Thursday, November 6, 2008

What I'm Reading Now

I'm almost finished with America's Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation. I'm fascinated by the stories that help make our historical figures more than two-dimensional ones about which we were made to memorize name/date/battle factoids. I'm glad I didn't arrive with the Puritans!

I chose Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs because I just finished the Gary Jennings novel Aztec Autumn his sequal to Aztec both about the Spanish conquest of the Americas, but told from the conquered point of view.

Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs just looked interesting.

I'll let y'all know.

(A sub-note: Blogger is making me learn HTML in order to format this the way I want it. I've resisted learning HTML this long; I resent having to learn it now. Hmph!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Drum Circle

I went to my first drum circle in Florida this evening. (See my little-used-of-late doumbek above; it seemed happy to have a night out.) The circle was facilitated by Shannon Ratigan ( and is held every 4th Wednesday at Coconuts Comedy Club ( It was very nice, low-key, about 20 people were there and Shannon had a variety of hand drums and various percussion toys for people to play with, if they did not have anything of their own.

I asked the bartender about the comedy club stuff, and I found out that they have open mic every Friday night at 7 p.m., $5 cover, and professional shows on Friday at 9:00, and Saturday at 7:30 and 9:00. I asked a couple more questions about how open mic night worked, etc., and then she gave me two free passes!

There was also some bellydancing, courtesy of Kimara and a couple of her students (, plus whoever wanted to get up and dance some, including a young woman with a light-up hula-hoop! Since bellydancing is ALSO something I've always meant to get around to learning about, I put my name and e-mail address on their mailing list and got a copy of the class schedule.

The drumming circle ran from about 7:30 until probably about 9:30, but my ears got tired around 9:00 and I headed outside to go home.

Once outside, I chatted with a few people who were also taking a break, one of whom was Shannon's wife, Marti. She said she had taken her first bellydancing class with Kim the night before and really enjoyed it. When I mentioned that I was jobhunting (which I'm trying to make a point to tell EVERYONE), she said that someone who was normally in attendance, but wasn't there tonight, had been looking for an office manager, and she took my e-mail address, in case the position was still open. Wow! Drumming, a bellydancing class connection, free comedy club passes, and networking all in one evening!

My New Library Card and What I'm Currently Reading

First Official Florida Blog

We have officially landed in Oldsmar, Florida. The house we’ve rented was built around 1958, and while it feels quite spacious, the closets are pretty small, which means I have difficult clothing choices to make. *sigh* The kitchen, however, was recently redone and has great countertops, plenty of cabinets, a ceramic stovetop and a built-in microwave/convection oven, which I have become quite fond of in the past couple of weeks.

In the photos above, you can see the front of the house as we rented it, and then again after we spent this past weekend trimming back plants that had not had attention for at least a couple of years. It gives the front yard that awkward got-a-haircut-today look, but that will remedy itself in short order, and it has vastly improved our view through the dining room window.

There are many, many, many lizards in Florida. And many of them live in our yard.

I am currently job-hunting. I have had a couple of interviews, and the last one is quite promising, but I haven’t heard back from them yet, so I am still hitting the employment websites daily and sending my resume’ on ones that sound like a good fit and aren’t too far away.

Mom seems to be settling in nicely. We have cable that includes the Encore Westerns channel, and this is the one she watches most of the time. We had the movers put the comfy couch from Kerrville in the den, back by her bedroom and the office, but she prefers being in the living room, which is airier, has more light and windows from which she can watch for the mail carrier. So, we may be rethinking the use of half the rooms in the house, which will necessitate major furniture moving. Wheee!

Whichever of us gets up first gets the coffee pot started. If she gets up first, she lets me continue to sleep and does not turn on the LOUD TV until I am up. (Thank you, Mom.) If I get up first, I get the coffee started and when it is ready, I wake her up (at her standing request) for us to have coffee and read the newspaper together. By which I mean, we drink coffee, I read the newspaper, and she eats six to eight cookies and sometimes glances at the headlines of the newspaper before going into the living room to turn on the Western channel. At which point, I usually retreat to the office in the back of the house to play on the computer. The television is barely audible from back there, and if I shut the office door, I can’t hear it at all!

I have found a program here similar to the Dietert Center’s Take Five Club, but it is a little longer and costs $65 per day, so until I am working, I am reluctant to even introduce her to it, as I can’t take her now, and if she knows it costs anything, she will refuse to go at all.

