Monday, July 30, 2012

August in Texas is HOT! And I Don't Mean Trendy

The thing about August in Texas is that it does pass. Fades in the dust in a rear-view mirror, so to speak.

Right now, though, here it comes. This will be a week of 100-plus days and still a fair amount of humidity. Somehow, it always surprises me. Kinda like a woman in labor with her tenth child and saying in amazement,"Oh! it hurts!"

From September to July, I sorta focus on the fun, the fresh produce, the cooler mornings. I kind of block out the afternoons. By 2 p.m. today, it was 102 and I was out in it unexpectedly for awhile. Didn't have my water bottle with me. Oops. So hot the dogs didn't even slobber but wanted to lick my sweat off (yeah, dogs are nasty like that).

The dogs weren't out that long, but they have found cool places in the house where the vents blow down and are sprawled out, hairy coats wafting gently in the breeze. Usually if I move about, they scramble to go with me. Not today.

This is the week I had --still have?--planned some fairly energetic house cleaning. Things put away, surfaces less cluttered, unwanted items tossed. Old Southwestern trick--bare floors, bare surfaces make everything feel cooler. I can use some of that. Sigh. I'll throw away the toaster I used for years that works, it just doesn't time the toast. If I don't rescue my toast, it is black with smoldering grey smoke. But it works. Yes, I'm tossing it. I have a nice new one that doesn't take up much more room than the old one.

It helps that the chidren's day out program at church is having a garage sale. I think folks all over town are rummaging, saying,"I've been waiting for this." I keep claiming I don't have a lot of worldly goods, but I've got a carful plus half a pickup truck load to give away. Haven't simplified as much as I thought.

Yesterday my granddaughter and her friend put on swimsuits and squirted each other with the hose and ran around, shrieking and laughing. Yep. kids still do that. They like the Water Park, too, but this was impromptu. Also very, very cheap.

Oldest granddaughter is going to Band Camp at Turner Falls, Ok. Funny. I have never been, but my kids and grandkids have ended up there on several group outings. It is really nice when 2-3-4 generations can get together and reminesce about the same summertime fun.

August is a good month for reading on a hot afternoon, cooking as little as possible, and getting in a few sno cones(that's what all the signs say) and good ice cream.
I've survived a slew of them, and always found a few things to enjoy. Today did catch me off guard, though.

"Oh! It's HOT!" I said.

Duh. It's (almost) August in Texas.

Surprise, surprise.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Is It Time For A Central Olympics Center?

The Olympics are starting.

I am a very little bear, so my comments don't matter. I doubt England can surpass China in execution. This is not a bad thing. A lot of personal freedom is involved. China did it better. Maybe. I would rather live in England.

And while I would like to see the Queen opening the games, it is almost grafitti to have the US First Lady on one side and the Loyal Contender for President in America on the other.

Paul McCarney leading all in a singalong of "Hey Jude"? These are young, vibrant athletes here. Isn't that a little, well, doddering?

I am tweeting without an account. So sorry.

And I haven't seen it yet.

Weird there is no tennis, but there is pingpong.

My television is turned on less than 20 hours a week normally, for which I pay more than $60 a month for satellite that doesn't work in a storm. Which news I can get if I BUY a weather radio. And BUY batteries. Renting my HD box and satellite gives me local stations, some junk stations (shopping, etc.) and 4 more. HD has improved the picture. The sound is just as crappy. What's with that?

I will probably have the Olympics on a lot. which means I will miss some of the wins, because my satellite service automatically cuts off after 4 hours on the same station. Twits. I've watched mysteries where it gets to, "the killer is..." and it blacks and I have to reset. Want to bet that will happen on track and field? The crucial gymnastics? The volleyball?

I just have to remember to go over to the remote and flick on another channel from while to while and flick back.

Am I the only one who finds this irritating?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bad Things Happen. Life is Good.

Safety is a real perception.

When I was younger, I would never have dreamed of mayhem in a movie theater in Colorado.

People have gone on to see the movie, figuring the mayhem is over, and apparently so. I would have bet that way.

We are in a time of great change.

Safety has always been a perception, unblemished for many.

I still remember less than 30 years ago hearing neighbors talking about not locking their doors because our neighborhood was so safe. At the same time, I personally was on emergency lockdown,looking for bad guys who had threatened my husband's life, his wife, his family, for doing his job in the District Attorney's office. I just smiled. We were at risk, not them. So I never said anything.

Nothing happened, but I did not feel safe. My doors were locked. 

Nothing happened.

I remember, many may be too young, when the Tylanol poisonings occurred. As a result, we have all this plastic and shrinkwrap today. I guess it works so far.

More people exist  every year. More insanity. More ways  to hurt each other.

I can love, but I can't prevent the bad stuff, and I don't  choose to fear the bad stuff. Oh. There always is going to be bad stuff.

