Sunday, November 30, 2008

post-Thanksgiving reveries...

Tomorrow it's back to work for Chris and me, back to school for Mike, but this evening A, Christo, Mike and I ate Thanksgiving leftovers in my kitchen, and then we sat around in the living room reminiscing about holidays until it was time to drive Mike to the airport. I drove, but A and Chris came along to see him off, too. I always love having the kids come home, and as an added bonus I got them to put up the small task and a torch I am quite happy to pass on to the next generation. It still needs to be decorated, of course, but I have a feeling if I play my cards right, I can get the X-man to help me with that...
putting up the tree Nov 2008 IMG_1006

Saturday, November 29, 2008

scenes from Thanksgiving 2008

In early September I hung a fall wreath outside my front door.
November 2008 IMG_0926
On Wednesday afternoon, I changed the slipcovers on the living room couches, exchanging the white canvas of summer for the brown velvet of winter.

Wednesday night Mike arrived from Tucson. Chris and A came over, the guys hung out, keeping me company, and I began cooking, starting with Cranberries with Grand Marnier.

Thursday morning I got up and started the creamed onions, which require a lot of preparation time if you're working with fresh onions (and I was)

Mid-morning I took the time to make a perfect cup of cappuccino...

new chairs IMG_0953
I clean as I cook, and the kitchen looked pretty OK with the new chairs...

We took the time to shoot some pics, and the X-man was pretty proud to be the tallest in the group in this shot.

Note he's wearing an outfit he picked out himself, consisting of khakis, t-shirt, tie and vest...

In the meantime, the turkey was in the oven cooking...all 16 pounds of it...and as I basted the bird, I reminisced about times when I didn't have all the fancy batterie de cuisine with which my kitchen is now equipped, such as this beautiful turkey roasting pan. In the early days of my marriage, I remember roasting turkeys in disposable foil pans. I have to say, this beautiful pan gives better results.

Eventually, everything was ready, including the sweet potatoes and the gravy...

The X-man set the table, and it was time to sit down to our bountiful feast, consisting of turkey, traditional dressing, sweet potatoes with rum, ginger and walnuts, creamed onions, cranberries with Grand Marnier, French salad, mashed potatoes with gravy, and for dessert, courtesy of A, a pumpkin pie, an apple pie, and a pecan tart.

The X-man was happy with his long-awaited drumstick and tall glass of milk...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


We had a Happy Thanksgiving and these smiling faces say it all. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

yet another reason why I love Ralph...

I didn't learn to drive until I was 30, and when I did, my first set of wheels, the car I used to tool around Chicago in, with a very young Alex and Kath buckled into their car seats in the back, was a rather battered 1976 VW Rabbit with a stick shift. In the winter time, sometimes the heater didn't work, and in the summer it was hot because it had no AC, but I loved that car. I liked to drive barefoot so I could feel the pedals and clutch. It got 38 mpg and it had, for a small car, a huge amount of cargo space, which was one of the major selling points, if I remember correctly.

I learned to drive in that car in Chicago in July 1980. At 10:30 each night, after the girls and A were asleep, I'd slip out back, into the hot summer night, and get in the car and drive around and around the block. This was trickier than it might sound. For starters, we lived in the middle of the city, in a lively neighborhood that was always just beginning to hit its stride at that hour of the night. To further complicate matters, we lived on a one-way street, except that it was a two-way street for the first few hundred feet, coincidentally to the front door of the building of a city alderman who, word had it, got the variance because he didn't want to have to drive around the block to get onto Lake Shore Drive to go to work each day. That little variation made for some interesting traffic, as people who didn't know the neighborhood often exited Lake Shore Drive onto our street only to discover, in a few hundred feet, huge signs announcing that the street was now ONE WAY ONLY, against them. Only in Chicago...

Well, you know how it is with first loves. If your first love smoked...well, I hope your first love smoked, in the sense of being hot, but let's say he smoked cigarettes...well then, no matter how much time goes by, and no matter how much you may have grown up into being a non-smoker who hates cigarettes, there will always be a part of you that remembers with tenderness and fondness the faint taste of tobacco in a lingering kiss...and it's exactly that sort of illogical sentiment that I blame for my lifelong love affair with VW's. With a couple of exceptions, they're all I've ever driven, but this last summer, when it had clearly become time to replace Emma, my beloved 10 year old VW cabrio (not that Emma could ever really be replaced), after doing a lot of research and some test driving, I ended up buying a Honda Fit that I immediately named Ralph.

