Tuesday, July 07, 2009
If You Think They're After You And They Really Are, Are You Still Paranoid?
I had a very strange incident last weekend, one that indicated that either some very stupid thieves stopped by, or my old stalker left me a message.

Saturday morning I noticed that the hood of my car was not fully shut. I opened it expecting to see my battery gone, but everything was in place. Something distracted me before I could look inside the car and with all the company and cooking and fireworks, I never got back to my car all day.

Sunday morning, though, I discovered that my XM radio was gone. Not the antenna, not the wiring, just the radio. Which has a specific serial number that must be activated, making it absolutely useless to sell or pawn. Not to mention that they are dirt cheap.

It was also obvious that someone had gone through my glove box. Papers were scattered on the floor and the little book cover that holds the manual was empty but zipped. I have never, ever zipped it. Someone had also gone through the center console and made sure I knew about that, too, because a CD was in the driver's seat. But the console on the dashboard, the one with the GPS in it? -- completely untouched. The small air compressor on the front porch, just a few feet away? -- also untouched. However, the skirt in a Macy's bag in the back seat was gone, although the bag was still there. Oh, and one more thing, the 18-month old open pack of cigarettes that I keep to remind me that not smoking is a choice, not an obligation -- they were gone, too. The things that were missing were very personal, not valuable, and things that only I would notice

So either I was visited by a cross-dressing, tobacco-addicted thief who took something that would do him no good at all, or my ex-husband paid a visit. (I should note here, NOT the father of my children.) I divorced this man 26 years ago and I moved away, so I know this sounds paranoid to even suggest. But he was one of those evil control freaks who stalked me and did horrible things for years. One of his favorite things to do during his reign of terror was unscrew my outside light bulbs. The message was very clear: I can get as close to you as I want and there's nothing you can do to stop me. Is that the message he thought he was leaving this time?

The timing is right. We used to camp on Bolivar Peninsula on holiday weekends and I'm sure he would have come down to see for himself what Ike did. And it's easy enough to google me and find out where I live. So maybe he decided to drive by my house and see what kind of damage I had. What made him decide to leave me a message? Who knows! Maybe someone dumped him, or he got laid off, or the Professor's Corvette made him jealous. He is very cunning, and he probably figured it would drive me crazy trying to decide if it was stupid thieves or him.

But you know what? I spent about an hour trying to figure it all out, and then realized that it didn't matter a bit. Nothing of value is gone. It appears that the intent was to make me feel vulnerable and scared. But he can't scare me anymore. I know that I am smarter than he is, I am stronger than he is, and I am getting the best revenge, which is living well. This whole thing has made me realize that the fear and anger are completely gone, and all that's left is a faint whiff of regret that he did not live up to his potential, and a lot of contempt.

So if it was stupid thieves, well, I hope they enjoy the skirt and the very stale cigarettes. I may be paranoid or not but I don't really care. My life is very good and it will take a lot more than an a**hole, known to me or not, to scare me.

posted at 7:43 AM
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Sunday, June 28, 2009
At the Aquarium

Yoda spent the afternoon at the aquarium yesterday.

posted at 5:48 AM
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Monday, June 22, 2009
We Need Standards
On Saturday I did what every woman dreads. I tried on bathing suits. No matter how much you've exercised and dieted, the experience leaves you feeling fat and flabby, and if you've been really bad about the exercise and diet thing lately ... well, curling up in a corner and crying seems like an appropriate response.

But, you know, the stores could improve this experience if they would just put in the proper mirrors. We all know that some mirrors make you look thinner -- excuse me, I mean they accurately reflect your body -- while others add pounds and bulges, apparently from sheer malice. And who needs a malicious mirror? Especially one that reflects you in a bathing suit.

I'm sure we've all had the experience of looking in two different mirrors while wearing the same outfit, and seeing two different bodies reflected. The real problem is that we don't know which one is right. So we try to catch our reflection in store windows and unexpected mirrors. I'm pretty sure we're thinking that if we see ourselves unexpectedly we'll see the "real" person. But even the surprise glimpses are different -- in this one you look great, in that one you look overweight.

