Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Classic Novel: Camille


A few months ago, as I was perusing the used book store Twice Told Tales, I found an undated copy of Camille. Knowing nothing about the book but that it looked like it needed a home, I purchased it. And earlier this month, I read it.

My copy not only has no date, but also has no end notes, no descriptions, nothing that would give me any indication as to whether or not I would like it. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book.

Camille is the English translation of the French novel, La Dame aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas fils. It is the story of a French courtesan, Marguerite Gautier, and her lover, Armand Duval - the love story of a fallen woman and a naive young man.

The setting is Paris, 1847 and it is told from the point of view of a narrator. As I read the last few chapters, I couldn't help but think of O'Henry's short story; The Gift of the Magi. The willingness to sacrifice everything for the happiness of the other brought more than a few tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, this one did not have the happy ending all tied up with a bow.

Nevertheless, I couldn't put it down. Nor could I stop thinking about the grace of God extended to all sinners, myself especially. God has given me a heart for women. Even though I am not currently serving in Women's ministry, I still ache for the wounds of those that He brings into my path. The character of Marguerite struck a chord in my heart. In her, I see all the women who have been deceived by the lie that a man's favor would make her legitimate...yet all too often, have ended up betrayed by that very same man. (Not man-bashing here, just making an observation about our gender's vulnerability when we put too much stock in anything other than God. Been there, done that, got the battle scars!)

One of my favorite quotes comes near the beginning as the author answers the person who would put away the book for fear that he is condoning the lifestyle of Marguerite.

"Here is Christianity with its marvellous parable of the Prodigal Son to teach us indulgence and pardon. Jesus was full of love for souls wounded by the passions of men; he loved to bind up their wounds and to find in those very wounds the balm which should heal them...Why do we make ourselves more strict than Christ? Why, holding obstinately to the opinions of the world, which hardens itself in order that it may be thought strong, do we reject, as it rejects, souls bleeding at wounds by which, like a sick man's bad blood, the evil of their past may be healed, if only a friendly hand is stretched out to lave him and set them in the convalescence of the heart?"

Between this book and Beth Moore's So Long, Insecurity, I am beginning to realize the timelessness of our battle for 'dignity', 'honor' and security.

I decided to investigate this novel and it's author and found some interesting facts:

1. The author is the illegitimate son of Alexandre Dumas pere who wrote such classics as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

2. The novel is believed to be based on his relationship with his mistress, Marie Duplessis.

3. Verdi's opera La Traviata is based on this novel.

4. Over 16 stage adaptations have been performed.

5. Over 13 films have been made ranging from 1907 - 1980.

How is it that I had no earthly idea what this book was about? I am thankful for having found it and will be keeping an eye out for the next time La Traviata is being performed at Houston Grand Opera.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's On My Nightstand - March

It is time once again for "What's On Your Nightstand?" over at 5 Minutes for Books. A time to share what you have read, what you are reading and/or what you are planning to read.

I was going to say that the month has flown by, but then I realized that I have not participated since January. The fourth Tuesday of February found me so busy at work after our Grandmas Trip to Los Angeles that I didn't have time to post.

And, since I find myself once again busy at work...I will keep my update short and sweet so that I don't miss another month.

Read:
The Help: A Novel - Kathryn Stockett. Still stirring in my mind. I may comment on it in a few weeks for "I Read It"...if I can get some things tied down in my head. If you haven't read this one, I highly recommend it.

Camille (Las Dames Aux Camilias) - Alexandre Dumas fils. A classic. Once I got into it, I enjoyed it.

Godmother:The Secret Cinderella Story - Carolyn Turgeon. I shared my thoughts on this book for March's 'I Read It', you can read it here.

Reading:
I am not a multiple book reader. I just can't seem to keep up if I am going back and forth between books. However, because of my participation in an online book club and last Sunday's guest post about listening to books while commuting...I find myself "in" three books at once.

So Long, Insecurity: You've Been A Bad Friend To Us - Beth Moore. I mentioned this book discussion going on over at Living Proof Ministries earlier this month. And, quite honestly, a few chapters a week is about all I can read and 'do' at a time.

Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection - Stephanie Dowrick. I try to read a chapter or two each night before journaling.

Bridge To Terabithia - Katherine Paterson (Read by Robert Sean Leonard) This is the audiobook that I am trying out. Since I have an hour and a half commute every day (if I am lucky enough not to encounter traffic or need to run errands), I figured I would give a juvenile fiction audiobook a try. I have listened to non-fiction books on CD before, but didn't really enjoy it. (I like marking up my non-fiction books or going back to re-read a paragraph.)

