Friday, December 21, 2007

Having to Keep it Simple

Christmas Lights, Thermopolis Wyoming

The last few years I've found myself yearning for a little more simplicity and meaning during the Christmas season. This year we're trying, having to keep things simple. More than ever before Christmas has totally snuck up on me. And even beyond that, I'm just not in the mood. We haven't done anything, no tree, no cards. I JUST started the shopping, and whittled it down to three stores. I've made a couple of things, that's been the most fun.
Several friends have reported the same "grinchy" feelings this year. I think we're all just tired of the shopping frenzy, the pressure to get things done on a certain schedule, the commercialism, and basically rebelling against all that. I've been thinking a lot lately about what my ideal would be in terms of celebrating Christmas. I think I'd like to just have a big get together with whoever is around, have a meal together and just relax! Forget about the gifts!!!!! We don't need to be buying all this stuff anyway. Oh well, there's my grinchy moment. Even though that will probably never happen, I can at least work towards it!
This year I'm proud to announce we set ourselves a budget for Christmas gifts, and are buying things cash. I mentioned that at Crate and Barrel and the checkout lady said she's seen a lot of that this year. They've noticed because they have to change out the cash register more often. Interesting!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Thanksgiving Table for Three

A Table for Three
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir
I had long planned to go to Wyoming in October or November to close the cabin and bunkhouse down for the season. This summer I was in Wyoming for only a week and didn't have a chance to visit much with my Aunt Shirley because Sofia and I were so sick and weren't sure if we were contagious. Aunt Shirley was diagnosed with cancer in June and by the time my parents returned to Louisiana in October she had decided to enter the nursing home where she could get round the clock care if she needed it.

I am so glad I went to Wyoming in November because I got to visit her every day in her last week. She taught me so many life lessons in dignity and self awareness during that brief week. She died a few days before Thanksgiving, when my parents were on their second day of driving to Wyoming.

Her funeral wasn't until the Monday after Thanksgiving, to give family time to travel in during such a busy season. While Ricardo and Sofia went to Libbas, and Hannah traveled to St. Louis, for us, it was a quiet Thanksgiving, just three settings at the table. I have to say, it was also a gift, and a joy, and a pleasure to spend that time with my parents. I very rarely get them to myself, and I really loved cooking our little feast and spending the day together. It will always be a Thanksgiving to remember.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What does hometown mean?

I spent a few days in Hot Springs Arkansas for a meeting last week. Shawna came with me and we made a road trip out of it, staying an extra night at a lake house with Peggy. It's surprisingly close, only a 4 hour drive to mountains and the wonderful Hot Springs. Both Hope and Hot Springs claim Bill Clinton as their native son, he was born in Hope and grew up in Hot Springs. That gets me to reflecting on the idea of "home town" and what that means. The word hometown conjures Rockwell like images in my mind of walking down main street saying hello to everyone you know, 4th of July picnics and parades, and knowing the people you graduate with since first grade. I doubt most people have that experience any more though, and I never did have it. I have a couple of places I consider home towns. The first and earliest home town for me is Shell Wyoming, even though I've only spent a total of a few years there over the course of a lifetime of summers. Then comes Aberdeen Scotland, where I really gained my independence and got to know the city, riding all over on the buses, and made lifelong friends. Then comes Lafayette, LA, my college home town. Lafayette represents another phase of independence, it's where I learned to drive, went to college and got married (first time). And now Dallas, it's my home town now! I love my neighborhood (see Oak Cliff blog!), and this is where I've become a mom, bought a house and started my working life. For a while I really wanted to move away, but I'm glad we've stayed. It's given the girls the opportunity to really feel at home, establish a stable network of friends and really feel like they belong somewhere. I feel like eventually we'll move away from Dallas, but it will always be a special home base for us.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Eulogy for Lady Bird Johnson

1969 Whitehouse Portrait

Bill Moyers' eulogy for Lady Bird Johnson, She seemed to grow calmer as the world around her became more furious. Sunday, July 15, 2007

