Monday, July 31, 2006

Acts of Love

Hello Invisible Friends! I know you are dying to hear what I did today. I am smug in the knowledge that you stare at your computer all day, waiting anxiously for me to post. What? What is that? Well it's just my overinflated ego of course. Thank you for noticing!

As you might have guessed, the writing is an upswing again. I am in the maniac upswing of what has been a bipolar summer. People love me, people want stories, people will pay me- and my pessimistic side knows the voices will be still in another week. People are busy, editors are frazzled- and my fragile ego will take another beating, only to be plumped again by the next shred of attention I get. Have I mentioned I adore attention?

Once again, I have dashed full into the job hunt- both writing and full time. I am convinced that I will be successful and have a fuffilling job. My pride is keeping me from crawling to a retail place just to earn some cash.

This evening, my husband went swimming with me. I knew he did it only to make me happy, and he didn't stop smiling even when I accidently kicked him in the face. He was so kind and gracious, and it made me feel a bit guilty. We had talked yesterday about doing things for others and taking feelings into consideration just to make them happy. True happiness and true love, he said, is when you can do something for someone you would never do and be truly happy about it, just because you love them.

In sociology in college, I learned about love languages. Everyone gives and expresses love in different ways, which causes so much confusion. There's acts of service; verbal expression; spending time together; physical touch; and gifts. Ben's major is acts of service while mine is verbal. He expressed love through picking up groceries for me or washing my car, while I expressed it through sweet notes and saying it out loud. It's taken some time and confusion, but we both figured out what each other needed. Well, he figured it out and I'm still learning. It seems like sometimes everything's right and I do things that make him happy, while other times I'm completely off base.

How do you learn to love someone the way they want and do it right all the time? Maybe that's the point. Maybe you have to learn to love, and make mistakes along the way. If we all knew what each other wanted, soap operas wouldn't exist. But people grow, people change, their needs change. For someone who despises change and creates a structure, it's hard to adapt to ever changing personal needs.

Maybe the largest act of love at all is patience and forgiveness. After all, we're always learning. We will always look back and realize how much we didn't know, and how much we thought we did. When people say things about my husband that I should "change", I ignore them. I realized that our relationship is always developing, and he won't be the same as he is now. Just as I realize that I will eventually figure things out. I may stumble and crash along the way, but I'll get there soon. Maybe not just as soon as he would like.

But love isn't just for your spouse, your boyfriend, your crush. You love your parents, you love your dogs, you love your children. During my Mom's illness, I've learned just how strong love can be. I've watched my Dad flutter around her side, morphing into a full time nurse and protector. I've watched my sister help without complaint or a harsh word. And I've realized for the first time that my Mother is fragile, and that she is really sick. For the first time, she needs us. She's spent years giving us everything, the ultimate act of love. She supported us, she admonished us, and she helped us grow. And now it's time for us to help her.

That's not the other family I've seen true love in. My mother-in-law has been nothing but caring and supportive. I was terrified she would see me as another girl just marrying their college sweetheart to be a trophy wife and watch soaps all day. She's been encouraging in my writing and job search, and wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation. That is also an act of love.

While we may not always get how others love us, there are times when you know you are truly loved. And when you are surrounded by people that love you for who you are, no matter your faults, that is an act of love itself. Love is the most important act of all.

Don't worry- funny duckie post manana.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Blonde Duck Tries To Act Like She's Been To Town Before

Well, this weekend was unusually social for my husband and I. Normally, I like to hide in my bubble on weekdays and emerge on weekends, like a butterfly from a cocoon. My exhausted husband prefers to go out on nights and send the rest of the weekend buried in his dark office like a mole. If you shine a light on his face and plea for him to come out, he squints his eyes and burrows deeper into his hole. He can only be lured out with the promises of nachos and malts, an appealing combination for all.

Saturday we went down to see my Mom after her surgeries, and to spend time with her. Some of her friends were having a party down the street, and she was unable to attend. My dad asked us to make an appearance, so being the dutiful children, we pranced down the street to Cindy and Norm's house. Norm was out the door, laughing as he said in his thick Scottish accent, "I saw you coming across the yard there, cutting through the bushes like that." Ben's eyes widened at the accent, and I tried not to laugh. We thanked them for having us and went to the backyard, where tons of kids were swimming in the pool and the adults were chatting in the shade. I went and spoke to my Mom's friends, watching as my sister floated around in the saltwater pool with the other kids.

My husband was having a swell time. Beer in hand, he had settled on entertaining everyone with stories and fun. Jonell was harassing him, which made it even better. "Let me tell you kind of a story," he said. "Well is it a story or isn't it a story?" she interrupted laughing. Ben grinned with that little twinkle in his eye as he toasted her and made everyone laugh. Poor Cindy thought Ben didn't have a beer and was trying to help him open it. "No, it's empty, I drank it!" he said. "It's a trick. Wanna see me do it again?"

The evening was full of switches between us and dad and an entire parade of food down to the house. Mom looked delighted to see all her friends, and even more delighted to see the bread and potato salad. Danielle looked delighted to get back to the pool.

Sunday, back in our bubble, the neighbors invited us to a birthday party for their daughter who was turning one. I baked peanut butter cookies to take a few over and then to Dave's, who bless his heart, had invited us to dinner in an attempt to try culturing us again. The boy does not give up. We were late to the party, and Ben went first while I finished getting ready and grabbed the cookies. When I walked over, he looked terrified as he stared at 8 screaming children. They were squirming and splashing in a blow up swimming pool, running and throwing balls and frisbees, and a few were having temper tantrums in the grass. The adults sat under the shade of a canopy and drank while trying to ignore the squirming 18 month old who after crawling, decided he really did not like grass and preferred the comfort of his mothers lap. The birthday girl herself was throwing a tantrum and looked like she needed a nap.

We chatted with the parents for awhile and watched the children crawl around on the grass. Ben looked at me in alarm and I laughed and whispered in his ear, "No, I do not have baby fever." He looked a bit more relieved as he continued staring at the children and rubbing his head. He looked like a scientist studying apes and trying to figure out why they were picking fleas out of each other's fur. Fifteen minutes later, he decided it would be wonderful if we left. He breathed a huge sigh as relief as we got to our front door. "Children, everywhere" he muttered as he went running to his office. "Crawling, swimming, screaming...." He didn't emerge from his office for 45 minutes.

Then we went to Dave's, Ben ravenously staring at the road as he drove. Having gotten over his fear of small children and his earlier trauma, he now decided he was hungry. He was licking his lips and looking longily at Dave's apartment where he was sure there would be food. After we entered, he made a beeline for the kitchen and hovered around. Once again, poor Dave was trying to entertain the "California way." The "California Way" of entertaining and hosting a dinner states that dinner is a several hour affair. You start with drinks and appetizer, have causal conversation, salads and dinner, then relax afterwards and perhaps have desert. Then there's the Ben and Miranda Texan Way: Kill it, Grill It, Eat it, and Move On. So, it's interesting learning about other cultures.