New Books Added To My Nightstand:
Love And War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of - John and Stasi Eldredge. I have loved several of their previous books, and am really looking forward to this one after watching an interview they gave.

66 Love Letters: A Conversation With God That Invites You Into His Story - Dr. Larry Crabb. I saw this one on several blog lists last month. I probably will not start it until later in April, after my current Bible study is wrapped up.

I still have several (read.between.the.lines - LOTS) of books still on my nightstand from January. And I have downloaded a sample for the Kindle app on iPhone, just not sure how I feel about reading a book on my phone. I already use it enough (make that, TOO MUCH) checking emails, blog comments and facebook!

How about you, what are you reading right now?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Official Numbers Are In

According to the official Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo numbers, my Rodeo Food Critics were off just a smidge between their preferences and the hard numbers of items sold.

"Food could be found at nearly all areas within Reliant Park, and Show visitors enjoyed the unique types available. Below are a few highlights.
o 100,000 funnel cakes
o 91,000 turkey legs
o 33,000 ears of corn
o 30,000 caramel and candied apples
o 15,000 pounds of sugar for cotton candy
o 10,000 pounds of strawberries
o 7,500 chocolate-covered cheesecakes on a stick
o 6,500 orders of chicken-fried bacon
o 6,000 cans of whipped cream
o 4,500 chocolate covered strawberries"


These were the official numbers released in the HLSR 2010 Wrap Up. It seems more funnel cakes were sold than turkey legs...but considering the size of the turkey legs, let's just say there were a lot more servings than the 91,000 indicated.

And where are the corn dogs in all of this?

And what did all that whipped cream go on top of?

And...I kept meaning to try the chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, but since it was right next door to the chocolate dipped cupcakes...I stopped there instead! (Saturday they were all out of chocolate cupcakes so I had red velvet instead...YUMMM!)

And, how in the world do you chicken fry bacon?

Oh, well, stuff to look forward to for next year!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It Really Wasn't ALL About The Food!

Edited at 11 AM due to misinformation!

I know I have talked a lot about the food at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, but it wasn't really about JUST the food. It was about the time I was able to spend with those I love.

Yet, every year when the Rodeo comes to town, some of the biggest publicity isn't about the cowboys or the entertainers...it is about the food.

So, in keeping with tradition...
I interviewed Houston's three toughest Rodeo Food Critics and compiled their list of the Top 5 foods of HLSR 2010.

Drum roll, please:


#5: Jumbo Corn Dog
I like mine with mustard! I know, it is a staple stadium food that you can get anytime of the year...but really, can you go to the Rodeo and NOT get a corn dog? I can't!

#4: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (Tied)
We had them in a container and on a 'steeck'...the vote was that they are best on a 'steeck'!

#4: Funnel Cake (Tied)
Add chocolate syrup and it is irresistible! (But don't buy them inside Reliant Stadium...get them outside, fresh out of the fryer!)


#3: Chocolate Dipped Cupcakes
Take a chocolate cupcake, insert a stick in the middle and dipped it in more chocolate.

Truffle on a stick!

And at #2: Texas Twister Taters

These come in four flavors: Seasoned Salt, Lemon Pepper, TNT and Garlic Parmesan.

We didn't try the TNT's...but in order of preference - Season Salt, Lemon Pepper and Garlic Parmesan. The first two are better with ketchup, while the Garlic Parmesan is best with Ranch Dressing.

These were so good that we had them twice; once coming into the Rodeo grounds and again just before we left.

Lest you think my Food Critics did not do their homework, the following did not make the Top 5 list:
chicken nachos - not enough chicken
bar-b-que beef stuffed baked potato - too much bar-b-q sauces and too spicy
fiesta nachos - boring
popcorn - too salty

I hope to make one more trip to Rodeo Houston before it winds down on Sunday. I have been invited to join some friends on Saturday for Brooks and Dunn's Last Rodeo tour.

Maybe I will find something new to tell you about...or maybe I will just get a Twisted Tater, a chocolate dipped cupcake, a Diet Coke and call it a day!

This is what happens when you upload pictures at 4PM and write your post at 10PM with everyone talking around you. I left off the most important thing!

I knew when I was posting that the Chocolate Covered Strawberries and the Chocolate Syrup Funnel Cakes were tied for 4th place...but I couldn't for the life of me remember why.

Well, it is because the #1 Rodeo food according to our Food Critics is the turkey leg! I just didn't load a picture of it because you have already seen it here and here!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We Were Just Havin' A Good Time

Yesterday was Rodeo Day 3 for me...time to spend it with all three of my girls!

