Saturday, January 20, 2007

January's Friday Night Date Night

A few years ago I inexplicably had the TV on while I was rustling up some dinner.
For some reason the report of the following little snippet of life caught my attention:

The actor Jeff Daniels (he of "Dumb and Dumber" and "Fly Away Home" fame) had been dining in a restaurant alone after attending to some out-of -town business.
Also dining in the same restaurant were three girls in prom dresses.
They spotted Mr. Daniel's, and asked for an autograph.
He cheerfully signed for the girls, and then began chatting with them.

It turned out the girls were heading to their Senior Proms, without escorts. No one had asked them out, so they had decided to just go to the prom together, as friends.

(This is the part where Jeff Daniels got me as a fan for life...)

Mr. Daniel promptly asked the girls if HE could escort them to their prom, and be their date for the evening.


There were home video film clips of Mr. Daniels and the three young ladies sweeping down the side walk, arm in arm, and going into the building along with other tuxedo clad young men and their ball gowned garbed dates.

Reportedly Mr. Daniels remained with the girls throughout the evening, dancing with each of them and generally making the "wall flowers" into the belles of the ball.

I'm just a sucker for acts of kindness.

Mr. Daniels has appeared in a lot of movies, some of which I have seen, and some of which I have not. After the prom story I googled Mr. Daniels. He's been married since 1979 to his high school sweetheart, has three kids, and lives in Michigan, where his wife was raised.

Oh, so NOT southern California Hollywood type.

I also learned at that time that he sang. There was a site with clips of him singing songs he had written.

They were pretty funny, and actually his voice was pretty good.

Which brings me to our January's Friday Night Date Night.

The local paper always has a section on Thursday's which discusses movies, plays, museums, restaurants and "diversions". I always look through it, mark up what I think would be fun to do, and then 95% of the time, don't do it.

This is because 95% of the time, it is close to an hour long drive to get to all this fun stuff.

And by the time Friday night rolls around, Bernie has already zipped around the country enough that staying home is a real draw. I'm a big fan of home and hearth, and early to bed myself, so we are most companionable about this option.

Well, last Thursday I barely glanced at the Entertainment section. Too cold, too tired to even think about going out.

Friday morning I was gathering up the newspapers when I took a second glance at the cover picture.

It was of a scraggly looking blond guy in a brown felt hat.
Under the picture it said "Jeff Daniels to sing at the Mucky Duck."

Jeff Daniels? HERE??? TONIGHT???

I was already racing for the door for an appointment, but I mentioned that Jeff was going to be singing tonight at the Mucky Duck (an Irish pub downtown, which recently has become NON-SMOKING, hallelujah...I'd never been due to smoke, but had heard a lot about it.)

Bernie of course said:

Jeff mean the guy in Dumb and Dumber, SINGING???

The look on Bernie's face was very interesting. Like the look you would give to a crazy woman announcing the Pope polkas during Mass.

He warily said he would consider it.

I called for tickets.

I would need to drive downtown to purchase them, or just come and hope for standing room only. There would be a7:30 and a 10:30 show.

Naturally I didn't drive downtown to get tickets. Decided to just to be indecisive the rest of the day, and see where "we" were at by evening.

"We" were pretty bogged down by five o'clock.

"We" both were sorely tempted to stay home by the fire. Cornbread sounded good. Maybe some kind of chili. Maybe go out to eat....maybe just hit the sack early, it had been a VERY long week for Bernie.

But somehow, from deep inside, "we" both had a spark of life left in us.
The spark that said "get up and go...have some aren't dead yet!"

So we threw on jackets and drove downtown.
We found a parking place right across the street from the front of the pub!
Rock Star parking!

The show was sold out.

We decided to wait, just in case there was a no-show.
I sat out front next to the ticket taker, while Bernie chatted with the owner.

A few minutes before the show was to start the owner decided we could stand inside by the door for the show.

"You two look like you would fit right in!" the ticket taker said.

