Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So few of you

Friends may help me to move my blog. we will see. If I move, I'll leave an address, computer or more. We'll see.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Using Fiction When Truth Is Too Bizarre

Today, I spoke to a friend I have been worried about.

You see, she is recovering from a rare cancer that has kept her homebound a lot.
So she's gotten on the Internet. i would, too.

Only--she had an empty nest. She was lonely. So she succumbed to a computer dating service. And kinda fell in love.

She was on a protected site. He persuaded her to go off-site. He learned her emails. He was out-of-country, he said, and wanted to come straight to her when he got back to the States. And then he started needing money.

I think he got about $5,000, maybe a little more, from her. This cuts her options. It doesn't remove a roof from her head, or a car, or well-being physically. It really cuts in to things she might have done for herself and loved ones. It cut deeply into her self esteem. And it cut deeper into her trust of her fellow human beings.

Oh, yeah, it cut into her survival funds, but she will survive. Others won't. This guy figures whatever price you pay is the cost of his performance. Destitution does not move him. Fortunately not relevant in this case.

Who is worse? The thief that leaves you destitute? or the murderer who takes your life?
Thievery is a profession. Murder often is a one-time thing. Yes, there are assassins. Not many. But so many thieves. Thieves who believe you exist for their comfortable life. Often it isn't that comfortable. That gives me satisfaction.

My friend has decided to capitalize. She's starting a fictional novel, based on truth, of her experience. She's picked a title. She's already written a successful book--a textbook in use today.

He demeaned her and cost her money. She can document it in a book, and hopefully make all her money back. Hell. It could be a best seller. I wouldn't put it past her.

I love it. He scammed her, she gave him money, saved all the transcripts and can recoup from the book.

She's made a great recovery. I can't wait to read the book.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Their are Citizens' Rights. And Then There Is the Family Credo

Does your family have a credo that defines you? More or less, even if we are alone, we do.

Sometimes it just defines us. More welcoming, more warming, is when it defines family, either big or little.

From my grandparents: Don't lie. Do honest business. Always wear good, well-cared-for shoes (Sophia Loren once agreed with that last in an interview. She said you can get away with a cheap but flattering dress, but the shoes must always be good. My grandfather would have approved.) Go to church. Tithe if you can. Save money. Vote.
Volunteer. Garden. Laugh often

From my parents: Don't ever lie, even if it hurts. It will hurt less in the long run. Always vote. Pay your bills. Live below your income so you can save if you can. Take your children to church. Contribute to the community. Enjoy art and music. Garden. Eat a lot of green and yellow vegetables, including green chiles and onions. Trust good friends. Laugh often. Read. Read. Read. Everything. See the humans in history and learn the past. Treasure it. My father once told me he could have made more money easily if he had taken some perfectly prevalent shortcuts. It was the first time I ever saw that celebratory gleam in his eye, that wolfish grin. "Doing it honest is harder," he told me, "but it can be done." Be proud of your honesty.

Take care of yourself. You owe it to family to be proactive on health.

And, "Love with all your heart," my father told me, "But marry with your head."

What have I inculcated in this and added to? What do I see my sons observing and/or teaching?

Honesty.Courage to be honest. A liking of history. A basic love of a lot of vegetables.
We all vote. We all honor education and also music and art. We all vote. We must. And as we can, we donate blood and organs.

Retrospective is easier than current.

One thing that sticks out: my family has a tradition of voting. I don't know why neither of my grandmothers told me about getting the vote or their first time, but neither said a word. Maybe they thought it was enough that when I was growing up I took it for granted women voted, and they didn't want to spoil that. Or something. I'll never know. Maybe by then, they just accepted it. They had been voting more than 20 years by my birth.

I love extended voting, and already have voted. This year, for the first time, I toyed with not voting. Three generations. a family code of honor. Vote.

So I did. And I would be discombobulated for the next four years if I hadn't. Actually, another family mantra: you have no right to complain if you haven't voted.
Thank God I voted.

