Friday, December 28, 2012


My younger son said he heard we might have snow again next Wednesday and Thursday. I didn't get to ask where he was listening. Mostly, we get 5 days at a time.
Weird, when political news goes on for well, decades.
Could it be we demand more of the weather news?
That's kind of a kick, over all.

American Democracy in the lower case

As near as I can see and understand, the United States remains a country with the same laws it has always had.

I believe our Congress no longer cares about the people, but about those who are pumping money into their campaigns.

I believe if they are egregious enough, Americans will petition for their removal, or campaign in the streets enough to let them know we do matter.

I believe all of this.

I believe we will "go over" the fiscal cliff. I believe the hasty fixes Congress will announce, like no cost of living on Social Security, Medicare at 67, tightened strictures on Medicaid and CHIPS, will hurt the working poor and add very little to the budget while hurting many.

I am not listening to the news. Not much these days. News now is all about scaring us and herding us in one direction or another. We used to have one of the most free press in the world. I think we are now ranked somewhere in the upper 20s. Capitalism has taken over.

What am I going to do about it?

Not panic, for starters.

Conserve on what I buy, second. Oh, I realize the economy needs us spending, but how can we,when we don't know how much money we will have? Especially those of us on fixed incomes. Well. No, not us. The worker who gets laid off because his employer has much to lose is a bigger loss. (I used "he" as something most politicians understand, even when it is the women raising the children.)

I will spend as little as possible. I will be joyful as much as possible. I will listen as little as possible. I will tune in for the news on what is actually happening. What they speculate? How does that help me live a good life?

I will plant my flowers. This spring, I will plant tomatoes and peppers again. I will help where I can. Oh, yes. I see a world of pain coming from the fiscal cliff. I will help where I can.

I'm not going to worry about it.

The hand-wringing news can do that.

We compensate and survive.

It's not what I used to think democracy was. Oh well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Back after the holidays

I wrote half a blog earlier. My computer froze. I lost all of it. I didn't lose until recent updates which I don't know yet.

It is the holidays and I sprint, so have many things to finish. I have had to change passwords on three accounts recently. That takes time. I am baking, cleaning,wrapping, cooking. Also in my household, meditating, praying and working on my attitude.

Frankly, this is more important than the tech I'm sorry I don't post more.

I am delighted with my developing Christmas holiday.

It's after midnight and I have to sleep. I have a volunteer gig in the morning.

If you read me, I wish you well, good week.

We'll talk later. After I walk the dogs.

Merry Christmas.
And please hope with me where Gracie is getting out of the yard. She loves it. I don't. She scares me to death
I have a chocolate pecan pie in the oven, a gazillion gifts to wrap, more baking and cooking to do.I will not get it all done in the usual way. I always come up with lastminute shortcuts that work.

Wonder how I'll handle this one?

I wish for better articulation personally for Christmas. I've listened to a fair amount of classical music this past week. Mostly watched the weather and 6 pm news, which is all local. I do know the difference between opinion and news. I want a peaceful existence for now.

And I am getting it. Sometimes late at night, my neck of the woods has very little light. The night sky is full of stars. Gives me a very real sense of my place in the universe.

I have small gifts this year. I actually started buying them before Dec. 15. Not wrapping, of course. Late enough the Christmas music didn't grate.

And so, bobbing along, taking a great deal of solitude for the season, I'm he

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Planting pansies, feeling the grief

This will be a hodgepodge, I think. Maybe with some sorta theme.

I bought my winter pansies today with some violas when I saw so many butterflies and even honey bees around them. Texas temps traditionally go up and down in winter. This year more tropical, Hint. Butterflies. I can't remember seeing them in December before.

I bought some of the violas that attracted them.

I never thought that I would see
A purple poinsettia
I can tell you right now
I'd be happier if I hadn't a.

A veritable sea of poinsettias in the store the colors of a sweetgum tree gone artificial. lavender purples, oranges, golden... I wonder how many the store will sell.
The now usual pink and white were elsewhere with the original red.


I just bought the violas, which used to come in one form. The ones I will pot mimic pansy colors, just smaller. Still spit the seeds. The clerk said the violas tolerate warmer temperatures and may last longer.

We have an organic market opening nearby. Onw thing I want to find out: are organic potatoes really that much tastier?

I have my radio and television off, and am cautious about Facebook and hide a lot of texts. I am dealing in the tragedy and don't want my grief fed. I see so many on hobby horses about gun control. Where are the hobby horses for better mental health services?

For those of us volunteering with homeless, we know very well the mental health hospital stabilizes, gives three days supplies, scrips, and dumps on the area streets. We don't have halfway houses. They go on the streets.

Not all massacres have shooters who were already noticably mentally ill. A lot have been. There were no resources. Why aren't there?

Oh, yeah. That might work out to be an entitlement.

But all the talk is about gun control. I suspect there is money to be made, somehow.

I don't know what I would do if I lived in Newton. Would I actually go to that many funerals?

I grieve. I plant my pansies, my violas. I delight in the butterflies.

I live. I continue to live. And don't we all?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rich or Poor? Taking or Giving? Choose.

For the last half-dozen years at least, I would have been at a really ritzy country club in Fort Worth today, catching up with former colleagues and having the kind of food I haven't had since the last gettogether.