And we did.

After ordering a basket of fish and chips, and a pint for us at the bar, Bernie headed to the boy's room, where he greeted Jeff himself.

A few moment later Jeff was on stage, singing great songs that those of us who are in our 50's, married for years and years to our spouses, and have raised kids and loved our hometowns can totally identify with.

We laughed, we enjoyed.
It was great to be out on a Friday night, at a 7:30 show with other middle aged folks like us.

After it was over, we were still hungry.

So we went out to IHOP.
International House of Pancakes.
And remembered back when the syrup pitchers there used to have metal tops.

It doesn't seem all that long ago.

(If Jeff Daniels ever comes to your area, be sure to catch his act. Here's a Youtube clip of him singing. And if you haven't seen him in the sweet film "Because of Winn-Dixie", be sure to view it too.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

The girls are ready for their close-up....

Bet you can't guess where this is!

Here's another hint.

Now you're getting warmer.

The soft foamy pad is a real improvement since the last time the girls had to come for a visit.

It used to be a frosty occasion all around.
Posted by Picasa Hmm, that pink ribbon, does that remind you of anything?

(It should...)
Oh oh.

(That's Debbie, and she was really nice and gentle. )

The "Owie" part lasted only about 6 seconds on each side.

Not so bad.

My oncology nurse daughter tells me about how bad it can be to go through treatment if breast cancer isn't detected early.

Twelve seconds of "oww"...glad to do it!

These are a new thing since last year's mammogram.

They're rather small compared to Janet Jackson's exposed pasty, but since they really aren't wardrobe, small is better.

The silver bead in the middle will help the radiologist identify what part of the picture is the nipple.

They were held on with a sticky backing that did just that: stick.
Ouch and OUCH coming off....

Well, that wasn't so bad.

Back out into the Kingwood Medical Center Mall.

The storefronts are actually doctor offices!

Very cheery.

I'm glad that is over for the year, and I have every reason to believe that both girls are just fine.

Afterwards, I took them out and treated them to a brand new comfy cotton bra.

They deserved it!

Please be sure to get your "girls" in for their "close-up" too.
Remind your friends and loved ones to schedule an appointment.
Because as most of us women know... our bras are dingy and we need to go get a new one anyway.
What better way to inspire a shopping trip to the lingerie department than
as a way to reward "the girls" for being so good during their yearly picture taking session.

When is your appointment?

If you haven't got one already, make one today!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pleasantly pondering ponds

Posted by Picasa While Tiggie stays on storm watch, I'm getting in gear to go back to work.

Second gear...I can't get up a lot of speed on this, simply because I'd rather lounge around the house, sit by the fire, sip tea, and read a nice book.

It probably needs to be said: Librarians haven't actually READ every book in their library.

A lot of us take our best shot at doing so, but in reality, what we mostly do is read reviews.

The reviews are most often written by librarians, or subject matter experts. Evaluating children's books is heavily taught in children's literature classes.

Adult literature review is a bit more dicey.
Some of the reviews I have read have made me want to disinfect my eyes and brain. I won't go into detail.
Trust me, it is a weirder world out there in publishing land than I ever imagined.

I haven't been reading much lately. You can see my summer reads here
I've got about a half dozen editing books hanging around right now, as I need them as I edit my novel.

My favorite is The Elements of Style by Wm. Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (of Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web fame.)
It is a tiny 85 page book that is so enjoyable I laugh out loud while I read it.
Bernie had to tell me to settle down when I first read it on a plane flight.

At Christmas, Bernie gave me "Seasons of Woman's Life" by Levinson,(the famous author of Season of Man's Life, a book Bernie has found enormously insightful as a man.)
I haven't begun reading it yet, but he has.
He is amazed at what it has to say about women's lives.

I've had a book review on the side of my refrigerator for a year now.
"In the Land of Second Chances" by Shaffner.
The review says it's about a quilting circle, who have all joined because quote:

...we all wanted the same thing. We just wanted people to be pleasant to each other.

