Archive for the '50th Birthday' Category

O Happy Day!

20swearing_600Today is my birthday, and I received the best present ever — a new PRESIDENT! I can’t say as this counts as a first, since I get new presidents every four years anyway. But perhaps this is the president I’m most relieved to see. Now my favorite two words are “President Obama”!

#15: My Sister Carol Is Up for a CMA Award!

Okay, this isn’t technically a first for me, but this sort of thing HAS to go down as a family first, at least: My sister Carol has been nominated for a Country Music Association broadcast personality of the year! Her station, KFDI, also got a nod for best medium-market station! This is so exciting! I got all teary when she called to tell me — and she said both Cathy and Mom had already burst into tears.

She deserves it; she’s a fabulous DJ and works her little tushie off for emerging artists like Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift (all of whom call her “Aunt Carol”). She was especially proud of her interview with Trisha Yearwood (Garth, where the heck where you!). Plus, she has a way of getting hugs from the likes of Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, and Darius Rucker (photos from KFDI)!

She’s supposed to be sending me a copy of her package or whatever the heck you call it — if I get the green light, I’ll put a link up. Meantime, check our her Lady A video and Darius Rucker interviews at her KFDI page (and be sure to check out her pics of her dogs Lily and Buddy!)

Three cheers for Carol!

I’m a Trendsetter!

Look who’s following in my “trend” steps! Madonna and more!

#14: My First Summer Writing Academy

The Writers’ League Summer Academy surpassed my expectations! I sat in on all four classes and was quite jazzed by them. Now I want to stick around longer, rather than head back on Tuesday!

After the orientation last night, I had dinner with instructors Karleen Koen, Clay Reynolds, Suzy Spencer, and Scott Wiggerman at my surprise find, Trattoria Cafe, next to the McDonald’s by the university. Food and conversation were all quite enjoyable.

The dorm, however … Note to self: For next year, make sure all instructors and visiting E.D.s are housed off-campus at a hotel! Oh, well, it’s so darn cheap, I can tough it out for two nights!

The students all seem to be into the classes, even on Day One. A good sign! The campus is just perfect for our Continue reading ‘#14: My First Summer Writing Academy’

#11: My First Set of China

My new dishes

This one was totally unexpected! My six girlfriends from my Statesman days (collectively known as Heritage Awareness) surprised me this weekend at our annual Wimberley getaway with this spectacular set of Edwin M. Knowles china (dated 1946!) as my birthday present! More to follow…

#8: Foiled!

I have blonde foil highlights now! My sister Cheryl made me do it! And I can’t thank her enough –– I love those streaks against that darker red! Will have to add a picture. Guess I’ll have to return to Burlington in a few months to see the famous Lexi to get my hair done again!

#7: Opening Day at Wrigley Field

The big day arrived at last! That morning, the new statue of Ernie Banks was dedicated; we’d watched some of that on WGN before heading out. Of course it was still drizzling as we left the hotel and the forecast called for thunderstorms, so we stopped at Walgreen’s to pick up oh-so-fashionable cheapo rain ponchos before catching the bus to Wrigley. But a little rain wasn’t going to keep us away!

Nor did it damped the spirits of the other happy Cubs fans at Wrigley, waiting to take on those Milwaukee Brewers. We started with our traditional short pilgrimage to the Cubs Grotto at the house on Addison just west of the stadium. Then we went to the Cubs store across from Wrigley, where Cathy, Carol, and I bought floppy hats to help keep the rain at bay. Then it was time to go stand in line for entry to the bleachers, where we had right-field seats. More to follow!

#7 and #8: They’ll Be Here Soon…

… I just need to settle down and write them up! Let’s just say they involve my birthday celebration with my sisters in Burlington, Iowa, and Wrigley Field. Oh, and there’s something about HAIR.

My Vacation in Burlington, Day 4

Miss Cait chauffeured James and me around on the grand tour of Burlington in her cute new Verso (see photo of the cutie and her car). Among the highlights was the visit to the Our Lady of Grace Grotto at St. Mary’s, a rival to Kansas’ own Garden of Eden (well, maybe not exactly, but it was equally kitschy!). We poked around and heard the recording. Then it was back to the casa. While James napped away a headache, Cait and I went down to the restaurant, where she whipped up a tasty Italian salad and cannoli (come to think of it, this was after she made waffles for everyone that morning!).

