The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our garage is about half full of perfectly stacked boxed of stuff. L's stuff. He is systematically disappearing for the entire morning into his study with one of those boxes.  He's scanning notes, pictures, articles, entire books for all I know.  Our oldest son recommended the scanning to digital storage idea and my husband has taken to it as only the truly compulsive can (no disrespect there, it is as the if the kettle is calling the skillet black).  I applaud the effort.  Our huge recycling container sits ready, straining lid cocked open, every pick up day.  We are burning already scanned stuff in our little fire pit. Someday we may be able to park a car in the garage.

This picture turned up.

He came out to find me saying, "Hey, look what I found."  This was taken in July of "81 at the airport in Buffalo.  The night before we had been in what seemed to me was getting ready to be a fatal car wreck.  A speeding car screamed through a red light broadsiding us and spinning the brand new station wagon L was driving round and round and round just like a toy flung during a temper tantrum.  The car was totaled. From my seat on the right I could see more clearly around the blind corner.  I saw it coming.  There's a word for "when time fragments in to tiny fractions of a second and those fraction move forward like box cars on a freight train" ... it's like slow motion ... even one's prayer is stretched like a cassette tape that will never sound right again. 

I've never told anyone this - after my dad died I started thinking, irrationally of course, that everyone I loved would die (because I loved them).  That's some sort of weird messed up.  The earlier death of my best friend/older brother had left a jagged scar, Daddy's death was too much loss to absorb. For a long time I kept my love small because of that ill conceived idea.  

During those splintered seconds before impact my breaking heart reminded God that He promised to never put more than we can bear.  That's what I'd been told.  That's what I believed.  (I now know that is not what the scripture says.)   Please, no, my heart whimpered. My husband and I walked away from the crash.  I miscarried a few days after we got back home.  And I dropped out of graduate school and went to work.  

It surprises me what comes out when I just sit down to write ... . 

I sat down today to talk about how much I am enjoying ALEXA.  Maybe I can tell that story tomorrow because I am out of time today.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Recent birthday pictures - plenty to be thankful for - 116/1000

and what the dog willingly endures when we are inside more than we like to be

the eye liner is all him, I just added the brows

Today I  decided to stop wearing eyeliner myself ... it just smudges so easily and looks bad (noticed as I searched for a pic of myself).

I also received the gift of outdoor heat for my birthday - Max likes that almost as much as I.

This little guy usually snuggles with me first thing in the morning as I sit here enjoying my coffee and life in general.

old electrical plug -

Pictured here because I think the plug is super cool.  There is suppose to be a piece of card stock covering the wiring (and protecting fingers from a little inadvertent buzz.  We bought this lamp in Atlanta several years ago, but I'm just now seeing the wiring. My dad taught me how to do most of what I can do "handyman-wise". This little plug reminds me of that.  I still miss my dad and with that is the lingering regret of not missing my mom.  I am working on being thankful for her.


watching it open has been fun


our home's entry today

our home's entry before the flippers worked in it
"THANKFUL" number 114 - We bought the house this summer and have been working in it ever since. I like that because it's something I enjoy (working around my house) and because it's just gratifying to see something look "better" in general.  The ceiling fixtures were a Christmas gift from one of my sons.  It's neat to think of him when the lights come to my attention.  All five were home for a few days during Christmas which made for a uniquely special time for me. Where do the years go?

Still to do in the foyer - doors.  We have a new front door leaning against the wall in the living room, it's still in the box it was shipped in.  Finding hardware has been interesting.  We wanted an interior "push (and maybe twist) to lock" like the front door on our former home.  Those aren't being manufactured now apparently.  Everything we found was a keyed lock - as in insert key from the outside to lock the door.  Now we have discovered KEVO and the "research is on as to ... how easily can it be hacked ... is it the best of the current crop of lock sets for our needs etc..  The mechanism on the inside is curved at the top  - the hardware I've favored is not curved.  I tend to like straight lines (and circles).  So, the front door is pretty high on the to do list. It's so pretty, I'm excited about seeing it installed (not my project/above my skill set/hubby's job). The flippers took all the arches out of this house. Neighbors who have been in comment on the arches being gone.  In my typical unfiltered style I have stated that I thought they looked absolutely hideous in the pictures I've seen of "before" ... they were all different sizes which would have been very unsettling for me.  A most recent visitor told me that the previous owners had the arches installed because she "loved" the arches in the home (they've been over and heard my arch distaste) across the street.

