Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Our weather, although we had a few chilly spells, is still nice enough to produce Four O'Clocks every afternoon. Early this week we had a low temperature of 34 one night, so the trees in the alley, near the "butterfly house", look like this.

However my studio is preparing to play for several Christmas programs, three of which are actually in November. So all day for three weeks I have heard Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, etc. My "season sense" is a little confused.

It happened so quickly

We've had more rain than usual and I decided to buy leather conditioner for my good smooth leather shoes to waterproof them. I had very little time today, but after teaching three students, receiving mail and another shipment, I drove to the bank, to Wal Mart, and to the famous local bootmaker's shop, James Leddy Boots. James died young a few years back. His family had their membership at the same church where Nannie and Dubbie went to church for the past 60+ years. Nannie is still there most Sundays. But I digress. Sort of.

I was mostly thinking about getting in, out, back home for a very fast lunch before teaching another four hours when I ran into the shop to buy the leather conditioner. It happened so quickly that I had no defense, no warning, no recourse, and no words. The smell. The soft, velvety, smell of leather being cleaned, worked, and lovingly designed into boots overwhelmed me with memories of Daddy's barber shop and the shoe shine stand that was in every shop where he worked. When I was a little girl Buddy was the "shiner" and he always called me Miss J. The deacon's bench from the shoe shine stand is still in my parents' house. Daddy would take my shoes to Buddy for a special shine now and then. I could still hear the sounds of rags slapping on leather and soft whistling in the background. And then, I suppose to break the reverie, I blurted out to the man who rang up my sale, "Is there anyone here who still remembers Dubbie?" And there was. And she said again, along with the man, how sorry they were that he passed away last year. I thanked them and took my little bottle to the car and just burst into tears. It wasn't their comments at all. It was that divine smell.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Friday through Sunday Muffin and I were blessed to spend time with the Rowdy Girls. All three of them. Their Daddy/Hubby is on an extended assignment, so CB loaded up, and I do mean loaded, her SUV with girls, dogs, and gear for all and headed for our house. The photos aren't too terrific, but we were playing, not being photographers. CB spent a couple of hours Friday at our favorite salon getting a beautiful hair cut, shampoo, and....ahem.... coloring those one or two not so brunette hairs. Meanwhile, Grandpa and Marmee snuggled and took the girls for spins in the barber chair. Dubbie did a great service when he gave me one of his chairs many years ago. This chair has lived in California and Texas--five houses in all. Many children and grandchildren like to perch on the footrest, watch movies or TV shows and take a twirl.
Roo in the seat. Em on the footrest. Grandpa doing the twirling. (The angelic light over Roo's head is not a halo, although it could be. Rather, it is the light through the window in our front door.)

Em snuggling with CB

Saturday CB spent an hour with our favorite massage therapist. We watched dancers on YouTube and colored on a big tablet that Grandpa bought at Mardel. He cooked pancakes that morning and the RG's ate lots of them. I played the violin for them and every time I stopped, Em would say "Try Again!". I have five rehearsals and five concerts ahead of me this week, so I'll be trying again and again and again, get the point.

Roo Reading

This is a familiar sight with every visit. Roo loves to read. She has such a mind for analyzing words that when we watched a Sesame Street podcast with the Word on the Street as "glockenspiel" about five hours later she spelled the word from memory. Of course we think both girls are the smartest three year olds in all the world.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Scooter can count to two!

Every morning when I take my vitamins and calcium I give Scooter two pills--one for his liver function and one for arthritis pain. The pain med is tasty to him. He gets half a pill and just takes it from my hand like a treat. The liver function med is a slick tablet with no taste and I coat it with peanut butter or cheese dip for him. This morning he was lazy and I was out of time, so I just gave him the pain med and ran out the door to my Bible study. When I got home I had very little time for lunch before my first student arrived, so I skipped the pill. All afternoon Scooter came in the studio, looked at me curiously, and offered his paw. He would wander out into the foyer or living room, look back at me and stare. This process repeated for no less than four and a half hours. Finally, with the last students out the door I gave him the peanut butter coated pill. He has almost ignored me since then. He obviously knows how to count to two.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Welcome to the family!

Meet P. Let's call her "Precious" for now. Muffin and I are sponsoring her through our church, which has accepted responsibility for 30 girls and 2 little brothers living in a special home. Doesn't she have a beautiful smile and lovely eyes? She is learning English, hearing about Jesus, and being loved by house parents and school teachers. Life is much better for her now. Will you pray for her?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beeyootiful Butterflies!

Our town is on the migratory path of the Monarch butterflies and every Fall we see hundreds of them in our neighborhood. But yesterday, the day after a cold front had blown in from the north, we saw this scene in our alley.

