Current Covid

I know – everyone is sick of hearing about Covid and all it’s variants but please take care. This is an x ray of my lungs during my recent bout of Covid in mid July, before I tested positive (two previous tests were negative). The doctor said it looks like emphysema which is perplexing because I am not a smoker. All that hazy white stuff should not be there.

This image is courtesy of CBS news in Dallas and here is the link to the article. You can see why the doctor thought I had emphysema but I suspect it is mild Covid lung. My symptoms are improving and I have tested negative but I am still coughing and breathless at times. I see a pulmonologist at the end of August and I hope my lungs will look better.

When I looked at the x-ray, I wondered what would have happened if I had not been fully boosted and vaccinated. My husband’s bout of Covid triggered his AFIB. Our elderly neighbor was hospitalized last month for the same reason. It is a very new disease so we don’t have all the answers especially about long term problems.

Please take sensible precautions and don’t assume if a test is negative that it is just a cold. A throat swab may have been more effective in my case.

Catfishing

Oxford dictionary definition of Catfishing – the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.

I chose WordPress as a gentle and safe forum to write on the Internet.  For the most part, I have been really happy with WordPress and my host service.  Like most of you, the Spam filter catches the most ridiculously fake ‘Bloggers’.  Last week, I had a short comment on my post and I responded, “thank you’.  Then there was a message asking if we could be friends…  I went back to his website which I quickly realized was full of other people’s posts.  Then I looked at his profile and that’s when the alarm bells rang.  He was a 9 (out of 10); graying hair, big brown eyes in his mid-50s, I would guess.  Jeffery hailed from North Carolina, a single Dad of two sons and a marine engineer.

I don’t believe in false modesty – I am reasonably attractive lady for my age.  Especially at twilight with a glass of wine…  Over the years on WordPress, I have had some suitors, for want of a better word.  Usually, it’s just harmless flirting and I am happy to indulge.  My favorite was an older gentleman from a remote Pacific Island whose wife had died and he had 10 children.  I gently let him down but noted that he was handsome and I don’t have any children!  Jeffery provoked my curiosity and I searched for him on LinkedIn with no success.  Then I checked out his URL.  What a surprise – it was from Africa.

On that note, I have to share my dirty little secret – I am addicted to terrible reality shows where you marry someone inappropriate from overseas.  Inevitably, it very rarely works out with some surprising exceptions.  I think my obsession started in Africa when we lived in Cairo.  Every so often we had to go to a terrifying, massive government building called the Mugamma.  The staff reminded me of the Department of Motor Vehicles, in the US.  Teddy’s company paid for someone, fluent in Arabic, to accompany us and navigate the stressful world of visas.  Despite this, I always needed to see my psychologist after the dreaded trip.

There were lines of refugees from every part of Africa, often wearing national dress, and my heart went out to them.  I always felt that Cairo was very generous to refugees and guests, since it is not a rich country.  Then there was the line for anyone getting married.  My friend from Ukraine married her  beau from New Zealand while we were there.  I was 42 when we moved there and I was fascinated by women in their late 50’s desperately pleading with the soulless staff to be allowed to marry a much younger Egyptian man.  Did they really think they were in love with them?

I knew quite a few European women who married Egyptian men and some were genuine love matches.  Very few survived the challenge of a completely different culture.  There was one older Scottish lady who married a younger man who then took all her money out of her control.  She was left with very few options; putting up with the situation or returning to Scotland penniless, living on welfare.  I am not even sure that there was any malice involved – it was normal for a husband to have full control of the family finances.

Back to my Catfisher – was it male or female?  It was a pretty complicated scam and fraudulent.  After their request to be friends, I responded, “Of course!  I would be happy for you to join my group of WordPress friends.”  The lack of response spoke volumes and I blocked him. Life is really hard right now, especially in third world countries, so it didn’t surprise me that someone would want to strip me of my American dollars.  Be careful of the sharks out there.  Do you think Jeffery would still be interested in me if he saw this photo of me catfishing or more correctly rescuing catfish? Yes, I am thigh deep in a murky lake with water moccasins and alligators.

PS.  I was going through a mental health crisis which explains the bald head.  Read the original blog here – Kerry and the Catfish.

