Friday, April 30, 2010

Second Night - Not So Good

Yes, Wednesday night we sure had a good time. And Thursday night we were all going to Billy Bob's Texas, The World's Largest Honky Tonk. In preparation for this big outing, all of us director's had to rent a van so we could transport everyone to Billy Bob's. There were no vans, however, so we all got an SUV when we arrived in Dallas. All week, we had to drive these big SUV's around the city so we could fill them up with people on Thursday night. The big night arrived. Billy Bob's was 27 miles from the hotel, but since we were going during rush hour, we gave ourselves an hour. Leaving at 5:00 pm, I piled 4 extra people in my SUV, the amount of people who would fit into a full-sized car, and headed for the congested highway towards Fort Worth. An hour and a half later we finally arrived at the famed Billy Bob's. After being ushered to our private room, we ate things like chicken, baked beans, tacos and deep-fried fruit pies. A couple people played a game of pool, about a half dozen did some line dancing, most of us browsed through the gift shop, and most were talking about how tired they were and how sore from the previous nights exercise. It was obvious most were not big party-ers who could handle two nights in a row. So around 8:30 pm 3-4 SUVs loaded up and headed back to the hotel - a trip that took only 45 minutes this time. (I heard the rest left shortly after us). I was definitely under-whelmed with Billy Bob's. But I'm sure it's not their fault, we just weren't a very vivacious group that night. Today I was really glad to finally turn that SUV back into the rental car company. It had fulfilled it's purpose.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Texas Country

I am exhausted. And surely I lost a few pounds tonight. We are having a company-wide meeting in Dallas this week and tonight we all went to the Austin House (or something like that). The food was good. The games were fun. The music was okay. Being with all the clinic managers and the directors was great. And I spent a couple hours doing things like line dancing, the chicken dance, karaoke, and other stuff that I'm not even sure what it was. A great time was had by a bunch of women of all ages (the two guys left early). In the midst of all the heavy stuff we hear about during the day, like cutting costs while improving quality, it a nice break to get some exercise and have fun, too. Tomorrow I have my presentation. And I hear that tomorrow night we are going to "Billy Bob's". I may even try riding that out-of-control steer. Or maybe not. I have a lot of recuperating to do between now and then. Whew!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Hilltop Inn

My tea party at Georgetown didn't turn out very well, as you can see if you read my earlier blog. But I do have a success story from this weekend.

For my and Nadine's birthday, Sue (niece-in-law) gave us each a "tea" at the Hilltop Inn. I had never heard of this place, but Sue had been there before with her mother. What a wonderful place it is! And what a wonderful time we had. This was a very traditional English "High Tea" with scones, tea sandwiches, sweets, and lots of tea. We spent an hour and a half enjoying our tea and goodies. It was very refreshing and fun. Maybe that is why the English cherish their tea time so much. It is an opportunity in the middle of a busy day to slow down, enjoy one another, nourish the body and soul, and leave all the hassles of life behind us for awhile.

Thanks, Sue, for the wonderful time, and for introducing me to another special place! I'm sure I'll go back again and again.

We Sure Fell For That One!!

Such a beautiful Spring day ... a great day for driving to the mountains. Rod and I decided to take the one-hour drive and go to Georgetown for lunch. Just as we turned the corner onto historic downtown, Rod saw this sign. "Hey," he said, "they have a tea shop here now!" Aww, Georgetown just went up a notch in my estimation. Now we can come here for tea.

We made our way to the Happy Cooker and had a nice little lunch. In anticipation of the upcoming tea time, I ordered only water to drink. And what a lovely walk it was going the two or three blocks to the house of tea. I always get excited when I find an unusual and out-of-the-way type of place to enjoy a pot of tea with a friend or lover. As we step across the threshold, I see nothing but dark clothing in a dank room. It even smelled a little "old". But, wait! There is another room off to the right. I peak around that room, see more clothes, and a heavily tattooed lady comes from "somewhere", and starts explaining the great sale they have going on now. They are changing, she says, from the current shop to an Athena shop.

I'm sure my confusion showed on my face, but we politely looked at a few clothes and quickly left. Turning around to look at the sign again, I see "a T h E n A". The a, h, and n are just a white outline - but look at the T, the E, and the A - bright and bold colors. How strange. As we moved on, however, I noticed a fenced-in patio with tables and chairs. So maybe, when they finally convert to Athena, they will also have TEA. I can only hope.

Since we didn't get our tea, we made our way to the old-fashioned soda fountain shop and had hot fudge sundaes and coffee instead. And enjoyed listening to the lady at the shop tell us stories about the goings-on in Georgetown. The more we egged her on, the more she gossipped. It was fun.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elvera's Necklace

Today I wore her necklace. And many times throughout my busy day I would fold it within my hand and think of her. And be thankful for her. And miss her. This is the necklace my aunt Elvera gave me last month. At the time I didn't think she would be leaving us so quickly.