The house directly behind ours has a number of low hanging branches on some oak and mesquite trees and the Monarchs used them as a hotel, a campground, a rest stop, whatever. Look closely. You can barely distinguish the butterflies from the leaves in some of the photos. Look also for those who have flown high above the trees. The sky was filled with these beautiful creatures in the early afternoon.

Here is a closeup, glamour shot.

They weigh almost nothing, but there were so many of them that as the breeze would blow, they would lift off and the limbs would rise about three inches higher.

Interestingly, we heard a podcast about the migration just this week. The scientists interviewed said that they now know that the antennae, previously thought to function only for scent and feeding, are used for navigation. When the antennae are painted with black paint, the butterflies become confused and fly in opposite directions. When painted with clear paint, they stay on course.

Personally, I think all those scientists painting butterflies need to be reprimanded. It's impossible to improve on God's beautiful creations!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good Gifts

Today was a "good gift" day. It began and ended in the same building, which is quite unusual, actually. Early this morning I set out with my travel coffee mug, my music teacher notebook, the latest edition of Southern Living, and a list. The teacher meeting began with a very quick business review and proceeded quickly to the program, which was inspiring, informative, and timely. A lovely lady who is "homegrown" from the cotton fields in the county just to our north, told us stories of her rise to author and pilot. Her mother, educated in a prestigious Texas music school, married a cotton farmer and raised her family through drought and poverty, providing them with music through the years. She taught us that because we live in the United States, can read and write, and can play music that we are rich! That is a gift.

Following my list I stopped by the orchestra office to fetch new music, as instructed, except that the manager dropped it in the mail without telling me. A great gift is that it arrived in today's mail, and I only went 4 blocks out of my way. I rushed on to the salon and gave myself a gift: a fabulous pedicure with the best nail technician person in the whole world. Mmmm... warm, bubbly water, smooth and fragrant hot wax, warm and creamy lotion rubbed into my legs and feet, and two coats of Nice Color, Eh? by OPI.

Next on the list was a stop at Drug Emporium. They sell Paul Newman's natural dog treats. Scooter loves them. After that a quick trip to Taco Bueno for a black bean burrito on the way to K's house for weekly prayer. We sang, we groaned, we prayed, we laughed, we declared the goodness of God and His protection over K as she stands against colon cancer and the effects of chemo therapy. Definitely a gift!

I drove home to treat Scooter to Newman's chicken bits, begin some laundry, change clothes and pack my violin, music stand, and duet books. One hour later I drove to the health club and ordered a smoothie as I walked in for consumption as I walked out an hour later. This was a new launch, dedicated to those who fight, or fought, breast cancer. Instructors dressed in black with the pink ribbon logo, and led us in a very challenging and athletic choreography of poses and moves--a gift to move my body and remember those I loved.

Immediately after class I sipped my smoothie as I drove due south in the rain to the same building where I met with the teachers this morning. ArtWalk, our city's monthly celebration of the arts downtown, was tonight, and my studio was invited to perform on stage as educators provided a family resources fair. My students, especially the boys, will always play for cookies!
We played Bach, Handel, Mozart, folk songs, and the always popular Twinkle Variations. It was our gift of music.


Perpetual Motion

Cheesin' for the camera

Lookin' good! Very professional.

Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change with shifting shadows. James 1:17

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Baby

This is our Baby Daughter. Kaki. She named herself, by answering with "Kaki" when asked at age one what her name was. Later she called herself "Kaki Kangaroo." There remains a collection of kangaroos in a bedroom where she lived. One year I made a kangaroo costume, complete with wire in the tail so it would stay curved and flat. She was quite a picture in that costume. Her most famous kangaroo antic was producing her hand-clap-activated hopping kangaroo as the object of Pastor Tom's spontaneous children's sermon one Sunday. He did his best, but the subject of the sermon eludes me.

The photograph below is almost 25 years old. We went to our church the first time only two weeks before she was born. My pregnant self was producing too much relaxant hormone which caused pain in my hip joints in my last trimester. So we could attend either church service or Sunday School, because I could only sit for about an hour or slightly longer. We visited the service two weeks before Kaki was born and the SS class the week before her birth. Then on the day before Thanksgiving she was born, and we took her to church the following Sunday. After Christmas we had a formal dedication service for her, pictured in this photo. CB, Boo, and Joybear played "Oh How I Love Jesus" for the service. Church members still comment on that music. The girls played very well, but most of all, I remember how much they already loved their baby sister and wanted to bless her. In our dedication services the family promises to nurture and love the child in the church and in God's Word, and the congregation promises to faithfully support the parents and extended family in that discipline. I can report truthfully that our church family did fulfill those promises, and continues to pray for our children and grandchildren, and to inquire about their well being in body, soul, and spirit.

In back from left to right: Nannie, Dubbie, Marmee, Muffin holding Kaki, Aunt Tracie, Nana and Papaw. In front, from the left: CB age 9, Joybear age 4 (almost 5), Boo age 6.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Muffin cleaned out a closet Saturday while searching for some specific photos of his family. In the process we found some gems with emotional memories of the occasions represented.

