Gypsy's Travels

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007


We have almost finished the turkey leftovers. Turkey enchiladas last night and turkey soup tonight. I have improved my soup making skills over the last few years. There is still a little turkey meat left and I will aim for turkey pot-pie in the next day or so. Every year about this time, I wish I had bought the hen instead of the tom.

Last year my neighbor's children came down for Thanksgiving and decorated her house the next day for Christmas. I told my children this was the new standard, so 3 DDs and Sarge (DH of DD#2) took on the challenge and did the heavy work. It really looks nice. I just have to do the details in the house and I am done. The grandchildren helped decorate the tree. I am so thankful for help from my children!

It has been a delight watching all seven grandchildren interact over the past few days. Sure, there have been a few rough spots, but that is to be expected from children who have come together from all over the world. The main objective is to foster a sense of extended family and let them get to know each other. The 2 ten year olds are working on being "teenagers," the 2 six year olds are still learning to be "big kids", and the youngest three are trying to keep up with the rest. It has been a beehive of activity around here. I love it!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Two Places at the Table

I was driving DD#3 to my home from the airport when we passed a scene on Parmer Lane and 130. Several floral displays and 2 small empty chairs gave us an idea of someones sorrow, but it was Alberta Phillips' column in the "Austin American Statesman" that filled in the story.

Briefly, Mary Taylor had placed the empty chairs at the site of her DH's and DD's fatal accident as symbols of the two chairs that would be empty at her table on Thanksgiving Day. Mary's husband had picked their daughter up from college and was headed home on Thanksgiving Day last year. Their Subaru was, reportedly, hit by David Clifton Finch who was driving a Dodge pick-up truck. Finch had run a red light and, according to reports, did not slow down before he hit the car. Finch was not charged and did not receive a ticket for the incident in spite of the fact he killed two people. There was no sobriety test. People who drive drunk argue their drinking is the cause. I wonder what people who are sober blame?

One of the things I learned as a trauma nurse is that there are NO "accidents," there are only "preventable occurrences." This was clearly an occurrence that would have been prevented if someone had not run a red light.

'Finch, whose recklessness took two lives, never was forced to surrender his license, never was charged with a crime. Now it looks like he will walk — without even a ticket.
Finch got a new truck.
Mary got a $40,000 funeral bill. Finch sits down to dinner with his family in the evenings (his wife and toddlers were in the truck ) when he crashed). Mary stares at empty chairs. Finch eats turkey, dressing and pie. Mary swallows pills. '

We have all run a red light. We have all had close calls as red lights have been disregarded. I believe I will always think of Mary Taylor and her family when I am faced with a light that is changing. I also think of David Finch and the burden of guilt he must carry for the rest of his life. I can't think of anyone whose life is not worth another couple of minutes spent waiting.

Turkey Talk

I am replete - full of turkey dressing and all the trimmings, plus pumpkin and pecan pie. We will come close to repeating the scene on Christmas Day and then be so tired of it that we won't think of having any turkey and dressing for a whole year.

DS made an interesting observation on this holiday's menu - "Your generation is the last to know how to cook the turkey and dressing as we have known it."

That is hard to imagine , but as I look around and watch the ads in the paper, it does seem plausible. Popular images show a large, well-browned turkey resting on a platter, but how many people actually present such a picture at the table? Our home has not carved a turkey at the table since I realized the children were finished eating before the carver had lifted his first fork of food. Now, someone carves ahead of time, we pass the slices, and everyone eats together.

My manner of cooking a turkey has changed rather drastically over the years. In early times, I stuffed the turkey with the cornbread dressing and roasted it in an open pan, covered with foil for the first few hours. The turkey was usually dry and the dressing rich with all the fat and drippings. Roasting the bird in a brown paper bag from the grocery store provided a moister result. Over the years, my methods changed as I learned about the health hazards of fat and brown paper bags. Now I roast the turkey in an oven bag, pour the resulting de-fatted juices over my dressing and roast the dressing separately. The meat is moist, the dressing is flavorful, the fat is drastically reduced. No one complains.