The local ReStore has a bunch (like several pallets) of solid core doors.  It is my plan to replace every door in the house with a solid core door and I'd like to start in the foyer where there are three pairs of double doors, all of which were hung with significant gaps.  The door knobs on the study doors are "off" by about an inch of each other and remind me of a raised eyebrow.  I want to finish the doors in a white wax but leave them natural otherwise.  Like this:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hello 2018! The year of "Alexa, bark at my dog."

I have concerned myself with many words here.  Protect. Trust.  Hope. Persevere. Love. Still.

I'm ready for a new word.  A good word.  I think stillness has seeped in to my soul.  I know still.

I feel like 2017 actually did finish something.  Most usually I shift my year end rumination session several days forward in January, more towards my birthday coming up.  That's why feeling an end, even when you don't know the end to what yet, is note worthy to me.  I do like endings for the very fact that they signal beginnings.

Five different guest beds, if indeed one's very own (adult) children might be considered guests, generates a lot of laundry!  Hard freeze warnings blanket the area so those sheets and light quilts went right outside to cover our new landscape plants.  Figuring out the skeleton plan for this house's landscape was one of the very fun things I got to do last year.  In the Spring I'll dive in to fleshing the beds out a bit.  Right now we are working on drainage issues in this yard which have compounded over the years.  I think the "fill" from the hole of the pool was heaped around the yard in a haphazard manner.  Totally guessing.  Water events invariably pool at the back corner of the house.  My husband, a CE, has it all figured out and well on the way to handled.  I love working on our home.  One of the kids gave us light fixtures for our foyer.  There is a sheet rock patch on the top of L's to do list and then we can put up the new lights.  It's a lot of fun to see the house taking shape.

Today the tree came down.  Tomorrow I'll renest the baubles in their own little boxes.  That other brass star says JOY.

These light strings are going to the backyard trees..  I am going to run them from the ground all the way up the truck and out the branches, not wrapped, linear, all thirteen lines of them will twinkle from the trees that shade the back patio.  Next summer that bed will be full of elephant ear, hostas, gardenias and multicolored begonias.  I can barely wait!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

So long Year of the Figet Spinner

Selfie taken today as we drove around collecting necessities for the cold forecast to siege the area for the next several days. Currently a declining 28F.  I initially typed 28C and stared at it wondering what was wrong with that for a minute or two.  Pilot stuff.  I haven't looked at my logbook but I do believe it has been a full year since I last flew.  It doesn't feel like my last flight at the controls, but it does feel like I have no intention of teaching again.  I wonder how this will go ... I'll let the flight review lapse ... let the instructor certificates go without a reup ... when I'm to frail to handle the yoke someone will say,  OMG, you were a flight instructor back in the day when people actually hand flew ... maybe they'll let their plane take me up.

Here's a good thing about that sorta pissy observation - I never really wanted to die inside an airplane and I have significantly decreased the odds of that happening for me.  Except I just remembered something important - Gliding is really cool.  I can almost hear the sound of the air curling around the fuselage, it is mesmerizing.  I can almost make a commitment to looking into the local gliding clubs.  That would be good for me.  I may be able to overcome my shyness in support of that.

I noticed that it has been a long time since the last entry here. December was spent preparing for a visit from all five of our kids.  It was really great having all of them home, sleeping under the same roof, for what will be quite rare in the years ahead.

Three, Four, Two, Five and One

This wasn't the best of the batch of pictures of them together, but I like this one because it"s a picture of patience by my sons for the fun their sisters were having.  There is an 18 sec vid of Three skipping a stone which will become a treasured memory of mine.  I haven't really sorted through all our pictures yet - Five said she would create a photo book of our time together.  I would love that.

More shortly.  I'm going to get back to journaling more often. 

Happy New Year!  I'm looking forward to it.  2017 was a good one.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

I was thinking that we all, each of us, have stories that we choose not to tell.  We keep them secret, forgotten perhaps, because to tell them would open the soul in a way that feels exactly naked.  Then it occurred to me that probably people don't really spend the time to formulate a version of  many of their stories (because we stay busy with life management chores).