There are standards for alomost everything we use: light bulbs, measuring cups, appliances, thread count for sheets, horsepower for engines, you name it, someone has set standards for it. So why can't they regulate mirrors? Wouldn't it be nice if the mirrors came with a label, "F" for "makes you look fatter". "T" for "makes you look thinner" and "A" for "accurate reflection." If we had those standards, stores could put in the "T" mirrors. Bet they would sell a lot more bathing suits!

posted at 9:30 AM
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
A Small Mistake
Memorial Day. Following our usual tradition, the Professor drove to Louisville and I flew. We saw some friends in Louisville, drove up to the Indy 500, and back to Louisville. My flight home was early Monday morning. I went down to breakfast and let the Professor sleep in.

When I got back to the room, my key didn't work. Oh great, maybe they already cancelled it. Or maybe I had it next to my cell phone. Well, I'll swipe it again. Still no luck. Start knocking on the door. "Prof? Let me in!" Swipe. Knock. Call. Swipe. Knock. Call.

Finally, I hear a voice: "Just a minute." One small problem: it's not the Professor's voice. Now I look at the number on the door and realize I'm on the wrong floor.

I moved so fast down that hallway that I probably left flames in my wake. I heard the door open just as I turned the corner.

I didn't do it. He can't prove it. And, anyway, no one saw me.

posted at 8:04 AM
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Bad Choices
Remember when you were a kid and your friends would throw impossible choices at you: "Which would you rather do, burn to death or freeze to death?" "Kiss a porcupine or eat a worm?"

I have a confession to make. Absurd as it sounds, I worry that some day my two greatest fears will combine into an impossible choice.

Fear One is that my car will careen off the road, crash through a bridge, and end up in deep water. I have read all the helpful hints about how you have to wait until the water has covered the car and the pressure equalizes so you can open the door. I have even tried visualizing it, in the same way pilots train for disasters. Usually I get as far as the water coming in the car before I turn into a babbling idiot who has to be distracted from those thoughts with shiny objects.

Fear Two is alligators. They are fast and they can swallow things whole. While most gators are on the small side, 4 - 6 feet long, and only big enough to swallow small dogs and small children, a 15 - 18 foot gator could swallow me.

When I drive from Houston to Louisiana, which I do fairly often, about 45 minutes of the drive is spent on one incredibly long bridge which goes through the Atchafalaya River Basin and Swamp. I am so careful driving through here in hopes that I will never end up sitting in my sinking car, waiting for the pressure to equalize, and then noticing a huge alligator hanging around in anticipation of my opening the door.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a survivalist sort from Louisiana -- a fisher, trapper, hunter and gatherer all rolled into one. I confessed my fear to him, hoping he would laugh and put my worries to rest. Instead, he said "Yeah, you're right, a splash the size a car would make would bring the 18 footers out to take a look. You can slap the smaller ones on the nose [can you visualize slapping an alligator!], but you wouldn't be any match for the big ones."

How about if I just kiss the porcupine AND eat the worm?

posted at 3:03 PM
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
There Is No Coherent Theme To This
Over the weekend we went to the Professor's 50th high school reunion. I think I actually saw more people I was close to than Prof did, as a couple of my brother's close friends were there, plus a girl from my class. Every time I see her she tells the story of how we were driving down to Austin, with my father asleep in the back seat, and I got stopped by a cop for doing 100 mph. (Actually, I think it was only 95.) What can I say? -- I was 17, maybe 16, and I just got in a zone where I was passing every car in sight. This story used to really embarrass me but Saturday night I realized that that incident was my first experience in talking my way out of a ticket, something I have done pretty well ever since. Not that I speed. Oh no, I wouldn't do that. Trust me.

Now I am in Lousiana. I got a room at my favorite hotel, the one I absolutely could not get into for two years. The last time I was here I could not get on the internet, but I thought I would give it one more try. And everything is working. So I have had my crab au gratin dinner, served with the best cole slaw and the best hush puppies in the world; I have shopped at the outlet mall; I have even squeezed sales calls into my schedule.

