Monday, December 25, 2006


Get it? Yule BLOG? :-)

Hey, check out my "pottyscape" (yes, that IS a word now that Sandra Lee on the Food Network tosses around "tablescape" like it's in the OED).

The bathroom window shelf, View One.

The bathroom window shelf, View Two.

Closeup attempt of cute new antique day/date thingy.

Hmm. This one isn't any better...but check out the little reindeer from Courtney & Kelsey! (I added them to the pottyscape the very night they gave them to me.)

BTW, I found the PERFECT place to do my Christmas shopping...the Elmwood Antique Mall on South Seventh Street. I went there the other day and had the whole place to myself, except for the welder who followed me from booth to booth, unsuccessfully flirting. (Men do not flirt with me; men flirt with my sister. I don't know WHAT was wrong that poor guy..."A" for Effort, though...)

He did have some interesting stories, truth be told. (He nearly lost his thumb last month while roping a calf in Colorado! He's in the middle of a Houston lawsuit! Etc.!) If we ever need a welder, he'll be our guy.

Oh, and the bargains! One booth had everything marked down half-price, and I bought EIGHT place settings of Christmas dishes for only $15! (Microwave AND dishwasher safe!) They're beautiful, and we used them the other night for the Coq au Vin feast.

Cute, huh? (The bread plate is sitting ON the dinner plate...4-piece place setting.)

And the little day/date thingy from the photos above (that will stay set on Christmas Day all year long)? Only TWO dollars!

Oh, wait...there was one other person there...a hilarious, nicotine-addicted, potty-mouthed grandmother who nearly made me faint the first time she dropped a Curse Bomb. (Oh, wait. There was one college kid, too. And that was all. The whole time I was there....three other people in a giant antique mall. No traffic, no crowds...a parking space close to the door...and a coffee shop across the street.)

Sandra von Newlywed (adorable blog at recently found a great place to shop in San Francisco that served its mall-avoiding Christmas customers hot cider with a shot of Grand Marnier and whipped cream. Yum! The Elmwood Mall isn't quite that generous, but it was a lot of fun..and I'll bet Sandra & Clayton couldn't pick up 32 dishes for $15 at the hoity-toity cider-serving boutique. :-)

Long live the Antique Mall!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


…and Happy TENTH Anniversary to us!

Last night’s dinner was amazing…the best of my (admittedly few) culinary adventures. And here’s the funny part--I didn’t even know that Courtney and Kelsey and Ayden were coming until I was in the shower, about thirty minutes before they arrived. It turned out great, though, because I was showering while the chicken baked, and the Pear Crisp & Spoon Rolls were warming in the lower oven.

Spoon Rolls & Pear/Cranberry Crisp
(Yes, I know *someone* obviously sampled both of these...had to make sure they were yummy...)

Coq au Vin and Rosemary Nuts in the top oven

Here’s the menu (I shopped and cooked for days):

3 Vegetarian Appetizers:
Eggplant Caviar (served with whole wheat pita chips)
Red Pepper Hummus (served with garlic pita chips)
Rosemary Nuts (BIG hit!)

Mojitos (Mike made 3 adult versions and one alcohol-free one for Kelsey)

Coq au Vin (made with red wine and fresh mushrooms)
Broccoli Crowns
Spoon Rolls (my grandmother’s recipe)

Pear and Cranberry Crisp

Served with LOVE!
(Hey, check out my Christmas manicure! In the middle of all the grocery shopping and cooking, I totally destressed at Kellen's Nails. Now I'm stressing about how to keep them pretty with all of this cooking and dishwashing...)

The only thing on the menu not homemade was the hummus, which I bought with a coupon so I’m still happy with it. Oh, and Grandma Fowler’s spoon rolls were not at all Sugar Busters-friendly…which is weird because my grandmother was an insulin-dependent diabetic. I *did* use whole-wheat flour and will play with it more in the future. It involves yeast, though, so the sugar probably has to stay. (Is that right? Doesn’t yeast need sugar?)

Proud "Pop"

Proud "Grammy"

So, anyway, I’m tucked in my recliner the next morning with an iced coffee, May Bee’s snuggled in her wicker basket, and Misha’s hiding in her Happy Kennel. (We played ball in the cold, barren backyard until the girls got into a fight.) Our cozy morning was interrupted when NPR did a story on the most-hated Christmas carols and played dogs barking “Jingle Bells” and then some krazy-with-a-K cat carol; May Bee hated those songs, too, and couldn’t relax until Bing came back on.

