Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You know it's autumn when...

The obvious answer is: it's colder. Daytime highs are in the 70s and at night it's in the 50s. Great sleeping weather. Pull the quilt to your chin, tuck your feet under the nearest obese neutered cat (we have two) and sleep the night away.

But there are other signs autumn is in the air.

The hall tree does a reversal. While the trees outside are dropping their leaves, the inside tree is gather jackets, sweaters, and coats. Soon, they'll be piled on top of one another and disgust at the sight will make me drag everything upstairs and hang it up. We are not at that stage yet.

The laundry transitions from two loads of light-colored clothes to one of light and one of dark to two of dark. Instead of being tucked in with the towels, the jeans now have their own load. There are socks and knee-hi's and--egad!--the occasional pair of hose. (Very occasional. My goal is to limit my exposure to once or twice a year.)

Leftover morning coffee isn't pitched at dinnertime because it's been heated and absorbed for warmth during the day.

Ice builds up in the ice maker.

I have to find the houseshoes. All of them: lightweight, cuffed, fun, scuffs.

The ceiling fans are turned off one by one and the windows more closed than cracked.

The outside cats are huddled together on the chaise in the morning.

And the last reason to know autumn is in the air: the postman is bent double under the catalogs trying to sell me Christmas!


Sunday, October 28, 2007

You know you've been married a long time when...

Went antiquing yesterday in Gladewater, a small East Texas town which proclaims itself the Antique Capital of East Texas. Not so sure about that, but there were enough stores to explore that we spent 5 hours doing it. (Antiquing is hard work. I'm more tired at the end of the slow shuffle-and-look days than when I walk on the treadmill.) I spent less than $5 (but there was potential to spend more) and we had a good lunch at a Mexican food restaurant.

For several years I've seen stacks of cookbooks and pamphlets which harken back to my newlywed days. I rarely see--other than Corningware--a wedding gift. But there, in the middle of an antique store was my ceramic appetizer tray. Two pieces which fit together like Yin and Yang with small separate compartments for tomatoes or cherry peppers, both pieces sit on a wooden lazy Susan. It's compact and I still have mine. Heck, I still USE it.

Asking price was $22, negotiable to about 10% less I imagine. New it would have been... less than $10?

So my wedding gifts are now in antique stores. Guess I've been married a long time.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Playing catch up again

1. Viewed Black Book last evening, a Dutch film which couldn't have stayed in the theaters two months. It is definitely worth the DVD rental though. Highly recommended. Be warned: it is long, subtitled, and adult.

2. We have also recently watched the entirety of the PRIME SUSPECT series, produced for the BBC over 15 years. Helen Mirren's Jane Tennyson is a delight to watch as she matures in her role of police officer and woman.

3. A friend has loaned us the first season of HEROES and we're going to give that a whirl. Might as well, as we haven't added any of the new shows to our watching repertoire and have eliminated several from last year. This year, it's slim pickings at the Sisk television stable: Bones, Boston Legal, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, Meerkat Manor, Friday Night Lights, and the occasional Masterpiece Theater. All the better to read?

4. Tried another Bertolli frozen dinner for two, this one the Mediterranean style, Chicken, Rigatoni and Broccoli. It's long on rigatoni and broccoli and rather short on chicken, but the flavor was very nice. Probably won't buy it again. Shrimp Diavolo still calls.

5. And, we have our first Blue Norther, taking our lovely 80 degree days down into the 50s with rain and wind. Guess that means it's time to switch the closets, or at least divest the main one of the tank tops.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Trolling the obits

Reading the semi-annual newsletter from my high school wouldn't be complete without spending a moment with the page of those alums who've died. I quickly scan the early years and always slow down when I get to my own. Most of the time, it's empty, another brush with my own mortality that I've survived.

But last week, there was a name that stopped me cold. I had liked this man when he was young and we were all foolish in chem lab and sarcastic in English. I'd caught glimpses of his career through the newsletter and was pleased to see he was a lawyer with an impressive career. I wasn't surprised. I'd known he'd do well.

So what was his name doing in the good-bye column?

There was only a date of death, so I googled him and the date and came up with his obituary. He died in a teaching hospital at the other end of the state, and although no cause of death was given, I'd imagine cancer. I found the funeral home site and the link to leave condolences, albeit mine would now be three months late.

But first, I needed to read what others had said, and it quickly became obvious from people who knew the grown-up man that he had lived up to the promise of his youth. It was satisfying; would that people could be so kind to me. And then, after reading the comments from strangers, I started seeing the names of people I'd known in high school and that I had not heard from in over 30 years.

Their names, their addresses, their emails.

So I wrote to one, a woman I'd known since kindergarten, but with my mother dead for many years and my dad out of the loop, I had no way to easily find out about her any more. She answered several days later, as busy as I'd remembered her, just a short acknowledgment. I don't know what I'd expected, but it was more than that.

Oh, well. At least I knew the deceased was the man I thought him to be and there is definite comfort in that.

And, yes, I signed the book.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do you know you're early?

I must have doofus written on my forehead.