So, she gets dressed so she can get the mail from the streetside mailbox, and we go grocery shopping on the weekend. She has a sandwich and chips for lunch after the noon news, and I have whatever sounds interesting whenever I finally get hungry sometime later in the afternoon. I cook dinner, either for Mother, Steve, and myself or for just Mother and me on the days he is busy with Scouting activities.

I am gradually getting the last of the boxes unpacked and things put away as I continue to wait for my new employer to call, whomever that might eventually prove to be. I know my perfect job is out there – I just hate this darned waiting part.

Monday, August 4, 2008

First Week in Tampa

For those of you who are not already aware - I've moved to Tampa, Florida! Steve finally won the "Move to Tampa/Move to Kerrville" debate, since his better-paying job coupled with still-teenaged son argument pretty much trumped the Kerrville is prettier argument.

So, here I am, alone in the apartment, ostensibly conducting a jobsearch (I HAVE sent out resumes!), and updating this blog that I haven't touched in several weeks.

Mom is currently staying with my niece in Kerrville, and we have the move set up for the end of the month, after Mother and I go to Dallas for my granddaughter's 2nd birthday. How did that baby get so big so quickly???

So many things have happened since the last blog, that it's difficult to even know where to begin, so I may not even try to recap. Suffice it to say that I'm really happy, and while Mother is not exactly excited about the move, she does like Steve, and doesn't seem to be overly fearful with the process.

While the last 17 months in Kerrville have been safe and restful and recuperative, I am so glad to be returning to a metropolitan area. It was nice to not have traffic and noise; it was REALLY nice to be able to see all the stars at night, and way fun to have deer feeding in our yard on a daily basis, but I have so missed having basic goods and services readily available, not to mention the availability of interesting community activities. Tampa has a very active drumming community, so I may actually be able to have a place to go to play on/with my little doumbek.

The area Steve's apartment is in is not the area we will be househunting, so things like getting a library card and finding the closest whatevers will have to wait until I know just what area we'll be settling in, but I should be able to start looking around for a writer's group, at least.

We picked up the Sunday paper for the employment ads, and one of the first things I see is a section with all these headshots of individuals who have been laid off for extended amounts of time, coupled with the salaries they USED to make. Put a little bit of a damper on my job-search enthusiasm, but not too much. There are still quite a few jobs posted in the newspaper that seem quite promising, and I have sent out several e-mails with resumes attached already.

Perhaps during the downtime amidst jobsearching, I will commit myself to writing something each day. Well, something besides e-mail. Something that might eventually turn into something a publisher might want to buy. I was reading a book about writing by the guy who co-wrote the "Left Behind" series (Jenkins, maybe?). I had to turn it into the Kerrville library before I was finished with it, but I really liked it and plan on finishing it at some point in time. One of the things he said that I have said about myself (in variation) for years, is that no one really enjoys writing, but enjoys having written. He said that putting one's butt in the chair and producing quality writing is hard work and not fun. Satisfying, when it's done, but not fun whilst being done. And this is my problem. It's difficult for me to stick with things that are tedious and Not Fun. *sigh*

But, I remind myself that anyone who was able to get her BA on the 17-year plan has the gift/skill/fortitude of perseverance, and should be able to accomplish anything she truly sets her mind to. Now, I just have to get to the productive butt-in-the chair part.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daddy was in the Navy.

Daddy had a tattoo on his arm of a girl in a two-piece swimsuit. He got it when he was in the Navy during World War II, which I think is before they called them bikinis. He talked about how a very large island woman had done the tattoo while he was very drunk on jungle juice. He also said that in its original form, the woman had been naked. Before he was due to come home to Arkansas and his church-going, Sunday School-teaching Southern Baptist mother, he had to go get her swimsuit put on. He said that the swimsuit part of the tattoo, applied when he was stone-cold sober, hurt a lot worse than the initial naked woman part. If asked, he would flex his bicep so she would wiggle a little bit.

Daddy also had small scraps of shrapnel imbedded under his skin on his arms and legs. I asked him why he had never had them removed. He said that at the time, the bits of metal had been so hot that they cauterized and sealed the wounds on their way in. Since there was little chance of infection, medical care was reserved for those boys whose wounds were much more serious than Daddy’s had been.