At the moment, KACU is playing a live feed from King’s College in Cambridge--the annual carol service. It’s BEAUTIFUL! One man flies from Dallas each year to wait in line for DAYS for the free concert. (For a touching BBC story about the annual queue and how one reporter gave away his ticket, go to !)

Merry Christmas…and may God bless us, every one!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

I love my job…

…because kids are WAY more fun than grownups. (I can’t imagine spending my day with adults…and their weird hang-ups and issues and office politics. Ick.) At least with moody teenagers/preteens, you can take one look at their faces and know exactly where you stand! Every episode of The Office reminds me of how lucky teachers are to spend their days with the young ones...

Maybe it’s more fun to spend the day with kids because I have an immature sense of humor (anything related to *The Potty* cracks me up), and sixth graders usually laugh at my NOT-FUNNY-AT-ALL jokes.

For example:

Last week, student volunteers came up the teaching computer and showed the class how to navigate to various web sites by typing URLs in the address bar. (You would *not believe* how many struggling students lack this skill.) One student successfully demonstrated to the class how to get to, and one of the Latest News headlines projected up on the enormous library screen read “Dog Saves 91-Year-Old Owner from Deadly Gas” (see capture below).

I remarked to the class that my dog actually *HAS* deadly gas…and they about fell out of their chairs. (Middle schoolers make every day wonderful. Well, almost every day…)

In a related story, I accidentally cracked myself up this weekend. As I stirred a crockpot full of lentil soup, May Bee let a particularly “deadly” one rip on my shoes. Misha and I ran for our lives as I called out over my shoulder, “UGH! May Bee! No soup for you!”

“NO SOUP FOR YOU?!?” (HA! Get it? Season seven of Seinfeld?) I laughed hysterically…42 on the outside, but not on the inside…

More proof that the humor part of my brain is stuck in sixth grade--the “Poopsmith Song” has played on this laptop more than a hundred times. I can’t get enough of it.

Mele Kalikmaka,
the eternal adolescent

P.S. For more info on 91 year-old Rose Cappola and her noble terrier, see or .

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Be of good cheer!

Merry, MERRY Christmas!

This would melt even Scrooge's ice-cold heart...

Okay, this goes out to my friends Brian and Melanie, who live 2,000 miles away from each other (Texas & New Hampshire), but sent me nearly identical holiday questionnaires on the same day. (I blended them, added my own answers, and pasted below.)

Holiday Edition of Getting To Know Your Friends!

Welcome to the 2006 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends! You know the drill. Highlight, copy, and paste (not forward) and change my answers to your answers. Be sure to send back to me. Enjoy!! Everyone has time for a few moments of fun! Don't be a scrooge!!!

NAME: Kristy

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Sugar-free hot chocolate, baby!! And maybe a sip of my husband's spiked egg nog on Christmas Eve...

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He prefers gift bags he can’t spindle or mutilate...but when he DOES wrap, he bungles it *exactly* as bad as I do. Hmmm…

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? No lights on the house/white lights on the tree...but if I could ever afford strings of those colored bubble lights that used to decorate my childhood tree, we'd go retro in a heartbeat!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? HA! I have a tattered old ball of fake, plastic mistletoe I bought on eBay because it reminded me of the one my mother hung in my childhood. It came complete with a similar red elf perched on top, and I just hung it from the entryway chandelier yesterday.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Right after Thanksgiving. Usually.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? If my hips would let me, I'd consume nothing but stuffing and egg nog until New Year's Eve. (Oh, with the occasional handful of holiday green & red peanut M&Ms!)

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Going to bed and running down the stairs when we heard Santa's sleigh bells. (We "just missed" him every year!)

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? WHAT TRUTH about Santa? What are you implying?!? Because as long as he's not a cult leader, Communist, or cheating on Mrs. Claus, he's okay in my book…

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Just A gift? Try ALL gifts!

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I do it by myself, if Bethany's not here to help me. And I always put on my favorite version of _A Christmas Carol_ before I get started: the 1951 Alastair Sim version. (There is none higher. One reviewer on Amazon called it "the desert-island choice of the many versions," and it is THE favorite version of movie critics Leonard Maltin and Gene Shalit.)

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it! There aren't enough words to describe the love I had for snow while growing up in New Hampshire. (In my native Texas, however, snow comes in sideways. And stings. But I *still* love it.)

12. Can you ice skate? I took ice skating in college and got an A...but I'd probably break a hip if I tried now.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My yellow stereo with detachable speakers! I can't tell you how many times my record player spun the Fowler girls’ favorite record, _Summer of '72_!!!