Our baby, Kaki, is standing with two of her Sunday School teachers after her baptism. Mrs. Cynthia by her side, was her three year old teacher, and although she moved away, is still a good friend of mine. Mrs. Lana, standing behind, was also Kaki's Kindergarten teacher in school, and she went to live with Jesus after a brief illness several years ago. We still miss her.

Our Joybear (on the right) is preparing to go to church camp with her friend from age three through high school, Tiffani. In the middle is Tiffani's Mom, Marlene. She was one of my closest friends, our neighbor, a room mother at school with me, in Bible studies, Sunday School class, prayer groups, and car pools with me. After surviving polio as a child, marrying and raising three of the most wonderful daughters (except for my four, of course) on earth, she died after a long, courageous battle first with breast cancer and then, almost six years later, cancer in her blood. I still miss her every day. You can see her fabulous granddaughters here. Tiffani is giving them a girl cousin in January!

Winding the clock back-- way, way back-- you see this extremely fashionable photo of moi in a pink kerchief. Well, it was fashionable for the early 1970's. We were in Yosemite National Park in May with the Protestant Youth of the Chapel, McClellan AFB. The man in the photo is Ken, our fearless, fit, fatherly (3 sons) chaplain. We spent many many Sundays, Wednesday nights, and other weeknights at his house with his dear wife, Barb, along with lots of other couples from the Chapel. Barb has been alone since Ken died suddenly of a heart attack. His sons live either with or near her, and she is greatly blessed by them and their families. My best zucchini bread recipe originated with Barb.

There I am again with a do-rag. I must have worn those every day that I didn't want to wash my hair. Yuck! Solomon, our first Sheltie and original 'baby' is standing guard over little Baby CB in the bassinet. She must have been only a few weeks old at that time. All the furniture is either from relatives, K Mart, or is air force base housing loaners. Buddy and Penny, along with their first born, Wesley, had come over for a visit. Wesley was enjoying Solomon's good nature. Precious Buddy also went to be with Jesus 20 months ago after many courageous battles with cancer. Penny, Wesley and family, and little sister Wendy live just a few miles from our Joy and Mike now.

Although I miss these precious friends, I know without a doubt, that I will see them again. That is the certainty of living in Jesus--that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What I learned Today

1. Insecurity and inferiority are the two tentacles to which all other demons attach themselves in our lives. Eve was first made to feel insecure by the serpent in the garden, then inferior. Then she ate the wrong fruit and changed everything. I learned this here.

2. Agave nectar is for sale on a shelf in HEB with other sweeteners. A product of Mexico.

3. The boxes of smocked clothing, packed away for several years (about 15 or more) "for my grandchildren", were finally rediscovered , along with childhood cassette tapes, photos from my college years, very fashionable hats from the 1940's and 1950's, and Boo's baby book.

4. Chris Raschka's book Mysterious Thelonius is illustrated with twelve colors, based on the twelve tone scale used by Thelonius Monk. I heard with my own ears and saw with my own eyes Mr. Raschka explain it at the NCCIL tonight.

5. The United States Secret Service refers to duty at the White House as "the big show" and to duty at the Vice President's residence as "the little show with free parking". You can read this fact and many others that are more interesting in In the President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Strawberry Bread Pudding

I experimented with some leftover challah bread and half a container of fresh strawberries. First I found Pioneer Woman's recipe for bread pudding. Then I saw Paula Deen's recipe. Well, really, how can you go wrong with all that butter and sugar? But neither recipe gave me a reason to use up those strawberries. So, here is what I made.

5 cups challah cubes, allowed to dry overnight in a bowl
5 lightly beaten eggs, combined with 2 cups sugar, 2 cups soy milk, and
2 teaspoons vanilla.
Pour this mixture over the bread.

Enter strawberries! I washed, hulled and sliced 2-3 cups of strawberries, and mixed them with 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1 stick softened butter, cut into small cubes. Then just spooned it over the bread mixture. I baked this in a well-buttered 9x13 pan for 43 minutes at 350 degrees.

Paula Deen's sauce recipe included brandy. Pioneer Woman's had Jack Daniels. I had neither. So here is how the sauce went down.
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup butter
1 /2 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum
Heated on low heat until boiling. Served over the cooled bread pudding,
with love.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I choose to worship

Someone asked me about my Tai Chi/Pilates/Yoga combination at Body Flow and how I reconcile those postures, meditations and teachings as a Christian. It's simple. I choose to worship the God who is I AM and never changes while I also challenge my body and tone my muscles. Here's how I do it.

The Lord who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by hands. Acts 17: 24

You will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Ps. 91:4-6

Teach me your way, O Lord that I may walk in your truth. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name. Ps 86:11
Surely I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.
Neh. 4:14
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Ps. 34:10