Heaven und Hell

This is St, Mary’s old church, or die alt Kirchee in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Below is a closeup of the marker.  We still use the work Kirk in Scotland to refer to Protestant churches, usually Church of Scotland.  I knew a Scottish lady here in Texas who hunted fruitlessly for a church that resembled anything like churches in Scotland.  Everything was either too Mega, think Joel Olsteen, or Happy Clappy as we refer to evangelists in Scotland.  I suggested she try the Catholic Church as they are pretty similar all over the world.  Her look of dismay could have turned me to stone…😈

Just across the road from these lovely churches is a dark, imposing building…

Doesn’t that look scary???  It is right across from both the courts and Catholic Cathedral just to enhance what poor life choices you made, back in the day.  They don’t play around with Crime and Punishment in Texas.

I try to be a good citizen and I lit a candle in the church for my recently departed uncle.  Then Teddy and I raised a glass of wine for him and he would have thoroughly approved.  To add more brownie points for my ‘trying to get to Heaven’ profile, I intervened with a tourist situation in the fudge store.  I saw a family of white Latin Americans, maybe Argentinean, speaking softly, in Spanish, while looking at the wonderful, delicioso fudge.  The girl behind the counter couldn’t hear that they were speaking another language and she said, rather loudly, “Do y’alls want chocolate coated fudge?”  They looked at her, perplexed, and I asked if I could help them. “Mi espanol es malo, voy a tratar!”  They smiled and said they were just looking.  I passed on the translation to the girl behind the counter who looked with astonishment at the German looking lady (me) who spoke Spanish.  It is a small, strange world.

BTW, according to family records my Dellinger relative came to North Carolina from Oberacker in Bavaria.  No wonder I like living in a forest…🌲🌲🌲

How to cope…

…during this toilet tissue crisis.  It seems we are globally asinine regarding hoarding toilet tissue, from the comments of my followers on my last post.  Teddy reminded me that we were young, back in the 60’s, it was not uncommon for people to have outside toilets (cludgies in Scottish dialect) which would have a piece of string with carefully cut out newspaper squares hanging off it.  He was horrified at the idea of black ink over his bottom.  Think of all the ways we could passive aggressively make a statement.  The National Enquirer seems like a natural start but then you could try out The Epoch Times or go in the opposite direction with the Socialist Worker Newspaper.  There is something for everyone whether you are right or left wing.  My favorite would be The Super Soaraway Sun – a terrible rag in the UK that always had a topless wench on Page 3.  Dirty old men on buses in Glasgow would leer at you while looking at said page.

At this point in my dissertation on ways to cope, I need to segue into a brief story from an old workplace in Scotland.  It was a small oil service company that Teddy and I both worked at.  They had employed a young gal, as a cleaner, whose assets were ample.  She had the dubious pleasure of being the youngest girl to star on the aforementioned Page 3.  There was a company noticeboard and she put up a notice to this effect.

EXOTIC DANCING – £10

TOPPLES EXTRA

That’s what happens when you don’t finish school…and I am not making this up.

Back to the important discussion about toilet paper – on my first visit to Cairo INTERNATIONAL airport, the cleaning lady handed me two sheets of paper.  That was your limit unless you ate nuts from the airport bar like my stupid husband did.  Then you need to shout for a full roll and a hose down while you are at it.  I spoke to my aunt Maureen in Ireland today and she told me that they used a Dock leaf to wipe your bum when they lived at the farm in Sligo.  Not sure how useful that would be in the middle of Dublin but just giving my readers options.  As I walked around the containment pond with Teddy today, I looked for Dock leaf equivalents but I am pretty sure that I would pick poison ivy or its equivalent in Texas.  That would be a whole other hospital experience.

Teddy and I ventured out to the supermarket yesterday.  I wore my plastic hair color gloves that are free in every packet – why would you bother to wear gloves when you are putting the dye all over your head?  There was an elderly man wearing a fetching black pair that looked like something the Forensic Team might wear.  There were no toilet rolls, wet wipes or paper towels.  I had a light bulb moment and picked up ONE packet of white serviettes/paper napkins which would work for bum or kitchen counter.  Someone looked at me and had the same thought.  I bet there are no napkins today…  I started to wonder what my Nana did because we didn’t have paper towels back in the day.  We must have used dishcloths for everything.  Old habits die hard so I keep all the old t-shirts/bleached towels and reuse them for dirty jobs.  If you are really stuck you could cut up an old towel into small pieces to wipe personal areas.  Then you could bleach them in a diaper bucket.  Now you all know why bidets are the most marvelous invention – no toilet paper needed!  I loved mine in Egypt – great for nosy cats, dirty feet and bottoms.  If I ever remodel the bathroom, I am going to try to get one installed.

