Sunday, August 29, 2010

These Made Me Happy

On Friday, I resumed substitute teaching at our local school district. It was a great day and very easy duty. I spent the day substituting for one of the high school art teachers. I had classes from Art 1 to Art 3 and even a couple of independent study Art 4 students. I really enjoyed seeing their artwork and chatting with them.

Several of the girls in one of the classes had on very cute shoes. They were made by Tom's Shoes. I've heard of Tom's Shoes before; I saw the founder on some television show. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair of shoes to a child in need. One for one. You can't beat that. And, these shoes are seriously cute and look very comfortable.

This last pair of shoes is not made by Tom's. In fact I couldn't tell what brand they were, but I really liked them too.

Black Diamond Oyster Bar & Chef Josh

This week our Friday Night Dinner Group went to dinner at Black Diamond Oyster Bar. Black Diamond is one of Corpus Christi's old-time seafood restaurants. I don't know how long they've been in business, but I know it's somewhere in excess of 35 years. It's a little bit off the beaten path for restaurants and it's not fancy in any way.

We've eaten there a couple of times a year since we got married back in 1975. As a matter of fact, when I was pregnant with our first child I craved seafood, specifically fried shrimp. Almost every Friday night we would go to Black Diamond Oyster Bar where Grams would order the seafood platter. It was a huge platter of fried oysters, shrimp and fish topped with a big pile of fried clams. Seriously it was a pile of fried seafood and potatoes about six inches high on a big platter. Grandad would order a more modest portion of fried shrimp. Usually the waitress would bring the huge platter and set it in front of Grandad and she would give me the shrimp. We would immediately swap plates and chow down. Thank God it's not on the menu any more.

If you were looking for good old-fashioned fried fresh seafood, Black Diamond has always been one of the best places to go. The food has always been good, but in recent years it was not spectacular. Recently, however, one of our son's best friends has started working there as a chef. On Friday afternoon, he posted on his Facebook page that they had fresh Texas oysters on the half shell. Knowing that my mother-in-law really loves oysters on the half shell, I suggested dinner at Black Diamond.

There were five in our party. When we arrived at about 6 o'clock, there was no waiting; we got a table right away and ordered our drinks. Black Diamond has a full service bar. We told the host who seated us that Chef Josh was a friend of ours and we would like to say hello. He came out to greet us and gave us his recommendations from the special menu. 

As expected, my mother-in-law and our neighbor, Ron, split a dozen oysters on the half shell, They reported that they were delicious and very fresh and they actually polished off 18 of them. We all had salads which came with delicious homemade salad dressings. The bleu cheese dressing was outstanding with big chunks of cheese. Grandad had ranch dressing which he said was also excellent. For our entrees, Mary Lou and I both had the spicy fried shrimp which were on Friday night's specials menu. The shrimp were really large with just the right amount of batter and very lightly spiced. Grandad had the regular fried shrimp which were also large and tasty. Ron had grilled shrimp and grilled mahi-mahi; he said both of them were really good. Mama Ruthie had fried shrimp and oysters which she really liked too. Each of us left the restaurant with a to-go box full of food. The portions were very generous. All in all, the quality of Black Diamond's food has increased a lot.

Now that I've told you about the restaurant, I want to tell you about Chef Josh. Josh grew up on the street right behind us. He and Nick were about the same age and were always in the same grade. They are lifelong friends. When they were little, any time I couldn't find Nick, I would call Josh's mom, Lisa, and she would send him home. When they were little they could definitely get into some trouble together. As teenagers, I sensed that Josh kind of wanted to be a hell-raiser and that made me very nervous. Nick could get into enough trouble on his own. For a while I tried to discourage the friendship, but to no avail. They remained fast friends all the way through high school, college and now adulthood.

After high school graduation, Josh went to college locally, first studying business and then switching to culinary school where he studied hard and became a chef. While working his way through school as a waiter, he met and married a lovely young woman named Brooke. I'm as proud of Josh as I would be if he were my own son. I consider him one of my boys and I'm proud of how he turned out. He's worked hard and he and Brooke are building a good life together.And, I have to tell you, in spite of what I thought of him as a teenager, he's turned out to be one of my favorites of all Nick's friends.