Yeah, me too!!!
One reason why I like the bloggers that I like.
They manage to be pleasant, and that is a good thing.

While I was a school and then a Children's Librarian I read children's books daily.
I would cheerfully vote for a law that required all adults to read a children's picture book daily.
All 32 pages.
All Children's picture books are 32 pages, except the few exceptions that prove the rule.

I came across a review the other day of the new children's picture book "Babies in the Bayou", (recommended for age 3 and up.)
Author is Jim Arnosky.

Now this review deserves to be read out loud in your best "talking sweetly with children's voice."
Go ahead, clear your throat, and start reading:

There are sharp-toothed alligators, hungry raccoons, tiny turtles and watchful ducks in the bayous, and they all have mothers looking after them.
Arnosky's green watery world looks calm until you take a closer look. The gators are eyeballing the ducklings, and raccoons munch turtle eggs.
Danger is all around for the babies of the bayou, but there's no sense of fear in the story, which introduces children to a swamp ecosystem where animals come and go.

Gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it!
Animals "come and go"? You mean get eaten?
Oh there's sweet dreams for you.

Back to my earlier blog about teaching to interest, I'm pretty sure most boys would tag this as a favorite read.
The turtle ate the baby duck?

If it wasn't so muddy, I would consider trekking down the way to our own bayou.
The one that I used to explore merrily, and occasionally waded around in on hot summer days.

After two years of this "ignorance is bliss" activities I encountered my first copperhead snake on the path, looking like a pile of dead leaves.
Someone was kind enough to point out that it is wise not to wander off the path through the underbrush because of the notable copperhead population in our area.

Then I spotted a coral snake. Gorgeous little thing, and Bernie says they have such small mouths they really can't do much harm (usually he says this as he is reaching to encouraging it to move along as I scream loudly...) They are quite deadly as well.

Laura first noticed the water moccasin slithering through the bayou waters.
Then the local newspaper reported about the female alligator with a NEST in our edge of the water.

I see jet skiers zooming through our bayou/lake all the time, and figured it was just fine to take a dip now and then, as long as I didn't get any water in my mouth.

Boy was I wrong about that.

Today would be a good day to go to the "pond" as the snakes and alligator would probably be nestled deep within the earth avoiding the cold.

On the other hand, perhaps it would be more pleasant to merely ponder the pond, and linger at home by the fire, until I have to head out to work.

What are you pondering pleasantly today?

And don't you think the men reading this will find all those links much pleasanter than us girl readers do?

Happy to help you learn guys.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When "H" freezes over

It finally happened.

"H" has frozen over.

And I've got the pictures to prove it.

"H" as in Houston, that is.
Our nickname being
"H town"

Bernie got through the snow, and on to a plane home, arriving at 10:30 pm.

The roads had iced all over the area, with the exception of the freeway between the airport and our home.
I am so thankful!

There were lots of accidents on the roads around our city. Thankfully, no fatalities.
Posted by Picasa This morning I was amused to see one inch long icicles clinging to one area of our eaves.

Some plants were spangled with ice, others were totally dry.

I've heard of "scattered showers", but I never imagined showers could scatter in a matter of feet.

I guess our local news teams can take a rest now.
It has been a slog.
One poor guy was assigned to follow a sanding truck around downtown and report where it was going.
Another guy (I am NOT making this up...) was assigned to watch a bucket of water and report when a film of ice formed.
He was at it all day.
Guess they must have had a bad experience with thermometers somewhere along the line.
They'll believe it is 32 degrees when they see water freezing with their own eyes.

And yes, if you thought a watched pot will never boil, the same can be said about a watched pot will never freeze.

Jeeze, get a life why don'tcha?

It's still raining, but the temperatures are supposed to be around 35 degrees.
Just a cold drippy day.
Nice and normal.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Staying on the edge of my seat...

The massive ice storm over Texas has looked on dopler radar like a pink cotton candy blob that sends wisps my way, but no real precipitation or ice issues have arrived to speak of.