I hope this carefully thought out article has helped during this pandemic.  Keep laughing and keep safe.  This too will pass but you will never run out of toilet tissue ever again.

Yellow Pollen or Pandemic?

 

I watered the garden yesterday and this is the pollen that washed off the drive.  It is everywhere and each year the residents in our little forest cough profusely.  The yellow pollen is from the Pine trees but Oak pollen is around at the same time to add to our misery.  Tree pollen is larger than other types and tends to get stuck up your nose (on your clothes, hair, car…)

I washed the deck yesterday…

Once the news of Covid 19 reached us my OCD habits kicked in and I stocked up on reasonable amounts of disinfectant and cleaning products.  Over the last month or so, I have been really depressed and anxious.  I stopped all my work and volunteering which was unnecessary as for the foreseeable future, I will have no work as it relies on people traveling.  I laugh wryly.  Then I increased my anti-depressant and feel much better.  But I am stuck in the house with Teddy…  He had flu a couple of weeks ago or at least we think it was.  I disinfected every part of the house and really wanted to spray him in a light bleach solution but I know that is unreasonable (but I really wanted to).

The PERP

This morning I went to Kroger at 8 am and the locusts had descended.  I considered asking one woman why she needed to fill her WHOLE trolley with toilet tissue but thought better of it despite a devilish thought about how big her butt was.  Three hurricanes gives you plenty of experience of mentally unstable residents in supermarkets.  During Hurricane Ike we had fully armed officers in supermarkets to keep control – where are you when we need toilet tissue??

So, during this low period I have been hunkered down in the house, square eyed from watching too much TV, unable to write blogs and now I want to PLAY!!!  Talk about timing.  I am ready to go back to work, go for lunch or go on vacation. After the stressful supermarket expedition, I looked in the mirror and saw my gray roots.  My hairdresser cut my hair really short in case I couldn’t see her for a while.  Think GI Jane, except older.

Sally Beauty won’t be busy, I thought.  It was wonderfully quiet until a lady (with the same gray root situation as me) needed to look at Clairol hair colors.  We were being terribly polite and trying to keep our distance.  Then I felt a yellow pollen tickle and coughed – loudly.  Both of us looked at each other in horror and I shouted, “ALLERGIES!” and we burst out laughing.  Then we started talking about realities of catching COVID 19 and agreed that we could catch it anywhere.  Even in a beauty shop, because nobody wants to be in isolation with your gray roots showing. 👩‍🦳

Fredericksburg ist Wunderbar!


It took us many hours to drive to Fredericksburg, mostly because it is 235 miles from our home but also it was Christmas time and we had to pass south of Austin. Austin has the unfortunate title of most congested city in Texas (and you thought Houston traffic was bad…) Would y’alls please stop moving to Texas??? We tried to stop in Bastrop but they were queuing out the door for the only open restaurant downtown on Sunday and it was bloody freezing. There is a distinct difference in weather between our house in the swampy south and the drier climate of the middle of Texas in hill country. We ended up at a Dunkin Donuts but it was fine.


When we finally reached Fredericksburg, we quickly unpacked and left our hotel which was disappointing. Ah well, the weather was beautiful – vividly blue skies with cool, clear weather and sunshine. It seemed that most of Austin and San Antonio was visiting Fredericksburg but there was a fun atmosphere. There seemed to be more wineries since we last visited and now you can drink wine in a disposable cup along the main street, meandering between wineries, on a SUNDAY! I bet some of the original inhabitants were turning in their graves… When we moved to Texas, almost 16 years, I was delighted and fascinated that many counties were still dry (no alcohol). Modern life has reached us but you still can’t buy hard liquor on a Sunday.

If you are wondering about my hypocrisy – ‘unwanted people moving to Texas” – of course I have German ancestors in the Heinz 57 variety of my DNA! My great grandparents were Dellingers who settled in North Texas in the 1880s. The original Dellinger was from Baden in Germany. I think that gives me a legitimate claim to thoroughly enjoy all aspects of German Texas… 😊 Just recently an Irish cousin discovered that our Leonard ancestors in Ireland were originally Leinnarts from Germany – that was a real surprise. It shouldn’t have though been because several people spoke to me in German on both visits to Fredericksburg. I just pretend that I am REALLY German because it makes visitors happy. When I was 7, I went on a trip to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. I was wearing a kilt and Aran sweater with long dark ringlets. A group of American tourists wanted to take photographs of the cute little Irish colleen and my mum whispered, “Don’t tell them you are American.”

By the time Teddy and I reached the end of the Main Street we were desperate for a drink and enjoyed a gorgeous local rose wine from a winery which quenched our thirst. We started talking to another couple, about our age, with that excitement you get when meeting another couple on vacation. They were just visiting for the day but we enjoyed chatting together, losing our inhibitions. On our solo return we realized that our tummies were empty. I could smell an amazing smell right behind this winery – Fischer and Weiser. They were only serving snacks when we went in but told us that the smell emanated from a tiny shack behind the street. I would have missed it, if the staff hadn’t pointed it out.

