Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.
Love... it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.
~ Khalil Gibran
Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.
Love... it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.
~ Khalil Gibran
I just heard on the news that the first 15 days of January here in Austin set a record: so far it's officially the 10th coldest winter since 1897.
People who live up north, who have to live with snow from November through March, will probably laugh at that. I'm sure they think what we experience here in Austin could hardly be called "wintry weather".
But it does get cold here - icy, even. In fact, we heat our entire house with our woodburning stove, and we've almost used up all of our wood already!
The good news is our "wintry weather" comes and goes. The first 15 days might have set a "cold" record, but tomorrow it will warm from the low 30's to 70 by afternoon, with plenty of sunshine. As much as I whine about not getting any snow, I'd rather have the warm January afternoons.
Yes, Texas winters are mighty sweet!
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week plus some...
Wednesday: spicy chili on a chilly evening; the warmth of a wood-burning stove
Thursday: the crunch, crunch, crunch when you walk on frozen caliche; a tree full of birds breakfasting on juniper berries; a call from your sister after her surgery; haircuts and head massages; clients leaving great reviews for you on your business pages
Friday: an early morning call from your mom; a buyer's long-awaited closing on her new home; sharing a peanut butter cookie with your mom; finally starting the last season of "Breaking Bad"
Saturday: getting to visit your mom when you thought you'd be iced-in all day; your Christmas decorations all boxed up; the smell of a roast in the oven; the sound of rain outside, when you and all of your loved ones are safe and warm inside
Sunday: Garden of Eatin' inspiration; experiencing new restaurants; helping a friend celebrate her birthday; sharing a creme brulee with friends; watching the end of "Annie Hall" with your mom
Monday: a walk on a foggy morning; meeting with a CPA in anticipation of making money in 2015
Tuesday: dinner and the movie "Jersey Boys" with friends, in preparation for seeing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in February
Wednesday: making progress in organizing your office; watching your first hockey game with colleagues and 3/4 of your kids
Thursday: the return of sunshine after too many cold, wet, gray days; finally getting all of the Christmas boxes out of your living room
Friday: working out five days in a row for the first time in weeks; having enough money to pay your bills; your sister getting a good report from her doctor following her surgery; gorgeous sunsets; finally posting your sweet!s
When scattered clouds are resting on the bosoms of hills, it seems as if one might climb into the heavenly region, earth being so intermixed with sky, and gradually transformed into it.
(What were some sweet! moments of your past week? Share them in the comments and make them twice as sweet!)
Posted on January 16, 2015 at 09:07 PM in Austin, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Feeding the Spirit, Food and Drink, Friendship, I love being a Realtor!, Indulgence, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Real Estate, Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (16)
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First of all... Happy New Year! I can't believe this is my first post of 2015. I have had so many ideas for posts, but alas, no time to write or publish them.
Have you picked a word for 2015? I have, but I'm going to save it for another post. I hope you don't mind. I just hope I actually publish it before 2016!
Yesterday was my dear friend Darla's birthday. We spent hours on the road together Friday driving to Houston in the rain to be by another friend's side as she said goodbye to her sister. I enjoyed getting to spend time with Darla, and see my other friends Rae and Ann, and Ann's kids face-to-face (for the first time in 20 years!), even if the reason was bittersweet.
My mom is much better, thank you, and by all reports is progressing in her physical therapy. She still has a long way to go before she can come to our house again, but I'm grateful for a move forward, however small.
I broke down and ordered a new iPhone, just in the nick of time. My old one had been warning me it was getting sick (rebooting in the middle of a phone call!), but I ignored it as long as possible. Yesterday, it was really acting whacky, moving in slow motion, but just like the cavalry coming to the rescue, the FedEx man drove up with my new, shiny gold one. Whew!
Photography has, by necessity, fallen by the wayside over the past year. I admit I've missed the camaraderie of my photography friends. So I was elated to receive an invitation to join a 365 FlickR group by a friend I first met years ago in my first 365.
The same day another friend tagged me for a 5 day black & white challenge on Facebook. I'm not going to pressure myself to post something on FlickR every day this year, but these challenges are great motivation to pick up my camera and see things in a different way, and to reconnect with my blog and photography friends.
Putting on my Realtor hat, I have a long-awaited closing coming up Friday for a client who has been waiting months for her new home. Also, I spent a day last week exploring a ranch and learning more about farm & ranch real estate. And I'm almost finished with my luxury real estate online class.
My Christmas tree and decorations are still glittering throughout my house... however, technically we're still in the Christmas season until this weekend. I put off decorating, so I might as well enjoy it as long as possible!
Anyway... here are some other sweet!s from my past week and a half...
Monday: getting back into your daily routine; a walk on a frosty dawn
Tuesday: experiencing a taste from your childhood again... La Colmena Mexican candy from 40 years ago that is being manufactured by the same family again and available online
Wednesday: exploring ranches with a client; listening to stories about old Austin; greeting the new year with sparklers and good friends
Thursday: a visit from your brother-in-law and his family, including your goddaughter; sister-in-laws; a house full of kids and dogs
Friday: knowing your brother-in-law and his family made it safely through the ice in West Texas on their way home to Arizona; joining with other friends to help another say a final farewell to her sister
Saturday: the sun returning after days and days of wet, cold, and gray; watching "Cat Ballou" with your mom
Sunday: visiting with friends after church; getting to spend time with your oldest and his wife while helping another friend celebrate her 50th birthday
Monday: your new iPhone arriving via FedEx just as your old one is giving up; invitations from photography friends to join in 1) a 5-day black & white photography challenge and 2) a FlickR 365 Photo Group with friends you met via FlickR years ago; making time for photography
Tuesday: light from the pre-dawn full moon splashing into your house; news that your mom is making progress in physical therapy; a creative handmade greeting card from a friend in your mailbox
Wednesday: watching your puppy hunt for lizards on a crisp morning walk; finally posting your overdue sweet!s
Here's to new adventures and overflowing blessings to all of you in 2015!
One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things.
Posted on January 07, 2015 at 09:43 AM in birthdays, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Friendship, Hitting the road, Indulgence, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Of Life and Love, Procrastination, Real Estate, Spinning Plates, Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (15)
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Wednesday afternoon a friend and her husband braved our dirt road to deliver a huge bag of Christmas goodies to my family. They do this every year. Seriously, they're crazy!
They give each of us something and there are always lots of cookies and other treats. We've just learned to accept the gifts with gratitude.
But this year, my friend went overboard. Besides a couple of cute Texas ornaments, she gave me a ticket to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in February! I'm pretty sure she has one for herself and that two other friends received them, as well, because last year she treated us to a Harry Connick Jr. concert!
Crazy friends are the best, aren't they?
(I really have to figure out a way to repay her. Any ideas? She's nuts about Matthew McConaughey and Josh Groban.)
I was able to be on the other side of a Christmas surprise this year, too. A friend's kids wanted to surprise their parents with portraits of themselves, and approached me about taking the photos.
So last month we spent a few hours at a beautiful wedding venue near my house snapping photos. (Thank you, Lynn, at Villa Antonia!) This friend always coordinates our annual Port Aransas trips - no easy feat! So I was happy for the chance to do something for her.
Now that the surprise is over, I can reveal the photos. I'll post the rest on my photography blog, but here's one of them...
Aren't these kids gorgeous? They are so photogenic, it was an easy job!
Here are some other sweet!s from the past week...
Monday: nurses who are proactive about treating your mom's cough; seeing one of the 'kids' you've watched grow up and meeting her husband; one of your son's student loans being forgiven; a gorgeous sunset when you leave the grocery store
Tuesday: prayers for your mom when she's diagnosed with pneumonia; Christmas partying with your mom at her nursing home, including a visit from Santa and gifts from the staff to the residents
Wednesday: children performing the Christmas pageant; watching "It's a Wonderful Life" while baking cookies; Mucinex, so you can sleep without coughing when the cedar pollen count tops 3000
Thursday: sleeping in; breakfast, courtesy of your son; Shirley Temple movies; a phone visit with your mother-in-law, goddaughter, and other friends and relatives; celebrating Christmas with your mom, husband, and kids; a ticket from a friend to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in February; watching a movie with all of your kids for the first time in ages
Friday: introducing your mom and her roommate to the movie "Elf"; time to catch up with friends on Facebook; yellow wildflowers still blooming in December
Saturday: sleeping in three days in a row; finally straightening up your laundry room, like you've been wanting to do for months; physical therapists who are willing to give your mom a second chance
Sunday: a cousin who visits your mom, bearing Christmas gifts, and getting to see her when you visit your mom; making someone's day by finding their lost glasses; helping yourself and someone else by weeding out stuff to give to Goodwill; sunlight-woven gold on a late afternoon walk through the woods
Even when there are plenty of sweet! moments, the holidays aren't protected from sadness. A classmate's mother passed away earlier this week and a dear friend's sister lost her battle with cancer today. Please keep them and others who are suffering in your prayers, that they may still find something sweet in these days.
Christmas — that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.
~Augusta E. Rundel
Posted on December 28, 2014 at 10:12 PM in Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Friendship, I believe in prayer, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Of Life and Love, Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (15)
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The pitter-patter of tiny feet woke me early on Christmas morning, but it wasn't the sound of excited little children as on Christmas mornings long ago. It was Belle, letting me know she was ready to go outside.
I granted her request, then crawled back into bed. That's one good thing about Christmas mornings when the kids are grown - you get to sleep in if you want to.
Another is that they are old enough to fix you bacon and eggs for breakfast, like Daniel did for us.
But our celebration began on Christmas Eve with the Children's Mass. There's nothing like seeing little ones all dressed up in their fancy holiday outfits and a group of them acting out the Christmas pageant to fill you with Christmas spirit. So cute!
I spent the rest of that evening baking cookies while watching "It's a Wonderful Life". I think it's my favorite Christmas movie of all, because of its message of hope and faith and friendship, and the beauty of the simple things in life, period.
Christmas day itself was slow and relaxing. Sleeping late ... a walk with Belle ... that huge breakfast, courtesy of Daniel ... phone calls and texts from loved ones and friends ... last minute gift wrapping ... catching bits and pieces of a Shirley Temple movie marathon..
Late in the afternoon my oldest and his wife met us at Mama's nursing home, where we all squeezed into her little room to share cookies, visit, and open a few gifts.
Back home a couple of hours later, we shared a not-so-traditional fajita dinner, opened more gifts, and then ended the day stretched out around the television watching "A Christmas Story" - the "you'll shoot your eye out" one.
I wish so much that Mama could have joined us for dinner at our house. However, mid-week a chest X-ray confirmed she had pneumonia. They caught it early and started antibiotics, but she's still weak and has a bad cough. Please continue to pray for her - and thank you in advance.
Today I followed through on a promise by watching "Elf" with her. She and her roommate loved it.
I hope no matter what else is going on in your life, you've experienced some joy and laughter during the holidays, too.
May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
~Ada V. Hendricks
A friend shared this on Facebook yesterday.
It was so moving, so glorious, and such a beautiful illustration of Love, that I knew right away I wanted to share it with all of you, as well.
Searching for it on You Tube just now, I discovered it's actually 5 years old, so perhaps you've already seen it.
But if you haven't, please watch it through to the very end... which is only 5 minutes.
You won't be sorry.
Naomi Feil, founder of Validation therapy, shares a breakthrough moment of communication with Gladys Wilson, a woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2000 and was virtually non-verbal.
More info: www.memorybridge.org
Love is so powerful and each of us can do so much if we allow it to work through us.
On my way to a friend's Christmas party last night, I stopped to buy a bottle of wine. It didn't take me long to find just the right one: Perseverance.
I had no idea if it was any good, but I loved the name and it was affordable. That's the kind of wine afficianado I am. I ended up buying three: one for the party, one for a client, and one for me.
The party was at my friend Darla's house. She's the ultimate hostess, always going overboard. I've been lucky enough to have her throw a couple of surprise birthday parties for me in the past. She's the main reason I'm now typing on this gorgeous Mac!
So I wasn't surprised to find a tableful of irresistable culinary delights in the dining room (bacon with pecans and syrup!) and several stations set up outside on the deck: a hot chocolate station, a popcorn station, and a s'more station. She also had two firepits, a heater, and a basket of blankets out there, with plenty of cute signs and candles.
She's nuts! But I love going to her parties.
This afternoon I finally decorated my house for Christmas and, with Daniel's help, emptied my living room of boxes. I'll leave it all up until Epiphany, January 6, so it's really not too late.
Most of my decorations are sentimental - a lot of them handmade by my kids years ago - so decorating is always a trip down Christmas-memory lane for me. I don't think I've bought anything new since the mid-90's. It's pure kitsch, but I love it.
One of my favorites - a collection of Christmas books. I finally gathered most of them together last year out of a dozen different boxes.
Now, for the time to sit and read each one again... that would be pretty sweet!
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week...
Monday: a day at home to try to get caught up; a friend taking the time to visit your mom; real estate closings; helping a friend buy a lakefront lot; decorating your Christmas tree and watching "Elf" with your kids
Tuesday: learning about commercial real estate and visiting with a past client; a fellow pastoral council member opening his home for your December meeting, providing a hearty stew, good wine, and great fellowship
Wednesday: morning walks with your puppy; finally ordering the bifocals you've been holding off on for years, thanks to some leftover health account money; paydays
Thursday: winning a Mary Kay Cosmetics door prize; a good report from your mom's physical and occupational therapist; watching "Guns of Navarone" with your mom
Friday: visiting with a friend and meeting her sweet puppy dog; patient aides who work with your mom; a sister who takes care of your mom's Medicaid paperwork; a pot of chili on a chilly night; a good movie with your son
Saturday: a visit with, and a blessing from, your Confirmation priest; your son dusting and vacuuming for you; getting together with friends at a Christmas party; neighborhood Christmas lights; fun gifts from friends who know you really well
Sunday: your son blocking your puppy in his room so she doesn't wake you up too early; swapping real estate horror stories with friends; watching Christmas Hallmark movies with your mom; finally decorating your house for Christmas and clearing the boxes from your living room
I hope you've had a week full of sweet!s, and the next overflows with blessings!
May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!
Posted on December 21, 2014 at 10:54 PM in Belle, Books, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Food and Drink, Friendship, Indulgence, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Odd Jobs, Procrastination, Spinning Plates, Sweet!, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (6)
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Mama and I were visiting in her room yesterday when the sound of Christmas carols reached our ears, even over the high volume of her roommate's television. I stepped into the hall. It was coming from the dining room.
She wanted to go listen, so a couple of aides helped get her situated in the hoyer and into her chair. It's a lot more difficult than it sounds, requiring Mama to roll from side to side as they get the canvas sling beneath her. The large mechanical lift itself has to be retrieved from another hall.
Consequently, just as we reached the dining room, the performance ended.
I wheeled her back to her room. It was time for me to go, so I gathered up her laundry basket, gave her a kiss, and headed down the hallway. But on a whim I made a detour into the dining room. Sure enough, a few carolers lingered.
Five minutes later, the carolers crowded into Mama's small room and gave her a short, private performance. She beamed and sang along.
It was much easier to tell her goodbye after that.
My tree still stands naked ... boxes of decorations are gathering dust in the middle of my livingroom ... I have yet to order my Christmas cards, much less address and mail them ... I've done no shopping, and have barely thought about what we'll have for Christmas dinner.
But when holiday stress over these yet-to-do's starts building, I'm going to remind myself of those few moments with Mama and of those carolers who agreed on a private encore just to make her happy. Those are the memories that make Christmas special.
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~Peg Bracken
Mama has only been back in her room a couple of days. She made another trip to the emergency room on Tuesday. Not a fall, but just as scary: She choked on a tater tot. Her nurse said they couldn't get her breathing under control, and she even turned blue on them a couple of times.
However, by the time I caught up to Mama in the ER, she was breathing without wheezing and her color was great, thanks to numerous nebulizer treatments and a steroid IV. In fact, she was her twinkly, flirty self.
Even though her chest X-ray looked fine, they decided to keep her overnight for observation, in case she aspirated some of the tot. It would irritate and inflame the lungs, causing a type of pneumonia.
Thank goodness the follow-up X-ray the next day looked okay, and she passed a swallow test, but it was already so late in the day by the time they finished, they felt they should watch her another night just to make sure.