There are still plenty of turkeys available to cook whole, but there are an increasing number of options. The big birds can be bought already roasted, smoked, or fried Cajun style. You can buy the leg, breast, side, half, or almost any of your favorite parts of the the bird individually. If you feel inclined to make your own gravy, you can purchase the hearts, gizzards, livers, and necks as well. Somehow, I get the impression that homemade giblet gravy is vanishing along with the home cooked turkey and I wonder how many other people make good cornbread to use for stuffing. No sugar in the cornbread, thank you.

Today's consumers don't even have to cook. Entire dinners can be catered or just purchased from the local grocery store. This back-fired on me one year. I knew I would be working a 12-hour shift and not able to get a proper meal on the table in a timely manner. I thought I would be ahead by ordering the "ready-to-eat" meal from our local grocery store. I figured DH and the older children could have it on the table when I got home. I arranged everything, all DH had to do was pick it up that day and set it out. Unfortunately, the grocery's idea of "ready-to-eat" and mine did not agree. The meal was frozen, required thawing, and cooking.

Perhaps DS is right. We who have cooked the turkeys for our feasts are a waning breed. The current generation, however, is providing new and interesting ideas such as brining the turkey before cooking, and one of these days I will try the Turducken. Turducken? It is a stuffed, boned chicken, inside a stuffed, boned duck, inside a stuffed, boned turkey. All the stuffings are different and the whole is roasted together. Sounds good, but I think it will have to be eaten on another occasion. I just love our traditions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Remembering Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!

The year has rolled around much too fast, but this is one of my favorite holidays. My turkey will be roasting early in the morning, my pumpkin and pecan pies are ready, potato & pea-corn salads are waiting in the fridge, and the dressing is ready to finalize and cook. There are a few other small things to take care of but I will do those early in the morning before I go to the airport to pick up DD#3 and her 2 munchkins. By Friday, I will be happily surrounded by all my children and grandchildren. I couldn't be more thankful.

Thanksgiving Day has taken many twists and turns over the years in our home. The very first one after DH and I were married, was in a small one-bedroom apartment in Bakersfield, California. We had been married almost four months. DH's brother and wife visited from Santa Barbara and I prepared a Thanksgiving feast just as my mother had for many years. The main difference was that she cooked for nine or more hungry people and I was only cooking for four. My 20-pound turkey and large pan of dressing lasted forever! When I boiled the bones for soup, DH put his foot down and refused to eat it. "Turkey Carcass Soup" became one of those family jokes that rears its amusing head when we all gather.

Another memorable Thanksgiving was the first one we celebrated in Australia where Thanksgiving is not a National Holiday, even when you work for an American company. I planned and prepared the usual feast and invited another American couple to share. Since our DHs had to work until 5:00 p.m., we had supper at 7:00. It would not have seemed like Thanksgiving without turkey and all the trimmings and it would have seemed positively unamerican not to have celebrated at all. However, I learned that feasting is a daytime activity and we never again had such a large meal that late at night.

Each Thanksgiving has left its mark and presented opportunities to learn more of life's lessons. One year I insisted I did not want to cook for just the two of us so we went to Lawry's Restaurant in Los Angeles. It never seemd like Thanksgiving that year. One year, I made a bread and chestnut stuffing for the turkey instead of the usual cornbread dressing. Our tastebuds were not satisfied that year. The memorable tale of the "Pumkin Pie Caper" will come at a later date.

When we celebrated with an extended family gathering, we learned as well. The first year I fixed a huge spread for my sister, five brothers, spouses, children, and our parents, we wives fed the children and watched over them while the husbands ate dinner. After the children were put down for napping, we wives turned to fix our plates but there was almost nothing left for us to eat. The next year, we fed the children and let our husbands watch them while we ate. It was such a wonderful time! We enjoyed ourselves so much that the husbands had to request a turn at the table.

Thanksgiving has always been a time for thankfulness, family, feasting, and renewing our family ties. The men played touch football while the women did the dishes, then everyone relaxed in front of the televised football games. We knew they would be occupied until time for turkey sandwiches and pie later in the afternoon. As we all aged, football became a sedentary activity for the men and my sister and I had established a routine of Scrabble playing. Activities varied over the years as we have aged, but one thing has remained the same. It is still a time of giving thanks, feasting, family, and fun. May your Thanksgiving Day be filled with everything good.