I don't get out much. Can't drive much at night. Can't pay for the good stuff anyway.

So I have enjoyed these indulgences. I remember when they were part of my life. That was so long ago my children hadn't been born.

But I passed on going this year with no particular goal in mind.

I have recently started volunteering at the area super soup kitchen, where so many services come together besides food. And I was recruited for today, when we served a great Christmas dinner, gave out gift boxes with things like bandaids, chapstick, deoderant, a pair of socks, soap, razors, hand sanitizers,hard candies, lotion, shampoo....even the homeless consider these necessary luxuries. We had live music.

This was a Big Day. So the advisory board was around. They were taking pictures. I confronted, in a friendly way, one of them. I told him I was a green volunteer, but how could he legally take pictures of the crowd without permission?

He eyed me with a sanguine expression.

"Non-profit," he told me. "No law against it if it is non-profit."

He went off to take more pictures.

So it was legal. I still don't think it was right. And then I understand that pictures sell people on donations. Can they fuzz the faces? Yes. Will they? no, probably.

I don't think it is right. Yes. We have homeless for whom it is a way of life. They aren't celebrities, so don't they deserve privacy under the law? Apparently not.
What about the woman I talked to a week ago who waid she had worked for 12 years and they cut her off? She could afford a car, to get to interviews, or a place to live. The shelters around here are full. She's sleeping in her car. We can help her with clothing, a place to bathe, and some necessities if she doesn't have them. I don't think she's wrong in choosing the car.

The emergency shelters actually were open the last three nights when temperatures plunged in the teens. I hope she went in.

She is only one. I have a score just like her to meet.

Some come in, eat their free meal and leave.

Others pitch in, help clean up, mount decorations, unload food trucks--and they don't get anything for the work. Some volunteer to clean up premises outside as well as in. Several help the others, the handicapped or anyone worse off than they are. None get any compensation. Not even a bag of chips.

But the cameras were busy.

As I age, my mouth goes down in an upside down grumpy look if I don't smile. Except when I was smiling at hungry and homeless folk today, I made sure I had my dour on.

I doubt there will be any pictures of me

And since I made it clear I was a green volunteer and he was on the advisory board, I doubt any repercusions on me or the facility.

He is necessary. Helpful often. And he is totally convinced he is far above and in a different civilization than those we serve. He's wrong. I will never tell him so.

I was not at the country club today. I had a wonderful meal. I saw folk I am beginning to know. Met vibrant volunteers I want to know better.

In the country club and in the soup kitchen. I feel blessed both places.

I give back in the soup kitchen. Somehow, that makes me feel richer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas on a belated, low budget holiday

This year, I decided to be more sedate about Christmas. This is beyond taking it really seriously before Dec. 15.

My youngest granddaughter, 10, who I pick up everyday after school, is having a problem with that. She acknowledges that (since I got the darned thing Sunday) I have a wreath up. I bought a poinsettia from the school choir. It is prominent. I have a handcarved creche on the bookcase. I don't have lights. I haven't decided whether to assemble my short, lights attached tree. I am beginning to think I will. Oh, well.

This year, the 12-year-old, adept, son of the house directly across the strreet, decided he wanted a display. He put it all up. and I mean ALL. By day, the yard, and his grandparents' hedge looks, well, cluttered. At night, really gorgeous, ostentatious, and maverlously mesmerizing.There's music, too. some sort of chimes that includes a lot of real Christmas carols.

Since I seldom have the tv on, I hear it. Unobtrusive. kinda nice.

I think the juxtaposition between his independent-almost-teenager and myself is funny. Even in my gym, there is a Christmas tree and garlands.

But it is later into December now. I enjoyed shopping today. And where did all these kind, helpful folks come from? Sure, they were good salespeople and I bought, but they actually seemed to enjoy what they were doing. Hope they did. I did, too.

I haven't bought presents for the dogs per se. I measured Brody's chest so I can get him a walking harness. I renewed some chew toys and will continue to for the preservation of my home. And their enjoyment. (yes, I come first.)

I have a few books to buy, a book bag, and that is more or less it.

Why? because I am living within my income, and I can do things through the year. They all know they are loved.

I hope to get started walking the dogs and disciplining more. I accidentally let them spend one night on the bed. Doom. Later, war. Many assails. Last night I slept really well. Maybe I am really the Alpha.

I wish I knew how to video Gracie and Brody racing around the yard, jumping over each other and racing again. The joy of Corgis is, you can see them laughing. I am convinced it is not the looks. They laugh. So often on wakeup, Gracie has insisted I join them. They give me joy and laughter. They insist on snuggles. They lick, even when reprimanded. My new (cheap) blanket has a few 3-inch holes she has chewed and eaten. I can buy a new one and have enough to stay warm. And an new collar to replace the thin canvas Dollar Store one. It can't last forever.

Pecans off the neighbor's tree!

Next weekend,I think I will take these pecans, make Vienese crescent cookies, some fudge, and snickerdoodle dough and give some friends. Only a few. Most are either diabetic, gluten-free or non-something-or-other. If you know me and you are under 50, you could get lucky!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Old-fashioned Christmas

Fifteen days to go.