It is unthinkable to me that Lady Bird is gone.
She was so much a part of the landscape, so much a part of our lives and our times, so much a part of our country for so long that I began to imagine her with us always. Now, although the fields of purple, orange, and blue will long evoke her gifts to us, that vibrant presence has departed, and we are left to mourn our loss of her even as we celebrate her life.
Some people arriving earlier today were asked, "Are you sitting with the family?" I looked around at this throng and said to myself, "Everyone here is sitting with the family. That's how she would treat us." All of us.
When I arrived in Washington in 1954, to work in the LBJ mailroom between my sophomore and junior years, I didn't know a single person in town — not even the Johnsons, whom I only met that first week. She soon recognized the weekends were especially lonesome for me, and she called one day to ask me over for Sunday brunch.
I had never even heard of Sunday brunch, must less been to one; for all I knew, it was an Episcopalian sacrament. When I arrived at 30th Place the family was there — the little girls, Lady Bird and himself. But so were Richard Russell and Sam Rayburn and J. Edgar Hoover — didn't look like Episcopal priests to me. They were sitting around the smallish room reading the newspaper — except for LBJ, who was on the phone. If this is their idea of a sacrament, I thought, I'll just stay a Baptist. But Mrs. Johnson knew something about the bachelors she had invited there, including the kid fresh up from her native East Texas. On a Sunday morning they needed a family, and she had offered us communion at her table. In a way, it was a sacrament.
It was also very good politics. She told me something that summer that would make a difference in my life. She was shy, and in the presence of powerful men, she usually kept her counsel. Sensing that I was shy, too, and aware I had no experience to enforce any opinions, she said: Don't worry. If you are unsure of what to say, just ask questions, and I promise you that when they leave, they will think you were the smartest one on the room, just for listening to them. Word will get around, she said.
She knew the ways of the world, and how they could be made to work for you, even when you didn't fully understand what was going on. She told me once, years later, that she didn't even understand everything about the man she married — nor did she want to, she said, as long as he needed her.
Oh, he needed her, alright. You know the famous incident. Once, trying to locate her in a crowded room, he growled aloud: "Where's Lady Bird?" And she replied: "Right behind you, darling, where I've always been." "Whoever loves, believes the impossible," Elizabeth Browning wrote. Lady Bird truly loved this man she often found impossible. "I'm no more bewildered by Lyndon than he is bewildered by himself," she once told me.
Like everyone he loved, she often found herself in the path of his Vesuvian eruptions. During the campaign of 1960 I slept in the bed in their basement when we returned from the road for sessions of the Senate. She knew I was lonesome for Judith and our six-month-old son who were back in Texas. She would often come down the two flights of stairs to ask if I was doing alright. One night the Senator and I got home even later than usual. And he brought with him an unresolved dispute from the Senate cloakroom. At midnight I could still hear him upstairs, carrying on as if he were about to purge the Democratic caucus. Pretty soon I heard her footsteps on the stairs and I called out: "Mrs. Johnson, you don't need to check up on me. I'm alright." And she called back, "Well, I was coming down to tell you I'm alright, too."
She seemed to grow calmer as the world around her became more furious.
Thunderstorms struck in her life so often, you had to wonder why the Gods on Olympus kept testing her. She lost her mother in an accident when she was five. She was two cars behind JFK in Dallas. She was in the White House when Martin Luther King was shot and Washington burned. She grieved for the family of Robert Kennedy, and for the lives lost in Vietnam.
Early in the White House, a well-meaning editor up from Texas said, "You poor thing, having to follow Jackie Kennedy." Mrs. Johnson's mouth dropped open, in amazed disbelief. And she said, "Oh, no, don't pity for me. Weep for Mrs. Kennedy. She lost her husband. I still have my Lyndon."
She aimed for the consolation and comfort of others. It was not only her talent at negotiating the civil war waged in his nature. It was not just the way she remained unconscripted by the factions into which family, friends, and advisers inevitably divide around a powerful figure. She kept open all the roads to reconciliation.
Like her beloved flowers in the field, she was a woman of many hues. A strong manager, a canny investor, a shrewd judge of people, friend and foe — and she never confused the two. Deliberate in coming to judgment, she was sure in conclusion.
But let me speak especially of the one quality that most captured my admiration and affection, her courage.
It is the fall of 1960. We're in Dallas, where neither Kennedy nor Johnson are local heroes. We start across the street from the Adolphus to the Baker Hotel. The reactionary congressman from Dallas has organized a demonstration of women — pretty women, in costumes of red, white, and blue, waving little American flags above their cowboy hats. At first I take them to be cheerleaders having a good time. But suddenly they are an angry mob, snarling, salivating, spitting.
A roar — a primal terrifying roar swells around us — my first experience with collective hate roused to a fever pitch. I'm right behind the Johnsons. She's taken his arm and as she turns left and right, nodding to the mob, I can see she is smiling. And I see in the eyes of some of those women a confusion — what I take to be the realization that this is them at their most uncivil, confronting a woman who is the triumph of civility. So help me, her very demeanor creates a small zone of grace in the midst of that tumultuous throng. And they move back a little, and again a little, Mrs. Johnson continuing to nod and smile, until we're inside the Baker and upstairs in the suite.
Now LBJ is smiling — he knows that Texas was up for grabs until this moment, and the backlash will decide it for us. But Mrs. Johnson has pulled back the curtains and is looking down that street as the mob disperses. She has seen a dark and disturbing omen. Still holding the curtain back, as if she were peering into the future, she says, "Things will never be the same again."
Now it is 1964. The disinherited descendents of slavery, still denied their rights as citizens after a century of segregation, have resolved to claim for themselves the American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. President Johnson has thrown the full power of his office to their side, and he has just signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 — the greatest single sword of justice raised for equality since the Emancipation Proclamation. A few weeks later, both Johnsons plunge into his campaign for election in his own right. He has more or less given up on the South, after that legislation, but she will not. These were her people, here were her roots. And she is not ready to sever them. So she sets out on a whistlestop journey of nearly seventeen hundred miles through the heart of her past. She is on her own now — campaigning independently — across the Mason-Dixon line down the buckle of the Bible Belt all the way down to New Orleans. I cannot all these years later do justice to what she faced: The boos, the jeers, the hecklers, the crude signs and cruder gestures, the insults and the threats. This is the land still ruled by Jim Crow and John Birch, who controls the law with the cross and club to enforce it. 1964, and bathroom signs still read: "White Ladies" and Colored Women."
In Richmond, she is greeted with signs that read: "Fly away, Lady Bird." In Charleston, "Blackbird Go Home." Children planted in front rows hold up signs: "Johnson is a Nigger Lover." In Savannah they curse her daughter. The air has become so menacing we run a separate engine fifteen minutes ahead of her in case of a bomb; she later said, "People were concerned for me, but the engineer in the train ahead of us was in far greater danger." Rumors spread of snipers, and in the Panhandle of Florida the threats are so ominous the FBI orders a yard-by-yard sweep of a seven-mile bridge that her train would cross.
She never flinches. Up to forty times a day from the platform of the caboose she will speak, sometimes raising a single white-gloved hand to punctuate her words — always the lady. When the insults grew so raucous in South Carolina, she tells the crowd the ugly words were coming "not from the good people of South Carolina but from the state of confusion." In Columbia she answers hecklers with what one observer called "a maternal bark." And she says, "This is a country of many viewpoints. I respect your right to express your own. Now is my turn to express mine."
An advance man called me back at the White House from the pay phone at a local train depot. He was choking back the tears. "As long as I live," he said, in a voice breaking with emotion, "I will thank God I was here today, so that I can tell my children the difference courage makes."
Yes, she planted flowers, and wanted and worked for highways and parks and vistas that opened us to the Technicolor splendors of our world. Walk this weekend among the paths and trails and flowers and see the beauty she loved. But as you do, remember — she also loved democracy, and saw a beauty in it — rough though the ground may be, hard and stony, as tangled and as threatened with blight as nature itself. And remember that this shy little girl from Karnack, Texas — with eyes as wistful as cypress and manners as soft as the whispering pine — grew up to show us how to cultivate the beauty in democracy: The voice raised against the mob . . . the courage to overcome fear with convictions as true as steel. Claudia Alta Taylor — Lady Bird Johnson — served the beauty in nature and the beauty in us — and right down to the end of her long and bountiful life, she inspired us to serve them, too.
I thought this was the most beautiful eulogy ever, I just had to find and share, Carla.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

