Monday, March 28, 2011

Ahh Haaaaa


I had an epiphany the other day in regards to my fear of heights. In one brief, abstract moment I realized where my fear originated from--and it all can be blamed on Karl Wallenda and his high wire act.

On March 22, 1978, Karl Wallenda was in Puerto Rico doing what he had done since he was six years old--performing. As cameras were recording his sauntering on a high wire, 120 some odd feet in the air with no net, the 73-year-old slipped and fell to his death.

I was watching it. I can still see him swaying in the wind. Apparently, the video is still out in the Internet for those who've never seen it. I can't rewatch it. Once was enough.

From that point on, I feared heights. When I was a kid I would climb onto things and not be afraid at all. From 1978 on, that wasn't the case. Just the thought of it even now gives me the willies.

I'm thinking that was the first video I've seen that showed a real person dying. I had blocked that out all these years and boom, out it slips when I least expected it.

Funny how the mind works.

Over the years, I've tried to face my fear of heights. I even went up in a hot air balloon for a newspaper story I was writing. Somehow, I survived. Don't ask me how. The first 100 feet were okay, but after that I froze up. At one point, I had take photos and I had the hardest time removing my hands from the sides of the basket to focus the camera. My mind said move, but my body said, "Hell, no."

I've had panic attacks at two specific landmarks--Moro Rock in the Sequoia National Park and the Grand Canyon.

Moro Rock is a landmark where can you can hike up to and actually walk around the rock. We visited the park in 1990, and my sons were young enough to freak me out as they ran ahead us wherever we walked. I held Jared's hand as we climbed the stairs. Just looking around at the view I started hyperventalating. I held onto my son and tried not to picture my oldest son, Jason, running ahead with his Father, and accidentally falling off the rock. The safety bars surrounding the walkway were a joke. I am amazed more kids don't fall off that mountain.


We visited the Grand Canyon in 2006, during our move to Texas. My husband, two sons, and one dog stopped long enough to check out the view. Me, I got dizzy as we walked toward the edge of the viewing area. Jerry, the boys and even the dog were having a good, old time. Me? My head began to swim and my knees began knocking. I just couldn't handle walking to the edge.

The vastness of the Grand Canyon scared the living heck out of me. It's so, so big!


Now, I can barely hang Christmas lights on the house. I don't think there is any cure for this.

I blame Karl.


Friday, March 25, 2011

To the Beet of a Different Drummer


I was in elementary school, having to stay at my aunt's house when I had my first and only experience with beets. I went to a year-round school and we had "mini vacations." My parents had to work during this one break and for some reason there was no one to watch me. Except Aunt Lorraine.

Aunt Lorraine was one tough old bird. Even when I was kid she was old. And mean. Married to my Dad's twin brother, Jack, Lorraine never minced words. She wasn't afraid of anyone and I would have put money on her to kick anyone's ass--man or woman.

My mom never forced us kids to eat certain foods. If we decided we didn't want to eat something, we didn't eat it. Mama wouldn't make something else. Either you ate it or you went hungry. My aunt was cut from a different cloth. Whatever she set in front of you, you had to eat. All of it. No arguments.

When she set that dinner plate in front of me and it sported boiled beets that looked like they were cooked in blood, there was no way I was eating it. She told me I had to eat it. I said I didn't want to. In a voice that was made gravely from smoking too many menthol Kools, she stated I had no choice. I'd eat it or stay all night at that dining table.


I sat there for hours crying and refusing to eat them. I ate everything else on my plate, but those beets. I had never been so miserable in my entire life. I wanted to go home. I didn't tell her I hated her. You didn't say that to Aunt Lorraine. Even at that young age, I knew better. But I just couldn't make myself open my mouth and eat those beets.

As time went by, the beets became room temperature and even less appealing. And there I still sat. She wasn't giving in and I wasn't either. I played with the beets, cutting them up to look as if I ate them, but she wasn't fooled. Four hours later she finally let me go to bed. I begged my mom to let me come home the next day.

This episode in my life, which I can close my eyes and still see the way the beets looked on the plate, altered the way I fed my own sons. I never forced them to eat anything. If they said they didn't like something, I might have suggested to try it, but if they said no, I'd let it go.

I refused to do to them what my aunt did to me. You should never force someone to eat something. Yes, you might like it, but what right do you have to make someone else eat it? It's not being a good parent. It's being abusive.

