Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Making mesas out of mountains

Another redletter day in the Roxie-digs-herself-out-of-a-financial-pit saga. Another bill paid off. I'm down to two. They are still whoppers, but two. TWO.

I'm very grateful for the good financial fortune that has come my way. And I am grateful for the ability to squeeze a nickel to it screams, if I have to. I'm grateful for my gradual move away from consumerism into a phase where things and stuff don't matter as much to me. Learning that for me, things don't by happiness and sometimes lead to a more chaotic life, was a very valuable lesson indeed.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Take good care of your money.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

fruitbasket turnover

I came home from the Gulf all invigorated and stuff. And Sunday was my day to do whatever I wanted and I wanted to clean house and rearrange furniture. Bick and I spent the afternoon moving stuff just here and just over there and back to just here again. Bick just doesn't understand the magic and wonder of redoing your stuff!

Anyway, I'm really pleased with the changes which actually ended up to be the fainting couch and the love seat changing sides of the room, pulling the rug from under the barge and placing it under the loveseat, swapping out an end table for Bick's antique bedside table and placing it by the loveseat and hanging a picture. But I know that we moved damned near every piece of everything in the house from lamps to art work! I was exhilarated! Bick was annoyed! But we now have a den that looks much more finished than it did before and we didn't spend a single cent! Yet.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Rearrange your stuff.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

There will be peppers

The predicted bad weather didn't materialize overnight. It's raining, but nothing like the dire warnings heard over local weather reports. If it stops raining, I'm going to try to set out the tomato plants I bought yesterday. Bick has been trying to start tomato plants indoors for a couple of years, without much success. We've got a jumble of unknown pepper plants that will go into the garden to cross-polinate or cross-breed or do whatever peppers do - he didn't label any of his seedlings. All we know is that the tomatoes didn't make it and there will be peppers, of some ilk.

Got the edging in for the south bed, but didn't progress more than that. Spent time weeding the vegetable and flower beds and just generally walking around and deciding what we need to do next. We are always looking for ways to make our lives more low-maintenance. Bick's suggestion is to remove the walkway from the driveway to our patio and redo the other walkway to make it more substantial. This will accomplish a couple of things - it will cut down on the gravel that gets tracked into the house and it will make mowing easier, as it removes an oddly shaped island of grass that requires me to mow it with the push mower, rather than Bick's Tilt-O-Wheel of Mowing Machines. It all makes sense to me - I'm for less work. I do think that we've done a good job so far of getting a lot of bang for our outside efforts, both in dollars and time. And neither one of us is in any big hurry to make it perfect now. Maybe that's the key - be so lazy that you don't get into a big hurry about anything. The fine art of doing nothing.

Today demands some laundry be done or we will be going to work half naked.

And speaking of half naked - another reason why I absolutely adore Bick. Our weekend guests have gone home from the beach cabin and I'm out in a chaise lounger on the biggest deck in the world, reading a book. Bick asks me, "What can I do right now to make your life better?" (This might be reason number one - he pretty much dotes on me.) I asked him if he could please be my cabana boy and bring me an adult beverage. I go back to reading and watching the waves, and pretty soon I hear, "Miss Roxie, here is your beverage. I apologize for the lack of paper umbrellas, but I flunked origami class". I look up to see Bick prancing across the deck, carrying my drink on a tray and wearing a pair of my thong underbritches. Holy Shit. I laughed so hard that I was gasping for breath. Crazy, crazy man!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Uphill, both ways

Went for a run this morning -seemed like it was uphill, both ways! It did, however, feel good just to get it out of the way. The hardest part is that first step off of the porch.

We went to the Swap Meet yesterday - the largest collection of rusty car crap in the world, I believe. Bick felt he needed to do something to restore his masculinity after agreeing to the whole bicycle-built-for-two thingy. Funny thing was, there was an old tandem bike for sale. I'm threatening to go back and buy it :-)

Today is yard work - putting in a new foundation bed on the southside of the house. I lost all of my shrubs from last year for reasons unknown, so I need to dig those out, as well. All in all, it should be a nice day for it. Bad weather isn't supposed to hit until tonight. Speaking of bad weather, that tornado last week was about three miles as the crow flies from Reata South. Frightening. I bought them a storm radio, but I guess no tornado warnings were issued, according to the news.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Take the first step.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig

We got in yesterday afternoon from the best vacation ever - incredibly relaxing, lovely weather, nice accommodations and eating my weight in oysters! Oh, and being able to take the dog with us was just wonderful - I'm pretty sure SadieLu enjoyed herself as well.

