Archive for November, 2013

Thanks Be To Moms
November 21, 2013

super mom

Sometimes life can be difficult. That’s when it’s good to have a mom. ~ Kevin Morehouse, age 10

When I was a little girl, my dad played a mean trick on my mom and scared her, which made her burst into tears. In a natural chain reaction, all sisters present began to cry, as well. Dad probably regretted that little joke!

Moms are supposed to be invulnerable… never scared, never hurt, always there to protect and defend. Even after Joel and I grew up and left our homes, our moms have always been there for us.

But this year has seen both our moms scared and hurt, suffering necessary but unwanted procedures in the (same) hospital. Thankfully, they took turns, mine in January, and Joel’s this month, and thankfully, mine has recovered, and Joel’s is recovering.

But still. The emotional toll of witnessing their struggles and pain has been very hard to bear. As I mentioned, Moms aren’t supposed to be scared or hurt. Helpless to do anything at times, I would become restless and distracted, with a large dose of worry and fright of my own.

The respective families rallied around our moms in their need of helping hands and a comforting presence. With my daughter grown and married, it’s been a blessing that I have been able to step up and do things for each mom as needed, and just be with them as an advocate.

One amusing incident amidst all the worry happened last week when I was sitting with Joel’s mom in ICU. When the hospital’s physical therapist came in to assess her condition, I recognized her as the same woman who had helped my mom back in January. As a matter of fact, we were in the room right next door to the one my mom was in.

The PT looked at me and said, “You look familiar to me.” I explained that it was because she helped my mom back in January. I think we were both experiencing a sense of déjà vu!

My mom is back in her apartment now, fully recovered and stronger than before. Joel’s mom still has a ways to go, but she is working hard on her PT. We are hopeful she will be able to return to hers as well, at some point before the end of the year.

So, in this season of Thanksgiving, besides all our usual blessings, I am extra grateful for both our brave and determined moms, their access to outstanding health care, the loving and patient medical personnel that continue to care for them, our bodies’ natural ability to heal and the wonderful place where they both live in such a supportive and vibrant community.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(pewperson will return on December 6)

Libations at Lunch
November 16, 2013

luceroThe Emperor Caligula’s Habits were somewhat irrigula. When he sat down to lunch He got drunk at onch. ~ Robert Paton Longden

I don’t know what made me look at that particular piece of framed art in our bathroom on Sunday, November 3. It had been hanging there for years, and I hadn’t really taken notice of it for a very long time.

“It” was a personalized drawing on a napkin, created especially for me by Lucero, a waiter at the former Rudi’s Restaurant. Lucero was somewhat famous for his creations, and I have always treasured mine.

What was so interesting about my sudden examination of this piece was the date that Lucero had noted on my napkin: November 4, 1983. It was 30 years ago almost to the day of its creation!

Rudi’s was quite a popular restaurant in its day. Located in the spot where the old Cafe Annie’s used to be (now demolished), it was definitely a place to be seen.

My mind went back 30 years. Goodness, I was only 28 years old on that day! So more time has passed between then and now than from when I was born until then. That’s a sobering thought.

There I was with my boss and our banker. It was the longest lunch of my life! I can’t believe people used to eat like that, but those were the free-wheeling days of the early 1980’s when the economy was blowing and going, and business folks could write off client entertainment on their tax returns.

My boss was the administrator of a large orthopedic practice here in Houston, and I was her trusty assistant. Both of us were named Carol, and she initially didn’t hire me because she thought that would be too confusing. But ultimately she did, and we were a great team.

There I was, an art history major who had previously worked for a law firm in Dallas, and then had a stint working at Neiman Marcus until I found a “real” job. She gambled that I was teachable, and the rest was history.

Eventually, she gave me the responsibility of financials, payables, receivables, payroll, personnel, and of course, party planning. (those were the days!).

Our banker was a woman named Carolyn, and we three were infamous for having fun. Another excursion with Carolyn involved being chauffeured in the bank’s limousine for lunch at the Tremont House down in Galveston. That one was probably the second longest lunch in my career. I recall driving back up to the valet area of our building and exiting the limo with a bottle of Drambuie in my hand. There stood a group of our x-ray techs, gawking at our arrival. Boss Carol said to them, “Look what Carol won at the bank seminar!” Oh, we were so bad…

But I digress. Let’s go back to that lunch at Rudi’s on November 4, 1983. The proprietor of Rudi’s was a man named Joe Lucia, who was also a client of Carolyn’s. He treated us like royalty, and we were certainly pampered by the staff. As I mentioned, Lucero was our waiter, and he created a napkin drawing for both Carol and me.