My granddaughter was puzzled.

"Why don't you want to do Christmas now, Gramma?" she asks.

So I explained my history. How we always had fresh Christmas trees, and you couldn't set them up too early and...

That is not a lie. It is an obfuscation. I wonder how many of you even know what that is? I am startled to find how minuscule current conversations are. Obfuscation takes a lot of strokes. it would not be a popular word. It is accurate in this case.

To the subject: some of us who are used to shorter holiday seasons have not adapted to the current mode. I am one of them.

The fact that it is a religeous holiday for me is immaterial. Honey, some of the best shoppers I know go to my church, put up the tree Thanksgiving night and/or went shopping afterwards.

Dec. 15 is my deadline. Officially Xmas afterwards. Oh, I admit I am starting to shop next week. Hope I can still find a few good deals.

How do you endure it, society? I enjoy two weeks of celebration. A month? 2 months?
I am not debunking. I honestly don't understand. You do it your way.

Please let me do it my way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wherever We Are Going, the Trip Is Interesting

Years ago, I interviewed a gerontologist researching demographics of the aging population. He found less and less "herd mentality" as we aged. We became more and more individual, he said.

He said his research still held true about 10 years ago. I am sure persons of certain ethnicities, incomes, professional backgrounds, have some common threads. Apparently we also digress.

I see some of this in younger folks as well. A growing number don't watch television, not even streaming online. Conversely, I know a surprising number of persons in their 30s, 40s or 50s who don't use computers. Many, not all, do watch television.

Millions watch sports. Significantly fewer millions don't watch at all.

Almost everyone has a cell phone. The quick texting makes communications shorter and more succinct. Language is changing because of texting. Even I sometimes get lazy and skip an apostrophe here and there in texting. Not in writing. There's a difference.

I wonder how we are evolving, and where we are going. I wonder if the decade of the 1950s was some anamoly of everyone watching television and seeming to share more attitudes or values. I wonder how alike we have always been, and how different.

I see different manners. Clothing. Behavior. Less value on education, which stuns me. I worry that my grandchildren are being taught to the test, mostly. They aren't being taught how to reason and ruminate. They are given little time to do either. Mine and some others are being taught by their parents, grandparents, teachers here and there, significant adults in their lives.

What I am saying is that the society I see--and I am a longtime, enthusiastic people watcher--is really different. Not worse, not better. I can't judge that. Definitely different.

I still see such a consistency in a desire to help, to be kind. To need to love and be loved. I see a growing tendency towards rudeness and meanness. I can't pinpoint any age or group. I just see it.

I see a tremendously positive response, often, to honesty. I see an amazing tendency to want that honesty so much, people buy into the most incongruous stories.

I shrug. I go on and live my life in the way that gives me a sense of joy, connectedness and self-worth. I do this when I can, as often as I can. I continue to watch the rest of you anytime I find myself in a busy place with time to watch.

You all are vastly fascinating, endlessly entertaining. More often than you would think, you simply touch my heart.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I am a senior citizen. I know a lot of us. Most of the ones I talk to miss their parents. I don't. They were wonderful, but I don't.

I miss some of the times we had. I can't convert it. I was 19 when my dad died, and I have had 50 years to assimilate it. I believe I have. I miss him at Christmas, because he loved it and worked hard at it. Since he died, there has been just me.

Mother. She had Alzheimers so early. Died so soon. Old school friends with their memories of her vivid, loving, passionate teacher self have restored her to me a great deal. Facebook does bring some joys.

She sent me to Europe for 10 weeks. I can never thank her enough for that.

I don't believe in heaven. I believe God will be with me at my death as my Creator is with me daily. I don't have Great Expectations. So I don't expect to see Mom and Dad in the afterlife. Many do, and please click off. I would never tell this to someone I actually have face time with. No, very few friends know about my blog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If troubles mean you are alive, be thankful.

"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

An alien idea for many in this day and time. An alien idea in his own.
I believe it, unutterably.

So many things that have hurt, changed me, grown me, left me helpless, have led to today. So I give thanks to all things.

A hurricane isn't evil, or a nor'Easter, nor a drought.That can hurt majorly. What I think is, it calls into our reserves to be better, to help one another. I believe in evil but not the devil. Evil is simply caring nothing for other lives. And more.

I give thanks that many of us do care. I give thanks for families that care, and am fortunate to be among them. All year long, good things happen to and for me. I don't make them happen, they just come. All I have to do is accept them. So it is nice to have a day to be thankful. If it isn't happening to you? Sorry. You aren't looking. Or listening. I am sorry.

I whine and bitch a lot. Did over this Thanksgiving, then decided what I wanted to do for this Thanksgiving,and Bingo! There's that thankful feeling.

If you have a comfortable and loving place to be, bless you.

If you are looking for your "Bingo", don't worry. All you have to do is recognize it.
If you are lucky Bingo will be wearing a red rose in its teeth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Texans aren't big on education or constitutional law. Some, however, master Surly when they can't spell it and don't know what it means

I am pretty sure Mississippi rates lowest in state support of education. I haven't looked recently but Texas hovers around 48 or 49. We have been there a long time. Texans didn't even protest much when the state really slashed state support of schools, colleges and universities two years ago. Stellar education programs getting national attention are gone. No money. As I say: No one got particularly upset.