So, if you're in Corpus Christi, go by the Black Diamond Oyster Bar and let Chef Josh cook something delicious for you. He may not deserve all the credit, but the quality of their food has improved significantly. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

A few weeks ago, Grams and Grandad were shopping with Our Little Princess in San Antonio. While we were trying on shoes, there was a man nearby who approached Grams and said "I bet your daughter looks just like you and this little one looks just like her Mom."

Anytime there's a new baby in the family, there's always a lot of talk about who he or she looks like. My father-in-law used to say "she doesn't look like anyone but herself." Mostly I tend to agree with him. Frankly, I've always thought Our Little Princess looks a little bit like her older half-sister who lives in Chicago; until recently that is.

I recognized a few months ago that there is a remarkable resemblance between Our Little Princess and her mother. Last weekend when she stayed with us, I had the chance to "do" her hair. Since it's so hot, I did it the way I used to do her Mom's ... pig tails. As soon as I finished, I knew there was no longer any question. In this photo, Our Little Princess on the left is 18 months old and her Mom on the right is 3 years old.  What do you think?

Friday, August 20, 2010

10 Positive Things about Corpus Christi

Grams has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas since my family moved here in 1964 when I was 10 years old. I'm the only one of my parents' six children who is still here. The others have long since moved away. It's no secret that my heart is in San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country. But, alas, Grandad's job is in Corpus Christi and Houston, so I'm not likely to move any time soon.

There are a lot of things to love about Corpus Christi including an average of 288 days a year with no measurable rainfall and an average of only six days per year of temperatures at or below freezing. But, progressively and politically, Corpus Christi has been mired in mediocrity and paralyzed by an inability to move beyond what's always been for many years. Other Texas cities have grown and successfully capitalized on their own uniqueness.  Slogans like Keep Austin Weird and Keep San Antonio Lame have led to such slurs as Keep Corpus Mediocre. (Yes, it's true. I've seen it on Facebook as recently as yesterday.) What was once The Sparkling City By the Sea has become a bad punch line.

But to borrow a phrase from Bob Dylan The Times They Are A-Changin'. Lately, there are a lot of positive signs of progress in Corpus Christi. It's exciting to see that we're finally moving past some things that have held us back for many years.

1.  The Memorial Coliseum is gone! That's right, our hideous municipal Quonset hut has been torn down to make room for a new park. The site is not quite completely cleared yet, but it's getting there. And, in the long run, no one will really miss it. 

2.  The community is engaged and interested in planning a Destination Bayfront Park. This park will occupy the Coliseum's former location and will be something that we will use and can be proud of in one of the most prominent locations in town. More than 400 people showed up for a recent workshop to brainstorm about the proposed park

3.  There is a new Splash Fountain on the North end of Shoreline. It's beautiful, and it's getting lots of use. It will eventually include a shade area and an outdoor cafe. It also includes four wind turbines designed to help offset the cost of electricity used to operate the fountain and it's colored LED lights.

4. Corpus Christi is home to an impressive collection of more than 50 pieces of public art.  The citizens of Corpus Christi own this artwork. It includes the kinetic sculpture "Orion's Belt" by Robert Perless, the 1914 bas-relief "Queen of the Sea" by Pompeo Coppini, and "Wind in the Sails" by world-renowned local sculptor Kent Ullberg. There are dozens more, you can download a map with descriptions here. 

5.  Parkdale Plaza has been razed to make way for a new Wal-Mart Super Center. Parkdale Plaza was the place to shop in the 1960's and it was the site of Grams first two jobs as a teenager, but it fell into disrepair and was mostly vacant in recent years. It was an eyesore and it was time for it to go. I know that there are arguments to be made both for and against another Wal-Mart. But at least this new development will get rid of a dilapidated area.

6.  The old Padre-Staples Mall has been transformed into the new La Palmera Shopping Center. It's 1970's decor has been replaced with a modern, upscale renovation that makes shopping a much nicer experience.

7. Our restaurant selection is growing with the addition of several new restaurants including national chains like TakeNiwa Japanese Steakhouse, Cheddar's, and P.F. Changs and local places like the new Tavern on the Bay on the Peoples Street T-Head.