As the afternoon progressed, Joe kept bringing us drinks to sample. His bartender was experimenting, and he wanted us to tell him what we thought about these concoctions.

You might be able to guess what happened after that. The next thing I remember is waking up in the dark, in my own bed. Thinking it was morning, I wondered why I had slept in my work clothes. And where was Joel?

Only then did it dawn on me that Carolyn and Carol had driven me home, where I promptly passed out. Ugh! I guess it was a good thing we didn’t have any plans that night. The next day Joel had to drive me to my office building to pick up my car.

So that’s the story of the longest lunch in my career, 30 years ago. It boggles my mind to think about how much we ate and drank that day. There is no way I could ever do something like that again!

As I mentioned above, Rudi’s restaurant is long gone, and Joe Lucia passed away in 2004. I wonder whatever happened to Lucero… ?

Here a Chick, There a Chick…
November 8, 2013

chicken

Old MacDonald had a farm… EIEIO!

Not long ago, I heard some strange noises coming from beyond the fence to our east. Bird noises. Different sorts of bird noises.

Being curious about them, I peeped through the fence slats and was surprised to see a variety of poultry scratching the dirt in an enclosure that was attached to the fence and covered with netting to protect the fowl from predators.

I didn’t know enough about poultry varieties to know what kind they were, but they were as curious about me as I was about them!

I’d never met the folks on the other side of the fence; while we share a mutual fence, they are not exactly next door. To meet them would entail walking down to the end of our street, heading east for two short blocks, then heading north for two more blocks, then west to their house.

When we replaced our fence a few years ago, we alerted them by mail before we began the process, but neither Joel nor I ever heard from them. Our thought was that they were perfectly happy for us to pay for the new fence, so why engage us in conversation? We were not surprised. None of our (5) back fence neighbors had any problem with our paying for the whole thing. We do have a big back yard!

But I digress. We live in a small incorporated village surrounded by the City of Houston. It’s the best of both worlds to live in a small town (one  mile square!) with its own police department and city hall, plus a fire department (shared with several other villages), but to also enjoy all the benefits of living in the 4th largest city in the US. Plus our property tax rates are lower than in Houston (win win!).

I didn’t think Hedwig Village allowed chickens, and I was right. The city code Sec. 10-33 specifically says: “The running at large of livestock, domestic fowl or exotic animals within the city limits is hereby declared to be a nuisance and shall be unlawful.” So I guess I could bust them, but I wasn’t going to. The chickens weren’t really a nuisance to me.

But then one day, there was a ruckus in our backyard. Tucker had found a wayward chicken and gave chase. I don’t think he would have killed her; he’s a herder, not a killer. She ran and squawked and squawked and flapped. I chased both of them, yelling at Tucker to LEAVE IT!!

Which he reluctantly did. Miss Chicken fled to the aspidistra on the south side of our fence, and stayed hidden. I wondered if she would find her way home. Home was on the other side of the fence, where she (they?) had scratched out a hole large enough for her to squeeze through.

(I wonder what her motivation was? Boredom? Greener grass? Fear of being eaten for dinner?)

If only to let Miss Chicken recover from her fright after being chased by our champion chicken herding dog, I didn’t let Tucker back outside unless he was leashed. My hope was that she would find her way back, and that would be that. Then I’d plug up the hole they had opened.

The next morning, there she was, perched on top of Joel’s grill beneath the garage eave, trying to stay out of the rain. So Tucker had to stay inside again. It was just as well, with all the rain…

I thought for sure a hawk or some creature in the night would get her, as exposed and unprotected as she was, but the next day, there she was again, scratching for bugs along the fence.

So Tucker and I walked over to the chicken farmers’ house to let them know about their wayward hen. If anyone answered the door, great, but I wrote a note, just in case.