Everyone made a big fuss over her when she arrived back at the nursing home the next day. I didn't even nag her about eating lunch in bed.
It was a huge relief that she suffered no ill-effects from the incident, of course, but the surprise blessing is she gets a brand-new session of physical and occupational therapy, thanks to the stint in the hospital.
I'll keep trying to stop by there or call her early each day to nag... um, encourage her to get out of bed when physical therapy comes calling. It will be a Christmas miracle if she's strong enough to leave the home and celebrate at our house, but then, I believe in miracles.
Despite the unexpected visit to the hospital, there were plenty of sweet!s this past week....
Monday: being able to slow down enough to let a roadrunner cross the highway in front of you safely; your mom moving herself through the halls to see the Christmas tree in the foyer of her nursing home; being able to spend lots of time with her; an orange egg-shaped moon playing peek-a-boo on the hilly horizon with you
Tuesday: calls on your listings; finally having a closing date for one of your new home buyers; caregivers who act fast getting her to the emergency room when your mom chokes on her food
Wednesday: a glorious sunrise; meeting your new neighbor; the doctor determining your mother did NOT aspirate any tater tot; your mom released from the hospital; your daughter making the four dozen cookies you need for a cookie exchange because you're too busy with your mom; cookie exchanges
Thursday: morning sounds... your feet shuffling through dried leaves, the distant crow of a rooster, and the chirps of birds just waking up; a glimpse of the moon peeking through morning clouds
Friday: hitching a ride on a golf cart from the parking lot when you're wearing heels; dancing at Christmas parties with friends; photo booths; a shooting star flashing right in front of you; enjoying a meteor shower with your daughter
No silly ones - I had a tough enough time trying to figure out where to look!
Saturday: meeting a new client while trying out a new coffee bistro; stopping by their home for a visit with your son, daughter-in-law, and grandpuppy; the sight of Santa riding down South Congress on a horse; catching up with old friends at a Christmas party
Sunday: enjoying Christmas music with your mom; carolers who will give your mom a private performance; the rain waiting until you're in the grocery store to start, and then stopping before you come back out; a son who will cook dinner; a call from a dear friend
I hope you have a blessed week full of love and miracles, no matter what holiday you're celebrating this season. Be sure to share your sweet! moments from the past week in the comments! I'm sure you can think of something!
When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?
I didn't become Catholic because they consider it okay to dance and drink, but I have to admit, those are great fringe benefits!
Every year I look forward to our parish "adult" Christmas party, where there's always great food, great dance music, a huge dance floor, and a mostly older crowd who make me feel young and old at the same time. There are some 80+-year-olds who can out-dance me!
Tonight I expected to go, eat, and leave, because I had so much work to do. I didn't even bring my big-girl camera. But I met new people at my table, saw some old friends, and this great band was playing...
The next thing I knew, I was one of the last ones there, as always.
There were four of us women still on the dance floor when the band said good night. We convinced them to play an encore. They acquiesced, choosing "Don't Stop Believing", the perfect lead-in for the post I'd already written for today...
It's been almost a year since my mom made the move from Houston to Austin. Things haven't gone quite as well as I hoped ... she's had two trips to the emergency room and is much weaker now than when we made that 4 hour road trip last year.
But she is still my mom. I can talk to her about everything that's going on in my life, just as I always could. I am blessed that way. She's still a great support and sounding board. And I think it helps her to know I still need her that way.
But in the same breath, she'll refer to my dad as if he's alive. We're on a totally different playing field, and it's taken some getting used to. She knows he's passed on, but there are times she just refuses to accept it.
In her previous life, my mom was a CPS - a Certified Professional Secretary. It was a big deal. You had to pass a test. She worked all while I was growing up, and then beginning in 1975, she also took care of my quadriplegic brother in the evening when she got home from work.
Her nature has always been that of a nightowl who loved staying up late and sleeping half the day, unless she had to get up for work or some other good reason.
It's unfortunate that nursing homes don't operate on that time schedule. Physical therapy comes by in the morning. She refuses them. By the time she's awake enough to participate, they're gone for the day.
Consequently, she's gotten weaker and weaker. This week, they categorized her as a hoyer-lift patient because they say it took four people to weigh her. A hoyer-lift patient is pretty much a jellyfish, not having to use any muscles to get in and out of bed, or even to the bathroom.
However, when they said they had to move her to another hall because she was now a hoyer patient, I reminded them that she did fine with two people assisting her until one aide ignored the "Two Person" assistance notice and tried to move her on her own. Consequently, Mama landed on her knees. The very next day, it took four people to weigh her.
So, they gave me a week. If she shows improvement and cooperates, she won't have to move.
I am now officially her coach.
Yesterday morning I arrived at 11:30 and she was still in bed. I pushed the button to call the aides to get her out of bed and when they asked her if she would eat lunch in the dining room, I answered for her: Yes.
She eats really, really slow. We were the last ones in the dining room. Her nurse had her nebulizer treatment already set up, so I got her started on that, then went to find a portable oxygen tank. When she finished her treatment, I hooked her up to the portable tank so she could take a "stroll" down the hall, using her hands and feet to propel herself, rather than someone pushing her.
I want her to build her strength. I don't want her to be a jellyfish on the other hall, and she doesn't want to be, either. I told her she had to want that in an active way, not just a theoretical way.
That's true for all of us, isn't it? If we want something, we have to take the action that will get us there, not just wish for it to magically happen.
I was there four hours yesterday, and two today, but most days I can only be with her an hour. So please, please, please keep my mom in your prayers, as well as her aides and nurses. They have a tough job. I'm depending on them to keep her moving and gaining strength.
Don't stop believing... (and please keep her in your prayers!)
Being there for my mom and dancing tonight are definitely both sweet!s of this week.
Here are a few more...
Tuesday: property tours that include lots of lake views; singing Christmas carols with your mom; investor clients; online classes you can attend at your convenience
Wednesday: your son's 29th birthday; remembering the day you became a mom; spending time with your own mom
Thursday: the silence of a foggy morning; showing properties; bathroom inspiration; discovering new restaurants with your daughter; remembering your sister's wedding 10 years ago; hanging out with twenty-somethings
Friday: showing more properties; seeing results from nagging your mom; reaching the halfway mark in your new class; watching a full moon climb up through the tree branches
Saturday: the company of house-dogs; working out six days in a row; getting to spend four hours with your mom; sunsets in the hill country; quick catch-ups with friends; new clients
Sunday: walking through a carpet of autumn leaves; enjoying beautiful Christmas and gospel music with your mom; an evening spent visiting with friends, making new ones, and dancing
I hope you had a week full of sweet! moments, and the next is overflowing. Share them here!
And remember, don't stop believing!
When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
He doesn't take himself too seriously.
For instance, this is his latest post on Facebook...
"I jogged through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel... To Bangers for a beer."
It makes me so happy to know he's secure enough, and fun-loving enough, to dress as an elf and run through the streets of Austin on an Elf Pub Run. Also, that he can quote Will Ferrell in "Elf".
Of course I'm also proud that he's an awesome insurance agent who was smart enough to fall in love with that gorgeous redhead beside him.
He volunteers to host Thanksgiving for 20 people.
Including roasting the turkey. Yum.
He doesn't let things shake him up.
After an 8 hour drive, which included hitting a huge deer on a dark highway 30 minutes outside of Lubbock, and then only 4 hours of sleep, he ran 14 miles in freezing weather with his wife because it was important to her to keep up with her marathon training.
Plus , it was her birthday weekend.
"Ninja training: 8 hour road trip, 4 hours sleep, 14 mile run. Now endurance tailgating with Tx Tech girls."
Can I brag some more? He's an Eagle Scout, he visits his grandmother regularly, runs marathons despite having struggled with asthma all through his childhood, has the before-mentioned successful insurance business...
All in all, he lives life to the fullest.
But it's still hard to believe it's been 29 years since this...
Who knew then that he would be my hero?
Yes, I'm a proud, extremely grateful mom.
Happy 29th birthday to my Sunshine Boy.
You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes. ~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did. I feel especially blessed that in my 55 years I've only been responsible for the whole dinner a handful of times, thanks to my mom and, more recently, my son and daughter-in-law.
For the second year in a row, my son did an amazing job on the turkey, a huge 21-pounder! There was a ton of other delicious stuff... gorgeous appetizers, casseroles, desserts.
I brought the cornbread dressing, my mother's recipe. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving for me without it.
(I also brought a green salad, but it was mostly for show. It takes up way too much room on a plate!)
Even though my mom wasn't strong enough yet to join us at my son's, she was too stuffed with turkey and dressing to eat any of the goodies we brought her on our way home that evening. I'm grateful for that, and for the staff of her nursing home who made sure the residents celebrated.
The next day we celebrated Thanksgiving again with friends. No skipping work-outs for me for the next few weeks, that's for sure!
Thanksgiving was just the first in this season of celebration. Yesterday was the first official day of Advent, a time when we (as in Christians) reflect on what we need to do to prepare for the second coming of Christ while commemorating his first coming - Christmas. A season for reflection of the past and the future.
A few years ago I googled "Advent" for another post and found a description on Spirit Home that I thought was perfect. I've chopped out bits to save space, but here it is...
Advent is a season of preparation. So's Lent, but it is a different kind of preparation. Lent is very adult and serious, because it leads to a death; originally, Lent readied new Christian adults for baptism. In Advent, we thank God for Christ's first coming, prepare for his final coming at the end of time, and celebrate Christ's presence among us today through the Spirit. God loved us and wanted to share that love. But this existence isn't well-suited for a god; it's too broken, evil, painful, unjust. So, to rescue the created world from this evil, God chose to come here and walk the earth, to grow up, to live the truth, and to die. The only way to start such a thing is as a baby, and the only way to be a baby is to be born. Hence Christmas. Because Christmas is centered in the new hope brought by a baby, it's a very child-oriented holiday. Because Advent leads us up to that baby, Advent is also child-oriented.
There's a time to get ready by focusing on your own sinfulness and wrongdoing, a time for personal transformation and following Christ to the cross. That's Lent. There's a time to get ready by rejoicing that our God is not far away and unfamiliar with the struggles of human life, that Christ is here right now among His followers, that God has already begun to bring in the Kingdom, and that Christ will come again to make it clear who really runs the place. That's Advent. "Lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the age", says Jesus.
"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as if everything is."
~ Albert Einstein
I love that quote. And I do believe each day is full of miracles.
Keeping track of my sweet!s has helped me recognize them. Here are a few from the past week...
Monday: being able to start a new week and every new day with a morning walk; your mom agreeing to do her physical therapy
Tuesday: starting a new real estate class; a happy hour at sunset with friends
Wednesday: a blogger/writer friend's op-ed published in the LA Times; open parking spaces and short check-out lines when you procrastinate grocery shopping until the day before Thanksgiving; a pre-Thanksgiving phone call with your mother-in-law
Thursday: only being responsible for the cornbread dressing and green salad for Thanksgiving dinner; truly liking your daughter-in-law's family; creative appetizers; no traffic when you hit the road for Thanksgiving; another Wes Anderson movie with your son
Friday: the smell of fresh-baked brownies; sons who love to visit their grandmother; Thanksgiving Part 2 with friends
Saturday: three days in a row with no alarm clock; a "hello" from a raven on your morning walk; learning the difference between a crow and a raven; a silly movie with your son; finishing the edits on a special photography job
Sunday: referrals from friends; a spring-like day in winter; a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron disappearing over the treetops; two walks in one day with your puppy; your son calling to see if you need anything from the grocery store on his way home
Monday: the sound of the wind dancing in the treetops; your puppy running and running and running with joy and exuberance; spending a morning with a client viewing properties; a shadow-puppy/guard dog who follows you from room to room; your son getting a fire going when winter returns to your hollow
Beginning this Advent, I'm also going to work on being more aware and more supportive of my friends and family who are currently facing huge challenges. Time to pay it forward.
Whether you think about Advent or not, I hope your next few weeks are full of reflection, hope and joy.
Posted on December 01, 2014 at 11:34 PM in Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Feeding the Spirit, Food and Drink, Friendship, I believe in prayer, Indulgence, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Of Life and Love, Procrastination, Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (9)
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There's a small pond tucked into the bottom of a hill down the road from our house. It can be counted on to hold water when the others have all dried up, deep enough that our Max puppy could really swim in it sometimes, not just wade. He loved it.
One morning on our walk a few weeks before he left us, Max started up the trail that leads to the pond. I was nervous, because the sides of the pond are so steep and deep, and his legs were so weak, I knew if he went in, he'd never make it out by himself.
But after just a few steps in the direction of the pond, he stopped and looked back at me, as if he was thinking the same thing.
"Let's just go back to our pond, Max," I told him. "You can swim there."
He must have agreed, because he immediately turned around and headed back down the road to our house.
I visited that little pond yesterday morning for the first time since Max's last swim. I thought about him and all of the mornings Belle and I stood on the trail above the pond and waited for him while he soaked and swam.
I wondered if the last time he swam there, he knew it might be his last. (I know I didn't. He kept surprising me.)
Whether he realized it or not, I bet he cherished every minute of it, and gave thanks in whatever way dogs do that it was there.
We rarely know when we're experiencing the "last" of something ... the last conversation or hug or kiss. The last walk with a beloved old puppy dog. Or the last Thanksgiving with a loved one.
All too often, we take it for granted there will be a "next time". We're human, after all, and life moves fast.
Last year we traveled to Houston to celebrate Thanksgiving a day late with my mom. I knew it would be the last time we celebrated in my childhood home, and that knowledge weighed on me every minute.
It was also the first Thanksgiving without Daddy. I was grateful for the chance to be there for Mama, but it was definitely a bittersweet celebration. In fact, I completely forgot about it until my sister reminded me yesterday.
I'd rather remember all the Thanksgivings there that came before it.
Today I'll be celebrating with my son, my daughter-in-law, and her extended family, just as we did last year. It might be a new tradition. It might not.
But it will be the "last" in some way, that's guaranteed, although I don't want to think about it like that. I just want to slow down and savor, to imprint the people I'm with and the moments of the day into my memory, and give thanks for them and all of the many blessings in my life...
...which includes you. I'm so grateful for you, and wish you a blessed Thanksgiving!
Like my Daddy, and his daddy before him, I have a coin collection. My coins aren't categorized into small blue books like theirs, though. Mine -all wheat pennies - jingle around in an old bourbon bottle.
This doesn't look like much of a collection after fifty years, does it?
I'm not sure when or why I became enamored of wheat pennies. Maybe because they stopped being minted the year before I was born. Maybe because, as far as old coins go, they weren't that rare when I started.
Whatever the reason, I'm sure it was Daddy who introduced me to them and contributed the majority of them to my collection. Daddy had an eye for coins. He gave me every wheat penny he found, and his excitement at finding one in his change was contagious. I scoured every penny I came across for years, searching for those two stalks of wheat.
For some reason, whether lack of time (kids? life?) or lack of luck finding them, I stopped.
But earlier this week, on a day when my heart was feeling pretty heavy and wheat pennies were the last thing on my mind, I was reaching for my computer bag on the backseat when I spotted one resting alone, wheat-side up, smack dab in the middle of the rear floorboard hump of my car.
I think somehow Daddy put it there for me, encouraging me to hang in there, reminding me that he always believed in me, and always will.
Thank you, Daddy.
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week...
Monday: finding out your kids survived their road trip, despite hitting a deer and encountering icy conditions; the knowledge that you did your best, even if things don't work out as well as you hoped; finding a wheat penny and feeling your daddy nearby
Tuesday: your mom agreeing to get out of bed, at least for a little while; meeting a new client in person; not having an accident in terrible stop-and-go traffic; a fun photo shoot with photogenic siblings
Wednesday: puppy kisses; continually learning; being able to offer support when loved ones lose their daddies
Thursday: free food and drinks, music, and a chance to catch up up with a sweet friend while touring beautiful new subdivisions; sunsets in the hill country; a Google City Expert event downtown with your son and daughter-in-law, where you get to sample some of the food, drink, and fun several Austin businesses have to offer
Friday: a Thanksgiving pot-luck gathering with your colleagues and time to visit with friends; clients ready to make an offer; still being able to talk to your mom about things weighing on your heart
Saturday: rain, rain, and more rain, but none of the dangerous thunderstorms that were predicted; watching yet another Wes Anderson movie with your son
Sunday: waking to sunshine and clear blue skies; the trickle of a little waterfall; a cousin who visits your mom and brings her gifts; a sliver moon floating on a sunset
Monday: watching the sun set treetops ablaze with golden morning light; forgiving yourself for not finishing your blog post on Sunday, as you intended; crossing a huge, dusty to-do off of your list
What was the sweetest moment of your past week? I hope this next one overflows with them for you.
