Friday, June 29, 2007

This one's for Karen...

...the Texas version of Francis of Assisi when it comes to dogs and hummingbirds!







Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Happy National Columnist's Day!



The NPR calendar KACU gave me for helping with this spring's Pledge Drive hangs proudly on my bathroom wall...or...well, at least it has ever since the "Men of Texas Libraries" seemed just a little too naughty and had to come down (even though ALL of the male librarians are clothed and calendar sales raised money for a good cause!).

So, anyway, today the NPR calendar informed me that it's National Columnist's Day which got me to thinking...who's my favorite columnist? Is it a stretch to say Anne Lamott is a columnist even though she no longer writes her "Word by Word" column for Salon.com?

Oh, who cares? If anyone needs celebrating, it's Anne Lamott. She and Haven Kimmel make our lives better, plain and simple. But since Kimmel has never been a columnist (and since I've gushed about her on this blog before), feel free to sample for yourself Ms. Lamott's way with words. And it doesn't hurt that the link for this story is about one of humankind's most favorite subjects: DOGS.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fandangled

Recently, May Bee (who has never done a naughty thing in her life...HA!) chewed the gas tubing off of Mike's barbecue grill. So, after our Saturday morning walk/run, the dogs both received yummy new compressed rawhide bones from Jackson Brothers (supposedly safer than regular bones or rawhide) that was supposed to keep them busy for a while. Feeling much better about May Bee's chances of living through the weekend, I hit the highway for an evening of Aunt Duty.

After picking up our Fandangle tickets (for the "oldest outdoor theatrical performance in Texas"), we toured the Shackleford County courthouse. Houston is up at the very tippy-top of this BEAUTIFUL, old, creaky wooden staircase!


The Freeman Family Players present Inherit the Weird.

We love Dyess Air Force Base...and are so thankful for brave men like our Grandpa and uncles and Albany native William Dyess!

Dr. Konczak, one of the best teachers at Madison, was there in period dress. Don't say "costume!" (In the words of Basil Fawlty, "I said it once, but I think I got away with it!")

Houston cracked corn...and Hannah didn't care. (Stole that joke from Karen.)

We felt so sorry for the poor reenactors in their WOOLEN cos...er...period dress. It wasn't as it could have been or as hot as it usually is, but it was still June in Texas. They fired the cannon every half hour and fired their muzzleloaders, too, for the enthusiastic crowd.

That evening, just before sundown, it was time for...

FANDANGLE!

These kids are so great, and I love them SO MUCH! If, God forbid, their parents can not fulfill their parental responsibilities for some reason, they can always count on Aunt Kristy...

This picture doesn't show how fast the riders were going! One time, about twenty horsemen did a flying full-field, criss-cross, high speed maneuver where they missed each other by inches and the crowd gasped like we were watching the Blue Angels!

Hmm...Houston and I were a little nervous about being this close to longhorns that were rounded up from the back. (A ring of cowboys on horses kept them from running backwards into the brush, but NOTHING seemed to be keeping them fom running into us, however.) We were scoping out the exits, just in case, throughout this whole section of the play, but it turned out to be perfectly safe and one of our favorite parts!

As for the play itself...well...it was good and we all liked it...but the production could have used the help of the Freeman Family Players. (The kids told me later that the best part of their evening was the tractor ride from the parking lot to the theater!)

Oh, and thank goodness for Eagle Eyes Houston, who found the car in the dark sea of cars after the play ended. It was scary and dark and that place was PACKED!

Then, this morning at church we heard another great message from Brother Riddlehoover. I'm ordering the sermons from the last two weeks from the church secretary tomorrow. (Sure wish Dad's church taped the sermons...I'd buy them all!!!)

And finally, this dog is so great, and I love him SO MUCH! If, God forbid, his family can not fulfill their parental responsibilities for some reason, he can always count on Aunt Kristy and his new cousin, May Bee...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Raised eyebrows...

...are what you get when you do a mile and a half at the park with one dog and then the second mile and half with a different dog!

After a great walk/run with May Bee, I went home and swapped dogs. (Listening to Misha cry from the backyard when I left the house with May Bee was just too heartbreaking.)