Painted Churches, St John the Baptist

This is one of the many beautiful painted churches in central Texas. The early settlers from Czechoslovakia and Germany hand-painted their new places of worship in the style of the places that they came from. The churches are off the beaten track, in rural areas, and a joy to behold. I like to call this one the ‘peach church’ but it is really St. John the Baptist, a Czech Catholic Church, in the hamlet of Ammannsville (closer to San Antonio than Austin but in the central area otherwise known as the hill country).

Not only did the beautiful stained glass windows have Czech names on them but the stages of the cross were also annotated in Czech. It struck me that the original settlers probably only spoke Czech for at least one generation, if not longer. Each community is separate, if only by a few miles. Perhaps they learned German before English to communicate with fellow settlers? It’s remarkable and heart warming that they are so well maintained. The original building dates from 1890, it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1909 and this current building is from 1917.

It was another cloudy but warm day in May. The dark clouds give the church an ominous look as did the thousands of tussock moth caterpillars that covered the church and surrounding area. You couldn’t help standing on them or them dropping on your head – eek! My dopey husband wanted to touch their furry bodies but I stopped him in time. Their cute little fur spikes are poisonous, causing a nasty rash, and no doubt he would have ended up in ER (he is highly allergic to bug bites).

Holy Caterpillars! Zoom in, if you dare….

Dolphins are jerks…

Before you report me to the CIA (Cetaceous Investigative Agency) for slandering precious dolphins, read my rational explanation. This is the best shot I got on a dolphin watching cruise in Galveston and it is typical of every other photo I have taken looking for the crafty cetaceans – at least you can’t miss a whale. Galveston Bay is teeming with more dolphins than usual because the water is soooo hot. The Captain told us that there are many sharks eating the dolphins too – didn’t see any of them either. They are bottle-nosed dolphins and curiously the most northerly group of bottle-noses lived on the coast close to where we lived in the Moray Firth in Scotland. That’s when they started to annoy me…

For years, I worked as Teddy’s unpaid assistant while he did his Masters by research on a piece of craggy coastline overlooking the Moray Firth. On rare occasions it was lovely and warm but mostly it was just ‘Baltic’ weather. My hands were frozen holding tape measures and other geological stuff. I gazed off into the Firth always looking for a dolphin but never saw one – in almost 20 years. This Scottish group of dolphins had followed the warm gulf stream from the Caribbean to the far north of Scotland. These Cetaceous skinheads also beat up porpoises. Not so cute, now, eh??

When I was scanning the water in Galveston Harbor, I wondered if the Scottish squad had come on a wee holiday to the Gulf of Mexico and they were laughing at me, nearly falling over the railing in my attempt to catch a shot. You know this is a tongue in cheek post – I love all critters even the skinheads! They really did beat up porpoises in the Moray Firth but it was probably overfishing by humans that caused the aggression.

We went for a two day trip to Galveston just to get a sea breeze. The temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than at home (101 F) but it was still overwhelmingly hot. The breeze felt more like a hairdryer. Our boat was filled with two very large extended families. One speaking Spanish and the other were from a south east state. It could have been English but so hard to tell; bless their hearts! The tiny kids could barely see the dolphins but the Captain let them all ‘drive’ the boat and finally see them. There were some reports of a badly behaved dolphin in the of the southern coast of Texas but it had just become too used to humans and lost it’s fear much like bears that have to be removed from the suburbs.

Of course, Teddy got a much better shot with his fancy camera but even he struggled. Do you notice the strange color of the water? Tourists are often disappointed that the water at Galveston is a muddy color but it is glorious in other parts of the Gulf of Mexico (turquoise in the Yucatan). Houston sits at the base of a delta system of rivers that cause the churning of sediment and Galveston is our barrier island. It’s full of really great tasting fish, though.

Dolphin bubbles…

Best Birthday Gift Ever!!!