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.
~Ruth E. Renkel
Posted on November 24, 2014 at 02:09 PM in Call me daughter, Call me mom, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Film, Food and Drink, Friendship, Google City Experts, I believe in prayer, Indulgence, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, My Country Life, My Evolution, New Homes, Northshore of Lake Travis, Odd Jobs, Of Life and Love, Property Tours, Real Estate, Remember when..., Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (18)
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It snowed in Texas today, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet.
Granted, it was in Lubbock, up in the Panhandle, farther north than most of Texas. My son and daughter-in-law (a Texas Tech graduate) were there this weekend, celebrating her birthday, and she welcomed the snow as a special birthday gift. (I just hope it doesn't interfere with their drive home!)
I'm glad she had a special day, and a fun weekend, because she is such a special young woman. I feel so blessed that she is part of our family.
A daughter is a gift of love. ~Author Unknown
We've had unseasonably cold weather here in Austin, too, this past week. When winter decided to move south, it didn't waste any time.
I'm enjoying the change, though. I love the way a brisk cold wind slaps me truly awake on morning walks and seems to blow through my brain, like Mary Poppins in the nursery, putting things in order.
I know I'll be ready for warm days way before they actually return, but for now I'll enjoy a different wardrobe, the smell of woodsmoke, and not having to douse myself with mosquito spray before my morning walk.
Yesterday morning I wandered down to the little pond and for a change was able to linger awhile, without mosquitoes buzzing my face. I watched tiny birds flit from tree to tree, chattering to each other. A few American Beautyberries still graced a bush by the edge of the pond, but the paved terrace was littered with gold and rust colored leaves.
It was a typical Austin winter day and I won't complain, but I'll still keep my fingers crossed that at least one of these Canadian blasts brings a little snow with it all the way to Long Hollow.
Here are a few more sweet! moments from the past week...
Monday - your mom agreeing to get out of bed for physical therapy; sticking to your healthy eating regimen
Tuesday - the briskness of that first really cold morning; helping college students find housing; remembering those who sacrifice to keep your country safe
Wednesday: beautiful weather when showing properties; the first fire of the season; your mom up eating in the dining room when you expected to find her still lying in bed
Thursday: hot showers on cold mornings; helping your mom celebrate her birthday again; a haircut and re-blonding, a la Michael; homemade chili on a cold night
Friday: finding out you used to work with your new client's stepfather; discovering a healthy fast food restaurant; a husband who can start a fire in the blink of an eye
Saturday: your puppy letting you sleep in; a leisurely morning walk to your small pond with your puppy; working out details for a contract; a break from work to enjoy a Wes Anderson double-feature with your son
Sunday: Chicken Adobo that is yummy and easy to make; more time than usual to visit your mom; help getting groceries into the house on cold, misty evenings
I hope all of you had a great week (share your sweet!s in the comments!) and I hope this winter is just the right kind for you.
There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.
Posted on November 16, 2014 at 09:35 PM in Austin, birthdays, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Food and Drink, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Northshore of Lake Travis, Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (16)
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My mother, who was born with a spirit of independence and "where there's a will there's a way" ... who was my quadriplegic brother's primary caregiver even while working full-time ... who others (not just family) always turned to for help ...
... well, now she is dependent on a machine for oxygen, a wheelchair for mobility, and other people to help her with practically everything else.
She tries hard not to push that little white button that will summon help. Not because of false pride, but because she doesn't want to abuse the assistance.
She knows from personal experience how exhausting it can be, mentally and physically, to help a person with all of their basic needs, and she truly appreciates the aides who help her with hers. She hears other residents complaining, whining, constantly asking for help, so Mama tries to make sure she only calls when it's a real need.
(Sometimes she misjudges - and breaks her femur.)
When the aides and nurses come to help, she jokes with them and smiles often. So naturally, it seems they stop by to see her more often than the other residents. Wouldn't you?
She's a smart lady, my Mama.
But she has no ulterior motive in being pleasant. She just truly appreciates how hard they work.
They're not gray hairs. They're wisdom highlights.
Today is her 83rd birthday. We had a little party on Sunday, but the celebration has continued with cards and cookies arriving in the mail, and visitors bringing more sweets and balloons. I think she stayed in bed all day, which has always been one of her favorite pasttimes.
On her 77th birthday, I listed the things she had taught me in a blog post, and I've added to it every year. So without further ado, here's the list...
Things Mama has taught me...
"Lord, if your people need me, I will not refuse the work. Your will be done."
~St. Martin of Tours
My big brother Buster was headed to Viet Nam, saying his goodbyes, when I stood beside him in this photograph and smiled. I had no idea what was ahead of him. This was probably taken before his first tour of duty and so he had only a vague idea himself what to expect.
When he volunteered for his second tour, however, he knew full well what he was stepping into...but he did it anyway.
My dad was in high school when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He joined the Navy soon after high school graduation because his country was at war and "it was the thing to do."
In the next twenty-two months he traveled a long way from Texas aboard the U.S.S. Geneva...to places like the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, China, Burma, Japan.
Before he turned twenty, he had seen cities that had been destroyed by war and piles of dead bodies waiting to be buried.
A few years later, his little brother Bobby followed his lead and joined the Navy, and many years later, so did my brother Donnie and two nephews.
Pop, my wonderful father-in-law, missed out on World War II, but joined the Air Force in time for the Korean War. He worked base supply in Okinawa, supporting bombers flying missions to Korea...about 100 aircraft every day.
He re-enlisted, got married, and hopped around the globe...living in England, Germany, and over a year in Pakistan, separated from his family (the other heroes - Mom had 8 teenage and younger boys to deal with by herself!)...visiting a dozen other countries...eventually staying put for awhile in Maryland, working with NSA (and a second job at the bowling alley to make ends meet), until his retirement.
A lifetime of service and sacrifice for this country.
My husband Tom was raised in that military family. For him it was normal to move every few years to someplace completely different...by the time he was eight or nine years old, he had lived in three countries!
He grew up on a tight budget ... hand-me-downs, powdered milk and only two cookies a day...period! And yet as soon as he could, he joined the service...the Coast Guard. Among other things, he helped rescue fisherman off the coast of Alaska.
Four of his brothers also joined the service (three career Air Force, just like their dad, and another Coast Guard) and the youngest joined the Army Reserves. Now the next generation is following in their footsteps: two Air Force and one Coast Guard.
I think it's very fitting that Veterans Day shares November with Thanksgiving, a day when we slow down to remember and be grateful for things that we usually take for granted, because veterans, despite the sacrifices they make for all of us, probably don't even make it onto our Thanksgiving thank-you list.
That's how much most of us take them for granted - as well as the freedoms they protect for us. Even when our country isn't at war, they go where they are needed to unfamiliar places, away from extended family, often living on a minimum salary.
To many, they are a symbol of war, not peace, and sadly become targets of derision, scorn, blame... and even violence, like the sad incident at Ft. Hood a few years ago.
They deserve to be thanked every day of the year. A friend of mine says that when he's in a restaurant and sees a man or woman in uniform, he secretly pays their bill. What a wonderful idea! I think more of us should go out of our way every day to show our appreciation, but I'm glad there is at least one special day where we shine a spotlight on them, remember their sacrifices and make clear our gratitude.
Thank you Daddy, Tom, Pop, Buster, Donnie, Uncle Bobby, Uncle Howard, Kenny, Steve, Joe, Robbie, John, Sheila, Michael, Tom, Lynn, Robbin, Evan...and all of the other Veterans, past and present, out there! Because of you, we're free to go about our daily lives, without a thought in the world to how much that freedom costs or how much you've given.
But let's hope we do remember the price, as well as those who, through their actions, say "Don't worry. I got this."
(If this sounds familiar, it's a re-post from last year and the year before and the year before, with just a few tweeks. With the passing of Daddy, my Uncle Bobby, and Pop in recent years, and my brother Buster years ago, this day feels especially poignant. I don't want their service to be forgotten.)
This evening my family commandeered the sunroom where my mom lives to celebrate her 83rd birthday a few days early. It was the only day we could all be together, but besides that, when you're turning 83, you really should start celebrating early, don't you think?
I know Mama loves being with all of my kids, but I also know that if her birthday wish had come true, we would have been sharing fajitas, chocolate cake, and stories around our old kitchen table in our house in Deepwater, and Daddy would have been there with us, too... in body, not just in spirit.
When you live long enough, there's often bitter mixed with the sweet.
But I think it's important to focus on the sweet, which for me was having my husband, my mom, every one of my kids, and even my grandpuppy Josie all together this evening. That doesn't happen often enough these days.
Here are some other sweet!s from the past week...
Monday: morning skies; working out for the first time in a week; the arrival of your new boots in the mail
Tuesday: catching up with a friend while on a property tour through the Texas hill country; the tug on your heart when you see the final resting spot of some beloved pets nestled under a tree; the freedom to vote, and standing in a line to exercise that right
Wednesday: walking in the rain with your puppy, the sound of raindrops on your umbrella your soundtrack; new clients; winning a gift card to Panera Bread
Thursday: customer service people who truly care about customer service; a husband who knows how to find great deals on Craig's List... in particular treadmills and ellipticals so you don't have to run on your caliche road
Friday: the return of sunshine to your Hollow; trees dressed in their autumn colors; finishing something you've wanted to do all week; not having to wear huge bandaids on your elbows anymore
Saturday: discovering a living jewel crawling on your road; baby showers; watching a movie with your mom; an overdue get-together with friends
Sunday: a walk through the woods with your puppy before Mass; talking real estate with Realtor friends; celebrating your mom's birthday early with all of your kids and your grandpuppy
Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.
What were the sweet moments of your past week? Please share them in the comments. I hope you have twice as many in the coming week!
Posted on November 09, 2014 at 11:07 PM in birthdays, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Friendship, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Northshore of Lake Travis, Odd Jobs, Of Life and Love, Property Tours, Real Estate, Remember when..., Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (8)
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After a long day of driving and showing houses to clients all over Austin, then a never-long-enough visit with my mom, I arrived back home yesterday evening just as the sun started its goodbyes. The light was golden, the sky a crisp and an ever-deepening blue.
I set aside the list of things I still needed to do and headed down my caliche road with Belle, feeling lighter with every step.
"Solvitur ambulando, St. Jerome was fond of saying. To solve a problem, walk around."
"The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand."
~Frederick L. Knowles
Along the way, our new neighbors overtook us on their 4-wheel drive ATV, their golden retriever running alongside them. Belle and I heard them coming, stepped off the road, and waited.
When the golden spotted us, he veered over to investigate. I'm ashamed to tell you that Belle wasn't very friendly to him. However, she responded to my commands and stayed beside me.
The golden couldn't help himself. He kept coming around to investigate. They finally all turned and headed back to their house, and we continued on our walk, once again enjoying the last rays of the sun and the peace of the Hollow, despite the interruption.
Then, as usual, Belle and I headed out again this morning for a walk before church.
Near the curve of the road, we encountered neighbors who live up the hill. They like to walk their three dogs on our road.
This time Belle minded her manners and stayed friendly. Unfortunately, two of theirs weren't so friendly. One - the largest one - even lunged at Belle. No actual contact was made, thank goodness.
The owner scolded it, grabbed it by its collar, and they headed on down the road in one direction while we continued on our walk in the other.
Sigh. Our road is getting much too crowded. And perhaps I'm becoming a snob. Or a hermit.
Belle is a fast walker. To keep up with her - and to get in a little work-out, not to mention save time, on busy mornings - I've started jogging.
I stopped jogging on our road a few years ago because it's made of caliche... essentially gravel and loose rocks on top of uneven solid rock. It's tough on the feet and there's a high risk of tripping or twisting your ankle.
But (did I mention this already?) Belle walks really, really fast. She needs the exercise, and I need the exercise, and this past week has been so crazy busy that there was no other time to work-out otherwise.
I never saw that rock. The one that reached up and grabbed my toe, sending me flying and slipping an anticipatory curse word into my Rosary.
I mostly landed on my forearms, sliding a few centimeters along the gravel. I'm now sporting huge bandaids on my elbows and one knee, and bruises are still popping up on my arms and left leg.
But...nothing was broken, except skin. Not even my phone.
That's pretty amazing and sweet! when you get to be my age!
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week...
Tuesday: a new client and a referral from a colleague; dinner and reminiscing with your sister, her friend, and your cousin; a sweet card in the mail from your work family
Wednesday: taking classes so you can stay informed about your business; your puppy barking in her sleep behind you as you work; new clients
Thursday: not breaking anything except skin when you trip and fall while running on your caliche road with your puppy; closings and happy clients; finally meeting a client in person for the first time after helping her relocate from Illinois to Texas; networking with friends/colleagues and meeting new ones; bumping into a high school friend of your son's; trying new restaurants with your daughter
Friday: watching the sunrise color a gray world; corn chowder a la the Avenue B Grocery, eaten outside on a gorgeous autumn day; a text containing a photo of your sweet great-niece dressed up for Halloween
Saturday: helping the daughter of a high school friend find a home in Austin; exploring homes all around the University of Texas with college girls; finding out your phone isn't completely dead; a walk on a country road at dusk with your puppy after a long day
Sunday: discovering your husband and son made it home safe in the middle of the night from their Arkansas canoeing adventure; a glimpse of their adventure through their photographs; your son relocating a turtle to a pond with water in it; commemorating All Soul's Day with a candlelight ceremony outside of your church
"Is death the last sleep? No, it is the last and final awakening. "
~ Sir Walter Scott
As always, please share your sweet moments from the past week in the comments!
Posted on November 02, 2014 at 11:26 PM in Austin, Call me mom, Critters, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Feeding the Spirit, Food and Drink, Indulgence, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, My Country Life, My Evolution, Of Life and Love, peace, love and understanding, Real Estate, Sweet!, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (22)
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Belle is snoring behind me, curled up on a purple and pink fringed blanket TG gave to her. The past couple of nights she's slept beside my bed on a small rug. She's getting better about sleeping through the night without waking me for attention. Just like a baby.
I've never had a house dog before now. For one thing, I'm allergic to dogs, and it amazes me that I'm not a sniffling, wheezing mess right now. I haven't even taken an allergy pill.
Way back in the '70's, when I first brought my Siamese kitten home, I sneezed constantly for a week. Then, like magic, I was fine. Maybe I built up a tolerance for Belle during those weeks she and Max lounged in the laundry room, out of the summer heat.
As much as I loved my cat (and miss having one) I have to admit that house dogs - especially country ones, used to being outside - are so much easier. No litter boxes to clean, for one thing. And when we leave, Belle just goes outside and guards the house from her bed on the porch until we return.
She follows me from room to room, and I'm really enjoying her company. It's eased that place in my heart that still misses my Max.
I dreamed of him two nights ago. He was lying beside me and I ran my hand through his long fur. It was a sweet dream, and having Belle near has been a calming, sweet comfort in a crazy-busy week which culminated in a crazy-busy, but fun, fun weekend.
Friday night I helped celebrate the anniversary of Waddle Auctioneers by dancing with friends to the music of Groove Knight, an awesome band, in my friend Rachel's airplane hangar. It was bittersweet, though, since it was probably the very last party in that hangar. It's currently on the market.
(Know anyone who wants to buy an airplane hangar with a 5 bedroom home attached? You can catch some beautiful sunrises and sunsets!)
Saturday I spent the day pouring beer for customers and taking photos at my church's annual Oktoberfest. A friend's son works at a local brewery - Live Oak - and they donated a keg to our cause. (Thank you, Live Oak Brewing Company!)
The weather was perfect, I saw tons of familiar faces, and we ended up raising a lot of money that will be given back to our community.
Sunday turned out all different than originally planned, but I'm learning to be flexible and it turned into a wonderful day, as well.
