Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Serendipity Comes Calling

A friend of a friend called Sunday and asked if I would like to take an aimless, back roads trip for the afternoon. I said yes. We know each other a little through a third friend we both trust in her taste of friends.

She picked me up and we headed sort of north, then sort of west, and apparently sort of south. We ended up at Runaway Bay, part of a major lake southwest of here. We got drinks, used the bathroom and went on. Every so often, we would hit little towns I never heard of --I think our favorite was Wizards Wells, and we made up stories.

At one point, we ended up in Montague, county seat of Montague County, but we couldn't find any signs to tell us the name of the county seat, and as close as it is to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, I didn't know.

It was a wonderful trip. This year, little rains have kept much of North Texas green when it normally would be sere. I only caught a glimpse of the animal out the window that was rectangular, tawny, sizable, with a mane like a horse and horns. If any of you have clues, please tell me.

We edged quickly into West Texas, with the mesquite, the bluffs and mesas, the rocky cliffs. Then north again, and east.

Saint Jo is a very neat old Texas town. We stopped at the former saloon, now a museum, and hit the antique/crafts store. She had hoped to buy me a slice of pie, but the restaurant was closed for annual vacation. We watched a seven-minute film. I told one of the docents I thought my mother taught there a year, and gave her last name. Her eyes sharpened.

"Were they from Tennessee?" she asked. "I have cousins by that name from Tennessee."

I affirmed my family came from Nashville on my mother's side, and we laughed. We may be related.

We went down the road to Muenster, to Fischer's grocery, which I've heard about for years. Bought some dill pickles and two snack packs of summer sausage slices and cheese. Spicy cheese. Hotter than I expected cheese. Took one package next door to my daughter-in-law. Don't know about her, but I've already finished mine.

I'll go back--I may need directions. When I think about it, we covered large parts of four roomy counties.

I hope we do something like this again, that I wasn't too boring. Because this was an afternoon vacation, best kind.

There are rules.1) Unplanned. 2)Destination undecided but back roads.3) Maybe not on a Sunday next time, because in small Texas towns, all the restaurants we saw were closed. After we got our summer sausage snack at Fischer's, neither of us was hungry. This will change.

Sam--her name is Sam--gave me treasure, maybe when we both needed it. You see, the friend who introduced us isn't here any longer.

I think she would approve the road trip. I'll try to study up a bit for the next one. We both love history. Good bourbon. Long vistas. Riding in a car to nowhere to see what we will see.

We'll see what else we share.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Our children, Our future

This won't be a long one.

We hear all the time about discrete personalities with increased electronics. We hear all the time that teens crave stimulation, electronics, don't have values.

We hear all the time the world is going into a handbasket, whatever that is. Archaic term still used.


I picked my almost 15-year-old from a day of band practice to spend just enough time to pick up her best friend for a lockin overnight at the church. I never had one of those, but I trust them.

I picked up her best friend, and I drove them. In a day of band camp, my granddaughter had learned a new game. She told her friend, "It's even better than Ducky Wucky."

And I smiled. Because I know Ducky Wucky. Been there when they played it. Innocent, silly, laugh-choking fun.

More Money? Bigger Better? My dad can buy all the booze and blow we want?

I think I am seeing some of the richest kids in the world.

They have parents, a home, food, medical care, good and caring teachers, real friendships, passions for art, music, literature, math and science. Even business. Many of them are self-aware.

Wow. Oh, yeah, a lot of them have some deep religious beliefs. I think that is part of the anchor.

I don't know where they are going, but I do know where they are.

And that is wonderful, in the fullness of that word.

Great Britain has a cinema project started years ago called "Up". They started with 14 seven-year-olds they interviewed. They took children from all classes of life. They have re-interviewed every seven years. The "kids" now are 58. Expectations regarding class and ability have been blown away.

I have seen it in my own life as well.

I don't know where these kids are going. I do know they have had a wonderful innocent time. We don't see, or believe that exists today, but it does.

I worry about the climate, the fights, the world.

But this one lockin kinda stills my soul and warms it.

We have kids. they are the future.

They aren't even half bad.

Friday, July 26, 2013

This week only two days began with sunshine. Clouds obscured the rest. Today it was rain with clouds. Not lot.

Anyway, I need to mow. Too wet.

Do these dribbles and drabbles obviate the need for rain? Only in a politician's dreams.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Rain is an indifferent host of joy, grief, or despair. For me, Joy.

I've never seen massive flooding and if I had, it might change my response.

I love rain. I love the sound, the smell, the sight of it. I love what it does in the Southwest, where I have always lived one foot from drought. Sometimes we have had abundance, which means we had the amount we needed. Occasionally a little over.

We have had flooding in poorly developed areas where greedy developers paid no attention to the topography. I've never seen flooding as I see on television in other places.

