Thursday, September 27, 2007

Loss and Life

I have been significantly absent from the blogosphere - and did not even get an opportunity to visit our Fun Monday participants. I have been spending the last few days helping my husband and his family deal with the tragic and unexpected loss of his brother.

Roger and his brother, Gary, were only 18 months apart in age - and though my husband is incredibly resilient and strong, I know this will all become a harsh reality as the days pass.

This loss has changed us both, but in a positive way. We have held each other closer, been more tender with our words, and been more loving with our daughter. We are examining our lives more closely and realizing how much we take for granted. We have renewed our committment to one other as a family - and though I know there will be rough days ahead, I feel even more determined to live each day to its fullest.

I hope that each of you, rather than feel any sympathy for us, will look at your loved ones in a new light, appreciate them for who they are, and take that extra moment to let them know how much they mean to you. Make every day count.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fun Monday Cheating and Delinquency

Oh, I have been a BAD Tigger. I am horribly late for this Fun Monday. For several reasons, actually. First of all, I spent the weekend in Fayetteville enjoying (even though we lost) the Arkansas Razorbacks game. Don't we look festive?

I had not been to a college game since my days at Texas A&M...and so, it was a big thrill. And it was difficult not to do the A&M yells, since I have been trained to do those for so many years. I am also shocked that I was able to convince Roger to watch FOOTBALL. He enjoyed it, too! But...more on that in a later post. It's FUN MONDAY. I haven't forgotten.I'm just a bad Tigger. Not only am I late, but I'm REPOSTING. I know - awful. But consider this: my daughter's boyfriend gave her crabs yesterday.

I'll give you a minute to let that sink in.

Are you breathing yet?

Okay, good. He only gave her two. She gave them names: "Romance" and "Sanity." And yes, they are hermit crabs. And they are not hermitted up anywhere on her person - but they have a "crabitat" that we will be fancying up for them today.

So, now you have all my excuses for being so late. This week's hostess is Lisa, The Food Snob, and her assignment was as such:
I want to see your favorite recipe, be it either because your grandmother wrote it, it's the easiest thing you can slap together that everyone likes, it makes you feel healthy, it's cheap, etc. You don't have to make it (although you could if you want) but let us see the index card, cookbook, printed paper from the web, and why it's a favorite in your house. If you have a lot, just pick one, I know I'll have to!

Now is when I'm a VERY bad Tigger...and will most likely fail Lisa's assignment because a) I have posted this before, and b) alcohol is NOT really food. So, spank me. This is a drink recipe I weaseled out of a male waiter at Chili's. It's called the "Presidente Margarita," and here is a copy of the recipe he gave me, on the sly, after I batted my lashes and cajoled him a bit: The Chili's shaker is a must-have for beginning this drink, which only costs $2 after you buy the drink itself. I must state as a disclaimer that anyone under the age of 21 should LOOK AWAY. NOW!

Ingredients include some pricey liquor, from left to right: Sauza Tequila, El Presidente Brandy, Cointreau, lime juice, sweet and sour mix, and ice.Step one, fill the shaker with ice:Step two, add 1 1/4 shots of Sauza:Step two and a half, (if you want to deviate from the recipe a bit, Tiggerlane-style) add a dash of the new Jose Cuervo Black:Step three, add one shot of Presidente brandy:Step four, add 3/4 shot of Cointreau. Look at that price tag. OUCH!Step five, add one shot of lime juice:Step six, fill the rest of the tumbler with sweet and sour mix. And then say that four times real fast, because shortly, you will no longer be able to.Put the cute little caps back on the tumbler, and shake vigorously. Preferably over your sink, in case after your second or third drink, you lose the ability to gauge how tightly you are NOT holding said caps on tumbler:Froth is desired, yes, indeed.Pour into glass,and ENJOY! (FYI, in Tiggerlane's world, salt is only good for shooting tequila and making INSTANT margaritas - a recipe that requires a recliner and a lot of stupidity.)Now go check out the non-delinquent, non-cheating Fun Monday gang!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A House Update...with Eyebrow!

