Thursday, May 25, 2006


Last "off-site meeting" before Ericka graduated
On May 11, me and The Buttons joined friends at a local eatery for a send-off meal for Jesse, then we headed to the movies for our "meeting". We saw The Sentinel LINK with Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, and Eva Longoria. Maybe not so logical, but suspenseful if you let yourself buy into it.

R to L: Lila, Jordan, Ericka, Michelle, KimG

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Today would have been mine and Gene's fourteenth wedding anniversary. This sucks!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Weekend Update

Sunday, May 21, 2006 -- Photos
I stayed around home today and made another attempt on The Shed. Everytime I attempt to clean it out, I have to deal with emotions.

The first attempt in December, I came across all these "Congratulations On Your Wedding" type cards. Just broke down and boo-hooed and put it all back. Then a couple months later, I tackled it again this time finding, "Congratulations on Your First Anniversary" type stuff. In addition to that, you have to realize that this shed leaked for quite a while and lots of things got damaged, so then there's that factor.

This third attempt was not quite as emotional, but still -- found my photographs from the second and third decades of my life, and yes, I took lots of photos back then, too. Well, they are all kind of melted together from the water damage. Hundreds of them! I pulled them apart and salvaged a few. I will scan them so I can still have the images although the edges aren't looking too pretty and feel gummy. Amazingly, the Polaroid ones are the ones that made it fine. Some from the early 1970's. Who knew? There were some old photos from childhood stuck in there that made it fine, so that made me happy. I have another whole set of photos in the house, but not exactly sure what time-frame they will be.

Losing those photos made me think about how many times one can start their life over. All those photos were from before my life with Gene. Although I had the photos & memories, that life ended and faded away when Gene and I got together. And I had a happy new life. Now my life with Gene is over. If you count childhood on its own, I am starting my life over for the fourth time. Hmmmm. I used to think of it as one lifetime, not a string of many.

But back to the shed -- mostly, there were paperback books that were kind of melted together. Ick! A majority of them were science fiction ones of Gene's. Most were garage sale/resale shop finds and quite a few duplicates and not in great shape to start with, but there were some that are okay. Are you into Speculative Fiction, a term I much prefer to "science fiction"? Want some books?

Hats! Yep, my hat collection was in there, too. The straw hats made it pretty well undamaged. Haven't gotten to the other vintage ones. But I did find some melted-edge photos of the Hat Party. Remember that, old friends? The day after that party, I found hats everywhere! On the porch, in the tub, inside the washing machine. What were you people thinking?

Saturday, May 20, 2006 -- The Theater
Sonia ended up with tickets to the theater from her work and invited me to join her. It was exciting to go to the city and the seats were fantastic! The musical, 110 In The Shade, was lively and will be on Broadway next year. I got to see it here first. The best part of the evening, though, was to get to spend some time with Sonia and get caught up. She is a remarkable woman.

After we left the theater, we walked several downtown city blocks and she showed me where she worked. She works on the 47th floor. Although her space is actually one of many cubicles, she showed me the view from the conference room. Fantastic nighttime view of Houston. She says her co-workers are always getting on the internet to check the traffic news. She just goes to the window in the conference room -- old school. If the freeway's backed up, no need to leave for a while.

Sonia in her cubicle

Me feeling patriotic in the lobby

Friday, May 19, 2006 -- Sushi
After work today, I went out to eat with Reiko. She is so funny. Very smart and laughs easily. I tried sushi. It was okay, but I'm glad the buffet offered other options. I think I'll have to try it a few more times to see if it grows on me.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Do you like to listen to music while you're on the computer? I have created a station at Launchcast (Yahoo) and have a ton of other stations I've bookmarked and listened to but my current favorite is Pandora, LINK, created by the Music Genome Project. Why? Because it's fun!

Different attributes are figured in such as melody, harmony and rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics on over 10,000 different artists, could be popular or obscure.

Meaning -- you type in a singer, band, or song and it usually plays that, then searches for other songs with like attributes. It creates a "radio station" using the name of that selection you typed in. Of course you can change the name of it. And you can have multiple stations. I've got about nine stations so far. In creating your station, you can choose "like this song and want more like it," or "don't play it again," skip songs, and choose favorites.