Happily, we encountered the homeowner in his carport, and I explained the problem. He said his name was Youssef, and he apologized for our trouble, saying that he’d been out of town. He was very elegant, courtly and polite and said he’d come around to fetch her.

And soon thereafter, there he was, driving up in his BMW to collect his chicken. She was still there scratching for bugs along the fence. He walked right up to her, spread his arms out and scooped her up. Then he held her in the crook of his elbow and let me scratch her soft feathers.

Youssef said to me, “You are a very nice lady!” And with that, off he and Miss Chicken went in his BMW. I didn’t check whether or not he had put on her seatbelt.

As it turns out, Miss Chicken is a Plymouth Rock (or Barred Rock) chicken. I have no idea if Youssef is raising chickens for their eggs or for dinner, but I’m not going to report him to the authorities. If anyone else does, well, I guess he will think that I did.

I have since plugged up the hole under the fence with a rock so that no more chickens can scratch their way out. Let’s hope that Miss Chicken and her fellow fowl live happily ever after without being busted.

Chickengate comes to Hedwig Village…

Serial Vexation
November 1, 2013

grocery waiting

Impatience can cause wise people to do foolish things.  ~ Janette Oke

Last week I wrote about how blessed I am and how I seldom worry about things. It’s true that I am usually pretty serene and don’t let minor annoyances bother me. I try to put things in perspective and consider all the major problems that are vastly more serious. And I always count my blessings, which helps a lot.

But still. There comes a limit. When a series of annoying moments aligned and aimed at me earlier this week, I became just a wee tad grumpy. Like grumpy enough to shout at a clueless driver while in the car. I just couldn’t help myself!

It was a routine grocery store  run. I had my list and found everything except one thing, which I needed for our planned dinner. Oh well, I told myself I’d run into that other specialty store on the way home.

grocery

The first store seemed unusually crowded, and the checkout lanes all had folks waiting. I found the one that had the shortest line and unloaded my items on the conveyor belt. The woman in front of me had numerous items, and the checker had trouble with some of the produce. She also couldn’t find the price on some holiday decorations. Of course there was no sacker to help, so off the checker went to find the price. Argh.

In the meantime, the woman whose items were all piled up, made no move to sack them, so I assumed that the checker would have to do that when she came back. I looked around and decided to put all my items back in my cart and go to the adjacent lane, where that checker was almost finished with her customer.

Once again, I unloaded my items. Then the customer questioned an item. The checker had to call for a manager. They went back and forth. Finally she was happy. Only then when the checker totaled everything up did she reach into her purse to get a credit card. It didn’t work. She got another one. The checker had to help her with it. Her items were still  sitting there unsacked. Where were the sackers?

FINALLY she left. The manager asked me how I was, and I’m afraid I was rather terse. “FINE,” I replied with clenched teeth. I think I had been waiting about 15 minutes in line by this time. I noticed that at the lane I had previously vacated, the woman was just leaving, so I just as well could have stayed put. It would not have made any difference.

SLAM went my car door, and I was off to the next store; my plan was to dash in, get that one item and exit stage left. While driving along, I was stopped by a woman who decided to turn left from the driving lane instead of the left turn lane. GET OUT OF MY WAY!!! Seriously, people!

grocery seafood

Once inside the store, I went straight to the seafood counter. Oh good, sea scallops were on sale! The man was helping another customer who asked him questions about all the various fish selections and how to best prepare them. She just couldn’t make up her mind! I was probably bouncing up and down, about to scream.

Finally she noticed me waiting and told me to go ahead. YES! I told the man I needed six sea scallops, and I made a beeline to the checkout lanes, where exactly one was open. There was a woman in line, but she was almost finished. Only after she left the store did the checker notice she had left her pie, so he told me to wait and went outside to give it to her. I was left just standing there…

Another checker then appeared and motioned me to her station, where she had trouble logging in. It was all I could do to not roll my eyes.

FINALLY, finally I made it out of that store and headed for home. That short errand took me 50 minutes!

EXHALE…

Looking back after the span of a few days, it seems very silly that I got so apoplectic about such trivial incidents as these. But the fact that they all seemingly conspired to make me lose my cool did the trick.

The solution? Writing about it was a great way to allow me to blow off some steam. And now I have returned to my usual serene self…

🙂