I tell ya, great minds think ALIKE! Julie went furniture shopping in the SAME state on the SAME day that we went! I know our choices weren't the same, but Roger and I were pretty decisive and actually purchased the following items. First, is our new bed, which has tile accents that will complement our flooring:Ironically, without realizing it at the time, we chose end tables and a sofa table from the same grouping. I couldn't find a photo of anything but a coffee table, but this will give you a general idea:We don't need a coffee table. And I felt really strange carrying around my piece of floor tile to compare to all the furniture, but hey - it HAD to match! And the tables will really pull out some of the obscure colors in our tile. They also will NOT have wheels. Next, our double-reclining sofas:Oddly enough, the price of the sofa was only $20 more than the loveseat - and how many people really want to sit on a loveseat? So we went ahead and got TWO sofas.

The plumbers have "stobbed" everything in - including the cool stuff for our master shower:You can see what it might look like if you go back to this post, except that the controls are moved to the right of the shower head and body sprayers, so that I won't get all wet turning it on to warm up in the morning. And guess what we WON'T be having? A URINAL. Roger and the builder had a discussion about how we would be using the bonus room, and well, I think Roger wants the girls to feel welcome. The builder is concerned about resale. Sheesh - try to do something for the guy, and we end up with a toilet instead. Oh well, it was worth trying for!

Ronald, Cavin and Tony went to work building the "eyebrow" roofing that will go around the garage. They look much happier now that the temperatures are not in the 100-degree range:If you don't know what an "eyebrow" is, this will give you some idea:And guess who else came to visit? Our best friends, who also happen to be in the heating and air business! These are the "boots" where the heating and air conditioning will come shooting out of the floor:And even more stuff for the bonus room upstairs:And guess who else was wandering through our new home? Electricians! And they spent a lot of time getting about a fourth of the outlets done in the house - and left these wires hanging around to tease the breaker box:And GUESS WHAT they are installing at the house TODAY?!?!? Windows and doors! Windows and doors! WOOHOO! And I was glad to see the E-ratings on all the windows were .28. Energy Star rated, to boot!I'm sure things will slow down on our house soon, but the builder seems sure that we will be in by Christmas. I hope so, since The Offspring's birthday is on the 26th. That way, I can say, "Merry Christmas. Happy Birthday. Here's your present!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fun Monday Racing Out of the House with More Than Our Lives

At least you are guaranteed a post from me on a Monday, because of this GREAT Fun Monday group! Sayre is this week's hostess, and her assignment was such:

"Brush off your interview skills. Talk to everyone who lives in your house. I want to know what their, and your, favorite piece of art is in your home. Photographs do not count. If there was a fire in your home, everyone would grab photographs, but what is the non-photographic piece of art you would grab on your way out - and why? (Edit: These don't have to be paintings - these can be wall hangings, statues, lumps of clay by your child, anything that is artistic expression of some kind EXCEPT photographs.)"

No photos? You have GOT to be kidding. Okay, I'll play along. (But I'm sneaking photos, in the event of a real fire...just so ya know.)

I found out VERY quickly that my family's idea of "art" is definitely interpretive. First, I interviewed Roger. He answered very quickly. TOO quickly. He chose an electric guitar he recently ordered, which so happens to be handcrafted, made to his specifications - completely personalized for HIM. Art? Uh...okay...I guess based on Sayre's definition, it qualifies. It's his baby. He considers it not only a work of art, made by artisans, but something with which he can create NEW art. Fine. Have at it. Here ya go:Now came my hope - The Offspring. What would she choose? I interviewed her privately...separately...knowing that her first reaction would be, "NO PHOTOS?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?" And do I know my kid...oh, yes. Yes, indeed. She was shocked at the "no photos" caveat. Proudly, I watched her scan the walls, search her room, thinking...thinking.... I looked lovingly and suggestively at all her drawings, her creations of clay, her charcoal renditions, her fashion sketches...uh...Offspring? Have you decided?