Some of my stations turned out kinda wacky but look who's talking. I made one I call "Brady Bunch Radio" and it has those funky bands/songs that you'd hear on old sit-coms. Sooooo groovy.

Some I just started cause I wanted to hear an old song or singer I hadn't heard in a long time, like Joni Mitchell or Kate & Anna McGarrigle. Remember Jo Jo Gunne?

One of my first stations was called "Downtown." You know, Petula Clark singing "Downtown" and all those oldies. My latest one started out because I wanted to hear a Rita Coolidge song. Some of the ones it chose to play were bosa nova tunes which is really soothing and enjoyable. And I've kept choosing "play more like this" so I'm going to change the name of it now to "Bosa Nova-tastic." Yep, that sounds good.

Check it out! It's free!
(Thanks, Caroline, for telling me about it!)

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Thursday, May 18, 2006
Met with a publisher for a magazine wanting us to put an ad in his magazine. Well, I guess I should say more ads. This is a magazine that goes into high school counselors' offices for the students to see. Of course, we want our university represented. I was pretty proud of the ad I came up with that went into their premier Latino edition that they came out with recently. Looked pretty sharp. Who knew I'd be making decisions like this some day?

Bless co-worker Vicki's heart; she's been so kind and let me go on and on with my Gene stories the last few days. It's nice for those funny and factual stories to come to mind instead of that horror movie of The Event looping through my head and haunting me like it did the first few months. Then the haunting fell off but the fun stuff wasn't exactly bubbling up either. So, it's taken about eight months to get here and none too soon.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Today there was an Ice Cream Social sponsored by the university's Staff Council. Good Blue Bell ice cream with the fixings. And a chance to run into people (staff only; no faculty at this one) you've been needing to talk to about some project or another, and to catch up on friends. Also had an inspired idea, a possible creative solution to a particular situation. Impressed my boss who called his boss and told her about it. Of course he gave me credit. He's a good boss in that way. I had to watch the Amazing Race finale when I got home. Got to get my fix of reality tv, don't you know?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Today was a tenth work anniversary for co-worker, Vicki. I made her a Watermelon Pie, one of those jello, Cool Whip, graham-cracker-crust kinds. She liked it! I also sat in on a meeting for my boss who was at another one. Was kinda over my head but interesting nonetheless. All about computer programs and how they affect multiple departments when changes are implemented, and what new programs are needed, collecting data, etc. Hmmmmm. I didn't have a lot to offer, but hey! I can take notes like nobody's business! After work, a bunch of us went out to eat which we are doing once a week for about a month as a send off for co-worker, Jesse, who is still employeed with us but will be relocating.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day Weekend

Sunday, May 14, 2006
Since I've lost the two moms I had, I decided there's no better place to spend Mother's Day than with dear ol' Dad. I met him and Martha at church, and afterwards, Martha had to take off to do in-law stuff, so Dad & I went by and picked up a lunch at the local supermarket deli & took it back to his house. By the time we'd finished lunch, there was a steady rain coming down. Yep, there was a pillow calling me for a nap. I laid there about five seconds watching it rain and was out like a light.

After naps, Dad & I visited the rest of the afternoon. He told me all about the cotton gin that they ran when he was a boy in Arkansas among other stories of his youth. I really enjoy those.

He said that on the days his dad, Ben D., was going to gin cotton, his hired hand would fire-up/build-up some steam and blow a whistle at five o'clock in the morning. This whistle was so loud, it could be heard 12 miles away.

He said that the people up in the mountains couldn't hear it, but they'd come out of the mountains to ask a neighbor in the valley, "was the gin whistle on this morning?"

So, if you heard the whistle, you could take your wagon load of cotton to the gin. And Ben D. would gin all the cotton that had been brought in even if it was nine o'clock at night before he got to it all. Ginning season meant seven days a week and long days for the weeks it lasted (starting around the end of August, into September).