Wordless Wednesday - Before the Rain

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Corny Lesson

Abs made it through the first day in her new class. I was relieved but am very aware that she can be returned to the previous group if she doesn't conform to the standards. This is, of course, in spite of the fact that she has been placed based, partially, on her creativity. We want you to be creative while conforming?

Referring to the story of Abs and the table being called a desk, I am reminded of her sister, Em's, episode in preschool. Em was about 3 years old and her conversation with the little boy sitting beside her at the lunch table went something like this:
Boy: "This is corn."
Em: "No, it's green beans."."
Boy: "No, it is corn."
Em: "Nope. Green beans."
Boy: "IT IS CORN!"
Em: "Nope. It's green beans."
Boy: Now crying and getting increasingly upset, "IT IS CORN! IT IS CORN!"
Em: Quietly, with a smile, "Okay, it is corn."

Em learned the power of words early. The little boy knew he was right and wasn't swayed by rejection of the obvious. Both were good lessons.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Love and Reality

I am not a fan of reality shows. Having said that, I admit to enjoying "The Amazing Race" and even have aspirations to participate. I never watch "Survivor" because it has too many gross things. I occasionally do watch "The Bachelor," vicariously enjoying the romance while marveling at the disregard of women for their integrity.

This season's bachelor, Brad, was an absolute dream. He was nice looking, successful, had all the right words, seemed very romantic, and professed a commitment to making good decisions. If anyone was aware of a major red flag, they chose to ignore it. Brad confessed to having been in at least two "long-term" relationships. Now he was searching for the ideal woman, a soul mate. Are you reading loud and clear? This man avoids a commitment! His decision tonight was no revelation; the signs were there all along.

He gave some other warnings that were ignored. He runs four bars and admittedly works late most nights. Hey, he's good looking. Do you really think the ladies don't hit on him? A relationship would have to be very secure to hold up under that pressure.

What about the women who appear on these shows? Do they truly expect to find true love in just a few weeks? They are all beautiful, talented, successful, sexy women. Why are they in tears after being sent home? Why were they there in the first place?

"I feel like this was my last chance at real love," one sobbed.

It is almost a requirement that each one "fall in love" with the one bachelor. They often verbally attack the other women, and scramble to be one of the ones who spends a "romantic night" with him. Never mind that he is hugging and kissing everyone equally and, apparently, sleeping with them indiscriminately. He doesn't have to profess "love," although he must maintain an affectionate appearance to all, but he wants to know that the women "love" him.

I happened on a similar show called "The Girls Meet the Cowboy", or something like that. Four city girls spent a weekend at a ranch in hopes of being the "one" chosen by the 23 year-old cowboy. Her prize- "A romantic week with him in the Bahamas."

This is mindless escapism. That is not a bad thing, but I silently grieve for women who feel they must bargain their integrity when they have so much to offer. Of course, I grew up in the dark ages and "things are different now."

In all the various aspects of our lives, we all have a price. I have yet to find out what mine is. I wonder if you know what yours is.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Learning Life's Lessons

I post this with DD#2's permission.....

My darling 6 year old Abs who loves everyone and is the most caring and giving person I have ever met, now has an "assault" record at school. This is the child who saves one of her two cookies for her sister who might not get one. She asks for an extra piece of candy to share with her sister who is not there. She draws pictures on cards in church and hurries to give them, along with a hug, to the most unlikely people - the ones who seem to her to have a problem or sit alone. If something doesn't quite work out, she swallows her disappointment and says that's okay, we'll do it / see it / hear it some other time. Unfortunately, her exposure to the real world is beginning to change her.

The "assault" was actually Abs' biting another first-grade child. The other child insisted the table was a desk and Abs couldn't convince her otherwise and in frustration bit the other child to make her point. I received the news as I picked Abs up from school. The sentence was one day in In School Suspension (ISS). The same teacher who related the incident, also told me Abs has just been placed in the "Gifted Child" program. How incongruous.

Abs was quite excited to be going to a new class (ISS). Her sister and I tried to explain that it was not an honor or a "lark," but we couldn't dampen her enthusiasm. I asked her if any of her friends went to ISS.
"Only one," she told me.
"What does she go for?" I asked.
"She cries all the time," Abs answered.