Not in Texas.

Now some have to go and prove how dumb we are.

I'm referring to the petition to secede. Some people signing the darned thing actually believe Texas can. Some are just mad. I don't think this is for fun. I don't think humor is involved.

It is embarrassing, is what it is.

I bet I know some of the people who signed it. Believe me, I don't want to know.

I don't expect I have so many years left, and I expect to see the red state turn purple before I die. Once blue (conservative, but blue), a long time red, now blue is creeping up again. Is it Horrors! or Hooray?

Actually, Texas CAN secede if the other states vote to let us go. I hope they won't. We do, after all, have oil, gas and Shiner Boch.

Maybe folks think if we rapidly became a third world country, which we would, we could benefit from foreign aid from the remaining United States.I would like to think that some are actually crafty enough to work this angle.

I seriously suspect they are not smart enough.

I hear some aren't even from Texas. See?

Dumb idea.

Mean, though.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Plans for a minimalist holiday

It's the holidays. The grocery hasn't put the turkeys on sale yet, but the Christmas music was pouring through the loudspeakers.

I am a lousy shopper. I keep hoping to improve. Another grocery had turkeys for 59 cents a pound, so I did buy one for the food bank, because they begin distribution on Monday. For me, I'm waiting. I've never gotten one of those $3 turkeys others buy with such regularity, and I want one.

We'll see. I have no plans for it other than to eat it sometime. Turkeys are non-existent or hellishly expensive the rest of the year. Weird. This is the right time to buy hams, too. I remember wanting one for Independence Day a few years back. I couldn't find one. I ended up using re-heated deli ham, which worked well for four of us.

Gracie and Brodie are great joys as companions. But. I bought a new blanket. Gracie has eaten a huge hole Right In The Middle of it. I buy socks. If I put them in the clothes basket, she eats the toes.

I look at my home, and realize the new rug has three corners chewed on. The recliner needs to be put out. Brody's untrimmed nails did the damage there. I know where to buy a good chair to replace it....when I'm sure I'll get Brody's nails trimmed regularly enough to avoid the damage.

This year is an experiment. I don't want to see the lights. I don't want to hear the music. I want to buy minimally. I don't want to do what the rest of you do this holiday. I want to care, to love, to read, to sit outside, to laugh with friends,
I will put up my artificial tree with lights included. I bought a live wreath. I sing. I bought a poinsettia. My handcarved creche will be displayed.I have been invited elsewhere with family for Christmas.I'll stay home. I want to do simple. Be home. Sit quietly.

I have the joy in my neighborhood to be able to sit quietly. I am lucky.

I love family. It is not my reason for Christmas. We will see and love and laugh together. Christmas will be quiet.

Peace. Maybe I will sleep at times. But it will be heavenly peace.

I hope. At Christmas, don't we all?

(Apologies to Thanksgiving.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Better? Maybe next year.

I'm writing here, because I want a record. and although I took dummy lessons, I still cannot creat a journal file. I really want one.

Maybe next year.

Candidates always promise a lot of stuff beforehand because they don't know, exactly, how hard it will be. Obama learned this. If Romney wins, he will too.

I never wanted my son to be a football player. Neither was. I never wanted a family member to aspire to President. None have,for the present.

It's been ugly this year. I was half-serious when I asked on Facebook if I could safely smile in my Texas home, or even dance a bit, if OBAMA won. I live in a red state. Few of my friends have voted Democrat (sic) other than Republican.

You know, if executives and Congresersons agreed to act as Americans, I wouldn't feel so sick. And I am. I have voted for the least disliked before, but never with the expectation of gridlock I have now. Or greed, if the gridlock is broken.

What's that song? "I'll cry for you, Argentina"? I feel like crying now.

Whatever the vote, we're in for a rough ride.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Taking care of our own by volunteering

When I worked for the state of Texas, I had goals and deadlines I had to meet. Oh, yes, and impossibly high caseloads, and more paperwork every month. Always more paperwwork, less time with the people.

So when I could retire, I did.

Now I have the chance to help again, in a volunteer situation.

It isn't for everyone. A lot of it is process. You feed and sustain, you encourage. Sometimes someone is ready to move right along and get back on their feet. Last week I heard a man tell a volunteer he is getting an apartment again for the first time in 11 years. He's been homeless all that time. Now he's climbing out. College students at the end of their grant money for the semester come in for a nourishing meal to make their fes remaining dollars for the semester. Some never climb out. The goal is sustaining, and seeing where that can go.

I am starting volunteering at a big area soup kitchen at a local church. They coordinate with other churches, social services, area businesses. I think this kind of benevolence keeps us human. And yes, there are grants available. Some may be federal, some are foundations.

I hope I can continue for a long while. Payment is a wonderful meal. I can't afford to eat out much, so this is good.

The rest of the payment is the people I meet, including other volunteers, and the sense of doing something for the community that really counts.

I care about the pets, too. But abandoned animals find homes more often than abandoned humans. The energy is good here. Friendly, caring. Client for client. clients and staff. There's a sense of well-being, and respect. I really like that.

