Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rain, at last

Yesterday the clouds broke open and dumped precious rain upon our parched state. For the past several months, Texas has been in a severe drought, and the consequences have been dire. A few farmers have been forced to sell off some of their land, and some ranchers have reduced the size of their cattle herds; as a result of this, the prices of meat and some produce have sky-rocketed in the supermarkets.

And so, the first tap-tap of the rain upon my tin roof sent me flying to the front door. Joyously, I flung open the heavy wooden door, and raised the window on the metal screen door. There's nothing like the smell of the earth during a rainfall. It's glorious scent wafted into the house and embraced me like an old familiar friend, whispering promises of growth and rebirth in my ear.

I felt a gentle tug at my shirt, and looking down saw my toddler at my side, gazing out the window of the storm door. "Hey, what's this?" he asked, pointing at the rain. Robert had never seen sheets of rain pouring from the sky.

"It's rain."

"Rain? What's it do?" I explained the rain was giving the earth a much needed drink, and now the plants and grass could grow again."

"Oh." Robert continued to look out the door thoughtfully. "The rain is falling very hard. I hope the earth has insurance."

Robert had been watching insurance commercials, that's why he was hoping the earth had insurance.


What do you like to do on a rainy day? Here's my favorite things to do.

1. Watch old b&w movies
2. Bake homemade bread
3. Turn down the lights, light a candle, turn on jazz music, and settle back with a book while I'm enjoying the smell of the bread baking.
4. Soak in the tub, and sip on a glass of wine while listening to music

Monday, March 27, 2006

When I least expected it

It happened when I least expected it. My family and I were at our favorite eatery when my invisible assailant grabbed me in its vise-like grip and rendered me helpless. My torturer was the hiccups. I was minding my own business, happily snacking on chips and salsa, when they hit. These were not the petite "Southern belle" style hiccups, these were loud, obnoxious, and continuous.

"Okay, it's not funny anymore," John said after the fifth hiccup.

"You think I'm doing this on purpose?"

"I wouldn't put anything past you." Now, people at the tables nearby glanced my way. Never at a lose for words, John smiled at one staring couple and said, "This is just her warm-up routine. Wait till you see her grand finale." His comment lightened the mood, and a few pople offered advice an how to get rid of my problem. I tried everything they suggested: drinking a glass of tea without taking a breath, drinking from the wrong side of my water glass, holding my breath. . .nothing worked. Then I remembered an old cure my grandmother taught me: eat a spoonful of sugar.

Oblivious to everything around me, I ripped open a sugar packet, tilted my head back, and poured it in my mouth. I swallowed the sugar in one gulp. It worked! The hiccups were gone. I basked in the glow of my accomplishment until I head a gentle voice behind me.

"Uhm, madam, you're food is coming right out, but if you're that hungry I can bring you some chips and salsa. Red-faced, I turned and saw our waitress standing behind me. She had witnessed the whole sugar-eating incident.

"Oh no, I'm fine." True to her word, the waitress returned a few minutes later with our food.

"Are you sure you're okay?" she asked, eying me cautiously. I nodded and stuffed a forkful of rice in my mouth. I've gotten myself into enough trouble for one day; if I open my mouth right now, I might say the wrong thing, I thought.

I glanced over at John. He had a look of amusement and irritation shining in his eyes. "Geez Deb, I can't take you anywhere," he quipped. Oh well, at least the hiccups were gone.

*BTW this is the same restaurant I refered to in my story Sasee published. After this incident, it's a wonder the owner of the restaurant doesn't have a poster of me on the register, saying Don't admit this person.

I created a new website for my writing only. Please feel free to check it out at

Friday, March 24, 2006

Machine wins the first round; Human wins the second

During the last couple of days, my life has been, well, interesting to say the least. It all started Tuesday night. I went outside for my nightly walk, when I tripped over something huge. I went down on both knees, decorating them with nice scrape marks from the gravel. I completed the look by brusing the side of my left knee, and popping the right knee out of place. I'm sure I looked like something out of Night of the Living Dead, as I struggled to get off the ground. The dog ran over, took one look at me, then whined and ran off. Lassie, he isn't. As I was floundering on the ground, my right knee popped back in. I knew it would; I've had trouble with it ever since high school.

What the hairy heck did I trip over? I felt the object, gritting my teeth in anger when I determined what it was. No, it can't be! I told Seth to put his #@$&* bicycle in the garage, I raged. But, sure enough, there it lay on the ground beside me. I considered picking up the bike, and giving one of the oak trees a nice bow tie.
It takes a lot to truly anger me, but now I was in pain AND ticked off.

I hobbled to the house and lurched inside, blood trickling down both my legs. My oldest had the gall to glare at me and say "Well? What do YOU want?" I didn't scream, didn't lose my temper, but I gritted my teeth and gave him THE LOOK. He got the message, got hubby, and without a word, cleaned up the kitchen for me. Hubby is an ex-paramedic, so he's the family emergency doc. LOL. I sat the rest of the night pouting on the couch with an ice bag on my knee.

The next day John came home and handed me a small cardboard box. 'What's this?" I asked.

"It's the DSL modem."

"Great! When will they be out to install it?"