I wasn't sure how I was going to like driving Ralph. After all, I was giving up a convertible with heated leather seats for a mini-mini-van that doesn't even have a sunroof, of the selling points was the huge amount of cargo space (57.3 cubic feet, with the seats down, to be precise). As it turned out, there have been so many improvements in the past ten years that there was no way I could not like Ralph. And this afternoon as I walked through Pottery Barn I discovered another reason. PB was selling as floor samples (translated: a little over 75% markdown) the chairs I've been lusting after for my kitchen for the past several months. Needless to say, I bought them on the spot. Then came the fun part.

"When do you want to pick these up?" the clerk asked.

"I'll take them with me now," I said, "I just have to pull up to the front."

These chairs aren't small. The clerk looked at me.

"Uh, what kind of car do you drive?" he asked.

I smiled my best innocent smile. "A Honda," I said.

The clerk wrinkled his forehead. "I dunno if these will fit..."

"There's plenty of room," I assured him. And when I drove up and opened the hatch and put the back seats down...even with all 4 chairs loaded in, there was room to spare. The sales clerk looked amazed. Oh, yeah. And as I drove away, I could almost imagine a taste of tobacco on my tongue...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Katharina!

Happy 30th Birthday, sweetheart.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

things I did this weekend - November 9, 2008

1. I started tiling the guest bathroom, where I'm tiling the walls with subway tile to a height of 5'. Laying floor tile is pretty easy, and I've done my share of that, but tiling walls is something else. I've done this once before, in the upstairs bathroom, and after a lot of false starts, I finally had success by starting at the floor and working my way up the walls. The trick is to keep everything in plumb, but I managed to do that, and the bathroom came out well.

An essential part of all D-I-Y projects for me is procrastination, usually achieved by my becoming engrossed in a good book, preferably fiction. Having had success in the previous wall tile project, I have no idea what possessed me, but instead of reading a good book like I usually do to put off starting the actual grunt work, I decided to consult some more D-I-Y tiling books before starting this project. All of the books stressed the importance of starting at the top of the wall, rather than at the bottom, as I'd done before. And so last night I did that, with disastrous results. How disastrous? Suffice it to say at 3:00 AM this morning I was prying tile off the walls, to be reapplied at a later date, but not too much later, as the guys are coming to install the countertop on Friday, and the walls have to be done by then.
2. I made a big pot of chili. On a cool night, I really enjoy a bowl of chili with a dollop of sour cream, some shredded extra sharp cheddar, a handful of crisp oyster crackers and grated onions on top.
3. I washed my car.

I know that doesn't sound like much, but the tiling wiped me out.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Patrick's Saturday Six #239

If you want to play too, click HERE.

1. If you had to fill in as a substitute teacher at a local middle school, what subject would you be most comfortable teaching? Strangely enough, I've actually taught at a middle school, but just one subject for just one semester: sex ed (after which I went to grad school). I was comfortable teaching it then, and I'd probably be comfortable teaching it now.

2. When you were in school, what was a better indication of your true understanding of what you were learning: class participation, the accuracy of your homework, or your test scores? I'd say test scores, but class participation would be a close second.

3. You meet someone for the first time and have a brief conversation with them. If you run into them the next afternoon, how likely are you to remember their name? If I've actually had a conversation, chances are excellent that I'll remember their name. However, if there were no conversation, just an introduction, chances are HUGE I won't remember their name, but will remember eye color, clothing, anything that actually caught my interest.

4. Take the quiz: Do You Have Gaps in Your Knowledge?

There Are 0 Gaps in Your Knowledge

Where you have gaps in your knowledge:

No Gaps!

Where you don't have gaps in your knowledge:








5. If you had “gaps” in your knowledge, did you expect to have them where they were predicted? If you had none, which of the listed subjects would be the ones you’d most expect gaps to be? I'm amazed that I had none (and yes, I only took the quiz one time). The most likely place for gaps for me is economics.

6. If you could go back to school for one semester free of charge and “try again” with any subject, which one would you choose and why? I didn't even have to think about this. I'd go back and study botany in a New York minute. I absolutely love taking a hike and looking at the different plants along the way...and the older I get, the more I want to know about all of them. And a friend who taught me a thing or two about surviving in the desert, the late (and terrific) David Alloway, believed it was important to know the Latin names of all plants, among other things, because as David put it, if you'd encountered the wrong plant and ended up in the ER, it could make an important difference in your treatment.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

cleanliness and all that...