Ben was not thrilled with this arrangement until Dave provided us crackers and dip, which Ben attacked like it was going to move and leave him. He even ate cucumbers, which shocked the daylights out of me. Currently satisfied, Ben moved onto investigating Ben's new furniture and computer. He poked around Dave's room investigating every square inch as I watched TV and shook my head in amusement. Dinner was a success as we managed not to trash out Dave's house and leave everything a complete wreck. Dave was pleased, Ben was happy and fed, and after chatting on the porch we left to put Ben to bed. With a full belly and a fresh haircut, he happily crawled into bed to dream of small computers instead of small children.

With that, I think our weekend of social interaction was a success. While Californians still find us to be hillbillies, at least we know we that we can still fit in at a Texas bbq in the backyard. As Ben said, "For some reason, people our age don't think I'm funny; but older adults who have drank a little find me hilarious." Perhaps after this we will be invited to town more often.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Act Like You've Been to Town Before

I am not a cultured person. As much as my dear father tried, I'm not sophisticated at all. After years of nice dinners, theater tickets, concerts and ballets, I'm still the goofy easy going girl I've always been. My father tried so hard to teach us grace and etiquette. Now I'm not Jethro, but I'm not Sophia Loren either. I don't always know what fork to use at dinner, and I am not familiar the intricacies of a seven course meal. My idea of a nice meal is one that includes a waiter and a scrumptious dessert. After one occasion in Washington D.C. when my father took us to the Palms, I made a mess getting bread and crumbs all over the table. My father sighed, looking distressed as he shook his head at my Mom and sister who were giggling over my slip up. "Come on folks," he'd say warily. "Act like you've been to town before."

Well, all those memories came rushing back tonight. We went to P.F. Changs with our friend Dave, who is very appreciative of the food/wine atmosphere. He enjoys fine food and wine and the atmosphere of restaurants where the presentation of food is important. He likes leisurely dinners with stimulating conversation. Don't ask me why he chose to go to dinner with me and my husband.

My husband does well in nice dinners, but the whole time he's always restless. You can tell he doesn't like having to dress up and just wants his belt off so he can burp and fart. Normally, he shovels food in his mouth like it's a race and loves to bolt as soon as he gets the check. I can't say anything against this, because I hold the record for eating a hamburger smothered in mayonnaise, bbq sauce and shredded cheddar cheese in a minute and thirty seconds. That's right, don't mess with my food. I generally tear into my food like a shark and surface with a mouth ringed with sauce and crumbs. I have never understood the phrase "small bites" and tend to inhale large chunks of food. If asked a question, I simply shove all of it to one side of my mouth and try not to spew spit in the person's face. My hands are simply extra tools, and the evening is a success if I don't get a stain on my lap or shirt. For Ben, it is a success if he doesn't get three or four stains on his shirt or pants. We are not the type of people you want to take to a nice restaurant.

But poor Dave has undertaken the momentous task of trying to make us appreciate culture. For a woman who was investigating taking a job because it had a pet farm and she could pet goats all day, he might as well teach a baboon to play the violin. During dinner, he ordered a lettuce wrap appetizer and tried to introduce us to the joys of fine Asian food. He was interrupted by the ravenous inhaling of the wraps as we both shoved as much tufu mix as possible into them. I had manage to decorate the table with several chunks, which the bugs found delightful.

Still, he shouldered on. He was explaining the atmosphere concept when Ben decided the table was wiggly and should be fixed. Then Ben focused on the fact there were bugs everywhere (we were dining outside) and spent his time trying to catch a fly with his bare hands. It was at this point Dave started to give up.

He really gave up when Ben began to obsessively yell at the bugs, screeching "GO AWAY! DAMN BUGS!" He would then point out where the bugs had been, and slap the table sporadically to scare them off. After a bug crawled down his shirt and into his noodles, that was it. He was done.

After 21 years of my poor father trying to teach me culture, poor Dave tried to teach us in a night. I have the feeling I will be eternally Jethro- there's just no point in teaching this Texas girl about wining and dining. I got married at a bbq restaurant for crying out loud. I think this battle was lost a long time ago.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Blonde Duck Gets a Personal Trainer

I am an exercise junkie. A perky, blonde, aerobics loving, wiggling, dancing, kickbox frenzy, squrriell machine loving junkie. I love aerobics classes and the perky music. I love pushing myself on the squirrel machine and circling my legs midair like a hamster on a wheel. I love the sweat and the exhilaration you feel afterwards. And yes- my entire family, in-laws, husband and friends think I'm insane. I'm used to it.

So when I moved down here and joined the women's gym nearby, I was thrilled to discover they had free personal training! FREE! Not for one session, not for three, but for an enternity! I could have ten years of personal training and it would be free!

I can see you sneering at me and turning up your nose, Invisible Friend. "So," you say snottily. "You're paying out the wazoo and having to make blood donations to pay for your membership, you endorphin junkie." I laugh at you. I laugh hard and loud. Because the gym is only $20 a month! HA! Your silence and shame amuses me. You should know never to argue with the fitness crazed Blonde Duck.

Meanwhile, I was quite excited about this. I had done cardio and half of my toning regiment. I was sweaty and my underwear was sticking to my butt. I was in heaven. I went up to the desk and shoved my card in the manager's face.

"I'm here for my appointment with Megan," I said confidently, flapping my appointment card near his nose. He took my card and looked disappointed. I became alarmed.

"I'm sorry," he said, "Megan's not here. Did no one call you?"

I was distressed. "No," I said sadly. My toning issues would have to wait for another day.

He grinned. "I'm just kidding," he said, looking pleased with himself. "Go fill out this card and she'll be with you in a second." I filled out my card, and Megan came and introduced herself. She looked me over.

"Well you don't need to lose weight," she said. I beamed. "So I guess you just are here for weights and toning?"

"Yes, I want to keep my program from going stale and learn some new moves," I said enthusiastically. "I also want to work on some of my problem areas."

"No problem," she said. She gathered up my chart and took me to the free weight area, where I described my exercises. She started designing a new toning program for me, and I paid close attention. She also started showing me new techniques that I had never seen. I was in awe and trying to memorize everything.

She showed me a stand that you leaned on with your feet on a plate and moved your front up and down to work your lower back. It looked painful. I set myself up, leaned forward, and promptly almost hit my nose. The stand was also bolted to the ground.

"Are you ok?" Megan said, trying to prevent me from smashing my teeth in the ground.