"They're not. You have to." Needless to say, I wasn't happy. I can fix small software problems, but when it comes to adding things externally to the computer, I'm a dunce.

I tried charming my hubby, but he wasn't buying into it, rarely does; he's an Italian version of "Ricky Ricardo".
"I have a meeting tonight," he said, kissing me on the head, "have fun".

"'Have fun my fanny," I grumbled. Enlisting the aid of my oldest, we read the directions, plugged in cords and installed the software.
Immediately I received a message "Explorer has experienced a problem. The program will now close." Argh! My knee still hurt from the night before, now the computer as messing with me. That dumb machine was not going to beat me. Might be a software coflict. I deleted a web accelerator program, rebooted, and tried again. WAHLA! It worked. Within minutes I was surfing the web at "break-neck speed." For once, my stubborness paid off.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Queen of Cheap

If you’re looking for the “queen of cheap,” look no further, I’m sitting right here. I have been known to pinch pennies until they scream for mercy, but then again, I come by my thriftiness honestly.

As a child, parents raised their own meat, and canned fruits and veggies from our garden. Of course, there were eggs from the chickens, and we milked our own cows. During the spring and early summer, we gathered wild berries and grapes and caught fish out of the creek. Put my hair in pigtails and call me Laura Ingalls, but that’s how we lived. We weren’t poor—wasn’t rich either-- but my daddy grew up after the Great Depression, knew how hard times could be without money, and was determined it would never happen to his family. He was frugal, and taught me how to “hold on to my money” at an early age.

It has truly paid off. I make my own pastries, bread, and even mayo; I don’t have to, but I like it, it’s relaxing. Here a couple of cost effective recipes I hope you enjoy.

Quick and Cheap brownies

1 regular size Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix
½ cup oil
¼ cup water
2 eggs (well beaten)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine mix, oil, and water and stir well. Add the two eggs and stir well. Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured 13x9 pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Depending on how you cut them, it should make close to two dozen brownies. Someone has probably already tried this, but I’ve never done it until now.

I payed $.88 for the cake mix versus $1.25 for the regular brownie mix.

This is a great recipe I got off the PBS website. You can actually skip using the walnuts, and it still tastes wonderful.

Lentil-Walnut burgers

I didn't make the sauce that went with it. I had all the ingredients but the buns, lentils, and walnuts. For a recipe that made 4 burgers--without the sauce--my grand total was $3.07.

BTW, a great place to search for freebies is Mary's Freebies. I've gotten samples of tea, free bracelets, ect.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

At last. . .I'm back

I finally did it! After going several "rounds" with my internet service provider, I finally reached someone who actually cared enough to listen. In the past couple of weeks, I had done everything short of standing on my head for these people to get them to re-instate dial up until DSL was in effect. Every time I was met with the same response, "You're DSL account is pending activation, making your internet inaccessible at this time." Argh! I was ready to bite roofing nails after every conversation with these people.

This time was different. Again, I got a bored voice at the other end. I gave him the info he requested, and his attitude changed when I told him the name of my town.

"Hey," he exclaimed, "I'm actually talking to a local."

"No way! You mean I'm not talking to an out-of-state customer rep?"

"No, a hometown boy," he chuckled. "What can I help you with?" This can definitely work to my advantage, I thought. I had tried pleading and demanding in the past, now I would try to be charming. I prefer to be straightforward, but I can be very charming if the need arises, and the need had arisen.

I told him the problem. "What makes it so bad is I have to drive all the way into town and wrestle with a toddler while I check my email at the library."

"Hmmm. That's definitely a bummer."

"I know you can fix the problem. We have nothing but the best techs working on the local level," I crooned. I almost gagged over the sugary compliments I had dished out. The tech bit the line though.

"Well, let me see what I can do to get you going here. If I can't do it, I know my supervisor can." He put me on hold, and in a few minutes, came back on the line. "You're set," he announced.

"Oh wow! You're awesome!" I definitely meant that compliment.

Now, until DSL kicks in I have access from home. WAHOO!

***I'm so happy to be back. I missed hearing from each and every one of you on a regular basis. Can you believe I've been "talking" to some of you for almost a year now? That's wonderful! Thanks again to all of you for always being there for me.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Clumsy, or a curse?

*****Thanks for all your wonderful comments and prayers. Still at the library. The GMC broke down last week and I was at home; I was not very happy. The thing with my internet is this. I'm switching over to DSL, and they canceled my dial up account. DSL will be active vnext week, I thought this week, but I was wrong.

I am cursed with the ability of getting myself into awkward, if not downright embarrassing, situations.

It started in high school; on the opening night of a play my drama class was performing for the public. I was a main character, and with the exception of a butterfly doing the waltz in my stomach, I felt great. On the way to the school, I ran through my lines in my head, and tried to relax. “Break a leg!” my dad said as I got out of the car. He had no idea I’d take what he said literally

The dressing rooms over the stage were a beehive of activity as some of my classmates frantically searched for missing pieces of costumes, while others rushed to get their hair and make-up done. We had a couple of hours to get dressed, but time soared by, and all too soon, our drama teacher came in and announced, “Curtain in fifteen minutes.” Make-up was thrown on the counter, shoes and wigs were hastily donned, and groans of “I’m not ready yet,” filled the air.