I had registered to run 5K in the Run for the Water downtown. However, by this weekend the rest of the family made plans to be out of town, and I realized there wouldn't be anyone home to feed or walk Belle!
So instead of driving downtown to run 5K at 7 am, I slept until 7 am and then ran a mile with Belle at dawn. I figured the Gazelle Foundation benefited from my entry fee and it didn't really matter where I ran.
All in all, it was a good week. My mom made it through surgery just fine, and even though she isn't getting the quality of care I expect at the moment, I'm grateful she's close enough that I can step in and raise a little, um, heck until it gets on track.
(Don't mess with my mama!)
Here are some other sweet!s from the past week...
Monday: pink clouds in the morning; a message from a potential new client waiting in your inbox when you wake up; your husband home safe and sound from his roadtrip; watching a family of cardinals have a bedtime snack at your feeder
Tuesday: catching up with friends and learning about personal safety at your office meeting; moving forward on a contract; a text from one of your mom's nurses, checking on her after a fall and ambulance ride to the hospital; being able to be by your mom's side when she's in great pain from a broken femur and facing surgery
Wednesday: good wishes, thoughts, and prayers from all over the world (thanks to Facebook!) for your mom as she undergoes surgery; laptops, smart phones, and wi-fi so you can work and stay in touch with loved ones while you wait; calls from potential new clients
Thursday: cousins who visit your mom in the hospital; watching old movies with your mom; nurses who show special care for your mom
Friday: your mom making such great progress she's released from the hospital earlier than you expected; dancing with friends in a hangar to the awesome band Groove Knight
Saturday: working with your son in a church festival booth; a visit from your oldest; being close enough to see your mom every day and be sure she's getting the care she needs
Sunday: cutting yourself some slack by not trying to do everything; running at dawn with your puppy; watching an old, silly movie with your son; new real estate leads
Monday: waking to another new lead; hearing that your son and husband made it to their destination safe and sound; visiting your mom twice in one day; cheese popcorn; a dog snoring beside you as you work
I hope you all had a great week and this next is even better!
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
Posted on October 28, 2014 at 12:39 AM in Celebrations, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Feeding the Spirit, Food and Drink, I believe in prayer, Me and Him, Morning Walks, My Country Life, My Evolution, Northshore of Lake Travis, Northwest Austin, Odd Jobs, On my soapbox, Sweet!, Texas, Texas Hill Country, Worth Quoting, Worthy Causes | Permalink | Comments (18)
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Tuesday afternoon around 3, I got a phone call that derailed the rest of my plans for that day, and shifted all others for the rest of the week...
My mother had fallen, the nurse said. EMS was on its way. What hospital did I want her taken to?
Frustration with her welled up inside of me. Why did she let impatience with the response time of aides cloud her judgement of her own strength and mobility, despite so many "lucky" falls over the past two years? Why did she risk it?
But concern for her, of course, far outweighed my frustration. And I also could put myself in her place, imagining how tough it had to be to have to ask for help for almost everything after a lifetime of independence and always being the one who helped others.
I suspected this was just another 'lucky' fall - her bones seemed to be made of steel! - but nevertheless, I gathered up my phone charger, some snacks, a notebook, and jacket before heading out the door.
She was already loaded in the back of the ambulance when I arrived at the home. I just had time to give her a kiss before they started for the hospital - sans sirens, thank goodness - with me following not too far behind in my own car.
Fast forward to this morning. Mama's luck ran out, dang it. Her femur fractured close to the hip when she hit the ground. She had surgery yesterday to repair it... which means they stuck a long rod down the center which is fixed in place with the medical equivalent of bolts and rubber bands.
The surgery went well, but she had to spend a lot of time in the recovery area. The heavy pain meds they had given her were slow to leave her system.
It had taken a lot of pain meds. I had never seen my mother in that much pain. Every movement was agony for her, but they had to move her to another bed, insert a catheter, and set the leg in traction that first night, bless her heart.
When I left last night, she was still having a tough time keeping her eyes open, but if asked, she said it didn't hurt.
I'm so grateful for all of the prayers, good thoughts, and well wishes that were sent on her behalf the past couple of days, and for Facebook, email, my laptop, smart phone, and the hospital's free wi-fi.
I may have looked alone, sitting in that waiting room, but in reality I was surrounded by friends and family. Thank you.
And Mama, I wish you weren't going through this, but thank you for reminding me to have patience ... to be kind to my body ... to weigh risks and ask for help when I need it. Too often I try to cut corners to save time. I forget my body is getting older and that I need to treat it with respect, which often means letting others help me do things I once did alone without even thinking.
A mother is always teaching, isn't she?
Please continue to keep her in your prayers. I'm afraid she's at the start of a long road of healing and rehabilitation and it won't be an easy one.
Temperatures here have been in the 70's and 80's. Wildflowers, mostly yellows and purples, line the roadside and dot the woods.
Birds chatter and sing in the treetops, bright green bushes dotted with new blooms hum with industrious bees, and Monarch butterflies dance among the snow-on-the-prairie.
Is this spring or autumn? It doesn't matter to me what you call it... I'm loving it!
It's been a busy week, starting with my son's birthday on Monday, a Google City Expert event downtown Tuesday night, my church pastoral council meeting Wednesday night, and another church committee meeting Thursday night, for our Oktoberfest scheduled for October 25.
(It's our major fundraiser and we're down to the wire. If you'll be in my area this Saturday, plan to stop by. It's going to be a lot of fun!)
I was grateful I had contracts and property searches to do for clients Friday and Saturday night that kept me home. Later, with work out of the way, I was able to relax and watch movies with my kids.
Overall, it was a week dotted with sweets, much like the woods dotted with wildflowers right now.
Here are a few other sweet!s from the week...
Monday: celebrating your son's birthday; driving through the Texas hill country on a glorious autumn day; a reuben sandwich at the Double Horn Brewing Company; laughing so hard at your kids you choke on a sip of water; Cyclops Cookies
Tuesday: office meetings, where you can catch up with friends, learn something new, and get a free lunch; Google City Expert events with your kids; the Austin skyline at night; hearing the band "The NightOwls" for the first time
Wednesday: sleeping in an extra hour; autumn wildflowers; reaching an agreement on an offer; getting referrals from friends
Thursday: running at dawn with your puppy; a haircut; being part of your church's Oktoberfest team
Friday: pink mornings; being an advocate for your mom; new clients; puppy kisses; a movie with your son
Saturday: sleeping in; meeting your new neighbor in person; Monarch butterflies passing through on their way to Mexico; a surprise gift from a friend waiting for you in your mailbox; enjoying episodes of "The Tick" with your kids
Sunday: moving forward with two separate contracts; caregivers who truly care; hearing that your friend's audiobook is coming out in paperback and he's sending you an autographed copy!
I'm wishing for you a week dotted with sweet moments. Remember...
The best things in life are nearest:
Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.
Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson
Posted on October 19, 2014 at 10:16 PM in Austin, birthdays, Books, Call me mom, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Food and Drink, Google City Experts, Indulgence, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, Music, My Country Life, Odd Jobs, Real Estate, Spinning Plates, Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (22)
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On Monday my middle son turned 26. He celebrated by taking the day off from work, sleeping in, and then relaxing on the back porch with Belle, reading and drinking his coffee.
He's definitely a child after my own heart.
The day started out a rainy one. But by the time Belle and I went for a walk, the sun was fighting for the day and we were blessed with a rainbow.
Of course, Daniel missed all of that.
He had originally planned to meet his brother for dinner... until both of them realized they would have to fight traffic to do so, with one coming from the north side and the other from the south.
That's no way to celebrate your birthday.
So, since the rain pushed past and it turned into a gorgeous day, he, TG, and I headed away from traffic into the hill country to Marble Falls, where we celebrated with an early dinner at Doublehorn Brewing Company, which I happened to catch on an episode of Daytripper.
Daniel appreciates beer. I love trying new places. TG likes to eat. It was a win-win, all around.
Later, I made the traditional birthday Cyclops Cookies. Yum.
(Tom's in Florida visiting his mom and a few brothers. He missed out.)
I admit that when these two kids moved back home after being mostly gone for a few years, it required quite an adjustment. We had gotten used to, and actually really, really enjoyed, our empty nest. Less laundry, less cooking, more quiet, more, um, freedom.
On top of that, when kids leave, they accumulate stuff. When they move back home, their stuff no longer fits in their old bedrooms. It kind of overflows into the rest of the house.
But the move home is temporary, so you don't want them to get rid of the stuff. Consequently, my house feels a bit like a warehouse.
The past two years have been a real challenge for me, though, and having these two kids home has been such a blessing, for me, besides a way for them to save money. Not only do they help out around the house, but they've provided emotional support as I've dealt with my dad's illness and death, my mom's issues, starting a new business, and most recently, dealing with an aging puppy.
When twenty-something kids come home, it's not the same as when they were teenagers. It's more like having roommates. They pay rent and they're expected to pull their weight.
Mine have specific jobs around the house. Plus, without being asked, they help with my mom's laundry, visit her, and help with the dogs. If I have any special requests, they are on it.
Most important of all these days, they make me laugh.
Your kids are always your kids, of course. You worry about them. You want to give them advice. But if you're lucky, like I've been, they're also now your friends.
When the stuff - or the noise - irritates me, I remember that before I know it, they'll be gone again, only coming home for a day or a few hours every now and then.
So I will ignore the extra boxes, tune out the noise, and cherish these days with them now, before they're just memories.
P.S. Thanks to all of you for your condolensces and prayers for my old puppy Max. I appreciate all of you who say you'll miss him, too.
Each morning since my old puppy Max passed away, Belle and I have ended our walk in the little cemetery where he, Charly, Chewy, Ruthie, and Frankie are all buried. It may seem like a bittersweet way to start the day, but I believe it has helped me, and maybe Belle, transition to life without him.
The cross above is actually the one marking Charly's grave. I need to find another one like it for Max.
I started the week determined to keep track of my sweet!s again. Although by Tuesday, I knew my heart was soon going to break, I was determined to keep making note of at least one sweet a day.
On the darkest days, it helps to remember the sun is still shining somewhere, right?
Monday - an executed contract on one of your listings and finding a home for a family relocating from Illinois
Tuesday - your husband's plumbing and construction skills
Wednesday - your daughter calling you as she's driving to school to tell you to go see the blood moon; your friends praying for your sweet old puppy
Thursday - being able to spend your puppy's last hours beside him, petting him and telling him you love him; a vet who will travel to your home so your puppy can transition in his own home, surrounded by his family
Friday - seeing old friends while passing out flyers to your church's Oktoberfest; crossing heavy items off of your to-do list
Saturday - sleeping late to the sound of rain outside your window; finally cleaning up piles of paperwork in your office
Sunday - hearing rain outside your window two mornings in a row; submitting an offer for a client; seeing a friend's grandbaby for the first time; Blue Bell's Spiced Pumpkin Pecan ice cream; your husband's safe arrival at his mom's for a visit
I hope no matter what troubles or heartbreak you're experiencing, you're able to see the rays of sweet light shining in your darkness.
"Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really."
~ Agnes Sligh Turnbull
He wandered up to our house from the woods almost 11 years ago, a not-so-small puppy with crooked ears and a face so black you could barely see his eyes. We never found out where he came from, but within days, we didn't care. We knew he belonged with us.
His timing was just right; he brought Charly-dog back to life after the death of his brother, Chewy, and distracted me as my eldest prepared to head off to college.
Max was an angel, straight from heaven. I truly believe that.
But I guess angels can't live forever on earth, at least not when they take on mortal bodies. Max's finally wore out, and his beautiful spirit took flight yesterday as we whispered See-you-later and Thank-you and I-love-you-Max.
I spent the last few hours of his life beside him in the laundry room, working on my laptop, reading, and at times just sitting silently on the floor, watching him, petting him, remembering...
He would have tried to hang on, no telling how long - his devotion was so strong. But any doubts about our decision were squelched with one glance at him. He was nothing but fur and bones. He wouldn't eat and could no longer stand, much less walk.
He went downhill fast and I knew there wouldn't be another rally.
I'm grateful to our wonderful veterinarian and her assistant who braved the rough road to our house to ease my sweet Max into the next world, where I'm certain Charly welcomed him and he's no longer limited by that old, lame, beloved body, but able to run and pounce and play like he used to.
When my legs grew too weak to carry me, And my tired eyes could no longer see,
When it pained me to struggle for each new breath,
When my heart beat weaker, and I drew closer to death,
You did me the kindness of letting me go.
You didn't make me hang on when I was suffering so.
I promise I don't think that you loved me any less,
And I love you all the more for your selflessness.
You freed my spirit from its body so wracked with pain,
And let me run the fields of Heaven, where I'm sure we'll meet again.
nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk of me
as if I were beside you…
I loved you so –
‘twas Heaven here with you.
Isla Paschal Richardson
"You think dogs will not be in heaven?
I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog that comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be a dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they.”
Just before sunset this afternoon, I escaped to the front porch swing with a glass of wine and a long-lost book from my childhood. I'd spent the day taking care of the dogs, going to church, fixing one of my signs that got knocked over by city mowers, visitng my mom, and finally making it to the grocery store.
I was pooped.
It was an overdue appointment with myself, the book, and Belle, who joined me on the porch and dozed on her bed while I read.
This whole past week has been exhausting, although not necessarily in a bad way. One of my listings had multiple offers, and while I hate telling anyone they lost, it's the best scenario you can wish for for your seller.
I've also been busy trying to snag a lease for out-of-state buyers who are moving to Austin next week. They want to get a feel for Austin before buying. I don't blame them, but I think they finally believe what I told them about leasing being tougher than buying in some ways.
And then there are searches for other buyers, promotions for other sellers, and the neverending need to get more clients in your pipeline.
It felt good to slip away from all of that for half an hour this afternoon...
I searched for this book for 40 years, before finally coming across it last year in an online bookstore, priced far beyond my budget. My son Daniel - more of a booklover than me, if that's possible - came to the rescue and bought it for me as an early Christmas present.
When it arrived in the mail, it was like seeing an old friend for the first time in so many years... but I was so busy at the time that it sat untouched on my bookshelf until last week, when I decided I'd had enough of just reading real estate books and magazines. I was ready for an escape, the kind only a work of fiction can provide.
And what better escape when you're pressed on all sides with grownup problems, than to dive back into your childhood?
These small iris-shaped flowers line our dirt road again. They never appeared last autumn, I guess because of the drought, so what a sweet surprise to spot them popping up this year.
After a brief rally, Max has gotten picky about eating again, changing his preferences from one day to another and turning his nose up at whatever we're offering more than actually eating.
Consequently, he's gotten weak again, and has skipped the past two morning walks, although he still climbs the hill from his doghouse to lounge in his porch bed, and he seems very happy there, occasionally barking to prove he's got our backs.
So Belle and I have gone on without him. She's in such a hurry to cover a lot of ground but get back to check on him that I've ended up having to run to keep up. It's been good for both of us.
Thursday evening's forecast included a line of thunderstorms passing through, thanks to a cold front.
Somehow it passed by us without so much as a drop, but then stalled for a few hours so that we had the most amazing lightshow on our horizon, like a strobe light caught inside of a huge cloud.
Daniel and I stood in the middle of our road watching it for at least half an hour, totally mesmerized. There was no thunder, no rain. It was one of the weirdest, most beautiful things I've ever witnessed.
I took several shots without much hope that I could actually capture it. I'm pleasantly surprised they came out as good as they did, although none of them truly did it justice.
Earlier that evening I had joined a bunch of other Austin Realtors for a networking party at The Thinkery, a new children's museum. We're members of Broker Underground ... essentially a Facebook group where we can promote our listings, find properties for our buyers, share information about vendors, and keep up to date with what's happening in Austin real estate.
While it's true in a way that agents are competing against each other, it's also true that we have to work together to help our clients and help continually improve our industry. Events like this, where we come face-to-face in a relaxed environment, help us connect... plus they're just a lot of fun and a great way to relieve stress.
Last Sunday I was lucky enough to sit on the front row at a house concert and listen to the music of Shake Russell, Michael Hearne, and Mike Roberts.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard some of those songs over the past four decades, but they still go straight to my heart and soul.