I could never keep my mouth shut for four years.
We have changed mightily.

We haven't changed at all.

ASo I'll sit and watch.

Monday, October 22, 2012

When Your Icon Burns to Cinders

If you live anywhere but Texas, you may not have heard our 52-foot statue, that waves and talks to the crowds, burned to cinders on Friday. He had been up 60 years. People in Texas took it hard.

It's purely a Texican thing, I guess.

I have never been to the State Fair of Texas (we can be rather formal) without going by Big Tex, waving his hand and amiably saying, "Howdy, Folks," in that ubiquitous Texas drawl scientists now say really doesn't exist. But it does.

He didn't have that many moving parts. How did he catch fire? The Bubba part of me is suspicious. The rest of me is just plain sad.

Big Tex wasn't that much younger. He was part of the fair, like the livestock, the exhibits, the rides.

"Meet you at six at Big Tex!" parents would call off to generations of Texas kids.

His burning hurt me to watch. It didn't even go viral. This is a local tragedy.


Good. That's good.

Watching those flames around the hat, the body....I can't explain it. I can only tell non-Texans it is so. We hurt. We burned. This was a damn giant-sized dummy, and we loved him. Please excuse us while we grieve.

I hear bigger and better is coming, but not at least for a year.

That's good.

We need enough time to hear this 52-foot skeleton gasp one final phrase: "I loved all of you."

Because Big Tex did. He was programmed that way.

Wish more of us humans were.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Surely Computers Will Get Better X )

How do I hate a machine?

I don't hate my vacuum cleaner, my hair dryer, my mixer that runs too fast. I don'r hate my machines. Cuss them occasionally. No hate.I bought them. They have flaws. I deal.

And until I buy an upgrade, they will continue to have flaws I know and can deal with.

Computers are different in so many ways. And the geeks that make my life a misery are doing their jobs. Why they think a customer wants to wake up and find new updates all the time that change my interaction constantly...well, in an alien way, I understand. The designers love it. They think I will love it. I bet they are all under 30. At least under 40.


Actually, no they don't. They think it's neat. It's kind of like leaving the living room clean and inviting children in with Silly String. Oh, and paying a fee to do it.

I just rebooted to find my major clicks on top instead of the bottom WHERE THEY ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. (What do I do to show an insincere smile with teeth? I need it.)

It's like living in a house where strangers feel free to move the furniture around.
And I don't have an answer, but this is rude. Insensitive. Mean. They are the only carrier for PC so I can't change.

So this is how I hate a machine. I have no power currently to get what I want. They are wanking me around.

If I had a human, I could stop this. I only have a multi-personal computer.

God, hear me. I truly hate it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Life, Well Lived, Has Expectations. More If Time Wasted.

What books will you go to your death either embarassed that you haven't read, or disappointed that you didn't get to?

I warn you, I am a philistine, whose best books for at least 10 years have been the randomly selected non-fiction at the public library. I remember "Banana" and "Ants", which I didn't finish, but will remember that the sum total of body weight of humans may equal the sum total of the body weight of all ants. I remember deeply "The Botany of Desire" my DIL bought me for Christmas. I read "The Truth about Donkeys" and "We Bought a Zoo" randomly. "the truth about" moved me deeply. "we bought--" became a movie. The book was better.

After weeks on reserve, I finally read "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I hope she makes millions, because I wish that for any writer. If a movie is made, I have no expectation it will be evocative in the least of the book. It is too complex. Movies seldom are, which is why I see so few. She read books on that trip, at 26, 15 years ago, I still haven't read. Most, I don't want to.

I was so with her on that silent tramp through the wilderness, though. Treasuring days of silence and no human beings, after accustoming to alone in the wilderness. Rediscovering wilderness, and beauty, and only your own impression of what you see.

She did it right.

My son thinks I'm nuts because sometimes I prefer to drive for hours with no voices, maybe wind, maybe only road sounds, eyes less distracted as I have a chance to see around. Especially on a road trip. I don't mind what others find boring vegetation.