I have noticed that when I write down my thoughts on something I have read or seen or experienced first hand that the time to select the best words to recount the moments seems to clarify what actually happened, how I responded to it and most usually how I would have liked to respond "better" if given another opportunity.

I miss writing.  I have been filling my days up with being busy, too busy to write, too busy to really think.  During this quieter time though, I have noticed that I've gotten better at being thankful.  Thankful in general.

 Recently an acquaintance told me that he was going to the funeral of a person who I also know though not as well as he.  I asked, what do you think happened next?  I expected some variation on a spiritual theme, but he surprised me by answering  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing. Death is the end.  And he asked me what I thought of that.  I think he was giving me a chance to batter him with religious indignation, he seemed to be bracing himself, but I just said what I think which is I don't know same as nobody really does know. I said I believe in God as the creator/redeemer, but I'm not so certain as most people I know seem to be about what happens next.  I do believe that our souls are eternal.  Mostly I tend not to imagine the mansions and streets of gold ... the canon of hymns seems to have played many very minor and maybe metaphorical elements up so much that they amount to inducements to do right (or burn).

I think the Bible is about a relationship.
I think it's a picture of "not grace" so that the need for grace might be better understood.
I think it is an evolving story of grace.
I think "we" have gotten a lot of it tangled up.
I think the un-knotting begins with love, and I think we learn about love by leaning in to it.

As hard as I try though, I'm not great at relationships -  I misunderstand, say the wrong thing or the right thing sometimes at the wrong time.  Sometimes saying nothing makes messes in my relationships too.

I would be very sad if my relationships were predicated by "the prize" I could give in exchange for another's ... what?  Love, presence, companionship?

I think that "mansion" is a new "wrapper" for my soul, your soul.  I'm just a little creeped out by  living in a tent.  It's cool because of the novelty but the limitations are increasingly evident as time goes on.  Tent living is a humbling experience.  I like it for about 5 days.

I think God might be providing time with the invisible presence choice for me to learn how to "love" well, or at least better, the people I do have tangible relationships with.  It's pretty easy for me to navigate superficial relationships.  I smile and say hi to strangers (for example) in a way that hopefully makes them feel seen.  I think I'm pretty good at relationships with my immediate family and probably with my oldest friends (mostly because they love me ... I'm not great at remembering birthdays and sometimes forget the names of their kids).

>Time for me to get busy, but I'll be back<

Sunday, November 26, 2017

2017 Texas Monthly TOP 50 BBQ list - my notes and pictures

BBQ Joints By Region

1 2M Smokehouse*

South San Antonio feels closer the the Lower Rio Grand Valley where I was young than it actually is.  2M was most certainly cooking up and serving on a "home made" tortilla my Dad's type of BBQ brisket.  We asked for lean and we got an amazingly delicious cut that wasn't the least bit shy about the fat (ended up trimming it myself because even though my Dad said that was the choicest part, my cholesterol counter says I must demure).  Yummy!

2 Baker Boys BBQ*
3 City Market
4 Cooper’s OLD TIME PIT

It must be the ambience.

5 Franklin Barbecue

We arrived to wait in the line at 10 ... 
were notified that we would be looking at 12:30,
 and could commence ordering mimosa's at noon.  
As much as I don't really want to wait in a line like that again, 
I must admit that it really wasn't a problem.  

The food made it okay.  I really like their BBQ.

Super cool location, great waitstaff, cocktails rocked, BBQ on point.
New kid on the block knocking it out of the park.

7 The Granary ’Cue & Brew

These guys were so all about the "brew" when we visited that we were put off.  Ordered a quarter pound to go.  When I'm back at The Pearl I'll probably give them another go because the place was really cute.  Brisket in the frig waiting for lunchtime now.

8 Hays Co. Bar-B-Que

9 Heavy’s Bar-B-Que*

10 Kreuz Market
11 La Barbecue (Austin)  

My current favorite (30 Nov. 17).  I wasn't properly prepared to love this particular BBQ spot.  It was a tad disconcerting to me that the man serving beef was sporting a nose ring.  I guess I don't have a clue about why a person would want to wear a nose ring.  To me a nose ring that pokes out from both nostrils is just disrespectful towards oneself ... and in the face about it.  I don't get it.  I don't have a cubby hole for that question, the why of it, and gosh, especially in a BBQ joint ... I understand why a cow might need to be wearing a nose ring ... it was hard to unthink about that while I was standing there placing my order.  The actually meat cutter was like a skater dude who informed us that Mueller's (below) is now (copycatting their chipotle sausage, "You know how Jalepeno (and cheese he said, but thats incorrect and i let it pass as I tend to do) Links are their thing and Chipotle Links are our thing (and I thought "No I did not know Chipotle Links were exclusive to y'all's place" again saying nothing even about how cows wear nose rings).  We ordered a scant 1/2 pound, no sides, no drinks and asked for our passport stamps.  