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pie...either pumpkin or Jeff Davis.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Opening gifts on Christmas Eve...right after the kids "just missed" Santa and his sleigh as they passed over the neighbor's house.

17. Least favorite tradition? Fudge. I HATE fudge.

19. What tops your tree? A scary Santa that gives Bethany the creeps.

20. Which do you prefer: Giving or Receiving? Giving, hands down. I look all year for the perfect gifts...

21. What is your favorite Christmas Song? O Holy Night, Silent Night (ACTUALLY, ALL OF THE TRADITIONAL SONGS!)*

*This was Melanie's answer, and it suits me, too.

22. Candy Canes? Ick.

23. Favorite Christmas movie? See #10 where I gushed about my love for the 1951 Alastair Sim version of _A Christmas Carol_; this is the one I used to show my classes after we finished reading the shortened version of the novel that was in our HBJ Literature textbook. (It was the one shortened by Dickens himself for his public readings...back before we were all made stupid by TV. It took several hours to read aloud, and I'd give up egg nog forever if I could hear Dickens himself perform this masterpiece in person. They say Dickens sometimes used to faint afterwards because he would throw himself so fully into his dramatic readings...) Oh, and you can't beat those old Christmas specials like Frosty and Rudolph...although having Rudolph meet the Abominable Snowman in the Land of Misfit Toys is a little too '60s psychedelic and weird, isn't it? Kind of like that one crazy scene in the old _Willie Wonka_ movie where Gene Wilder recites that scary poem in the tunnel! What was Hollywood thinking? (Oh, well. At least they kept the comforting voice of folk singer Burl Ives so we weren't complete freaked out.)

24. Sending Christmas cards? I usually do, but I’m not so sure about this year. If I run into a bunch of time this weekend, maybe.

25. Any present you’re really hoping for this year? Peace on Earth. And a new washing machine.

Merry Christmas. God bless us, every one...

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Today, we had a snow day. I won't complain that AISD didn't cancel school until I was dressed WITH MY BOOTS ON and that my car had already been warming up for about thirty minutes...I'll just gratefully take the day off and put up all the Christmas decorations--after I finish playing with these adorable dogs.

Misha went PLUM CRAZY when she saw the snow, romping and cavorting like she was a puppy again. (May Bee just thought it was something new to eat and did her best to consume a yard full of the white stuff.)

We played basketball...

And tennis!

Every dog's favorite--"Fetch (and fight over) the Stick!"

And who can forget the Tug-of-War rope? (It was frozen solid until Misha warmed it up with her slobber...)

Oh, and Squishy Whiffle Football, too.

You don't see many Abilene weather reports where the meterologist can hold up a snowball!

Our front yard and icy intersection.

But the best place to be on a snowy, cold day is in your basket...

Off to whip up another sugar-free hot chocolate...and READ!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Karen's newest family member!

Check out my new "nephew"! Isn't he adorable?

Last night, Karen and I met a WONDERFUL lady in Weatherford who sold Karen a precious Golden Retriever puppy named Nemo. (Jury's still out on whether or not he *remains* Nemo.) Kate has done a wonderful job training him...he has impeccable manners! And check out the pure BLISS on my sister's face!

Everyone in the family loves him already, but Molly, in particular, is over the moon. This morning, she sat outside with him in the cold after his morning romp. He's a giant love sponge and just absorbs all the love and affection his new humans have to offer.

Christmas came early to Breckenridge, Texas...thanks to Kate, a.k.a. Mrs Claus!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Finally...Michigan pics.

The limo driver snapped this one!

If you look carefully, you'll see me working on my laptop...
and yes, I packed a mouse because I have a mouse addiction.
(Don't judge me.) :-)

Whee! I finally have some posts of Michigan to post, thanks to Sara Johns' generous offer to let us copy her Flickr pics.

BTW, I got to meet *Sara Johns* AND *J. Linda Williams*, y'all! Sara is shown in the photo above with the amazing UberLibrarian George Bishop. Sara is President Elect of the American Library Association's AASL division--the American Association of School Librarians-- and Linda was president last year.
(This is the equivalent of meeting Robert Plant for other people. Or Yo-Yo Ma. Or K-Fed, if you're weird.)