Worse stuff to come, probably.

I still have my community, my church my family, my home, my dogs, my garden. Lots to love without worrying about any of it.  Bet most of you can say part of the same.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Earnestly Failing At a Healthy Life

A study has just come out.

(Don't they always? When do they go in?)

This one says if you quit smoking and you are a couch potato, you might as well smoke. Same difference. In other words, move, pilgrim.

I suspect for a variety of reasons, the life expectancy will go down in the next few decades.

My dad was allergic to beef and eggs, but he had a heart attack anyway. He was 57. Although a banker, he came home, gardened, ran the rototiller, built fences, took me hiking every week for a while, chopped wood--did a lot of physical activity. This was almost half a century ago. He thought, to take care of himself, he needed to slow down on the exercise as he grew older. He had a stressful job. After his early 50s, he slowed down.

Coronary thrombosis. They didn't know about triglycerides then, or a lot of things.
His dad had the same thing. Died at 47. So my dad's diet and exercise probably gave him another decade. In his day, they had started learning about cholesterol. Noone had heard of triglycerides.I have to say he lived pretty healthy.

Ahh, but then genetics come in. My grandmother ate a bite of boiled egg with a bite of butter - real butter- for breakfast into her 80s. She was his mother. My other grandparents lived into their 80s, my uncle until 91. I have hopes genetically.

Since knee surgery, I had been doing well on the exercise until a few weeks ago. I can't believe how fast I have lost muscle tone and agility. It's not fair, but it's true. I see people who seem to do quite well with not much exercise. I am not one of them.

On the other hand, a friend who is younger, and quit smoking several years ago and doesn't have arthritis, also doesn't exercise much. She told me recently her osteoporosis is getting worse. I am doing weight bearing exercise at the gym and now stationary cycle and treadmill.My osteoporosis now is listed as extreme osteopenia. New test in October. At least we are going in the right direction.

I don't have any idea if there is any correlation. It would be smug to think so. I am getting enough years under my belt that I no longer am too anxious about how many are left. I don't particularly care if I am right. I just want the years to be productive.

My friend is naturally active, does a lot of repair work and carpentry on her home, mows and gardens and cleans. Probably more than me, come to think of it.

I can worry: beef (triglycerides) or chicken (steroids, homrones)? organic or inorganic? Vegetarian? again, organic or inorganic? Do I use any processed foods? vitamins, minerals? canned foods (DSB) or fresh (where do they come from)?

Today I didn't want to cook, and I was heading for a Sonic hamburger when I swerved into Subway for a salad. I got iceberg lettuce with a hefty helping of spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, avocado, tuna, ranch dressing and shredded cheese. I took it home and ate the whole thing with probably 8 wholewheat saltines. Oh, it was pretty nutritious, but the calories were probably twice the burger I had intended (no fries).

I need to start walking the dogs in the morning. I need to weed and prune in the mornings. Actually I am making great headway on rearranging some stuff and mopping up Corgi hair clouds. Eh.

At least I'm back in the gym.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Flavor of Life is Good

I thank God for many things, including living in the Bible belt and belonging to a church.
That means at least once or twice a month, I can make full casseroles or salads or desserts, enjoy seeing some of it devoured, and store some of it to eat later.  I guess I could sign up at the community center and do the same.
I waste food, and it bothers me. I will buy 3-4 nectarines, and by the time I get to Number 4, it's fuzzy. I eat a lot of stale stuff younger people won't eat. Because they eat it up in the first place and work it off.
I  never had a vigorous metabolism. I always needed to eat more broccoli, less corn or potatoes, from birth. That's okay. Because honey, in a famine, we folks will LIVE!  We don't have to eat a lot to survive.
Unfortunately, I've been eating snacks I usually don't for a few months, and I've added 10 pounds I'll admit to. It could be more.
If I want to be healthy into my 70s, and have fun and walk and maybe learn to salsa dance, and  plant gardens, and ...I can't do that fat and useless in my chair. It doesn't help I don't like television and may not be able to see all that well in a decade.
I'm sitting on my well-cussioned behind to write this, but I have a room to redecorate, weeds to pull, dogs to walk, and God help me, at sometime in the short future, granddaughters to take to the mall. Not for much. Their mother and her mother shop much better. We all know I am deficient, but I try.

Meantime, I have some chicken thighs, and a choice of corn tortillas or spaghetti and a casserole I can actually cut up and freeze and not waste.Hmmm.
Life is tasty.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Neophyte Member of a Volunteer Care Team

I am beginning a journey I never expected, nor would have anticipated. I have chosen it.

Three weeks ago, a friend for many years learned her persistent cough probably had something to do with the one-inch growth in one lung. Two weeks ago she learned it was cancer. One week ago, on the Fourth of July, she started chemo and radiation.