The brisket was absolutely the best.  I do adore the whole SNOW'S operation. They are absolutely the epitome of what [Texas BBQ + plus the people who create it + the people who eat it] should hope, strive, to be, but/and I am convinced that La Barbecue (especially if they could get Micklewait's Slaw) is the elevated urbanized "place to watch". 

12 Louie Mueller barbecue

Louie Mueller's

 We eat here so often that I forgot to take more pictures the day they stamped our book -
I absolutely love eating at Mueller's.  This was my first taste of Texas Top 50 BBQ from my stay out in Taylor in 2014.  For me the whole BBQ thing starts here ... and if I never had the pleasure of dining with the other's, this would be just fine.

Louie Mueller's

13 Micklethwait Craft Meats*
The meat was "too moist" for me but the sides ... wow!

14 Miller’s Smokehouse
15 Payne’s Bar-B-Q Shak*
16 Rio Grande Grill BBQ*
17 The Smoking Oak*
18 Smolik’s Smokehouse*

19 Snow’s BBQ 

Easy to taste why they are TMTOP50BBQ joints Numero Uno
They're within a easy drive from us, but open only on Saturday. I really enjoy Snow's.
On the most recent trip I mentioned that the beans were as good as my mama's and the lady behind the counter replied, they should be they're made by Mama Tootsie.  Mr. Kerry, tending the pits, is a gracious and notably unassuming host. Somehow or other everyone there makes you feel like family.

20 Stiles Switch BBQ & BREW
Stiles Switch - has to be a top ten for me.

21 Terry Black’s Barbecue*
22 Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ*
23 Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que*

24 4-T’s Bar-BQ*
25 BBQ on the Brazos*
26 Bodacious Bar-B-Q*
Did not "love".  Food was okay. Ambience felt awkward. 

27 Cattleack Barbeque*
28 Flores Barbecue*
29 Harris Bar-b-que*
30 Heim Barbecue*
Heim's - food was fine, cute place in Ft. Worth's medical district -
the "facilities" were note worthy in that several private toilets shared a common sink , so while I washed my hands, brushed my hair and refreshened my lipstick four different men stood with me at the mirror - it was odd as they were strangers and I'd say just a little uncomfortable to be sharing the bathroom with a woman.

31 Hutchins BBQ
32 Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue
33 Lockhart Smokehouse
34 Pecan Lodge
35 Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ

36 Top 5 BBQ*

37 Blue Moon BBQ*

38 CorkScrew BBQ
39 Fargo’s Pit BBQ
40 Gatlin’s BBQ
41 Killen’s Barbecue*
42 Pinkerton’s Barbecue*
43 The Pit Room*
44 Roegels Barbecue co.*
45 Tejas Chocolate Craftory*
46 Truth Barbeque*

47 Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque*
48 Pody’s BBQ

I believe there must be better brisket on all those drilling sites out around Pecos. Or maybe I wasn't in the mood to be charmed by anything including the dust on the way out of town - two separate glass breaking windshield hits during our briefest of brief stay in Pecos! 

49 Stillwater Barbeque*
50 Tyler’s Barbeque
* new to list this time 'round

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fedex truck slides down icy interstate I-80 during snowstorm

a beautifully written (by a high end trucker) story which touches on hazards like this among other thingsTo get his disabled truck out of traffic A Federal Express truck driver masterfully handled his truck while carefully sliding it down a very slick interstate incline near Truckee California.

Monday, November 6, 2017

recent Colorado and New Mexico pics from my phone camera -

Best seat on the train!

Fall color was already blown to the four corners ...
We awoke to a very blustery day and missed the leaves.
This train ride is in Georgetown, Colorado.