For the first time in a LOOOOONG time my dad is here on Father's Day, which this year is also his birthday! So, he kind of stole the show! We had a good day today, staying in the house and just hanging out for a change. Ricardo made his delicious baby back ribs and I made roasted potatoes and a cake for the birthday boy. Here are the dads opening presents, Ricardo got a gadget to open packages and three shirts, and dad got two books and a puzzle of a picture I took of Copeman's Tomb.

I'm really glad the girls were back for Father's Day, and my mom was back for dad's birthday, it just wouldn't have been the same without them!!! I will post a pic of their trip to Argentina, they had a really great time!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Argentine Adventure

Hannah, Sofia, my Mom at DFW airport before the flight to Argentina

Hannah and Sofia are in Argentina for 2 weeks with my mom. They left at 7.35pm on Tuesday, and arrived safely on Wednesday morning after a 10 hour flight. They were so excited about this trip, even though they didn't really have time to dwell too much. School finished on Thursday and by the next Tuesday they were on their way! It's been a whirlwind of last minute shopping, laundry and packing. We needed to buy some sweaters and warm clothes because it's winter over there, in fact one of the coldest winters ever!

I'm so happy for them, they are being treated to all sorts of outings, experiences, visits and travels within Argentina. I have 5 cousins there and several have country homes as well as city homes. There are tons of babies, toddlers and even a few teenagers--between my 5 cousins they have 17 children, including two newborns!!!! Buenos Aires is a beautiful, historic, cosmopolitan city and they are getting the whirlwind tour! I can't wait to hear the stories and see the pictures!

I had been showing them a fellow blogger's Buenos Aires site so they could get a taste of the city, you might want to check it out:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Is it summer yet?

Being a teenager's mom is so HARD! Today Hannah and I got into a big conflict, seemingly over nothing, but as always tempers flare between the two of us. She's soooooo ready for school to be over, which I totally understand. She only has this week left and needs to hang in there, but she's ready to shut it down. Last week she skipped school a day, yes, she skipped school...She got up early, took the bus to school and then turned right around and came home, first stopping at Bishop Arts to have a bite to eat (the cosmopolitan drop out....). It was NOT her lucky day though, our friend M saw her and called it in immediately....busted! This week is finals week and she wants to spend the night at a friend's house, go hang out, etc. Hello! It's finals week....