"Fine," I grinned, as I did the exercises to show I could actually to them. The ones on my side to work my obliques were more difficult. I felt like a drunkard about to tip over as the ground rushed at me every few seconds. I thought I had strong obliques, but the more I did the technique, the more I felt like my side was going to give up and die.

Was my embarrassment done there? Do you even have to ask?

The next machine was one that you stepped on and it used your own weight to provide resistance as you pulled yourself with your arms to work your arms and back. I stepped on it so happily I propelled myself to the ceiling.

Whoosh! the hydraulic lift said as I shot up to the old ceiling, staring at the tiny white bumps that were an inch from my nose.

"Am I supposed to be this high?" I asked as I looked down at Megan. I felt like a giant.

Megan didn't even bother trying not to laugh. She was cackling as she shook her head. "Nope," she said. "Let's try this again." Eventually, I managed not to shoot myself to Mars and get the hang of it. It was a fun exercise, but hurt. I thought my arms were developed, but once again I was wrong.

Still, I wasn't done making a full of myself. After nearly falling on my butt with the squat machine, ripping my shorts with a hamstring exercise, and revealing my genetic tummy pooch by lifting up my shirt and asking what was wrong with me; I faced another challenge. There were these little sleeves hanging off a white metal weight system. You put your arms through the sleeves and lifted yourself off the ground to work your abs. However, you had to have a bench to get up there so in actuality you were swinging like a monkey at the jungle gym.

Well, I got on the bench, slid my arms through and picked my legs up. I promptly put them down.

"You're supposed to hold them," Megan said. So I tried holding them. Since the bench was so high, I felt like I spent most of my time trying not to tapdance on the bench.

"I don't think I've got the hang of this," I said, grinning at my own pun. Megan stepped up and showed me the real way to do it. "See, you do this way and it works your lower abs and this way works your obliques." I watched her fascinated. She was twisting and lifting and squirming around like a worm on a hook in midair. It was amazing and took strength I wasn't sure I could possess.

So, by the end of my session, I had in my possession three pieces of paper, a new work out plan and a spinning head as I tried to remember everything she'd told me. So in the next few months, the Blonde Duck will be toned, taut and all the more cuter! That's right. I'll have my personal trainer to thank for it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Grey Day

Sometimes, there are days in which everything seems gray. It always happens on a cloudy day where the house looks darker than normal and nothing really seems right. It's a day when everyone has a dull or bad day, or when something momentous happens but you feel like you can't do anything about it at all.

My mother had a masectomy because of breast cancer today, and asked me not to go to the hospital. I respected her wishes with the promise I would go visit later in the week, when she felt up to it. The knowledge of her in the hospital hung over me like a cloud as I threw myself into my work of applying for jobs, scanning job sites and working on an article. I would pause and stare at the grey world outside my window. It held the promise of rain and the smell of the inevitable in the air. The ground is dry and thirsty, but nothing happened. The clouds were still.

I stared at the bottom of my screen all day, desperately hoping for an email. Nothing. I've had a few more bites but no responses. How can they tease me and let me hang? How rude is that? I would call schools and organizations to be put on hold, shuffled to a machine or told they were not hiring. Each time I would hang up a little more discouraged.

My husband came home late after having a terrible day at work. I stroked his head and watched as his eyes dropped with worry and stress.

I spend the majority of my time writing happy, cheerful pieces. I don't like to focus on the negative, and I don't like to whine. I'll joke about my job quest and create a funny spiel on how I fell on the ground or burned another cake- but sometimes it just feels false. I'm a unnaturally upbeat and cheerful person most of the time. But on a grey day, I just don't feel I can be. I think part of it is I've been hiding my feelings about my mother. I've been shuffling my worry and concern into a small little box and draped a cover of optimism and positivity over it. But on a grey day and darker night, the worry climbs out of the box and shakes the cover off.

Even now, I feel like I shouldn't write this. "Excuse me," my Invisible Friends, the readers that aren't really there say, "This isn't about burnt waffles. This isn't about ducks. The Blonde Duck is depressed. There are tons of blogs about whining. That's not why we like yours. Talk about falling, dancing or farting in the grocery store. Don't talk about cancer. Don't talk about how you're upset about not having a job. Consider yourself lucky, shut up, and give me something fun to read."

Well, Invisible Friends, today is a grey day. Tomorrow will be normal again, and things will start to fall into place. It's just amazing I have so much good in my life: a wonderful husband, supportive friends, nurturing family and in-laws, talent and a nice home. I don't have to get a job if I don't want. At the same time, there's pain: My mother, my developing sense of idenity, the loneliness of long days and the concern maybe I'm not being the best person I should be. And that mix of white and black, that mix of happy and sad, is what makes it a grey day.

Don't worry- you'll have a happy post tomorrow.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Furry Fuzzballs and the Eye that Twitched

Does your eye ever twitch? When I get tired, my eye twitches. It sits there and shakes, distorting my vision so I feel like I am standing on a boat that has gotten hit with a ton of waves. What makes it worse is my other eye doesn't move, so I just have one eye rapidly moving. I think my eye plots this. I truly believe it is a conspiracy to prove to me that my vision is rapidly deteriorating from peering at a laptop screen. I stare at my laptop for hours daily as I write articles, look for jobs and stare hopefully at the email icon at the bottom for a message to pop up. I wear glasses to complete my nerdy attire, but I'm wondering if their magic is wearing then.

My new twitchy friend wasn't behaving well, as it decided to act up on the road while I was running errands. There I was, driving down the road in a warm car with sunlight gently warming my thighs. A slow song was playing on the radio and traffic was backed up. For a tired person, this was not conductive to waking up. It was like putting me into a soft cozy bed and expecting me to cook dinner.

Then, the eye started. It twitched and wiggled about as I squinted into the traffic and tried not to get into a wreck. I felt like I was moving languidly through water as my eye decided it was happier looking out the window than in front of me. Have you ever seen on of those lizards whose eyes look different directions? That was me.

So, I went into the grocery store as the crazy twitchy lady. My eye loved all the bright fluorescent lights and wiggled and squiggled it's way up the aisles. I got a ton of looks, although they were more horrified and disgusted than appreciative glances. Ever since I got married, men barely look at me. With my new twitchy persona, they were hightailing it to the other side of the store before I could put a spell on them.

While I was a bit distressed at my new persona, I saw something that made it all worthwhile. Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with dogs. Actually, if you talk to me for about five minutes I will tell you all about my future puppies in such great detail you will run down the street screaming and sticking rocks in your ears to avoid hearing another single word. I am amazed my husband has listened to me babble about dogs daily for three years.

And I saw it today, the most beautiful sign in the world: "Furry Fuzzballls here- come adopt them today!"

The last thing my husband saw was my twitching eye waving back to him as I bolted toward the veterinarians office.