Daddy didn’t talk much about his time in the service. One time I asked him about it, and he talked about how he was just a kid, and all the other boys were just kids, too – on both sides of the fight. He talked about the drinking water on board ship being sea water that was put through water treatment to make it drinkable, but that it still tasted brackish. He said it was very hard to drink that water knowing how many young men had died in the ocean it was pulled from. He talked about a Japanese ship that was sunk near his ship, and seeing the Japanese boys in the water. He remembered one in particular because a crewmate standing beside Daddy had pointed a rifle at the Japanese boy in the water, and the Japanese boy raised his hands and went underwater, never coming up again. Daddy figured he inhaled as he went down, preferring dying there to being captured. Daddy’s crewmate laughed about it; I don’t think it ever struck Daddy as being all that funny.

The only other thing I remember Daddy mentioning was being stationed off the coast of New Zealand for eighteen months during his tour of duty. Mutton was the only meat available for restocking the ship's larders, and so they had mutton at every meal. The only time I ever remember Mama cooking lamb chops was one time when Daddy was out of town. I didn’t much care for lamb, either.

After Daddy passed away, my brother told me about how one of the ships Daddy served on had been sunk by torpedoes, and how Daddy had spent two or three days in the water, surrounded by pieces of his ship and dead crewmates. Daddy never told me about that part.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Recipe/Family History booklet plan

I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing a family history / family recipe booklet to give to Mom’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I put “family history questionnaire” into the Blingo search engine and found this really nice one at the Texas Cooperative Extension of the Texas A&M University System. Who knew they had such cool stuff on an ag website?

There’s a link for downloading it as a Word or Wordperfect file, which I did, and have now printed out a copy. I think I’ll answer all the questions, too, in case any of my kids or grandkids are ever curious about this stuff.

Mother and I went to Cici’s for dinner. I took along a large spiral notebook and the printout of the questionnaire, and told her my plan. She thought it sounded like a good idea, and we brainstormed about recipes to include. I also asked her the questions on the first couple of pages, just to get us started.

When we got home, I sent an e-mail to all of her descendents (and spouses) for whom I have e-mail addresses. I told them what recipes we thought should be included, and asked them if there were any others they’d like to see, or if there were any recipes from their own families that had become traditions with them and that they’d like to share with the rest of the extended family.

I think this will be a pretty fun project for both of us and give us some interactions that don’t have to do with food, television or doctor’s appointments.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bathtime Blues

I got Mom’s shower all set up. My boss came to the house and installed the new shower head. I got the shower curtain and liner up, the non-slip stickers in the bottom of the tub, the new shower chair and the bolt-on handle to assist with stepping into and out of the tub also installed. Tuesday evening I get home and ask Mom if she wants to go give it a try.

“No, I don’t. I don’t want my hair to be wet when I go to bed.”

“Mom, your hair will have plenty of time to dry in the three hours before bedtime.”

“Well, I just don’t want to.”

“When will you want to?”


“Soon is not a time, Mom. If you’re going to shower before our company arrives this weekend, and you don’t want to do it tonight, it will have to be either Wednesday or Thursday.”

“Ok. Thursday, then.”

Wednesday morning before her doctor’s appointment, I try to show her how to use the handheld shower head, thinking she might try a shower before going to the doctor.

“I’m not going to use it without you here!”

“Do you want me to come home from work a little early so I’ll be here for you to shower before your appointment?”

“No. I’d really prefer a tub bath.”

“If you prefer a tub bath, why have you not taken one since we moved in here last July?”

“I don’t know.”

“If we don’t do this in the next few days, I’m going to be bringing someone in the help you in the bath.”

“Oh, Ok”, Mom laughingly replies.

“I’m serious, Mom.”


Friday, March 14, 2008

Making Progress

Mother is now a regular at the Dietert Center Take Five Club. She even went an extra day one week when they had their Valentine’s Day party, and picked out a special shirt to wear that had hearts woven into the pattern.

We’ve made some progress, and I’ve got other things in the works that she is as yet unaware of. This past week, she had an appointment with the podiatrist, who said that her feet were very healthy, just needing a little extra attention due to her age, and then he recommended a specific style of SAS shoes. And since SAS stands for San Antonio Shoes, and we are only one hour from San Antonio, we should be able to pick those up this weekend.

Next week, we return to the internist for what I have told her is a medication check, but actually we are going to be getting a referral for a neuropsych evaluation so we might have a definitive diagnosis and baseline information.

After that, I’ll be setting up appointments with the dentist, the optometrist, and a bone density scan. With each appointment, I anticipate the same conversation.

“Mom, I need to set up your appointment for (insert current concern here).”

“I don’t need an appointment for (current concern)!”

“Yes, you do.”

“My (current concern) is just fine!”