8. There's a brand new art collective opening soon in downtown Corpus Christi. The Treehouse Art Collective is a group of eight artists who are pooling their business knowledge to create a showcase for selling their artwork.
    9. The Coastal Wave is helping spread the word with it's events calendar showcasing "what's going on" in and around Corpus Christi. They also send out Facebook updates to keep those who "like" The Coastal Wave on Facebook in the know.

    10. Local radio host and Caller-Times columnist Joe Hilliard has helped get the ball rolling with his Facebook page 40 Things To Do In Corpus Christi and his regular column in the local newspaper. In my personal opinion, his upbeat posts and positive attitude about Corpus Christi are helping turn around some of the stinkin' thinkin' that has been the norm for far too long.

    There are many more positive things going on in Corpus Christi. It's really nice to see some progress being made. We haven't completely overcome everything that needs to be fixed in Corpus Christi; the naysayers are still out there trying to say we can't or we shouldn't. but we're making progress and that's a good start! The times they are a-changin'.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    I Love My Empty Nest!

    Grams has several friends whose little chicks are flying the nest within the next couple of weeks. That's right, their kids are leaving for college, thus creating the proverbial empty nest. Many years ago when our kids left for college, Grams had a very hard time with this. And even though it's been a long time since my chicks flew the nest (the first left in 1997 and the second in 2000), thinking about it can still conjure up those raw feelings.

    I'll just admit right up front that Grams is a HUGE advocate of sending your kids AWAY to college. That's right, I'm not a fan of college kids living at home and going to school. I'm a firm believer that when kids graduate from high school, it's time to treat them like grown ups. Living in your parent's house while doing the things that college kids do is a recipe for conflict, discontent, and sleepless nights. Yes, I know it's expensive, but it provides an experience that is priceless. Young adults need the freedom and responsibility of making their own decisions and mistakes. Their parents need the liberation of not knowing every single thing these young adults are doing in college.

    I was absolutely insistent that our kids go away to college. But I was not ready for the reality of my first child moving into a college apartment with complete strangers. There is an old television commercial where the Mom is helping her daughter move into her dorm room. When the Mom looks at her daughter, she sees her as a toddler. That's exactly the same feeling I had when we took our daughter to college.

    When we took our oldest to UTSA, a mere two hour drive from home, it was extremely difficult. Okay, truth be told, I cried all the way home. Every time I would get myself under control, Grandad would say something to me and I would start crying all over again. We finally finished the drive in absolute silence, except for my sniffling.

    As part of preparing to send her to college, Grams and Grandad attended a parent orientation session. It was only a few hours and was very helpful in letting us know what to expect. As part of that orientation they gave us a schedule that outlined what to expect during first year away at college. It was spot on and I've always wished I had saved it so I could pass it on to my friends. Here's what I remember.
    • By Halloween your child will hate college and will want to come home. Don't give in. Make them stick it out at least until mid-term, preferably the entire first year.
    • By Christmas, they'll begin to feel a real sense of separation from home. They'll be happy to see their old friends when they come home for Christmas, but they may feel like maybe they don't have so much in common with them any more.
    • By Valentine's Day almost all high school romances will be over and done with.
    • By Spring Break, your student will love college and wonder what they didn't like before.
    Our experience with both of our kids was very much in line with this schedule. They called in October and wanted to quit school and come home. We didn't go see them until Halloween. From August to Halloween was a long, long time. In retrospect, it may have been too long. By the time they came home for Christmas, they were feeling better about about college. And by the end of the spring term, our daughter was so settled in that she stayed and went to summer school. At the end of his first semester, our son transferred to another school, only to return to Schreiner after one semester. (That's a long story for a different day.)

    I will admit that, while I was initially excited for the first of my children to leave home, I was not in any way emotionally prepared for it. Just a few weeks after she left, I dove into cleaning her room and remodeling it to suit my plans. I vividly remember my eyes blurring with tears as I peeled Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake stickers off the window and mirror and scrubbed the sticky residue away. It felt like I was scrubbing away her childhood. In retrospect, I should have given myself a little more time. When she came home for Christmas, her room had been transformed into my sewing/craft room and she had to sleep on the couch. I felt bad and tried to put her furniture back where it had been. But it didn't matter to her. Still, more than twelve years after she left for college, she says she can get more rest by coming home than she ever gets anywhere else.