My birthday and our 40th wedding anniversary are this week – I have Covid-19.  About three weeks ago, I started coughing and took a negative test. “It’s the excessive heat or allergies,” I thought.  A week later I was watering the garden when I became really breathless so I made a Saturday morning appointment at the doctors.  He asked if I was anxious but said it in a kind way.  All my medical information tells doctors that my primary illness is anxiety so it is reasonable to ask.  In my mind my files are stamped with ‘DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING SHE SAYS!!!!’  ‘CRAZY OLDER LADY WITH WEIRD ACCENT’ ‘SHE’S AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES’ ‘DANGER, DANGER!!!’.  He was very thorough given my ‘cyst in the lungs’ history, gave me another negative test for Covid and chest X-rays.  I haven’t seen a pulmonologist since my last one died of Covid during the worst of the Pandemic but the GP urged me to find a new one.

I left thinking it was all in my head – ‘bloody anxiety is the bane of my life’.  Teddy and I went off to Galveston for a couple of days and I felt good.  The sight and smell of the sea was heaven.  When we came back, I decided to book a little trip to one of the Great Lakes (cooler, more water, less tourists) for the anniversary/birthday combo.  The bag was packed instantly and for once I was excited.  Then I got anxious…we are having a drought and every day is over 100 F.  My sprinkler system has not worked for 2 years because I had nothing else to do but hose the garden.  What will happen to my little critters who rely on the various water bowls?  For some reason the birds prefer the blue bowl on the ground and the squirrels love the bird bath to drink out of.  A friend kindly offered to water the garden/critters but using my very sweet voice, I asked the sprinkler guy if he could fit me in – he could!  All problems solved…

We always book at the last minute because of my rapidly changing moods.  The flights could be cancelled but I hovered over paying $70 more for the hotel for last minute cancellation.  Teddy said, “Why would we cancel at this stage?” so I booked the non-refundable option…  This will now become part of the saga of our marriage and brought up every time I am annoyed on vacation.  Then the diarrhea started which was exacerbated by the hacking cough with almost disastrous results.  My nose was running into my coffee, my mask and the food I was preparing.  Then there was a message from the Saturday doctor – there was evidence of emphysema on my chest X-ray.  Really??  Time to take another stupid Covid test which was finally positive.

The hotel allowed us to book another date and the flights were cancelled.  God laughs at our plan, eh? On our 30th anniversary we had to cancel a trip to Panama because Teddy’s Dad had the temerity to die so inconveniently. I got sicker with Covid but the worst symptoms are abating.  I was fully vaccinated with 2 boosters but worked at the airport.  At least I don’t have Monkeypox.  Now Teddy is getting ill.  Nurse Ratched has appeared and he may as well be Patient Zero or Typhoid Teddy.  Is grumpiness part of Covid?  He has just sloped off to bed because he feels weak.  My response was ‘Good’ doublespeak for ‘Get out of my sight’.  Then we got an alert because we used 500 gallons more water than usual when the sprinklers started so I am back to hosing and misting.

Last night I cooked chicken marinated in white wine, lemon and oregano along with spiced couscous with sour cherries.  It just tasted like small white food with bigger white food.  My hair is standing on end with all the sweating and sleeping so I took a shower last night.  As I was drying off, I spotted a small cockroach fall out of my towel and skitter under my bed.  My OCD brain struggled to compete with Covid brain.  Previously a KLAXON warning would have gone off; I would have bathed in a light solution of bleach (joking DO NOT DO THIS), sprayed insecticide under the bed, washed the carpets, changed the sheets and had a small breakdown.  Covid brain won.  I just washed the towels and went to my unwashed bed with my new pet slumbering beneath me.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US!

Country Matters

This is the last post from the involuntary vacation series. Our final coffee stop was at a pretty little hill country town named La Grange, settled by Czech immigrants in 1850. We were so enamored with its charming town square that we made a second trip two months later. One this first visit, I nosed around the town square looking at the historical markers and town public notices. This notice, below, about intended treatment of Boll weevil insect in the cotton fields fascinated me. By chance, I had been reading about the recent Texas wines in the Panhandle region.  One of the wine growers’ major problems is that chemicals used to treat the cotton can drift and kill the vines.