I am excited about this.

More to come.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ifitwereme,what would I have done differently?
Fifty million people. You live there.
Ifitwereme? Would I have stayed after mandatory evacuations? Would I then be pissed when aid didn't come soon enough? Am I justified?

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.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Humans have a life expectancy, and it isn't good.

I have a dear friend with a very smart cat, and he knows it is all about him.

Never mind his owner has been ill, even in the hospital. It is all about him and we come, not to see her, but him in his gorgeousness. He is so outrageous, he makes us all laugh. This is good. And as we laugh, we heal a little. She has 16 drugs. She is getting stronger. Chemo and radiation are coming again.

As I watch Baby Cat, and his attempt to manipulate door knobs and unloose cabinets and look for ways to get food that does not involve humans though he is nice to us...

I think we must be very nice to our pets. They may remember.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Time to Write, and sometimes a Time to act

I haven't written much lately. I don't expect to write much today, but I am rather long-winded.

I haven't written much because all I seem to be writing lately is eulogies. I did another on Facebook last night. Today I am thinking about Ecclesiastes-- You know--the "time for everything" part.

"A time for tears, and a time to refrain." Well, last night my granddaughters were with me in the car when I got a call. I absolutely knew who was calling and what would be said. My pastor and good friend called, her voice breaking a bit, to tell me a mutual friend had died suddenly. She had to get back to the family.

And I wept. I'm not sure the kids had seen me do that before, because I don't, much.

Then I drove them home, went home, fed the dogs, and started making the calls that need to be made.
The friend's family is huge. I will be putting beans on to soak soon, for the funeral --or rather, memorial-- meal. So now I refrain from crying.

People say, "I had no choice."

They always do.

There is heat of the moment. There is emotional. There are choices. We make them, every day.
I saw a hyperactive 4-year-old keep his behind on a square foot of tile for more than 15 minutes when he was told to sit there and wait till his mother came back. He had made some bad choices. He was noisy in class. He didn't  do what he was told.  Other crimes may have been involved.

I admit, I colluded with his imprisonment by telling him entertaining stories about poor choices and consequences. He didn't really get it, but he admitted he had made bad choices, and earnestly wished to be set free. He would try to make better choices later. I kept pointing out he had the self-control to stay on his assigned slab for a very long time for a four-year-old. So he has that achievement to build on.

Ecclesiastes doesn't say there's a time to squirm in place and a time to run freely again, but hopefully not amok. Perhaps it should.

It might make the jobs of many in law enforcement easier.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To those I would answer if I could

I read blogs frequently that require scrambled letters. etc. to answer. I understand the caution. Unfortunately, my vision nowadays may make my ability to meet your standards impossible.It is rather scary. But sometimes, I just can't do it. And I am still driving.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Homecoming present and a little past.

How long has it been since YOUR high school homecoming?

I thought so.

It has been awhile for me, too.  Some things will never change--the energy, the energy, the energy.

Other things have.  It matters, of course, where your high school is, and when you graduated.

But honey--are you so young you expect the Homecoming mums to be artificial? I guess so the girls  can wear to the football game on Friday night and the dance on Saturday. Fealty is not in the flowers but the ribbons, many, many ribbons, of many patterns and limited shades (there are school colors, after all) that reach to the ankles of the girls so festooned. Apparently the number of ribbons is a factor.

But I saw an  arrangement larger than most wedding bouquets, a couple topped with white teddy bears, some with twink lights.

Exorbitance can include the number of feaux chrysanthemums and the number of ribbons--30 is about average. I saw girls in ripped jeans, hightop sneakers, plaid shortsleeve shirts over faded t shirts, sweep hula skirts of ribbons into  their arms to jog up to the top of the bleachers, then back down for jalepeno nachos and back up again, all without stumbling or dribbling.

The band played throughout, sang and shouted. Oh yeah! I sat next to the drumline. Actually, I loved it. Energy, again.

High school and middle school boys painted to the waist in school colors with their favorite number painted on chest and back. In high school? Well, there's pressure.

I saw more adults than you can imagine in an attractive, but currently not fashionable, shade of blue to support the team. Ball caps, Western hats. sneakers, boots. flats.

I went to watch my granddaughter perform. They did a good marching band performance of "Maleguena" assisted by the flag team.

I was planning to go to the game this week (home) but she tells me it will be the same halftime show  they are perfecting for competition. I swallowed my "b-b-b--"

Times have changed. In my day, we had a new performance every week. In my memory, it was great. It probably couldn't have come close to the performance I heard Friday night.

I loved the spirit, the noise, the expertise of these teens in dance, music, football, cheerleading. Just left me grooving.

But my 1950s self, who was grounded and never made it to senior homecoming, secretly sneers at  an artificial chrysanthemum and so many ribbons to the ankles you can't walk easily.

Don't tell anybody. I'll never tell my granddaughter. But we did it better in my day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Be an American--Volunteer

The flags along the two main streets in our town look festive flapping and rippling in the breeze. My own flag hangs as it does every day in my front yard.

A sign says "remember the troops." And I thought, that is really a non-sequiter. Yes, we should. No, they aren't related to Sept. 11, 2001. We didn't go into war over that event, not really.