The timing was wonderful - we had whole area nearly to ourselves. We did get neighbors over the weekend and although I did have some misgivings when four cars full of young-twentysomethings moved in next store (I'm so damn old!), they were great people - in town for the music festival just like us. We were all out on our deck as they unpacked and one of the guys came over and introduced himself and told me that he just wanted to warn us, that if we were too loud, that he would be forced to call the police! Hee!

I walked on the beach several times each day; played in the surf as the water was warm; read a couple of books and fulfilled a live-long wish of riding a bicycle built for two along the seawall in Galveston. Bick said he could feel his masculinity slipping away!

That's all for now.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Pedal.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vacation Prep

Stayed up too late last night watching King Corn, a documentary that I'd been wanting to see. Interesting film that attempts to tie the farm bills of the Earl Butz era (mid-1970's) to the current obesity, junk-food culture.

Today will be a clean-off-my-desk and clean-out-my-email-inbox day, followed by a luncheon and a talk given by the author of the Chyna Bayles herbal mystery books. Speaking of not-great-literature-that-I-like-to-read-anyway, I've got to go to the library to get a handful of books to read. One of our co-vacationers is a librarian, so I am looking forward to getting my book on, both in reading and talking about books.

I'll be away until nearly the end of the month. Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others while I'm away.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A fresh perspective

It started with a question. "How's Pebbles feeling?", he asked. And thus began the conversation that let me see the events of the weekend in a different light. "I think she's feeling somewhat better, she's joined a gym, she's working out and she, like me, is trying to find her way around our crazy family. She told me that she gets really angry at her grandmother for how she treats me."

And he said "So do I, but I've never seen anyone who will jump in front of a bullet the way you will. You, who I believe to be one of the smartest people I know, will do these things that are not in your own best interest."

And if I look at things from that viewpoint, all of this became more hell of my own making. They didn't ask me to buy them a new waterheater. They had a problem and they fashioned a solution that they could afford (a $20 element) and it would have been fine. Would this have been a long-term solution? No. Did it allow them to solve their own problem? Yes. Did I step in and create more work for Jeff and cost myself more money? Yes. I bought a new waterheater, got one of the best on the market and chances are, I will never use it. Me, carrying this debtload that I am, sacrificing to get myself out of another hell of my own making, dropped nearly 5 large, ttl out the door. And in the process, violated one of the tenets that Bick had helped me come up with - don't make any rash decisions. Always allow yourself 24 hours before doing anything. Give yourself enough time to come to a rational decision. But instead, I rode in and allowed myself to get wrapped up in other dramas and took away their ability to take care of themselves - which is something that I want for them. And I did this to myself, with such drive and purpose, than no one, not even Bick, could deter me.

I'm not whipping myself over this, but it is something that I need to watch out for. I need that pause for the cause. I need to honor the 24 hour rule; I need to allow my rational self time to kick in and overcome all of those habits and ways of being that have hampered me for decades.

The good news is this:

I haven't built a carport and I bought tickets to Washington for summer vacation. I'm staying 6 days.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Slow down for speed bumps.


Monday, April 14, 2008

boot camp

I'm off to bootcamp to blow off steam and to deal with some of the self-inflicted damage I did with emotional overeating over the weekend.

I'm also considering some visits to a pro to get some guidance on how to navigate these trecherous family waters without getting swamped and shipwrecked.

Weekend warriors

What a clusterfest, my weekend. I don't even know how to describe what happened and why. I'm still trying to assess my part of the blame and to try to learn where I made a misstep and how to avoid it in the future. I do feel like I ended up with most of the worst of it, but of course, that could just be my perception.

I'm writing this because I need a space to lay this all out and then work on moving past it. And I don't even know if hashing it out is good for me. What I want to do is let it go, put it behind me, learn where to shore up my defenses and boundaries and move forward.

It all started with a bad waterheater. Evidently since the plumbing problems of a few weeks ago, the upper element had burned out of the waterheater at Reata South. I just found out about it on Friday, when Mom told me that Bette's pseudo-boyfriend, driving in from Illinois to stay a day and half was going to fix it. I asked why they hadn't told me - response: "We didn't have the money to fix it ourselves and we didn't want Bick out there working on it. Jeff said he could replace the element". I asked if it would be easier just to replace the whole thing. Bette called Jeff and he agreed that if it was his, he would just replace it. I emailed Bick and asked him what he thought - he said he would just replace the element, if it wasn't leaking. I mulled this over and decided that I had someone who was offering to fix this and I had the money and it wasn't some middle-of-the-night emergency, so I made the decision to buy a new, energy efficient water heater. So I went out to Reata South to take measurements, etc to go buy a new waterheater.