"Well, Mom, I want to take Dad's acoustic guitar."


"MOM. It's a piece of ART. And I could always draw something over that I've done before - I mean, you can't make MONEY with any of this artsy stuff I've done, but you can make MONEY with a GUITAR!!!"

(Insert cynical Mom-chuckle here.)

"And BESIDES, Mom, it IS art. Somebody had to spend time shaping all that wood and making sure it could produce a beautiful sound and..."

"Did your dad put you up to this?"

Quizzical look from The Offspring. Runs to Dad. "Dad, what did you pick?"

Dad: "I picked the new Carvin I had made."

"SEE, MOM??? SEE???? Dad and I KNOW what to grab!!!!"

Sigh.I wanted to say, "See those beautiful handblown glass eggs and vases in that cabinet behind that guitar? ART. Made by high-dollar Southern California glass blowers. You could have grabbed those." But no....

What really hurt? Neither of them thought to grab MY art. The lone art piece in our home that I forged, using pastels, back in 1987. No one thought of that. Here it is, which I toiled over, perfecting every detail a teenager could muster:After the interviews, I asked The Offspring why she hadn't chosen a piece of work that was DEFINITELY ART - no explanation required. Why not grab something created by a family member? Something she could look at, day after day, to recall her talented, beloved mother?

The response: "Mom, why would anyone want a picture of some dumb dog?"

Now, go check out the other participants, whose families appreciate art. Maybe someone will even choose a picture of some dumb dog. And wait until I tell the Texas A&M Alumni Association about my kid. She'll NEVER get in.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

House Update, Without Butts!

Would it freak you out a little bit if you came home and found THIS under your house?No worries - it's not a squatter - it's a plumber! So I was actually happy to see him under there. I sort of expected that SOMETHING was happening when I pulled up and saw these:Where there be pipes, there must be plumbers. Hooray! And why are these plumbers so happy? Well, they are probably thrilled that we have lots of room for them to work under our house. They won't have to crawl on their bellies much because of our high foundation. While the plumbers were at work, Sam was busy doing all the complex measuring to figure out where our kitchen island would be best: I worried about him a bit - since the plumbers were drilling holes up through the floors. Hey guys - don't drill a hole in Sam! Here is a sample of their work in the guest bath - and some of Amber's bath to the upper left of the photo:Evidently, there will be some large pipes under our house. I sent The Offspring there (she could stand easily) to capture a little plumber action.She had strict instructions to not capture any "plumber butts" - but no worries, these guys are modest and professional.And guess what else? WE CHOSE TILE! A MAJOR accomplishment. Not all of the tiles are going to be exactly the same - but this gives you a general idea of how they will look:Each tile will have a different variation of color, which will break up the floor a bit.

We also chose backsplash tile, shower tile (for the floor), cabinet design and stain, and carpet! We have agreed on every choice - now just the appliances to purchase on Saturday, furniture to pick next week - and lastly, lighting fixtures.

If you like seeing new houses, go check out Julie's site, b/c she has SHEETROCK now!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fun Monday Deeds

This week's hostess is Nikki, and she had a REAL assignment for us:

"For Monday, September 10th, we are challenged with doing a good deed. I am not looking for a story of when you have offered your help in the past, I actually want you in the next two weeks to go out and help someone. Go visit a nursing home, cook dinner for someone sick or with a new baby, donate to a charity or even send just a "thinking of you card" to someone who needs it. It doesn't matter what your good deed is, or how great it is. It just needs to help someone!"

Well, this was tough for me - not because I'm not a "do-gooder," but b/c I find myself doing good deeds all the time. What parent doesn't? The most recent good deed was taking eight children to the local county fair, so that their parents wouldn't have to brave the rides and chaperone them all evening. I find myself in this position a LOT, but I would much rather be the chaperone than wonder what my kid is up to.

