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Sunday, September 05, 2010


I'm well into month No. 4 in Texas and have almost survived my first summer in the sweltering Dallas metro heat. I wasn't too worried about the heat. I grew up working in the fields under the West Texas sun. Now the tough part is coming.

Can't quite figure out why none of the neighbors' trees are losing their leaves, yet our tree is changing color and losing its leaves. Yes, it's still hot here.

Nonetheless, the falling leaves and the orange and black Halloween displays are reminding me that fall and then winter are near. Yes, this is the time of year when I get so excited about all the fun stuff ahead - Octoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, I'm worried. I fear winter.

If you remember, I whined like a big baby last year when the temperatures dropped in the Tampa Bay area. To be fair, we didn't have heat in our house. But while it was in the 40s and 30s in Florida, it was a sustained cold in the Dallas area, including snow on Christmas eve. I've always been of the mind that if I want to see snow on Christmas eve, I'll shake a snow globe. The real thing, I'm fine without.

Only time will tell if this is a normal "mild" winter in the metro area, or another unusually cold season. I've unpacked the old sweaters, dusted off the boots and they sit in the closet - ready. Now, I'm checking out the airline sales and wondering if I should start booking flights now, or save my miles and book a flight the next time the weather forecast is snow.

Fortunately, part of my area in Texas includes El Paso. I think it's warmer there. I might be in El Paso a lot.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Learnings from Texas

I've been in Texas a whole month now. I wish I could say my return to the Lone Star State has been smooth sailing, but I'd be lying. Any move is hard. But a move back to the rough and tumble Texas has been even harder.

First, I've learned that Texans like to drive big trucks. Actually, they just plain love to drive. The congested highways and streets are a testament to that love. Texans also love to drive fast. I might just have learned that, but my insurance company has it engraved in stone somewhere because my rates have more than doubled. I guess beach bums and retirees in Florida must be safer drivers. That's lesson No. 1

Texas men come in two breeds - gentlemen and jerks. Sometimes there's a bit of both in them and that is true whether they are cattle ranchers, firemen or business types the city. A Texas man is the only one I know who will stay in an elevator and hold the door open, even if it's not really necessary, until all the women on the elevator get off.

That's the same man who will make you feel like he's about to smash his big, black, pick-up truck into the back of your Pruis if you drive too slow. Lesson No. 2.

Texans love their state. They proudly display the Texas flag and many even recite the Texas Pledge right alongside the Pledge of Allegiance. The state has that cool "Don't Mess With Texas" bumper sticker and I almost believe it. But I've seen too many Texans throw their empty Dairy Queen wrappings on the highway to buy into that folklore too quickly. Oh, wait...I think that pick-up truck had Oklahoma license plates. Lesson No. 3.

There's many more lessons that will be ponderings and musings for more blog entries to come. I started this blog when I lived in Oklahoma, hence the name "North of the Red River." Then, I moved to Florida, way down south of the Red River, but I kept the name. Now, I'm back home and I'll still keep the name. Just because I like it.

I love Texas, even though it feels strange to call it "home" again. In the past month, I've cried, I've yelled, I've yearned to go back to the white sandy beaches of Florida that I love so much. And, I might someday. But for now, I'm here. And, like it or now - I'm a Texan. Lesson No. 4.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Full circle

Big deep breath. Life has been a whirlwind the last few weeks. Sometimes you have to go with the current instead of fighting it, and that's what I did. An opportunity presented itself in Texas, so I applied and here I am. I officially live in Dallas, though I still have a house in Florida.

It's strange. I'm from Texas. I grew up here and the thing I like the most about being in Texas is that it's close to our friends in OKC. And, I'm heartbroken to leave Florida. Though, I'm slowly accepting that this is a temporary, needed move that I'll enjoy before heading back to plop my feet into the sand.

More about the job next time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Sun rising over St. Croix. This was the view from our room at the Pelican Cove Resort.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

May I have another...protein shake?

For the record, I hate diets. Off the record, I had no choice but to start one this week.

I do have mirrors in my house, and I sure didn't like or even recognize the woman I was seeing in those mirrors. But the full impact of my weight issues hit me last week. A promo lured us to watch The Biggest Loser -- and it hit me. I could be on that show. Albeit, not as one of the larger contestants, but nonetheless, I could be there.

I toyed a little with the idea of applying to be on the show. But I'm the much more of a private humiliation type of person, so not likely.

Being 50+ish, my husband and I have both been battling the belly bulge. I dare say, I never thought my belly would ever be as huge as it was when I was 9 months pregnant - I was wrong. OK, maybe not that big, but it was getting close.

