Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If You Ask a Dad to Help You Build A Flower Bed . . .

. . . along the north fence line, he’s going to want to borrow Grandma’s truck to haul all of the supplies for the retaining wall back from Home Depot. If he is going to borrow the truck, he’s going to suggest collapsing boxes and taking them to the recycling center “on the way.” To get to the boxes in the very back of the carriage house, you’ll have to drag storage totes onto the patio and step over the pile of old doors and 2 x 4’s in the left-hand stall. Seeing the storage totes, old doors and 2 x 4’s will remind the dad that he salvaged the old doors and 2 x 4’s to construct shelving for the carriage house. He will want to build the shelving that very moment (and you won’t complain – much – because you really do need the shelving, and the dad doesn’t get these impulses that often). While the dad is building the shelving, chances are that you will start to go through the storage totes to have something to do, and you will notice how many things are in them that you no longer want or need. You will start to make a pile to take to Goodwill. By the time that you have filled the trunk and back seat of your car with Goodwill donations, the attended Goodwill drop-off site will be closed. You will then spend two hours going through Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations and switching out garden flags and outdoor throw pillows.

Seeing the Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations will remind you that you need to buy mums.

The next day, the dad will take the boys (in his car, because there is no room in your car for two children, because of all of the Goodwill stuff) to Home Depot to determine which size bag of Kwikrete concrete will make the best “stone” for the retaining wall. While he is there, he will notice three trees that might look pretty in the back yard. He will bring home two different bags and place them in front of the nonexistent flower bed, and you will both stare at them, trying to decide which one to pick. Then he will send you to Home Depot to stare at more bags, count how many bags are on a pallet and look at trees. Since you have to drive by Nana’s to get to Home Depot, you will pick her up on the way. You have to walk by the ready-made Pavestones to get to the Kwikrete pallets, and you and Nana will briefly consider buying Pavestones in lieu of the Kwikrete. When you look at the trees, Nana will mention that she has some decent red oak saplings in her yard and that the neighbor bought a lovely maple from a local tree farm. You will buy mums. You will not buy any Kwikrete. Then you will stand in Nana’s yard and discuss trees.

On the way back from Nana’s, you will stop at the garden center and buy more plants. When you get home, you will put the mums and other plants where you intend to plant them but not actually do any planting. When you place some of the mums between the shrubs that are sitting, still in their nursery pots, along the north fence line, you will think . . .

We really need to build a flower bed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Adventures in Party Planning, Part 2

Sculptural artist Rebecca Low graciously opened her gallery and sculpture garden to us for Culinary Arts' opening party. The space pretty much decorates itself, but we threw in some Matisse-, Kahlo- and Warhol-themed tablescapes for good measure. Former CA member Stacy Sanford catered for us, and everyone had a wonderful time eating, sampling a variety of wines and interacting with the art!

I am also attaching a photo of the Seurat-inspired centerpiece that Lindsay created for our new member brunch, using her "Sunday in the Park with George" umbrella stand. Needless to say, we're having fun with the whole art theme.

Check out Rebecca's gallery at

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Max-iversary

Hard to believe that our youngest "cat child" joined us a year ago this week. Photo was taken three weeks into his tenure with us - Parker was explaining Hot Wheels to him, and, as you can see, he had Max's full attention.

Evidently, the novelty of Max has worn off, as Connor is now plotting to acquire a hamster, Parker has requested a fish and Dad apparently gave them the impression that these requests may be fulfilled once we pull the trigger on our planned upstairs addition. Hmm . . . an oversized ball of feline energy and young male aggression, chasing another ball (containing one small, terrified rodent) down a flight of stairs, with two kids and a barking Sheltie in hot pursuit. We could issue tickets to the show and apply the proceeds to the costs of construction. The idea almost sells itself.

I have suggested "Sushi" as an appropriate name for Parker's proposed fish pet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Gigi!