The "assault" happened yesterday and Abs duly spent today in ISS.
"How did it go?" I asked her.
"It was great," she answered. "I got a lot of help with my math and there were only four people in there."
"Do you want to go again?" I questioned.
"NO way!" she said.
Well, maybe it had the desired effect. It just seems a little extreme that if she ever has another transgression that someone can look back and say "Well look here, she bit someone in the first grade."

Of course, I grew up in a home where getting in trouble in school was not the worst thing that could happen to you. Depending on the transgression, the punishment you received at home could be far worse. The teacher was almost always in the right, and was certainly presumed so until proven otherwise. So it was with my children, and so with theirs. That is why Abs is sleeping in her own bed tonight instead of camping with friends. We can only hope that tough lessons learned early in life will lead to responsible decisions.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bath Time

Things are going along "swimmingly."

Em is very much the young lady, with a few relapses. But she is a great helper.

Jr. is learning to wipe his chin (from drooling) and his nose (from allergies). He likes to be right by my side. When his mom calls, he is all smiles and waves even though he doesn't say anything to her.

Abs is, well, Abs is Abs. She stays up until about 10 p.m. every night in spite of everything I try. She is up early in the morning, still singing, playing, and reading. She manages to get ready at the last minute when I threaten to take her to school in her pajamas. NOTE: I had threatened to leave her home but she informed me that was illegal.

Homework is a challenge. She is bored with math and tries to trick me into giving her the answer. Actually, I think her boredom is with the numbers on paper. She does just fine with word problems. She doesn't have the patience to listen to explanations; she wants immediate gratification. I got out a small container of pull tabs the kids are saving for GS, and showed Abs how to line up the proper number plus / minus the other number and figure out the answer. She loved the idea! Unfortunately, she spent more time lining all the tabs up in a certain way than she did working problems with them. PLUS, she wanted to go back and recheck all the ones she had finished over my assurance they were definitely correct.

Abs LOVES her bath and will play for as long as I allow it. I keep hoping she will be so relaxed she will fall right asleep. I left her in an extra long time last night, playing happily with her dinosaurs, the water running slightly to keep it warm. I spent some extra time with Jr. and Em while Abs was occupied.
"Abs are you o.k.?" I called several times from the next room.
"Yes," she called back each time.
"What are you doing?"
"Playing," she answered happily.
"It's time to get out," I announced a little later.
I guess I trust too much and waited too long. When I went in to enforce her exit, I stepped in a huge puddle of water. The water in the tub was about 1" below the top and the "puddle" covered the entire bathroom. Abs looked up at me with her big, blue, innocent eyes and waited. Fortunately, the flood was contained in the bathroom thanks to an extra thick bath mat and quick action with some bath towels. Dear little Abs, anything to add excitement to the day even when the day is almost over.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's In The Bag

The plan was to spend the weekend at my home so I had the girls pack their own bags for the trip over. They only had to put in a couple changes of clothes, pajamas, and something for church. This was surely something 6 & 10 year olds could handle. Since I didn't want any surprises, I told them I would check their bags before we left.

Em, the 10 year old, did pretty well. She had everything she needed except a pair of pajamas, but she has been doing this for awhile. Abs, the 6 year old, did her usual off-the-wall extravaganza. I could barely lift her suitcase it was so heavy. I opened one zippered compartment and found her pajamas. We were off to a good start. Then I noticed a purple box stuffed in the middle of the nightclothes.
"What is this?" I asked.
"That's my money," she answered.
"Why do you need money?"
"I just never know when I might want to buy something," she said.
I assured her we would not be going anywhere to shop and she could leave that box at home.

I opened the largest zippered compartment. It was filled to the brim with stuffed animals.
"What are all these for?" I asked.
"I have to have all those so I can fall asleep." she answered with great seriousness.
I told her she could choose ONE animal. She chose a giraffe, the largest of the lot.

Another zippered compartment held , not one, not two, not three, but EIGHT bathing suits!
"What are these for?" I asked, barely suppressing my laughter.
"I might want to go swimming," she said.
"We don't have a pool," I said.
"Maybe we could play in the sprinkler?" she asked hopefully.
"It's winter," I reminded her. None of the swimsuits made the cut.