    Go ahead and let them go ... they will be fine and so will you. Let them make their own decisions. Don't worry about what they're eating. Buy them a meal card so you know they're not going to starve and let them take it from there. Don't worry about what they're wearing. Make sure they have climate-appropriate clothing available, but they have to make their own decisions. College students rarely starve or freeze, but they do often wear pajamas to class and it's really okay. Don't worry about whether they're getting enough sleep or not. Trust me, they're not. But they're young and they have to learn for themselves.

    Do something special for them every now and then. For Halloween I shipped my college students boxes filled with Halloween candy. When finals were coming up, I sent them a care package with easy-to-grab healthy snacks like peanut butter, crackers, pretzels, jerky, etc. It made me feel better and it made them feel remembered and loved.

    Do something special for yourself. Take a class, host a party, join a club, take a walk. Just do something besides sitting in their room and missing them.

    Grams has learned to love our empty nest. Some of the advantages include:
    • Grams doesn't lay awake at night listening for kids to come home at all hours.
    • I have the sewing/craft room I've always wanted.
    • I never have to yell at Grandad to turn down the stereo.
    • We have time to spend with friends.
    • Grandad hardly ever leaves dirty dishes or dirty clothes all over the house for me to pick up.
    • We take grown-up vacations; we only go to amusement parks if we want to go. And we don't have to schedule them around kids and school calendars.
    • We each have our own bathroom.
    • We watch what we want to watch on television.
    So, don't worry Mom's. You'll get used to not having kids in the house. No matter how far away they go or how long they stay away, wherever you are will always be their home. Besides, in a few years they'll get married and bring their kids home for you to babysit.

    And remember, it's not really an empty nest until they take their stuff!

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Grams Made Capellini with Shrimp, Peppers and Salami

    When I first started cooking a few years ago, my daughter, Katy, gave me a subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine. It's an excellent resource for a rookie cook and I learned a lot of great techniques and terminology from this magazine. It's still one of my favorite magazines. It's the only magazine that I save and go back to over and over again. None of the recipes have more than 10 ingredients and most of them have 8 or fewer. The recipes are also arranged seasonally, so they don't call for ingredients that are not readily available. This recipe came from one of the first issues I received.

    Capellini with Shrimp, Peppers and Salami was one of the first recipes that became part of my regular repertoire. Grandad loves it and it's one of the few things he actually asks me to make from time-to-time. Make sure that you buy Genoa Salami (instead of hard salami) because most of the seasoning in this dish comes from the salami.

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    3 bell peppers, mixed colors (ribs and seeds removed) thinly sliced lengthwise
    1 pound large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
    2 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami, cut into strips
    1/4 cup pepperoncini, stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise
    8 ounces capellini pasta (angel-hair)

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add bell peppers, and cook, tossing, until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook, tossing until opaque throughout 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in salami and pepperoncini; season with salt and pepper.

    Cook pasta until al dente; drain and return to pot. Serve pasta topped with shrimp mixture and pan juices.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Grams Made Sweet & Saucy Slow-Cooked Pork Chops

    Grams and Grandad love pork chops, but we really prefer them sliced wafer-thin and fried almost to a crisp. Other than the obvious fact that they're not healthy, the other problem with that is that Grams doesn't like standing in the kitchen and frying anything. It's too labor intensive and makes too big a mess.

    I recently bought a large pork loin at our local Sam's Club. Do you know that Sam's Club will cut meat to your order? I didn't know that until my friend and neighbor Diane (who works at Sam's Club) told me. I have half of the pork loin cut into chops and the other half makes two small loin roasts. Since there are only two of us to cook for, we can usually get at least five meals out of one large pork loin.

    Yesterday morning as I was trying to find a new recipe for pork chops. I searched the internet and finally ended up combining several recipes and altering them to make them lower in sugar and healthier. This dish was delicious! I highly recommend it. And, even though it's done in the slow-cooker, it doesn't have to cook all day. It only takes three-and-a-half hours.