Sometimes I have wondered if part of the motivation for Iraq was the great need to roll out the (gun) barrels and pummel someone, anyone, for what had been done to us. I never wanted that war. But we had it, and I sent books, and hard candies and lip balm, hot sauce and taco seasoning, handi-wipes and kleenex. Christmas cards. So many were and are so young.

We have used these men and women hard, sending them back again and again and again.
We have had a few thousand deaths, but many more coming back without an eye, arms or legs,impaired hearing, with brain injuries and depression.

We have not done nearly enough for these soldiers, these warriors.

Remember the troops. Yes, we should. This is a good day to recommit to one of the best parts of America--reaching out a hand, being good neighbors to soldiers who will come back and look for work. Or will need more help than they are getting to be able to work. They have families and children.

They are not moochers.

This day will reasonate most through the decades of New Yorkers who were there, who lived through it in a way the rest of us could only see on television.

Let us make sure we do enough for those who risked their lives. This is a good day to promise to take care of one another. Better than before. The strength of that is greater each year. Woundedwarrior events. Habitat for Humanity. So many other means to take care of our soldiers, our veterans.

I am willing to look back, for a moment. Then I want to look forward to the future.

That's where the possibilities are.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

crashing and burning

Again I have had most of a blog suddenly deleted. No evidence thereof. I've had a diagnostic done and so far, no info on why this is happening. My email and FB freeze, as well. Apparently not malware. I am beginning to think this machine I purchased a year ago has serious hardware/software problems. It is a Lenovo, bought on-line.

I will try again later.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Consensus: Let us spray

I had just tried to hit the post and publish button when my machine froze, dumping the whole thing. I am not convinced all my prose is worth another hour to re-create. This has happened a lot. I don't know if it is the machine or google. I am beginning to long for an electric typewriter again.

I  understand the popularity of these is growing again among professional writers. After all, they can then be scanned into a disc and put on the computer for e transfer or simply copied so the disc can be sent.

My computer can do many things I don't know how to use. To improve that, I am taking a basic computer course this next month to increase my skills. Nevertheless, as I use it, I am constantly reminded of how primitive this system is going to seem in 10 or 20 years.  I wonder how many will be able to catch up? Will this disenfranchise technoklutzes like myself completely?

I suspect not. I hope not.

The blog I lost was simply reflecting, as we all must this election year, on how a simple fact or statement can please so many while displeasing so many others.

I was reflecting because, counter to any wishes I had, my neighborhood  was subjected to aerial spraying  twice in the last three days. Last night, I lay in bed, the dogs snoozing on the floor, and listened as small planes flew low overhead, trailing the aerial spray to kill the culex mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus. Supposedly we have them here, though we have no known cases.

So many are delighted. I am dismayed.  It seems to me that anything that may make the ecology less effective is not a good thing. But then, at this point, I am a genuine tree hugger.  Yes, I will use use the organic killers for fire ant mounds. I stomp on cockroaches. I flush scorpions in the house. Otherwise, I don't mess much.

I kept the dogs in till the sun was well up--the insecticide is supposed to break down in sunlight. I changed their outside water dish when I let them out, just in case. They had a fine romp and seem none the worse for any residue on the grass.

The  one thing I can do is put up a purple martin house in the back yard, as I have been talking about. I can keep drainage monitored in my area. Use DEET when mosquitoes are out. I can do those things. I can't stop the spraying.

The purple martin house will have to do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Birthdays, Are For Celebrating My Addition to the Universe

How do you celebrate a birthday?

What do you do? What do you expect to happen?

This year, I restrained myself. I didn't tell clerks and random strangers it was my birthday, but I felt like doing it.

I am always delighted.

It's been a while since I made myself a birthday cake. I decided it was time to resume the custom, and I made a strawberry cake. I bought chocolate ice cream to go with.
I received some cards by mail and one present left on the porch beforehand.

This morning, I fixed hot tea, a big slice of cake, sat down and ate while I opened my gift--a gardening book, some seed packets and good gardening gloves from a dear friend--and read my cards. And ate my cake washed down with hot tea. It seemed a great way to begin the day.

I went shopping at the mall for my oldest granddaughter, who will be 14 tomorrow. At lunchtime, I stopped at Luca's, an old, still wonderful pizza place, and got one huge slice of thin crust with black olives, Bell pepper, sausage and pepperoni. Boy, it was good. Hadn't had it in a year, maybe.

Others like to reassess and stake goals on New Year's. I always do it on my birthday. After all, it is MY new year. I made some plans for me.

I had some calls from friends, hugs from family.

My granddaughters gave me some earrings. Lovely.

You notice, I did quite a few things for myself to celebrate me, myself and I. And in the doing, the old excitement and love of my birthday came barreling through.

I know folks who forget their birthdays. People who never celebrate it.

Well, I do. And I like myself for it. And maybe I connect more with kids because they delight in theirs.

I don't know how old I will live to be.

I just know on my birthday, I am delighted.

And I hope it always will be so.

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."

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stumbling Onto Human Caring While Shopping

As I was walking into the grocery store today, I saw several people bunched around a man sitting cross-legged on the pavement with a really cute large puppy and a water conainer. He was petting it. A couple of store manager people and a couple of staff came up.