"Don't you have any clothes for the weekend?" I asked.
She directed me to a small side compartment that was stuffed with shorts and shirts. At least she would have something to wear, even if it was wrinkled.

Abs comes by her packing traits honestly. Her mother, my DD#2, had been packing her own bags for camp since she was quite young. As a newlywed, traveling with her DH to his new deployment in Germany, she had one carry-on bag which she kept close to her at all times. When she went to the Loo, she entrusted it to me and told me not to set it down anywhere. I began to really wonder what she was guarding so closely.
"What does a new bride carry with her on a trip like this?" I asked.
"What would you think?" she asked in return.
"Nightgown, make-up, a change of clothes? Nothing that would require such close observation," I answered.
"No, none of that," she said. "I have the important things. Things I might need and would not want to lose."
Now my interest was really piqued. What was she carrying?
She opened the small case and revealed her treasures - her pillow and wedding photos. I guess the ads are right.....for everything else, there is Master Card.

Saturday Soccer, Stegosaurus, and Sleep

We muddled through Saturday.

"The soccer field is a long way off so we need to leave early. We don't want to be late!" Em is getting my number and following in her mom's footsteps.

We leave at 8:45 a.m., with a map, bound for a 9:10 warm-up, the first game is at 9:30 and we get to sit through 2 of them. Thank goodness the coaches are striving to teach the children sportsmanship and love of the game and not focusing on winning.

The trip to the soccer field is a mini-adventure. I have the map which I am religiously following.
"I can guide you, Grandma. I know the way. We don't need the map. You just turn here." Em wants to be my navigator, but I have strong memories of my walk home from her school.
"See, it is right over there. Just turn here."
"But there is no through street," I protest.
"Well, we can walk," Em responds.
I elect to follow the map.

After securing a parking place, I load everything up - Jr. in the stroller, the girls and their gear, my purse, a book I plan to read while waiting (HA!), diaper bag with Jr's needs, and a folding chair for me. We are 20 minutes early.

I stake out an area on the soccer field sidelines, facing away from the sun. Apparently, it is a favored place for everyone. The coach requests that the orange team please sit on the opposite side of the field so the team knows they are there. This is my first experience at a youth soccer game, although I have had TONS of experience at endless swim meets. I am thinking this is better because it is shorter and because I don't have to worry that Jr.will fall in the water and drown.

The area resembles an ant mound that has been disturbed as the kids rush around in utter excitement. Bright colored jerseys identify the different teams and the girls are roaming around, visiting their friends. Jr. and I watch from our selected spot on the sidelines - he in the stroller, I in my chair. I pat myself on the back for not having to sit on a hard bench for 2, or more, hours. After Jr. processes the information that some of the people are running free, I have to let him out or listen to the caterwauling from the stroller. I let him him out and we run around the unmarked, open areas. Whoops....water there, run the other way. practice area, run the other direction. Stopping at all interesting sticks, stones, and bugs, we make our way around the field. Suddenly Jr. has had enough and heads for the soccer field. Now that he has discovered it, there's no stopping him. Back in the stroller he goes and everyone within earshot is subjected to his caterwauling. To their credit, none of the parents bat an eyelash. They have probably been through this before.

Everyone gets to play in these games. Ab's team plays first. Her foot never connects with the ball, but she runs back and forth at top speed. When it is her turn to be the goalie, she digs up weeds and makes a hole in the dirt. After her game, she gathers her snack and brings it over to share with her sister and brother. That's Abs, she shares everything. She also is carrying a large brown thing in a plastic baggie.
"What is that?" I ask.
"It is a fossil," she answers, munching on fingertip size cookie bits.
I look it over carefully but I don't see anything out of the ordinary.
"It just looks like a rock to me," I challenge her.
"That's what the coach said too, but it really is a fossil. I have studied them and I know a Stegosaurus plate when I see one!" Who am I to argue with her?

Em's game is fairly eventful as 3 players are hurt. One is hit on the hand by the ball, another is kicked on the leg, and I don't know what happened to the third player. They all survive. Em manages to block a kick and kick the ball 3 times. She threw the ball in from the sideline directly to a group of green-shirted players gathered to her left. She wears a red shirt.