I wonder if those folks dread rain now. I suppose they must. Middle America farmers unable to get into their fields to plant their crops. Yes. They must hate the rain, at least, this year. Families in cities with pleasant riverbanks which overflowed and filled their houses. At best, they must have mixed feelings.

But without it, where would we be? We can't live without water. Or food. And both depend on the rain.

I have a friend in Georgia who envies me because after a sever drought, Georgia has too much. I have a friend who lives in New Mexico and envies me because the drought has gone on and on, and she yearns for the rain. Having grown up there, I can say that nothing, nothing at all, smells better than the desert greasewood after a long-awaited rain. Nothing.

I'm always reading, and I can't remember often where I read what. I remember reading that after the earth is not rained on for a period of time--weeks, months, even years--when the rain comes, as the rain is approaching, the oils in the earth mix with the water and produce an intoxicating smell.

How often have you sniffed and said,"Rain is coming!"

I haven't asked, but I suspect the perfume is greater when the earth has not been washed recently. When vegetation is actively growing from previous rains, the smell Is different. Pleasant, enjoyable. Somehow, when the earth really needs the rain, the smell is exotic, multi-layered, and to me, intoxicating.

I read the Harvard Classics as a child. My parents thought ever educated household should have them. One book was by Guy de Maupassant. I read, years later, he was one of the few writers who included all five senses in his writing. Most novelists include only one or two--or three--nowadays taste is certainly a part. This French writer included all five in his 19th Century writing.

I wonder if reading him, in his French countryside, did I absorb the notice of all the senses, or did I simply enjoy him for the senses I already loved? Surely the reading stimulated them? No, I think I responded as I already met the world and that is why I liked this writer. I say it so assuredly. But I recognized, even as a pre-adolescent, what he was writing about.

All my grass here in Texas is green. In late July. At least 3/4 is un-watered Bermuda. By this time, in North Texas, my lawn and the countryside should be the color of straw. The cattle, horses, sheep and goats don't worry about the dried foliage--they are used to it and it is healthy for them. But today, July 19, all is green.

After a popup rain last Thursday, the soaker over two days Sunday and Monday and another popup today, We Have Rain. Over a week, about 3 blessed inches.

I was trying to work in the house when I heard the rain thrumming and gave up to go on the screened porch with the dogs to enjoy the sound and more of a green smell, and the sound and...well, the dogs thought I was nuts. Humid, rain blowing in. warm. It still was glorious.

I watched and smelled and listened. Didn't think much.

It was the best part of my day.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dogs, summer and airconditioning

Brody has the cone another week. Also steroids, antihistamines. He is battering his cone into strange shapes. Today I took Gracie for a nail clip and hadn't walked her in a while. Used to a lot. What a difference in  leash management!
. I haven't taken Brody nearly enough. Both have lost weight. Considering the  amount of hair on my floors, I don't think it is food deprivation.

Mama needs to boss more. Brody is getting all his meds.

Heat creeping up again. Still won't get out of mid-90s this week  . A July that Texas residents will brag about forever. Sorry, East Coast. That's sincere. A lot of you don't have air-conditioning. See why we like it so much?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dog recovery

Brody is doing well, overall. He still runs into walls and doors, but MUCH less. He now is fighting his eye drops. I guess they sting a bit. He does get them!

Gracie, my  other dog, is better reconciled. She still thinks anyone with a cone on his head is trash. Wait till her turn comes. She is subdued when I scold her.

Brody's eye looks better, anyway.
 When I find the human syncronym, I will write. Not here yet.

I just made up that word, which may exist anyhow. Syncronym. Don't we know a lot of them?

Back to Brody. He adjusting to the cone but doesn't understand why and just trusts me. That hurts, somewhere in me, even while he is making his treatment easier. He still needs help to eat, if not drink. I'm still feeding his supper. Babies need more care, but also just as ignorant. I have deep love for the  unenfranchised, which babies and the poor, and the critters, know always.

The dog days of a Texas summer

Summertime isn't easy in Texas. A lot of us run from the air-conditioned house, to the car to the next air-conditioned destination or water park. I reflected once to myself that I don't care how quickly my car can reach 60 mph, but I DO care very much how quickly it cools. It is blessedly quick, usually starting to work by the time I finish backing out of a short driveway.

I have pumped the attic full of insulation--well, my son and daughter-in-law did--and I have a digital thermostat that makes the cooling more efficient. Had the A-C checked to make sure all is well. We are good.

Planning, though, needs some fine-tuning. Here I sit in the cool writing when at 10 a.m. the temperature is already close to 85. Today will be our hottest so far this summer--around 103, 104, I believe. I would be smart to do my outside chores while the temperature is more bearable. Nope, I'll be out in the heat again later today and sweating as if I were the wicked witch of Oz ("I'm melting, I'm melting".)