I remember Mom telling me about taking cotton into town when she was a little girl. Somehow, this honor was singularly hers, as she was the only one of her siblings that got to go. She said it'd be dark when they left. She'd ride up in the wagon load of cotton where it was all nice and soft. Did she tell me she could see stars? Then after the cotton was ginned, her father, Pa, would let her buy some candy at the store before heading home. I asked her what she would get and she said that it usually didn't matter as long as it was pink. Pink was also her childhood preference for medicine.

I guess that will do for my mother's day story today.

Saturday, May 13, 2006
The most constructive thing I did today was to groom the cat. Rented a couple of movies. Many, many movies use Christmas to show passage of time. When we were watching such a movie, either Gene or I would exclaim, "a Christmas movie!" I know, I know. It sounds dumb but it is just yet another one of those silly things you do with a best friend and another thing to remind you of that big hole in your heart that comes along with being a widow.

And one of the movies I rented really was a Christmas movie and a tearjerker. It was The Family Stone, LINK, with Dianne Keaton and Craig T. Nelson, a good enough movie but probably not a good choice if you lost a loved one in the last couple of months. It's been long enough that I didn't end up in a puddle or anything, but it did bum me out a bit.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Someone gave me a ticket to an Astros game. Although I'm not a big fan of sports, I plan to go; but is my hesitation an surprise? The only professional baseball game I ever went to was 17 innings! I thought it'd never end!
After the game:
Now I've finally seen Minute Maid Park which I have wanted to do for a while. Nice.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Ate Tuna Fish

In my update for last Friday, May 5th, I had intended to add that I ate tuna fish for the first time in seven months. Gene was eating lots of tuna fish in the weeks before he died. Was he thinking that his health was poor and he needed to eat more fish? We had tons from that and having stocked up on food not requiring cooking for Hurricane Rita, the Widow-maker. But anyway -- I just couldn't bring myself to eat any of it. So Friday, I was home and needed lunch, there was the tuna and I had stuff to go with it, so I sucked it up and told myself it was time to starting eating tuna fish again -- it tasted pretty dang good, too.

Also, I had intended to mention that commercial they're playing a lot now with the elephant that is dancing around in the jungle to "Singing in the Rain". It's a GE commercial. Know which one I mean? Everytime I see that commercial, I think about one day when it came on not long before Gene died. He was smiling and asked me if I'd seen it yet. He thought it was a pretty good one and liked it. So when you see that commercial, just remember that if I'm seeing it, too, I am also hearing Gene's voice saying, "Have you seen this one yet?" Sigh

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Rather Lengthy Update

Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Today at work we met with a man about ordering bookcovers to go into the public schools advertising our university. This man had a very interesting comb-over that would have made Donald Trump look twice. Felt good during the meeting when I asked some technical questions and he said to me, "You've done this before, haven't you?" Well, I have indeed seen a few brochures and et ceteras through the printing process!

On a personal note, the young widow previously mentioned in this update emailed me that she was having a tough day. I felt honored that she felt comfortable enough to reach out. I offered some encouragement such as it was. And now I'm sitting here thinking that it is also a milestone in my own journey. That I have gotten past enough of it that I can perhaps help someone else like all those kind widows who have been there for me. Most especially JoanT. She gave me insight that other people, especially those who had never been there, didn't have or avoided giving me. Her advice really helped me prepare for inevitable things that were to come my way during my months of grieving. Thanks, JoanT!

Monday, May 8, 2006
Came back to work and found out our receptionist had quit. No notice or anything! She didn't even call, but faxed her resignation letter in. Last time I took off, someone turned in their resignation. We've been kidding that I shouldn't take off anymore because we are just about a skeleton crew already and can't afford to lose anyone else! Had a nice lunch with a colleague, Dana.

Saturday-Sunday, May 6-7, 2006
I didn't do too much of anything. I did go to town Saturday and buy some Alieve because I was really sore after all the work I did cleaning out the shed. I know, I'm a lightweight when it comes to manual labor these days. Played with the cat and gave him a bath. And other general running around right there in my little town. Didn't go anywhere for the weekend.