We watched the first half of KU’s scary Elite Eight game against Davidson, and then had to leave for Galesburg where we were to meet Cathy and Carol and take the train on in to Chicago. Since KU had trouble putting Davidson away, it was tough going; we did catch it on the radio, but I had to keep turning it off. We listened to the tail end of the game in the parking lot at the station — anyone watching us must have thought we were nuts when Davidson missed that final three-pointer at the buzzer!

Our train ride was so easy and smooth. As always, it makes me wish Texas was so darn attached to the one-Texan, one-car mentality I love train travel — it goes back to when the five of us Hughes kids would ride the Zephyr from McCook, Nebraska, to Chicago to see Dad. So coming into Union Station always makes me think of Dad — well, Chicago in general does that!

When we arrived in Chicago, it was raining, so we hauled our gear through the drizzle to the El and then from the El to our hotel, the Days Inn at Clark and Diversy — only a few blocks from Dad’s old apartment (and mine, when I was attending Northwestern way back in 1976-1977!) at 2222 N. Clark! It was cool to be back in the old ‘hood, although there was slight problem with our reservations — our two rooms had only one queen bed per room, and apparently the hotel was sold out! We toughed it out for the first night.

#6: Gordon at the Bat

Everyone who’s ever heard me blab on and on about family knows I’m bonkers about my seven nieces and nephews. Chris Gordon, my oldest nephew at 22 (how is that possible?!), has always been a baseball fanatic. We always attributed some of that to genetics. Chris and my father were basically soulmates, and Dad had grown up worshiping Ted Williams and the Red Sox then added the Cubs to the family baseball altar when he took up residence in the Windy City in 1969. As Chris grew up, his drive and devotion to baseball never waned. He’s a superb athlete, perfectly suited to the sport with his speed, his bat, and his uncanny instincts –– the Natural of our family!

After playing ball for his hometown Colby Community College and the summer Canadian leagues, Chris landed at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, a convenient 96 miles from his mother (my sister Cathy), who lives in Burlington, Iowa. Alas, the transition to BU hasn’t quite panned out as we’d all hoped: Not only is Chris carrying a brutal courseload in cellular and molecular biology (the kid is on his way to his M.D.), but he’s also been relegated to the bench and pinch running/hitting for the Braves.

I hadn’t seen Chris play ball since he was nine or ten, when he came to Austin for UT baseball camp. He had begged his dad to send him to camp, promising, “I’ll pay you back when I make it to the majors”!
Anyway, I FINALLY got to see him in action on March 28, when the Braves took on the Indiana State Sycamores in a bitterly chilly yet sunny day at O’Brien Field, home to Ryne Sandberg’s Peoria Chiefs as well as the BU Braves. After falling behind 6-3, Chris came in to pinch run from second base in the bottom of the eighth inning! When a ball was hit to deep left field, Chris took off only to be thrown out at the plate –– wah! But he played left in the top of the ninth; I don’t think he saw any action. Then in the bottom of the ninth, still trailing, Chris came up to bat, only to receive an intentional walk! He did score (did he?) and BU ended up winning, 8-7, only to drop the next two games against the dreaded Sycamores by identical scores of 16-2! Aunt Cyd sez: A coach whose team isn’t exactly kicking you-know-what really oughta give the guy a chance.

After the game, we went out to dinner and cheered on KU as they dismantled UNLV in the Sweet 16. Chris is as big a KU basketball fan as I am, so that was great fun. But the best part? At 22, Chris knows something it took me nearly 45 years to figure out: He is fully aware that certain things are beyond his control, and all he can do is focus on what he does have control over. He is determined to do the best he can whenever he gets a chance to play. He made me laugh when he announced, “Hey, I’m going to be the king of batting practice. I’ll just keep hitting balls out of the park, and maybe they’ll notice!”

I love that guy!



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