Sunday, July 30, 2006

Writing Retreat

I mentioned in an earlier post that I need to get away for a couple of days to write. I know that Rey would appreciate a get-away too being that he's been working so long at his new job. I came up with the idea that we should go away for a weekend somewhere that he can play golf all day while I write. Rey found this golf course in Bastrop that has cabins that allow you to plan an overnight visit with complimentary breakfast. They don't have internet connection in the rooms but maybe that's a good thing because I won't be distracted by the internet. If I need to research a point I can just make a note to go back to it.

Anyway, here are pictures of the golf course and the cabins. The view from the cabins is the golf course and the Colorado River.

Now I just need to figure out a weekend that my mother-in-law can stay with the kids.

Playing Catch Up

Sorry I haven't posted much. I started a short story that I read at Maria's house last Saturday and I was busy doing that. Then today I played catch up all day off and on for my online "Fiction Writing" class. I also wrote a Writer's Resume that I want to use to try to do some free lance writing. I want to get some newspaper writing experience and I want to get some clips.

Here's what I read last Saturday for ya! This is just half of the story. I'll post the rest later.

The Canal
By: Loida Casares Ruiz

It was a warm Spring day in the Rio Grande Valley and Nico and Rudy played next to the canal, like they often did. The canal was man-made for irrigation and it carried water that fed the different farms crops and orchards along the way.

The boys were eight and ten. Rudy was obviously the leader, being older, but Nico was known to hold his own. He had a strong personality for a little boy and he was just as adventurous as his older brother.

Rudy was barefoot, his small brown feet dusty from walking and playing in the hot Texan sun all morning. Nico wore shoes but he took them off hurriedly so that he could climb the old live oak tree next to the water. He wasn’t accustomed to wearing shoes and he sure couldn’t climb a tree with them on. Their feet had hard and calloused soles because they hardly ever wore shoes. They even went to school barefoot if they had outgrown a pair of hand-me-down shoes from an older brother. It was hard keeping ten children in shoes during the Great Depression.

The branches of the tree hung low and some even stretched out into the canal, making them especially tempting to climb. One large branch in particular extended out and it looked strong enough to hold one or both of them. Nico saw Rudy eyeing the branch and he saw the twinkle in his eye. He knew what his brother was thinking before Rudy even said a word.

“Go out on the branch Nico. I dare you!” taunted Rudy mischievously.

Nico looked at the branch and considered the challenge for a second.

“Why don’t you do it with me?” he asked Rudy.

“Come on, you know we’re both too heavy,” Rudy answered.

“Yeah, well you can go out there alone and I’ll just watch,” Nico laughed.

At that moment they heard some footsteps below them and they looked down through the branches at Old Man Lucas. Old Man Lucas was a man of about sixty but he may as well have been a hundred to the boys. They though he was a crazy old man, because he always wore faded denim overalls, even during the Summer.

“What are you two doing up there? That’s a very dangerous place for you to be. What if you fall off that tree and into the canal?” the old man called up to them.

“We aren’t going to fall! We’re holding on tight!” said Rudy.

“Well let’s just hope we don’t have a tragedy here,” the old man mumbled to himself as he went on his way.

The boys peeked down through the branches until they saw his blue denim overalls disappear.

”Now about that branch,” Rudy continued.

“Forget it! I’m not doing it!” Nico said adamantly, “So you can just give it up or go out there on your own!”

They boys kept playing on the tree jumping from one branch to the other, and taunting each other to go on the limbs. They had only been playing for a short time when they heard something else. It was the sound of a truck coming down the dirt road that ran next to the canal. They looked down again and they saw that it was a big white pick-up truck with some men riding in the back.

Nico was curious so he slid down the trunk of the tree to get a better look. When the driver spotted him he came to a stop. Nico saw that it was his father’s compadre’s son Alejandro.

“Hey Nico!” he waved from the truck.

When Rudy heard the familiar voice he too slid down the trunk of the tree.

“Oh hi Rudy. I didn’t know you were there too. What are you boys up to?”

“Nothing much,” Nico replied, “Just messing around.”

“You boys want to make some extra money? How about you come with me to pick some grapefruit for Mr. Stanley? We’ll only be gone for a few hours.”