She also had her first care team meeting.

I am one of 9 on it, in addition to her family. She lives alone. Her daughter lives an hour and a half away. She has worked professionally in hospice. She knew she needed a care team.

She's not going to get through five days a week radiation and once a week chemo without a care team. So far, cancer seems contained. She can beat this scorpion in her body. With help.

Three of us have a week at a time to divide up, to take her to therapy if she is weak, spend the night--as she needed yesterday after her port for medications was created, if she doesn't want to eat or needs meals prepared.

So far, so good. There are nine of us. Three each week. It will get rougher, and small families, especially those who don't live close, can't do it all. At least, not well.

It is a scary and wonderfully rewarding journey. Groups of people all over the world are doing it every day.

Have you been in one? I don't get feedback on my blog, because it is small. I would appreciate any tips, however, because many wonderful people are veterans.I've read, and I've volunteered, and I have been a professional social worker. This is different in many ways. It is a commitment of years, probably.

Gee, and no ring, even.
I'll blog from time to time on this, because it is an adventure. For you who have already made the trip, I yearn for your wisdom.

I am so honored to be on the team.

Now, with a little luck, to win the game.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

No tornado, fire, or flood, just a loving, chewing dog

I am in crisis mode. I will talk it out here.

I was reading the Bible my parents gave me at age 16 this morning. I left it on the bed, for some reason. I know the cover is leather. I know Gracie likes to chew.

Overall, I can still read most of it. The cover and binding are chewed. I still love Gracie. Right now, I don't want to be around her. I've shut Brody out of the computer room, too. I want to be alone. I want to deal with this.

My carelessness made this happen. I've lost so many things through carelessness. Maybe Gracie's chewing is a symbol of all the losses.

I don't know.

I'm dealing with a couple of friends or three going through terrific health problems I can't do much about either.

Still, I think the chewing on this Bible would make me cry. It is a Holy Book. It came from my parents. There is no replacement.

It is the words of my faith about the Creator, who made us all, loves us all, forgives us all, even stupid Welsh Corgis who should know better, and her stupid owner who should know better too.

Okay. I've stopped crying. I will take better care of the Bible. I will take better care of the dog.

Incidents like this help new dog Brody to feel more love. He just smiles and wags his tail. Sometimes he pees the rug. He just doesn't chew on non-designated food.

I'll forgive Gracie in a couple of hours. I think.

Oh, yeah. This is reality time, each word of it. Y'all would like pictures. Well, I've signed up for a computer class to teach me.

I was bawling when I opened this blog to write. Dried up for now.

The dogs are outside, the temp is 84, there's plenty of shade and cool water.

I am still mad at her. I wonder if that's to excuse being mad at myself.

It will take a time to forgive myself. It will take time to forgive Gracie.
i can probably fake it with the dog in a few hours. Myself? longer.
I have tucked the Bible out of sight.

I'll pull it out to pray from it again.

I'll forgive the dog, too, and myself. It's not others who have to be forgiven.

I'm not there yet.
Ohhhh, Gracie, oh, Gracie! It can never be replaced. Never.
Oh. It hurts.

Six hours later: No pages were eaten, just some of the cover. My name stamped in gold is still pristine. Gracie and I have made up. We both napped. I know now that any chewable item I leave on the bed, on a chair, or on the floor (my purse with the 4 $5 bills comes to mind) it's my fault.

Throughout my life, I've been able to help folks because at sometime in my life, I got a glimpse of what they are feeling. I still have the Bible my parents gave me, but so many have just nothing left.

Today, Gracie gave me a glimpse of their pain. Thank you, Gracie.
I hope we all can act on it for those who have lost everything in the fires and floods.

One hour later. Isn't that special?

Today I have alternately wanted to find a new home for my dog--I could not kill her--and coping.

Dogs are NOT children. The responsibility is similar.

My Corgi pup Gracie has eaten her way through a number of valuables. I keep thinking she's outgrowing it, and slowly, she is. But I made a mistake this morning, and so did she.

I am so GLAD I gave myself this sweet introspective of how this could help me help others. Piffle.

Oh yeah. Wasn't through the healing process yet, still pretending.
Damn it! My dog Gracie injured something deeply important to me. It will hurt for a while. Not unbearably, but twinge. Maybe for years.

I still love my dog. I still love my life.

Damn! don't I give her enough cuttlebones!

She's chewing on one right now. At my feet, because she loves me. OK Gracie, you win.
I love you most of all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

An embarrassment of peaches...and other things

Most of this week has been in the high 90s. I keep flashing back to last year with our absolutely diabolical run of 100+,100+, 100+....

This feels positively delightful.

The unwatered bermuda for the most part is still green, with a possibility of a rain in a few days. We are sliding back into drought again, but the difference is substantial.