Well, it will be over soon enough, school that is. As soon as it is, she's off to Argentina though, and then to SEEK Camp, and THEN the long and lazy summer can truly begin....

Just when I get SO frustrated with her....something happens and I am reminded that she's such a good kid. She's at a very challenging school with lots of pressures and yet she's getting through it, she is so talented, she's funny. Her rebellions are more attitude than action, she's trying to do the best she can, she wants to do everything and be everywhere and is only human. I read a story about a 19 year old boy who just died of cancer...that was my reminder for today.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Wicked Weather

I know this is nothing compared to what's happened in Kansas, but we've been having some weather drama around here too. A few months ago we had that freaky red dust storm, and then it was unseasonably wet and cold for a long time. Even on Hannah's birthday in late April it was still cold-ish, unheard of! Then last week we had tornados again, there had been one in Fort Worth the week prior. While we didn't get one in Oak Cliff the winds were SO HIGH, it really scared me for the first time ever. We heard sirens and 'evacuated' to the hall bathroom for about 20 minutes. The electricity went out that night and for the next day. We ended up going to bed at 8pm! I drove around the next morning and snapped some pics, including the one above a few streets from my house. Our neighborhood has so many mature trees and they were snapping left and right. You still see a lot of chopping and piles of wood but at least the streets are cleared up again. I can only imagine what it must be like for the people in Kansas whose whole town was blown away.

Friday, April 27, 2007

She's In!

Sofia got her letter from TAG on Friday!!! Woo hoo! She's in! We're so happy for her and proud of the hard work she put into the application. Here she is when she won the award at the district level for her piano composition.
We're all looking forward to this summer, having some time off and taking a break especially from school! We need to recharge our batteries to come back and take on the new year, which will be Sofia's freshman year and Hannah's junior year! Yikes, next year is the year where Hannah starts seriously looking into the colleges and application process...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Hannah

On Hannah and Sofia's birthdays I can't help but reflect, and yes, get sentimental. It seems like a lifetime ago, and yet only yesterday that I carried Hannah in me. As soon as I came home from the hospital I missed the feeling of having her inside me, sharing my day to day with her. She was now her own little person with her own life to lead. I remember crying the whole way home from the hospital because she had to stay there a few extra days to recover from jaundice. I felt so so sad and so empty. Ricardo would shuttle back and forth from home to the hospital taking her milk and bringing back the report of how she was doing. We were so happy when he brought her home, and soon overwhelmed. I remember that being the first time I felt awash with gratitude to my mom, not only for being there to help me with colicky Hannah but for just being my mother and everything I then understood that meant.

Sixteen years! When Hannah was little I would try to imagine what she would be like by taking her baby traits and projecting them into an imaginary 16 year old Hannah. Everything I see in her now, was in her then, and yet she's a constant surprise to me too. I love her creativity, her strength, intense loyalty and sensitivity. I never expected her to be so funny! In so many ways she still reminds me of myself, only smarter and more self-assured. Every trait that exasperates me about her--impulsive, dramatic, all-over-the-map, demanding...are carbon copies of my own flaws. In her they are rawer, yet to be polished. I know that she will struggle with them as I do, and yet each of these traits belies a strength and talent. She lives life fully (dramatic) and in the here and now (impulsive). She's visionary (all-over-the-map) and knows what she wants (demanding).

Happy Birthday Hannah, I can't wait to see what lessons you will teach me next.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Prom Night

Hannah went to prom with her friend Rebecca. They looked so pretty, and had a really good time. I'm so happy for them that they can make choices like going to Prom alone, with a date or with a friend. Waiting around for someone to ask you is so demoralizing! Girls are so lucky today!

Fashion report: both Rebecca and Hannah wore short dresses, and both were vintage inspired. Rebecca's looked a little like dresses in the 60's, except with an empire waist. Hannah's dress was very 50's, with swiss dots and lots of crinoline and layers.

They got ready at Rebecca's house because I was participating in the Oak Cliff Artisan's Studio Tour to raise money for their trip to Argentina (we made a dent in the ticket at least!). Ricardo picked them up and took them to Evie's house where they spent the night. All in all, a very busy weekend!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Spring Break

Sofia and Hannah outside the Devil's Den cave

A few weeks ago we went on Spring Break. I didn' t have my camera on me and our computer was virus infected so I never got around to putting up any pictures . So here goes!