Michigan was fun and cold and beautiful and I GOT TO WEAR MY SCARF AND GLOVES and for the first time in my life, I'm really excited to watch a *televised* football game (I always get a little excited about the ones I attend in person, especially when it's my students or nephew on the field...or when my baby was in the CHS marching band!). Today at 2:30 is the Game of the Year between undefeated Michigan and undefeated Ohio State; last weekend, the whole town seemed to be gearing up for Game Day, and I think a little of the anticipation wore off on me!

Carbs ahoy!

Cheese curds are REAL! (And delicious.) I'd always considered cheese curds the "jackelope" of the food world because I'd *heard* about them, but had never actually seen them served...

Check out the high-tech conference room!

I can't tell you how cool and interesting this was...

Oh, and I didn't just come home with Game Fever, either...I'm sure I put on a few pounds after all the amazing food. ProQuest took great care of us...Zingermans and Bella Ciao are burned into the part of my brain reserved for Great Food Experiences. Oh, and the pizza at Cottage Inn? Possibly the best I've ever had...with golden sesame seeds toasted right into the buttery crust.

But the BEST PART of all was being able to attend the Library Advisory Board meetings of ProQuest...and not just because they served great coffee and had their own private pond and we were able to see Canada geese and ducks (and one heron!) come in for landings outside the conference room windows. Everyone was so smart and funny and creative and even if they never ask me back I don't was an honor and a half just to be asked! I'm insane crazy for eLibrary and have had an account, either a personal one or one provided by my school district, since about 1998 (back when they were owned by Infonautics!).

Bella Ciao, baby!

Our terrific waiter & bartender! We had the second floor to ourselves...

Bella, bella!

Ann Arbor was so cool. It even reminds its citizens to respect nature by not dumping waste into the city's ornate drainage grates...

What a wonderful weekend. Michigan rocked.

P.S. Run, do not walk, to see Will Ferrell's Stranger Than Fiction. Emma Thompson was amazing, as usual, and you will love it. (Look for the cameo by Tom Hulce, Mozart in 1984's Amadeus!)

***Update: Here's a snip of an email that came in about an hour before the game from my friend Cali Gonzales. (Remember that name...he's an amazing author who flew to Abilene to speak to my seventh graders two years ago. We're currently working on getting him back via Distance Learning!) He and his wife met while attending the University of Michigan...and the story of his entire South Texas family's trek to The Mitten State is one of the funniest I've ever heard!

Sandie is stuck in an inservice until 4, so she's missing the first half of the game. I told her I'd think of her at kickoff!

Pizza at the that brings back some memories. I think I'm the only cowboy you'll ever meet who had the grilled chicken/feta cheese pizza. It was great, especially when the north wind is blowing just outside the Inn. It's a good place to fall in love...

I think Michigan is the best place I've ever lived...that wasn't home.

Just so you'll know: I just sold a 2800 word feature to Sport Fishing magazine. If Texas Fish and Game is comparable to Texas Monthly, then you could say I just sold a story to Time.

So now I'm watching football and buying a copy of Sport Fishing magazine? What's next? Waders? A truck? Ammo? (Oh, hold on...I've actually purchased ammo...don't judge me!) :-)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Jiggety jig.

Home again! Happy to be back in Texas...even though Michigan was a blast.

Oh, and the food. The. Food. Today I had two of the best slices of pizza ever. (And yes, I'm including the Italian restaurant where I used to waitress in Shillington, Pennsylvania.) It *might* have even been as good as Victor Emmanuel's in Reading. Full details tomorrow!

Exhausted...and going to bed at 8:40 at night,

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ann Arbor, Baby!

Hey, y'all! I'm in Michigan!

The flights were uneventful (just the way I like 'em!), the limo ride was sweet, the hotel is beautiful, and I'm supposed to meet everybody in the lobby downstairs at 6:00 for dinner. (Oh, and I'm on Eastern time here, btw; good thing I found out before I arrived an hour late for dinner, wondering where everybody was!) :-)

Oh, and when I checked in, the Front Desk clerk handed me a goodie bag from the ProQuest company, complete with a little University of Michigan stuffed bear inside!

There's a pond with Canada geese right outside my hotel window, and it's supposed to SNOW tonight. (
Yippeee!!!!!) The Weather Channel just showed a national weather map, and it was snowing on The Mitten State.

Happy as a clam,

P.S. I'll post pics when I return...forgot the USB cable. Duh.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Two a.m. Friends

Tonight's sermon was about the healing of the man whose friends lowered him through the roof to Jesus...the only one who could forgive the man's sins & heal his body, too. If they had lowered him through the roof of any other house in the world, he would have remained bedridden.