I recently read this review, in red, by the Chalk Report of a winery in Loop, a remote area in north west Texas.  ‘Texas Wine wins Double Gold at San Francisco International Wine Competition’ Climate change is affecting wine growing here, as it is in the rest of the world.  There are some wineries just north of us but now the Panhandle area is producing some of the best medal winners.  Cool nights, hot days and low humidity create a good environment for growth.  Tempranillo and Bordeaux seem to suit this climate region. On a nostalgic segue, in Scotland we eagerly awaited the new Beaujolais Bordeaux every year – a bright, vibrant new pressing.  Bordeaux is called Claret.  I know you think that Scots just drink whisky and eat haggis but our wine drinking is an elegant legacy of the “Auld Alliance” between Scotland and France. 

Courtesy of Zeesstof on Flickr

My husband took this fabulous photo of a Red Brangus bull with egret friend in Port Aransas.  If you read the lost cattle notice beneath it, you can see someone has lost a Red Brangus bull.  How??  It’s not like losing your tabby cat.  They weigh up to 3000 lbs. and are worth between $7000 and $16,000.  When we lived on a farm in Scotland, the drunk neighbor did not adequately fence in his bullocks.  They all ran straight down our drive and galloped through the open door into the glass sunporch – talk about bulls in a China shop!  I know it’s not PC but I had to smack their bottoms with a broom to get them out of the house – I swear they laughed at me.  Then I chased them back home and woke up the sozzled farmer (perhaps he had found some Beaujolais Bordeaux?).  I had a few choice words for him…

Ah, I miss some aspects of living a truly rural life.

Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga

This is the third location of what was also called the Aranama Mission or Mission La Bahia, established in 1722 in Goliad, Texas.  Previous missions were at Matagorda and Lavaca Bay then named La Bahía del Espíritu Santo (The Bay of the Holy Spirit), on the south west coast of Texas on the Gulf.  On our involuntary vacation trip, we visited the town of Goliad first and then went to see the Mission itself, a short distance away on the banks of the San Antonio River.

The intention of the third location was to settle in a place that the native people, the Aranama, would be willing to stay and work, as well as establish territory to defeat the French, in particular. At its peak there were 40,000 head of cattle at the Mission making it the largest ranch in the area and run by the Franciscan order. I often wonder what the indigenous people thought – did Missions make their lives easier or was it just stolen land? They would have offered protection against some of the more warlike Tribes and a regular supply of food albeit with forced conversion to Catholicism.

One of my Irish cousins is a Missionary nun. For many years she worked in Africa. When she was older they moved her to a poverty stricken housing estate in Glasgow, Scotland. I was curious as to how she adapted but she loved it! Most people who meet me make assumptions based on my Scottish accent and seem to think I lived a fabulous life (in a castle?). Many people my age immigrated from Scotland to other countries to achieve a better life.

The building itself fell into disrepair over the years and was reconstructed as part of the New Deal in the 1930’s.  From visiting other Missions in Mexico and California, it seems authentic to me.  I was enchanted by the simplicity of the church and the pastoral lands surrounding it.

Mission Nuestra Senora del Espiritu Santo de Zuniga is a bit of a mouthful, as was my Spanish given name – Katherine Louise Dellinger de Ortega.  My ancestors settled in Spanish Missions from central Mexico up to San Francisco.  When I was in McAllen, the Mexican American receptionist commented on my Scottish accent and I said, “You won’t believe what my maiden name was!”  After the reveal she said, “Well, that is a brown name!”  I was so happy that she recognized my Mestizo heritage despite my Caucasian appearance – few people do.

Three Act Play

Life has been unintentionally hilarious in our house and I thought I would share our silliness.

ACT ONE

Scene – Teddy had to have yet another cardiac test and he confided in his ever-loving wife that he was ‘a bit fed up with his health issues’  Instantaneously his wife transmogrified into Nurse Ratched.

NURSE RATCHED (screeching) –

“How many times over the years (40 to be exact) have I suggested that you moderate your bad habits?  I hope you enjoyed every bloody cigarette, bottle of Pinot Noir and all those business lunches!  Every time I said something to you, you responded that life was too short and it is all about quality of life not quantity.”

(Nurse Ratched pauses for breath)

“You had your quality of life and I hope you REALLY ENJOYED IT!!  How dare you complain about your self-inflicted health problems!  If you hadn’t been married to me you would be DEAD by now…like our friends X,Y and Z.”