You just never know what you are going to encounter when all four of us get together. I should have known that it was going to be a wild ride when our first picture of the evening was of a devoured turkey leg and looked like this.

I told y'all this was their favorite carnival food! Betcha just didn't know how much!
We met up with Stacy and Albert over at the Livestock show and spent some time looking at the animals. This little guy was running loose and performing kicks and leaps similar to that of a graceless ballerina.
When it was time for him and his momma to go get cleaned up for the showing, he was none too happy!
He really should have been in the calf scramble, he was just that resistant to anyone making him go any where.
I could just imagine him saying in a three year old voice, "Please, I don't want a bath!" "You can't make me...I am going to tell my daddy you were mean to me!"
We got into the arena just in time for the rodeo to start.
How in the world did all three girls get such beautiful blue eyes...and two of them blonds? I thought my high school biology class said that my brown eyes would dominate Jim's hazel ones when we had kids! And we are both brunettes...what in the world?
My three beauties with the carnival grounds in the background.
It didn't take long for the picture taking to get silly...
...and sillier...
...until total chaos broke out!
For some strange reason, Bri wanted her picture taken on the side of the big rig that cooks those delicious smoked turkey legs.
Then Meagan had her picture taken.
But Kelli found the ultimate way to be photographed with a semi-truck!
Leave it to my girls to amuse themselves even with the parking cones!
Kelli even took a self-administered sobriety test to show that she was capable of driving home.
Sadly, our only excuse is that we were under the influence of too much carnival food and Diet Coke!

Monday, March 15, 2010

And They Were Singing, "Don't Fence Me In"

Remember back in 2007 when we first purchased the five acres in Waller? This was the view from the end of the driveway back toward the road.
And this is a picture from the side yard toward the back of the property.
Beautiful "park-like setting", right?
I had envisioned putting a fire pit just to the left edge of this picture. We did put our horseshoe pits over there so that we could play in the shade during the hot summer months. Brian's hammock now resides toward the back of that little cluster of trees.
Three weekends ago, we started a new project. Building fences!
This is now the front side yard from the road.
And this is the new view from the end of our driveway back toward the road. Jim even built the fence to curve along with the driveway! Nice!
This is the back fence. It runs parallel to the end of the house. If you look real close you will see Brian's hammock just this side of the tractor.
Even though I love the look of real wood, My Hero likes a finished look...so we spent the last part of the week painting everything 'Blackened Pine'.
I don't think it took him much past this point to wonder why in the world he ever decided to paint!
Although we have been wanting to finish the fences since we moved in, we just haven't found the time or the desire to do so until now.
We could put it off no longer however, because it was time for 'the cows to come home'!
If you want to hear the first half of the story, click on over to Stacy's blog post from this morning.
They arrived yesterday afternoon to take up residence in their spiffy new digs.
They walked right out of the trailer, made a lap around the edges and then happily started munching grass.
Bri moved the round bale feeder over yesterday afternoon. They were so excited when she threw in their first bale this morning!

Miss March is large and in charge!
Miss January is our new momma...I think she will always be smaller than Miss March though. (She can't help that she is big boned, Bless Her Heart!)
And here is our little man.
He doesn't have an official name yet. Stacy and Albert called him 'Sirloin'. Bri doesn't want him named after a cut of meat, so I suggested "Sir Loin"! We can then change his Momma's name to Lady Jan(uary)! Ha!
That's how we have been spending our beautiful spring weekends. What have you been doing for yours?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nonna's Home!

Yesterday was a pretty special day. No big celebrations or anything like that, just an everyday kind of day that turned special at the last minute.

You see, when I drove up into my driveway, I was greeted by two of my favorite 'little' people.

Brooke and Davin both came running to my truck for Nonna hugs and kisses. It was so sweet!

Look at those 'hammy-tails'! Is that not one of the sweetest faces?
Kelli decided late afternoon to bring the kids over for the evening to visit with Meagan and Davin while Meagan was cleaning.

When I drove up they were all in the front yard (except Maddux, who was sleeping) watching Pappaw and the boys paint the new fence.

Davin wanted in the back of my truck.


And of course, Brooke had to join him.
We all had dinner - take out from Taco Cabana, because who wants to cook when they could be getting hugs and kisses instead?

Then we sat around the table talking until late...when everyone headed home.

Last week I was blessed with one on one time with all my kiddos in the same week. This week we had all five at home together!