Jeff was supposed to arrive early Saturday morning after driving 12 hours and the place was an absolutely mess. Bette was frustrated. Mom was pissed and they were sniping at each other, so I took Mom with me to buy a new waterheater. Oh, and on Friday night, the whole family was supposed to gather at the horseraces for Bette and Pebbles birthdays. Anyway, Mom got to waxing poetic about how wonderful Bubba was and I said, "well, he damned near killed me, with all his spending" etc (of course she totally sides with him "he can't help it"). And I reminder her of his porn addiction and how, since he was using my work stuff, that he could get me fired at worst, losing Pebbles' education, or humiliated at best. Her response was "men will be men". She then told me that I was so much happier then and I said I've never been happier and more stress free than I am right now. And she said that "Of course you are happier, you are away from your family and you have no responsibilities at all and Bick keeps you to himself and of course you are happy". This was not said in a kind nor loving tone. Then she launched into how Pebbles never calls, never sees her, thinks she's too good, etc. Most of which is true, sadly.

Anyway, this crap went on and on and on and on. Then we get to the races and I don't know what happened, as Bette and I were standing in a long, long line to buy food, but return just in time to hear Pebbles tell my Mom that she was senile and Mom call Pebbles a bitch. At that point, I just got up and left.

So the next day, Bette calls and Jeff is replacing the waterheater and it turns out to be a bear. I tell them they can back out of this and just replace the element. Meanwhile, Bick is being an absolute dick about all of it, pissed that I didn't take his advice. I told him, in probably the sharpest manner that I've ever addressed him, that he didn't have a dog in this fight, it wasn't his time, and it wasn't his money, it wasn't his place and that I had made a decision and perhaps it had turned out wrong but to just back the fuck off. (Finally got that mess all untangled on Sunday and we are okay, but jesus christ on a cracker.)

Pebbles called on Sunday and I talked to her about her behavior and setting limits and not getting sucked in. She talked about her negative feelings towards her grandmother and that she could not have a caring and loving relationship with her after the dramatic blowup they had about four years ago, when Mom called Pebbles every name in the book - it was really the first time that Pebbles had been the recepient of the kind of crap I dealt with for years and years. And as to Pebbles, I'm kind of in a quandry - I've told her that she needs to decide if she wants any kind of relationship with her grandmother and that she is never going to change her, and that if she can't accept her for what she is, that no one benefits from their exchanges. I'm certainly not trying to excuse Mom, she is what she is, either find a way to deal with it that leaves you sane or leave it alone. Just be able to live with your decision long term.

So there it is. And holy crap, I'm just beat down.

Friday, April 11, 2008

When it rains, it pours

More plumbing woes at Reata South. It's time to replace the waterheater. It's still good - the timing is convenient and I can afford it. A big thanks to the universe for waiting until now.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Home Alone

While reading some inspirational blogs this morning, a thought returned to me that I'd had last week, when just by happenstance, I managed to have a morning at home alone, after Bick left for work.

While I do love my new work schedule and what it does for my productivity at work and the fact that it eases my commute in both time and frustration, I miss having time alone in my own home. I miss caring for me and my home without interuption.

I may need to adjust my schedule a little bit, perhaps one day a week where I get some time at home, alone.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. But mostly be kind to yourself.


Not all progress is linear

I keep telling myself that not all progress is linear, and it's certainly not linear when it comes to people, relationships or losing weight, for that matter. Last night, Sandy came over for, as she put it, a "good daughter" dinner. Bick had talked to her about how he wanted their relationship to be - that he would love for her just to come over for dinner through the week, without any real reason, just drop in to say hey on her way to somewhere else. So, it looks like she's trying a bit. And any effort on her part puts Bick on cloud nine.

We spent some time planning our trip next week to the coast, getting her input on the menus and snacky items she'd like to have available for her and her friends. She seems really excited about going and Bick was clear, but kind, about our expectations on this being a self-serve type vacation. She seemed really cool about it. We'll see. I've decided to be cautiously optimistic.

Ate a little too much sushi last night, but it was very good. Big, bad Texas spring storms jolted me out of bed at 3am and there was not much sleep to be had after that blew through. I don't think we sustained any damage; we'll have to take a closer look at the roof in the daylight. Anyway, we were damned lucky.

I've got to shop for Bette's birthday present tonight, if she'll give me some idea of what she'd like. She's so damned hard to buy for. The family birthday party (Bette and Pebbles) will be Friday night at the horseraces. Should be fun. Bick won't get to go as his sister is coming through town to stay with us on her move to south Texas, but my ex and his wife will be there. I need to be sure and tell Bick, not that he cares, but just so he knows.