(Nurse Ratched is incredibly relieved to shed her Joan of Arc armor and reveal her truth.  Teddy looks stricken…)

Before anyone panics, we laughed about this afterwards and it is even funnier when I reenact Act One.  I have returned to the Fantastic Frau who manages Teddy’s future life with German efficiency.  Even better, Teddy has had the all clear from the cardiologist and doesn’t see him again until 2023.  Woo hoo!  He still has to stick to his Leibchen’s regimen (no salt/no alcohol/no caffeine) but the anomalies noted on the tests were just age-related cardiac problems.  He is actually fitter than most 64-year-old ‘first world’ men.

ACT TWO

Scene – Teddy and Kerry were watching the News and much of it was depressing.  We are so angry at our Governor in Texas who would like to turn our state into a Taliban province.  Women’s rights are going down the toilet and I don’t even have to mention gun sales. The conversation started cycling downwards into a “should we have moved here – what is wrong with American society – pretty soon it will feel like living in a central American war zone”

Kerry – “Well, aren’t we prophets of doom?”  she said laughingly

Teddy – “Maybe we should get DC-13 tattoos?”

Kerry falls sideways in hysterical laughter…

(DC-13 is a reference to MS-13, a notorious gang of immigrants from El Salvador, who settled in Los Angeles. Sometimes they emblazon MS -13 on their foreheads.  They also tattoo teardrops under their eyes to show how many kills they have made.  Most streets in our ‘hood’ are what an English friend referred to Dingley Dell names.  Bluebonnet Bayou, Live Oak Lane, Primrose Pond.  Our cul-de-sac has the worst name.  It starts with a D and ends in Court.  No one, not even the locals, can pronounce it as it is French – WHY?  Every call to a utility company is a nightmare with Alpha, Bravo, Delta spellings.  Puffy the Pine Cone is our cute township mascot.)

Kerry – “What do we do about the tear drops?

Teddy – “How about little pine cones to represent the poor little critters that have passed away?”

Kerry (Giggling) – “We could wear tasteful taupe bandanas with little pine trees on them.  I could have a titmouse tattoo on my breast!”

(That made Teddy collapse in laughter as Kerry had previously given him a visual image aid so that he could remember the name of the little grey bird with a crest.  Now I just need to touch my breast and Titmouse comes to his mind.)

ACT THREE

Scene – Kerry regularly emails with her friend who lives right across the road.  The last two emails from the friend have ended up in Kerry’s spam box.  She retrieved them and they discussed why this happened.  The friend thought that perhaps it was mention of colonoscopy in the thread?  The title of her next email made Kerry laugh out loud.

Email 1 – your auto warranty /cheap Viagra pills/ lose weight fast/fix your credit rating

(This slipped right past the spam filter – why???  Much hilarious laughter from Kerry who responded)

Email 2 – Filthy sex video…

Email 3 – Horny Housewives have huge hairdos

Email 4 – Walk in Tubs/ Secret Medicare Benefits/Discreet Incontinence Pads

Email 5 – Humongously hung hunks hoovering houses

Email 6 – Real Romance with Racy Ravishing Russians /Relaxing Rubdown for Rubels

Not one was caught by our spam filters!  You can see that our excellent further education was not wasted.  The alliteration, imagination and vulgarity!

Sometimes you just need to see the ridiculous side of life.  Hope I made you titter… 😊

Postscript

It’s probably not necessary to explain the title photo but it was Halloween and we were in ‘quality not quantity of life’ stage as you can tell by the beer/pinot noir belly and my double chins…

Rain Dance

Why didn’t the early settlers to America pay attention to the giant hint about catastrophic weather events on this continent??  The indigenous people had a ‘rain dance’ because we have cyclical episodes of drought all over the two continents.  If I had faith in my ability, I would do a rain dance on my back deck because I am so fed up with watering the garden.  My sprinklers haven’t worked for a couple of years but I decided during the Pandemic that I would use a hose and be the Greta Thunberg of my cul-de-sac.  Our water bill tells me that we are doing the right thing, especially raiding the laundry basket for yesterday’s clothes…that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.  One of the things I loved about Egypt was that it was really hot, not everyone had access to water or deodorant, the trains were jam packed and you had to get used to body odor.  It was a sharp acclimation moving to the States – why do people get washed before they go out for a run in Texas humidity? I can smell their Gain detergent on their cute little outfits about half a mile away.  Just go out stinky and have a shower when you return.  The only friend who felt as I did was brought up in the South African bush and didn’t wear shoes until she was 12.  She walked the dog with her dressing gown on…my kind of gal.