I backpacked in Colorado only once, and cherished the times when I fell behind the group, lost in my own listening to marmots, chuckling waters and the wind. That's what I remember. That's what changed me, if at all. Does it count that 25 years later, it makes my eyes kindle and I smile?

Today, we have to search for solitude, for connection to the world as it is.

I don't think it is worth it.

I think it is essential.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

REACTION TO A BIOGRAHY: "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

You know, I am a writer. Right now I have little to say.

I just finished reading "wild" by Cheryl Strayed, who picked her last name when she and her first husband divorced. She thought it fit. I can understand that.

It is a complicated, captivating book. Her biography at 26. I couldn't do half as well at 69. It is really good. It is really disturbing to me. It is really thinkable.

There are parts I reasonate so much to. She describes country I have at least visited, and no matter how good the writer is, if you have seen some of it, you imagine better.
Her analysis of the need to preserve the wilderness and what it can mean to each of us is poetry I heard long ago. I like her tribute to past champions.

She has been so very honest. She has morals--she won't stiff a waiter. she won't steal. She says please and thank you. She pitches in when she can. She has some good friends, including her ex. She can mate indiscriminately without regret except when she was married. She says at one point she is more like a man in that. And the counselor says she has more to learn.

She made the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 This is printed in what? she isn't sure what she has learned.

I'm not sure what I've learned, either. I do have friends who have read the books she read at night on the hike. I am one of the Philistines. I read good stuff only now and then. She apparently reads it all the time. I had not read any of her books to comfort her.My head honestly bows in shame. I am a smart educated woman. How can I not have read these? Shame again. Ducked head. I couldn't have walked like that, either, with so much pain... Iwouldn't. Which means I couldn't. But she did.

She gives a synopsis of her life at the end. I am glad she is married, with children and they seem all to love each other. It could have turned out differently.

I was trying to ignore prep for a colonostomy, my first, as it happens. It made the book more riveting, which kinkily, tied in. At least I had SOME disomfort!

I understand there's a great audio. I warn you, though, the sex scenes may make you squirm. No not me. Not for years. But I do remember.

BTW I don't have to have another of these colon exams for 10 years. Why would I want want to at 80? : ) No, that's more than 10. : ) I'm glad this book got published. I am glad I dwelled on it. I am glad ( I guess) I finally had the colonoscopy. Even the doctors say no more for 10 years. There is a connection. I bet she wouldn't have wanted to make that hike again in 10 years, either. But then, I've missed a lot of her biography.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Rule of Three

This week, I am trying to teach my fifth grader the Rule of Three.

At first, she was resistant. Now she's getting it. I didn't learn the Rule of Threee until my 30s.. She is way ahead of me.

The Rule of Three is exaaaaactly that.

So many of us grew up believing in Either-Or.

That leaves us stuck in the box.

Look for the third alternative. Life is NEVER either-or. Always we have a third or more alternative. Three is good. Three is simple. I can deal with that.

So how are you doing with Either-Or? 

What would the third alternative be? Is that the one that works? Bet it is, but don't  rule out fourth, fifth or sixth alternative. You just don't have to rely on old Either-Or.

We are humans. Isn't that astonishing? We have so many choices if we choose.

We do choose.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Leave a little sunshine, please?

After two days wih the heat on last weekend, I've had 4 days without and an evening with the AC on again.

Typical North Texas fall.We could have a freeze between now and close to Christmas, which is why you have gardeners jauntily cultivating their surviving-or newly planted-tomatoes along with the broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts. And spinach.

I can't leave the windows open because of another rapaciously growing plant--ragweed. I have found a source through my pharmacy for my antihistimine of choice and am doing well. I just sleep more than usual.

With the high price of pecans, I had high hopes for the tree in my back yard before last summer's drought. Despite some fairly frequent watering, however, it is dying, contrarty to the nearby burr oak that got no help and is thriving.