    4-6 boneless pork chops (about 3/4" thick)
    1/2 of a large onion, cut into rings
    1/4 cup Brown-Sugar Splenda
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 cup reduced-salt soy sauce
    1 Tablespoon honey
    1/2 cup ketchup
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 Tablespoon cornstarch
    2 Tablespoons water

    Place pork chops in slow cooker and top with onion rings. In a small bowl whisk together brown-sugar Splenda, ground ginger, soy sauce, honey, ketchup, and garlic. Pour over pork chops and onions.

    Cook on low setting for 3 hours.

    Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into slow cooker. Cook 30 minutes longer on low.

    The sauce is kind of an Asian-inspired barbecue sauce and is absolutely delicious. I served this with brown rice and mixed vegetables.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Grams Made A Pillowcase Dress

    Grams has made a couple of these dresses for Our Little Princess. They are super simple and very lightweight and cool.

    The white dress, pictured at right, is the first one I made. I used one of my mother's old pillowcases that has a white-on-white embroidery detail. I used a blue striped grosgrain ribbon for the ties. I was really pleased with how this dress came out. This pillowcase is old and soft. It made the dress look vintage and delicate. It was perfect for a romp in the Texas Hill Country bluebonnets last spring.

    The blue-print dress is made from a border-print fabric, not from a pillowcase. The "flower" that is pinned to the shoulder of this dress is a barrette that I bought at a local craft store. I'm planning to make some of these and I'll share the directions as soon as I figure them out.

    Today, I'm sharing the instructions for the pillowcase dress just in case you have a little princess of your own. You can actually buy a pattern for a pillowcase dress, but it's so easy you really don't need to spend that money.

    You'll need a pillowcase*, scissors, thread, and one yard of ribbon cut into two equal pieces.

    The first step is to measure your child from the shoulder to where you want the hem to reach and add one inch. 

    Second, using the measurement you took, measure up from the hemmed edge of the pillowcase and cut straight across removing the closed edge of the pillowcase. This will be the top of your dress.

    Now fold the pillowcase in half vertically so that the sides of the dress are touching. Make armholes by cutting a "J" shape on the top of the pillowcase. Cut through both sides at the same time so the armholes will be identical. For a small child, make the cuts 1 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches deep. For a larger child, make the cuts 2 inches wide and 4 inches deep. (This step really worried Grams when I made my first dress, but rest assured, it's not an exact science and the size of the cut doesn't make too much difference.)

    Unfold and sew a rolled edge for each armhole creating a finished edge around the armhole.

    Make a double fold in the top straight-edge of the dress, iron it in place, and sew to create a casing for the ribbon. Thread one piece of ribbon through each casing. Shirr fabric to create gathers and tie the ends of the ribbon together in a bow on each shoulder.

    Put the dress on your own little princess and snap a picture. I promise they'll look cute and comfy and you'll feel a real sense of accomplishment at making such a beautiful dress.

    *If you don't have a pillowcase, use a piece of fabric approximately the same size as a pillowcase.  Seam up one edge to form a tube. Then hem one end, leaving the other end open.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Halfway Through Summer

    Grams and Grandad live in South Texas where the weather is sunny and hot. While I've been reading from my friends in other climes that their summer is almost over and they're getting ready for fall, here in South Texas summer is just settling in.  We usually don't have any cool weather until well into October and then it starts very slowly with fronts that sweep through and drop temperatures for one or two days at a time.

    It hasn't been unbearably hot and dry this summer. By this time last year the grass was dead, everything was brown, and we'd had day upon day of temperatures over 100 with no rain for months. This summer has been pleasantly different. Don't get me wrong ... it's still very hot here ... 98 degrees this afternoon. But at least we've had some occasional rainy days to break the monotony this summer. That also means that the grass is green and has to be mowed once a week.

    It's been a great summer so far. Grandad is feeling so much better; he actually has energy to mow the lawn and wants to get out and about on the weekends. He's going to cardiac rehab sessions three times a week and doing very well. Last weekend we looked with longing at our "new" used bicycles that we gave each other for our anniversary last November. We've only ridden them a couple of times because Grandad just didn't feel up to any exercise. Now that he does feel better, we've decided that we'll wait a few weeks for the weather to cool off.