The FUN part: Sharing the joy with both of my babies and the puzzled looks of those who had complimented my black dog on the first lap.

The NOT-SO-FUN part: To avoid having to listen to Misha's crying and whining as we drive to the far side of the park, I've started parking at the closest lot to my house...the one near what I generously call "The Grove."

Well, The Grove is home to some of the meanest mockingbirds in Abilene, and while Kirsten and I laughed and laughed the other day watching a squirrel get dive-bombed, it wasn't so funny when they did it to May Bee & me!

EVEN WORSE, when they came after Misha (yes, I parked there again, but thought they would leave us alone if we didn't cut through the grass), one of them left a "calling card" on her back, if you know what I mean. ICK!

Next Saturday morning, I hope to walk and run the 5K in Albany! Maybe Molly, the runner in Karen's family, will join me...it's only $10 for kids!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

YouTubesday

Did you hear that great story this morning on NPR's Morning Edition?


The one about the uncle who made the playlist for his niece's wedding? Great list, sweet music...and even though it was a little modern for my taste and didn't have any Peter Maffey, you should check it out.


One of the classic songs on Mr. Thompson's playlist (you may want to get a tissue handy)




And here's one NOT included on his list that gave me *goosebumps* the other day:
"So Bist Du" by Peter Maffey on Hit Parade

Happy listening!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Lessons my father taught me...

You know where you're supposed to be on the Lord's Day. Get there.

And Monday night church volleyball, and Tuesday Ladies' Bible Class, and Wednesday night prayer meeting, too. And if there's a Saturday church work party, bring your gloves and elbow grease and a big smile and that Fowler work ethic...the more, the merrier!
(We put the PARTY in Work Party.)


Be brave. Even when things are scary, be brave.
(Here he is on police detail, still guarding the house that was bombed in the middle of the night.)





Be thrifty. Reload your own ammo.
("Girls, we're going to play a game. You know how you like collecting shells at the beach? Well, this is a game you play at the range. I like to call it Collecting USEFUL Shells!"


Love your children...and not just the two cute ones...but even the funny-looking one with flat feet and a lazy eye.


Sometimes you need to blow off a little steam. The armory is good for that.

Take turns. And protect your ears.

Go camping.
Camp Gander Brook and Camp Manatawny are good for body...and soul.


Be a public servant. If you CAN say yes to someone's request, then say yes.
(Here's Dad's Boy Scout troop.)


Have fun! Don't be afraid to sail through the air over the top of a snowbank or Grandpa's snowmobile ramp...but wear a helmet if your noggin is worth protecting.

Don't be conceited...even if God blessed you with good looks.


Earn your food...


...with a muzzleloader you built yourself.

(I have yet to take him up on that last Life Lesson.)


HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, DAD!

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Makin' bacon.

My two favorite foods are Granny Smith apples and bacon. (Weird, I know.) Inspired by Sarah Stirman's Recipe Swap, here is my favorite way to make bacon.


*Preheat oven to about 385 (doesn't need to be precise).
*Line a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with heavy duty foil (no clean-up later!). Lay single strips of bacon across the pan and...this is important...always make extra. Folded-up cooked bacon strips (kept in a Baggie in the meat drawer) are great to have on hand later for sandwiches and/or quick breakfasts for DAYS.

*Bake for about 15 minutes or so. Tilting the pan with a pair of all-metal tongs or some other oven-safe utensil lets all the bacon fat drain to one end of the pan...I *always* do this and would recommend it. See pics below.

You can't tell from the pics, but the tongs need to be set near the edge of the pan closest to the oven door so that the fat drains away from the bacon...and YOU.

*After the fifteen-minute timer rings, I keep an eye on 'em while setting the table, pouring an extra cup of coffee, getting out the cereal boxes, etc. because cooking time really depends on the brand/quality/thickness of the bacon.

*Carefully remove the bacon from the oven, maintaining the same angle of tilt, so the fat doesn't wash back over the bacon. You can drizzle the drippings over your dog's kibble (DO NOT TELL our vet that I do this!!) or drain it into a bacon drippings container (ick) or do what I do...after the bacon is placed on a paper-towel lined plate, I just leave the pan on the counter until the drippings harden into a white coagulated solid. At that point, I wad up the foil and throw the Fat Ball into the trash. Then I stick the STILL CLEAN pan back in the pantry! Squeee!