Yesterday I watered my raised bed and a sizable part of the back yard, which  is one-third St. Augustine grass. Bermuda will go dormant without watering and come back. St. Augustine dies.
I did it early, well before the cutoff time of 10 a.m.  I can water after 6 p.m. as well, but should not more than twice a week.  Some parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area are on once a week water restrictions.  Not only is it hot and dry, but several major lakes are now infested with Zebra mussels, tiny little things that take over and get into the water pipes and clog them.

We not only have more people moving in, we have less water available. What everyone wants in the heat is water. Cool, pure, water.  I don't think people outside Texas realize that we have only one lake in the state that is not manmade. We are still in significant drought in  much of the state. Lakes are down noticeably, though nothing near 2011 when the lakes dried up so significantly historic artifacts were uncovered. We have to  be smarter about use, and that drought scared a lot of us into trying.

I was pleased to discover soaker hoses in my daughter-in-law's  vegetable beds, with quick release connections. So much easier than the oldtime screwing the two hoses together. I didn't know the quick releases existed, although I had wished for some.  Very nice. Minimal water use, maximum benefit.

In deference to West Nile concerns (mosquito larvae), I had let my birdbath dry up, but this week  I filled it again and see a steady stream of birds coming and going. Hope some of them like grasshoppers.

I have bought Tempo, the only product friends tell me that will kill the grasshoppers. Asked the vet about it and she said as long as it has dried when the dogs go out, no problem for my property.
First time to use an insecticide. I'll pick up the sprayer at the store later today. That is definitely a morning chore.

I heard a spot on public radio yesterday that Death Valley in California is a destination location this month for tourists from all over the world for people who want to enjoy the sensation of extreme heat. It was 120 degrees yesterday, and a British tourist  who said he had trained for a year in a sauna, ran a mile in the heat while wearing a Darth Vader costume. His reason why I don't remember, but he actually completed his goal in about seven minutes. It was harder than he had thought it would be, he said.

Ah, well, mad dogs and Englishmen....

Texas isn't a tourist destination for the heat this year.  It is simply HOT.

Addendum: Texas sometimes has Popup Showers that cover a small number of miles, which is why showers are 10  percent. We got them today in my neighborhood (chuckle.giggle squee!)  At least a half inch, and for the duration of a couple hours, a 20 degree drop in temp from 97 to 77. Sun out again, temperatures climbing again, humidity abysmal, BUT. We had some rain and I can wait to water for a day. Hooray! giggle, giggle.

July 14. All day light rain. Highest temperature 70 degrees. Beautiful. Wonderful.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Life in a cone for a dog that wants OUT

Sorry. I flunked personal responsibility again.

I kept meaning to take the dogs to the vet last week to have their nails clipped. (No, I don't do it. I could whine about my arthritic hands, but the truth is, I'm afraid I won't do it right so I take them to the vet, who charges $12 per dog. I had the money, but I put it off.)

Brody is three, Gracie is two. They love to play together. They rear and paw each other, slobbering on each other and having a wonderful time. Then they race around the house, knocking all my rugs askew. And they laugh. They really do.

Last night, though, one of Gracie's nails caught Brody's lower eyelid and left a nick. A quarter-inch nick through all three layers of skin. Brody ran to me. He didn't whimper, He just rubbed against me and bled a bit on my clothes. It didn't really look too bad. I put some ointment on it, gave him a benadryl, and we all went to bed.

Looked pretty good this morning. He pawed at it a few times and I gave him another benadryl. He left it alone. BUT, by 4 pm, it was obvious he needed to see the vet. She had time to see him.

When I pulled out the leash he started doing handsprings. Since he only has gone to the vet most times when I get out the leash, I'm not exactly sure why he is so delighted, but he is. Eternal optimist. (THIS time we will go where there are squirrels and I can pee on numerous new places.) He charged to the car. Leaped out and sniffed around. Only when I opened the door to the clinic did he dig in his paws with a tremendous amount of energy, telegraphing, "NOOOOOO! I don't want to go!"

Until today, the worst they had ever done is clip his nails and give him shots.

This time the vet said if we didn't mend the tear it could affect his vision for the rest of his life. OK. He had surgery. Tear is mended. He has a bunch of medicine and they loaned me the dreaded cone over his head. Which he has to wear for a week.

Gracie, Corgi to the bone, was horrified when he came in.

"Who are you? You are dangerous! Get away, Get away!" sniffing all over, "It's you? You look like a monster!"

She won't go near him.  She's whining and lying under my chair as I write. I have told her he is not dangerous. She is not at all sure. She doubts me. Tough act for the alpha in the pack.

Brody can't sleep on his side. He can't jump up on the recliner, at least, tonight.