We invited Daniel to come with us, and he had never camped before. We went to Devil's Den, near Rogers Arkansas and got to visit with other cousins (Alicia, Tom and Mercedes) on the way. The weather was really pretty but cold so we had fires going every night just to stay warm. The best part for me was the hike we went on one day through some crevices and even got to see some little bats. The girls had a great time with their cousin and overall it was a really nice trip.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cold Happy Easter

It's been a while I know...I've been REALLY busy at work, and my camera is down so some of my motivation has slipped, but I can't let this totally disappear....

What's been happening lately in Weir-dom:

  • Sofia's composition won at the state level!!! We're not sure if that's where it ends or it goes onto some sort of national competition, but we're REALLY happy for her!

  • Hannah and her boyfriend Pedro broke up...I won't go into details because I'm sure she'd be mortified, but I thought you'd like to know

  • Nothing really new for Ricardo or I, just lots of work!

We all went camping for Spring Break--we invited Daniel, the girls' cousin who lives in Houston. We went to Arkansas and visited another set of cousins who live in Rogers. We camped at Devil's Den state park and really had a good time, mostly just around the campsite. Highlights were a hike to see some bats in a cave, renting a paddle boat, and having a nice campfire each evening.

On Friday we were so HAPPY to stay at a hotel in Eureka Springs and de-funkify ourselves, having a nice dinner and relaxing before heading back. As we left Eureka, we stopped to see Quigley's "Castle" which was really unique and interesting.

Now it's Easter weekend, and we went to Lafayette on Thursday after work and returned today. It was a short visit but lots of fun to hang out with mom and dad, my brother and his family. We came back to a really really cold Dallas. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and Parranda Venezuela is performing for the second time at the Sacred Music Concert.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Visit to Denver

End of the Line
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
I had the opportunity to visit a HIPPY program in Denver this week, and stay with fellow HIPPY USA trainer Ozella Martinez (thanks Ozy for putting me up and putting up with me!).

Even if only from afar it was great to see the mountains!!! Woo-hoo! It was a 2 day visit with a late arrival on Sunday night and departure early on Tuesday evening so there wasn't much downtime! I did manage a quick walk outside on Monday morning while waiting for the taxi to pick me up and HAD to take this picture. The mess of snow is still on the northern sides of Denver streets and homes.

I know I would probably get very tired of snow and cold, but when you see it so infrequently it takes on a beauty that the locals just don't understand. I wonder sometimes how things would be going for us if we had relocated to Denver when we had the chance a few years back. I guess it wasn't meant to be. No regrets, just curious.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Weird Dusty Day

Downtown Dallas during the dust storm, from Oxtopus' photostream on flickr

The weather today was so strange. A strong wind blew in from West Texas bringing with it a ton of red dirt/dust that created a funky haze in Dallas. You couldn't see past a few blocks and even the sun was blocked out!!! This created a foul and creepy mood, people were driving crazy and Hannah and I got into a big fight...needless to say, not a great day. Hannah and I went to buy groceries, we started mending things on the drive to the grocery store and fully reconciliated right there in the toiletries aisle of Central Market, tears and all. I guess it came out ok because we ended up staying home after the grocery store and doing laundry and getting the house in order, which is good because I'm going out of town again tomorrow evening. We need hazy, crazy days sometimes, just to make the other days seem more normal.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Weir City Hall Happenings

Our own City Hall!
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.

Here's what's been happening around here lately:

  • We're finally taking Christmas down...the tree and all the decorations were up until today...
  • Testing "season" starts very soon so Ricardo has been working on Saturdays a lot because there's a weekend tutoring program every week.
  • Our garage apartment is still empty...haven't had time to put the word out.
  • Hannah has a boyfriend, Pedro, they have been seeing each other for about 4 months. He's a very polite and nice young man who is a senior at Science and Engineering High School.
  • Sofia is happy and relieved to be done with the High School application process, and eagerly awaits hearing whether she got accepted

Other than that...the laundry is starting to pile high, I haven't been to the grocery store in almost 2 weeks and I'm ready for a vacation!!! That is to say, we've been really busy with work and keeping up with these two fabulous teenage girls!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Eagle has Landed!

Today Sofia and I delivered her application to Townview TAG! It's been an arduous few months but I know that she gave it her all and did her very best on the application, it's out of our hands now. She was so relieved and happy to be done with it, as we were too.

I don't think it was as stressful for me to apply to college or even graduate school as it has been for Sofia and Hannah to apply for High School. Here's what is required for the application to TAG (granted, the BEST high school in the nation, as rated last year by Newsweek Magazine, amazing!). Applications must have:

  • Resume with back up documentation for the activities listed
  • Official copy of grades and test scores
  • Project highlighting a talent, with essay explanation
  • Essay written by hand, on a prompt given to them

It really helped that we had been through this with Hannah already and knew to get started early. We're way too busy to be able to whip this up a few days before the deadline, which is the end of February.