About that shopping... I wouldn't say that I have short legs, but I bought the cutest pair of pants with cuffs and they are the perfect length, no hemming required. And do you know how I found these perfect pants? -- They are capris. I wish I were kidding but, sadly, no.

posted at 8:50 AM
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Saturday, April 25, 2009
Too Much to Bear
This should put things in perspective. I know it did that for me.

PresentStorm's cousin Tim died last Sunday. He was 33, a kind, decent hard-working young man. He was one of those rare people that you meet who you like instantly, who always seem interested in everyone and everything around them.

Tim left his amazing wife Tracy, a 17 year old son TJ and a 9 year old son Travis, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. I have mentioned Travis before, the child with the smile that could light up a city, the one who makes you feel glad just to be alive because of his beautiful spirit. Tracy was going to have a tough enough time, but there's more.

Tracy's mom died the same day Tim did. Not only did she have to deal with those two losses at once, but there is a brother with Down's Syndrome and it looks like Tracy will have to care for him. I am reminded of something Mother Teresa said:

"I know God never gives you more than you can handle, but sometimes I wish He didn't trust me quite so much."

I met Tim and Tracy at Guppy's and PresentStorm's wedding. We talked late into the evening, and Tracy said something that night that may be the perfect epitaph for Tim, and that shows her incredible character:

"I am so blessed. You see how Tim is with Travis. I could not have asked for a better man."

May he rest in peace. And could you all say a little prayer for Tracy to have the strength to deal with all that has been put upon her plate.

UPDATE: I just learned that Tim's parents are planning to sell their house and Tracy's and they will all buy a house together. That way there will be enough hands to care for Travis and the brother with Down's Synmdrome. Note that the brother (whose name I don't know) is no blood relation to Tim's parents, yet they are willing to go share their home with him and help care for him. I am so humbled by the innate goodness in this family.

posted at 8:20 AM
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Soap Opera That Is My Life
The Professor and I went to visit his daughter and family in Connecticut. We had a wonderful time -- walked the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston, went to Cape Cod, checked out the Cliff Walk and some of the mansions in Newport RI, went to a beach somewhere in Rhode Island, and just generally enjoyed ourselves. The weather was, oh, maybe 25 or 30 degrees colder than it is here and the wind came directly from the North Pole and did not pass go or collect $200. So when we went to the beach, rather on the spur of the moment, we had to dig around in their car for warm outer garments. I thought we looked like Homeless Day at the Beach.

I was much too clever to let anyone take a full-length picture of me, as I wearing a jacket that came down to my knees. But they were laughing so hard at me that I had to get a self portrait. I thought I looked kinda cute in the fur-lined bomber helmet.

Note that I DID NOT take a full-length shot. I have some pride.

On Saturday afternoon I got a call from the teenager who was feeding the cats. She said the streets were flooded because we got ten inches of rain in two hours. She was saying something about a window that I never understood (because all teenagers seem to speaking Greek on the phone),but later Guppy called to tell me that 3 houses on my street had been hit by a tornado. I called our police department, where they would not verify addresses but said that all the damage was minor.

Either the tornado jumped over my house or the little bunker we turned it into was too strong because there was no structural damage. But my lawn swing and park bench, which survived hurricane Ike with no problem, looked like this:

One piece of that broken metal was stabbed into the earth deep enough that we will have to dig it out.

Of course, this tornado was inevitable. There are 8 or 10 families living in travel trailers in their front yards. You know how tornadoes always head for the trailer parks.

posted at 9:46 AM
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Feeding Frenzy

Last night I kept noticing big splashes out in the bay. A school of huge fish? No, it was a flock of pelicans feeding. They kept it up for at least an hour. I think you can click on the picture to make it bigger and see the pelicans better.

For some rare and unknown reason, we had a cold front. In April. In Houston. When the wind is out of the north, it blows the water off the shore and we have a beach.

You notice the remains of a long-gone fence, which is usually well under water -- just one of the many reasons why no one swims in the bay. Except for all those fish.