That is supposed to change in the next hour or so.

At this point I'm pretty burned out on watching the news, looking outside, and checking the radar on

I broke up the routine by going to the dentist to get a crown prep done.
My life, the fun never stops.

Bernie called, and he's driving in almost white-out conditions as he travels up to Cleaveland to catch a flight home.
So I'm monitoring his weather progress as well.

When I was growing up in La Jolla the weather reports never changed:

Night and morning low clouds.
High 75, low 72.

We didn't need to feed the local birds there.
There were always flowers in bloom.
And feeding seagulls, well, they're fun to feed but the results are messy, if you catch my drift.

Here in Kingwood we feed our local birds
We have Northern blue jays, Cardinals, Mockingbirds, four kinds of Woodpeckers, titmouse, warblers, Carolina wrens, cedar wax wings, sparrows, finches, martins, and robins.

I really love the cardinals and woodpeckers the best.

On my last trip to the store I found the brand of bird seed that is pictured above.

Maybe, as a child of the space age, you recall how cool "freeze dried" foods were when they first came out.

Later freeze dried food became a hiker/camper/survivalist food.

Well, Houston IS home to NASA, and the space shuttle and all of that.

(Did you know the first word spoken on the moon was "Houston"?
As in "Houston, the Eagle has landed." I think "Houston" would be a great name for an eagle.)

I guess it is only fitting and proper therefore that our local birdies should benefit from space age technology.

You guessed it: Freeze dried mealworms!

Posted by Picasa Freeze dried mealworms.


Lazy birds.

Eat up my fine feather friends.

For you, there really is such a thing as a free lunch!

Bon Appetit!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Disaster looms...

So, it's 37 degrees here (2 degrees C.)

And this is what my garden looks like sans leaves.
That "sans leaves" might prove to be very important in the next few hours.

My friends in Colorado and other points north apparently decided to send a "Touch of Winter" our way.

I'm sure they will all be happy to hear that their present arrived safely and was ANNOUNCED in the supermarket this morning.

As in:

"Attention shoppers: Winter has arrived here in Kingwood. Keep your family warm with our delicious morning casserole which has just come hot out of our oven. Come by for a sample and thank you for shopping with us at HEB."

Talk of power lines going down and ice slicked streets made me inventory my larder and make a quick trip to the store.

(That, and I was out of laundry detergent anyway...)

Kingwood has no road sanding equipment.
If it ices, I'm not going anywhere until it melts.

HEB is always fun.

Pictured above is the juice aisle.
Yup, just juice.

The two in-store kitchens offer delicious samples and recipes.
You can see this month's recipes in the little paper next to the sampler.
I've gotten some great recipes from that paper.

The deli, produce, cheese, seafood, and bakery all hand out samples.

Most trips I get enough samples that making myself lunch is no longer necessary.

And sometimes Bernie and I make a quick stop and
"Honey, I'm full. Let's skip dinner!"

Today was especially fun.
Shoppers were wearing ski caps, wool shearling jackets, GLOVES etc while they shopped.

They could have headed to the slopes for a day of skiing without braving the slightest shiver.
Gotta wear your winter gear for the full two days of winter I suppose.

Actually, I am mildly concerned.
After surviving Hurricane Rita, I put a lot of thought into disaster preparedness.
We are all set for abandoning the home in ten minutes (Houston being a port district is identified as being a prime target for terrorism. Chemical/nuclear attack would mean leaving instantly if possible.)
We also are are all set to stay in place without power for a few days.

Preparing for a hurricane is a real pain in the tush.
ANYTHING that might become airborne in high winds must be put inside.
Bernie was out of town until 12 hours before Rita.

I got to drag all the stuff in to the house.
The patio set.
Stuff on the side of the house.
Small potted plants.
Bird feeders.
Trash cans.

It is amazing how much stuff could be blown away.
All this dragging inside went on in 98 degree heat.