Now the wait begins. She should find out by early to mid-April.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Corteo Dallas

Corteo Dallas
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
Today my mom got to use her Christmas present which was 2 tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Corteo. We got there nice and early (a change for me) and enjoyed everything from the gift shop to buying snacks and finding our seats well before the show began. Neither of us had ever been to a Cirque production so we were blown away! The acrobats, the live music, the story, the set, the costumes--everything was amazing!!!!! It was magical!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Repujado Class

Student Work
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
Today was the second of two Repujado classes I gave at the Latino Cultural Center. I had about 10 students and they had a really good time and made some great projects (as you can see). I've really enjoyed sharing this artform with people and there seems to be a real demand for it. I can't help but think that it could go mainstream any minute now, especially because of the boom in scrap-booking and paper arts. For now though, most of the students I get are Spanish speakers who already know about it and always wanted to learn. My mom came to the class and had a blast chatting with everyone and telling them how to do repujado--even though she's never done any whatsoever! She's hilarious!

Tomorrow we're going to Cirque du Soleil!!! I can't wait!

Cafe and Bakery

Cafe and Bakery
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.

This is one of our favorite little places to get a snack in Dallas. I try to take out of town guests here because it's so much fun and is a little unexpected in Dallas, TX!

It has some delicious little pastries such as red bean donuts and egg sandwiches and rice flour donuts with sesame seeds on them. They also have all sorts of fruit slushies, hot and cold teas and bubble (tapioca) teas--the all time favorite!!!! The BEST part about it is the little tea-rooms you can have all to yourself. Each one is different but is like a mini-living room or dining room for you to eat/drink your goodies. It's loads of fun, the kids love it because they get their own room (although they always end up cramming into ours because they are so nosy about our conversation...)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Going on to STATE!

Sofia accepting the trophy (clear star) and ribbon at the Reflections Dallas Award Ceremony

Sofia entered a composition into the Reflections Contest, which is a PTA awards contest for art, music and literature that's held statewide. They receive hundreds of entries from Dallas school students. Her composition went to the regional level, one of 32 entries in music, art and writing. And was one of two selected at the regional level to go to state!! It's an original composition, in the classical style, which she has named Copeman's Tomb (after a mountain in Wyoming). I'm so proud of her, and thankful to Ricardo, for being so musically talented. I've heard it a hundred times and still love it! The best part is that she's proud of the piece herself, and yet is so grounded. She said in her artists statement that she hopes this is the first of many compositions and that she's sure she will look back some day at this piece and think it's very basic compared to others she has done.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Not a little girl anymore

What a great weekend! The weather was beautiful, cold and clear! We really didn't have a huge programmed agenda, for a change, and just did some spur of the moment things.

Saturday I taught a repujado class. Since I took some time to get organized on Friday it really went smoothly and wasn't stressful at all. Today, Sunday, Hannah and I went out all day while Ricardo and Sofia watched the superbowl. We went to the park (where I took this picture), walked up and down Jefferson Street, then off to our favorite Korean Bakery where we had bubble tea and listened in on some drama that we couldn't understand because it was in Korean (a lady and man fighting, the lady storms out and later we see her sitting in the back seat of a car, punished? banished? self-exile?). We then went to White Rock Lake where we met Shawna and Tristyn for a picnic and walk. All of couse under the guise of taking pictures for Flickr.

Hannah and I had lots of time to talk about things such as boyfriends, college, school, the meaning of life! She's maturing so fast, and is such a better person than I was at that age, kinder, funnier, more grounded. I'm so proud of who she is becoming.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Cold and Dreary

Bridge to downtown
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
It's been really yukky the last few days...cold, wet and dreary. It's on days like this that I HAVE to remind myself how very much I hate Texas winters, and how I really prefer winter clothes and days...

Yesterday I took Hannah out to buy a new coat. The first one she's ever chosen herself!!!! They have made do with sweaters and layers these last few years, but this cold snap has really made a coat necessary. She chose a very nice camel colored 3/4 length coat with nice details like a wide collar, a-line cut and great buttons. Hopefully this weekend we will make some time to take Sofia out to buy one too.

They will both need it this summer, when it's winter in Argentina...since I talked to my mom today and we decided to send both girls with her on the trip. It will be so wonderful for them to experience that together, and to have the opportunity to see a new country and visit our family there.

This weekend is pretty busy, tomorrow is my first of 2 repujado classes I'm teaching at the Latino Cultural Center, Sofia has a birthday to go to, and she needs to finalize her application to the Talented and Gifted High School. It's not due until the 21st, but it's best to get it in sooner.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Weir Country Storage

Kick out clutter...
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
I think I would be more motivated to "kick out the clutter" if this fabulous storage facility with my OWN name on it were closer to me...

We found out a few years ago that there's a town called Weir, TX and that made us soooooooooooooo-o happy! I drove Ricardo's mom there a few years ago when she was visiting and she loved it, we took lots of pics and ALMOST got to meet the mayor. The store manager called him and he was mowing the lawn so he couldn't come right over...and we really had to get back to Dallas! Mercedes (mother in law) insisted on showing them her ID card to prove that she really was named Weir. I'm pretty sure they had believed us before that...but it was fun to see the quizzical look on their face when it was a Venezuelan ID.