“Extra money” were the magic words for Nico. With money being as bare as it was at home Nico took any opportunity he could to make money for the small extras his parents couldn’t afford. He’d buy himself pints of ice cream with some of the money he made shining shoes in town sometimes. He knew Mr. Stanley’s ranch wasn’t too far away and he didn’t think they’d be gone too long.

Rudy wasn’t as enthusiastic. He dragged his feet because he never really liked work. He made a face at Nico and motioned towards the tree.

“Come on Rudy,” he coaxed, “It’ll be fun and we can pick enough to go buy ourselves some ice cream later.”

“All right!” Rudy said reluctantly and he joined Nico in climbing into the back of the truck.

Off they went to Mr. Stanley’s ranch and as they drove away a little pair of shoes sat all alone at the foot of the tree. And there the shoes sat for a few hours until Old Man Lucas came walking down the road again. He was thinking he’d check on those rambunctious boys. As he came to the tree he saw the shoes and not a boy in sight. He called out to the boys and he went to the edge of the canal and looked up and down to see if they had gotten the crazy idea of going into the water. When he didn’t see them he headed off to the Castel house with shoes in hand.

Maria Palacios Update

I'm so glad to report that after the Houston Chronicle ran a story about Maria Palacios and her chair someone contacted her to tell her that he wanted to look at her chair. This guy owns a wheelchair shop and he was able to fix her chair and he did it for FREE. She's going to use the money to make some other upgrades on her mechanical chair now and to work on her non-mechanical chair. That's the chair she uses when she's going somewhere in a car. She can only use her mechanical chair if the Metro Lift comes to pick her up and she uses it at home.

All's well that ends well!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dixie Chicks Album Review

I must admit I was never a Dixie Chicks fan and I never paid much attention to them until after the big controversy. Then I heard that their new album, "Taking the Long Way," was really good. And since they were losing so many fans I figured I might as well check them out and take the place of some of those that left them. Apparently a lot of people thought the same thing and I think they've been doing really well. Well I love their album. They have beautiful voices and a tune that I really enjoy. It's a music genre that I'm just now starting to really like in my older age. Kind of like Lori McKenna. They aren't totally country, kind of like more of a folksy sound. It's very unique like Lori McKenna.

I especially love song #4, "Everybody Knows." I love these lines in the chorus, "Steppin' out-Everyone can see my face. All the things I can't erase. From my life. Everybody knows. Standing out. So you won't forget my name. That's the way we play the game. Of life. Everybody knows."

Isn't that poetry?

Speaking of, I'm doing some last minute editing for tonight's reading.

YEAHHHH!!!! for Maria Palacios

The Houston Chronicle's Claudia Feldman wrote a beautiful story in today's paper about Maria Palacios and her event tonight.

I'm so happy for her! I'm so glad they picked up this story. I really hoped that they would and seeing it today just made me cry from happiness. The tears were literally running down my face as I sent the reporter a note thanking her for the story.

Hopefully I'll see some of you tonight. I'm reading part of a NEW short story, "The Canal." And sadly, Rey won't be reading after all. He has to work this weekend.

Thank you readers who sent me comments and private e-mail notes telling me you are reading.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Readers Come Baaaaack

Hey! My daily readers have really dropped off. Do you think it was because I mentioned that I had Sitemeter? I really can't tell who you are specifically! Only the internet service company (like AOL), the city, and how long you've been on and only then if you visit more than one page. Of course if I've lost readers because of this they aren't here to read this. Only the true and faithful readers are here who don't care to be counted.

Maybe it's just because it's summer and people are taking last minute vacations before school starts, IN THREE WEEKS! For us at least.

Maybe people just got bored reading... hmmm... Now there's a thought.

Anyway, sorry I haven't been writing as often but I've actually been quite busy writing a new short story that I'll be reading tomorrow! If you're in Houston please try and come out. I won't be on until after 7. Info is on Monday's post below. It's out Bellaire right past the Beltway.