During the storm a tree did come down on us.

And a neighbor had his roof pierced by a broke tree.

With a hurricane, mostly the survival concern is about dealing with the heat and mosquitoes.
This time it is a little more about dealing with ice.

Will my trees break?


And naturally, Bernie is out of town.
Cleveland, where the weather is nice right now.

Last Friday my folks were under standby for evacuation for a possible tidal wave.
It didn't happen, but they got to think through their plans.
Two cats that hate each other=two cars to evacuate.
Pretty funny.

Forty years ago La Jolla was evacuated for the Alaskan Good Friday earthquake.

That was pretty funny too.

It was a nighttime event, and all the teenage boys wanted to stay down from the mount to catch the surf.
Or at least take their surf boards.
Our neighbor had a box full of kittens to round up.
My dad was the Scoutmaster of the local Boy Scout troop that was coincidentally already camping atop the designated evacuation point, Mt. Soledad.
And he and the rest of the troop were in uniform.

He rushed home to make sure we were OK, and then knocked on the door of some of our elderly neighbors, advising them that they were being asked to evacuate.
The elderly neighbors were VERY impressed that my dad was in his Scoutmaster uniform while he did this.
Others arrived at the mount and thought the Boy Scouts were just wonderful to have set up this nice little camp for all the evacuees.


The Scripps Institute of Oceanography scientists refused to evacuate, choosing rather to stay on the beach to measure the tidal wave.

Now there's a dedicated group for ya!

It turned out that the tidal wave that had earlier impacted Crescent City and other points north had petered out, and there was no measurable tidal change.


I remember the pictures of the ice storm in Canada a few years ago, with broken mangled power lines and fallen shattered trees for miles and miles.
And that recovery took weeks and weeks.


I kind of prefer earthquakes.
Earthquakes just happen, and then you deal with it.
Maybe "big time" deal with it, or just spend time asking everyone if they felt it.

The last big earthquake in the Santa Cruz area taught us a lot.
Specifically to designate a person in a different state as a contact person.
People were displaced in that earthquake, and phone service within the area was destroyed.
Calls could be made out of area however.
So you could call Auntie in another state, and she could relay messages.

For awhile I carried my Arizona aunt's number on me at all times.

Tornadoes are another concern.
We regularly go under tornado watches and warnings.
We're supposed to hunker down in the bathtub with a battery powered radio.
Daughter Laura actually did this while a tornado blew by about three miles away from her.
Coincidentally Bernie was flying home right over that tornado and got to see it from above.

I got to watch the radar screen, and wonder where Bernie was in term of in the air, and knowing exactly what street Laura lived on as the tornado tracked along a street map overlay on the weather channel screen.

Laura and I talked via cell phone while she was in the tub.
A real bonding time together.
Ah, sweet memories.

Now don't tell anyone, but every time they say to head to the bathtub because a tornado might be headed my way, I always go outside and look.

Secretly, I'd like to see a tornado.
In the distance of course.
Just once.

Once when we lived in Northern California I was driving home from work and the horizon filled with a wall of pea green.

"Gee, that looks just like the videos I've seen of how it looks when there is a tornado. But there aren't any tornadoes in the San Jose area. Huh. Sure looks weird."

Guess what?
A tornado touched down in the Sunnyvale community in San Jose that day.

I have a healthy respect for pea green clouds, and aqua colored skies, even though they say that is not an indicator.

We'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

Posted by Picasa It's still 37 degrees, and raining.
While I was at HEB I decided that if disaster was to overtake us, I didn't want to go down without having any of this year's Kingcake.

I've had a slice, and will cut out 1/4 of the cake and freeze the rest.

Bernie has requested that Kingcake not become Queenbum.

If things get really bad, and the power goes out, and it thaws, I promise I will share it with the neighbors.
Posted by Picasa Tiggie of course has this whole situation covered.
He's staked his claim.

This comforter is his.

And he will be here for the duration.