I figured, correctly, the dog had been found in a hot car with all windows up. It was only 93 today, instead of 103, but too hot for any living being inside a car with windows up for more than a very few minutes.

When I left, about 20 minutes later, I asked what the situation was, and didn't ask for details. I asked if the owner had shown up. Oh, yes, I was told, and they were waiting for the police. A police car pulled in as I left.

This puppy was seriously cute. I hope the owner retrieves, with wiser, more caring attitude, or the dog is adopted. Our shelter, as most, is over-crowded, but they are working really hard to get the animals adopted.

How many of you have opened a Facebook page without seeing shelter pets up for adoption? Not many, I bet. They are rampant on mine.

For awhile, I was posting them too, when the local shelter was campaigning for points in the Rachel Ray contest. I finally cancelled, and feel better personally. I felt responsible for very dog or cat on MY website. I can tsk-tsk about animals on my site through the auspices of others.

I shake my head.

WHY is it harder to see animals who have been abused and neglected than children? That used to be my job.

I was trained to see and help the children. I knew my society wasn't going to euthanize any of them because we didn't have enough room.

That's a copout. The key is, I was taught, trained, and investigated on a daily basis the way many people treat children. I was not always alert enough, and children paid when I missed it. (In a previous job, I was once castigated for not realizing the shade of green was one shade off the designated shade in a printing. Oh, the horror! And at the time, it was.)

I don't want any children, animals--wild or domestic--to hurt because of human greed, indifference or neglect. It happens. It happens.

Those folks in front of the grocery store cared. They were willing to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday morning to see that a puppy they had never seen before got care.

And THAT'S what I like about humans. Sometimes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tell Me What Time It Is.

Back in the 1980s, when I was working as a science writer for the University of North Texas, I did a feature on a couple of professors, one in the regular computer department and one in business.

They were concened even then with the poor security of most computer systems and the information that could inadvertently be leaked without a person's knowledge, and it was minuscule then compared to now.

They were working on better firewalls for company and individual systems. They were getting a lot of project work from the few who were listening, but overall, they were ignored.

I remember one of them saying that persons who would not dream of taking a man's wallet and sorting through it will get on the computer without a qualm to find the information and more.

That resonated with me.

I have spent my life in professions where I got into other people's business. My personal inclination is to be very private. The poor have never had much; the less you have, the closer you are to other people. You hear each other, see each other, see the imperfections way up close.

The rich have a great deal of privacy.

Today, however, even the personal affairs of the wealthy can be hacked into and strewn about, used to manipulate and control.

I know I constantly have to fight encroachments by Yahoo and Google to make me use products I don't want. I know the companies can trace every web page I visit, and that makes me stop short once in a while. And they did ask me if I wanted the service of recorded web page visits so I can check in with it to find such and such a site. Might be useful for research. By me, not an unseen corporation trying to fine-tune the customer base.

I have to give my email address and my phone number to use services or to buy things on the internet.

I honestly don't like the information out there for any casual scam artist, or aggressive commercial enterprise, to target me.It is, however, so.

Part of my distaste is my age. Part of my age, though, is that I remember a time in my life when everyone had that privacy. John D. MacDonald once commented in his Travis McGee series that newcomers to Florida just loved it, but they had no memory or knowledge of how it had been before.

Young people laugh and don't worry about what they say, the information they post, and they will regret some of it. But they never knew a world of privacy so maybe they won't even know to miss it.

I'm not ready to move into a cave in Montana. I wouldn't like the snow, and I like family and friends too much.

There are wonderful things on the internet, but I've also run into some hungry wolves and a few snakes.

In my ineptness, I fall back on one defense. I put as little pertinent information out there as I can. Oh, I'll give you my opinion on anything.
I try to be as vague as possible on my personal stuff.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I am a very little fish.

I was getting an unauthorized product removed off my computer yesterday and snarled that I felt they were blackmailing me or acting like goons. The tech, with a laugh in his voice, said, "Oh, no ma'am. The times are just changing."


Friday, June 22, 2012

Mostly, I think we rear loving children

I've been trying to figure it out for awhile.

I do think manners and acting well are a good part of civilization. I do believe respect and civility avoid a lot of conflict.

I do believe children did better in two-parent homes because their lives were less complicated. I do believe there were folks who should have been divorced back then for valid reasons, but also, back then, a ton of people worked it through and got to some place of peace because of peer pressure.

Good old peer pressure. Some pluses, some minuses, and all still present and accounted for.

I do believe if you are a human, you deserve respect and civility for that fact, no matter what you have done. NO MATTER WHAT. And I followed that, and I was tested, and I still follow that. Doesn't mean you should be cut slack for your background or your meanness, or your upbringing. No, sad as it is, you pay for what you do.

So do I.

I had a great upbringing. Two loving parents, enough food, clean sheets, hugs every day. If you didn't have that, tough. It's no excuse.

Except... unless you never had it as a baby or a toddler. If you never knew your early years if crying woud bring the bottle you needed or the diaper that was burning your butt changed, Or abuse, or being locked in the bed in the dark or given a bottle where the formula is turning to curds and you are still trying to suck it because you are so hungry. Where there were no hugs, no comfort.