This is our neighborhood dock, and you can clearly see how high the water normally is. A couple of us are starting to talk about a dock party -- that's where we get together and nail the boards back onto the pilings, which we have to do after tropical storms and hurricanes. But since at least a third of the people in the neighborhood are either living elsewhere or in a trailer in their driveway, we've all had more important things on our minds than the dock. But I think it's time for those of us whose houses are pretty much back together to make things more normal for everyone.

posted at 8:11 AM
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Happy April
So far, April is shaping up like a marathon. I will have Easter here for the family. On the 16th we will leave to visit Prof's daughter and her family in Connecticut for 5 days. We get back on a Monday; the following weekend we go to Dallas for Prof's 50th high school reunion. I am campaigning with my company to go to the API spring meeting in Denver; if they say yes, I will fly from Dallas to Denver EARLY Monday morning -- like before the sun rises early -- and then home to Houston Wednesday night. And I really should go to Louisiana next week. I love to travel, but I hate it when it all comes at the same time.

My company is having a huge reorganization. Supposedly we will find out this week just where our territory is, who we report to, even what segment of our market we will focus on. I am not worried because at the sales meeting in March I cornered the two top executives and shamelessly told them all my accomplishments, ending with a little wail about how I am finally at a point in my career where I know some things and I know some important people and I would hate to think the company would waste that. I was assured on the spot that the company would, indeed, take advantage of what I have learned. (I should be ashamed of doing that, but I'm not. ) So now I know what I will be focusing on, but the customers I call on and the area I call in and who I will report to are still unknown. And that is why, even though the territory needs a salesman in Louisiana next week, I'm not sure that it should be me.

Over the years I have murdered a lot of plants because I bought more than I could get in the ground. So on Saturday when I went to the nursery I used every bit of self-restraint I could muster to only buy as many flowers as I knew I could plant. And, of course, most of them are still sitting in the garden, waiting to be planted. The year of remodeling plus the months spent getting the newly remodeled house in order plus the months spent repairing the hurricane damage to the newly remodeled house equals a totally neglected yard. In order to plant anything, I first have to dig up the grass and weeds that took over.

Now this is weird. I had an Antique Blush rose bush. It was so hardy it would withstand drought, bugs, prolonged fog, even salt spray. You would think if anything could take a big drink of salt water and come out smiling, that would be the plant. But no, it's dead. My little pedigreed red rose, on the other hand, is happy as it can be. I made the Professor a very happy man when I asked him to go use the chain saw on the dead rose bush. Of course he didn't stop there -- what's a chain saw for if not to prune things? -- but he surprised me with his discretion. His daughter has told me the story of When Dad Pruned the Roses With a Chain Saw, which apparently did not have a happy ending. Perhaps he finally grew up?

And Yoda has made me so proud. I blogged a year or two ago about how Chula was getting old and I saw a squirrel chasing her. Yesterday Yoda was helping me in the garden (he digs just like a dog!) when he noticed a squirrel. They have gotten very smug, thinking they are safe from animals in our yard, so they sit on the ground and taunt us. Well, either Yoda was well hidden by the plants or the squirrel was convinced that no cat is a threat, because Yoda had plenty of time to notice the squirrel, hunch down on his front paws, wiggle his little butt like he's winding up a rubber band, and launch himself at amazing speed. By the time I caught up he was sitting at the base of a pecan tree, looking up to see if there was another fun toy he could chase. I am thinking that with Yoda on guard, I may actually get my pecans this year. See, I really do have a guard cat!

posted at 6:08 AM
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Mitey Mite

Texas, United States

I am older than dirt, but I still feel pretty young & some call me the Energizer Bunny. I share a house with the Professor & 3 cats. Between us we have 5 grown children, all of whom are productive members of society (!), and 10 grandchildren. I have a job I love, a little money for the 1st time in my life, and so many more things I want to do than I will ever have time for.

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If You Think They're After You And They Really Are...
At the Aquarium
We Need Standards
A Small Mistake
Bad Choices
There Is No Coherent Theme To This
Too Much to Bear
The Soap Opera That Is My Life
Feeding Frenzy
Happy April

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