Future post to come, spirituality and balance. I was inspired to write about that after my three day JW convention this last weekend.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Yeah! The Target off of I-10 and Taylor is opening this week and tonight we got to have a special SNEAK PREVIEW because our friend works there. It was really cool! My friends and family were jealous! I love Target!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Maria Palacios "Goddess on Wheels"

Rey (my husband)and I will both be reading this Saturday at a fundraising event for Maria Palacios, a local poet, author and activist. The event is to help her raise money for a new electronic wheel chair.

I met Maria Palacios when she read the same night I did the very first time I read at Nuestra Palabra a few years ago. I bought her book, The Female King, then and I absolutely loved it.

Here’s a short bio on her

Her event is Saturday if any of you would like to come out. There will be authors reading from their work, wine and cheese, and a silent auction.

Time: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
RSVP: JENNIE 832-518-8195
Or at

If you're in Houston or nearby I hope you can make it!

I know that first sentence really surprised some of you. Yes, "My Renaissance Man" besides being an artist and able to play some instruments by ear, therefore musically inclined, also has a wonderful novel brewing inside of him. He started writing it and this reading may be just the thing he needs to encourage him to get it going again.

You know what that means don't you? I need to get my butt busy preparing something to read too!

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Great Gatsby and Reading

One last thing and then I need to take a shower and go to sleep. Early morning and long day again tomorrow.

I'm reading "The Great Gatsby" for the online creative writing class I'm taking and I could have sworn that I read this book before for some reason. However, as I started reading it I don't remember a thing. I know I never read it because I would remember it if I had. It's pretty good so far but it's funny to read a book and think I read it and then when I'm actually there it's as if I entered into a house I don't know for the first time.

I have a pretty good memory of books that I've read. Books really had an influence on me when I was younger. Sometimes random books I've read just pop into my head for no reason. I was thinking about one book in particular the other day that I just loved about two Japanese dolls. I googled "japanese dolls story" and I actually came across the book. "Miss Happiness and Miss Flower." I wasn't sure at first if this was the book but then when I read the excerpt it was as if I was right back there reading it when I was a little girl of around 10. I want to get it but it's not available right now. I put it on my wish list on Amazon. I've said this before. That's the kind of memorable writer I want to be. I want for someone to recall my work 26 years later.

Okay that's all for now. Good night fair readers every where! Even the ones who came here searching from something else they hoped to find but just found me. The crazy writer from Houston.

Random Silly Stuff

The "panty" searches continue. I keep getting people to my site searching for that word. There was even someone who searched twice for the word "panties" from a government office! Yeah, the domain was! They better stop or they will not be working for the State too much longer.

I am SOOOO annoyed. Remember those super cool shoes that I just bought? The ones that have the criss cross front, wedge, and have a strap around the ankle? WELL, I lost the strap off of one of them. YES! I can not find it any where! I wore them one day and I put them in my closet and when I took them out to wear them to work on Thursday one of the straps was missing. I looked for it every where. I took all my shoes out of the closet and looked for it there, under the bed, under the dressers, and I didn't find it any where. I'm just in tears over it. I was supposed to wear them tomorrow to the convention I'm attending with the cool paisley dress with brown at the waist. Now I have to wear another pair, but it just won't look the same.

In all seriousness regarding site meter. I love seeing where readers are coming from and how long they stay on my site. Thank you all for reading! I wish more of you would comment. Let me know you stopped by!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Kiddos

OK, I guess they do make cute clothes for boys. Check out this cute outfit and shoes on him in this picture they took last Spring. Both outfits they are wearing are from The Children's Place.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Okay I did it. I've been rejected for the first time. I got it over with and ripped it off like a band-aid.

A couple of months ago I had lunch with a wonderful local writer. She asked me very pointedly, "What are you afraid of?" in regards to my writing, finishing my novel, and sending it out there. She said that I reminded her of another author who does the same thing. He holds on to his novel, talks about it, reads from it, but doesn't just finish it. That's me too. That conversation with her really made me think. I know what I'm afraid of and rejection is part of it. Being told that I suck as a writer is part of it. Yet I know that this will happen.

I know that it's inevitable that I may not be an agent's type, very much like I wasn't some guys' type when I was single. It wasn't until I found my husband and I was his type and he was mine and that we fell in love that I realized that sometimes you just aren't someone's type. It was nothing personal. Those guys may have liked me all right as a person, but they just didn't see me as marriage material.