So we researched and both agreed that we needed a diet that would show up some quick results, then transition into a lifestyle.

We're on the Fat-Flush Detox plan. A protein shake for breakfast (not Slimfast) and another for lunch then a healthy meal in the evening consisting of lean protein, a vegetable and a salad. Four days in and we're doing well. The only concession -- we both refuse to give up our coffee in the mornings. Other than that, it's not been difficult to handle cravings. We've found ourselve munching on a mushroom or a piece of cauliflower in the afternoon or evening if we feel a need to munch. It's amazing how satisfying one mushroom can be.

This is not a starvation diet. We're not hungry. Just breaking the snacking habit that got us to where we were.

Today, we're adding exercise to the regimen.

We stay on this plan for two weeks before switching to stage two, where we add a limited number of complex carbs.

So far, the only downfall is making myself drink that second shake during the day. I'm sort of sick of plant protein shakes.

We'll keep you posted on our progress. Because men suck, hubby is losing his belly rapidly. I'm the only one who can see a difference in the way my clothes fit.

I just want to like the woman in the mirror again.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Hitting too close to home

Driving to work every day, I inevitably see the man or woman holding a sign on the side of the road. They look you straight in the eye, challenging you to look away.

I often have to fight back the urge to ask - "How did you get here? What happened to land you on a street corner, begging for money?" I've watched enough news reports to be jaded and understand that most of those people reached that point in life because of addictions to drugs and alchohol or have other mental health issues.

Occasionally, something will be different. I saw a young couple one day with signs. The young woman had tears running down her face. The young man, whom she clung to with one hand, had hidden most of his face. They looked ashamed. I gave them money.

Another time I saw a mother with two young children taking refuge from the heat of the day under a downtown bridge. Backpacks and a wagon were nearby, and the mom kept one hand on those while warily watching the "regular" homeless. My heart broke.

Still, homelessness has never really hit home.

Last weekend, my husband and I were enjoying the Grand Prix races and killing time in a local pub until a storm passed. We found a great table on the sidewalk protected from the rain by an awning. I love people watching, so it was an ideal place to sit and watch people walking by.

I noticed a woman, dressed in a flowing flowery dress. Her hair was pulled up and curly trendrils fell to her shoulders. I noticed her because she was so feminine and pretty -- seeming out of place in the uber cool downtown crowd.

Then I realized I knew her. I worked with her at my part-time job with the local MLB team.

I said hello and she quickly grabbed a seat. After introductions, she told us that she had been at a free concert after church and was heading to a museum. During the conversation, it became evident that she knew the downtown area well.

She told us she was homeless. But was thankful that she had recently moved from "tent city" to the Salvation Army shelter. I didn't know what to say. How do you say, I'm sorry you lost your home?

After a divorce, she was laid off from a long-time job. She started a job hunt, like millions of other people and soon found herself drowning in unpaid bills. Eighteen months later, she lost her home. Anything that she hadn't sold, she put into a small storage unit and lived in her car. But a part-time minimum wage job doesn't pay bills. She lost her car, and put her possessions in a cart.

She soon learned that she had to reach out for help available. She got use of a phone number where prospective employers could leave a message. She uses computers at the library to check emails and send out resumes. On weekends, she attends church, visits museums and takes in free events. During the week, she volunteers at a museum and the history center when she's not looking for a job.

"I'm thankful to have a place with a roof at night," she said.

She told us about agreeing to an interview with the St. Petersburg Times. The article was about the working poor. Her supervisors saw the article and told her to quit talking about her personal problems because that was not the image they wanted to project. She didn't think she had a job to go to on opening day.

I love baseball. I love this team, and I still work and cheer for them. But the games have lost their luster.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Birthdays come and go, but wrinkles stay forever

I don't remember every birthday I ever had, but some memories do stick around.

On my 10th birthday, we were visiting my grandparents - my father's parents. We went to town for some shopping and my dad bought me a pin for my birthday. It was a cat, bejeweled with clear glass, except for the black stones that made up its eyes and nose, and it was shiny. I loved that pin. It was the best birthday ever, because in our family, you did not normally get presents any other time of the year except Christmas. So it was a thing of envy for my other siblings.

My mother let me have a party on my 16th birthday. Yep, we are Hispanic -- of Mexican descent -- but I never heard of a quincenera until I was an adult. But "sweet 16" now that was another thing.

My 18th birthday - I was "legal" and able to buy booze in Montana. It was my senior year, so buy booze, I did.