L and D

how grey my hair is becoming
easy to see the inspiration for a lot of the Santa Fe art

sunrise painting the mountains purple and orange

North of Taos after the mountains gave way to the plains.
That dark line below the mountains in the middle of the fields is a tree covered
homestead/ranch buildings
we saw lots of places in the middle of nowhere

Southbound - Colorado sunrise
I am surprised to find that I didn't take very many pictures with my phone while in Colorado - checking the real camera later today to see what we captured!  Maybe more to come.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

 Sunday morning and I'm missing church today because I said I'd take my son to the airport.  He has vacation days which must be used (or lost) and he wants to powwow about which trails we loved, the downlow on what to do & what to miss in the Boulder area.  I really love visiting in Boulder.  The pictures from our most recent trip up there to share some time with III have not been transferred from my phone to the laptop yet - maybe today.

These are the last few pictures I found already on PHOTOS.

The first one, a collage, was taken at Austin's Stiles Switch BBQ.  Texas Monthly puts together a TOP 50 BBQ list and reposts as they see fit to.  Remember in 2014 L and I started collecting TOP 50 stops?  Well, this year (2017) they updated their list, dropping a few, adding a few, and to make serious matters even more amusing, they have collaborated with YETI offering BBQ games with serious party favors.  For example, when you collect a "sticker" from each of the four corners of Texas (Pecos, Amarillo, Jefferson, Brownsville (the one with the cow eyeballs)), you qualify to win a YETI Hopper, which having been to all four of those places I'll assert, you need the Hopper before  making that jaunt. Anyway, we are revisiting to collect our passport stamps/stickers and enjoying some fine brisket along the way.  Next - same deal - 'kept, Tyler and Stanley's (also has about 50 different Bourbon's, but that for a different day).

The trees in our back yard. The trees are absolutely a gift.  This is the smallest lot we have lived on.  It's been so long since I heard traffic noise that it still grabs my ear when I'm outside ... but the trees, scare over much of Texas, the trees make the backyard wonderful.  Filter - PRISMA/mosiac.  

The sanctuary at our church.  This year we are visiting Sunday school classes - yeah, there are that many!  I know I'd already be plugged in some where, but my husband likes to make well informed and duly considered choices.  

We'll skip that next one and move on to those solid bronze doors.  $6,500.00 for the pair.  They are beautiful and you can pick them up at Southern Accents in Cullman, Alabama.  They are amazingly well crafted.  

One of the great things about our new house is it has a pass through room from the garage to the main house.  There's also an outside side entrance to the side yard. The room measures about 20'x12'.  The washer and dryer are in there but the rest is shelving and counter space.  I think it's the coolest room ever missing from our other homes.  So that picture is of the stemware racks I just installed in a repurposed IKEA wardrobe/armoire.  There are three in there and I love them for organizing my kitchen things.  I have recently noticed that knowing where stuff belongs/can be found is a huge deal to me.  It makes me feel like I am home which to me feels awesome.  (I almost never use that word.)

That chair.  I hesitate to say it because it's so much money, but that chair is the exact "right" chair that I really really want.  We need four.  I sure would love to find good "generously" sized chairs for much less! (Can you believe it's just setting outside in the boneyard at the outlet warehouse/showroom for Southern Classics ?!)

Next up - the crumbs and jagged pieces from the bottom of a couple of cracker boxes and a bunch of yummy stuff = a quick dinner.

That last pic is layers and layers of paint on doors again at Southern Accents.  L was giving a professional talk and I went along to just play in and around B'ham.  We rented a car and put around five thousand miles on in driving from Austin to B'ham and back, then down to Edinburg where a friend needed a little emotional support as she tends to her aging parents ... it was actually tamale therapy ... back up to Austin then over to Santa Fe via Pecos (BBQ) on to Boulder for  a few days then home again (with two rock strikes from 18 wheelers - replacement cost added to our total bill).  We finish a book on tape (Michener's TEXAS) and started another one (BIG RICH - about Texas Oilmen).  I love books on tape.

Did I mention that all five of our kids will be in for Christmas this year?  I am so happy about that.  Today we decided to cook really amazing Mexican food from our two new cookbooks for the big Christmas feast.  Today we, Five and I, cooked an amarillo mole, three salsas and a big batch of tamales.  The house smells so good that I don't want to open the doors!

Colorado pics asap... .

I think I mentioned a doctor's visit ... maybe something about my thyroid which turns out to be fine.