I've missed keeping an official record of my weekly sweet! moments. I plan to start it back up and invite you to do the same, because...
The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions - the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feeling.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Posted on October 05, 2014 at 11:07 PM in Austin, Books, Celebrations, Critters, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Feeding the Spirit, Friendship, Indulgence, Just Beauty, Morning Walks, Music, My Country Life, Odd Jobs, Real Estate, Remember when..., Selling a home, Spinning Plates, Sweet!, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (10)
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I worked in a chemical plant for thirteen years, where all kinds of explosive and flammable materials swam through the pipes surrounding us. Propylene, hydrogen, syngas, and methanol, to name a few.
For the first decade it was a DuPont plant, where safety and proper procedures were taken very seriously and drilled into us daily. We still had a few explosions and fires, and unfortunately, two fatalities, although they weren't DuPont people and they didn't die in an explosion, but during a shutdown. They didn't follow the rules about using plant air for breathing air. (It's backed up by nitrogen.)
I quit that job on my first day back following the birth of my third baby. I had planned to wait a few more months, but I had a nagging fear about being killed in an explosion and leaving my children motherless.
An extreme thought, perhaps, but it wasn't that farfetched.
Fast forward twenty-three years...
I'm happy to report there haven't been any more fatalities at my old plant and I'm now a Realtor.
...and this past week a Realtor in Arkansas, Beverly Carter, disappeared while showing property to someone.
It hit me that my job as a real estate agent is quite possibly much more dangerous than my job as a chemical plant technician, despite the nicer clothes and smiles.
It just doesn't seem possible, does it? But think about it. All the hours I spend on the road probably put me in more danger than walking in that pipe alley years ago.
And then consider the open houses, where you're in a house with strangers milling about (if you survive putting up the signs on busy corners)... listing appointments with complete strangers you often meet for the first time in their homes... showing property to strangers, either meeting them at vacant homes or driving them around in your car.
Granted, Beverly was probably one of about a million agents around the world doing the exact same thing she was at that very moment, and most likely they finished up and joined their families for dinner.
From what I hear, she was an experienced agent and had taken some safety precautions before showing this home. Not enough, it seems, although I'm not blaming her at all.
There's been a lot of discussion and sharing of safety tips and ideas in Facebook real estate groups this past week. I already practiced quite a few of them, thanks to my Keller Williams Realty training, but I've gotten a lot of ideas.
One agent snaps photos of the ID's of every visitor to her open houses and texts them to her office. Another has video cameras placed throughout the open house.
When showing property, I already insisted on having a signed Buyer/Tenant Agreement. I figure if someone refuses to sign, they aren't serious about buying... and are thus a waste of my time.
Recently I also made it standard procedure to copy my client's driver's license and email my itinerary to Tom and the kids.
But through the discussion, I found many more tips, not the least of which involve basicly arming myself with different products and weapons.
It's not fun to think about, when your main objective is to help people, either to find a home or sell a home, so they can move on to the next adventure in their lives.
But no matter how much I enjoy meeting new people and helping them, I can't forget my first duty is to my family. I owe it to them to play it safe. As my cousin said, there are too many crazies out there.
I need to remember my DuPont days and be sure I follow the safety rules and procedures. I need to be aware of my surroundings at all times and never assume anything. Sometimes the greatest danger lies in complacency.
Please keep Beverly Carter in your prayers, that despite the odds, she is found safe and well, very soon.
And also, please don't give your agent a hard time if they ask you to sign a contract or send them a copy of your photo ID. Cut them some slack. It's not personal; they're just trying to be safe in a dangerous world. Thank you.
(I just heard on GMA that Beverly's body has been found. It's not the result that was hoped for, but I pray it brings some relief to her family.)
Tom asked me to dance for the very first time 33 years ago tonight.
I was at Kenny Stabler's Diamondback Saloon in Houston on a rare Friday night off, in a bad mood because my boyfriend of five years "had other plans" that night.
That wasn't unusual - he wasn't a very good boyfriend. But to top it off, none of my friends I expected to see were there that night, either.
I felt very alone.
I guess that's how it is with miracles, though. When you least expect it, when you feel like nothing is going right, one pops up out of the blue, or, in this case, a blue-eyed miracle steps up and asks you to dance.
This is what happened that night. At least, this is my version...
A Michael Jackson song was playing. I can't remember which one, but it was one I didn't care for and wouldn't normally dance to, even in a good mood.
I saw the guy coming toward me and had the "no" ready on my lips, but to my surprise, I said "yes" when he asked me to dance. I had no choice then, but to follow him onto the dance floor and wait for the song to end so I could go back to my spot at the railing and brood some more.
But when the song ended, a country-western tune started right up and he asked me to dance again. I hesitated - we had conversed enough for me to know he talked funny, which meant he was probably a Yankee and wouldn't know how to two-step.
And I hated teaching guys how to two-step.
However, he didn't wait for my answer. He just took me in his arms and started dancing. Two-stepping, no less!
While we danced, we talked. I learned his name, that he was from Maryland, and he was twenty-four even though he looked about eighteen.
By the time the song was over, I had agreed to sit at his table.
He was with an interesting mix of people... a friend's Welsh wife (the friend was a Pasadena cop who was working nights), her New York friends, and Chris, a redhead from Maryland who preferred punk rock to country-western music.
When it was time to leave, Tom walked me outside, asked what I was doing the next night (going to Gilley's to see Alabama perform) and could he meet me there?
Sure. (Why not? My boyfriend had already told me he didn't want to go.) Then, with a peck of a kiss, Tom walked away to join his friends, leaving me to wonder what the heck had just happened.
I told my boyfriend I was meeting someone at Gilley's. He didn't care - he wasn't worried. We had a pretty loose relationship by then, you can tell.
I was worried, though... that I wouldn't recognize Tom. I couldn't remember what he looked like!
That night I stood at the bar where I could see customers streaming in the door to pay. Wait... was that him?
"Tom," I called, testing. He glanced in the direction of my voice. I smiled and waved. He smiled and made his way to me. Whew!
Now, I don't know if I believe in "love at first sight," or if there's such a thing as "someone for everyone," soul mates destined to meet and live happily ever after. But I do know that something changed in me that night at Gilley's.
Tom and I talked, laughed, and danced. Later, he walked me to my car, and we really kissed. He asked for my phone number and I gave it to him.
I didn't know at the time if this was something that would last forever, but I knew I wanted to see him again and spend more time with him. I knew I would be telling my boyfriend good-bye, no matter what happened between me and Tom.
But I didn't dwell on it, just started taking things a day at a time. The next two weeks were a blur of emotions and fun and firsts...
After working the night shift that week, I would find cute cards resting on my doorstep that said he missed me. Was this guy for real?
I dragged him to meet my friends and family, to get their opinion. Maybe there was something I wasn't seeing. But they all liked him. I liked his friends. They liked me.
Where was the glitch? I couldn't find one.
It was an emotional happy high with an undercurrent of deep sadness. Admittedly, my now ex-boyfriend had been a pretty bad boyfriend most of the time, but I loved him. We just weren't good for each other. I hadn't thought I could fall for anyone else until I met Tom.
As jealous as he'd always been, I guess my ex thought I would never fall for anyone else, either, and it hit him hard. One morning soon after meeting Tom, sound asleep after working the night shift, a banging on my door woke me up.
It was my ex. He went straight into my kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife. Before I had time to be scared, he marched across the living room to a small Norfolk pine he had given me. Jerking it out of its planter, scattering dirt all over the carpet, he lifted the knife and began hacking away at the trunk, telling me the tree was a symbol of our love.
(To his credit, a few months later he called and apologized for how badly he had treated me and wished me well. I had already forgiven him. We were just kids, after all.)
Two short weeks after that first dance, Tom and I spent a perfect day at the Renaissance Festival outside of Houston with my parents, my brother, his girlfriend, and Tom's best friend. That evening, it happened:
"Will you marry me?"
Wait! What? Was I crazy?
"But don't tell anyone," I added. "Ask me again in a couple of months, and do it right, with a ring, even if it's a Cracker Jacks ring."
Two weeks was just too soon. I had to find out what was wrong with him. There had to be something - he was just too good to be true. Two months should be plenty of time.
But he called all of his brothers and friends, anyway and told them, "I'm getting married!"
They couldn't believe it. At his older brother's wedding just two months before we met, everyone had teased him he'd be next in line.
"No way! I'm too young. I'm not getting married until I'm thirty-five."
The two months later I had ordered landed on Thanksgiving Day. We celebrated at my parents' house, after I had worked all night and only squeezed in a couple of hours of sleep.
I was sitting on the couch in the living room when he dumped a dozen boxes of Cracker Jacks on my lap and told me to start looking for a ring.
"What? You're nuts. They don't put rings in Cracker Jacks boxes anymore."
"Okay, you open these two and I'll open these," he said, somehow still smiling at me, despite my crankiness.
Grumbling, I opened the first box and dug out the prize envelope. I felt it before I opened it... a ring!
My mouth dropped open. "Is it real?" But I knew it was. "How did you do that?"
I might have been a little foggy from lack of sleep, but I swear the box and envelope had both been sealed.
He took the ring from me, then offered it back. "Will you marry me?"
Of course I said yes - again. The rest is history.
Aren't we cute? I first posted this in 2008, but the story remains the same, and will always be one of my favorites.
"I knew the second I met you that there was something about you I needed. Turns out it wasn't something about you at all. It was just you."
~ Jamie McGuire
Our grandfather clock is chiming midnight. Rain pours - no, roars - outside my window, just the kind of rain we need. A blessed sound, for sure. Every once in awhile I catch a flash of lightning in the distance.
I've just finished a few things for work ... or at least all I can do at the moment. Before I can climb into bed, I still need to pay a few bills. And then I need to pack for my annual girls' weekend in Port Aransas. If it takes me all night, that's okay. I'm not driving tomorrow.
I'm looking forward to it more than usual, if that's possible. It's been a long day.
I drove miles and miles and miles through communities surrounding Austin today with a young man, trying to find just the right house for his family who is moving here from Illinois. After the initial wariness ("Is he a murderer?") it's one of the things I most love about real estate - meeting people. Getting a chance to hear their stories.
The good news is we found a house for him, his wife, and two young sons. That's always such a great feeling. As a bonus, I learned a lot about some neighborhoods I was merely acquainted with before today.
It's been a good week, starting with a closing on Monday followed by a phone call telling me I had won a $500 Academy gift card!
But it's also been a week of late nights and early mornings. I'm tired. Really, really tired.
I can't wait to lie on the beach for a couple of days, listening to its music...the waves and the wind and the gulls... and soaking up some sunshine.
But if the forecasted rain falls, I'll be happy to lie in bed, instead, catching up on my sleep, and then sit on the balcony, watching the rain.
Either way, it will be great to have a change of scenery and a change of pace.
I hope all of you have a great weekend, filled with whatever it is you need!
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.
Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say; and
Keep me out of your way.
- Fr. Mychal Judge, FDNY (died 9/11/01)
Every year in late September, early October, I head to the coast with a group of friends for some beach therapy. Our annual adventure is coming up soon, in fact. We've gone every year since 1999 - except one.
That September of 2001 we were counting down the days until we could wave goodbye to our families, ready for some alone time.... a few days not having to do anything for anyone but ourselves.
But on the afternoon of the 11th, we changed our minds. We no longer wanted to wave goodbye to our families - we wanted to wrap them around us, so close and tight we could feel their breath and smell their familiar sweetness.
It wasn't a decision driven by fear. We knew the odds of some terrorist targeting our little Texas Hill Country town, or the little fishing town on the Gulf where we sought some peace and quiet, were slim to none.
But as that day progressed, we were reminded not to take our loved ones or the time we have with them for granted. Not to let a day go by without making sure they knew they were our whole world. Not to forget that every morning we may be opening our eyes to our very last day on this earth.
So that autumn we soaked up our families instead of the sunshine. We stayed close to home, pondered the changes in our country and our world. We prayed for peace.
But the next year we packed our swimsuits, sunscreen, magazines, Bloody Mary mix, and vodka, and headed for the beach. We've done so ever since. We continued our lives, relished our freedom, refusing to let fear mold our lives, for that would allow the terrorists to win.
But we haven't forgotten the lessons we learned on September 11, 2001 and the days that followed, about the things that truly matter and the steel-strength of this nation. We haven't forgotten how we overcame our differences, although some days (especially around election time) it's hard to believe. We haven't forgotten those ordinary citizens who were called to be heroes - and accepted the call.
We haven't forgotten that by going about our lives, speaking our minds and sticking up for one another, we are fighting a war - and winning.
"This day and every day. Tear us down and we WILL rebuild. Knock us down and we WILL arise. We are people of diverse faith, ideologies, and color. We may be distracted or divided by internal matters, such as politics, but we are America and we will remain."
~Johnny "Happy" Valentine, veteran and teacher
(A repost from 2012)
“God put us here, on this carnival ride.
We close our eyes never knowing where it'll take us next.”
There are good surprises, and there are bad surprises.
Years ago I met a woman who impressed me with her beauty and bubbly personality. I didn't know her well, and haven't seen her in years, but back then we shared a lot of laughs at monthly PTA bunco games (not as innocent as they sound!)
Today I attended her memorial service. She was barely in her 40's. Learning of her death earlier this week was a bad surprise.
I spotted many friends at the service who I haven't seen or spoken to in years...not since our kids grew up. We all agreed we need to get together, under better circumstances.
I hope we do.
Yesterday I drove to a small town near San Antonio to help surprise my dear friend Nancy for her 50th birthday. I liked being part of a good surprise.
Nancy was my first friend in Lago Vista, then later agreed to be my Confirmation sponsor when I finally decided to convert to Catholicism after years of attending Mass with Tom and the kids, and months of discussing it with our priest.
Within a few years she had to move away from Lago, but we've somehow held onto our friendship, despite the distance (and age difference!)
Happy birthday tomorrow, Nancy!
"May your September be spacious like a long, slow bloom..."
I've been reading Jennifer Richardson's beautiful, evocative, inspirational prose and photographs on her blog Ripplespeak for a few years now, so when she announced she was giving away a copy of her monthly zine, I crossed my fingers and tossed my comment into the bag.
What a great surprise to hear I'd won! She sent two copies - one for me and one for my mom.
Her words are like sunshine and fresh air, and I know I'll keep her zine close by to read often. You can get your own at her Etsy shop, Ripplesongs.
Wolf is actually a pseudonym. Besides being a gifted writer, he's an anesthesiologist. He wrote about it in an e-book "Breathing for Two" last year. I immediately bought it, of course, but months turned into a year while it sat unread on my computer. (Who has time to read for pleasure when they're starting a business?)
So I finally broke down and bought the audio book last week. Wolf himself read it to me while I worked out and drove around Austin. (Why didn't I do this before?)
Here's my review on Amazon...
"In "Breathing for Two", Wolf Pascoe does a wonderful job weaving his story through the dry medical stuff, making even the history of anesthesiology come alive for the reader. He compels us to care about his patients and root for him when things go wrong. And he's very honest and upfront about his mistakes. I felt I was standing right beside him in anatomy class, and then later, as he watched over his patients. He relates the lessons he has learned in his decades as an anesthesiologist in such a way that they can be applied to everyone and to all areas of life. This is a book I could read over and over again, because I feel each time I'll get something new from it. I recommend the audio version - Wolf is a wonderful reader."
In short, go buy this book!
I wasn't surprised I loved the book, but I never thought I would like audio books, so that was a great surprise. I have two other e-books written by friends getting dusty on my computer. I'm going to see if there are audio versions for those, as well!
A week ago, Tom and I were discussing making that decision about Max. This morning, he made it to the top of the walkway before I did, and while we didn't go on a long walk, he did prance around and play with Belle.
I believe in miracles. They are the best surprises, aren't they?
"I wish you hopeful eyes, fresh wings, and a second wind in the living."
~ Jennifer Richardson
Two days ago I knelt beside Max and whispered in his ear that it was okay if he just let go. I told him he had trained Belle well, and she would take awesome care of us, and if Charly was close by, asking him to come play, that it was okay. Go play with Charly.
That's how weak he was, lying there on my laundry room floor. He hadn't eaten in a couple of days again.