Unfortunately, I was reigned back in without my furry fuzzball, but with my eye still twitching happily.

Tomorrow, I may just have a new little bundle of fuzz. A furry fuzzball perhaps. It will be glorious.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Strippers, Ponies and Chocolate Cake

I love birthdays. Especially when it's someone else's birthday. I really love it when I get to throw them a party. For one reason, I get to decorate, make a cake and if all possible surprise people. I love surprising people. It's that delicious mix of anticipation and eagerness because you know they will absolutely love it and can't wait until they see it. Still, a tiny part of you worries they won't like it, which makes the anticipation that much sweeter as you put yourself through the torment.

For Karen's surprise birthday party I threw Saturday, I had been scheming a month. I had stolen her cell phone when she came over one day and hid in the bathroom writing down phone numbers. With two of her friends, I created a party list and sent out invitations over e-mail. Over the next few weeks, I called to check and re-check with them. I bought a cake mix and some crepe paper and balloons to trash (sorry decorate) her house with. When I was over at her house one day, I stole her extra house key off her coffee table. She was so oblivious, she never noticed. I had a whole plan worked out, and was ecstatic to set it into motion.

The first obstacle was the cake. Now, I can bake cakes just fine. It's the icing I have a dreadful time with. I bought one of those aerosol icing cans (hiss all you want, I know it's horrible), but I have a good reason. My good reason is that I didn't have any ends for the tubes of icing, and was on a time schedule. I stood at the cake, it's smooth surface laying before me like a blank canvas. "Ice me," it said, daring me to make a mistake. I slowly spread chocolate icing over it, making it thick to give me more of a cushion for mistakes. If all else failed, at least it would have some icing.

Then the hard part came: the actual letters. I practiced on a paper towel first, stuck out my tongue and went to it. A few shaky letters later, the word "happy" appeared. My husband did a few letters, which weren't much better than mine, and it was complete. It looked like a first grader had written on it, but it worked. Hopefully, everyone would be so ravenous they wouldn't notice.

After lots of primping I gathered up my bag of goodies: crepe paper, balloons, ribbon, tape, candles, lighter and scissors. I drove to Karen's house and got to work. I put the cake in the kitchen and taped drapes of crepe paper and balloons over her two doorways and fireplace. I had to lock her kittens in the bathroom, as they kept batting the crepe paper and tearing it down. They would leap and twine themselves in the paper and glare at me when I took it away from them. They entangled themselves in the ribbon and launched themselves at the balloons, trying to pounce as they were thrown off. I drew them into the bathroom with a bit of crepe paper and shut the door. They were not pleased and mewed their disapproval. I was there for their amusement, and nothing else. I apologized profusely as I finished hanging balloons and crepe paper.

Meanwhile, I got creative. I twined crepe paper around the stairwell, lamp and threw it all over a fake tree behind the couch. I threw it over the fan like I was toilet papering a tree and pulled the ends up so the cats couldn't reach it. I draped the elegant faux crystal chandelier over the table with crepe paper. Breathless from running around and blowing up six balloons, I grabbed my keys, let the kittens out and drove to the restaurant.

I waited impatiently for thirty minutes. I had called ahead for the table, and some of the girls were late. I had had Karen picked up by a friend and then taken to my house. Once some of the guests got here, my husband would bring Karen and the few guests at my house to the restaurant where we would surprise her.

The girls showed up and we got our table. About fifteen minutes later, I got my queso and was sucking it down like crazy when Karen walked in. We yelled "Surprise" ( I spewed chips from my mouth) and I plunked a huge gold crown on her head. The waiter brought her a free margarita and everyone ordered drinks, except yours truly. I was busy drinking the queso from the bowl. No one ever said I had table manners or an aversion to creamy thick cheese.

After a nice dinner, we headed back to Karen's house. She seemed strangely delighted I had trashed her house. After that, chaos ensued led by the Blonde Duck. In public, I can get a lot silly and a little crazy. By the time the night was over, I had initiated proudly:

  • blindfolding Karen to a chair with music playing as another girl and I rubbed all over her and sat on her lap like "strippers". My "sexy" dance was shaking my butt all over her like a bear on a tree and bumping her with my hips. Try as I might, I'm just not a sexy thing. Meanwhile, the other girl might as well have taken classes the way she swayed and moved with the music. This all came about because for a month I had told Karen I had hired a stripper and a pony for her to ride in her backyard. I knew she didn't really believe me, so I was trying to be a "little less talk and more action." Fortunately for her, my action looks like a series of bad Austin Power dance moves.

  • Playing dress up in Karen's closet. Between a fur coat, hooker boots, short skirts with shorts (skorts), an abundance of scarves and business shirts, another girl and I came up with some weird crap. The hit of the night was a black dress I found that was dubbed the stripper dress. On me, it looked like a short black spandex dress with a layer of fishnet over it in two slits, rather like an overcoat. It didn't cover the front of my legs at all. It came up mid-thigh and was tight enough to show my spleen. I walked out in that and heels and my husbands eyes bugged out. He began snapping away pictures with a flourish as Karen buried her red face in her hands. Meanwhile, I was strutting and posing away like I was some kind of model. I am a huge ham in front of a camera.

"It's not that short on me!"

"You think I'm fat! It's my hips isn't it?" I challenged her, as everyone burst into laughter. After that, Karen was shoved into the stripper dress and even more revealing outfits. For someone who rarely shows her neck, it was a interesting closet.

  • While no one noticed my dreadful decorating job, everyone loved the cake. That's right. I can make a cake out of a box. I can read directions. While I can't make waffles, I can make cakes. A little pitiful, but we're working on it. I'll be a culinary master in no time. The Iron Chef will be terrified when he hears me coming.

All and all, the party was a success. They liked my cake, Karen was happy, and I left before having to clean her house. So who's birthday is next? Want me to plan anything? I'll make a cake from scratch....I'll hire a pony for you too. No strippers though. You have to be a close friend for one of those.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Miss Grace

Those who know me well know I love to dance. I'm not ashamed of my love for dancing. I've been known to break out dancing in office max, in restaurants, movie theaters and grocery stores. I'm the only one I know who can break out into a salsa move in the middle of the cereal aisle without a shred of embarrassment as I twirl over to the rice and beans section.

Now, while I love dancing, I never said I was wonderful at it. As much as I try, I have no rhythm. I have no knowledge of matching steps with beats. My style consists of wiggling, hip- shaking and butt swishing enthusiasm. Basically, I look like a drunken gorilla trying to become unstuck from fly paper on the floor. However, you can't say I don't have fun.

