done business with these guys for twenty-five years. Unbelievable. We scoop up our Christmas present and go off to the party. It's a nice party. We are early. FFP takes the host to get ice. They serve a nice meal, have a white elephant gift exchange and pass out favors. (Electric Reindeer white Zinfandel with ornaments and candy tied to the neck.) We were one of the first to arrive and one of the first to leave. Nice people, nice party. My their kids have grown.
At home, I watch a few things from the DVR. Read a few sections of the paper. And to sleep.
shop window painting
There are two things that I try to get around to everyday. Writing this journal. Working out at the gym or doing some kind of physical activity.
This morning I finished my journal for yesterday. I also did a little online shopping and social planning. Some of that 'review to do list' planning that is 'planning to plan.' As a result it was around 11:30 when I got to the gym.
After the gym, I had to do three fairly simple errands: get gas in my car, buy some vegetables, go to the cleaners.
I went to the self serve area of the Exxon on Parkcrest and Balcones then went to the Randall's and bought Brusssels sprouts, broccoli, some cans of ripe olives and some cans of diced tomatoes and green onions.
I went home via Hancock, stopping at Shamrock Cleaners, dropping off a suit and sweater of mine for dry cleaning, a few shirts and picking up a white shirt of Forrest's.
So...it is after lunch time when I eat. I eat yogurt and cereal and then some leftover salmon.
I don't bother to shower so I'm in my sweats sort of dishevled and with a little dried sweat hear and there. SuRu calls. She is coming by to help me buy or put together a gift for the people who are giving a party tomorrow.
We go to Grape Vine Market. I buy a cool champagne stopper/pourer. I also buy a bottle of Seagram's Seven for my aunt who likes it and who will visit soon. But I don't like the gift baskets. They look like pre-made baskets. I've already bought some champagne, good stuff, at Costco. So we go to World Market. We buy a stainless wine bucket, some Lindt chocolate in a Christmas box, tissue, cellophane, that wire stuff with stars and a Christmas ornament.
Back home, SuRu puts this together with an artistry that makes it look pulled together and yet not mass marketed. Viola.
I have a snack and coffee and SuRu hangs around a while. Then poof it's time for dinner! Where does the day go.
I start some Brussels Sprouts steaming with lemon juice and lemon pepper. When they are getting tender I throw in some broccoli and more lemon juice. FFP has marinated some salmon in a ginger sesame sauce with some marinated garlic. I sautee that. FFP opens a Sauvignon Blanc. We have dinner. Simple as it is I have to clean up a couple of pans and implements and plates and put away a little leftover.
I go back to my computer for a while. . I make a card by printing a vintage Christmas card in a small format on card stock for the gift, making a couple of extra cards at the same time.
Then we watch TV. And I try to get through the day's newspapers. But I don't. Then to sleep.
shop window painting
The day started with getting up and messing around with the computer. I thought I was running late for a tennis date but I beat the other ladies to the court. I served a few practice balls. I had been invited to sub in a traditional for fun match. Two of the regulars were actually missing. There was another sub. The format is three sets with each person as partner. It was a crisp, sunny day and halfway through I was thinking "when I was working and the weather was like this I would have been wishing to be outside having a casual game of tennis." One of the ladies had to leave a little before 11. This form of tennis isn't much exercise so I went to the gym and did some stuff.
Home again, I dawdled and drifted on the computer and watched on fast forward Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I showered and folded laundry and SuRu came by. We went to lunch and then to my dad's to check on his phone/answering machine which has been acting up. We moved some furniture for him and tidied up in anticipation of his sisters visiting. He gave me an assignment to order a Christmas present (a certain kind of candy) over the WEB. We then went to Costco and shopped thoroughly looking for a few gifts, a new phone/answering machine for Dad, a new electric razor for FFP and some staples for us. I ended up spending a lot but got some bargains and some gifts. SuRu helped me shop, load and unload.
Then all three of us went downtown to Sixth Street for a party at Edgar Kelley Rugs. We also walked down the street to the festivities at Whit Hanks. Tis the season of free food and drink. The food and drink at the rug store was unbelievable.
We got home and I watched TV and read the paper while Forrest worked. Something in the days' food and drink didn't agree with me. I went to sleep with a little stomach ache.
letters for sale
in Too Many Things
Indeed, Dad confirmed he wasn't going. So, then, I should have gotten off to work out early enough. I didn't. I dawdled at my computer. I drank coffee. I ate breakfast. I made a 'thank you' card for the party last night. My dad dropped by after getting a haircut and I visited with him.
Finally I got to the gym. It was noonish. I didn't spend as much time as I would have liked there but I did better than I have been lately.
I headed home after the workout, ate lunch. I noticed some fresh Brussels sprouts in the frig and decided to steam them for dinner. I then wasted the remainder of the time before showering, eating and going to a movie by watching some TV, reading my book, setting up the new month on the journal, reviewing the Visual Basic course I just finished before trying the exam.
We left a little earlier than needed for the sneak preview of The Aviator. I think because I had a basketball game on the calendar (7PM) and when FFP told me about the movie I didn't have a time so I didn't put one on there. We fought Mopac to Barton Creek Mall only to find we were near first in line because the sneak was at 7:30PM. The movie was long. It was near 11 when we got home and I snacked and drank coffee and watch TV and got to sleep too late.
letters for sale