Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Convince Me I Don't Have Ghosts

* I'll add that Snickers has been acting really, really weird lately. She has her ears perked back, and she doesn't relax, which is quite unusual for my "Fiddle Dee Dee, Let Me Lounge in the Most Relaxed Position Possible" cat. A friend even found her whimpering on top of the kitchen cabinets, and she hasn't gone up there since we first moved in. It would have to be something unusual for her to act this way - she didn't freak out when she, me, and Meeko saw Snowball's spirit.
Honestly, I don't really think this instance is ghosts, or (what I really mean,) spirits. With spirits, there's no doubting what you've just encountered. I'm just using this convenient excuse because I'm not happy to have everything break at once, especially when I don't have time to deal with it.
I thoroughly intend to update you all on my most recent trip, but first I must tend to a more immediate need - trying to keep everything I own from breaking.
Convince me I don't have ghosts. Within the past two weeks I have developed these electrical problems: my kitchen light halfway or halfway and a half or not at all turns on and new bulbs don't fix it, my weedeater battery charger "died," a new weedeater battery charger I bought to replace it doesn't work either - even on a new battery - and at different outlets - numerous light bulbs burned out (this one certainly could be coincidence,) and now my television is turning itself off. My television! And just when I discovered "Murder, She Wrote" is now on at night!
Spirits have gotten me messages much simpler ways ... and I won't freak you out by telling you how, but I wish they wouldn't try to rock the boat so much. In the meantime, I guess I'll be reading up on electricity. Ugh. Like, 98 percent of the time, I'm happy I'm still single - but this is one of those times I'd prefer a guy around, especially a handy one. Seriously. I'm not so good at playing the damsel in distress so maybe this is a way of forcing my hand. Yippee.

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Up" Bright & Early! My Hot Air Balloon Ride

* Yes, I am in a hot air balloon! It was GREAT!! It’s really like floating. We just started drifting upward as smooth as can be, and then before I knew it, I was 3,000 feet in the air!
I was a little worried I’d get a.) scared or b.) motion sick, but neither materialized. It is a little scary, though, to recognize you are standing in a basket – a wicker basket – and that only wicker is standing between you and an awful lot of freefalling. The basket maybe came up to the bottom of my rib cage, and with no safety net, you can bet I was holding tight on to my camera!
When we arrived – at 5:30 a.m. – we were treated to seeing them inflate the balloon. I’m happy to report we had the prettiest one of all that morning! : ) This last picture is a view looking up in to the balloon.

Definitely a different way to greet the 6 a.m. hour!
Any idea what I'm "up" to?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hot Time in Acoma Pueblo - New Mexico

* This is indeed Acoma Pueblo, also called Sky City, just west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it indeed was very, very hot. I think I had almost melted by the time this picture was taken. The views, however, are beautiful!
The Pueblo was a remarkable mix of old and new – brand new, shiny pickup trucks stood next to dingy, wooden outhouses (there is no running water.) Only 10 to 15 families live there year round, but most of the 3,500 tribal members stay there on occasion. The houses are adobe, with some dating back to the 1400’s! Something very different from what we are accustomed to is that a house is never sold. It is passed down from family members or else abandoned. They are a matrilineal people, but only men serve on their council so they seem to have a balance that works for them. I was told that if a couple splits up, tradition holds that the woman puts the man’s clothes and the man’s saddle outside the door, and that is all he gets!

Hmmm ... wonder where I've been?

Here are some hints:
I spent a very hot but very illuminating afternoon here, where I learned about a Native American tribe. These pictures are from their settlement, which is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America. It is perched on a 70-acre sandstone mesa rising 367 feet above the valley floor.

The pottery is just a small portion of the beautiful pieces crafted by tribal members.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thinking Blogger

I've been meaning to announce that I have been named a "Thinking Blogger" by one of my loyal readers, El Jefe Maximo, who, when he first found me, scored major points simply by his name choice. Of course, his wit and love for his subject matters have brought me to his site, Kingdom of Chaos, ever since.

Here's what he had to say about me: "If you want to get away for awhile from the rantings of political gasbags, airplanes and things that go boom, have a look at Candidly Caroline. Caroline writes from Austin, a town I’m rather attached to, possibly because of my days there in connection with a certain Large Orange institution. Well, Caroline went to the Other Place, but writes thoughtfully on Austin, music, kiddos, romance, food and other things without which life would be dull indeed." Thanks so much to Jefe for including me!

I've thought about how much thinking really goes on here at Candidly Caroline. In my real life, I'm nothing but a thinker. I think, think, think all the time. When I'm done thinking, I move on to analyzing and juxtaposing and imagining. Then, I think again. Then, I sleep and dream, and there is even more thinking. But - most of that doesn't ever make it public. I'm glad that apparently at least some of that comes through in my posts, though, so you all can get a peek at who I am.

If that makes you curious, just wait until you read the book I'm working on - then you'll all really know how my mind works!