“I’m making the appointment for next week.”

I’m not sure how I’m going to explain what the neuropsych eval is all about. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but we have seen some decline just in the time she has been here.

“What’s Good Friday?”

I was quiet for a moment, because I was somewhat shocked by the question, and then debating how to answer and it what detail. “It’s the Friday before Easter.”

“Oh. The Dietert Center is going to be closed on Good Friday.”

“Well, that’s not a problem for us, because you go there on Mondays.”

“That’s right.”

I borrowed a copy of The 36-Hour Day from the Take Five lending library. It’s about being the caregiver for someone with dementia. It’s taken me awhile to start reading it, but even just the few chapters I’ve read have helped my mindset. What I read last night talked about how difficult it can be to perform multi-step tasks because there’s so much to remember, and things like cooking, cleaning, or even taking a bath can be confusing when one can no longer remember which steps, in which order, are necessary to the task.

So, I have a better understanding of Mother’s lack of initiative in helping with the cooking or cleaning. In a strange kitchen, she doesn’t know where anything is or where anything goes, compounded by the fact that she doesn’t really remember how to cook anymore. I guess that’s better than me having to worry about her burning the house down.

The book also talks about all the behaviors that are part of the dementia process, and how if family members are unaware, they might believe their loved one is just being lazy or stubborn or mean. I saw Mom in several of the examples, giving me additional insight into this process. She has always been fearful of unfamiliar situations, especially if they challenged her skillsets, and her increasing forgetfulness exacerbates these fears. I’m glad now that she voluntarily gave up driving.

I am still attending the Kerrville Writer’s Association meetings, although I haven’t actually written anything in several weeks. I have also bought studio time at the Hill Country Arts Foundation, which is a wonderful artists’ cooperative, and I have been there a couple of times to play with clay. I’ve found that Mother is less anxious with my being gone in the evening if I am able to make it home for dinner before going out.

So, I’m slowly exchanging resentment for understanding. I know I have been doing the things I need to do. Now I am working on doing them with the right spirit.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Take Five Club

Yesterday marked Mother’s third Monday morning at the Dietert Center’s Take Five Club. The Thursday before her first visit, the program director came by the house to introduce herself so that Mother would be able to see at least one familiar face upon arrival. When I told Mother about the visit that evening, she asked why.

“To talk to you about the Take Five Club.”

“I’m really not interested in going.”

“Mom, you need to give it a try. It’s hard on me being your only social contact! I need you to at least give it a shot!”

“Well, is the bathroom nearby? I’m worried about sometimes making it to the bathroom in time.”

“I’m sure they have a bathroom right there.”

“Will you stay with me?”

“I can’t stay with you every time, but yes, I could stay the first time or two.”

Mary arrived shortly and was so warm and friendly that Mother was soon agreeing that Take Five sounded like fun. When Mom mentioned that I would be staying, Mary said, “Oh, no, she’ll just go on to work and pick you up at the end.”

Mother then gave me “the look” which was my cue to speak up and say that I had already promised to stay that first time. I amended that I wouldn’t be staying in the same room, because that might disrupt the program, but that I would bring a book and be nearby. That seemed to satisfy her, and Mary eventually left, telling Mother that she would see her the following Monday morning.

As we stood in the kitchen, watching Mary’s car pull out of the driveway, I asked, “So, does it really sound like fun, or were you just being polite?”

“No, it does sound like it might be fun.”

“Oh, good. I’m glad.”

By Sunday night, however:

“Well, I wish I didn’t have to go to that old place tomorrow.”

“Well, Mom, I wish you were looking forward to it more.”

We arrived at the Center the next morning, promptly at 10 a.m., and found ourselves the first to arrive. Mary offered to take Mother’s coat and purse to hang on the wall hooks, but Mother declined. We were then ushered into the sitting area, consisting of comfy looking couches, recliners, and end tables with happy-looking house plants. Mother sat with her purse beside her leg and her jacket pulled close around her, legs crossed and arms folded, giving Mary short, polite answers to conversational inquiries.

Others began arriving, and I stayed until the activities started, then excused myself to an adjoining room. I perused the lending bookshelves, made a couple of phone calls, and read a magazine until about an hour had passed. Then I peeked around the corner to find Mother’s body language completely changed. He arms were relaxed into her lap, she had a smile on her face, and she seemed quite engaged by what the director was saying.

