Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Different Kind of Reconnection

A Different Kind of Old Friend

Last week I got to visit a different kind of old friend: the house that I lived in from 1989 to 1999.

Hi House!
Those pines are gone. 
The shutters are now maroon. 

Three children were born while I lived in that house.

Four cats died there.

It was the first house I lived in that had my name on the mortgage.  I loved the floor plan and loved the house but when that third kid came along, Yikes! It got very small.

I still play Bunko in that neighborhood with the same basic group of women that have been playing together for almost 25 years.  One of my former neighbors is friends with the new(ish) owners and they kindly suggested to her that if I wanted to see the house, I was welcome to stop by.
And my answer?
I'm in.

So before Bunko (where I was a big winner for a big change!) Lucy, Diane and I stopped by.

Diane and Lucy: 
Sisters, Bunko Babes, Partners in Crime for the Night

It's not often that you get to go back and see a house that you once owned after selling it.

The house seemed smaller but o! I still love the floor plan.

We had added a screened in porch on the back which was always my favorite spot. The new owners had updated it with fancier tile and better screens, but otherwise it was the same.  Even their porch furniture was almost identical to ours.
It made my heart happy to hear the owners say it was also their favorite part of the house.

Look at that little chunk.
Screened in patio in progress.
We started with a low brick wall....

A built in TV cabinet had been replaced with a more custom piece of furniture. While our piece did the job, it was not well designed so I wasn't sorry to see it gone.The secret compartment in the cabinet is gone too, though. I wonder if they even knew about it?

Excuse the boring pic.
We were quite proud of this when we had it made it but 
the design...well, not so great. 

The kitchen had been updated, also. We had navy blue tile in the kitchen which the realtors all gasped at... "it will never sell!" ...but these people said they loved it. They changed the counters and backsplash and refaced the cabinets but the tile was still there. You just never know!

Darling little urchins on the shiny navy blue tile.
Very pretty, impossible to keep clean. 

Fresh paint, different furniture but inside the house was pretty much the same.

There had been another owner in between us for a few years and apparently they had ignored the backyard. Vines had smothered two trees and two others had rotted. Some large pines had been removed because their dogs kept bringing pine needles in. So, sadly,  the backyard had been redesigned. Some changes I liked. Others I wondered about.

Gone were the gorgeous azaleas under the towering pines. The giant gardenias outside the backdoor were also gone. When those babies were in bloom, you could get drunk on the scent.

Gardenias, gardenias, gardenias. 

Our pear trees had been cut down.   An odd stand of sago palms had been installed. (I was horrified the owners thought I had put those sagos in. No! I would never do a straight row of palms, much less TWO straight rows. It looked like a palm nursery.) But a nice stone patio had been added which I'm sure worked better for them. I just think that these owners would have really appreciated the yard as we had left it, not as they got it.

There were always flowers out in the yard. 
I can't grow much in the way of flowers now. 
Carlos has a tendency to trample them.

O well.
As they say "not my circus, not my monkeys".
But it was my house.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Three Friends...Forty Two Years Apart

Three Friends Over Time.

Forty two years ago these three girls spent Spring Break in San Miguel de Allende. It was our senior year of high school. I spearheaded the trip because I had been going to San Miguel for six years already and wanted to share this magical place with my friends. 

Me and Mary 

Mary and Emily                                                 

We went by TRAIN! Overnight in a sleeping car  from Nuevo Laredo to a field NEAR San Miguel. Someone picked us up I guess. I don't really remember. I do know another friend's uncle drove us back to the train stop and we sat in the back of his truck, drinking beer and nibbling on crackers in the middle of this field, until the train came. Frequently I look back and wonder how I knew how to do this stuff.    

Waiting for the train. 
In a field. 
With cocktails. 
Of course. 

The train trip was memorable mostly for the flasher who was outside of our window in Monterrey. We were stopped for over an hour and this lovely gentleman in his official flasher raincoat stood outside our window putting on a show. One of us- no names will be named- stayed glued to the window screaming "O my God! Look what he's doing now. O no. Don't look."  And if we tried to peek, she pushed us away so we didn't interfere with her view.  

While there, we shopped. 

We ate street food.

Mary takes her chances with some churros.

We went to the bars and met handsome Mexican boys. 

Me and Eduardo. 
I believe we also talked those boys into buying us drinks.
And dancing. 
Even in 1974 there were photo bombers.

Fingers and toes were painted. 

 Apparently that red shirt got passed around. 

The day after I got home from Mexico 
I fell off a horse and broke that leg...