We thought we'd discovered the secret: vienna sausages and potted meat. In his last weak spell, we'd tried everything, trying to get him to eat, and he had gobbled these right up.
But I guess even dogs can get too many vienna sausages. He was turning his nose up at them, and everything else we offered, including real beef Ballpark weiners.
However, the next morning, instead of huddling in the dark of his huge doghouse, he was up on the hill in the woods in front of our house, taking care of business (which is always a good sign) and he's subsequently spent the last two days lounging on the front porch, seemingly loving the warm breeze and the sound of birds gossiping at the nearby feeder.
It was Tom who suggested giving him some of Belle's dry food. Max has been eating expensive Science Diet food targeted at joint issues all of his life, while we give Belle a cheap-in-comparison Purina dry food targeting weight issues.
We tried it... and Max loves it. (At least, for now. I'm worried he'll get sick of it, too, and then what will we do?)
For now, we're taking it a day at a time, watching him for signs of distress. So far, there have been none. If we see them, we'll know what to do.
But I'm earnestly praying it's taken out of our hands, that when the time comes... before there's any pain or distress... this sweet old boy of ours closes his eyes and drifts off to some woods very similar to ours to go exploring with his Charly dog.
Maybe Frankie, the guinea hen, will tag along, too, like he used to. I like to think so.
Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.
~Agnes Sligh Turnbull
About this time last year, I was on a walk of faith. I began a new career.
It coincided with dramatic and tragic turns in my parents' lives. The changes that have taken place in all of our lives since July 2013 are mindboggling when I think about them too long.
Despite his illness and circumstances, Daddy wanted to hear all about my real estate school. I'm so grateful I made that leap so I could call and report on the passing of each and every class, and finally, the state exam.
I always hoped my daddy would see me graduate from college or publish a book before he died, because I wanted to make him proud.
Oh, I know my daddy was proud of me, just the way I was, because that's the kind of daddy he was. But I still wanted to do it for him. I felt I owed it to him for dropping out of college all those years ago.
When I told him I passed the state Realtor exam, I could hear the pride in his voice, but also confidence that I would do well. That confidence he projected on me - a belief in me - has carried me through this past year.
I've not only faced the challenge of starting my own business, but also the responsibilty of helping my mom get through her own challenges. It helps that she's closer to me; those exhausting, frequent long drives to and from Houston are behind me.
I didn't kick ass and take names in real estate this year, but I did meet a lot of fantastic people, made new friends, felt myself stretching and growing in ways I haven't for years... plus managed to help quite a few people find new homes, which was the ultimate goal anyway.
Well, that and make some money so that my hardworking, long-suffering husband can dare to dream about retiring...one day.
My writing and photography (and yes, blogging) have been forced back on to a shelf to gather dust for awhile, but I have managed to be there for my mom, and for the most part, my kids, friends, other family, and church.
I appreciate those of you who still come around for my infrequent posts, and forgive me when I don't make the rounds for a week or two to your blogs. I had been warned that real estate was a 24/7 job, but I didn't realize that meant the to-do's really never ended, even if you stop taking calls at 7pm.
I've gotten used to dreaming about real estate.
The perks? Quite often free food and drinks (we have to network!)... and every once in awhile, ping-pong. Great stress relief.
And I know Daddy is smiling - he taught me how to play.
It's a strange mix of heaven and hell. But I like it. Happy anniversary to me!
I can't wait to see what the next year brings...
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
~ W.H. Murray
For the past week or so I've been living vicariously through a couple of my kids. Again.
My son and his wife have now experienced the beauty, beer, food, art, sights and sounds of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Amsterdam. And through the wonders of technology, I've been able to tag along through their photos and words, posted on Instagram and Facebook.
Having your kids visit the places of your dreams is the next best thing to seeing them yourself.
They're safe and sound, back in Austin now, although I haven't spoken to them to know that. I learned it while snooping in mom-fashion for updates on their Facebook pages tonight.
I am so very grateful for Facebook and all of the hours of worrying it has saved me.
Besides Facebook and kids arriving home, safe and sound, I've had a pretty sweet-filled week. Here are a few more....
Monday: adolescent cardinal triplets playing "King of the Mountain" on the birdfeeder; much needed rain on your hollow; staying up late, laughing over old clips of Robin Williams with your son
Tuesday: your client closing on her new home; sharing a private dinner at Franklin Barbecue with your son, courtesy of Google; watching the Austin Bomb Squad in action (and surviving!)
Wednesday: making the final payment on your car; reflecting on, and celebrating, the past 32 years with the love of your life
Thursday: watching your old puppy eat, without having to coax him or feed him by hand; dinner at Eddie V's with dear friends you haven't seen in a while
Friday: sitting outside on a clear night, listening to live music with friends; a glimpse of the baby fox living in your hollow
Saturday: receiving an offer on one of your listings and writing an offer for one of your buyers; watching "Sons of Katie Elder" with your mom, then later another movie with your son
Sunday: a taste of biscuits and gravy, thanks to a friend who doesn't mind sharing; helping old homes have a chance at new life; inspiration from the Garden of Eatin'
If you think hard enough, I bet you can think of some sweet! moments from your past week. Be sure to share them in the comments!
Posted on August 18, 2014 at 12:11 AM in Austin, Call me mom, Celebrations, Critters, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Feeding the Spirit, Food and Drink, Google City Experts, In the News, Indulgence, Me and Him, Odd Jobs, Of Life and Love, Real Estate, Sweet!, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (14)
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Thirty-two years ago today, Tom and I dismissed superstition by getting married on a Friday the 13th. We were so sure of our decision, so confident of our love and our future together, that we challenged those centuries-old superstitions to a duel.
Well, of course they just turned tail and ran, because they could see for themselves what we already knew - Tom and I were meant to be together. Love trumps superstition any day.
But being meant for each other doesn't mean you can just join hands and skip into the future through a field of daisies. It's more like joining hands and jumping off a ledge together into the unknown. You have no idea what's ahead of you but you decide to take that leap together, trusting the other one to be there with you whatever happens.
It doesn't mean you're always going to like each other, much less see eye-to-eye on everything. All it means is you have someone to share your joys and your sorrows, someone that is going to love you at your worst, physically and mentally, someone that believes in you and wants the best for you, and who, with one look, can ignite a warm tingly feeling inside of you that sets your heart to beating fast and makes you smile for no apparent reason.
And you can see without being told that you have the same affect on them.
But how did we know this was IT? Now that our own kids are reaching the age we were when we got married, how do we explain it to them when they ask us how they'll know when they've found "the One"?
I've scrambled around for the words, but I realize I can't tell them how they'll know. That's something between them, God and their hearts. All I can do is pray that they'll know.
And I can repeat the Story of Us, how after just a week of seeing Tom I got a feeling inside that this relationship was more than just the two of us having fun.
For me, it was a scary feeling, not a warm bubbly one. What was going on? I knew Tom was going to ask me to marry him, and I knew I would say yes, and that scared the hell out of me.
But once I said yes, I shooed all those tiny doubts out of my mind. They served no purpose except to block the giving and receiving going on between us. And that's why I was so sure of us that I was able to turn Friday the 13th into a day to look forward to, rather than fear. From that point forward, it has been our lucky day.
You can have many loves in your life, but there are some loves that lift you up above yourself, that make you believe in yourself and want to be a better person. The best person possible. For a marriage to work, both of you have to feel that way. It could happen when you're a teenager, but it might not happen until you're in your fifties.
But whenever it happens, both of you have to treasure that feeling, not take it for granted. Don't just show the best part of yourself to the world, and the worst to this person because you know they love you anyway. They deserve the best of you, not the worst, because they love you.
I admit that hasn't always happened with me and Tom; I'm glad we're both stubborn enough to have held on to each other over the years despite ourselves.
So I think what I would tell my kids is this: Concentrate on living your life, on being the best possible "you" you can be, on searching for and following the path that has been laid before you.
But keep your eyes and heart open, because when you least expect it, you'll realize someone else's path has connected with your own, blending with it. If they make you better than you were before, or maybe just more "you" than you were before, chances are that's the One.
At least, that's how it happened to me. But then, I got lucky.
Happy 32nd Anniversary, Tom!
I'm so glad that when you crossed my path, I had my eyes and my heart open.
I love you!
(This is a slightly edited re-post from another anniversary a few years ago, if it sounds familiar, but it's all still true!)
I was 19, living alone in my first apartment, relishing the solitude and the freedom of having my own space. Many nights I sat on a second-hand loveseat watching my very own television, bought via the Sears Easy Payment Plan.
Thanks to my sister, who worked in the Sears credit department, I was building my credit, $13 at a time, each and every month.
"Mork and Mindy" was one of my favorite shows. That's how long Robin Williams has been making me laugh. So hearing that he gave in to his demons today brought me great sadness.
Years and years and years ago, I almost gave into those same demons who steal the reality of hope away. Afterward, I could see what a selfish act suicide truly is.
When you're eighteen, it's sometimes tough to believe things can get better. When you're 63, you've already survived so much, you should know better.
However, lest I start becoming too judgemental, I remember "There, but for the grace of God..." I remember to be grateful for the chance to see it that way. Grateful for a second chance to live and love life.
But dang it. Robin Williams.
My kids know him through Mrs. Doubtfire and Disney cartoons and Hook. He's been making them laugh their entire lives. At 63, he still had so much living and giving yet to do.
With a heart already missing the craziness of Robin Williams in this world, I also learned this evening that a treasure of my childhood may be destroyed.
The old Capitan Theater, built in 1949, has been languishing for years, waiting for an investor to restore it to its previous glory. I remember elegant velvet loveseats, carpeted stairways, ornate murals and decorations.
I can still see a young Elvis Presley dancing on the screen ... can still hear him singing "Viva Las Vegas" straight to the five-year-old me.
But peeking through the glass front doors in recent years revealed years of neglect. It once sat in the center of town, close to the newspaper office and the post office and City Hall, but now gathers dust on the outskirts of a town that continually boards up building in favor of bigger, better, and newer, rather than trying to preserve its history. The ornate old post office was left behind years ago.
And yet I still held on to hope that someone would come along and fix up the old theater. Instead, according to a story in the local newspaper, it's been sold to a chemical company and expected to be destroyed.
However, despite what Robin Williams obviously felt in his last minutes or hours, because of my own experience I believe there's always hope as long as there's breath. It's too late for Robin, but I'm holding out hope for El Capitan.
Holding out hope that the city realizes its history is a treasure and starts to treat it as such.
But may you rest in peace, Robin. Thank you for decades of belly-aching laughter and heart-aching movies.
Perhaps you were just afraid you'd become a dusty relic, and decided to make your exit while the neon lights still shone.
It would have been intimidating growing up with such a beautiful big sister if she had been the type to criticize or belittle.
But I was blessed with Brenda.
Sure, she liked to tease me sometimes, and even lost her temper with me once or twice, but given that I was a brat for at least the first ten years of my life...okay, twenty... the way she treated me could qualify her for sainthood.
How many teenage girls let their baby sisters tag along on dates? (Did I mention I was a brat?) How many volunteer to go on school field trips? How many take their little sisters and her friends to the beach, or Astroworld, or on crazy fast spins through the neighborhood in their Volkwagon Bugs? (Don't tell anyone about that one!)
How many buy their family a green artificial Christmas tree and new ornaments to hang on it without being asked because their little sister ended up in the emergency room the year before with asthma triggered by a real tree?
When their parents are overwhelmed with worry and care over their recently paralyzed son, how many big sisters go overboard with gifts for their baby sister to make sure she still has a Merry Christmas?
When their nineteen-year-old sister finishes a stupidly scary book (Amityville Horror!), how many big sisters not only allow her to spend the night, but agree to sleep in the same room with her, as well, despite her husband's grumbling?
Yes, growing up with a big sister who is your best friend is one of the sweetest sweet!s ever. And since today is her birthday, I hope the coming year is jam-packed and overflowing with sweetness for her, because she has given everyone around her so much sweetness all of her life.
And here are a few more sweet!s from the past two weeks (how did I get so far behind?)...
Friday: lunch with a dear long-time friend, and then surprising your mom with a visit from her
Saturday: sleeping in, when you're exhausted; a visit with your mom and son and grandpuppy, all at the same time
Sunday: Garden of Eatin' inspiration
Monday: your old puppy waiting for you on the porch, stronger and eager for a morning walk; the miracle of arriving on time when you've left late and hit lots of traffic; finding just the right place for two of your clients after a long search
Tuesday: watching your old puppy swim again; a friend reminding you to stay positive; seeing your coach on television during her mission trip to help the children on the border; exploring east Austin with your son, including free food and drinks, courtesy of Google; learning how to be a DJ
Wednesday: singing along to the Cowboy and the Princess with your mom; making it to your belly-dancing class after missing two weeks; the neighbor to your lot listing helping you hammer your sign back in when some other useless being has pulled it up and tossed it onto your lot
Thursday: your old puppy's appetite returning, slowly but surely; a friend taking the time to teach your mom how to create newborn knitted caps
Friday: an offer on one of your residential listings and a call on one of your lot listings; issues with Russia calming down as your son and daughter-in-law prepare to leave for a vacation in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Amsterdam
Saturday: negotiations; two more calls on your listings; getting together with long-time friends you've known since high school or beyond
Sunday: catching a young fox in your headlights; Facebook, so you can enjoy photos of your son's trip to Russia
Monday: saving a wolf spider; a closing for one of your buyers!; just the inspiration you need waiting for you in your mailbox, thanks to a dear friend
Tuesday: hiking around two Texas Hill Country acres with a client; Chinese food with friends and great fortune-cookie fortunes
Wednesday: meeting Leon at HEB who give you a free car wash because your car really needs it; finally getting the hang of some of your belly-dancing moves
Thursday: joining forces with other parishioners to make your church Oktoberfest a success
Friday: learning more about the Circuit of the Americas racetrack at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting; getting a tour of the wedding venue that happens to be your neighbor
Saturday: getting to drive your own car after two days, thanks to your husband fixing your flat tire (yes, another one!); a gorgeous sunset and then moonrise over your hollow
Sunday: being able to wish your sister a happy birthday, and let her know how grateful you are for her
An older sister is a friend and defender - a listener, conspirator, a counsellor and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too.
Posted on August 11, 2014 at 12:03 AM in Austin, birthdays, Call me mom, Celebrations, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Feeding the Spirit, Friendship, Indulgence, Inspiration and Heroes, Of Life and Love, Personal Histories, Remember when..., Sweet!, Texas, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (16)
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Earlier this week I let you know that my old puppy Max had slid downhill, health-wise. Thank you so much for all of your well wishes, both here and on Facebook.
There is power in well-wishes. I truly believe that, especially after watching Max rally the past few days.
His rally isn't 100%. He's an old dog, after all. But he's eating again, and for five mornings in a row, he's been waiting for me on the porch at sunrise, ready for our walk.
Monday morning, we only made it a short way down our road before he decided it was time to head back home, but that was an improvement!
The next morning, thinking it was going to be a repeat performance and we wouldn't step foot into the woods, I skipped my routine dousing in mosquito spray for the first time in months.
And so naturally Max decided we were going to take a long walk, all around our property. We went to the far side of the big pond, up the hill, back down to the little pond, where he wobbled his way across the stone dam and then went swimming.
I was ecstatic. I didn't rush him, just let him wander where he wanted (except not through the fence bordering our property, even though it was tough telling him no about something), grateful I didn't have anywhere I needed to be for a few hours.
That long walk must have worn him out; Wednesday morning was another short jaunt to the dumpsters and back. But the past two days he's ventured farther once again, checking out all his favorite places.
I realize he still has congestive heart failure. Cataracts. Hip Dysplasia. Elbow Dysplasia. He's having a tough time controlling his bladder, like so many other older men and women.
But I know he can't stay with me forever, so I wash the blankets over and over, and keep an eye on him for any signs of real distress or discomfort. The day will come, I know, and I know what I'll need to do, and I'll do it.
Because I love him.
Until then, you'll find me heading out the door each morning just as night gives way to dawn, carrying a fragile hope in my heart that Max is waiting there for me, ready for our walk, just one more time.
Besides the initial embarrassment, it was actually kind of scary when I broke down and started using minoxidil as a last desperate measure to save my hair a few years ago. I worried I would sprout hair on my chest or grow a beard or something.