I took that as my opportunity, and stepped in the room to tell her that I had some errands to run. She confirmed that I would be returning right afterward, and I agreed. She smiled and said, “ok”, and turned back to what was happening with the group. I went back to work, and when I returned to pick her up at 2 p.m., she was surprised that it was already time to go.

When we got to the car, I asked her about her morning, and she told me about singing songs, having lunch, and getting to pet Bennie the Bunny, a therapeutic pet visiting for the day. I was afraid to ask her if she was going back the next week and hear her knee-jerk “no” that usually comes to new ideas. I figured I would have plenty of time to broach the subject before Monday rolled around again.

And so I did: my niece came to visit and I asked Mom to tell us about her first experience with the Take Five Club. She seemed happy to do so, and I picked up the Dietert Center lunch menu to show to Vickie. I then pointed to the following Monday and said, “Mom, look. You’ll be having spaghetti for lunch when you go back next Monday.”

“Am I going back?”

“Well, of course! You had a good time, didn’t you?”

“Yeah. You’re sure it’s not too much trouble for you to leave work to take me and pick me up?”

“Mom, it’s more troublesome to me worrying about you being at the house all day, every day, with nothing to do and no one to talk to.”

“Well, ok, then.”


The following Monday, when we pulled up to the Center, Mother said, “Oh, this is it? We’re here already? Ok, see you at 2 o’clock!”

And she hopped out of the car and went right in without a backward glance.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Now my brain hurts.

I walked with Leslie Sansone again this morning. Mother shuffled a few steps, did a couple of sidesteps, and then sat down. I told her that was better than she did a couple of days ago, and that she’d build up to doing more if she kept at it. She seemed doubtful.

At dinner, I brought the Dietert Center schedule to the dining table for us to choose what day we wanted to go to lunch. She couldn’t decide which one sounded most appealing, so I chose Tuesday’s “Crabby Cakes” for our lunch out.

I talked to her a little bit about the Take Five Club, which is actually a caregivers’ respite program. It runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes lunch brought into the activity room because some of the people are less ambulatory than others. It also costs $35 per day attended, which Mother would NEVER agree to, but they could send the monthly statement to my work. I am thinking this might be the best way to introduce her to the center, as she seems absolutely uninterested in attending any of the activities.

“Mom, when I picked up the menu last week, I talked to one of the ladies about the Playing with Paint class. She said it’s watercolor and pretty fun.”


“Is that something you’d be interested in trying?”

“I’m not interested in any of that stuff.”

“But Mom, I’m concerned about you just sitting at home all day and not doing anything but watching TV.”

“Well, when you’re 80 years old, you’re not interested in doing that much.”

“You’re not 80, you’re only 78, and Papaw walked until he was 92. And you had friends in Wills Point, and now you don’t talk to anybody except me all day, and when I can’t come home for lunch, then you’re here the whole day alone.”

“That’s OK.”

“No, Mom, it’s not OK.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it’s not.”

“And I can call people on the phone.”

“Who do you call?”

(Thinks a minute.) “Whoever.”

“Whoever is not a person. Give me a name.”

“I don’t know.”

“I know you’ve called Charlie. Anyone else?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’d really like you to try this Take Five Club. It’s more of a social group than an activity group. They talk and have coffee and have lunch. I can go with you the first couple of times.”

No answer.

“Anyway, Mom, we’ll go to the center for lunch on Tuesday.”



I dunno. Maybe I’m rushing things. Maybe I’m not pushing her enough. I have no idea how to treat an adult who is functioning on various levels, all of them below where she was even one year ago. Especially when that adult also happens to be my mother.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mixed Success

I just walked a mile in my living room in 18 minutes!

Mother walked about 2 minutes, then said she was tired and sat back down.


Renewed Hope for the Dietert Center

Every morning, as we sit having coffee and reading the morning paper, Mother will say, “You have your regular schedule today? You’ll be home at regular time? And you’ll come home at lunchtime?”

I used to say, “Yes.” Now, because my duties at work are evolving, I say, “I hope so.”

Yesterday, shortly after this exchange, I said, “I think you ought to try going to the senior center and meet some people. I bet you could find a nice friend there.” And, instead of the automatic “No, no, I don’t want to” that I expected, she said “Do you think so?”

“Yes! I do!” I was suddenly filled with some hopes of her actually trying to do something besides sit on the couch and watch TV all day, with me her only source of social contact. I was able to come home for lunch, have a ‘delicious sandwich’, as we do every day, and then, on the back to work, I took the long way around to stop by the Dietert Center and pick up their monthly menu and activity schedule.