After the games, we rush back to the house, have lunch, clean up our morning mess, pack clothes for the weekend, and head to my house. They are supposed to play with a neighbor's visiting grandchildren but we arrive too late. Taking time for Jr. to run and exercise, we play outside for a couple of hours. Then I gather them in the kitchen, fix supper, give baths, and ready them for bed. They don't give me any argument when I put them to bed and allow them to read for a few minutes.
"How many minutes?" Abs asks.
I look at my watch for the first time in hours.
"We'll see," I answer.
I can't believe I have put them to bed at 6 p.m.!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Babysitting - Day One

Well, it is true, ABW has left me in charge of all 3 children for 12 days while she and DH go to Hawaii. We have made it through the first 2 days with everyone at least somewhat intact. I raised four children fairly successfully, but am really rusty on 24 hour care. Jr. kept me up most of the night last night so I am hoping for a better experience tonight.

It sounded fairly easy. ABW made a flow chart and had a bulletin board full of notes, directions, instructions, phone numbers, and maps. She began calling about 3 hours after her departure from home and has called 4 times from Hawaii. of course, one time was to tell us she had come face to face with a giant sea turtle.

Everything went well until morning #1. I put Jr. in the stroller and we walked the girls to school. Actually, they walked me to their school. I had a map but it seemed a simple route, so I did not take the map with me. The girls knew a short cut - through the neighbors' yards. I tried to explain that we don't do things like that, but had to run to keep up with them and by then we were on a path.
"See," they said, "it is simple."
We wandered in and around and finally reached the school which seemed much closer on paper. Everything went well until I started home alone - well, just Jr., enjoying his ride in the stroller, and me.

You must understand that I have almost no sense of direction. Fortunately, I have a GPS system in my car now, but I was walking. On a military facility, all the houses look alike and this one was no exception. I walked and turned and walked some more. I swallowed my pride and cut between two houses that might have been the ones on our route to school. They were not the same houses and the stroller ended up with dew-soaked wheels covered with grass clippings for my effort. Some things looked familiar but most of them didn't. I asked a young woman who was walking in the opposite direction if she knew where {my street] was. She, of course, had never heard of it. Jr. was beginning to get hungry as we rounded a curve and ended up on an exercise track that I had never seen before. I had not taken my cell phone since it was supposed to be a 10 minute walk. Besides, I didn't know anyone to call. Even if I had known someone, I would have been too embarrassed to make the call.

I had been walking about one hour and was beginning to get my bearings when suddenly, the girls' school appeared on the route again. I again attempted to follow the first morning's route in reverse, paying very close attention to my surroundings this time. I looked past the houses to the streets trying to find the cars in front of my destination. Ahhhhh, success! After spotting my car, I took off between houses with none of my former compunctions of trespassing. I was only intent on reaching home.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful except that my extended morning walk had made me run late. I was supposed to attend a Veteran's Day Ceremony at the school with the girls. I saw a long line of parents at the school door so I joined them and waited about 15 minutes with very little progress toward the table ahead of us. Finally, I turned to the man behind me and asked why everyone was standing in line. He told me they were waiting to get their IDs back. Whoops! I left the line and headed for the playground. A stroller is a fast ticket into many areas. I missed the ceremony but Em said she was too far away to see it anyway. She sat with us while Jr. and I disposed of a hastily assembled picnic lunch.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Hooker, A Stripper, and Some Flashers

Sun City Texas (SCT) is a "retirement community." This term probably conjures up images of doddering old fuddy-duddies being taken for walks by their caretakers. I can assure you, that is not the scene here, although I did have a rather surreal experience one day. Visiting the Community Center, I passed a sitting area where a giant TV was quietly broadcasting the news, the library where shelves of books awaited on an honor check-out system, a bulletin board advertising myriad available activities, the billiard room with tables silently waiting to be racked, and waiting in the hallway, a little red wagon full of boccie balls. Sometimes it does feel like a giant day-care center.

Residents take advantage of every opportunity for education, excitement, and adventure. Many people come to SCT only in the winter when their beloved northern homes are inundated with snow and the streets are slick with ice. Some leave only in the summer when our weather hovers in the triple digits. They refuse to be impressed with the old adage "it is a dry heat."
Others of us just muddle through it all, laughing at ourselves and the world around us.