When my friends Tabitha and Ralph got married, I was swaying back and forth mouthing the words to their dance. As the DJ played fun songs, I sat there wiggling and moving my shoulders back in forth in my chair. When they finally released me to dance, I was out on the floor like they were giving money away. I've embarrassed my husband more times than I can recall. My friends just roll their eyes and ignore my doing the twist in the middle of a Mexican restaurant. Most people simply assume I am "special".

However, I don't usually hurt myself dancing. I'm not that bad. Yesterday is the first day I have suffered a dance injury. I was dancing around my office and shaking it good. I attempted a high kick and went back into my salsa inspired dance steps. To my surprise, my back thigh was hurting. It hurt on the squirrel machine (translation: elliptical machine) today, and it hurts walking around the house every once and awhile.

Did that stop me from dancing? I think not! I wiggled and squiggled in full enthusiasm today. No leg will slow me down. And as I pirouette off to bed, I think to myself: I am the epitome of grace. Just mind your valuable objects, as I will invariably knock them off a table. I am just that good. That's right- just that good.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ducks and Waffles Don't Mix

I adore food. I love food. I'm obsessed with food. I talk about it all the time, sighing and looking adoring at the empty space in front of me as I imagine some culinary delight. I am suprisingly svelte for being so neurotic about food. My husband is convinced I weigh 400 lbs and he is "Shallow Hal."

I particularly love breakfast food- like waffles. I am on a waffle fixation. I can't get enough. Waffles and French toast and pancakes with cheese omelets.....I'm staring blankly again at the wall and licking my lips. Breathe, breathe. Ok.

I wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats for waffles. My mother made the mistake of buying me a waffle maker for Christmas (ok, I asked for it) and I've never been the same. Every few weeks, I itch for them. And I've burnt out everyone around me on waffles. As much as I adore them, not even I can eat 8 waffles as large as a dinner plate. I've tried. All that resulted from my vigorous endeavors was a hurting stomach, a lot of gas and three days worth of bloating.

So when my Mom and sister decided to come down, I was absolutely delighted. Not only because I got to see them, but because I could make them eat waffles with me. I didn't mention it right away, because I didn't want them to deny it. I waited until the afternoon and sprung it on them.

"I want waffles for dinner," I demanded loudly.

"Ok," they said, turning back to shopping. I was dismayed. That was not the dramatic response I was wishing for.

When dinnertime came, I mixed the batter and poured it into the waffle iron. I fluttered about pouring drinks and making eggs, ever the vigilant host, when my mom began to stare at the waffle iron.

"Uhh..." She said, pointing at it. "It's overflowing."

"Oh it's fine...." I said, turning around and dropping my jaw. The waffle iron was not overflowing a tiny bit. It had spread all over the counter and was itching it's way towards the floor. The ready light was twinkling brightly, so I marched over there and lifted up the lid. Instead of a golden brown waffle, I found a mass of gooey dough crisped on the edges and stuck in the grid of the maker. I felt tears come to my eyes. My beautiful waffle was ruined! I would have to make more! As I scraped out the grid carefully, trying not to burn myself, I commented that I was usually much better at making waffles. Karen backed me up, saying "She's never been this bad before." I poured some more batter into the grill, thinking this time it would surely work.

Nope. Just after cleaning up the eruption on the counter, more dough oozed it's way between the crack of the grill. Another waffle was ruint, and I was depressed. I relinquished control of the waffle iron to Mom.

My mother calmly made some more batter and poured it into the iron. She produced 4 beautiful brown, crispy waffles.

"Why did I do so bad?" I asked allowed. "I'm never that bad."

"It's probably just a fluke," Mom reassured me.

I went and poured some batter into the grill. By the time I got back to the table, I turned around warily. It was happily oozing all over the counter again, and Mom and Karen were laughing at me. I put my head on the table. I'm a failure at cooking waffles.

It's a good thing I'm not a failure at eating them. When it comes to cooking, the Blonde Duck and waffles do not mix. Eating waffles is an entirely other matter.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Black and White

There are days when it seems like your life is two extremes. For me, that's been my entire summer so far. I have had a lot of good things happen to me and a lot of success being published so soon, but I've also had several setbacks. One minute, I'm ecstatic, the next, I'm depressed and lonely again. I waver between desolation and loneliness and hope and happiness. One day, I truly believe I'm going to get a job soon because I receive a call back or a positive email. The next day, I'm in tears because I was rejected or I didn't get an interview I wanted. It's really been havoc on my mental state.

Today was the ultimate day of black and white. It started off well enough. I trotted off to the gym, off in my own little world thinking of a new children's story I wanted to write. I went to the store, cleaned house and had just settled down to do some interviews. I got a email from a magazine that wants to publish some of my work- a national magazine mind you! I was estatatic! I jumped up and down, I wiggled, I told the whole instant messenger world.

Then, my mother called and told me that they had found a cancerous lump in her breast. They had done a biopsy to check for the cancer, and I had told her she'd be fine. I was positive it was begin. There was no history in our family of breast cancer. Well, I lied.

I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I called up my mother-in-law and told her. I had to tell someone. I had to let the words sit in my throat, making it feel like it couldn't close. I had to get my emotion out so I could be strong for my mom. I knew she was more scared than I was.

And she was. She broke down, crying as she told me about it. I tried not to cry as I told her it would all work out and we would be behind her. I told her we'd be with her everyday, and we'd get through this together.

While I'm sure she'll be fine- she's young and healthy, it just wears on you. It's such a dreadful thing to inflict on a family.

Maybe that's how things are supposed to be- the ultimate balance. Maybe you can't have a lot of white without some black too. Those who have all black are miserable, and those with all white don't appreciate it because that's the way it's always been. It takes the bitter moments to make the sweet ones even sweeter. All I can wish for is more white than black spots in my days. And after all that happened, today was still more white than dark. When my husband came home, he had a lot of good news for me. I can always count on him to brighten up my day. I hope tomorrow brings the same.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lemonade Stand, Part 2

The same adorable little dumplings who had the lemonade stand were back out today, in the same spot. The little boy who told me I was pretty was missing, but his friend was there with the same little girl (I'm guessing they're all siblings). They had become a bit more savvy as they grew more experienced in the lemonade business. The bright children had upgraded their lemonade stand to short ironing board and two chairs. One of the chairs held a enormous blue cooler, and the other chair held a cardboard box with a dollar bill and a few coins.

The little girl was standing by the ironing board importantly, while the little boy was speaking into his small radio. He was clutching one of those small radio/ walkie talkies that families use on vacation or on ski trips to communicate.

"Ok, ok!" he screeched, holding down the wrong button. "Do you know what I'm talking about? Mom, do you know what I'm talking about? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?"

Seeing he was only about five or six, I'm guessing Daddy is a businessman who spends a lot of time on the cell phone. Apparently, the child was on a important conference call and could not take my order.