And the preacher reminded us of the importance of close friends, too...not just friends who are a step above acquaintances, but real companions--"two a.m. friends" who will
come help you in the middle of the night, if you need it. Friends who will get you to Jesus in any way they can...and that you will carry back to The Great Physician, if they ever need it.

Oh, and we learned about the word "Hallelujah" and its meaning and its beauty and its use in the Bible.
And the hymns tonight were amazing. (Church tonight was beautiful, btw.)

And speaking of Two A.M. Friends, here's a picture of one of mine:

Oh, and here's a picture for my brother, who graduated from AHS:

And here are pictures for all the dog lovers in my family:

I leave Friday for Michigan...full details when (if) I return!

Your two a.m. friend in Texas,

P.S. Thanks, Mom & Dad, for TWO of my "two a.m." friends! :-)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Pocono Mountains...with the best family in the world!!

I had the best vacation of my life last week! We hiked, canoed, had a “Ladies Only” target shooting competition (my dad brought a .22 pump rifle & prizes), shopped, sang, played games, watched a family pictures slideshow & a great movie (Captain Corelli's Mandolin), got to see everybody at our old church, went to (my first-ever) karaoke...and ATE. And then ATE some more. (Followed by a dessert. Or two.)

Yeah, we definitely overdid it on the eating, but it was so tempting to be in Pennsylvania with all the foods from our teen years that we can't get in Texas (cheesesteaks, TastyKakes, apple cider & cider doughnuts, Gibble's chips, etc.). We went to the Shillington restaurant where I waitressed as a teenager (Paolo’s on Lancaster Avenue), plus we each took a night cooking dinner in the condo. (One COLD night, Russ made a roaring fire in the fireplace, whittled some long sticks, and we had S’mores.) We had wonderful family time every single evening!

(Do NOT let the paragraph above lead you to believe that we are Yankees; I was born in Texas to two native Texans. Just had to clear that up…)

Oh, and one night Dad treated everybody to a tasty dinner at Ye Olde Saylorsburg Inne (sic) in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania which you can see at . Their specialties are the homemade applesauce and “creamed cabbage” (think cole slaw!), but the eggplant parmigiana was yummy, too.

So many fun memories…we got to see Wesley and meet his girlfriend, Joelle. We went to a Cabela’s (my first time ever) and LOVED it. There aren’t words to describe “GARY-oke Karaoke.” Amanda Faye and I went to an Aquacize class. Once, Karen & I were seated in a tiny back room at Joe’s Hoagies in Wayne, Pa. (only three tables), and she gasped when she looked up and noticed that they had seated me *directly under* an ACU baseball cap. There were only about thirty caps in the room, and we thought it was so funny that A&M, UT, and my alma mater were all represented! When we were in line to pay, the owner told us that Tony Campolo himself had given him that hat!!

Karen and I also visited our old college campus (now a run-down School of Islamic Studies with “No Trespassing” signs everywhere…yikes), got lost in South Philly (and lived to tell about it), and tied for points in the shooting contest. (SHE WON, though, because she had TWO bullseyes, and I only had one. Annie Oakley, that girl!) Next to all the fun family time, though, the highlight of our trip was our canoeing expedition on the Delaware River. I wish you could have seen it…Karen & I were not so much Pocahontas & Minnehaha as Lucy & Ethel. My favorite part of the video taken from the river bank is when my 10 year-old niece, filming and narrating at river’s edge, announces to no one in particular, “They’re never gonna’ make it.”

BTW, Mom looked great and didn’t have to use oxygen once the whole week…quite a change from this summer when she had one concentrator for the house, portable oxygen tanks to carry over her shoulder, and a third machine for the airplane & car. Mom’s Virginia doctor is gradually reducing her steroids, protecting her with a flu and pneumonia shot as soon as she gets home, and keeping a close eye on her...especially as cold and flu season comes again. Another case of bilateral pneumonia could really set her back. (If you are the praying kind, please say a prayer of protection and health for my mom!)

I don’t have enough words to describe the magic of the week. Thank you to Kirsten for covering for me all week, my wonderful faculty who took up a collection which helped me buy Karen’s plane ticket, and to Mr. Beazley (and his calves) for the rental car. We had a Ford SUV instead of matching mopeds! :-)

Thank you, also, to Karen for being the ultimate traveling companion, and to my parents for the Poconos timeshare condo they have reserved the 41st week of the year…ever since 1978.

God has blessed me so richly. I am absolutely beaming!!!!