He supposedly can eat and drink from any dish smaller than the cone, but he couldn't figure out supper, so I held a salad dish with his kibble and chicken broth so he could eat it--and he WAS hungry, a good thing.

His ears are down. He looks so sad, but he's getting better at navigating. He's eaten. Tomorrow, eye drops several times a day and another anti inflamatory,

He just jumped up for a rub and a hug, tail wagging. Guess the last of the anesthesia has worn off and he feels more himself.

Funny, I have dealt with friends sick, even dying, helped when I could, talked, rubbed lotion into sore limbs.

But a dog doesn't know why I took him in to be hurt, to get this blasted cone. He trusts I love him, and with his unconditional dog love, he comes back for the love, the back scratches, the caring, all the time not knowing why I have him in this cone. He loves me anyway.

Isn't that just like a dog?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Little Problems in a Great Big World

It is late and I have awakened in the night. Because my young dogs think this is playtime , I have given each a rawhide chew. As usual, Gracie is under my feet, enjoying very much. She still growls from time to time to tell Brody, whose jaws are much stronger, that she won't relinquish her chew when he finishes his early, and in case he wonders, Mother will protect her. All true.

It is only fair.

My family is going away for 11 days, and I am in charge of the chickens, the cats and the injured, half-grown chicken recovering nicely in the rabbit hutch. The other chickens tried to peck (her?) to death and almost succeeded.

Because of the long, temperate spring,  their garden went in early and is almost finished.  A factor is the third year infestation of grasshoppers, eating plants to the ground. Not all. They don't like Four O"Clocks, they do love roses. They like one breed of okra more than another. They annihilated the climbing green beans. So far, they are leaving the climbing winter squash alone. They really like the antique tomatoes.

I am 100 yards away. I have thousands of young, hundreds of middle and mature grasshoppers. I'll be testing my theory that if I shake the leaves with sulphur, the grasshoppers will find something else to eat. I planted lantana because I like them, but also because I heard grasshoppers didn't. Seems true. Just discovered they love marigolds, and those are eaten to the ground. I have sweet potato vines under the Bradford pear with day lilies. They don't attack the day lilies. They love the vines. So far, they aren't into my tomatoes, planted much later than next door and only now bearing.  They don't like iris, ate my arbor vitae to the bark last year and it has rebounded.  I have two knockout roses, which are impervious to most pests and diseases. But  grasshoppers ate one to the ground last year.  I have a replacement and don't want to lose it.

Funny  thing. I  know an avid gardener about  a mile and a half  north, and she has no grasshoppers.  Another, about  a mile and a half east, has it worse than I do.

Good news: grasshoppers aren't a plague across North Texas.  Bad news: they are pests in my immediate area. Wish I dared let the chickens loose, because they love to eat grasshoppers.  Nope, I daren't.  (love that word).

My grandcats already come over to visit, and always run up for petting when I walk next door. While they have a pet door, they much prefer a human opening The Big Door.  After I get water, food , and belly rubs for them for the future 11 days, I will reign high until their REAL family comes home.

I can live with that.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I Hate Rick Perry.

So many good things are going on. So many bad things as well. It is a busy world, and sometimes it is our mood that focuses what we see. Oh, yes. Opinion makes such a difference.

I am watching, and I am expecting the state legislature to pass the punitive abortion bill, which means more work in the years ahead. What frustrates me so is that so many people who are pro-life see abortion as murder, can't imagine any other interpretation and use their devout belief and lack of imagination to say banning abortion is the only, holy way.

 I do not agree.

I once attended an ethics class at a medical university to write about it. The class included doctors, ministers, and nurses. The class dissected the ethics of each profession. Sometimes, they disagreed. That was valuable to know. This is not situational ethics. It is the imperatives of the profession.

When the discussion concluded, the Roman Catholic priest said that his faith and his values had not changed, but he now realized those who are pro-choice honestly have a different belief system. He hadn't believed it could be possible. He thought people who were pro-abortion were okay with murder. He learned we don't think it is murder at all. He doesn't agree, but , he said, he was surprised to understand a different viewpoint legitimately existed. It didn't change his viewpoint, but finally, he saw it.

He saw that for some, abortion is a legitimate option, whether or not he agrees.

Texas Sen. Judith Zaffarini in Texas is pro-life, but helped in the recent filibuster because she believes in choice.

The vote is coming up again. Women are not going to have many options.

The state is trying to ban Planned Parenthood  even at clinics that offer only birth control.  That is being challenged. Supposedly we have plenty of low cost birth control pill options. Have no idea where they are. Rick Perry has already referred to State Sen. Wendy Davis as a single teenage woman, saying she and her child  succeeded, so others can. That's just.....

I am so tired of this.

I live in Texas. If you are sick, need meds, have children and low income, are old and need help, please don't come here. Some of you will end in a  park with a tent. The rest of you--God help you.