The same is true for an agent. I have to realize that there will be agents that just don't like my work. I have to get over it and move on to the next agent. I have been afraid of this. So Saturday I submitted 10 pages of my novel to an agent who had a really easy submission process. She just asked for the first 10 pages of a novel as the body in an e-mail. So I did it. I sent in my 10 pages and by Sunday she had replied that it wasn't what she was looking for. I had done it. I sent my novel out there and I was shot down. And surprisingly it feels good because now I know I can do it and I didn't die. I felt a tiny bit bad, but I'm not devastated.

My attitude is to move on to the next agent and submit my work to him or her. I'm also taking a short 4 week online writing class. I've taken writing classes before. I was an English minor as an undergrad and I took a Creative Writing Fiction class and also Poetry class. I took another writing class a couple of years ago through Leisure Learning. I'm taking this class with a goal in mind. It's a short class and it didn't cost anything, except the cost of the books. I'm hoping it gives me the extra kick to finish the end of this novel and then to go back and start the revision process.

Then maybe I will do a weekend writing retreat. I'll go away for a weekend of just writing.

One of the Reasons I Love My Newspaper

I complain about my job just like everybody else does I'm sure. There are day to day things that simply get on my nerves. But the truth is that I really love my job and I love the newspaper business. I must! I've been in it for a total of 15 years. OK, maybe 18, if you want to count the 3 years I worked for my high school paper. All in all working for a newspaper intrigues me.

Last week one of my co-workers, one of the managers over our pressmen, tells me that we have the most diverse group of press operators in the country. AND that we have the most women! Isn't that totally cool? I was very proud of our newspaper when he told me that.

I find it amazing that so many different departments touch the newspaper and are responsible for creating a totally different issue each day. It's like giving birth every single day. Amazing!

Congratulations Italy oxoxoxoxo

First of all Congrats to Italy! I can not believe the country I rooted for actually won. So today to celebrate their victory I ate Italian food for lunch. Then I told my husand, "Ho mangiato il chivo Italiano!" I'm so out of practice I'm not sure if that's exactly right but he got the point. He rolled his eyes. He was rooting for France just because I was for Italy.

Four more people have searched for "panties" since I told y'all about it and came up with my last entry. Too funny! One search was for "men in panties." How crazy is that?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I Love Kids' Clothes

I had to buy some dresses for Miranda for a convention next weekend and I found these dresses at Gymboree. I loved them. I dressed up Dress #2 with this really cute orange shrug. I also got the blue shoes for her school uniform. She's going to have to wear navy blue and khaki. Those navy blue shoes were just too cute to pass up. I love kids' shoes too!

I bought Seth some new khaki pants and shirts at The Children's Place on Thursday. I learned something new now that I'm looking for more dressy clothes for the little man. Stores only have dressy clothes for boys in the Spring and at Christmas. Interesting, no? Now I know that I have to buy several outfits to last me all year those two times of the year. I'll know for next year this time. I'll just buy him a few outfits in the Spring to last me through the Summer.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Panties & World Cup

What is up with people (probably men-sorry guys but that's my guess) searching for the word "panties?"

I have Sitemeter and it shows me how someone was referred to my site. For example, if they did a google search for my name or Shoegirl Corner they got to my site.

Before you get worried that I know when you're reading my blog, don't worry. It's not that detailed. I don't have anything sophisticated like that. All mine tells me is how many visits I receive in a day, what city they are from, and if they came in from a search engine it tells me what word they were searching for.

That leads me to the fact that about FOUR people have searched for the word "panties" in the last few days and have come up with my last entry with "panties" in the title. Isn't that hilarious? It makes me wonder what that person was really looking for. Hmmm....

Tomorrow's game. I'm rooting for Italy of course. Not only is that team gorgeous (the Portuguese team wasn't too bad looking either). It's also because I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Italy. If I ever came into a lot of money I would buy an apartment there.

I also speak Italian. Not fluently, but I can get by. Or as one Italian told me once, "You can defend yourself." I hope so! I took 3 1/2 years of Italian in college. That's one thing I'd like to do after I finish my novel. I'd like to take a refresher advanced course at the Italian Cultural Center.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Check it Out

My ever so famous cousin does it again! USA Today picked up part of the Dining Guide story that ran in the Houston Chronicle a few weeks ago about my cousin's restaurant Sylvia's Enchilada's. They did a story on just a few restaurants around the U.S. and her's was one of them.