The little girl hopped up when I pulled over and started to pour my drink. I asked her how much it was, and she told me it was a 25 cents. I gave her 40 cents and asked her what she was saving up for.

"A car," she said. I was surprised, because she didn't look more than six or seven.

"You're saving up for a car?" I said with a smile. "Like a go-cart or a real car?"

"Yea," she said. "One of those. Our other one broke- the batteries died or something so now we need a new one."

I thanked her and got back in my car, the drink splashing all over my lap. She had filled it really high. The little boy was still pouncing around yelling aggrievedly into the phone: "Do you know what I'm talking about? I have a meeting at 2!"

So as I drove home with sticky thighs, I couldn't help smiling. Maybe I should go out there and join them. They've got to me making some good money if they're going to buy a car.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

For Mom- Happy Birthday

When I was younger, my mother was the center of my world. I remember her spending hours with me patiently watching me play in the sandbox, pushing my swing and playing my little ponies with me. She was always full of joy, and full of happiness. One day after second grade, I remember her greeting me at the front doors of the school with a “Hi pumpkin!” As I got older, she was still always there.

She would wait at home with freshly baked cookies or breads, ready to listen to our days. She always had fun activities planned. She taught us to paint, draw and express our creativity through every way possible. Afternoons and evenings were noisy. They were filled with giggling, movies in the background, and dancing in the living room using spoons as microphones. In the summer, she took us to the pool and to parks. She overcame her embarrassment of her weight to swim in the pool with us, laughing when we splashed her and made her mascara run.

In middle school, she would be waiting at the driveway suspiciously staring at the bus, daring the bullies to torment me in front of her. If I ran off the bus crying because Emily Edwards had shoved chips and coke in my hair again, she was always there with a hug.

Her loyalty never wavered, even when I reached high school. Full of hormones, confusion, and an emotional wreck, I was perpetually confused and had a never ending barrage of issues. My mother would patiently listen to me and advise me, even when my actions hurt her feelings. She always encouraged me, and was supportive in everything I ever wanted. When others would discourage me or make me feel worthless, she was always there to pick me up emotionally.

When I went to college, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I had never been away from my parents for more than a week, and never lived outside the same house. My mom helped me move into my dorm, climbing five flights of stairs over and over in the Texas heat without complaint. She cried when she left, and I cried for two more days after that. Those first few weeks of college felt as though I was being ripped from her life, and I felt like I had abandoned her. After all her loyalty, I felt I had let her down. When I told her that, she said something I’ve never forgotten.

“I’m so proud of you,” she said, her voice breaking. “You went out on your own, to a school where you didn’t know anyone, to get an education. You’re braver than I’ve ever been. I admire you for that.”

When I got married, my mother planned the entire thing with help from my sister. She endured my rebellious attitude and gave me a perfect wedding. I will always remember the smile on her face when she first saw me in my wedding dress, and how it took her breath away.

Now it’s her birthday, and she’s taken care of us for another year. My mom often regretted that she felt like she never had accomplished anything, that she never had done anything spectacular. She didn’t win a bunch of clients; she didn’t find the cure for the common cold.

What she did was so much better. She loved us, and she taught us how to love. She made anyone who’s ever been touched by her feel loved, nurtured and cared for. She never judges and is loyal to a fault. And for that, I thank you, Mom. Thank you for making me feel loved, and for loving me. You taught me patience, kindness, loyalty and compassion. You’ve always stood by my dreams, just like you stood by me. Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Verdict

The vote was 3-1 with funny leading. Since my poor mother-in-law lost the vote, I've made it up to her by posting an excerpt with her in it. This should tickle her or make her hide in shame that I've disgraced the family name and getting rid of me is a lot harder than it used to be. Either way, a good time will be had by all!

January 12, 2006

They ganged up on me today. They conspired behind my back to attack. Whispering in the darkness, plotting in the shadows, they ambushed me when I was distracted by the beginning of the second semester. There was no where to turn to, no where to run. I was captured.

My mom and Mrs. Koerner are utterly obsessed with the idea of having a cake. They despise my idea of having tiered wedding pies. I am hell bent on having my pies, and on fighting it to the death. I know I'm being stubborn and hard headed, but I have bent on a lot of their ideas and stuff they want. I have picked my battles, and this one I'll fight the war on. I will have my pies. Three luchsious pies topped with a delicate crumble topping, with tiniest bit of cinnamon and sugar. I love pies.

So, I argued for an hour about why I should get my pies.

Mom: [Blonde Duck], you need a cake.

Me: I don't need a cake. I need pies.

Mom: Well, I talked to Paula (Mrs. Koerner) today and she thinks you need a cake too.

Me: You're ganging up on me! I can't believe this! You're plotting behind my back while I'm in class! How dare you!

Mom: [Blonde Duck], you're overreacting. I'm just asking for a simple cake. You can still have you pies.

Me: I don't like cakes! All cakes are boring! I don't want a cake. I like pie. Everybody likes pie! Therefore, we should have pie.

Mom: [Fiance Duck] likes cake. What about [Fiance Duck]? Wouldn't he like something chocolate?

Me: He thinks pies are grand.

Mom: I think [Fiance Duck] would want some chocoloate cake.

Me: Then we can have chocolate malts. He's obsessed with those.

Mom: I know you want something untraditional, but I still think you should have a cake. Think of your dad. He loves cake. He doesn't like pie very much.

Me: I don't like cake! Why does everyone like cake! It's so obvious pie is superior!

Mrs. Koerner (somehow intutively typing away at all the right places): People go to the weddings for the cake anyway. They're obsessed. If you don't have a good cake, they think it's a crappy wedding.

Me: I don't care. Let them buy their own cake. You're all ganging up on me. I refuse to listen to this chatter!

Mom: I think she just means more people prefer cake to pie.


Mom: Well, but think of everyone else. Ben and your dad like cake, and your guests want cake as well. Besides, that's more pie you can have for yourself.

Me: So now I can have cake and be fat too? Geez, how wonderful. I'll be the bride that has to be wheeled into her wedding on a loading bed.

Mom: You know I didn't mean it like that.

Me: I've given in on everything else ya'll want. I just don't want cake. I want pies. I don't want some thousand dollar cake. I think it's stupid to pay that much for crap I don't even like.

Mom: We can have a small cake that's mostly chocolate, for [Fiance Duck] and the guests.

Mrs.Koerner (still typing happily): We'll get our cake one way or another. Every wedding needs a cake. You can not have a cake. We'll just buy it when you're not looking.

Mom: She's not helping.

Me: Ya'll are making me mad.

Mom: Sweetie, we don't want you to get mad, we just don't want to disappoint your guests. Besides, the cake cutting is a big part of the wedding. We think you'll regret not having one.

Me: Not if we just cut pie instead. Just pretend the cake is crumbly with delicious apples.