Last summer, I wrote the article Knowing When to Quit for the North Texas e-News. It involved my husband, myself, and a rather selfish young woman who insulted us into silence while in line at a grocery. Today, I was twenty minutes early to a hair appointment in Dallas and the receptionist (young, blonde) asked me the above question. Did I know I was early? My stylist was 1) not there and 2) never on time.

And this was my problem?

Leaving home this morning, fog made visibility about 1/4 mile. I made a stop en route and gave myself plenty of time to arrive. Fortunately, the fog was lifting and I arrived early. I was quite content to sit and read, have the cup of coffee she finally offered me.

So, early doofus that I am, I explained to her that I "came with the traffic." I couldn't think of anything pithy to say. It probably would have been wasted anyway.

And here, all along, I'd thought it was the spouse!

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Read all about it!

My TravelQuest article about our Chicago trip is up on the North Texas eNews this morning. Go and read all about it! Lots of pictures!

TravelQuest: Chicago


Friday, October 12, 2007

Killing time at NorthPark

Highway construction being what it is (unpredictable and time-consuming), I left the house extra early this morning to make it to a Dallas appointment on time. I knew I'd be early, but as so often happens, when one does not need the gift of extra time, one gets it. Traffic flowed like hot syrup and I arrived at NorthPark Mall in Dallas 30 minutes before the stores opened. The mall, of course, was open for walkers and employees, so in I went.

Having taken care of the basics--ladies' room and a Starbucks--I pondered what to do next. Retail mall shopping became an in-and-out get-it-done proposition for me when I discovered antique malls, so I never take time in a mall. I do what I need to do and then go on to what is, to me, a more fun venue. But I still had 20 minutes.

The mall is decorated for autumn, of course, but this morning, I actually looked at it and admired. One display in particular drew my attention, a large (10' x 10'?) horizontal display/flower box layered from one side to the other with gourds, mini-pumpkins, and I think bromeliads. How clever! There were larger pumpkins around the trees, bright mums everywhere. And I walked and window-shopped, noted that I'd seen all these styles before, the baby doll dresses and bubble skirts. I hadn't worn them then... I wasn't going to start now.

So I had to slow down and smell the mums, so to speak, get out of the way of the mall speed-walkers, try not to gawk at the young moms who'd pushed their strollers into a corner and were doing group stretching exercises.

So I don't guess I was really killing time. I was just finding a new use for the gift of it.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Home again, home again

We spent last week in Chicago, the purpose of which was a meeting for my husband. We went a day early so we could take advantage of something we had never done on two previous business trips: see Chicago!

We strolled to the Navy Pier, marveled at the Smith Stained Glass Museum. My camera decided to 1) fill up its digital card [okay, so I could have checked it first] and 2) run out of battery power, all within a three hour time period. I never have bonded with that camera, but given my choices (none that were convenient or affordable at the time), I deleted 100 photos and put in new batteries. We were all happier.

The Chicago Architectural River Cruise just ought to be required. Before, I would look at the Chicago skyline and think: lots of big buildings--don't they have enough? After, I could look at the skyline and think: somebody's going to fall into the river if they build much closer to it and there goes the view from my hotel room once the Twizzler is erected. All sarcasm aside, I was most impressed with the variety and daring and sheer effort it took and takes to maintain so much history and forward thinking.

We didn't shop, except I couldn't pass up an opportunity to venture into The American Girl store. I found there is indeed an English girl, companion to Molly, named Emily. I thought it fate: I bought the book for my English Emily.

A tour of Unity Temple and Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, The Field Museum (had to see The Lions of Tsavo), The Art Institute, and finally The Shedd Aquarium. A water taxi, the city buses, a cab ride where I left my favorite Chico's jacket... That was the only snarl. It was four years old, but still, I don't think I'll be able to replace it exactly. The food, the food, the food.

It was fun to go, to visit with friends we hadn't seen in four years, and it was great to be back home to attentive cats and laundry and stacked newspapers and mail and did I mention laundry?


Thursday, October 04, 2007

When airports were fun

I was thinking, as we were going through security at Love Field, Dallas, that airports used to be fun places. Now they just seem to be places to get through, means to ends, be they business or pleasure.

At Love Field, the security lines partially cover a wonderful floor piece, a tile map of the world, polar projection, if memory serves. I remember that as a little girl my sister and I would walk all over this map and imagine faraway places. Were we at Love for a flight? No, we were there for fun.

Growing up, Sundays meant church, lunch out more often than not, and then a trip into Dallas. Sometimes we'd go to a movie or visit the zoo (for us), sometimes go through model homes (for Mother) or new car lots (for Daddy), or go to Love Field.

At that time, there was a huge stuffed giraffe in the center of the lobby. One could take the escalator up to the observation deck and watch the planes come in and out. On sunny days, I remember walking out on the roof deck and watching them from there. I'm sure there were gates, but people would go onto the tarmac to board. (We did this the last time in Hobart, Tasmania, three years ago. I had thought the practice long gone and was so glad it was not.)

There was a Polynesian restaurant on the deck level and I can close my eyes and see it and smell it. Of course, one mustn't forget the bathrooms and the dimes needed to use all the ladies stalls but the one free one. People would leave the pay-stalls and hold the door open for the next person.

It was fun. Our airport was fun. Then things changed, and they're not going back, but it's good to have the memories.