Finally, we were done, and the cast made its way down the steep stairway to the backstage area. I was the last one to enter the stairway. I was dressed in a floor-length satin dress, and was wearing two-inch heels. As I tottered down the steps, I thought, I hope my heel doesn’t get caught in this stupid dress. No sooner had I thought it, it happened. As I stepped down to the next step, my heel caught in the hem, and down I went, hitting my knees on the rim of the stair.

To this day, I don’t know how I did it, but as I fell down the next step, I pulled my legs out from under me, and bounced down the remaining ten steps on my butt. The slickness of the dress and of the steps made stopping impossible. With each step, my dress rose higher up my legs; my classmates moved aside as I bounced by, their mouths open in shock. “Really Deb, this is no time for games. Stop it!” one classmate yelled as I bounced past.

“I CAN’T!” I yelled back. I reached the bottom, ahead of everyone else. Despite the throbbing pain in my knees, I smiled at my buddies and chirped, “Well, I beat everyone down!” My dress was pulled up past my thighs, and everyone was treated to the sight of the red track shorts I wore underneath.

One of my friends, Chelsea, raced ahead, looking for the drama teacher, the others helped me to my feet, straightened my dress for me, and handed me my wig, which I had lost in the process. I fought back tears as I stood up; the pain in my knees was almost unbearable.

Chelsea returned with the principal, who also doubled as my cross-country coach and the drama sponsor. “Let’s get her backstage,” he said gruffly. Before I could protest, one of my muscular male cast mates swept me off my feet and carried me.

“I can walk . . .I think.”

“Just relax and enjoy the ride. Pretend you’re a princess,” he quipped, grinning at me.

My principal examined me tender knees, and deduced I had only badly bruised myself. I was, however, to sit in a chair backstage with ice on my knees between stage appearances. After all, the show had to go on.

Yesterday, I found out the curse was hereditary. I was at the grocery store checkout line with my oldest, when I turned and saw him sitting on the floor.

“Why are you sitting there? Get off the floor!” I snapped.

Red-faced, Seth rose from the floor and dusted himself off. “I don’t know what happened. I was just leaning on the cart, then stepped on my own feet and fell.”

Both Seth and I seem to have a problem with our feet in public. Perhaps we should go barefoot.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Update: I just read all your responses from the last post. You are all so awesome! BTW My story in Sasee magazine is online now.

I just got word it will take another week until my computer is restored. Argh! I’m going nuts without it! I always try to see the “sunny” side of things, and this situation does have its good points.

1. It’s allowed me some “down-time.” I’ve been “sweating the small stuff,” pushing myself too hard, and it, couple with a couple of more major worries, was taking its toll on me physically and emotionally. Ever since I can remember, my parents taught me to enjoy life; to work hard, but to also take time out for fun. I had forgotten how to do the latter. Since the computer has been on the fritz, I’ve been outside more enjoying nature more and playing with the kids.

Hmm. What have I been stressed about? Remember I said I was concerned about the status of two manuscripts for children I had sent off? Before the computer went, I contacted one publishing house. They had my manuscript for several months past the reply deadline, and I hadn’t heard from them. The same day I received a response from the editor. She explained she “loved the manuscript,” and for several months had tried to find a place for it in their publishing house, but was unsuccessful. She stressed again that she loved the MS, and she “strongly encouraged me to submit to another house.”

Do I believe her? Absolutely. She is a very well respected editor in the publishing field. Still, rejection anyway you slice it still stings a little, no matter how many writing credits you have, or how “thick-skinned” you are. I look at it this way; either you can mope around, feel sorry for yourself and quit, or you can “suck it up,” re-evaluate and re-edit your MS and move on. You can’t give up because of a rejection; Dr. Seuss was rejected 40 something times before his first book was published.

After I shed a few tears into my root beer, I re-evaluated my manuscript and submitted elsewhere.

That same day, I took a deep breath and phoned the other publishing house to check on the other MS. I was shocked when the editor himself answered the phone, and as a result, I turned into a babbling idiot. I asked him about the status of my story.

“What’s the name of the story?” he asked.

“Umm.” Oh my gosh, I can’t remember the title of my own story, I thought, horrified. Finally, it came to me. “Daisy’s Soggy Boggy Day,” I blurted. I heard him chuckling as he typed something into the computer. Thank goodness he has a sense of humor.

He apologized and told me they were short handed, and didn’t have a chance to read it yet. So, there’s still a good chance with that one too.

The last bit of news is a little more depressing. For the past several months, my sister-in-law has been battling pancreas cancer; it’s now spread throughout her whole body. Then, a month ago, I learned our aunt, who is like a grandmother to me, has liver cancer. She’s eighty and a remarkable lady. She journeyed here from Sicily when she was a young girl. I’ve always kept from airing out the “family’s dirty laundry” in public, but I’ve been stressed over this for so long, and just needed to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A note

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to let everyone know my computer is down. I'll be using the computer at the library, where time is limited. I'll try and visit as many blogs as I can.

Hugs to all,