Thank goodness nothing like that happened. I believe the minoxidil did coax a few more hairs to grow on my head, but even if that's just wishful thinking, at the very least it stopped the thinning.
Through the number of responses to articles I've written on my experience, I realized how common the problem of thinning hair is for women my age, and yet how very little has been done to find causes or solutions. There's a lot of hearsay and rumors about different products, but very little science behind any of it, and there can be some pretty serious side effects with a few of the supplements.
Why do we bother? You can cover up flabby arms or age spots or even wrinkles pretty easily, but unless you wear a wig or a hat, your hair is exposed for the world to see.
Even the least-vain of us cringe when we have a bad hair day, so when it becomes a struggle just to keep your scalp from shining through your hair, we cross our fingers and try product and product, hoping for a miracle.
So when I heard about a Vibrant Influencer network campaign for a new line of products by Redken aimed at thinning hair, I signed up, despite being a little cynical from previous experience with products that didn't live up to their claims.
I figured it was a win-win situation: I would receive free products to try, plus get paid a small fee for posting about my experience!
(Never fear - the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Redken and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.)
So... on to my review.
I've been using the products for about a month now. I received four of Redken's new Cerafill thinning hair solutions: the Defy Shampoo, Defy Conditioner, Dense Fx (a "hair diameter thickening" treatment,) and the Texture Effect hair and scalp refresher.
I can't say I've noticed a difference in the actual thickness of my hair, but I know from using minoxidil that actual growth takes more than a month. But I think the products do make my hair appear thicker, and it also seems healthier than it did a month ago.
At first I wasn't crazy about the smell of the products, but they grew on me, and I like them now, although I'd still prefer scentless. At least it's a clean, fresh smell, not perfumy.
The shampoo lathers and rinses easily. The conditioner felt warm and tingly after a few minutes. My hair felt conditioned without being weighed down, which is a problem with many conditioners on thin, fine hair. But a good conditioner is necessary, especially if you color your hair or use heat to style it, as I do.
I wasn't sure how much of the Dense Fx to use at first, but figured it out after the first couple of days, lightly spraying at the base of my roots and gently fluffing it through my hair with my fingers. It worked great as a volumizer. It's promoted as a growth stimulator, but again, I don't think a month is long enough to tell if it's made a difference or not.
The Texture Effect really did freshen my hair. I've used dry shampoos before - I think this is similar - but I always felt they were just gunking up my hair. This was more energizing and made my hair look like it did when I first styled it.
Redken says the products are safe to use along with minoxidil (they even have their own version) and on color-treated and chemically-treated hair, and from my experience, that's true. My hair feels better than it did a month ago.
My takeaway? I plan to continue using them. I can't vouch for the claims that Redken's Cerafill line promotes new growth of hair, but I do believe they are good products for thin hair, for keeping it healthy and helping it look as thick as possible.
And that's more than I can say for some of the other products I've tried!
Whether it's the heat or just old age catching up to him, Max has gone down a pretty steep hill lately.
Just last week we took the long walk, around the curve and down into the creekbed. But now he can't walk far before having to stop and rest. Our walks have gotten shorter and shorter. This morning we barely made it past the next property before he was ready to head back home.
I'm not sure if that's due to his congestive heart failure, or because he hasn't eaten much of anything in several days, despite our coaxing. TG even tries to feed him by hand, a trick that has always worked in the past. (He's a little spoiled.)
He's still drinking and "marking his territory", if you get my drift, so that's a good thing, but I sure wish he'd start eating again.
I'm hoping it's just the heat. We're keeping him and Belle inside all day and half the night. It hasn't made a difference in his appetite, but it obviously makes him happy, and I'm grateful for the chance to repay some of the happiness he's provided me in his short life.
It's only been about ten years since he wandered up to our house and adopted us. Sure, he's a big dog - a German Shepherd/Great Dane mix, our vet guessed - and typically they don't live long lives, and yeah, the orthopedic doctor who diagnosed his elbow dysplasia when he was 18 months old said he could be lame by the time he was 7 years old even if we fed him the right food and gave him all the supplements.
But still ... ten years just isn't enough time with that old puppy.
However, this is a sweet! post, so I'll focus on the sweet moments with him over the past week...how happy he is to see me first thing in the morning ... how eager he is to get started on our morning walks ... the joy in his eyes when Belle kisses his whole face ... the pride in his eyes when he watches her run circles around us ... the way he snuggles against me, almost knocking me down ... his "Look how cute I am" pose, with one paw looped over his nose ...
It's amazing how they fit right into places in your heart you didn't realize were empty, isn't it?
I talk to him when I'm lonesome like; and I'm sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat.
For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.
~W. Dayton Wedgefarth
Here are a few other sweet!s from the past week or so...
Wednesday: spending hours with your mom; celebrating your baby girl's birthday with pizza and chocolate cake; laughing and reciting lines while watching "Goonies" with your son and daughter
Thursday: discovering your aloe plant survived the winter after all
Friday: your mom winning in dominoes; an evening with all of your kids, your husband, and your brother-in-law from Arizona; a message from a longtime friend; a beautiful bracelet from your goddaughter
Saturday: showing houses in the morning and again in the evening; bridal showers; your brother-in-law wanting to visit your mom; playing 3-13 with family
Sunday: when everything falls into place, despite some disappointments along the way; steady traffic at your open house; visiting a dear friend from church with your mom
Monday: your husband noticing, and fixing, your flat tire, even though it made him hit traffic on his way to work
Tuesday: getting to work early and accomplishing a lot before lunchtime; the flexibility to run home and let your puppies in the house on a hot day; sharing cookies and watching "Andy Griffith" with your mom
Wednesday: a morning walk with your puppies for the first time in five days; time with good friends you don't see often enough; coconut milk chocolate mint ice cream with pecans and hot fudge
Thursday: the feel of raindrops on your skin; cancelled meetings that allow you to work from home; lots of showings on your listings; social time with your colleague-friends; ping-pong, ping-pong, ping-pong (especially when you win!)
I hope you've had a week full of sweet!s (share them in the comments!) and this next week you find so many more your cup overflows!
Posted on July 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM in Austin, birthdays, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Critters, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Food and Drink, Friendship, Inspiration and Heroes, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Of Life and Love, Remember when..., Sweet!, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (14)
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They grow so fast, don't they? One minute they're crawling around on your stylish-at-the-time-rose-colored carpet, exploring and investigating... picking on their older brothers, trying to stir things up...cuddling in your arms because they're still shorter than you and easy to pick up...
...and then suddenly they're wanting to explore far beyond your carpeted floors. And while they may still be picking on their older brothers, and every once in awhile they'll snuggle their head on your shoulder, they're now several inches taller than you and impossible to pick up.
Yes, one minute you're holding them in your arms, counting tiny toes and fingers and praising God for the miracle that is a baby girl, and then somehow in the next you're wishing them a happy 23rd birthday (but still praising God for the miracle that is a baby girl, all grown up.)
Gosh, they grow so fast. And what a sweet! it is to witness the jouney.
A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.
Happy birthday to my baby girl, my hero these days, who does such an awesome job of taking up my slack around the house so I can focus on my real estate business. May she always believe in herself and her gifts, and see her own dreams come true.
Here are some other sweet!s from this past week. Despite my intentions of writing less more often, the week got totally crazy...but in a good way. Be sure to add your sweet!s in the comments!
Wednesday: precious five-year-old boys who talk to you at Starbucks and tell you about their birthday parties; roadrunners
Thursday: moonlight glazing your hollow; authentic Indian food on a beautiful evening with friends and laughter after a long day; your client's offer accepted after ping-pong-ish negotiations; two new listings
Friday: helping your son's friends find a new home; watching a movie with your son when you've hardly seen him all week
Saturday: meeting the neighbor to one of your new listings and his dog, Otis; the neighbor putting the "For Sale" sign up on the lot while you visit with Otis; watching "Fiddler on the Roof" with your daughter
Sunday: a slow-paced morning; watching your old dog swim and dragonflies play tag from the bank of your pond before church; inspirational boosts from Joel Osteen and the Garden of Eatin'; Reuben sandwiches; brave friends who will spray wasp nests for you; hanging out with dear friends all afternoon
Monday: joining others on committees to make things better; taking time to work out on a crazy, busy day; completing things that have been weighing on you; sisters, for a million reasons
Tuesday: discovering a Deepwater/Deer Park girl in Spicewood, Texas (Debbie, DPHS Class of '71!); rain falling through sunshine; visits with your mom; potential offers on your listings
Wednesday: reflecting on all of the ages of your beautiful daughter, and giving thanks that she's yours
As you twirl through the coming week, I hope you find tons of sweet! moments to treasure!
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.
Posted on July 16, 2014 at 09:14 AM in birthdays, Call me mom, Celebrations, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Feeding the Spirit, Friendship, Hitting the road, Inspiration and Heroes, Morning Walks, My Country Life, My Evolution, Odd Jobs, Of Life and Love, Remember when..., Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (18)
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After a long day, I pulled up to my house at dusk and stepped out of the car, my brain whirring with the day's events and to-do's still left on my mental list.
Then the chuck-will's-widow sang to me, pulling me back into the moment and the beauty around me...
...the dusky blue horizon ... the glint of our metal roof, peeking out from the hollow, surrounded by cedars and oaks ... the quiet of the dirt road, and the soothing sound of a night bird's song.
Between grandpuppy-sitting and the 4th of July... and winning a multiple offer situation, yay!... this has mostly been a great week, so I had another title in mind for this post, involving puppies and parades (I like alliteration.)
But after spending a few hours with a friend who is mourning her dad, followed by a visit with my mom, I knew when the chuck-will's-widow sang to me this evening that he would get top billing.
Birds sing after a storm;
why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?
~Rose F. Kennedy
And here are a few other sweet!s from the past week...
Tuesday - going on a property tour for first time in awhile; watching your mama walking, even if it's with the help of her awesome therapists; having your client's offer on a home accepted over three others
Wednesday - a backseat full of dog; your daughter's help taking both of your puppies to the vet for check-ups; clean reports on your puppies from the vet; surprise parties; taking a belly dancing class with a good friend you never see otherwise
Thursday: pancakes; accountability meetings that keep you on track for your goals; getting another year-long promotional price on your phone and internet service; visits from grandpuppies
Friday: celebrating your country's birthday by sleeping in and walking your puppies; watching fireworks pop above the horizon from your back porch
Saturday: riding on a float and sipping mimosas in a 4th of July parade in a small town; your friends' Model A painted Longhorn Orange; finally meeting someone in person who you met via your blog, who has property in your town he wants to sell; bobbing in a lake on a gorgeous day for a few hours while catching up with a friend
Sunday: knowing your kids arrived home safe and sound from a weekend in Chicago; spoiling your grandpuppy; showing houses; a great inspection report on your client's new home
Monday: your husband fixing your favorite shoes for you; lunch from Yummi Tacos with a friend; seeing friends you haven't seen in awhile; getting a hug from your oldest
Tuesday: office meetings and free lunches; La Grange, Texas; memories of road trips and eating at the Cottonwood Inn restaurant with your Daddy; being there for a friend who is mourning her daddy; seeing a longtime friend and the parents of another friend who you haven't seen in decades; a neck massage from your son
What made your heart soar, or at least sigh, this week? Share it in the comments! I hope this next week is sprinkled with sweet! moments for you!
Posted on July 08, 2014 at 11:53 PM in birthdays, Call me mom, Celebrations, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Friendship, Hitting the road, My Country Life, Of Life and Love, Real Estate, Remember when..., Sweet!, Texas, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (21)
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I'm rocking out on my back deck (literally...in my rocking chair), sipping iced coffee, listening to a few birds chattering nearby. It's a hot summer day, but I'm in the shade. It feels great, thanks to a breeze.
My grandpuppy Josie lies nearby. Her mama and daddy are off on an adventure and we were happy to puppysit. I don't get to see her very often.
Belle and Max are both lounging in the air-conditioned laundry room. It's too hot for old Max, and Belle doesn't stray far from his side.
No, it's not an exciting Independence Day, by any means, but I'm savoring the slow pace of it...the freedom to sleep in and take a long morning walk with my puppies, to start one thing and go off on a tangent without feeling guilty.
Tomorrow morning I'll ride in a parade and enjoy fireworks after dark in my little town. For some reason I still don't understand, we're celebrating the 4th on the 5th this year.
I hope you're having a wonderful Independence Day!
Happy birthday, America!
How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy.
Following up on my vow in yesterday's "Happy Birthday, Long Hollow" post, I'm going to try to share more "short and sweet"s here rather than dumping it all at once on you. We'll see how that goes...
I can't describe how it feels to help someone move closer to their dreams...especially someone you've known for almost twenty years...
... someone who helped you get a job when you needed to pay for kids' braces and drivers education...
...someone who is just one of the sweetest people you've ever met.
When I got the phone call this evening letting me know my friend Kim's offer on an adorable home was the one accepted out of a four-offer situation, I really couldn't believe it. In fact, my phone rang three times before I answered it, because I expected to hear "I'm so sorry, but..."
Instead, I heard, "Congratulations..."
Pinch me. I must be dreaming!
This was actually the second house we'd tried for. The first went into multiple offers right away, as well. Would you believe this latest house had only been on the market 1 day?
It's crazy around here, folks, I'm telling you.
Before getting into real estate, I asked all of my Realtor friends to share their input. One friend had loved it, but had eventually gotten a job with a steady paycheck and set hours. "You work 24/7", she told me.
But I was already working 24/7, and not making any money. It was worth a try, especially in a job where I could help people.
Some days are tough, I'll admit. But days like today make it all worthwhile.
Today is life - the only life you are sure of.
Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you.
Live today with gusto.
On my left, a chuck-will's-widow sang to the sliver moon hanging in the dusky sky. On my right, a frog answered from the pond in a deep baritone. And in between cicadas chirped a staccato rhythm.
Belle at my feet, I rocked in my chair, adding my own squeaks to the evening symphony.
A strong breeze playing along the deck.I thought it was sweeping the mosquitoes away, but when I finally stepped back inside last night, the tiny bites on my arms let me know I had been wrong. But those brief moments catching my breath were worth a few little bites.
There's no definitive line between work and play for me anymore. My phone is never far away and I wear my Keller Williams name badge just about every where I go... because you just never know when you're going to meet the next person you can help.
But there are times I don't answer my phone, like during visits with my mom or in church or meeting with a client...or at a Shake Russell concert, like Sunday (although I did wear my name badge! You just never know....)
Shake Russell is a Texas music icon, one of my favorite artists for several decades, so I treated myself by going to an afternoon concert at the Saxon Pub on Sunday with my friend Maggie. She's been a fan of Shake's even longer than I have and had been urging me to go for over a month.
I'm so glad she did. It was long overdue, just like the rest of these sweet!s, so I'll get right to them...
Wednesday - a class on Facebook and a Realtor/happy hour/networking event, where you bump into a friend of your son's who you've known since they were in middle school
Friday - an afternoon spent visiting with a friend at her sister's house that has an awesome view of the Colorado River, aka Lake Austin; dancing under the stars with friends at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse; finding a parking spot when the lot is technically full
Saturday - your son putting together a dresser for your mom; watching him with your mom, along with a half dozen episodes of "Who's the Boss"
Monday - the joy on your old dog's face as he swims in a pond on a summer morning; word that ground is breaking on your client's new home
Tuesday - fawn triplets following their mama; a meeting with a buyer in the afternoon and a seller in the evening
Wednesday - giving thanks for lasting friendships with amazing people...whispering "goodbye" to one and shouting "happy birthday" to another
Thursday - working while cheering on the U.S. in the world cup with your daughter; celebrating a friend becoming a U.S. citizen; watching the sun set on Lake Travis with colleagues; evening breezes; dancing with friends on a Thursday night
Friday - a friend reporting to you about the memorial service for another friend, because he knows you wanted to be there but couldn't; great finds at Goodwill, thanks to your daughter's sharp eye; celebrating a dear friend's birthday; Siamese cats and sweet dogs
Saturday - touring model homes; being able to stop and visit your mom on your way home, no matter where you've been; grilled chicken for dinner, courtesy of your daughter
Sunday: Shake Russell's distinctive voice; the face of a dear friend you've missed; still being able to vent to your mom; a roadrunner couple crossing the dirt road in front of you; fajitas for dinner, courtesy of your son
Monday: new leads; showing cute houses to friends; your daughter keeping up with the laundry, dishes, and the home invasion of ants trying to escape the summer heat; your husband making it home safely after working 24 hours
"This is a big step for me - putting my thoughts out there for anyone...or no one...to read. Why am I doing it? I think it's to satisfy my conflicting needs of writing (a solitary journey) and connecting with other people. I really have no idea what I'm doing yet, so it will be fun to see how it evolves..."