I have regrets. I wanted to get to know her better. I wanted to spend a lazy afternoon with her, just chatting and learning more about her. I missed so much of her life, spending years, even decades, never seeing her. I envy my Washington cousins who grew up around her and knew her so well.

In her Christmas card just last year she wrote that she had a story to tell me next time she saw me. I wanted to ask her about it when I saw her in March. But it was already too late. That was not a time to search for what I wanted. It was a time to support her in her illness and her weakness. And now I will never know. No, I shouldn't say that. Someday I am certain we will have unlimited time to talk, laugh, and catch up on all we missed out on while living on this earth. Someday ... I'll hear her story.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby Turns 80!

On Sunday, April 11, the baby of the family turns 80. Duane, the youngest of more than a dozen kids hits another decade. Duane is another uncle that I became reacquainted with in the early 2000's. My memories of him prior to that time are rather sketchy. I remember, in 1960, when he took my mom and me through his office supply store. I was in awe that a relative of mine would work in such a wondrous place. (I've loved office supply stores ever since). I remember that he and his wife, Martha, lost a baby while I was there in 1960. And I'm almost certain that it was Duane who met us at the train station when we arrived in Seattle/Tacoma after a 2-3 day train trip. As little as I knew him then, I am making up for it now. I love this guy's sense of humor, his warmth, and his openness to me and all the nieces and nephews. He always seems so calm, so kind, and so thoughtful. When I hear stories about his dad, my grandpa Frank, it seems like they must have been very much alike.

Duane is pictured above with his wife, Martha. This was taken during my last trip to Washington about a month ago.

Duane, I've enjoyed getting to know you better over the past several years. I'm glad I found yet another uncle to love. You are looking mighty good for being 80! Happy Birthday!


Remember the blog about my less-than-great experience at Chili's? The redeeming part of the whole experience was the great food ... or so I thought. On a whim, I looked up the nutritional value of the food at Chili's. Here's how my Grilled BBQ Smoked Chicken Salad looks. Calories: 1060; Grams of fat: 63; Milligrams of Sodium: 2090!!!!! And I ate every last bite. In one meal I ate over half the calories for an entire day. And the recommended salt intake for my age is 1500 mg/day.

Last night we went to Outback Steakhouse for a nice dinner together. I thought I'd try something different - the Shrimp en Fuego with fresh steamed green beans and potato bowl. Sounds good, doesn't it? And it was. Here's how this delicious meals looks nutritionally. Calories: 1,356; Grams of fat: 90; Milligrams of Sodium: 3611. It just keeps getting worse!! I did leave most of the potato boat and a lot of the cream sauce on my plate, so I didn't consume quite as much as I could have. But I ate a couple slices of the bread, topped with salted butter.

This is very discouraging to me. It is obvious why I'm having difficulty taking off 20 pounds. I eat much larger portions than I should, I eat high fat, high calorie, high sodium foods, and I don't move around enough. What to do???

I think I'll go take a brisk walk - and turn into a raw vegetarian. A message to my body - "I'm so sorry for what I've been doing to you. I'll try harder. Honest."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Feeding the Family: Correction

I knew I was missing something! Thanks to my brother, Tom, for the complete and correct story about the butchering. I guess we all remember the parts that we were involved in. I obviously did not participate in the entire process. Here is what my SIL, Marty, wrote:

From your brother, Tom ,,,
"The day we killed a steer, we skinned it out, gutted it (I took the heart, tongue, liver and kidneys to the house to be wrapped or cooked), salter down the hide and rolled it up to be sold (for leather), and quartered the carcass. It was then hung in the well house, covered by clean white sheets, to age for several days before it was processed and frozen. This was possible because we killed the steer in the fall when the weather was cool.
Also, there is no lard in beef to be rendered. It is tallow and was used (as you said) to make soap."

Put On Your Easter Bonnet

I must have been about the age of Julia (above). Any older and I think it would have been humiliating. All the girls in my class had to make an "Easter Bonnet" from a paper plate. Then we all had to wear our bonnet and parade through the other classrooms to the tune of "Put on your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it" and then I would "be the grandest lady in the Easter parade". I must have been older than Julia is, because I remember feeling rather foolish. But today when I was telling her the story she said, "Can I make an Easter bonnet?" Of course, she could. And she thoroughly enjoyed it. Turned out rather nice, too. But I didn't make her parade around the neighborhood. Just out to the back deck for some pictures. By the way, Julia is 7 years old. A good age for paper plate bonnets.