Today I stopped to pick up some t-shirts but they didn't have the girls' size, only for Mr. Weir, he's happy!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dinner at Ali Baba

Dinner at Ali Baba
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
My friends Peggy and Ozy were visiting from Colorado this past week and we went out to dinner with some of our Dallas / Venezuelan friends, at a middle eastern restaurant! It was a lot of fun and delicious! It's called Ali Baba, and is one of the first restaurants I ate at when I moved to Dallas, and has remained a favorite.

Afterwards, some of us went to a Drag Queen show, that was a blast! Those "ladies" are really talented, especially when it comes to dressing and make-up. They put us "real girls" to shame!

It was fun to hang out with Peggy and Ozy here on the home turf, show them around and take them to favorite places. One of the things I love about Dallas is the variety of places, restaurants and cultural activities we can take visitors to.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Apartment Vacancy

Apartment Vacancy
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
Our apartment is empty!!! We used it a little over the holidays since we had family and friends visiting, but it's time to get it rented out. I know I need to get up there and take pics and work on it...I just never make the time. I guess I need to set a deadline for myself, and surely if I post it here it will shame me into getting it done. Ok, in the next 2 weeks I will take pictures and post them on craig's list and cityleases as well as make a little flyer to put up in Bishop Arts.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Grow Where You are Planted

Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
I saw this tree-borg looking thing today. Wow, mother nature really figures things out! That got me to thinking about life and how the biggest choice you have is how you react to the things you don't have ANY choice about...

Work has been really challenging lately because we're faced with huge budget shortfalls at the national, state and local levels. After close to 20 years of honing my programmatic skills I find myself in the situation where I have to develop a whole new set of skills to save this program that I've been working on so hard to implement.

With the newly established Texas Parent Child Initiative established to seek funds and support for HIPPY in Texas, it's time now to do just that. The next few months will see a flurry of activity as we approach foundations, private donors and corporations to partner with us to fund HIPPY in Texas. It's exciting, and scary. I feel like this tree must have felt when it was half way up the pole it's growing in...wondering if I'll ever see the sunshine.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Moon Lightswitch

Moon lightswitch
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
I've been so engrossed in this flickr stuff lately that I've somewhat abandoned the other artistic interests I have, making jewelry, making beads, repujado. The cold weather is partly to blame. My little studio in the laundry room is bone chillingly cold right now and I really don't want to fill up our dining room table with art stuff. While perusing flickr though I found a crafty group that posts pics of stuff they make, and I couldn't resist finding some of my past work to post. Maybe tomorrow I'll go and buy a heater for the studio so I can get back in there and let go of the computer for a while.

Today would have been a good day for making stuff as we had a snow day and stayed home nice and cozy in our PJ's. I actually got some work done and caught up on all my email.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Drip Drip Drip

Drip Drip
Originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.
Another cold and rainy day but not the apocalyptic ice storm the weathermen have been predicting. After doing some work and attending a meeting I came home and took Sofia and her friend Ana to see a movie. They wanted to see Pursuit of Happyness, with Will Smith and his real life little boy playing his son in the movie. That is one adorable little boy. We really enjoyed the movie and the tear ducts got a nice cleansing, drip drip drip.

Winter Wedding

La Familia, originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.

We've had a winter blast this weekend that has changed lots of people's plans, but David and Mara's wedding was ON! Luckily, all the apocalyptic prognostications were exaggerations and it was simply a very cold evening, not a blizzard and ice storm as predicted.

The church ceremony was beautiful, the bride was breathtaking, David looked puffed up with pride. The priest said that according to tradition, it was lucky to be married during stormy cold weather because it meant you would have 12 children. I'm ever so glad we were married on a sunny day...

After the wedding, we went onto the reception which was a lot of fun, with very good food, a delicious cake, and GREAT music, truly a wonderful event. Which, I should have known! I share an office with David and I've heard the wedding plans as they were made week by week and know that both of them paid attention to every little detail.

The girls had a great time, dancing the night away. It was a lot of fun to watch, and they even got us out on the dance floor a couple of times, and we have pictures to prove it! For the full album of pics that we took (all from the reception), click on this link to my flickr space:

Congratulations David and Mara!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Manicurist Altar and First Real Date

Manicurist Altar, originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.