Like many of us, during the Pandemic, I watched TV until I was square eyed.  I can’t tell you how many National Geographic and Discovery documentaries I ingested.  Any archeological program involving LIDAR gets me excited. LIDAR is an acronym for light detecting and ranging.  Briefly, the technology allows you to scan a wooded area, for example, and remove the trees digitally to reveal the remains of structures. There have been many recent discoveries in central and south America, showing that there were huge Mesoamerican ‘cities’, for want of a better word.  The biggest had hundreds of thousands of people and they were connected to other cities.  The Amazon is not virgin rainforest but more a peek into a post-apocalyptic Manhattan.  Imagine decayed and fallen skyscrapers overwhelmed with a forest canopy.   I was astonished to find out that the Amazon was ‘plundered’ before – once or perhaps more.  Vast cities with complicated infrastructure and agricultural methods.

The reasons for their decline are varied but mostly it was climate change made worse by a huge population.  If there is no rain, you can’t grow crops and you can’t feed the disgruntled people.  At worst war or disease or famine then decimate your population but in the case of the Maya, many of the people moved north into the Yucatan area of Mexico or further afield.  In the title photograph, I am ‘dancing’ at a remote pyramid in the Yucatan, devoid of tourists.  The area was surrounded by scrubby jungle full of structural remains that complete the large city complex.  There are so many pyramids from Mexico to the tip of central America that it is obvious there was, at times, a thriving population.  I can only hope that this is a pattern.  As a species, we spread out of control, depleting Earth’s resources but then Mother Nature or equilibrium takes over.  This is my ‘big picture’ theory and I can’t claim to be an expert just a voyeur of life with a very dark sense of humor. Let’s face it, the other species need a chance.

Recently we had the woodwork painted throughout our house.  In the main bathroom, we had all the cabinets painted.  Our fantastic white Corian countertop now looks creamy if not a tad yellow.  The countertops are 18 years old and I considered getting them coated or replaced.  Then I thought, “Is that sustainable?”  Right now, I am still in Greta Thunberg mode, but I might eventually cave and get new countertops to fulfill my naïve American Dream.  Do I need a refurbished bathroom, though?  I would happily spend all the money on a trip of a lifetime but then you have to consider carbon emissions/tax, appalling airports and the possibility of Monkeypox.  If nothing else, our newest spreading disease proves that Mother Nature is laughing at us.  What else can I throw at the horrible humans??  Monkeypox is a bit like bedbugs – really disgusting but you are unlikely to die from it/them.

I had a colonoscopy yesterday and no one really needs to know that.  That said, however, the TWO day Prep and the anesthetic might explain this post…  Teddy and I went crazy today and had two lattes that had caffeine in them.  I can’t stop writing or talking and poor Teddy had another AFIB incident.  This was a minor episode but revelatory (no CAFFEINE for Ted).  My mum died of a bowel rupture 20 years ago and every since, I have been more aware of what I am eating.  I literally eat like a squirrel – nuts, seeds and fruit.  Curiously, I noticed that the seeds were the last to be emitted from my poor body pre-colonoscopy.  Despite my healthy regime (I could power a methane plant) my diverticulosis is worse than it was 7 years ago.  WTH??  To rub salt in my wounds, the gastroenterologist sent me pictures of my colon with a note to eat more Fiber.  If only it was legal to take the notes and shove them up his backside…  On the plus side there was nothing else of note and the nausea inducing ‘elective’ procedure is free.  More seriously – go get a colonoscopy.  It could save your life even if you can never consume lime Gatorade or Jello again.

A Simpler Life

There has been very little work for me during the Pandemic but life is getting busier again.  Last week I worked an evening event in downtown. I had a couple of hours to myself so went to the restaurant next door, found a quiet place in the bar and sat down.  Then I people watched.  It was as though my life was flashing before me.