So I've finally bit the bullet and ordered a shower door for the master bath. Yeah, I know, except for the shower door, I finished remodeling that bathroom months ago, and have since moved on to remodeling the guest bath, which project I'm currently into up to my ears...literally up to my ears, as I'm tiling the walls (another d-i-y project) to a height of 5' and I'm 5'3". But that is neither here nor there. The reason I haven't replaced the shower door in the master bath before now is that I didn't want the original Motel 6 shower door replaced with yet another Motel 6 shower door, and it's taken me a while to find a place that would provide a decent, stylish door (i.e., frameless) at a reasonable price. But I've found such a place, and the door is ordered, and I'll post pics when it's delivered and installed.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about bathrooms. When I was a kid, we didn’t have indoor plumbing until we moved to town, when I was 8. Up until that time my younger brother Dave and I were bathed once a week, in a square, galvanized tin tub that was dragged into the kitchen and placed without ceremony on the linoleum in front of the cook stove. Mom poured a couple of inches of cold water into the tub, and then heated pots of water on the stove and added that to the cold water in the tub until the water got warm. I was always torn between wanting to have the first bath, in the clean water, or waiting for the second bath, which had more water, as Mom always heated a couple additional pots of water to add to the second bath.

When we moved to town we rented a house with a bathroom and a tub, and hot water came right from the tap, simply by turning a spigot. That seemed pretty amazing and incredibly luxurious, and got me through several years until eventually I discovered showers. Originally, I wasn’t much impressed with showers, but that’s probably because they were group showers with other girls after 7th grade PE. I have no fond memories of that experience.

But the day came when I left the web, left the loom, and got my first apartment and with it, my very own shower. Ah, heaven! I am so much more a shower person than a bath person. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t times that I enjoy soaking in a hot bath, especially on a cold night. But most of the time I love showers. There is something incredibly restorative about standing in a shower, and having endless clean water running over you.

Lacking a shower door in the master bath, for the past several months I’ve been showering in the guest bath. Unlike the master bath, the guest bath is utilitarian, not luxurious. And yet I love that shower. The stall itself is small and plain, but there’s a good showerhead and the hot water heater is in a closet on the other side of the wall, so there’s instant hot water and lots of it. The floor in the bathroom is unfinished Saltillo tile, which is totally forgiving of wet feet. Because the room is small and not particularly well ventilated unless you open the window, it always smells pleasantly of soap for a while after anyone has showered in there. It reminds me of the shower in the barn that my father-in-law had in his house in Aspen. It shares a number of features with that shower, including poor ventilation except for a window, an endless supply of hot water, and Saltillo tile floors. Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of it.

There are a couple of big differences, though. When you opened the window in the shower in Aspen, you looked out on towering pines, an alpine lake, and Red Mountain, whereas my guest bath shower looks out onto the deck outside my front door. And after you'd showered in the barn in Aspen, you'd get dressed and step outside and be in...Aspen. Whereas here, you're still in...Dallas...albeit, clean in Dallas...ah, well...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes, we can...

...and it makes me proud to be an American...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Americans voting...

I went to work early so I could come home at a decent hour to watch the returns. I don't remember this much excitement about an election, EVER. I stopped and picked up a really bad pizza and I've had a couple of cokes, and I'm back and forth between the net and cable.

Surfing the net, I came across all of these pics at The Huffington Post. I got completely choked up looking at them, and so I've posted some of them here, so you can get choked up too. If anyone asks, what does it mean to be an American? These pictures tell it all. Look at the variety of people voting, and the variety of circumstances under which people vote...these pics DEFINE us. It's enough to make your heart burst.

LaMadera, NM

Rabbit Hash, KY

Brooklyn, NY

Greenville, SC (that's a 105 year old woman, getting a little help voting)

Intercourse, PA

Dearborn, MI

Venice, CA

Smut Eye, AL

Dearborn, MI

Ruby, NE

Today's the day...

Today's the day. If you haven't already done so, get out there and VOTE.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ellipsis - Monday Photo Shoot #10 - Feet

EMPS #10: Feet.
Feet. They take us here and there, and to and fro. Let's share our hardworking feet this week. If you are a ballerina, you dance on the tippy-toes of your feet. If you are scared, you might say, "feet don't fail me now!" If you are running away from a big bully, it is your feet that will whisk you to safety. You use your feet for pedaling your bike, and for driving your car. If your toes are webbed, you are probably a decent swimmer, or a duck, which means you are still probably a decent swimmer. It is your feet that encourages you to purchase high fashion shoes, and fuzzy wuzzy slippers. You can photograph your own feet or someone else's feet, just be sure to get permission first! Just show me feet with shoes or without!