Today Hannah reminded me that last time she asked for a manicure I put her off by saying let's wait until a special occasion, and then she added, "What could be more special than my first real date." So, even though it was pouring rain, we went to get her the manicure. You might be thinking, as I did, what exactly constitutes a "real date" and should I be worried about this? She's been to the movies, to play paintball, and to hang out with other "boyfriends" in the past, so what's the difference? Well, she informed me it's only a real date if the boy picks you up. If your parents take you to the movies it doesn't count at all. Before you imagine a date that involves a candlelight dinner, let me fill you in on the plans. Sometime Monday afternoon, Pedro is going to pick Hannah up and they're going "thrifting" together to various second hand stores in the neighborhood. Then they're going to get something to eat. Hannah will of course be looking fabulous with her freshly manicured nails.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Six Flags for Gerald Ford

Six Flags for Gerald Ford, originally uploaded by carlamarieweir.

I thought I'd share this picture with you. I'm trying out the capability of posting a picture from flickr to the blog to see how it works.

I took this picture yesterday when I was in Prosper, TX for a meeting to talk about the possibility of getting HIPPY started there.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Impromptu Photo Shoot

Today, after several weeks of back to back planned fun I went for an impromptu photo shoot and then a movie with Shawna. We dropped by a nearby cemetery where Clyde Barrow is buried, and took the shot above. It was really interesting, full of old (for Texas) graves dating back to the 1800's. There's a historical marker that talks about the historical significance of the cemetery and one sentence stating that Clyde Barrow (aka Bonnie and Clyde) is buried there but it's kind of downplayed. Someone had visited recently and scattered loose change on the gravestone and left a Mexican ceramic cup with some coffee or something in it. I was reminded of my cemetery-hopping days with my friend Susan Cain when we were in graduate school. We loved to go to the local cemetery and scan the grave stones, making up histories and dramas.
Shawna and I went downtown and took a few more shots and then had to find indoor pursuits because there was no more light and it turned very cold! So, we went to see the Good American or something like that with Angelina Jolie and Matt Damon, it was ok, not great.
Now that we're both hooked on Flickr I predict more photo shoot forays, it was fun!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Addiction

Thanks to my friend Shawna I have a new addiction, Flickr. It's a photo website that allows you to post good quality, ie. resolution, photos, with comments, tags and headlines, and allows folks to comment on your pictures. You can also join and post your pictures to groups. So far I have three albums, one for Oak Cliff, one for People, and one for Places. I've been snap happy, taking lots of pics around the neighborhood. I really like my Oak Cliff group, it's given me an excuse to stop and snap a shot of a lot of little sights around the 'hood that have caught my eye. The photo above is one of my favorites so far. Check out my pictures at, search for me listed as carlamarieweir and let me know what you think!

Since I have a thing for words and for images, having a blog and a photo site is a great combination! Will I have time to work and be a parent still?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

No Bro

Ricardo's brother was supposedly arriving yesterday but...he's still not here, and somehow we are not alarmed. Since we found out casually through their aunt that he was coming to the US to visit us I guess we'll see him when we see him...

If he is going to visit hope he's here by Saturday because Ricardo has his hopes set on having his brother join in the last Parranda. They haven't seen each other in 7 years so it would be really great if he did materialize, but he hasn't called or checked in so we're not sure what his status is.

On the other hand, we're trying to get back into a routine after the Christmas break and I know that visitors will put the kaibash on that. We'll keep you posted, bro or no bro.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year

The partying continues!!!! We had a great time getting together with friends and family to ring in the new year. Alicia, her husband Tom and sister in law Mercedes came in from Bentonville, Arkansas.

We made Hallacas which can only be fun if there are a lot of people around helping out, and there were! Mercedes, Sofia and I were in charge of cleaning and steaming the plantain leaves, and Ricardo and Alicia made the filling and masa.

This first picture shows the leaves being steamed (bright green) and then turning brown when they are cooked (at left of green leaves).

Then we all came together to assemble the hallacas, which is quite a feat: first each leaf is oiled (Tom), then the dough / masa is spread onto the leaf (Alicia) then the filling is put in (Mercedes) and the toppings are added (Sofia) and then the folding takes place (Carla) and finally each packet is tied with string (Ricardo)! We ended up making 50 or 60? You can see Ricardo holding up a wrapped one. After they are all assembled, they are steamed to cook the dough, and then are ready to eat! They came out SO DELICIOUS! Seriously, they were the best ones I've ever tasted, and were truly made the "old fashioned way"!

Ricardo and Sofia also made the deboned turkey with the special super rich, pork and cheese stuffing. It cooked for 10 hours...Here it is in all it's glory, trussed and ready to slice! Mercedes, Alicia and I took a field trip to IKEA that day...and got back just in time for another Parranda at Zaguan. They loved IKEA and even though we spent 5 hours there, it wasn't enough, that place is so huge and packed with good deals. We'll have to go back when they come for another visit.

Our house is almost back to normal, except Ricardo's brother Jorge and wife Cynthia are arriving today. We're not sure when they will stay until as they are considering moving here from Venezuela. I'll keep you posted...

Today was back to work and school day for us, I'm pretty tired...mostly I'm hungry! I've been used to eating and snacking all day long during the holidays, and three meals doesn't seem to be enough...

Happy New Year!