Pecans grow faster, usually are drought tolerant, and provide nuts. The burr oak is native, can't be moved, grows slowly, but apparently well, and isn't going anywhere. By the time I die, it may provide backyard shade for the deck. Some.

I plan to redo the yard and find a place fairly near the driveway for a pecan in the front. My Bradford tree is huge and old. It, too, will be dying.

The maple in the middle of the front yard died before I moved in. There's a stump.

I can't do anything about the planning, but no trees shade the house. In Texas, that just seems wrong. I need some sunshine for some of my flowers and vegetables. Persons Who Are Not Gardeners planned all this. My dad was a gardener, so I cast no sexist aspersions, but it is true the persons who planted the trees are Men. Just not enlightened ones.

I wish for an enthusiastic one with a roto-tiller. Who wants to till as, and when, I wish. As a mother, I just never guilted my sons enough, and now I don't have enough money. Sigh. I'll make do. I'll plant. I'll dadgum try, and maybe, just maybe,

Come up flowers and tomatoes next spring!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Still Think Family Meals Really Matter

My granddaughters' schedules did not leave me smiling and basking in the care the schools show children. I took care of them for five days, and it is a matter of diplomacy to balance their education, extracurricular activities, and family events. Oh. Let's not neglect their health and well-being. A prime factor in our family.

My eldest granddaughter so far is thriving. Her grades have suffered. This all-A, Gifted and Talented child will probably get some of the first Bs of her life next report card. Her parents like her to get 8-9 hours of sleep a day. Band and tennis sometimes cut into that. Sometimes the schedule is so tight, she misses meals. Last week, on their away game, they had to eat "supper" at 4 pm before they donned their band uniforms because they are not allowed to eat in them. Might smear. Might get dirty. They got home after the game and half-time show at 1 am.

They had to be back at 10 am for competition. It was cold, and they got home at 6 something pm. Still, my granddaughter ate, did homework, watched a little tv and slept 13 hours.

Today is a national holiday and schools are out. Oldest granddaughter was supposed to be at band practice,anyway, 6-9 pm. Her mother, who came in on the train, arrived at 5:22. I insisted granddaughter come to the station to hug her mother before going to practice. Her Mom had been gone 5 days, unusual for our family.

I thought I could get her to band on time but she was a minute late. If she is chastised for this, If she is chastised...

The tennis coach has called another tourney tomorrow after school. Another deferred guitar lesson. IF she gets through by 7:30, their family may get to eat together the birthday
meal I left today for the grandchildren and their parents, who both had recent birthdays.

You hear all the time about how families so seldom eat together anymore. The blame always is on the parents.
You never hear about the activities eating into the family.

Families cannot be close if they do not be together, especially eat together, spend time.

I once had a divorce for no better reason than that we both were too busy to spend the time we needed to spend.

I guess that leaves me with a bee in my bonnet.

Be careful. I may sting.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Interludes of Great Fun followed by Profound Sleep

My daughter-in-law will come home by train tomorrow. I hope more of that train travel starts happening for us Westerners and Southwesterners. It's great!

In the meantime, it's been busy. She has called her her daughters daily to remind them of tasks. I am proud to say, they and I had thought of and already done or had scheduled all of them.

We've done it all. We've done chores, we've straightened, they have done normal laundry. (Since school started in first grade, they have been trained to wash, fold and put away their clothes, which I find admirable.)

My high schooler's marathon day at school Friday, started at 7:30 am for tennis (before sunrise) and ended when the marching band got home at 1 am Saturday. She got a solid 7 hours' sleep before reporting for marching band competition, starting at 10 am Saturday and thank goodness, ending at 6 pm. They came in tenth of 12. It was their first year to compete.

She came home, ate, did homework, watched cable tv at my home, and slept about 13 hours. Today she is overnight at her best friend's birthday party. Although school is out, she has another 3 hours of marching tomorrow evening.

The youngest attended her overnight birthday party last night. I got everything done for three communions at church. She came home.