Like most of us, I haven’t been out to an event or party for a long time.  This was a midweek night but the joint was jumping.  A very loud party was on the patio close to the bar.  They looked as though they were at some type of conference; certainly they were work colleagues with briefcases or whatever you call them now…  As I gazed at them over the top of my glasses with a slight frown, I pondered how old I was and how much I looked like my auntie in Ireland!  The booze was flowing and I recognized myself in past decades.  How much fun it was to meet colleagues or even better friends after a long absence!  Everyone was talking over each other and screeching with delight.

Then another party started arriving – equally fascinating to stare at.  They were all Latino and they could have been attending a Quinceneara but I didn’t notice a teenager in a vividly colored prom dress.  I then surmised it was something like an engagement party.  They were all dressed beautifully with glamorous gold lame and shimmery high heels (not the men).  The ladies make up looked like it was professionally applied.  It was a fancy schmancy restaurant and some of these guests looked a little ill at ease but at least they were following the dress code.

A young white couple came in; she was wearing a lovely summer dress but he had shorts and a baseball cap on.  The host asked him twice to remove it – I wanted to swipe it off his head and give him a lesson in etiquette which again proves how ancient I am.  I was wearing a uniform of sorts so looked business casual but I had comfy shoes on.  You reached the restaurant by precariously climbing wooden stairs (it was a historic building) and I have no idea how the ladies with stilettos did it.  I had to walk sideways and hold onto the stair rail because it was so dimly lit.  The next day my thighs hurt as though I was doing squats.

We moved to Egypt in our 40’s and went to some very glamorous events and restaurants.  After two decades in rural Scotland with rubber boots and anoraks, I took great delight in my new wardrobe full of fluttery dresses and so many shoes!  Egyptian women have wide feet and for the first time I could buy ‘Burberry’ slides, kitten heels in embossed leather with a matching bag in every color.  It was even better in Texas and I still remember my glittery pink cowboy boots.  At the time I was prepared to suffer the discomfort of uncomfortable shoes just to look pretty – not any more.

Teddy and I used to indulge ourselves with very frequent meals out and enjoyed the buzzy atmosphere of a busy bar or restaurant.  Now we have a no salt/no alcohol/no nothing regimen.  I doubt that I would truly enjoy a restaurant meal again except on a special occasion.  When I was a child, we never went to restaurants.  All we could afford was a coffee at a café or maybe a real Coca Cola with the swirly bottles.  I still love egg sandwiches with a soupçon of sand in them. Such happy memories of Nana, Mum and I taking the train to the beach with a picnic on sunny days (the sand came afterwards).

Bit by bit, the customers started to leave.  Darkness falls early in the sub tropics so I sat there longing to be in my bed watching ‘The Gilded Age’ or somesuch. In the past I would have taken the opportunity to chat to the hostess or if I wasn’t working, I would happily engage someone in conversation at the bar.  Now I just want to sit in silence.  Finally, there were three people left at the other work event on the patio.  The noise level had decreased but the drunkenness had increased exponentially.  I watched with great amusement as a handsome young Irish man tried to wrangle his two female colleagues out of the restaurant and safely into Ubers.  It was a struggle not to laugh as the following scene played out in front of me. 

Woman staggering as Irish Man tries to hold her up, “I hate it when I drink and everything is fine and then suddenly, I am so drunk!  Why does this happen to me?”  Irish Man, “You’re alright love.  I understand.  Let me help you down these stairs and into an Uber.” “No, no! I don’t know what’s happening!!”  Meanwhile his other drunk colleague is barely managing the narrow indoor stairs that lead up to the restrooms and heading in the wrong direction.  He was herding cats and it was hilarious!  No judgment from me, however, as it took me many years to figure out exactly how much I could drink.  Two glasses of wine are my limit and even that is pushing it.

Suddenly old age and retirement seemed so appealing.  You should enjoy life to the full when you want to because one day you will be tired – like me!  So, this leads me back to the title, ‘A Simpler Life’.  It seems as though I have come full circle and I am happiest leading a quiet life full of squirrels.  The two pictured at the top were exhausted after another hot day.  One is named ‘Tail’ because hers was fractured at some point and is wonky (medical terminology) – the other is her boyfriend or sibling?  They snooze together and gently play tumbling their wilkies while giving each other wee love bites.  We look at them and just melt.  Who needs fancy nights out when you can look at wildlife all day?