My neighbor, T, is one such fun-loving soul.
"I am a hooker!" she announced proudly one day.
"Sometimes I even strip!" she added with a laugh and sidelong glance at me.
I try not to be shocked at anything she says or does. She is always full of one surprise or another. I relish her stories of fleeing Germany when she was a young child. Sure enough, my patience is rewarded when she explains that she hooks rugs and sometimes cuts her own strips of wool using a special "stripping machine."
"It is much more fun to try and shock people," she admits.

M is one of our four morning walkers. She has just moved here from the big, bad city of Las Vegas, Nevada, and feels a little uncomfortable when we walk before daylight. Yes, there is some traffic here, but SCT is in a small town and, really, a small town unto itself. We don't worry but M does. Thus she bought small flashers for each one of us. They are battery operated, approximately 2" round, and clip onto our clothing. There are 3 red ones and 1 green one. Every morning the four of us walk down the street, out-of-sync flashers announcing our presence to the world of morning traffic. Christmas will be here soon and we will fit right in.

A hooker, a stripper, and some flashers - there is never a dull moment in SCT. Just ask the resident who passes us every morning...jogging....uphill.....wearing a backpack containing tennis rackets......

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wordless Wednesday -"Stick Bug" in Butterfly House, Collodi, Italy

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Having My Say

I have been deprived of Internet service for one week! I am ready to go now!!!

Read ABW's post to understand why I am ranting and raving today.

I voted yesterday but we weren't given "I Voted" stickers at my precinct so I couldn't advertise. We have just one precinct at our ballot box. I stood in line for 10 minutes, after I picked up my ballot I waited for a booth for an additional 5 minutes (some people obviously had not studied the issues before they arrived), and was the 772nd person to vote when I cast my ballot at 2:45 p.m. Apparently, there is some discussion in this county about splitting this precinct because there is high voter turnout and everyone pretty much thinks alike. That is interpreted as "bloc voting." [A VOTING BLOC is a group of members with a common interest who tend to vote alike on an issue - C-SPAN Congressional Glossary].

My Grandmother never voted. Her husband, my grandfather, didn't believe that women should be allowed to vote and she was a woman of the old ways and followed what her husband said. I always think of her when I cast my ballot. I also think of the hundreds of women who fought for the right to vote. They distributed pamphlets, marched in demonstrations, spoke to groups, defied public opinion and spouses before they hurried home to have supper on the table and children ready to meet their fathers returning from work. Finally, in 1920, just 87 years ago, women were "given" the vote.

What has happened in the last 87 years? We have fought, and are still fighting, for equality, but as soon as we win the rights we seek, we settle in to complacency. Yes, we retain the right to make choices in our lives, but voting is the way we retain some control over our rights. All our rights come with responsibility. When I hear someone in Texas complaining about the results of all the Propositions we just passed, my first question to them will be "Did you vote?"

In 1868, the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment proved an affront to the women's movement, as it defined "citizenship" and "voters" as "male", and raised the question as to whether women were considered citizens of the United States at all.

In the early nineteenth century,
women were considered second-class citizens whose existence was limited to the interior life of the home and care of the children. Women were considered sub-sets of their husbands, and after marriage they did not have the right to own property, maintain their wages, or sign a contract, much less vote. It was expected that women be obedient wives, never to hold a thought or opinion independent of their husbands. It was considered improper for women to travel alone or to speak in public.

With the belief that intense physical or intellectual activity would be injurious to the delicate female biology and reproductive system, women were taught to refrain from pursuing any serious education. Silently perched in their birdcages, women were considered merely objects of beauty, and were looked upon as intellectually and physically inferior to men. This belief in women's inferiority to men was further reinforced by organized religion which preached strict and well-defined sex roles.

On 26 August 1920, a constitutional ammendment was adopted when Tennessee ratified it, granting full woman suffrage in all states of the United States. In 2004, women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to vote. I wonder how long will they consider it a privilege.


Election Results – The results from the November 6 election were that all sixteen Texas constitutional amendments were approved. Williamson County voters approved fourteen of the amendments; voting against (a) issuing $1 billion in bonds for a myriad of state facility construction projects and (b) issuing $3 billion in bonds for cancer prevention and research.