And then we came home, graduated and grew apart. We went to different schools in different states or - in my case- a different country.     
I have seen these ladies at high school reunions and a funeral over the last 40ish years. Possibly five times total. (More really, but not much.)

Last Monday we had lunch. 

A three and a half hour lunch. 

So much has changed yet so little.  

Mary, Emily, Me. 
No handsome Mexican men to buy us cocktails this time. 
And we've improved with age, no? 

It is now irrelevant which "groups" we are in and surprisingly we all expressed the fact that we felt marginal/invisible/unimportant in high school even though that wasn't true.  Perceptions. 

They are extremely talented and hard working women. While I have loved my life and think going to school in Mexico certainly formed me, I do occasionally regret not getting a degree. I just couldn't settle on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm still wrestling with that. 

And this lunch was at a new restaurant for me so there's another notch on No. 44's belt. 

We ate at Seasons 52 in Houston City Centre.  Fabulous crab cakes and salads.  We were a boring group and basically all had the same meal. Only the salads varied. No worries. Our meals were fresh and delicious. 

The best part of the day? A phrase which came up and I have co-opted as my rallying cry for the year, the decade, the rest of my life.  
"I'm in." 

Works, doesn't it? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's a Theme....

Reconnecting. It's a theme.

Somewhere around the time I finalized my Padre plans, scheduled a lunch with some high school ladies and booked myself to Florida to see a college friend, I had an epiphany.     There's a theme going on here. Reconnecting is not just something I'm doing with a few local neighbors now that I'm back in my home town. Somehow it has grown larger.  I think it has become my theme for the year.

And maybe that is how I will handle my Ninety by Ninety. Each year with a theme for the next ten years. Put some challenges in with that. Add in some birthdays.  I said I was looking for a way to make this manageable and this may just be it.

In Project Sixty by Sixty I set myself the goal of making a new friend. Wasn't sure if that was something that could be done, but I definitely did it. Made a few in fact.
You never know what will happen when you wander up someone's 
drive and introduce yourself. 
Make a friend?! Maybe.
I did.

Now I want to get to know the people that have been in my life better.   Take those Facebook friends off the internet and actually into my life.

I've taken some steps in that direction and you know what?  I know some really smart women. Some super talented people. Creative people. Designers. Painters. Thinkers.

And I'm having fun.  

 If that isn't a win/win then I don't know what is.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

No. 46: Travel to a New State and more Reconnecting

No. 46: Travel to a New State (Trying to see how many I can visit)
and More Reconnecting!

Somehow along the way January (and now February) became the poster child for meeting up with friends new and old. This makes me very happy.  I have seen high school friends, bunko friends, neighborhood friends.

This past weekend I managed to travel someplace new AND meet up with some neighbors who moved away from Texas 15 years ago. Winning!

The reason for the out of state visit?  Bunny wanted to see the University of Mississippi, one of the schools that was on her short list for college next year.

So last Thursday Bunny, my bunko and neighbor friend Nancy and her son Cade all headed off on a road trip to Mississippi. It's a long drive. Longer if you stop at the roadside attractions like the chain saw carver in Carthage.

Rick Kuper/ Chainsaw carver

But we made it!

 Thursday night arrival!

Friday morning dawned in Oxford, Mississippi and we were at the University for a tour by 10am.

we were charmed.

What a perfect little college and perfect little college town. Brick buildings. The epitome of Southern style. The quad. The Grove.  The town square. O my.

Gorgeous architecture.
Look at those columns!

Friday night Bunny spent the night in a dorm with a friend and attended a frat party. "Mom, they're just like in the movies! Crammed with people, everyone drinking, it was fun!"

The school tour was so good, we had to go find t-shirts.

While I realize Oxford is not all of Mississippi, that's ok. Looks like I am going to have plenty of opportunity to see the rest of the state in the next few years.

A college decision has been made. Ole Miss it is!

Bunny at the entrance to The Grove.
In her new t-shirt.

Now, to the reconnecting part of the weekend.

From Mississippi we headed to Little Rock, Arkansas- another place I had never been.

And there we met with our old neighbors, Carrie and Bobby.  They used to live two doors down from me and around the corner from Nancy before they moved off to Little Rock.

Our children (their firsts and my last) were born October, November and January, all in a row. So we got the kids back together ....

Bunny, Cade and Grace
(January, October and November)

And enjoyed a wonderful meal with lots of laughing and reminiscing.

Carrie, Nancy, Bobby and Me.

All in all a pretty perfect weekend,
And I visited a state for No. 46.

(Arkansas didn't count as new.  I once spent a weekend in Eureka Springs when my aunt was married in Thorncrown Chapel.)