I'm going to restorative yoga today. I don't know that I'll do anything but lay on my mat and breath deeply. It may be all I can do today.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Restore yourself.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weary Wednesday

Slept hard last night until about 3am. Then had anxiety dreams complete with babies! Oh my. Lovely day yesterday, beginning with attending a breakfast lecture on gender and politics and ending with a Texas spring evening on the patio with good friends. Doesn't get much better than that.

Nothing much on tap for today, just trying to treat myself well, eat right, get a little exercise in and spend a few minutes being centered and grateful.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Not so much

Calves knotted up like nobody's business and legs were leaden. I couldn't make running take me back.

I'm having a hot, sweaty makeup run

Just like this.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I absolutely adore the new love/hate running commercials. I've seen a couple of them and they stopped me dead in my tracks. Whoever created those know of what she speaks. I was so busy nodding my head in agreement that I failed to notice exactly what it is the commercial is hawking, but whatever it is, I'll buy it.

Secret sauce

If you haven't planned a thing for dinner and you come in worn out from a glorious spring day outside of yard and garden work, here's a down-and-dirty dinner hack that turned out really good.

Take the leftover spinach dip, the kind from FritoLay, that comes in a jar. Add a little fresh garlic to the saute pan, a little onion and the remainder of the dip. Cut it with some chicken stock - low sodium, because it's salty enough already, throw in a few fresh herbs and let it sort of cook down. Add a (very few) capers at the end and serve over pasta, or in my case, steamed cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Yummy and on the table in the time it takes to cook Bick's pasta.

Good weekend, complete with beautiful weather. We got the Cadillac out and got it cleaned up and photographed. It's going online for sale today. Bick's bummed about it, but he doesn't drive it enough to warrant keeping it.

I worked in the vegetable garden - doing some weeding. I planted our okra, after we finally managed to find seeds at the third or fourth place we tried and filled in the spots where the peas didn't appear to be germinating. We didn't get around to putting in the new foundation bed on the south side of the house, but we did get it marked out and measured. Next weekend, if the weather holds.

I washed and detailed Mitzi last evening - it was just too wonderful a day to let it end without wringing every last ounce of excuse to be outside. I've grown a bit lax in keeping Mitzi up - something I vowed not to do. But when you live on a gravel road and park at a construction site at work, it's an uphill battle it seems, but it's one that I need to improve on.

On the-size-of-my-ass-front, I ran for about 5 miles on Saturday and it felt pretty good. Hips and calf muscles squalked about it later. I was very happy and surprised to find that my shorts from last year seemed to fit a little better than they did when I last wore them. I don't know if there's any difference on the scale, as I gave up weighing, but I'm okay with all of it.

Suz, you are just about the funniest thing wagging about - Twister, my ass!

And Zeut, just want to know if you are doing okay?

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Pay attention to details.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Next up: The weekend

I'm attending a play tonight, followed by dinner with a couple of friends. Poor Bick will have to contend with leftover chicken. Tomorrow I'm going to run for a bit, weather permitting, and then, again, weather permitting, we are going to begin the work of putting in an additional foundation planting bed around the house and working in yard. Things are growing like gangbusters and it's hard to keep up.

There's more family drama for everyone right now and I'm determined not to dwell on any of it. There is not one piece of it that I can change. The fine art of doing nothing. Practice it.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Practice lawnmower meditation.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just three things

In my never ending search for an anchor in this life, here is the latest in the list of the stuff I've tried. I try to begin each day taking a few minutes for three things - three things for which I am grateful, three things that I need to do to "treat me right" today and three things that are the most important for me accomplish at work today.

I'm really seeing the most benefit of this new way of organizing my priorities in my work. It seems to be helping me reduce the overall clutter and chaos that sometimes happens during stressful time at work. I seem to be better able to focus on what I need to do and to give these priorities the full(er) attention that they need. The results and returns have been immediate. Rather than feeling like I am rushing through each task with a lick and a promise, I've been really spending the time and fully engaging in the task. The task itself becomes important rather than just being something to knock off of my todo list. As a result, I'm doing better work by more fully devoting myself to a task and I'm getting better results - both from myself and from my developers, with whom I've been a bit disappointed. Interesting to see how a small change in focus on my part can help what I thought was a completely external issue.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Immerse yourself.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Point of View

Spent my earlier morning minutes with Rodney. Truly is a great way to start the day. I need to be more regular with my practice. Spent a long time talking with Bick last evening. It's evenings like that which are the lynch pin of our relationship - just hanging out in the kitchen and catching up on our day(s).