Peaches! Peaches! more peaches! so sweet and juicy and good this year. The unexpected influx from other climes last week of really cheap fresh cherries had us rushing into the stores.

Berries grown here, smaller, but riper when picked are so very sweet. LOTS of sweet corn, tomatoes, beets. I had forgotten how good fresh beets are. Again, so sweet.

Some friends I know are growing what they call Israeli melons, very similar to cantaloupe, but more flavorful. You seem them in farmer's markets, but not the grocery stores. Maybe they don't keep well, I've noticed no difference.

Greens are cheap, and I am experimenting more with kale. It is milder than most greens, closer to zuchinni in flavor than say, spinach. Nice crunch.It is so good for us, and I like anything green. It is good for the eyes as well as the bones and heart. I found a recipe on the internet with chicken stock, navy beans and kale with some chopped fresh tomatoes, lots of garlic and Italian seasonings. Marvelously light in hot weather and low-cal as well.

I have a hankering for some potatoes with my left-over beef roast I cooked yesterday, maybe with some thin-sliced cucumbers and onions, chilled in a mix of apple cider vinegar and a little sugar, with a side of sliced tomatoes from the garden. I haven't fixed any blackeyed peas this year, but those would be especially good, as well, with the meal I mentioned.

And I love the squash and zuchinni. My zuchinni plants are getting large. I will see fruit start, then it disappears and I blame these dratted beautiful grasshoppers.

They are bad for the garden, but so gorgeous--a variety that is shades of gold, yellow and green. Formidable, though==they are even eating holes in the melons. My spearmint, which I love this time of year, is eaten down to the ground just when I most like to make it in my tea. My doctor just told me how he makes mohitos, and those sound good, too. The grasshoppers, however, have chomped it down. It will be back. I have a good patch of it.

I will be looking up more soup recipes with the abundant, cheap produce. Smoothies are great for breakfast with fresh fruit.

It is downright amazing I'm not losing much weight , but I know why. Quantity. I am enjoying this fresh produce hugely. Pun intended.

This summer is so wonderful after last year. No major wildfires here, though I have kept anxious eyes on the fire news for New Mexico, Colorado, even North Dakota. The weather patterns are changing, and we must adapt with it.

I don't meant to gloat over improved conditions here so much as I am celebrating. Last summer was so tough. The whole year was tough with the profound drought. More drought will be coming for all of us.

My sympathies to so many still without power in stifling heat.

So many have lost so much.

Still,I am thankful for this day, this goodness, these blessings.

Hope you can say the same.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

You Don't Have To Agree To Be A Real American

I just got an e-mail from a friend inviting me to "hear a message from a real American President." It's a 40-year-old replay of Ronald Reagan. Oh, I know he was lovely. Couldn't he just deliver those lines! Never mind that for half his last term of office he was senile. Oh, so many yearn for those times.

No one thought Truman would win. People couldn't stand him. He was an American President. And he won again. Now we quote him fondly. "The buck stops here." When is the last time you saw that happen?

Jimmy Carter was one of our more Christian politicians. And he wasn't very good at politicking We all applaud him for what he has done since for Habitat for Humanity. He probably said some stuff that made us feel good.

President Obama is a President. When he speaks, it is a Presidential message. He has a lot more faith in what the government can do, more than the rest of us, but he also listens a lot. Have you heard about his 12 letters? Every day, he asks his staff to find 12 letters that define where the people are today. Sometimes he answers those letters, and on occasion, he sends money out of his pocket. I've heard this from several sources. A lot of Texans, in particular, disagree with him. He speaks as the President. I'm not sure here he is honored as such.

I'm not going to hate Republicans. They are my neighbors and friends. But damn it, when Bush was president, I disagreed and still respected him for his office. I don't see the reverse happening. It angers me. No matter what we believe, can there not be respect? No, I am not a Republican. I don't think I can ever be a Democrat, either.

There are speeches we would rather hear. Rhetoric we agree with more. But you know what? When my president speaks, whether I am for him or against him, it is a Presidential Message.

If he is for what I am against, that is not a crime. He is one man. He has a vote, and I have one too. When my president speaks, I don't have to hear some 40-year-old message I like better. It doesn't matter.

When my President speaks, he is the President. I didn't like George W. Bush's politics. I still prayed for him every night. I believed he cared about our nation, even if his viewpoint was different.

I voted for Obama, but again, I often disagree. Pat me on the head if you want, but he is my President. And I pray for him every night, too.

And I will treat him with the SAME respect I gave EVERY OTHER ONE BEFORE HIM.

Oh, the Presidential people vary. The Office of President deserves variety. Someday, even, a woman. I may not always agree with her, either.

By the way, the "message from a REAL president " came from an organization seeking donations. As PT Barnum said more than 100 years ago, "There's a sucker born every minute."