She's here tonight, and tomorrow we will finish up polishing their home because we have it in very good shape, just what her mother likes, for her return. I will have potroast waiting when I pick their mother up from the train.

I've done this for four, beginning five, days, and I am exhausted. I am in awe of their mother, who has been handling this crazy schedule for weeks while holding down a fulltime job with a lot of responsiblity. Makes me feel my age.

It also makes me feel proud. The kids and I have done well, because their parents first did well with them. They have a sense of fun, also of responsibility.  I am so proud of them.

And I hope the youngest wants to go to bed early.

Because I sure am.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Moving with the Times

My son and his wife head in opposite directions tomorrow. One going to Blogorado, and it is so good for him. One going to a family wedding south of here, and it is so good for her.

Meantime, since I thought I could manage the school schedule online this term, I didn't realize until today the next two school days are half days, and Monday is a holiday. Did they give Columbus Day off years ago?

Those sneaky kids.

Actually, given the high-schooler's band practice, early tennis practice and away game for the marching band, I won't see my high-schooler after--no, before--dawn on Friday.


Then she has a band competition and I am praying she's right that she doesn't have to be there till 10 on Saturday. The kid needs to sleep sometime. She needs carbs and protein. and a coat. Grandma kicking in along with the first Norther, dropping daytime temps to low 60s and overnight to 40s this weekend.

Younger granddaughter with a lovely sleepover birthday party with pickup at her home. Return the next morning. No problem if a parent were home. Problem. Of 4 of us, I am the only church verger available Sunday for three services to prepare communion. And this matters.

So I am trying to RSVP  the mother having the party. Her phone has been uaccessible today, but I hope we connect.

It will all straighten out.

Boy is this different from crayons, Coco Puffs (ha! never did) and a visit to the park!

I feel like I'm growing up all over again. Third time.

Will it take?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life is Good, and often Interesting

"my life is a river,
strong, and deep and wet,
I don't know where it's going yet,
But it goes, it flows,
And it grows."

An effort that didn't pan out 40 years ago, nearly. It still reasonates with me. Life and water are connected, so are currents. So is not knowing, and watching it grow anyway. So it is, for the author, insightful doggerel.

I kind of want this to be bits and pieces. We'll see what I have.

A pet shelter in the Metroplex became famous for a cat named Skinny that weighed 41 pounds. The shelter got worldwide requests for the cat, simply because the cat weighed 41 pounds.

The worldwide requests came from people who thought the cat was funny, unique, and they might make her fatter in some cases. She went to a cat rescue group that specializes in overweight cats. This one will be a challenge.


What do you do when the new staff for your specialist screws up the paperwork for your labs before you see the doctor, so you have to postpone the visit?

Well, I've been seeing the doctor for a year, quarterly, and the old staff didn't screw up. So when I had to reschedule, I asked that the lab slip be mailed to me, and asked what went wrong...pleasantly. Nonhostile.

I found out their computer program had gone down halfway for a week, and the two new people are just that, new, and they were so very sorry. Sure enough, the next day the staffer got the lab sheet to me, I've gone in, and my appointment with the doctor is Thursday.

I love it when civility and empathy work just as well, probably better, than rudeness and snarling. It certainly is better for my karma.


I had to laugh when I dropped my granddaughter off for band practice in the late afternoon recently. Temp was in the high 80s, and starlings crave shade just as much as the rest of us, and apparently love community as well. The shady sides of the big SUVs were packed with birds. Like, this was the big party scene. Not so much on the shade of the Hondas. A few, not many. With birds, it can't be the costlier shade. I wonder if the denser bodies of the SUVs make the shade cooler? Or just a bigger area to partay?


My new high school student granddaughter is very busy these days, and she is getting more private with her thoughts. While I miss more freedom of communication, what I am struck by is that I am one of three persons she has unfailing available, one or another of us, for transport to this, that or the other. She usually asks ahead. She always says thank you. Usually followed by "I love you."
Oh, wow, oh wow oh wow.