Grandma Kopcsak (Gigi - for "GG," or "great-grandmother" - to my kids) turned 90 today, a fact that she might not want me to advertise, but I certainly think it’s worth mentioning! If she knew that I was posting this, she no doubt would remind me that one of her sisters lived to be 107, so from that perspective a 90th birthday is just another day at the office.

We consider ourselves so fortunate to have her ten minutes down the road; the kids, in particular, benefit so much from her presence in their daily lives. That includes all of the kids – the pets, Ruby Dog in particular, swarm to her the minute that she enters our house!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Adventures in Party Planning

I have to take a moment to brag on my friends in the Culinary Arts Department of the Fort Worth Junior Woman's Club. My friend (and former co-worker) Lindsay and I serve as co-social VP's for Culinary, and in that capacity we serve on the social committee for the club proper. Since our department is food-related, it was our gig by default to handle the food for the club's opening. Rather than hire it done, in a moment of mutual insanity Lindsay and I decided that we would just make everything ourselves. Now, in a lot of organizations, it's like pulling teeth to get folks to volunteer time and effort over and above their existing commitment. In Culinary, it's like swatting flies. The only "stress," as it is, is in answering the numerous "I'd love to help - when and where?" e-mails that pop up in your inbox in rapid fashion. Anyway, we put out the all-call, a group of women showed up at my house the day before the event, braving the rain that spun off from Ike, and over several batches of sangria we: speared sundried tomatoes and marinated mozzarella with little sprigs of rosemary; mixed massive quantities of hummus; and laughed loud and often (particularly over the appearance of the edamame feta dip - our budget was tight, one of our members had a metric ton of edamame that she donated to the cause, and we found a recipe that tasted great . . . but when prepared it looked like a giant bowl of wasabi mustard!). In less than three hours, we generated enough food to feed a couple of hundred women. The clubwide theme this year is art, so we planned the food and table decor around Arcimboldo's "Summer" (shown above). As we were not adventurous enough to try to mold a man's head out of vegetables, we settled for arrangements of red-stemmed Swiss chard surrounded by radishes, cauliflower and broccoli. (I am now sold on decorating with vegetables - they're striking, cheap and pretty much arrange themselves. Produce: It's the other floral arrangement.)

Anyway, the whole thing turned out fabulous, and word got back to me after the event that inquiring minds want to know if Culinary would consider going into the catering business. We certainly do make a good team . . . but the sangria expense would negate our profit margin.

Here's one of the recipes from the event - adapted from a Whole Foods recipe, and definitely worth making again:


Mix crumbled bleu cheese with spreadable (tub) cream cheese to taste, reserving some of the bleu cheese. Slice baguette (white or wheat) into thin slices and brush with olive oil. Toast baguette slices in 350-degree oven until golden-brown. Spread cheese mixture on toasts and top with reserved bleu cheese crumbles and toasted chopped pecans. Drizzle with chestnut honey (an Italian honey - hard to find and kind of expensive, but a little goes a long way).

Pillows, Polka Dots and Monograms, Oh, My!

When I informed my better half that I intended to use the linen left over from the kitchen window treatments to make monogrammed throw pillows, he sighed soulfully - the only thing that makes less sense to him than my monogramming fetish is my need to cover every inch of surface area with pillows. So I thought I'd offer him an olive branch - hence, the "useless pillow" that now sits front and center on our living room sofa. He did appreciate the gesture, citing it as an excellent example of truth in advertising, and in consideration of my ability to laugh at myself he has made nary a comment about the four pillows that arrived along with it (all made by my mom, who really outdid herself) - the aforementioned "kitchen linen" pillows, bearing our blended monogram, and the "his side" and "her side" pillows that had their genesis in a great fabric remnant that I found while purchasing trim for the other projects. It was a big remnant - I also got a tablecloth out of it, shown here with my new green-and-white polka dot plates. I found them on deep discount and bought every last one that they had in stock. Didn't realize until I got home that they were part of the Paula Deen at Home Collection. I should have known; Paula and I have the same taste in many things! She calls them "Dot Crazy" - wish I'd thought of that name.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mourning for Galveston

