Archive for March, 2010

It’s Really Quite Alarming!
March 25, 2010

A little alarm now and then keeps life from stagnation – Fanny Burney (1796)

 You can say that again! Last Saturday night, I was awaked at 2:15 a.m. by the aggravating chirp of the smoke detector that decided it needed a new battery (this always happens in the middle of the night!). While I might have put earplugs in and ignored it until morning, Bailey was a quivering noodle, because he gets upset over high pitched noises. Sigh. 

(Shadow, of course, can’t hear a thing, so he slept through it all)   

Joel was out of town, so it was up to me to take care of this annoyance. Since I didn’t want to go out to the garage to get a stepladder, I stood on my tiptoes on a chair and managed to dislodge the stupid thing from its perch, but then I fumbled it in the dark and down it fell. CRACK! It hit the top of the TV right on the button you press to test it. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE went the smoke detector! First, I had to find it on the floor (in the dark) and second I had to find the button to turn it off. 

But wait, it gets better! When the smoke detector smacked the TV, the burglar alarm thought it was glass breaking, and it also began to HONK HONK HONK! Mind you, it’s 2:15 in the morning… so sorry, neighbors! 

Bailey raced around in a panic while I ran to the keypad by the door to disable that alarm, then ran to the phone to call the alarm company. Rats, where is the number? I found a bill and called to report that all was well. Thankfully, I remembered the secret code that lets them know that it really is me on the phone. 

At this point I was a trembling mess of adrenaline, and as you can imagine, it took quite a long time for me to drift back off to sleep. Unfortunately, Sunday morning comes very early at my house, and I do not have the luxury of sleeping in. Diet Coke to the rescue! Anyone who saw me last Sunday morning swigging one BEFORE church could figure out that I was very sleep deprived. 

But I made it through the rest of the morning and had a lovely afternoon nap. Looking back on it now, I think the whole incident was hilarious; there is no way in the world I could ever manage to replicate that feat! Thank goodness Joel was not home; he probably would have been extra grumpy with me over the turn of events. 

Boys and girls, the moral of this alarming story is to turn on the light and get a stepladder. Then go back to bed. You can bet that next time this happens (and there will be a next time), I will take this advice. Bailey and the neighbors will thank me.


An Aptly Named Season
March 20, 2010

Spring has sprung! The bird is on the wing. My word! Absurd! The wing is on the bird! – a silly little poem from a dusty corner of my brain 

As I walked around the garden this evening, the thought crossed my mind that new life “springs” forth at this time of year, at which point the above poem “sprang” forth! Where it came from and why, I do not know, so I tried looking it up, and discovered another version: 

Spring has sprung!”, said the bumble bee. “How do you know?” said the old oak tree. “I just saw a daffodil blooming on a windy hill!” 

(I like mine WAY better!) 

Another site mentioned an Ogden Nash poem, about which the writer says, “This much has been in my memory for about 60 years. I’m searching for the rest of it:”

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the boidies is. They say the boid is on the wing. But that’s absoid. The wing is on the boid.

So let’s assume my brain is recalling a derivation of an Ogden Nash poem. Ogden must have been in New Jersey when he wrote that (or in Algiers, across the river from New Orleans). I actually knew a boy who talked like that; he once uttered a sentence that mentioned some “poiple boids in da doit.” (visualize grackles in the soil.)

All this to say that this weekend marks the first day of spring, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier! The promise of longer and warmer days is tantalizing after one of the coldest Houston winters on record. 

Daylight Savings Time kicked in last weekend, which is always hard to adjust to, but this time I was smart and spent the changeover in a different time zone, so when I returned home, I was already somewhat acclimated to the switch. 

However, despite the calendar’s decree that it’s time for the temperatures to rise, I continue to wear my warm up jacket daily; walking the dog in the now dark mornings is still a chilly proposition. Layering is the key, but I’m longing to wear running shorts again, if only to gain a little color on the old legs (the better to hide all those lovely age related imperfections!). 

So what is springing up in my garden post winter? The “poiple” verbena wins the prize; it’s spreading like gangbusters, and attracting all sorts of butterflies. The gerbera daisies are also blooming in various colors. I like to use these cheerful flowering plants as centerpieces on the table, and then when they’re spent, out to the garden they go to naturalize.

The yellow African daisy is greening up; no flowers yet. My yesterday/today/tomorrows are beginning to flower, and the katie ruellia, Mexican heather, durantas, shrimp plants and goldenberries are showing new growth. The naturalized chrysanthemums (also previous centerpieces) have thick growth (they bloom in the fall), and the oriental lilies will be blooming all over mid-summer. 

Gingers have been cut back, and I see new growth emerging among the bare stalks. Rose bushes are very happy, as are the irises and society garlic. 

Things that did not survive include pentas, crotons, a jasmine variation (2 lovely “tree-shrubs” with white flowers that have stood guard on both sides of my front porch for years) and a naturalized schefflera plant that had grown to be 15 feet high. 

To sum it up, I’ll be going to the nursery soon to find some new plants to experiment with, but first I think I’ll do a little research on the Southern Living website to get some ideas. What fun it will be to divide and spread around the “keepers” and plant the newbies! 

Then I’ll go get a manicure.

Door Prize
March 6, 2010


Luck be a lady… tonight! – Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls 1950) 

I have won raffle prizes exactly three times in my life. The first was at a Tulane open house while I was visiting my sister, who was then a student at Newcomb. There I won a weekend at the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street, and being young and penniless back in those college days, we made a road trip out of it. Four of us all crammed into that room, with some sleeping on the floor, because there were only two twin beds in it. 

Fast forward to our young parenting days, and at the Children’s Museum gala, I won a suite for a weekend at the Ritz Carlton in Washington DC, including air fare, a tour of the White House and State Department and a set of “Barbara Bush” pearls. We flew up and enjoyed this vacation when Shannon was 4, and despite all the interesting activities (including the above mentioned tours, visits to the Smithsonian, zoo and historic Alexandria), the main things she remembered were the room service breakfasts and feeding the ducks on the mall. 

As it turned out, we negotiated with the RC to extend our free visit to four nights, because of the difference between the value they had stated to the IRS and the actual value of the suite. For you see, when you win stuff, you have to pay tax on it. Although I don’t remember paying tax on the value of the Royal Sonesta room. Hmmm, maybe I had too many hurricanes at Pat O’Briens? 

This past weekend, at the Mercury Baroque gala, we bought a raffle ticket for a chance to win a custom bracelet and necklace set “designed by the Italian house of Valbroso”; they are crafted of gold and silver links with inlaid diamonds. 

When they called our name and number, it was all very exciting, but honestly, I had never laid eyes on this jewelry, and it’s not something I would have ever coveted or bought for myself. In my early years, I was in an acquisition mode, but at my age now, I’m more in a divesting mode. 

However, Joel’s first reaction, after the initial “oh, wow” moment, was… “how much tax am I going to owe for this one!” But despite that unhappy little detail, knowing how much the value of the set is, and given the fact that we paid exactly $100 for the ticket,  I’ll probably enjoy wearing them in the short run. 

So I have visions of… maybe donating them back? Or if Shannon loves them, passing them on? In the meantime, do notice if I’m wearing some new bling, and I’ll show it off! 

Correction: I forgot. I also won a bunny once from a pet store raffle. Joel swears that I was the only person who put my name in the box. That was the sweetest rabbit ever, with quite a personality…  he was just like a little dog. RIP Dusty Bunny. 

Note: pewperson will return March 19.