If you want to play too, click

I'm not sure why, but I've always taken better care of my feet than I do of my hands. And here's evidence: these are my feet, wearing my favorite color of polish, in my favorite, sexy shoes.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Patrick's Sunday Seven #167

Here is this week’s “Sunday Seven” question: Name the last seven entrees you had for dinner or lunch. If you want to play too, click HERE.

  1. Today I had a late lunch with Katharina at a Salvadoran restaurant, Gloria’s, where I had Spinach Quesadillas and ice tea.
  2. Saturday afternoon I sat outside at Blue Mesa where I read a couple of chapters of Eric Garcia's Hot and Sweaty Rex, and had a late lunch/early dinner consisting of a frozen margarita, an ice tea, and the Southwest Sampler (caramelized onion-basil quesadillas, new mesa nachos - think black beans and cheddar, and chicken taquitos. I followed it up with a cup of coffee with a little cinnamon.
  3. Friday night, after handing out candy to the trick or treaters, I had deep dish pizza and a beer as I watched a BBC version of Dracula on PBS.
  4. Thursday night Christo came over and we finished up the beef carbonnade I'd made last Sunday night, which was excellent with a little gnocchi on the side.
  5. Wednesday for lunch I had a tuna sandwich and an ice tea.
  6. Wednesday I worked late and had a big tossed salad for dinner.
  7. Tuesday for lunch a group of us went out to La Playa Maya, where I had the beef fajitas and ice tea.

What I Did This Weekend...

1. I schlepped 16 bags of jungle trimmings from the back yard to the curb, as this is the week for Bulky Trash Pickup. I'd trimmed, raked, and bagged that cache a couple of weekends ago.
2. I potted some more pansies out front and out back. Pansies were a summer flower in my childhood, but they're winter flowers here in Texas.
3. I framed in the extension to the cabinet in the guest bathroom, where I'm raising the countertop by almost 4".

4. I repotted my banana leaf plant, a formidable task as it's in a 20 gallon pot, but this was absolutely necessary as Ike, the cat I've been fostering, had decided he preferred to...ahem...relieve himself in the jungle, as it were, rather than use the pristine litter box with which he'd previously been quite content. He's also climbed up inside the fireplace a few times. A new home is in his future, for sure.
5. I had lunch with Katharine at a Salvadoran restaurant we both like.
6. Kath stopped by with Xander, and we did a swap: I gave Xander my leftover Halloween candy, and he gave me some yoga lessons (he's SIX!).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Patrick's Saturday Six #238

Here are this week’s “Saturday Six” questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your journal…but either way, leave a link to your journal so that everyone else can visit! To be counted as “first to play,” you must be the first player to either answer the questions in a comment or to provide a complete link to the specific entry in your journal in which you answer the questions. A link to your journal in general cannot count. Enjoy! If you want to play too, click HERE.

1. In your own blog, are you more likely to discuss personal relationships, religion or politics? Personal relationships, for sure, although this year, with this election, I've done my share of discussing politics, a topic I'd not generally blog about.

2. If you needed a “tagline” or sub-title for your blog, what would you use to describe your blog? Well, I do have a tagline: "Random observations about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, with an occasional flash of insight, from Emmapeeldallas"

3. You notice that a close “blog buddy” of yours has suddenly removed the link to your blog from his or her website. Do you contact that person to ask why you’re no longer linked, or ignore it? I'd ignore it.

4. Take the quiz: What Kind of Blogger Are You?

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.
If it happens, you blog it. And you make it as entertaining as possible.
You may be guilty of over-sharing a bit on your blog, but you can't help it.
Your life is truly an open book. Or in this case, an open blog!

5. If there was no such thing as feed readers, the sites that allow you keep up with multiple blogs at once, and the only way for you to actually keep up with your blogging friends was to actually go to their own individual blog every time, how many blogs do you think you would seriously read regularly? I don't use feed readers. That's why I have links in my sidebar; I just check my favorites pretty much every day.

6. If you learned that each of the following people had been secretly reading your blog for a while now, which one would make you want to look back through your content to see if any apologies might be necessary: your parents, your children, your best friend, your pastor, your boss, or your worst enemy? If I've made the decision to write about a topic publicly, I'll stand behind what I've written, no matter who reads it and takes issue with it.