Mom: I still think a cake would be nice. Your dad would really like it. I know [Fiance Duck] loves his chocolate.

Me: Fine, whatever! Ya'll are so insistant on your stupid cake! You can buy a cake, but it's not my cake. I won't eat it at all. It'll be ya'lls cake. I am having nothing to do with this stupid cake. I don't want a cake in the first place. But for some peace and quiet, I will consent to the cake just so ya'll will shut up.

Mom: You'll love the cake, you'll see.

Me: I'm not eating it.

Mom: It'll be so pretty.

Me: I bet the pies will be prettier. Full of sparkling cinnamon crumbs. Much prettier than icing.

Mrs. Koerner (probaly cackling victoriously) : I told you we'd get our cake.

Me: Oh shut up. You two are obnoxious.

Mrs. Koerner: But we got our cake!

Mom: You won't regret this dear, I promise.

Me: I already have.

Mrs. Koerner (way too pleased with herself): We got a cake, we got a cake, we got a cake hey hey hey hey!

Copywright M Koerner 2006

Don't Quit Your Day Job

I was talking to my mother-in-law earlier and she mentioned that she reads my blog all the time. I thought it was really cute of her to say that! I like real and imaginary friends!

Karen sent me this link, which justifies everything in my mind:

click here

It's about a novelist and humorist who lives a double life as a corporate bigwhig- because he couldn't make it freelancing. Gee- who does that sounds like? Except I don't know what would happen to me in a corporate environment. Part of me thinks I could take it. The other part of me (the part we hide in public because it's polite) thinks I would decorate the halls with toilet paper for Charmin Appreciation Day and spend all my time lobbying for a bring-your-puppy-to-work policy. That's right- I'm not baby crazy, I'm puppy crazy. I crave little wet noses and spastic tongues that find their way into the deepest craven of my ear. Are you starting to get a sense of my weirdness yet?

Anyway, the article just reminds me not to quit my day job (or lack thereof). Maybe I should join the kids selling lemonade! I bet I could look absolutely darling. I could blink my big blue eyes and smile, wondering all the while why parents just hit there gas pedals harder. Sigh. Meanwhile, I shall continue my search for a job, forever enduring.

In other news, be watching for another post later this evening! If people are reading, I must update them with entertainment! I will be posting an excerpt from my novel. I haven't decided if it should be funny or touching. Any requests? Leave a comment- I crave affirmation. Also- be watching for a special post Friday. It's somebody specials birthday. (Everybody think really hard- who could that be?)

Meanwhile, I shall go write.

-The Overimaginative Blonde Duck

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Utter Mushiness

I ran across this page of quotes, and I thought they were really cute. They also made me think. I decided to share the cutest ones with you. So indulge me.

"People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." Anonymous

"If you would be loved, love and be lovable." Benjamin Franklin

"I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you."Anonymous

"Do you love me because I am beautiful, or am I beautiful because you love me?" Cinderella

"Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have." Anonymous

Monday, July 10, 2006

Warm Fuzzies

On my way back from Boerne where I was doing an interview, I drove into my neighborhood and saw two little eager faces sitting at a table on the sidewalk holding up a piece of paper anxiously. I pulled off into a side street and turned around and stopped in front of the stand, sending annoyed drivers whizzing around me. I dug through my purse for change (why did I go to Coinstar the other day?) and got out.

"Are ya'll selling lemonade?" I asked.

"Yup," the girl replied as the boy sitting next to her thrust the sign in my face. It was a piece of paper that read: Lemonade, 25 cents in scrawled jagged writing. They squinted as they looked up at me hopefully. I put fifty cents on top of their folding table and told them to keep the change as the girl quickly handed me my plastic cup. She seemed very unconcerned about the extra quarter. The boy next to her looked up at me using his sign as a hat to shield his face and said, "You are pretty." I felt my face break into a grin. "Thank you," I said, grinning happily. I got back in my car and turned around, waving as I drove past.

And those three little words uttered by that sweet little face are going to keep me going all day. There was no sarcasm and no sliminess- just a nice little kid. And honestly, how cute is that?

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Utter Irony. That is what this is. Complete, utter irony. Thursday, I had a long talk with my darling husband. We talked about how my job search isn't going well, and our frustration with the situation. We're both frustrated that I haven't received payment for my former jobs, and that my questions about some things haven't been answered. I'm frustrated that I spend hours a day writing cover letters and filling out applications, only to get one or two replies. I get tons of job offers to write articles for free or for five or ten dollars, but that just doesn't work for me. It's not that I'm a money grubbier, but I think I can go without spending hours for a 1000 word article. I'm also almost done with my book, and I need to start looking for an agent. So, I was really depressed and discouraged about finding a job.

So, I decided I would send in an application to IteachTexas and get certified as a teacher. This wasn't just an out of the blue thing. Since junior year, I'd wanted to teach. I'd done some tutoring in a local middle school, and I adored it. After a discouraging job fair where the representative told me I would never get a job as an alternative certification candidate unless I spoke Spanish or taught math and science, I was frustrated and confused. I had been told by several recruiters to teach English or Journalism with my love for writing and major, but I didn't know if I wanted to teach high school. My husband kept encouraging me to teach younger kids because of my patience and creativity. I was confused. I also thought it'd be fun to work at a museum or get a writing job, which is what I've been trying to do the past month and a half.

So I thought for several hours (that's a long time for me) and decided I would go for it and apply to the program. Coincidently, I ended up talking to my neighbor for three hours about the difference in elementary versus secondary, the different grades, and so on. She's a fourth grade teacher who had done time in secondary, so she gave me a lot of insight. And just when I had it all figured out.....

I got an email from a website job I had applied for and got the freelance position. They want me to write an article ASAP, and the editor called me Saturday to confirm.

Isn't that ironic? Don't you think? Just when I thought I had it all figured out......

But, I've decided I'm going to stick to my original plan of applying for certification and writing on the side. I've realized right now I can't make a living off writing alone, and I'm starting to go crazy from being alone all day. I think I'm too young not to be social. However, these jobs are giving me a chance to get my feet wet. And it will give me a chance to concentrate on finishing my book, which has taken a back seat to the job hunt and these other articles. And it really deserves my attention. Not to mention my poor, patient husband.

So the Blonde Duck may be a teaching duck soon....Not to mention a published author! Let's hope! And any teachers out there with any advice, or any authors, feel free to leave comments! I welcome advice and random thoughts!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We love Affirmation!