I like these kind of surprises!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Am Addicted

...to this.
The Friday before heading out to Los Angeles, I upgraded my Samsung smart phone to the iPhone. I had tried the web package on my smart phone, but it was not user friendly so I soon cancelled the data package and only used it as a phone. After all, I had my iTouch to play music on as well as a distracting game of Sudoku, if need be.

Upon preparing for the trip to LA, I found myself going back and forth on the subject of whether or not to take my laptop. It wasn't critical that I have access to my email while away, but with missing three days in the office, it would be convenient if something came up.

My hesitation was rooted in my intimidation of airport security. I understand the need for them, but they are not the nicest people most of the time. Seasoned travelers seem to have little to no problem, but being a novice traveler, I ALWAYS forget something...and that holds up the line...and the security people are a little gruff...and I get embarrassed...and I just want to yell "Calgon, take me away" and be back in home, soaking in my bathtub...alone...and without everyone looking at me like I am an imbecile because I forgot to take off my shoes, or my jacket, or to take the liquids out of my purse, or to lay out my camera properly, or to take off my metal necklace, or...you get the picture.

Anyway, laptops? Just one more hassle to hurriedly unpack, lay out and still get through the line.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

Getting email = Good. Laptops through security = High Stress.

Soooo, I took the plunge and upgraded to the iPhone. I was going to take a cell phone on my trip anyway AND I knew it did not require any extra steps at security. Win, Win!

And now...I am addicted!

Facebook...I know when my friends level up in Farmville even while I stand in line at the grocery store.

Email...I can check you at any moment. I even got word that our house in Alief had an offer at 10:00pm the other night. Well after the time I am off the computer for the night.

Blogs I Follow...I can post comments whenever I want, even as I climb into bed for the night. And I can go back often to see if anyone else has commented.

Right now I am following the rodeo lineup and attendance online...and I can still make my normal phone calls and send text messages. It is all good!

But don't ask Jim about it. He has other opinions about my addiction to technology!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

All Dressed Up

So, what do you think of the new blogwear?

I wanted something different...preferably black and white.

I was inspired by our family portraits and asked my dear friend, August, if she could help me come up with something. Something like a newspaper, since this is where I report our family happenings...but still something cute...and with our family portraits...and cute...and sophisticated. Did I mention cute?

This is what I found in my inbox this morning.

Don't you just love it?

I do!

Thanks August!

I owe you dinner!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cowboys, Country Music, Cattle And Carnival Rides

Brianne, Alison, Randa and I had a wonderful time at the rodeo last night. The cowboys put on one heck of a show and then Jason Aldean put on another.

I wanted to share a few pictures from our adventure. (I forgot my camera, so I had to settle with taking them on my iPhone.)

As soon as the rodeo and concert were over, we headed out to the livestock show to find what Bri had been waiting on all day:


For some reason, my girls LOVE the huge turkey legs at rodeo. That is the first thing they go searching for every year! After grabbing turkey legs for her and Randa, we headed into Reliant Center to check out the livestock.
This little one looked like it had just been born. So sweet! After looking at the cattle and the sheep, Brianne wanted to walk through the petting zoo. They even had two wallabies! Not sure when they became livestock, but they were adorable.

After scraping the droppings from the bottom of our boots, we headed out to the carnival.
(Oh, but on the way out we picked up a chocolate dipped cupcake from a booth in the Reliant Center...delicious! We all four declared it our favorite carnival food of the night. If you get by the Reliant Center, look them up. It taste like a truffle!)
Bri and Randa decided to try out the carnival rides. Here they are on the Tango (they are the last two). This thing scared me just watching it. Evidently, it scared Bri riding it because you could hear her screaming through the whole thing!

After riding Disk-O, Tango, a roller coaster, G Force and the swings...we decided that maybe it was time to head home. But first we stopped to pick up a corn dog and some string fries.

After a LONG walk back to the truck, we headed home...9 1/2 hours after we left!

It was an amazing day. I am looking forward to next Monday when I get to do it all over again with all three girls. We are seeing Lady Antebellum!

Can you tell that I am enjoying rodeo season this year?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Last Week In The Life Of Goode

What a week we have had! It didn't seem like a lot, but as I think back over it...it really was. And it was all good.

So, if you want to know what has been going on with us lately, keep reading.

Last weekend we spent the majority of our time building fences. Yes, fences! In a few weeks, Miss January, Miss March and Sirloin will be making the move to our house. We had hoped to have them home by the end of last month...but we have had so much rain in January and February that there was no hope of setting fence posts. We have the front area complete, the stretch along the driveway has posts and we have marked out the back...and then, it rained all day Monday and part of Tuesday...so hopefully, we can get it finished this weekend.