Benefits of baked bacon: Everyone's bacon is ready at once. You don't have grease spots all over the stovetop and/or burned hands and arms from exploding grease pops. You don't have to wash anything. The bacon is crisp and perfect and brown and didn't stew in its own fat.

And it makes my dogs smile. :-)

Speaking of dogs, it's nearly time to meet Jaeger and his family in the park. Today will be the first time Jaeger and May Bee meet as grown-ups. May Bee attended the Bush Family's 4th of July picnic, but she spent most of the day in my arms, away from the frantic activity of Misha and Jaeger. (This was the day that Jason tried to keep her from running into traffic, and she squealed like a little piglet to get to her Mommy! What a sweet memory...it was the first time she demonstrated that she knew exactly who I was...)




UPDATE: While we were at the park today, Kirsten reminded me that Jaeger and May Bee walked together once in November (back when I still walked both dogs on the "splitter" leash I gave up using on May Bee's first birthday). Here's a pic from that November walk.

And here's a snapshot of TODAY'S Red Bud Park excursion. Kirsten had the camera turned off when May Bee surprised us all by jumping into Prairie Dog Town. (Scamp!)

Thank goodness for the Gentle Leader! May Bee wasn't able to spindle or mutilate a single prarie dog. In fact, she was only over the wall for a few seconds, but it was long enough to teach me to grip the leash a little tighter. For the full story, head to Kirsten's blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

YouTubesday



You know how everything's funnier when you're sleepy? One time, Bethany and I laughed until we cried over Taco Town.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A nice coincidence

So a few hours after posting a comment on an old blog post at http://sarahstirman.blogspot.com/ about her quoting Hebrews 12, I go to my page at myway.com...to find that it's the daily Bible verse of the day!



The reason I was going to myway.com was to look at tonight's TV grid to see what time the Brian Regan special is coming on...he's one of our family's all-time favorite comedians...hope you catch his show tonight on Comedy Central!

UPDATE: Karen, I found a blank video so I'll start taping Comedy Central as soon as Napoleon Dynamite is over and Brian Regan comes on. (There just aren't words, btw, for how much I love Napoleon and his "cake building" friend, Pedro. And this music. And that one farmer. Uncle Rico turns my stomach, but Tina and Deb are so cool...)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

In the mood for some art?

Enjoy! From eggman913...500 years of female portraiture in Western Art...


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Warning: Long vacation post ahead...

Thank you, Bethany, for one terrific weekend!

Bethany's decision to become a flight attendant has been a pretty exciting one. She's called her mama from the observation deck of the Sears Tower in Chicago and from the airport in Palm Beach and from seaside hotel rooms in Corpus Christi and Norfolk and lots of other unexpected locales at crazy times of day. (She says that I'm the only person she can safely call at 4:45 in the morning, and since our cell-to-cell calls are FREE, we can talk as much and as often as we like. What a luxury!!)

And this weekend, she got me two Buddy Passes so I could visit my parents! My mom was recently diagnosed with dermatomyositis (which although troublesome--especially when paired with her lung problems--isn't as fatal as the diagnosis she was given last summer!), and my dad is recovering from a horrible car wreck. Although they're both weaker than usual and moving a little slower than they're used to and Mom's left-side body swelling is kinda' weird and Dad's bruises are pretty SPECTACULAR, it was a real comfort to see them in such good spirits. They're happy and doing good work in the church in Schuyler and people care for them, really CARE about them, and it puts my mind at ease a little bit. (Karen and I feel so helpless and far away down here, and we just can't stand it sometimes!)