While I was in Belton with my sister, he had gone down to Cypress to unload his oldest sister's moving truck at his Mom's house. It's a long story, but the crux is that most of his family which used to live in the Amarillo/Canyon area is now moving to Cypress - also known as Pleasantville, according to Bick. He had a wonderful time visiting his 84 year old mother, who while is generally in good health, seems to have some trouble keeping "the sugar diabetes" in check. She's passed out twice in last weeks, and the family made the decision to take her car away. Bick says she seems just fine with that and when her oldest daughter makes her move in a couple of weeks, things should be set.

Bick also learned that Sandy has been inviting people to the beach house left and right! He told her she could bring a couple of friends - Bick has uncovered 7 people that she has invited - don't know how many will show up, but Bick and I had a talk last night about what MY expectations are for my vacation - and they don't include being the sole chief cook and bottle-washer. He completely agreed. I just wanted to manage everyone's expectations. Sandy and her crew are not checking into the Roxie-Hilton! I'll make sure there is plenty of food and drink available, but the Beachy-Keen will be a self-serve establishment and clean-up is expected. I may choose to engage a bit more while we are there, especially if adults show up, but I will make that decision at the time.

Tonight I'm attending a panel discussion hosted by CBS newsman Bob Schieffer. I've gone to the last several of these annual events and they are always interesting. Bob got his start in Fort Worth as a newspaper reporter - and got his big break during the JFK shooting when Oswald's mother called the local paper to get someone to take her to the Dallas jail where Oswald was being held. Cub reporter Schieffer just happened to answer the phone.

Back to the Guy situation - Bick's advice was that perhaps we both had a bad day and just be available for Pebbles. Our communication is pretty good and so I think I can talk to her about HER happiness and leave Guy out of it. Jill, I agree with you - I don't want there to be tension between Pebbles and I, but your Marks' excuse won't hunt for Guy. He's 38 years old, too old to be immature. Both Guy and Pebbles are going through an adjustment period and I hope that I am completely and totally wrong. Although since posting yesterday, I remembered a conversation that Pebbles had with a friend of hers who told Pebbles that she thought Guy was very condescending towards her. So perhaps I'm not the only one. I just have to trust that Pebbles will call bullshit if she sees it and will either, one, work with Guy to fix this, or two, pack her stuff and move on. It's her call, but I've got her back.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Find a good ledge-talker-offer.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Pebbles

Today is Pebbles' 25th. I had pre-show dinner with she and Guy and I'm going to have to try harder to remain neutral on him. I've always thought that he was good for her, but after last night, I can't say that I'm sure of that any longer. And it was nothing overt, nothing egregeious he said or did, but rather what he didn't say and what he didn't do.

I know that they/she are going through some adjustments to finally, formally living together. He's never had a live-in (red flag?), and so I know that it's been a while since he's shared his space with anyone and I know personally that it's an adjustment. It's just that he seemed so negative about everything - the house, the neighbors, the neighborhood, the grocery stores, just damn near everything, and like it was everyone else's fault that things in the O.C. aren't like they were in Austin. What was running in the back of my mind was that these people, things, neighbors, neighborhood, grocery stores were HERE when you chose to move in. If you are unhappy, then you made a series of bad choices. You bought in a neighborhood that doesn't make you happy and then you chose to overbuild and then the contractor you chose was bad and now you are left with a half-finished addition in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with neighbors you can't seem to stand. And I learned all of this in about ten minutes.

And then there's Pebbles. She appears to be having a quarter-life crisis (Pebble's crisis/drama/discontent happens with regularity, so I'm used to those) and she's gaining some weight and seems to be sort of unhappy. She wanted some new clothes, so I took her shopping for her birthday. She chose to wear one of her new dresses (that I picked out but had already told me that Guy doesn't like) and his response when she appeared ready to leave for the show - "Oh, you are wearing that?"

Mom-mode came over me like the Incredible Hulk and before I knew it, I was saying, "Guy, I think the appropriate response is, Pebbles, you look nice." I really don't have any ego in the dress choice - she wouldn't have selected it from the eleventy-billion things she tried on if she didn't like it, but goddamn, I wanted to maim the arrogant motherfucker. This does not bode well.

And I'm aware of the irony of this situation - I'm living with Bick, whom by all accounts, neither my Mother nor sister likes very much. They really just don't get me/us/the relationship. But Bick is kind and supportive and I am beginning to wonder if Guy is. And I also wonder what, if anything, I should do with these thoughts?

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Be good for others.