Monday was pretty normal with work and picking Will up from tennis practice. He called to say he would be 30 minutes late, so I took the opportunity to run through the grocery store for a few things. The grocery store is never one of my favorite places, but especially the one here in Waller. Let's just say, don't buy anything without checking the expiration date first...and you probably need to eat it immediately or it may not be good by the time you get back to it.

Tuesday night Brian came over and spent the night. He was working here in Waller and decided to come by for a home cooked meal. Unfortunately, it was 'clean out the refrigerator' night. Oh, well, it was all home cooked at one point! He and Will spent most of the night playing video games and then he and Jim stayed up late talking business. It was good to have him home for the night.

Wednesday I had a late morning text message inviting me to lunch. Kelli and Brooke came by the office and took me to Panera Bread. It was a really nice surprise for the middle of my week. I got all kinds of hugs and kisses from my granddaughter and Kelli and I had a nice visit as we discussed our Bible studies and where we see the Lord at work in our lives.

As you already know, Thursday was an unexpected rodeo night for me and Meagan. We had a wonderful time. Dinner under the tent from Pappa's BarBQ, a little shopping, rodeo and Kenny. What a night!

Friday we had a pretty laid back evening. Will had been playing at a tennis tournament all day, so he was pretty beat by the time I picked him up. I came home and started dinner while Jim and Will were working on our sewer. (Yuck! Don't ask!) They watched Discovery's "Dirtiest Jobs" while I finished up. (Very appropriate, wouldn't you say?) Will was out by the time dinner was finished. I couldn't wake him for anything.

Bri and I will be heading out for the rodeo in a few hours. Jason Aldean today!

I didn't plan it that way, but as I look back over the week, I was able to spend some one on one time with each of the kids this week. That is a special treat at any time...but especially now that three of them have left home.

It makes me wonder what next week will hold.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Morning Conversations

Do you ever find yourself deeply engrossed in conversation with yourself as you get dressed in the mornings?

Yesterday mine went something like this:

"I'm running a little late...need to hurry up and get out the door."

"Hmmm, what to wear?"

"No outside meetings today; so comfortable is the way to go."

"Jeans and a pullover sweater."

"No, it is supposed to be very nice temperatures today. Wear something cute and with a hint of spring."

"Jeans and the top I bought for California."

"Yeah!"

"Uggs?"

"No, wear the dress boots. I haven't worn them in awhile and I don't have a lot of walking on today's agenda."

"Make-up?"

"Just eye shadow and mascara...remember, no meetings today."

"Oh, yeah. Hair?"

"It's fine."

"Jacket? I don't really have one to match this outfit. Should I grab my jean jacket?"

"It is going to be beautiful today. Plus, I only have to walk from the back door to the truck and then into the office. I don't need a jacket."

"Okay."

I got into work and we meet with Derrick about possibly adding on to our offices. (Technically, an outside meeting...but since he is my son-in-law and has seen me in my robe and pajamas with no makeup, he doesn't count.)

I sit down to my computer and lo and behold, what do I see?

Two tickets are available for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo TONIGHT. KENNY CHESNEY! Do I want them?

Let's just say, Jim had to snuggle me up for a good 15 minutes so I could defrost when I got home around midnight last night and I have blisters on the bottoms of my feet this morning.

But, man, was it worth it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Read It! Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story


It is time for the "I Read It!" carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books. A chance to share what you have been reading at the recommendation of someone else.

I haven't been doing nearly as much reading over the past month as usual. Between the homework for the new Tuesday night Bible study and participating in the So Long, Insecurity! book club over at Living Proof Ministries blog, there isn't much time left for pleasure reading these days. It's all good though! The Bible study on the life of David? Need it! The book club read on insecurity? NEED IT!

I did manage to read a novel in February and it was at the recommendation of a review I saw over at 5 Minutes for Books...so, my "I Read It" in February was "Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story".

The review by Carrie was so good that I did not waste any time in ordering this book from Amazon.

My summation of the book: Hauntingly Beautiful!

The descriptions of the fairy/fairy tale world from the past were magical. The descriptions of modern day Manhattan made me feel like I was walking through the city streets myself. And the story, oh my! I was surprised by the ending, but (without giving too much away) "it fit".

I gave it four stars on my Goodreads page (the average this book received is 3.2). It was whimsical and romantic, but I would have liked to have gotten to know the other main characters a little bit better. (I would have given it four and a half stars if half stars were allowed.)

Have you read any good books lately that you would recommend?