In addition to this the Food Network will be doing a feature on her in the next month or so!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It!

I was talking to this woman today and she was sharing some of her personal stories with me and a co-worker. Her mother gave her away to an aunt when she was just a little girl. The aunt and uncle raised her and she lived with them and their children until she got married. She had a really challenging life, as if being given away by her mother wasn’t enough. She went to a really tough high school where acid was passed around in class like Tic Tacs. It was really amazing to hear her story and really inspiring to hear what a survivor she is and how far she has come. Not only does she have a Bachelor’s degree, she is working on completing her Master’s and she’s married and has a four year old son.

I’ve been in a weird funk this week. A really weird one, and very opposite of how I had been feeling lately. (I’m starting to think it might be hormonal.) I’ve been trying to give myself an emotional pep talk these past couple of days and I’ve been thinking of ways to give myself therapy. I need a day of relaxation, a facial and a massage for starters!

When I went into work today I was already starting to come out of my funk and I told myself what I need to do. I’m going to do something really drastic and something that will push me to finish this book. I know that I work better under pressure and under deadline so I’m going to do something to give me that extra push that I need. So I had already made up my mind about this last night and I was thinking about it going into work today. Then I had that conversation with that woman and it finished me off. By that I mean I was thoroughly convinced of what I need to do to finish my novel.

Then at lunch I went out to run some errands and I drove by some women waiting for the bus as I often do. Sometimes they are mothers waiting for the bus balancing a baby and a toddler. Sometimes they are women who look like they are going to work in a cleaning uniform. When I see hard working women like this I think to myself, “I have nothing to complain about.”

If any of us can read this on this blog we really don’t have anything to complain about. If we have the luxury of a car, or riding a metro in a city with good transportation, if we have a computer, if we even have a job that pays us more than minimum wage, we really don’t have anything to complain about. Okay, we’re allowed to complain some, but I mean really complain. Venting is allowed.

But I think about that woman today, my co-worker. At least I wasn’t given away as a child. I didn’t grow up in an aunt’s home being treated like a step-child.

The only people who have room to complain are women who were abused either physically or sexually or have lived in war torn countries and anything in that same family of real problems.

I have so much to be grateful for and I just need to GET OVER any issues my family may have given me. Those issues are nothing compared to the hard life others have had.

Life is too short! We need to do what makes us happy and excited and we need to just get over it and get on with our lives!

This I Believe

I haven't heard back from this show on NPR. I said I'd share it with my readers so here it is as promised.- LCR

This I believe. I believe that it is our responsibility as parents to educate our children.

I believe that more than ever now that I’m a parent myself, but it’s a belief that I formed long before I had children, while I was a substitute teacher in the Houston Independent School District.

Two years into a job in Corporate America I quit and went to work as a substitute teacher because I thought I wanted to go into teaching. What I found was disappointing.

Until I worked as a substitute teacher I had no idea what teachers go through on a daily basis. I couldn’t believe that the most important job in the world, the people who first help shape our future leaders, are the most underpaid profession. I never knew that the reason that there are teacher supply stores is because teachers spend from their own paycheck to add to their classroom.

I also learned how hard it can be to teach children. I was hired as a long-term substitute teaching Pre-K and the children were a handful. Both my morning and afternoon classes were filled to capacity and were only one child short of requiring a teacher’s aid in the class with me. All the children were my sole responsibility and I had to make sure they all received my attention. I lasted one and a half years.

Soon after, a woman I knew was complaining about how badly her child was doing in school and she was blaming the teacher. I asked her if she spent any extra teaching time with him at home. She told me quite sharply that it was not her responsibility to teach her child. She said that that was the job of the teacher.

I still didn’t have children of my own but I was shocked by this woman’s attitude. Having been a teacher myself I know how difficult it can be to give each child individual attention and how important it is for parents to remain involved.

I knew then and there that when I had children of my own I would not leave their education completely to someone else. When I send my daughter to kindergarten in the Fall I will expect for her teacher to teach her the fundamentals, but it is our job as parents to follow the teacher’s outline and to build on that base.