Two stories published! My parents came down today and they brought a copy of Monday's Star and much to my delight- another front page story! Hooray! I'm so excited! And on top of that, I've had two people I don't know comment so far! My imaginary friends are responding! People like me! I am absolutely giddy. It was a fabulous day- family, friends, apple pie, swimming and hamburgers- and affirmation! Thanks everyone for the support!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fourth of July Festivities

Dear Overzealous Patriots,

Just because you can purchase trunkfuls of fireworks to set off out of the city limits, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Just because it is legal to shoot them off behind my neighborhood at all hours of the night doesn't mean it's right. Just because you find the undeveloped field behind my house a Mecca of a launch pad for pyrotechnic fun doesn't mean you should camp out there until after midnight.

Not to sound unpatriotic- but please go away! I didn't sign up to live in a war zone thanks. And if you're going to fire them off, at least let me see the pretty shiny colors. And throw some of the glittery ones up there too- the ones that look like pixie dust. Otherwise, go away. I'm tired and cranky and want nothing to do with you and your loud noises. I'm old.


The Annoyed Blonde Duck

Jinxing myself....

Well, things have been looking up this week. Last week was an absolute disaster. I wrote two articles for the Star and racked up tons of cell phone minutes getting interviews and quotes. After an tense encounter with one interviewee and hours of research and writing, my editor told me she was going to cut one of the articles. I wasn't getting paid a ton to begin with, so I was pretty down in the dumps about it. It didn't help that things weren't going with the other jobs. No one was calling me back or returning my emails, and everything was slow.

I'm patient with people (mainly my husband) but I'm not patient with waiting. Especially with businesses taking their sweet time. It's driving me nuts that I don't have a job. After a few days, it feels like my head is in a fog and I can't do anything right. Like right now I've just been writing cover letters and getting stuff ready, since in a few days I'm switching my phone number to a local number to combat the phone bills I keep racking up.

My poor husband has been supportive about it, but I can tell he's frustrated. I want to get a job so badly, just so we don't have to be worried about money. I want to be able to contribute something financially. Then I start to wonder if these internet jobs will work out, or if they are just a huge scam.....

Then I start feeling desperate, wondering if I can throw myself into teaching just to get a job. I had this whole debate about teaching. I worry it'll take a lot of time from my writing, and I won't enjoy it. Since so many people hate teaching after a few years, I worry I will too. I also worry I'll get fired mouthing off to administration. I'm not very good with being told what to do.

So last week I was low. This week, things are looking up. I had a front page story published Friday at the Star, so that was really exciting. You can see it here:

"City Council Approves New PUD"
The Boerne City Council approved the PUD for 405 acres near the 138 1H-10 East access road (Jenning Anderson Ford’s old location) and Boerne Heights with a 3-2 vote. Council members Rob Ziegler and Judy Edmondson voted against the Standard Pacific Homes Development, voicing concerns of creating a predecessor for future subdivision development and the affect on the city’s infrastructure.

The PUD was tabled last week due to concerns of locations of open spaces. The PUD will contain a total of 954 homes and 29,950 feet of a nature trail and open space.

Several citizens voiced concerns during the meeting regarding the effect the PUD would have on Boerne’s infrastructure, particularly increasing traffic and school populations. Citizens were also concerned about hurting Boerne’s aesthetic image by allowing “cookie cutter” subdivisions to develop. Speakers asked for traffic studies to be done by professional companies before approving development in future cases in order to have an idea of how the developments would affect traffic.

Mark Mason, a speaker at the meeting, asked for a checklist to be developed for future developers that specified the type of design, amount of green space and specific aesthetic qualities to avoid “losing Hill Country charm.” He asked the city to use the checklist as a future tool for decision making.

“If you’re sitting at dinner with French fries, do you have to ask for ketchup?,” Mason said. “Do you have to expect to ask for what you want? I believe developers who truly want to develop welcome attention and guidance.”

Paula Cairns, who also spoke during the meeting, suggested that Boerne could develop a point system checklist that cities such as Austin and Houston use. In this checklist, developers would see the city’s standards for aspects such as land around schools, open space and number of homes per acre. They would then get extra ‘points’ for exceeding requirements as a reward. Cairns also spoke for the importance of traffic studies, citing that larger cities require traffic studies for developments with as few as 150 homes, as each home can add 10 extra trips a day on the roads.

“We need to have a comprehensive master plan to plan all this growth wisely,” Cairns said. “We don’t want to look like suburban San Antonio; we want to look like the Hill Country. We don’t want piano key development. My point that I was trying to make it’s not so much a problem the way the PUD is designed, as much as is our infrastructure ready for a PUD that size.”

Councilman Rob Ziegler agreed with the citizen’s concerns, voicing his opinion against the development of the PUD. Ziegler stated that the addition of nearly 1000 new homes and possibly 2500 more people, a third of the Boerne population, could greatly affect the infrastructure more than previously expected.

“Without traffic studies, we don’t know the impact,” Ziegler said. “I want to see traffic studies. I want the police chief to say it’s ok, I want the fire chief to say it’s ok…I want everyone to know what kind of impact this will have on infrastructure. We have to stop and look at the big picture, just not this development. This is all going to happen together, [and] this is all going to happen at the same time.”

Councilman Bob Manning argued for the approval of the PUD based on the fact that the zoning was already approved. He stated that while traffic studies and checklists would be helpful to future development, he believes the PUD at Boerne Heights is a healthy development for Boerne’s community.

“The horse is out of the barn,” Manning said. “Our ability to affect its outcome is very limited. The builders can show up in the morning and build an 880 home division and build a space with no green space, etc. I simply think this particular process of land is too far in the process. The proposal brought to us was to create a different kind of neighborhood in Boerne that I feel we desperately need. It will protect some of the more sensitive green spaces and open spaces and not pave over them.”

Mayor Patrick Heath stated that the development was a more complicated picture simply voting for or against development. He believes that the traffic and schools are also affected by cities and areas outside of Boerne, such as Fair Oaks. Heath believes without taking those areas into consideration, the city would be left with a skewed perception.

“I think it’s a complicated picture,” Heath said. “I think sometimes we forget not all the traffic in Boerne is from the citizens of Boerne. If we’re going to talk about opportunities and responsibilities, we have to talk about all of us, not just the citizens of historic Boerne.”

The council hopes to begin discussions of creating a checklist for future developers and look into traffic studies in the next few months. Citizens hope that the ideas will not be forgotten simply because the development has been approved.

“[It all leads to the question] Should the government care about the city’s appearance [and] care about historic, open spaces?” Mason said. “Plan before build[ing] [and] please pass the ketchup.”

What was embarrassing was one of the councilman called me and mentioned it to me. I had no idea. It's invigorating to see your name in print and get complimented on your work, no matter how many hassles it caused.

I'm going to keep on chugging on job letters and queries, seeing what I can get published. Hopefully this week will be much better! I'll write an amusing post soon. I'm going to write a few articles for lazy, and I'll post what I write.

Please feel free to comment! I love it when my imaginary friends respond!