    Early in June when my mother-in-law celebrated her 80th birthday, we all got together at my brother-in-law's house for lunch and spent the day together. We intended to have the entire family together for a family picture, but some of the in-laws couldn't make it. We took pictures anyway and we got a good picture of us with our kids and my mother-in-law.

    We took our first real vacation since 2003. A week in Massachusetts for just the two of us was wonderful. We never once wished that someone else was with us. We enjoyed just spending the time together doing what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. We made our own plans and kept our own schedule. We slept late almost every morning and ate a leisurely breakfast before heading out to see the sites. We had lunch in the mid-afternoon, continued our site-seeing, and headed back to the hotel fairly early each day. Then we would either order dinner in or go someplace near the hotel.  We truly relaxed together for the first time in years with no worries about Grandad's health or anything else. The weather in Massachusetts was cool and beautiful and there are so many sights to see. We didn't see everything we wanted to see, but we didn't push ourselves to the point of exhaustion either. I already want to go back.

    We spent a day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas with Katy, Travis, Mady and Ezra. It was hot that day, but it rained off and on during the day so it wasn't unbearable and the park wasn't overly crowded.  I spent a good part of the day riding kiddie rides with Our Little Princess. It was my first trip to an amusement park since losing 125 pounds and I really enjoyed being able to fit on the rides for the first time in years.  However, the next day I felt bruised and all my joints hurt. I've concluded that perhaps 56 years old is too old for roller coasters and the like. My future visits will be limited to the kiddie part of the parks with Our Little Princess.

    Ezra came home with us on Monday of last week and stayed while her Dad took a summer class and her Mom worked. We really enjoyed having her, but at 17 months old she's quite a handful. I was exhausted from keeping up with her. I met her other Grandmother halfway between here and San Antonio on Thursday afternoon and she spent the rest of the week with her Nonnie. While she was here, she and Grandad got her foot tangled up in his recliner and she ended up with a compression fracture of her foot. She's been in a splint for a couple of days and today she got a cast. She chose purple. Actually, she really wanted black, but her Mom thought that would not be suitable for a baby. It doesn't seem to be slowing her down very much, but it will keep her out of the swimming pool for a few weeks and will also make bathing her a bit of a challenge. She really hates to have to lean back when you wash her hair.

    She's finally starting to talk quite a bit. She calls herself Rah-Rah and instead of Grams she says Mams. She tries to say Grandad, it comes out Man-da. She expresses herself very well with sign language. She knows the signs for more, eat, milk, bottle, among other things.

    I've finally finished the first of my clean-out and re-organize projects here at home. It took more than a week to go through all the papers that were stuffed into our 4-drawer legal-sized file cabinet. We had more than twenty years of tax returns and bank statements of our own. Additionally, we had several years of my parents bank statements and other paperwork. By the time I finished shredding, I had four 33-gallon trash bags full. What remains is not even enough to fill a whole drawer. So now I'm in the market for a small 2-drawer cabinet that will double as a night stand in our guest room. This project took more than a week, so I've been hesitant to start my next project. I'm trying to decide among the several things that need organizing.  One is cleaning out Nick's closet, which still has clothes from before he went to college and a lot of other stuff that he probably wants me to keep for him, but doesn't actually want to take to his own house. (By the way, his house is huge and has way, way, way more storage than mine.)  Another project is re-organizing my craft closet. And the other is cleaning out the walk-in closet that Grandad and I share. I really need him to help with that project so it's probably going to be Nick's closet next. I think I can be heartless enough to actually get rid of his stuff and reclaim that closet for myself. I'll report on that later.

    For the rest of the summer, I have received both a federal and county jury summons. That will take care of at least two days and the federal summons instructs that I will be on call for 30 days. I'm expecting to continue substitute teaching this fall. Hopefully, I'll finish jury duty early enough to start soon after school starts. 

    We are looking forward to fall, but it's not imminent here in South Texas. According to our local "celebrity" weatherman, Dale Nelson, this week marks the halfway mark of our summer. So y'all go ahead and buy yourselves some sweaters and boots. We'll be wearing flip-flops and capris for several more months. Life is good!