That's what I wrote in my very first blog post ever, here on "Long Hollow" six years ago this month. And it has been fun to see how it's evolved, and to think about how it expanded my world, connecting me to wonderful friends around the world.
Happy birthday, Long Hollow!
I had completely forgotten about its birthday until someone wished me a "happy work anniversary" on LinkedIn. I'm so glad LinkedIn is keeping track!
Many of my posts were short and sweet back then. I need to get back to that, instead of waiting until I have two weeks' worth of thoughts to dump on you.
Nevertheless, I'm going to leave you with one of my first, and favorite, posts, because rediscovering it this morning was another sweet!
I needed the reminder.
Coming back from the doctor this afternoon, tired from the weekend and too little sleep, and feeling depressed because I always believe the worst-case scenario when something is wrong, I stopped at HEB.
"How's your day going?" the check-out boy asked. He was only about seventeen, tall, thin. Shaggy-ish brown hair.
"It's great," I said, but he was still looking at me. His question had been a real one, not just an automatic greeting. "I'm just a little worn out," I added.
"I thought so. I see it in your face."
I couldn't bear to spread this "down" that had taken control of me, and especially not to this sweet kid. I was ashamed that I had let it get to me - I have so much to be grateful for.
I smiled at him. "Every day is a great day." That's what I believe, even if can't always feel it. But he made me remember. So...I said a prayer for him on my way out.
God has a way of dropping gifts in our path. Somehow, he knows just what we need. God bless that check-out boy.
And God bless all of you today! Thank you so much for stopping by to say hello, whether you've been coming around for six years or this is your first time.
Don't forget to share your sweet!s with me in the comments!
Posted on July 01, 2014 at 07:37 AM in Austin, birthdays, Blogging, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Celebrations, Enjoying Austin, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Friendship, I believe in prayer, Indulgence, Music, My Country Life, My Evolution, Odd Jobs, Of Life and Love, Playing with words, Real Estate, Remember when..., Spinning Plates, Sweet!, Texas, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (10)
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“It was an odd friendship, but the oddnesses of friendships are a frequent guarantee of their lasting texture.”
~Ford Madox Ford
First thing this morning, my heart was broken.
I was preparing to do my homework for a class, had barely started eating my cereal, when I checked my email and saw the message from my dear friend Ky's son, letting me know he passed away on Monday.
And thus began a day of tears.
I just saw Ky in January at our second DuPont Old Farts Club reunion. Sure, his hair was all white, but otherwise, to me he hadn't aged a bit since we first met in 1982. He was energetic, all smiles, so happy to be there and reconnect with the rest of us.
I never, ever suspected that would be the last time I saw him. Maybe some of the others. But not Ky.
After all, I've actually seen him two other times since we both hung up our hardhats, at the weddings of two of his seven sons.
He loved to talk about those sons and his wife on our long twelve-hour shifts. He would also tell stories about having to leave his home in China when the Communists took over, and then years later having to flee Viet Nam with his young family for the same reason. He told me he learned English from reading Reader's Digest magazines.
I loved his stories.
Ky never called me "Barbara". It was always "Barbie." And that was okay. I can hear him even now.
I don't remember how or when we became such good friends. It just happened. As odd as it seems, there was something inside each of us that transcended gender age, nationality, religion...even language.
There was something that was the same, allowing a forty-something Chinese Buddhist father of seven sons and the twenty-something Texan Baptist newlywed woman to form a friendship that would span decades.
Ky enriched my life. The tears that flowed today were in sorrow, of course, that his open and honest smile would no longer shine in this world, but they were also in gratitude for knowing him and relief that I didn't miss an opportunity to see him when it was given.
Ky knew how much our friendship meant to me, which gives me peace, and my memories bring me smiles. I guess I can't ask for more than that.
Thank you, and may you rest in peace, Ky, my dear, dear friend.
Ky's death wasn't just unexpected to me. It caught his family by surprise as well, so please keep them all in your prayers. He left an awesome legacy...as good men always do.
It might seem strange to count outrage as a sweet! But today I found out another real estate agent approached one of my clients when he was working in his yard and tried to seduce him away from me.
Not only is that a huge breach of ethics, but it hurt my feelings and made me mad!
I posted about it in one of my Realtor groups on Facebook and was so relieved to have one after another Realtor express disgust and dismay about it. Several had experienced the same thing. Most urged me to report him to our board, and I would if I knew his name.
One even referred to the guy as a snake. Sweet!
So, yes, shared outrage and supportive anger can be very therapeutic, and definitely sweet!
A few decades ago, I donated blood after working several 12-hour night shifts in a row. I didn't crawl out of my bed for a couple of days. I was completely wiped out.
Soon after that, I married Tom, a Rh+ man. Since I was Rh-, I had to have a Rhogam shot after my babies were born, which prevented me from giving blood for awhile.
Secretly, I was relieved. I just didn't have time to be that worn out ever again!
But the knowledge that I'm O-, very rare, kept gnawing at me, and I began to feel guilty about not donating. So today, when I realized the Bloodmobile was right there in our parking lot, I didn't even think about it. I just went out and did it.
I gave blood.
And then proceeded to have a normal day. Go figure.
If you've been hesitant like me, just go do it. You'll be glad you did.
Before this week gets away from me, I want to post the sweet!s I've gathered since my last post. I'm going to start with a photo I spotted on Facebook. I'm not sure where it originated, but I'm grateful for it. I feel it was written just for me:
Coffee and wine. Always two unspoken sweet!s of my week.
And now for the rest...
Wednesday: watching a hummingbird flit around your yard and rest on a tiny branch; finding out the issues with your iphone aren't terminal; coffee and conversation with your mom and her friends
Thursday: cardinals serenading you on your morning walk; touring million dollar homes and wedding venues; fortune cookie wisdom; a quick visit with friends
Friday: a job where you're continuously learning something new; a hug from your precious great-niece, visiting from Montana; finally experiencing a Torchy's Taco
Saturday: your old puppy swimming; a butterfly fluttering outside your window when you're feeling blue; an orange moon rising
Sunday: Garden of Eatin' inspiration; two new leads before you get home from church; your sons helping you with your mom; all of your kids together to honor their awesome father; watching the season finale of "Game of Thrones" with your kids
Monday: chocolate cake, baked by your daughter for no particular reason; a son who will rescue daddy-long-legs
Tuesday: sticking to your time-blocking schedule; giving blood; watching "Walker, Texas Ranger" with your mom
It's been a fast, up and down, roller coaster week. In other words, normal. So here's a random quote to finish up my post, just because I think it's beautiful.
I wish all of you lots of love...
"Love is watchful.
Sleeping, it does not slumber.
Wearied, it is not tired.
Pressed, it is not straitened.
Alarmed, it is not confused, but like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces its way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle."
~Thomas a Kempis
Posted on June 17, 2014 at 11:27 PM in Austin, Austin homes for sale, Call me daughter, Call me mom, Critters, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Food and Drink, Friendship, My Country Life, Real Estate, Spinning Plates, Sweet!, Texas, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Want Some Cheese with that Whine?, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (14)
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Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes.
For the first Father's Day in years and years, I don't have a phone call or road trip to make. Tom and I have both lost our dads, and, well, I have kind of a lost feeling today.
I'm glad I took the time the last few Father's Days to travel to Houston so I could spend the day with Daddy, and be sure he knew how grateful I am that God allowed me to be his daughter. The photo above was taken last year. In my heart I knew it was probably the last Father's Day I'd spend with him.
I didn't get to see Pop as often, but we talked a lot on the phone, especially the last year of his life. I'm sure he, too, knew how grateful I am that God allowed me to become his daughter through marriage. I didn't realize the photo above would be the last one I took of him.
This year I focused on Tom ... on getting a plan in place to celebrate him, so he knows how grateful I am that he's the father of my children. It was low-key, the way he wanted it. Just us, the kids, and my mom enjoying hamburgers fresh off the grill.
And all around us, the memory of two other very special fathers.
The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
Last Friday I made a quick road trip to Houston to take care of some business for my mom. My friend Debra graciously opened her home in Seabrook to me and TG for the night.
On our way to meet friends for dinner, I was mesmerized by the sunlight bathing pastel houses...the cloudless sky...the gulls swooping and singing...
Tension melted away.
I came to just in time to snap this photo over my shoulder and out of the passenger window. I'm pleasantly surprised it came out as well as it did, considering it was an afterthought.
Sometimes gathering my sweet!s is a lot like this photo, a blurry afterthought.
The beginning of last week was especially blurry. The days were so similar that I'm lumping Monday through Thursday all together.
There were walks with my puppies, new listings, classes and trainings via phone and webinars, watching "Ellen" with my mom, and the first blooms of the Mountain Pinks...
By the weekend, everything became clearer...
Friday: a road trip with your daughter; Panda Express fortunes; sunset on a watertown; the song of seagulls; Mexican food and margaritas with dear friends
Saturday: sorting through decades of memories with your sister and daughter; a visit with a dear friend; the way you can count on finding a Subway sandwich shop in whatever little town you're passing through; the movie "Happy Feet", especially when shared with your son and daughter
Sunday: waking without an alarm clock; Mass with your son; your husband cleaning all of the travel bugs off of your windshield; "Game of Thrones" with your kids; your advice about being a mother-in-law included in a friend's Huffington post article
Monday: window-screen-cleaning squirrels; dreaming of helping a client buy a million dollar property; a son who stops to visit his grandmother on his way home from work; getting another new listing
Tuesday: glorious, cool summer mornings; winning a door prize; property tours; catching up with friends; a call from a friend asking for your help in finding a home for her dad; the generous and helpful spirit of colleagues; a wiggly puppy happy to see you home
There are whole years for which I hope I'll never be cross-examined, for I could not give an alibi.
Time to slow down, focus, pay attention to and give thanks for each and every moment.
(Don't forget to add your sweet!s in the comments!)
Posted on June 10, 2014 at 11:06 PM in Call me daughter, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Friendship, Hitting the road, Huffington Post, Just Beauty, Listings, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Odd Jobs, Of Life and Love, Real Estate, Sweet!, Texas, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (16)
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Tom and his brother straggled in later than expected from Florida this evening. They had to spend an extra four hours in Louisiana due to the muffler on Tom's car trying to make a break for it.
It didn't succeed in getting totally away, but it did break loose of whatever major part it's supposed to stay connected to. (I am not a mechanic and don't pretend to be one!)
Thank goodness they are both McGyvers (as my sister-in-law puts it) so they diagnosed and treated the problem themselves, and continued on their way to Texas.
They were a sweet sight, stepping through the door this evening, that's for sure!
While they were working on the car, I was working to help a friend get a home she fell in love with, despite us getting to the party late and having to rush through the application process.
The house had already been on the market 5 whole days, enough time to collect multiple offers within 30 minutes of our viewing. But I convinced the other agent to delay their decision, scrambled and submitted our offer through our paperless system, only to get an email from the agent three hours later saying she had been unable to open the offer, and perhaps next time I should send it as a PDF attachment.
It wasn't something I had considered before; up until now, no one has had a problem opening the documents I sent through that system. But I'll definitely take the advice. I only wish she had let me know right away so I could have emailed them.
But I consider it a lesson learned, and even though my friend most likely lost her chance at this house because the agent couldn't open the documents, I believe it just wasn't "meant to be" as one of my other buyer clients kept saying...until she finally did find and buy her dream house.
That was pretty sweet...and I'll trust in a sweet home-buying ending for my friend, too. We'll keep searching and I'm sure the right one will appear for her.
Meanwhile, here are some other sweet!s from the past week and a half. Be sure to add yours in the comments!
Thursday: graduations and trophies
Friday: making time to run for the first time in a long while; nurses who care about your mom; a quick visit with your brother-in-law
Saturday: sleeping in; your real estate seeds beginning to bloom; turning door-knocking solicitors into leads; your husband and his brother arriving in Florida, safe and sound; "The Lego Movie"
Sunday: a field of Mexican hats; First Communicants; meeting your new neighbors; talking your kids into watching "Saving Mr. Banks"
Monday: rain, rain, rain, breaking long enough to take your puppies for a walk and go visit your mom; getting your new neighbors' puppies home safe when they've escaped to explore the neighborhood; watching "Mary Poppins" after watching "Saving Mr. Banks"
Tuesday: taking on the challenge of a new long-term class; finally finishing the editing of the photos of your friend's grandchildren you took a few weeks ago
Wednesday: meeting with a dear friend to help her become a homeowner; meeting new people and exploring a beautiful home
Thursday: learning about historic homes; finally visiting Hill's Cafe; a quick visit with your son, daughter-in-law, and grandpuppy
Friday: visiting with neighbors; your daughter making sure you stay awake through a movie
Saturday: potential buyers calling from one of your yard signs; birthday parties that include live music wonderful friends, and a wine tasting; a phone conversation with your mother-in-law on her birthday
Sunday: a morning walk before Mass; high school seniors, ready to take on the world; trying to help a dear friend buy a home she loves; your husband and his brother making it home from their Florida adventure, safe and sound
I hope no matter what is going on in your life, you're able to spot some sweetness in what first seems to be unbearably sour circumstances!
Posted on June 01, 2014 at 11:55 PM in birthdays, Call me mom, Celebrations, Every Picture Tells a Story, Family, Food and Drink, Friendship, Just Beauty, Me and Him, Morning Walks, My Country Life, Odd Jobs, Real Estate, Spinning Plates, Sweet!, Texas Hill Country, Tidbits, Worth Quoting | Permalink | Comments (18)
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Tom and I were driving up to Maryland for the first time so I could meet his family and childhood friends before our wedding. It was my first time in Tennessee, the Carolinas and all of those other states between Texas and Maryland.
What a fabulous trip - seeing the sunrise just outside of Nashville, driving through the Smokies, the Blue Ridge, and the Shenandoah Mountains, seeing the lights of Washington D.C.
But I think it was soon after we crossed the Virginia state line that I started scavenging for food in the car - I was getting really nervous about meeting his family, and that's one thing I do when I'm nervous. Eat.
When I ran out of food, I pulled out my "practice" photo, the one of Tom and all of his eight brothers - yes, I said "eight" - taken at a recent wedding, and started testing myself on the names. Thank goodness I'd only be meeting five on this trip.
I was mostly nervous about meeting his mom. I would be the first non-Catholic daughter-in-law! We had written back and forth and she seemed to like me, but I couldn't keep those worries out of my head.
Now I can't believe I was ever nervous. Mom welcomed me with open arms and her beautiful bright smile. She and Pop treated me like their own daughter from the very start.
Over the years, I've seen and heard tales of horrible mother-in-laws, and I realize how very lucky I am...not only did I snag the best husband ever, but he came wrapped in a package with this fabulous woman.
She raised nine boys into nine good men without losing her sense of humor, sense of self, and sense of fun. She's the kind of mother-in-law who was quite willing to turn the care of her sons over to their wives, thank-you-very-much. There was never any kind of test to see if I was "good enough" for Tom - as long as he loved me and thought I was the right one, she did, too.
She's always been quick to help and quick with advice...when asked. I've learned by watching her and my own mother how to generously give of myself to my family and my community, but ensure I retain something for myself.
Today is Mom's birthday. Tom is with her. He's been there all week, along with Steve, the Arizona brother, alternating between painting and playing cards, depending on the rain. She raised good sons.
I wish I could have been with her, rather than just sending my happy birthday wishes over the phone... and in a slightly altered blog repost. Maybe next year.
But the wishes are true whether given in person or over the phone, for showers of birthday blessings in the coming year.
I love you, Mom!
With the first seven.
I really can't even imagine this, can you? Those two imps on the far right are the ones who have been busy painting this past week.
For more information about my photography, go to Barbara Shallue Photography