It’s our job to teach her more things about life that she won’t learn in a classroom. It’s our job to turn off the TV when we don’t want for her to watch something we find inappropriate.

It is not ultimately a teacher’s, or anyone else's, job to decide what our children learn and are exposed to. It is our job as parents. This I firmly believe.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Alice in Wonderland

This movie is so full of great quotes. This one is my favorite. "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it." - Alice

We're off to see the Alice in Wonderland exhibit at the Children's Museum. I'll write my review later today. I still need to give you my Chuck E Cheese review from Sunday. Not a good one!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Plans Shot

I had grandiose plans for today since we were going to close shop early but those plans were thrown out the window and I didn't do anything I planned as usual. I'm still at work.

I did come across this really cool quote.

“When I was a child, my mother said to me, `If you become a soldier you'll be a general. If you become a monk you'll end up as the pope.' Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” -- Pablo Picasso

Sunday, July 02, 2006

To Mama and Hilda- July 2, 2006

I remember
Avon visits that would never end
Playing with the magnets on
Strangers' refrigerators
Tiny lipstick samples
In little white tubes

I remember
You sleeping in late
Because you worked
Helping bring babies
Into the world
That's how I fell off
The second story
Because you were sleeping
And I shouldn't have been
Climbing the porch rails
You told me were rotten

I remember
Driving to Mexico
With you
Long visits
To family friends
Walks around
La Plazita
Of your home town

I remember your new cars
Driving fast
Your many apartments
And your cold cold bedroom
Where you would cuddle
Under the blanket
With the a/c on high

I remember your sad eyes
When we knew our days together
Were numbered
And not wanting them to end
Because I loved you so much

I remember the last day
We were together
Your shallow breathing
And my disbelief
That you were really
Not going to get better

Me not facing reality
That we lose the ones we love
That we have to say goodbye

I remember you both

By: Loida Casares Ruiz

More Poems

I was inspired by the Word Around Town. These I've posted are nothing close to as good as the poems that I heard but I thought I'd share.

I wrote this one 8 days before my sister passed away from complications from leukemia.

Back Home - 8/2/95

When did you think
That you'd end up here again?
At the very beginning
Back to mother
Back to being a child
Dreams shattered
Plans changed
Just like that


Is it that simple
To end dreams?
To start a nightmare?
One from which you feel
You'll never wake.

By: Loida Casares

"The Word Around Town"

I had an opportunity to go last night. I only stayed for about half the show but it was great. I love this young poet. I believe her name is Zelene Pineda Suchilt. She's the one who organized this event. She's so young yet so talented. I LOVE her poem "Cafe Con Leche." It's beautiful!!! She also read "I Was A Little Girl" last night. There were other great talented poets there. I'm glad I got to hear them. So much talent in Houston!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

For Sophie

I wrote this poem a long time ago after I visited Salamanca for the first time with my friend Sophie. She has since married her Spanish sweetheart and lives very close to Salamanca. I've been thinking of her lately so here's a poem to her and her beautiful city.

To Salamanca- 8/2/95

City with the old cathedral
Of pale sandstone
Yellow against the pink sky
As the sun hides
The big nests and storks
Cradled on Top
Like a fine balancing act

You with the scary hand knockers
On the doors
Old Roman Bridge
Leading to Santa Maria
University fachada
Hiding a frog

You with the Plaza Mayor
And the grinning faces
Of the famous dead on the walls
Laughing at the lovers
Kissing under the clock
Striking 5 a.m.

You are my city
My rare jewel
In the middle of a big country

Shining like a star
Begging us to return

By Loida Casares

Poor Brazil and Poor England

I can't believe it. I just can't believe BOTH England and Brazil lost today. The two teams I was expecting to advance to the semi-finals. Especially Brazil. That one really shocked me and I felt so bad for them. Everyone expected them to win.

So this is it!
Semis (All times CT)
• July 4: Germany vs. Italy, 2 p.m.
• July 5: Portugal vs. France, 2 p.m.

I'm rooting for Italy and Portugal although everyone now thinks it's going to be Germany and France. Since the opposite of what I say keeps happening that will probably be the case.