Friday, May 5, 2006
Took another vacation day. Today, I tackled the shed. Wasn't as bad as when I tried back in December and found all of those "Congratulations on your Marriage" cards and momentos and just crumpled into an emotional mess. This time there were more first anniversary things and the buffer of more time having passed. But mostly what I took out were a lot of melted paperbacks from when the roof leaked. Many, many sci-fi books of Gene's. Didn't get through the entire shed, but did make a good dent in it.

Thursday, May 4, 2006
Today would have been Gene's 50th birthday. I just took a vacation day and stayed home. It wasn't too bad. Kind of like a weekend day. Had a good cry in the morning, but the rest of the day wasn't too rough. Just kind of melancholy.

Weekends are much harder without the distraction of work. On a Friday afternoon when everyone is standing near the door jingling their keys waiting for the clock to get to 5:00 -- I just don't share their enthusiasm anymore. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Another work-a-day day. Typed up about fifteen driver permit requests so that people in our department can be approved to drive our departmental vehicles. If they've been good, that is!

Tuesday, May 2, 2006
This morning, a group of us from work attended a memorial service for a young man we knew. In addition to working on campus himself, he was the son-in-law of a recently retired member of our department. It is actually the first funeral I have attended since Gene died. I made it through fairly well. Of course, you might know that the thing that really got to me was a gifted pianist who played so beautifully I could not hold back the tears. Very moving. I miss hearing Gene play.

This young man was in his early 40's. He and his wife, who I have known through her mother for more than a decade and who also works on campus, have a beautiful two year old daughter. My heart aches for her and for what it is worth, I have offered to listen if she needs to talk.

Later in the work day, I sat in on an appeals committee listening to people make a plea to be admitted into the university even though they don't meet the requirements for some reason. The most compelling was the young man who was working in a convenience store and was shot five times during a robbery. The particular school he was attending did not offer an option of incomplete, so since he was in the hospital for a prolonged stay, he ended up with F's for the semester. And yes, the committee admitted him.

I slipped away from Appeals for a while to attend the monthly meeting of the building committee that I am on. Watching the process of a multi-million dollar building go up has been interesting to say the least. A real lesson in project management.

Monday, May 1, 2006
Just a work day. But did have a nice lunch with a colleague, Joellen.

Sunday, April 30, 2006
Sunday, I went to church with Dad and Martha. Then in the afternoon, Martha and I went to a tour of homes in a nearby town. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon with my big sister. We had a good time.

We saw several houses but one of the main attractions was an apartment building built back in the gangster days. There's even a vault room in the building they say. But we got to see inside of one of the apartments. How did they get that baby grand piano in there?

Second floor of the apartment building.

The apartment courtyard.

Martha window shopping at neighboring shops.

Saturday, April 29, 2006
Saturday, stayed around home and I think this is the day when I watched a movie that I really enjoyed. It was from a Ray Bradbury short story which I sure Gene would have read before. He'd read all those R Bradbury stories that had been made into movies like "Fahrenheit 451," "The Illustrated Man," and "The Martian Chronicles."

But I enjoyed this movie more than any others I've seen lately. It is A Sound of Thunder LINK. Okay, it got some lousy reviews I guess. But I love most any movie about time-travel anyway and I got caught up in the suspense!

Friday, April 28, 2006
Kristen came by to visit. We went to lunch and she told me all about her exciting career in law enforcement! Seriously!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Administrative Professional's Day. My first time in decades not to be an administrative professional. I guess this year I'm in line to get a Boss's Day card?

Sunday-Tuesday, April 23-25, 2006
Coworkers and I went to a conference on the coast. Valuable information was gained and much fun was had.

Waiting on co-workers.

After sessions all day, we're ready to go eat!
There's an ocean behind us by the way.
R to L: Jesse, Susie, Jacob, me, Andres.

Jacob's meal.

Friday, April 21, 2006
Re came to visit us at work. She worked here when I started. She's went on to live in other states and raise a family. Glad she's back in the great state of Texas where she belongs. Her high school aged daughter was actually on campus this weekend to win her UIL event! Always good to see old friends and reminisce.

Me and Re!
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