Monday, June 18, 2007

In Case You Had Any Doubt

In case you had any doubt about what huge Aggie fans we are in my family, check out Loupot's Children's Clothing. My beautiful niece Alivia is their baby model for a couple of pages of outfits. This one and this one are my favorites. We definitely start them young - remember her hat when she was born?
I got to see Alivia and the rest of the family when I went home for Father's Day this weekend. It was a nice time!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Chai Thoughts

Someone remind me the next time I try to have a Chai Latte at 9:30 p.m. that the result will be I'll never fall asleep! Seriously!! Anyway, since I'm awake ... still ... at 4 o'clock in the morning ... with about a thousand thoughts running through my head, I guess I ought to be able to put something down ...
I will say that I've been trying really hard this past week to get back in to my writing groove. And, when I say my writing groove, I don't so much mean my regular writing feature stories type groove - deadlines get me plenty in that groove - I mean more my personal, in touch with my inner self, creative writing groove. There's a certain place I have to be mentally to make much progress there, and when I get out of that place, it can take me a little while to get back. I'm not saying I have the stereotypical crazy, artistic temperament because I don't, but ...
I do seem to have an interesting connection to about 3:30 a.m. It's weird, but I often wake up at that time for a few moments, no matter what time I went to bed. Sometimes something random will happen, like the smoke detector will beep or the phone will ring or the cat will jump or I'll wake up from a dream. Then sometimes, it will seem random, but I'll just - boom - be wide awake. I haven't found any connection yet so surmise what you will ...
Speaking of dreams, though, I had one ripe with symbolism the other night. Well, I have a lot of them, but this one I don't mind sharing: I am standing with thousands and thousands of jewels all around me in the form of necklaces, bracelets, etc. There are so many that they are up to my ankles. While I am sorting through them looking for the “real" diamonds, Rhett Butler walks up, sweeps me off my feet, and carries me to his train, where for the duration of the train ride, he tries to win me over. I remember enjoying it but being a little scared and not quite giving in. There was no real ending because, you guessed it - it was 3:30 a.m. and I woke up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Just a reminder to my readers - the new ones and the old faithfuls - that there is an easy way to reach my blog. Instead of typing in the blogspot address or searching for me and finding everything from years-old articles to my brother's wedding announcement, you simply can type www.CarolineShearer.com or www.CandidlyCaroline.com, whichever is easiest for you to remember.
Now, wouldn't it be nice if everything were that simple? : )

Monday, June 11, 2007

Game Night 2.5

You sunk my battleship!

I hosted Game Night 2.5 recently, and it was a total blast! I had a much larger group over this time so we had multiple games going on at once - Battleship, a marathon Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary Edition game, Scattergories, Fact or Crap, chess, a Texas A&M versus t.u. checkers game, and lots of Twister!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Caroline Times Two

My 11-year-old cousin Caroline has been in town, and we have been having the best time! We visited the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, where we learned all about Texas, and where we saw an IMAX movie about an African Safari. We also saw "Muppets Take Manhattan" at the Alamo Drafthouse. We made turtle brownies and cookies that we dipped in caramel and chocolate.
And - we volunteered at the Sunshine Camps, which is part of the group I help tutor during the school year. We helped by running the face painting booth at "Carnival Night" and by taking kids out on canoes on Town Lake on "Canoe Night." We got quite good at painting faces, even though it was our first time, and between water guns, paddles, and seaweed fights, we got really, really wet canoeing. What a busy, fun week!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Heart of a Writer - Killing the Phantom

From "Professions for Women," a paper read to the Women’s Service League. By Virginia Woolf. (Emphasis and editing for length mine.)
"But to tell you my story – it is a simple one. You have only got to figure to yourselves a girl in a bedroom with a pen in her hand. She had only to move that pen from left to right – from ten o’clock to one. Then it occurred to her to do what is simple and cheap enough after all – to slip a few of those pages into an envelope, fix a penny stamp on the corner, and drop the envelope in to the red box at the corner. It was thus that I became a journalist; and my effort was rewarded on the first day of the following month - a very glorious day it was for me - by a letter from an editor containing a cheque for one pound ten shillings and sixpence. But to show you how little I deserve to be called a professional woman, how little I know of the struggles and difficulties of such lives, I have to admit that instead of spending that sum upon bread and butter, rent, shoes and stockings, or butcher’s bills, I went out and bought a cat – a beautiful cat, a Persian cat.
What could be easier than to write articles and to buy Persian cats with the profits? But wait a moment. Articles have to be about something. Mine, I seem to remember, was about a novel by a famous man. And while I was writing this review, I discovered that if I were going to review books I should need to do battle with a certain phantom. And the phantom was a woman, and when I came to know her better I called her after the heroine of a famous poem, The Angel in the House.
It was she who used to come between me and my paper when I was writing reviews. It was she who bothered me and wasted my time and so tormented me that at last I killed her.
I will describe her as shortly as I can. She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily. In short she was so constituted that she never had a mind or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others. Above all, she was pure. Her purity was supposed to be her chief beauty – her blushes, her great grace. And when I came to write I encountered her with the very first words. The shadow of her wings fell on my page; I heard the rustling of her skirts in the room. Directly, that is to say, I took my pen in hand to review that novel by a famous man, she slipped behind me and whispered, ‘My dear, you are a young woman. You are writing about a book that has been written by a man. Be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiles of your own sex. Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own. Above all, be pure.’ And she made as if to guide my pen.
I now record the one act for which I take some credit to myself, though the credit rightly belongs to some excellent ancestors of mine who left me a certain sum of money so that it was not necessary for me to depend solely on charm for my living. I turned upon her and caught her by the throat. I did my best to kill her. My excuse, if I were to be had up in a court of law, would be that I acted in self-defence. Had I not killed her she would have killed me. She would have plucked the heart out of my writing. For, as I have found, you cannot review even a novel without having a mind of your own, without expressing what you think to be the truth about human relations, morality, sex. And all those questions, according to the Angel of the House, cannot be dealt with freely and openly by women; they must charm, they must conciliate, they must – to put it bluntly – tell lies if they want to succeed. Thus, whenever I feel the shadow of her wing or the radiance of her halo upon my page, I took up the inkpot and flung it at her.

She died hard. Her fictitious nature was of great assistance to her. It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality. She was always creeping back when I thought I had dispatched her. Though I flatter myself that I killed her in the end, the struggle was severe; it took much time that had better have been spent upon learning Greek grammar; or in roaming the world in search of adventures. But it was a real experience; it was an experience that was bound to befall all women writers at that time. Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer."