Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Little Princess with Killer Shoes

I was in Piggly Wiggly the other day when I saw a little girl, about 2, sitting in the basket and wearing killer shoes. (I love shoes and would own far more than the three pair I have if my foot size wasn't extremely hard to fit and thereby expensive, and I AM cheap.) Sandals, designs on them. They obviously did NOT come from Payless or Walmart. In fact, I doubt if they came from any retail store in the neighborhood. Little girl was well behaved, a head of curly strawberry blond ringlets, and a cute toddler sundress. The woman pushing the cart was casually dressed.

"Nice shoes," I commented, nodding at the little girl.

The woman laughed.

"Aren't they just too much?" she said, patting the little girl. "My brother is 47 and this is his first child. I'm afraid he goes over the top now and then on things for his daughter. The shoes are nice though. She'll grow out of them in another month or two and they cost $70."

I nodded. That's pretty much what I figured.

She went on.

"I'm her aunt and also her nanny. I moved down here from Idaho to help take care of her until she starts to school. Her mother is an attorney and didn't want to give up her career, but they didn't want anyone but family taking care of her. This way, no one is around her who doesn't love her and will be around all her life."

"Wasn't it hard to give up your own life for this?" I asked.

She smiled. "Not at all. My brother is paying me the same salary I was making, and I bank most of it. I'll be able to get back into professional work in a few years. Meanwhile, we're family, We like each other. We all love this little girl."

She leaned over and hugged her. The child grinned and hugged her back, and then, of course, pointed to a snack she wanted and begged, "Please?"

Her aunt said no, that they would have a snack when they got home.

Huh. The Pig is in a working class neighborhood, but it is on a main street. The little girl did have killer shoes, and she and the woman were obviously affectionate.
No reason to make up the story that I can see.

An extraordinary tale to be sure. That's why I love talking to people. Someone is always doing something I would never think or or would never have the opportunity to do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Watching the Legislative Circus

Generally, when the Texas legislature is in session, we simply try to cover our wallets and mumble a lot in frustration.

This year, there have been a coupla bright spots. Last week, Gov. Rick Perry caused a commotion by basically saying that if things keep going on this way, Texas can just secede. Presumably he was courting the far conservative right. Unknown how many of them were charmed by his statement, but he kinda sorta backpedaled, so the response he got must have popped his balloon.

As one man commented, "If Texas didn't need the United States, we wouldn't have asked for federal help when the hurricane hit Galveston."(last fall, for those who don't know or remember)

Perry also has refused any stimulus money which has both Democratic and Republican state legislators screaming, "Are you nuts?!"

This was behind the House vote last Friday to strip the governor's office of $23 million of his budgeted $24 million. They voted to add the $23 million to the mental health budget, which had me snickering. Little message there.

Political experts say his office will get the money back when he succumbs and accepts the money, which is needed for unemployment wages. Even in Texas, the costs for those laid off have skyrocketed.

And yesterday, Sen. Jane Nelson, a former teacher, made a preemptive strike. Many school districts in Texas have instituted rules that no child can receive a grade lower than 50, or 60, or even 70, even if they don't perform the work. Failure harms the children's self esteem, you see. The state senate voted unanimously to abolish this practice.

Session isn't over yet. Still, every once in a while this time around, our elected officials are doing something to make me smile, either in humor or approval.

It's been a very long time since I've done either.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Whatever they were doing, I'm glad I passed by

On a sunny afternoon recently, I passed a street near one of the universities and saw a group of young people casually gathered around a young woman fiddling with a digital camera. Two young men wore sports jackets and slacks, one with a top hat and the other wearing a black straw boater (flat top, wide, flat brim). A third young man in jeans wore a Viking helmet with one horn curled up, one down. Another young woman had a colorful scarf wrapped around her head.

I don't know what they were doing, but they were enjoying it a lot. And I thought, "I love university towns!"

I love the unexpectedness college age people bring to the community, the color, the sound, the energy. I remember crossing another nearby campus one Friday afternoon, walking behind a guy playing his trumpet, accompanied with a friend and a beagle pup that scrambled behind.

I remember a time in Forest Park in Fort Worth when those of us there were treated to a young man playing bagpipes atop one of the levees. Yup, college student, considerately coming out to the park to practice rather than in his apartment where the neighbors might not welcome him so readily. We went about our playing, and he went about his. We all enjoyed it.

Impromptu fun.

What a glorious part of life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Time to Grow a Little More.

A couple of days ago I had a dream.

I have dreamed it three or four times in the last few years. Each time, the details change,but essentially, I dream I am in graduate school at my alma mater, Southern Methodist University. I am apparently in my late 20s or 30s, and I have left journalism to study for a master's. In the dream, my mother is alive and well in the family home in New Mexico, and she is paying for my living expenses and classes. I am single. In the dream,I am fully aware of my mother's warmth and love for me (a fortunate truth all our lives).

At the beginning of each dream, I am happy and having a fine time. I am going to class. Afterwards, I try to think where I should go next. It slowly dawns on me I have a full load of classes, and I am only attending this one and maybe one other. I can't even remember what the other courses are and we are more than halfway through the semester. Too late to drop the unattended classes and get my mother's money back. I consider going to the dean of students' office or provost, but feel overwhelmed. And guilty. So, so guilty. I decide I must begin to rectify this, and that also involves telling my mother. I dread it, but I square my shoulders.

And then I wake up, the guilt and sense of disorientation so emotionally vivid,I have remembered each dream.

After the first, I said, "Huh."

After the second, I took notice, and sat down to puzzle a bit and contemplate my navel. I decided I was ignoring important tasks or actions I should be making in my life, and I was off-balance. It didn't take much to uncover what two or three of those were, and to attend to them. And I felt better, and didn't have the dream again for a year. Then I took inventory again and corrected a few more things.

Now it has been at least 15 months, and here it is again, with some major alterations. Those I will mull awhile, but the bottom line is, my inner person is telling me I am not doing enough. I am not taking care of all my business, or using my talents to their fullest. And in the meantime, I am having a fine time. And that all is true.

But I am doing so much more than I was. Why does my sleeping self tap me on the shoulder and say, "You aren't doing enough"?

It isn't neurosis, I am convinced of that. I really believe it is the growing strength and power I am scared I don't have, but in my sleep, I know I do. My dreams nudge. Neurosis would be ignoring the push and sulking. Health means looking at the goals on my mental list and start tending to them.

One of those is truly frivolous but important to me--to ride in a helicopter. I have wanted to fly since I was 4 years old. I have taken lessons. I have been a passenger in a stunt plane. I have taken a taste of skydiving, and ridden in the Goodyear blimp. The hot air balloon and helicopter ride remain to be fulfilled. Good to look forward to, to anticipate.

There are many ways to fly. Each time I step out on what feels like thin air, trusting I will not fall, I am flying. Such tiny steps in midair. A dinner for my family. Touching and hugging just about everyone more, when I've never been touchy-feely. Opening up a little more. My honesty goes to bedrock, but I am not so open. I feel the effort to force those shutters or doors open just a little more every time I pry.

The dream is an unexpected gift, as so many things in my life. It is time to rebalance my life again to accomodate a little more, to be patient with myself when I don't progress as fast as I want. To enjoy process, and value each person in my life. That is what the dream tells me. The feel of my mother's steady love?
Oh. That reminds me to go on loving myself and forgive my imperfections. Fairly late in the semester? I'm 65. I think there's still quite a lot left.

All in all, a pretty good night's work spent in dreams.

Monday, April 6, 2009

When you can't be there in person

Don't you hate it when you call a friend who is going through physical pain, or emotional pain, or maybe both, and they say, "hey, I'm in the middle of something, can I call you back later tonight?"

And you say, "sure."

And you carry your phone around, because you don't know when they will call or if they will call, but you want to Be There if they do.

They hurt, and you wishyoucouldhelpit, but you can't.

Maybe they need answers, and youwishyoucouldhelpit, but you can't.

But you can listen. You can say, "Hey, I'm here."

It may be all you can do. It seems like so little.

But you hold the phone and wait for the call.

Because that's what friends do.

Spring in Texas gets a mediocre review this year

I have always adored spring in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, especially compared to New Mexico. This year, however, the two are pretty similar.

True, I have many a picture of my young sons in their polyester Easter jackets, shivering as they sort of smile while holding their Easter baskets full of eggs.
But this year, we are expecting a hard freeze tonight, six days before Easter, a highly unusual occurrence. I worry with proprietary interest for my daughter-in-law's tomato plants, already in the ground. With a good harvest, some of those sun-warmed, ripe off the vine babies are headed straight for my mouth. MMMM.

This year, the mesquite are wrong. Southwestern wisdom is that gardeners can relax when the mesquite bushes begin to leaf out--no more freezes. But this year, the mesquite are leafing. And here comes the freeze. Pecans are supposed to be predicters too, but I think they also have been fooled.

In the Tularosa Basin of New Mexico, fruit trees bloomed by Feb. 28, at least in the 1950s and 1960s. The pansies kept blooming, of course, and the forsythia bloomed, the daffodils eventually straggled out. Mom, who had lived in Colorado, loved columbine, so Dad planted several under the middle cottonwood tree. The duststorms came and went, ocvcasionally accompanied with rain that turned the air into mud.
Nights and early mornings were chilly. Iris waited till late April to bloom, maybe May. THEN the roses bloomd, and it was almost summer, and skies were blue, the days pleasantly warm.

In Texas,usually you have the redbud trees leading the parade, heralding the banks of azaleas exploding into bloom along Turtle Creek in Dallas and the Trinity River in Fort Worth. Pansies bloom in every color. Forsythia and japonica come out. Iris blooms. And then the wildflowers, sometimes covering whole fields with an abundance of color. Enough happens simultaneously to make it a spectacular show. But spring in Texas this year is just sort of showing up like flowers sneaking in late to work.

The redbuds bloomed, and the trees were glorious as usual, but kinda by themselves. The pear trees finally bloomed and faded. A glorious bed of purple iris outside my back door bloomed fulsomely for about two weeks, then died. The azaleas are just getting started. The white iris are just starting.

Last year, the crabapple trees, pear trees, and iris all bloomed at the same time, with roses chiming in at the end. This year, the crabapple tree out front leafed first and is only now blooming. Pretty up close. Kind of dusty looking from a distance. And the roses are thinking about it. The bluebonnets are out, but not spectacular. Other wildflowers are not up yet. Spring wildflowers are my delighted indulgence, an eye-gorge of abundance in good years. A little more rain, and we may still have plentiful color. But not yet.

And for the second year, it looks like the dress I bought for Easter last year won't be warm enough to wear. Oh, well. It is the only dress I own, and I'll wear it later. A friend's wedding in May comes to mind.

As I reflect on my love of the free show constantly around me, I wonder if that is at least partially why I can seldom indulge in a manmade luxury. I just wasn't driven enough. Oh, I like luxuries, just fine. But I guess I'm lazy. Give me nodding fields of flowers, cheap fresh asparagas in the spring, laughing grandchildren and a morning cup of strong tea with a splash of milk, and life seems rich indeed.