I stopped in to talk with my friend, Dawn, who told me that in addition to the regular activities, staff was working on having a “coffee social” time in the morning, but they weren’t sure when that would happen.

I don’t know if Mother’s total disinterest in any of the activities has been due to some level of depression from my sister’s passing and the move from east Texas, or if she is concerned about trying something new that will shed unwanted attention on growing cognitive deficits. I am now hoping that it was more the former. While I doubt that she will ever sign up for Table Tennis or Western Philosophy, perhaps Playing with Paint or Quilter’s Co-op will strike her fancy. I really believe that if she will just go there enough times to meet a couple of people, I’ll be taking her on a regular basis.

And, this morning, since I woke up at 5:30 and have what I hope to be PLENTY of time, I’m going to see if I can get her to agree to “Walking with Leslie Sansone” (which my niece, Vickie, highly recommended and I bought several months ago, but haven’t been motivated enough to try) before the television is tuned to the morning news. (I know you were wondering when I would get to why in the world that picture was there, especially on MY blog - hahahaha!)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Post-Holiday Mish-Mash

All the holiday excitement and stress are over, and it's back to normal. I still have many post-holiday chores to do. I have put away most of the nativity sets, but the tree is still up and decorated, something I will attend to today.

I finally got the last of the antique frozen food out of the chest freezer we moved from east Texas in July. There was no easy way to dispose of it beforehand, so we just moved the half-full freezer as it was. The meat that was in it was already so old as to be scary, not to mention the frozen bread, margarine, and unidentifiable objects. The trip down here in the back of the moving van didn't help it. I bagged up three trash bags of mostly meat, and threw several packages of bread products and a half-bag of broccoli out behind the house for the critters. The gallon of water frozen in a milk jug - I'm not quite sure why that was in there - is thawing in the garage.

My first inkling of Mother's cognitive state came when we were looking through that freezer back in June and I observed aloud that she had several packages of frozen hush puppies. She asked me what was a hush puppy. *sigh*

Anyway, we all had a nice time at Christmas. I bought Mother a sweater and matching pants, Vickie gave her a nice casual top, and Steve gave her a casual set of pants, top, and hoodie. Since she won't buy clothing for herself, this evidently seemed the best idea to all of us.

Janette and Eva flew in on December 26th and stayed through the 29th. I think they had a nice visit. Eva is VERY busy. And she has started saying several words and is willing to try to say all kinds of new words. I believe that in another three or four months, she will be talking up a storm, telling strangers all of Janette's secrets in a clear, loud voice. Eva enjoyed the dogs at Vickie's house, and surprised everyone one by hitting it off with Willow, the extremely stand-offish kitty whose behavior with Eva we were most worried about. Not only was Eva enamored of Willow, but Willow seemed equally taken with Eva, allowing Eva to "pat" her and on occasion "hug" her by practically lying down atop her. Willow didn't even rowr or hiss, something she has done to all the adults in the house.

We all drove to Marble Falls (in Vickie's Brand New Van!!) to see the Christmas lights on the river. They were beautiful, but it was very cold. We were all glad to see them, and also all glad that since it was after Christmas there were hardly any people there so we were able to park very close to the entrance, instead of walking from a couple of blocks away, as Vickie said they had done a couple of years ago.

On Saturday morning, before Janette flew home, we had brunch at IHOP. All the straps/buckles on all the booster seats and all the high chairs were missing or broken. We tried to just have her sit with us on the seat, but once the food arrived it just didn't seem to work out. (Did I mention that Eva is VERY busy?) One of the waitstaff offered that they could secure her in the high chair with a folded-over apron, which turned out to work quite well. She entertained all of us, including our waiter.

Steve was able to visit for almost two weeks. It was very nice having him here. My Christmas present from him was a beautiful necklace and earrings set of sterling silver (my precious metal of choice), small ropes of silver knotted into square knots for the earrings and a figure-eight knot for the necklace. The image above does not do them justice, as they are amazingly bright-and-shiny.

He said that although he understood and believed me when I talked about how loud the TV was, and how it permeated the house, he hadn't fully grasped the reality of it until he was actually here. Now he understands. It's really loud. From 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Except that now that Mother understands that it wakes me up, she keeps the volume down on weekends until I get up, so I am actually able to sleep in now. That does help.

Steve also brought his camera and took many, many pictures of all of us - except himself, because I never remembered to get the camera from him. Thank you, Steve, for all the wonderful pictures of our holidays. And my necklace and earrings. And your visit. And my sanity.