I consider myself pretty adventurous when it comes to food. Heck, I've eaten alligator, shark, frog, tongue, ox tail, buffalo, ostrich, chocolate covered ants and even lamb fries.

But I always have a saying when it comes to trying new food--I don't eat anything still moving and I don't do blood. I know those beets weren't cooked in blood, but that's what it looked like to me.

I bet most people have a food story in their lives where someone tried to get them to eat something they didn't want to--what was it for you?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Burn Baby Burn


A benefit of living in Texas, compared to California, is my use of our fireplace. We didn't have one in our house in Bakersfield. It seemed silly when the house was being built to have a fireplace included. Not only were my boys still at the age that I was worried that they would try to burn things in it that they shouldn't, but the strict air controls laws made it almost impossible to have a fire.

The house we bought in San Antonio had a fireplace in it and I was completely thrilled. We had no little kids around so I didn't have to freak out about any fires. Plus, San Antonio weather is more conducive to burning a roaring fire.

Starting off with a Duraflame log, we added split oak, cedar and other firewood either bought or collected ourselves. The smell of burning wood is addicting. It's a homey smell that makes me feel we are in cabin in the woods. Texas has a wide selection of wood to choose from--mesquite, oak, cherry, apple, cedar and other hardwoods.

fire and wood Pictures, Images and Photos

Different from the norm I usually don't keep the stored wood inside the house. I keep it outside and bring it in as we burn it. I have the worry that spiders and other critters are still in the wood and I don't want to bring them in to explore my home.

In my wood holder by the side of the fireplace I have my homemade fleece blankets. They are the backup when it’s cold. You wrap up in a blanket, start a fire and relax. You don't fall into the trap of always turning on the heater. A good fire and can warm up the room and your heart. The crackling wood, the spiced scent and some hot cocoa and I'm a happy gal. Our cats really appreciate stretching out in front of a roaring fire and taking naps.

We don't have a government agency telling us when and when we cannot burn our fireplace. We don't have to worry about fines or jail time for doing what's normal in a fireplace. I appreciate it.

I'd like to get one of those fake fireplaces for upstairs in the library. My books, a fire and a comfy chair., that's something to work toward.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Toilet Water


Random thoughts are always flowing through my brain and one of the most whackadoodle of all flittered into my skull the other day--toilet water. There is probably one, if not two, generations of kids who do not know when one says, "What is the toilet water you are wearing?" that's it's not an insult. Do you know what toilet water is? And I don't mean the stuff the Tidy Bowl man hangs out in.

Toilet water is a type of perfume. It's not as strong as regular perfume. Some call it a poor woman's perfume because the oils are cut down with water to dilute it. I used to think it was a 1950s kind of thing, but I've learned it's been around since ancient times. Women, and even men, have relied on it to smell alluring.

I can understand using it in ancient times. Come on, we know the bathing habits of many left a lot to be desired. I'd be throwing that lavender water all over me if I felt it could hide some of the unwashed smell.

I remember sniffing a bottle of "eau de toilette" in an aunt's bathroom that smelled of roses. I thought it was all hoity toity. That is until I learned the translation of the French words. Toilet water. It lost a bit of its allure, but the smell was still lovely.

I think I need to buy a bottle of toilet water and keep it in my guest bathroom. I need to educate the younger generation to the beauty that is eau de toilette.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What's In A Name?


I came from a part of California that had some wacky town names--Weedpatch, Buttonwillow, Greenacres, Fruitvale and Oildale. But I moved to a place that has town names that don't sound like they should either. One example is the little town of Boerne, Texas. Its north of San Antonio. Most people would look at the name and pronounce it "born," but that would be wrong. It's pronounced "birney."

Another town outside of San Antonio is called Gruene. Now, most of us would pronounce it "Gruune." Nope, they pronounce it, "Green." Say what? How do you get "Green" out of Gruene? Apparently, it's the German influence. Germans settled in the Hill County, as the area around here is called, years ago. Their presence affected the food, the economy and what towns were called and pronounced.

I do keep the locals entertained with my ability to mispronounce most all names. It's not just towns, but sometimes people's last names. I get razzed for my lack of talent of pronouncing Hispanic names. I can't roll my r's and I put emphasis on parts of the name you shouldn't.

I keep trying to tell people I'm hearing impaired. It's not just being a silly white gal who has no clue. I speak what I hear and I don't hear so well.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.