Much like the "daily affirmations" meme, I have a daily committment to my local Rotary club, the Rotary District, and to Rotary International. Contrary to my husband's first thoughts, Rotary is NOT a car club! In fact, one of our fellow bloggers, Swampy, is also a Rotarian. Rotary has become a part of my life, and every day I find myself asking the questions of Rotary's Four Way Test of the things that we think, say and do:

1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

To me, being a part of this organization has made me live each day a little differently by facing the realization that there are so many people less fortunate than myself. This way of life results in good deeds every week - by virtue of my active participation in this organization. If I listed them all, you would still never get to all the Fun Monday participants!

Here's to a great Monday for you all!

Friday, September 07, 2007

That Pesky Caucasian Box

Some of you familiar with THE STORY will know that recently (or anytime before September 10th) I will have had a birthday.

Those of you wondering what I'm talking about, well, just click on the label. Otherwise, in short version, I have no idea exactly when, where, or to whom (who? Help me out here, Mocha Momma and Arkansas Songbird) I was born.Wow. Looking perplexed there, aren't I?

What makes this an interesting fact is that I'm faced with THE BOX. Having a child in school means filling out lots of forms each year, and sometimes, these forms want to know something about the parents. The forms ask about job information, contact information, and some? Well, some ask about race. And those aren't the ONLY forms.

I have a luxury few people enjoy. I will never be a racist.

I have always checked the same box: Caucasian. But am I? I don't know. Unless genetic testing reaches a point beyond that of knowing our ethnic ancestry, I may never know.Do you know your ethnic ancestry? You probably do.

I look at the box and wonder if I'm a traitor to my race. That's how the box affects me.

Not knowing my birthparents is bizarre...because I think I'm a pretty good person. I actually like hanging out with me. Could people related to me be so awful? I know, I know...the whole abandonment thing - but, we ARE related...could it have been just some horrible mistake of youth? Lord knows I've made a few.

I see the box. I check Caucasian.

I'll let you decide.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Testing...Testing...and Decisions

Well, I'm not one to follow the crowd, but EVERYONE was doing this, so why not? Here is my profile - evidently, not many people fit into my category:
Click to view my Personality Profile page
So, yeah - I guess I really DON'T follow the crowd! And my musical interests were justified.

The next test was this from veryGEORGE!...who is evidently a much bigger nerd than I: says I'm an Uber Cool Non-Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!
Scary that I scored highest in computer literacy, given that I'm such a neophyte.

Now, recall the that main builder dude is out in Colorado, shooting things with horns (but thank goodness, not Swampy), so the progress has slowed a bit - but he left us with assignments, of which we have completed the following three!

Here is the front door, which will complement the window scheme, I think:Our siding and windows will be white, as will the other exterior doors. They aren't very exciting - just white doors with half glass, and mini-blinds that are nestled between the two panes of glass. Next, we picked Formica! I love the "fossilized leaves" look of this stuff:Marble and granite are VERY expensive, and VERY porous. And if you knock the corner off - well, you can't just patch it up. Stainless steel wouldn't look right with all our white appliances (which have also been selected, but you must have patience for that). Formica seemed like an economical, good choice. I know you can put a hot pan right on the marble or granite, but potholders are a lot cheaper, ya know?

Next, we did research on Consumer Reports, and who knew they even rated shingles? So, Roger selected these, based on ratings, looks, and durability:What's cool is that you can take your brick and siding, and try out shingles on houses that are similar to your own.

Next, we have to meet with the plumber, electrician and the cabinet maker. (Isn't there a nursery rhyme in all this?) The plumber has done a quick rough-through of where stuff goes with the builder, but the electrician hasn't even stepped foot on the site. Tomorrow, with any luck, we will pick some tile - and then we can finalize the cabinet decisions. We are going sans hardware, for that "naked cabinet" look. Then, we can settle on the paint. After that - it's just lighting, and we have LOTS of time for that.

Now, go take that nerd test. You KNOW you want to know.