Sunday, September 7, 2014

Finding the Next Best Thing

I wish I had kept count of the miles I have walked this summer.  We have got to be talking over five hundred.  

And oh, the things I see!  The neighborhoods I want to move into! I used to suffer from house envy, but now I've calmed down to mere neighborhood envy. 

Then again, if I picked up and moved, I would have to give up something I love, something I have never had before and will never find again--the view out my kitchen window:

It is all curved lines, and people-watching.  I can see the main boulevard through the neighborhood.  I can see the walking paths, and everybody strolling, biking or hauling their children in little red wagons.  

Up until Thursday, this wonderful view was marred by a window like this:

That middle bar sat right at eye level.  I either had to stretch or slouch to look out on all the backyard beauty.

But, all fixed now.  New window.  Thank you, Mr. Nesquik.

Of course, if I had a bathtub full of money like the folks Bryan Burrough writes about in Big Rich, I could keep the view from my kitchen window and add, oh, seven more kitchen windows, hopping from one to the other in my fleet of private planes.

In other words, I have advanced from the chapters where the tycoons discover the oil, to the part where they figure how to spend all the moola.

When we lived in Texas, my husband once sat on a plane and listened to a woman from Lubbock, "just flyin' to Dallas to get mah hair done."

With that kind of money, you don't have to choose whether to buy yourself a ranch in Montana or in Mexico.  Just buy both.   

Of course, when you move up into this league, you acquire a whole new set of problems.  One of Burrough's chapters begins with this gem somebody overheard one day in Houston: "It's been a hard day all around.  First, my wife's pet kangaroo has to go and get poisoned, and then somebody stole my midget butler's stepladder."

Back in this heyday, oilmen liked to own a few airplanes but didn't much care about buying yachts.  What cruises they took, they complained about all the wine, preferring, instead, more bourbon, more "barbecue, greens and black-eyed peas." 

Little wonder old money looked on and called these people "Texicanus vulgaris."  But who cared what old money thought?  Texans just went on throwing parties where champagne flowed out of miniature oil derricks.

In my Dallas days, I was the ward organist, just like now, and I had no car.  I had to walk to the church every Saturday, which meant meandering through Highland Park and University Park, two millionaire enclave cities surrounded by Dallas itself.  Oh, the pink marble mansions!  The broad circular driveways!  The magnolia trees and azalea bushes, everything professionally tended!  The gleaming Mercedes, Beemers and Porsches!

I could've taken dozens of different routes through this wonderland, and I aimed to try them all, no matter now hot those Texas afternoons got.  I mean, I was already hooked on walking before I arrived, but the Park Cities were like smoking walker crack. 

My walks these days are probably about finding the next best thing to Highland Park.  Pockets of loveliness abound out there.  I see beautifully terraced backyards, perfect for entertaining all one's friends.  And I covet.  I see streets where everybody can walk to the library, the grocery store and the ice cream parlor.  And I covet.  I see houses convened around darling little parks with pretty benches and paths.  And I covet.

But if I traded what I have for what I don't, there goes my perfect kitchen window, with its inimitable view.

So that's where I'll be, inside my kitchen, looking out.

Oh, and cooking things.  This week, we get:

One reviewer said the filling was a little bland, and I agree.  She suggested using a sharper cheese.  I thought about adding more salt to the dough.

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