Goodbye, Murdoch's Bathhouse and Mermaid Pier (seen here post-Ike and in much happier times). Farewell, Balinese Room. Hooters, we're even sad to see you go - although we initially resented you for replacing the Ocean Grill, purveyor of the best seafood on Galveston Island (and a great place for communing with seagulls), you redeemed yourself somewhat after a table of your off-duty waitresses sent a round of [non-alcoholic] drinks to our boys. The Spot: the last photo published from the "Spot Cam" shows your windows boarded and your decks cleared of furniture. We anxiously await news of your fate.

We can't remember a summer that didn't involve a trip to Galveston. The Island is like a second home to us - so much so that we started looking at real estate a few years back. We are grieving for those who lost so much, and (although admittedly trivial in the grand scheme) we are grieving for our own loss, specifically the loss of innocence that our boys will suffer as they come to understand that the scenes of so many of their best childhood memories have been washed away. But we will always have those memories, and we will be back. The Gulf Coast will come back as well.

A co-worker went to the beach a week ago. At my request, she went to Murdoch's Bathhouse on the Seawall and bought two painted hermit crab shells for Parker's classroom pets. One is painted Murdoch's blue with the pirate Jean Lafitte on the side. Note to crabs: I want that shell back when you are finished with it . . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Higher (?) Math

I thought I’d share the following from my eight year-old’s math homework (Italics are his responses):

Solve the following and state whether you used the identity, commutative or associative property. Explain your answers.

x + 14 = 14
x = 0 Identity property, because when the sum of two addends is one of the addends, then the other addend must be zero.

x + (8 + 9) = (7 + 8) +9
x = 7 Associative property, because the addends stay the same when only the grouping changes.

x + 18 = 18 + 12
x = 12 Commutative property, because the addends stay the same when only the order changes.

I’m advised that this is “standard accelerated third-grade math curriculum.” Funny, I thought that this was “algebra.” Yet another way that my children remind me daily that I am one asteroid or tar pit away from being a fossil fuel source . . . . But it’s reassuring to know that, although my child cannot secure shoes on his feet unless they have Velcro or a bungee cord, he is apparently quite capable of solving for x.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Menagerie

We're (okay, I'm) thinking of expanding it . . . . A coworker has four very adorable puppies at her house. I'm particularly partial to the boys, Abner and Lefty (although Lefty could be dangerous, as it might inspire me to acquire a Pancho to go along with). Both are black and white with a touch of brown, thus conforming to the pet color scheme at our house. Jury's out as to whether either will have longish hair (our other pet requirement, evidently).

Parnell is less than enthused about the prospect of another pet. I pointed out that we couldn't possibly have more hair, poo or pee than we already have with a dog, two boys and three cats underfoot - we are literally at critical mass. Or so I thought . . . . On Labor Day, Parnell attempted to do me a solid by locking the (human) boys out of the bedroom so that I could sleep in. He made the mistake of leaving the two Maine Coon boys (see picture; Barkley's on the left, Max is on the right) on my side of the door. Evidently, Max was experiencing some type of intestinal upset. (I should point out here that Max was only recently domesticated and has a flexible definition of what constitutes a toilet. The last time he was accidentally shut out from the litter box, he squatted over the drain in the boy's bathtub. Pretty ingenious, actually.) Rather than disturb me by scratching at the door, he chose to use Ruby's (very cute, red-and-white toile) dog bed in place of the actual "facilities." The poo smell woke me from a sound sleep, and it was about five seconds from bed to the back door, from whence I hurled the dog bed into the backyard.

Kind of chilled the whole "let's get a puppy" sentiment. Parnell is delighted, and I am starting to suspect that he paid off the cat . . . .