AISD's mandatory staff development ended on Thursday at 4:00 p.m., and about ten hours later (1:18 on Friday morning), my car left Abilene for DFW. Talk about a nice surprise--at 3:30 a.m., Falisha called and suggested that I park my car at her house instead of paying for parking at the airport! She assured me that she wasn't sleepy a bit and wouldn't fall asleep after dropping me off at the terminal so I agreed. What a treat! Even though I was sad that her own travel plans fell through (she was supposed to be on a June 1st Buddy Pass from Bethany, too, but her FedEx envelope never came), it was so lovely to get to see her and hug her and get TO THE DOOR service at the airport instead of riding the remote parking lot shuttle. What a lovely surprise.

And then the craziness started. Flying stand-by is a whole other travel adventure. You have no idea if you can get on the plane or not...talk about suspense! The thrill of travel is kicked up a notch, to be sure. When I was bumped from the 7:30 flight out of DFW, I was stranded there for nine hours (checked in at 4:50 a.m. and didn't leave until 2:45 p.m.). It's like schizophrenia. Or gambling. Just getting YOUR seat in A seat is a little victory!

And since Bethany works for a shuttle service instead of a major airline, you have to catch a lot of little flights instead of going somewhere directly...which means more places you can get hung up. Instead of taking two planes like I usually do when I fly from Texas to N.C., I flew on five planes and landed in airports I've never seen before, like Norfolk.

Also, you can only ride shuttles operated by that company so even though US Airways has other flights to your location WITH SEATS OPEN, you aren't eligible to ride them. The hard part is getting the gate agents NOT to put you on non-Republic flights. Over and over I had to remind them to only look for flight numbers operated by Bethany's shuttles. (One agent went ahead and, trying to be helpful, issued me US Airways tickets directly to Philly without asking me, and surprised me with them. I was just heartsick when I had to turn them down, reminding her that my daughter's Buddy Pass only works on Republic and Chautauqua flights. She was so cool about it, though, and laughed it off. She tore off the travel coupons and started over, even though there was chaos all around us...lines of harried passengers, angry people who had exceeded their checked baggage allowance, people who had missed their flights, a frozen computer that was giving two other check-in agents fits, people hugging and crying as they said their goodbyes...pure, unrestrained craziness. I don't know how the airline folks work under all that stress.)

And what a whirlwind of fun once I arrived...Russ, Amanda Faye, Taylor, and I did a whirlwind tour of Greensboro on Saturday--the Historical Museum where I used to work (and where I received a hug from the esteemed Betty K. Phipps, who was there for a special Saturday kids' program!) and my favorite consignment store (The Clothesline), and lunch at Jack's (tabouli and hummus and baba ghanouj and falafel and gyros--YUM!)!

Then it was off to Schuyler in Amanda Faye's car, graciously lent to me for the weekend. I stopped at a highway produce stand near Lynchburg for fresh fruit & veggies, picked strawberries at pick-your-own Seaman's Orchard in Roseland, and ordered take-out from our favorite Thai place, Thai Siam on Route 56 in Arrington. (Get the beef larb and ask for it "Thai hot," if you want to cry and sweat!)

Next was a lovely weekend with Mom and Dad and Dolly. (I'm going on eBay to find a leash that soft!) We just stayed at home and enjoyed each other's company and good food. Plus, they get an amazing NPR station with a blues program Saturday night that Dad and Dolly and I enjoyed while Mom ran down to the building to run off the church bulletin. Sunday was just a lovely Lord's Day--Schuyler Baptist Church homecoming! A thoughtful Sunday School class from a Christian paleontologist who doesn't believe that evolution and the Bible are at odds with each other, a wonderful sermon from a friend of Dad's, hymns that made Mom and me choke up, old-time gospel music from the Little Mountain Boys (I bought a CD!), and an abundance of delicious food afterwards. (Oh, and about ten minutes before church, I found out that I was on the program doing the Scripture reading! Yikes!) Sunday was so special and was topped off by a visit with my dear friend Margaret, and a ride back to Charlotte with Amanda Faye. (What a pistol!)


It was a wonderful weekend with LOTS of fun and NOT A LOT of sleep. With the exception of Bethany and Karen's family, I got to see and hug almost everyone I love best...Falisha, Taylor and her mom, Russ, Amanda Faye, Mom, and Dad!

Thank you to everybody who made this weekend possible! Summer School starts tomorrow, and I'm not crying because actually feel like I've been on my summer vacation already! :-)