My 25th birthday. I was officially old. That's right. Every commercial on t.v. for Oil of Olay creams told me the product was for "women over 25."

My 40th birthday. I had just graduated from college. I had a new career. I was young, the whole world before me.

My 50th birthday. I spent it at a Gridiron show, singing and dancing about politicians etc. Then the following Saturday, I met my friends for brunch at my favorite French bistro in OKC. It was wonderful and special.

Today: Well, heck. I'm working most of the day. Then, I might venture out to dinner and a movie. I think I'm getting too old for birthdays. Right now, they're a reminder that my life is closer to the end than the beginning. Damn, I just depressed myself.

Happy birthday to me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Holy cow, I'm on a streak

I've never been an everyday blogger, even way back when I first starting blogging and was all giddy about the idea.

This year I'm slowly returning to the habit. And, I've realized that I'm on track to beat my 2009 record -- not hard. I blogged a whole 14 times in 2009.

I was going to give this up. After all, we've heard that blogging is like spending all your time looking in the mirror -- nobody cares but you. We've heard that "Blogging is for old people." Well, that's a no-brainer. We've established my entry into the "one candle will do" age bracket a few years back.

So, I'm going to keep blogging. Maybe no one will read this, or maybe I'll use my wily public relations skills to lure people from Facebook and Twitter to this site.

Now to find topics to write about. Today is easy. Since I'm on the topic of blogging, I've been reading old posts from my site and from other often read sites. We've been through a lot. It's a diary of our lives. Friends and loved ones have died. We've shed tears. We've laughed til we cried, and we've just laughed.

So tweet away and post your status updates, but if you want to chronicle your life - blog.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Blogging is for old people...

Just when I think I'm hip and keeping up with the youngsters with my Twitter and Facebook accounts, they throw this at me: Blogging is for old people, Pew Study says.

The study goes on to imply that one of the reasons Facebook has beaten MySpace as the social networking of choice is that MySpace encourages blogging. And today's younger set does not like to blog.

That says one of two things. Either 1: most of our youth are too illiterate to actually write a cohesive paragraph of more than 140 characters or 2: they just don't want us to know what they are really thinking.

That sounds like teenagers.

Friday, February 05, 2010

This brain was made for writing

I blogged twice in January - sweet. I'm ahead of the game. Okay, maybe not.

I do feel like I write all the time. My job - I write (not all the time, but a whole heck of lot of the time) news releases, web articles, blog posts, speeches, talking points, fact sheets, media plans, tweets and on and on. My life - I write blogs (obviously not this one) and work on my book and work on my screenplay and tweet and etc. etc.

But that's all good. I'm lucky that I get to do what I love for a living.

Only sometimes is there a glitche. Take this morning for example. I'm in the middle of getting ready for work. When something catches my eye that reminds me of a scene I'm working on. I stop and evidently stare into space for sometime because my husband shakes me out of my reverie -- "Are you ok?"

"Oops, sorry, I was writing in my brain."

"You need some paper."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Together - yet not

We spent a nice evening at my daughter's house celebrating her birthday. She and her sister, (our other daughter) spouses and friends wanted to have a few drinks and crank up the music. But we called it an early night and brought our grandson home with us so they could have some adult time.

So we're sitting in the tiny living room of our beach cottage. I'm on the Internet. My husband is doing his daily puzzles from the newspaper. Mason? Well, he's 8 -- and wired. He brought with him: a laptop, a PSP, a Nintendo DSI, and a bag full of games, movies, cords of all kinds. He switches between the computer and the PSP, wearing his head phones most of the time.

On the flat screen T.V., Tim McGraw is singing his way through all of his hit songs. So we sit close, enjoying being together and enjoying our own thing.

Ah, technology.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Time keeps on slipping, slipping...into the future

Wow, it's 2010, and I haven't even made a New Year's Resolution. So take 2009 and ditto.

Actually, this year I've decided to work on the "bucket list" again. Time is going by too fast and I can't help but feel like I'm on a deadline. (I guess literally)

So on this year's bucket list:

Mardi Gras (Hubby's bucket list includes Daytona 500 and I think these conflict, so I might be doing "speed week" in Daytona, instead.)

High school reunions (reconnecting with old buds)

Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving

Finish a screen play and a book. (This might happen -- I'm close!)

Run a marathon.

Celebrate 25 years of marriage!

There's so much more, but I don't want to get too crazy.

So bring it on, 2010. 2009 pretty much sucked, this year: It's going to be better.