If that was your first two or three years, I give you a pass. I can't forgive you for what you are going to do later--you aren't allowed to hurt others just because you were--but I do understand. Even if someone has to kill you.

If we don't get hugs and attachment early enough, only a few talented therapists can attach a few lucky children and restore their humanity.

I remember a child I worked with who was adopted. His daddy had taken care of him, fed, hugged, and rocked him to sleep, washed, and clothed him, till he was killed in a traffic accident when the boy was 9 months old. The mother was into drugs. In return for drugs, she allowed dealers to move in with her. The child had no toys. He had no sheets. He had few clothes. He ate fast food.

And when he made too much noise as a toddler, an irritated drug dealer once aimed a gun at him and threatened to kill him. But he didn't.

When he came into foster care at 21/2 , he had no idea how to play with toys or other children. He had never seen either. He was dismayed to find out about vegetables. He was actually pretty sweet. But at 21/2, he had absolutely no ability to attach to another person.

None. The wonderful thing was, he had attached to his daddy before he died. Way back there, he had a visceral memory of attaching. Of comfort. Of hugs.

His foster mom was knowledgeable. She quit every activity she had, and she had been a loving volunteer. She spent 24/7 with this boy for six months before he finally attached to her; later, his sisters and dad. He became a real little boy.

And they adopted him, as they had his sisters.

Three kids I know started out with no hope and ended up with a lot of it.

Many more won't. So many more won't.

The kids that have hardships, grow up in a bad neighborhood, eh. Drug parents, yeh, I'll cut slack a little. But I have some mighty fine friends who grew up that way and are making a difference.

The kids who have no kindness, no hugs, no love from birth, who miraculously survive and are feral by the time they are two--we have little we can do. Little that will work. And these babies who have a world view of solitary survival, who know no mercy from birth, really can't show what they don't know. They can't love. They can only follow the rules. Some do fairly well with that.

How many are there?

At the same time, I see a majority who are nurtured, cuddled, loved. They CAN learn their manners, and even care about upsetting us, because they know love.

I see such loving, and I see such failure.

I think of the Cherokee proverb about the two wolves within--one loving, sharing, caring, building up, the other devouring, tearing, destroying.
According to the proverb, the acolyte askes the wiseman, "Who will win?" and the wiseman responds, "The one you feed.'

That is both a warning and a comfort.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Destruction Only the Few Will Know, I guess

I am finding it increasingly difficult to find info on the Gila Mountain/Lincoln County forest fire. I am really not sure why,

A friend in southern New Mexico told me several days ago the fire had already destroyed 224 homes and 56 square miles of forest. It is bigger now. It does not seem to have media attention.

I guess if you can't smell it in a big city it doesn't count.
I wish the news were easier to get, though. Even on Google, very little that I can find.

Much of the beauty of my lifetime in those forests is burning to the ground, and I cannot find out where. Or what.

So much sadness.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Storms, Father's Day Reflections

A little of this, a little of that.

If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, as I do, you tend to expect big weather events to affect all of us at least a little. The area, however, is huge.

Last evening the dogs and I enjoyed a mild, breezy evening on my deck with some cloud cover, but a beautiful night. Meanwhile, sudden storms in parts of Dallas and several suburbs dumped sudden hail almost baseball-sized on cars, buildings--and some outdoor glass scultures on exhibition. In about a half an hour,several hundred millions of dollars of damage was done. Some homes are unlivable. Many cars were totaled.


I had been gloating over the rainfall two days this week, a good soak last week. What a difference from last year! The severe weather is such a different experience.

The spring was mild, planting starting about six weeks early. Folks were leery of what summer would bring. So far, the temperatures aren't that far off. This may turn out simply to be our longest summer ever. Meanwhile, I'm beginning to harvest tomatoes and peppers. Squash and zuchini beginning to come in. I'm pleased. Meanwhile my neighbors nearby have nothing left in their gardens at all.

Sunday is Father's Day. My writers' group assignment this week was to write something related. It was suggested I write a memoir. I never have, and my father was feature worthy. He was a good and loving dad. He made a lot of effort.

I am aware that most of my good qualities reflect my upbringing, and I am grateful. I have a number of friends, however, who either didn't have fathers, had abusive ones, or grew up in extreme neglect. Same for some of their mothers. They have had to invent themselves. They have done a good job.

I am thinking about that. Dad died when I was 19. I can interpret as an adult, but writing, I found, was from a child's view. We never got to that adult relationship, so I had to do some inventing myself. A healthy family makes it so much easier to love the people around you and I have to wonder if the high number of fractured families today has anything to do with lessened empathy, more greed and meanness. It would take studies to prove so.

I remember a study on empathy on post-WWII persons. Researchers wanted to see if they could identify why one person might risk life to help a Jewish person or family while others did nothing or even collaborated. They did identify empathy as the defining quality, and that it had to be taught. They couldn't go any further.

Yes, we humans are interesting critters.

As a grandparent, I am so joyful that my granddaughters have loving, caring parents. It adds such a level of well-being to know they are well and happy.

That's why I always thank my daughter in law on Mother's Day and my son on Father's Day. Their loving care makes the world a better place.

It is certainly better in my little corner of it.