I haven’t eaten a burger since the ‘80s but this was the best that I have ever had! The delightful owner, Jennie, makes the burgers from smoked brisket and they were soooo good. When she told me she was from Peru then it all made sense – Peru is the gastronomic capital of Latin America. Everything tastes amazing, even the bread. So we go all the way to Fredericksburg and eat a burger made by a lovely Peruvian lady – but I bet it was local beef! It was the Sunday before Christmas but warm enough to eat outside in twilight. Welcome to Texas.

Fredericksburg Fox Squirrel

As we meandered along the beautiful High Street, we noticed that the visitors had changed. At one time it was mostly white local visitors but now the Far East and Latin America were represented. Many of them seemed like family groups – I guess this might be one of the destinations for visitors arriving at Houston. So many hundreds of thousands of snowbirds fly in during the winter holidays. On that note, I read a hilarious piece in my news feed about flocks of Grackles terrifying the North! They are migratory sub tropical birds that settle in vast roosts – so successful in the Houston area that they are spreading North.

Grackle, courtesy of Pixabay

There was too much sunshine to make this a good shot but I just love Teddy surrounded by giant Cacti!

2020, eh?

pink hue

The jury’s out but so far 2020 has been less than good.  Catastrophic world news has saddened me but I hope February is better for us all.

On a much lighter note, Teddy noted that our water bill was higher than normal during September and October before the sprinkler system was turned off.  He worried the problem to death until I said I would use a hose in 2020.  He completely ignored that we live in a bubble of oil and gas, I work at an airport so should have Flygskam/flight shame  and we drive two large but old Coupés with little or no public transport available.  What’s a little water – Lord knows enough rain has fallen in Houston??  I jest, of course, and am scrupulous in using water efficiently.  Last month we used $24 of water so keep downwind of us…

Then our dishwasher (15½ years old) starting making death rattles – our appliance guy said he couldn’t repair any of our old stuff anymore.  Our microwave is rusty, also.  Once I started researching models and prices, I realized it would be cost efficient to replace almost everything (and pay for them to be recycled to avoid new appliance shame/Ny apparat skam).  Thank goodness the laundry is fine and the oven looks brand new because I don’t use it.  When I was young, we had to get a new gas fire for the living room.  There were no savings because my mum was a mentally ill alcoholic on disability.  She bought it on HP and worried about every payment.  That is why I have scrimped and saved our whole lives.

My girlfriend in Scotland had a similar situation with a dangerous gas fire in her bedroom when we were school girls.  She only discovered it was really leaking carbon monoxide when two of us left her room and fell over.  I guess it could have been much worse??  We shared the experience of neglectful alcoholic parents but can still laugh about some of it.  On that note, I have stopped drinking alcohol (until I start again).  I would really like to stop completely but I know myself.  Teddy and I shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio a few days ago and I still feel like I was hit by a bus – or I have a virus!!!!

I had a huge contract job with a manifest that was inches deep – and thousands of clients came from all over the world.  By the third day, I could see that I had feet but could no longer feel them.  Ever loving Teddy kindly drove me to work on the third day.  I can tell that my mood is ‘interesting’ as my hair has been PINK, rose gold and now boring dark blonde, all in one month.

Finally, I was completely shocked by a ‘#MeToo situation’ that had passed me by.  When I worked in Scotland, Alex Salmond, the first Minister of Scotland lived in the next village.  I had met him on several occasions, some connected to my work with local communities.  He seemed utterly charming although I didn’t agree with his politics.  Last week, I noticed in the news that his trial for sexual assault against a variety of women is starting in March.  It is not often that you know the celebrity predators (allegedly) but I am shocked – he didn’t seem the type.  My American friend asked me if he had predated me but luckily I was fat with dark hair then, so flew underneath most men’s radar.

Life is absurd, isn’t it?  One minute you narrowly dodge death by leaky gas fire, the next you avoid a predator’s attention by eating too much crap.  Got to keep laughing…😁

 

The Grinch won’t leave!

What is it about the holidays?  My mental health is better than it has been in months but still the festive season pushes all my buttons.  I think I used to enjoy Christmas but at some point it just became stressful.  It was better when there was very little money in our lives.  Presents were much needed and usually a delight – despite a white and brown polyester dressing gown that I had to wear for years…  In later years my late crazy mother got her knickers in a twist about the varieties of Christmas puddings and drove her daughter nuts trying to find the PERFECT one.  Remember when there was only one or you made your own?

As my mental health was improving during fall, I got very busy creating postcards from Teddy’s beautiful images.  Then I started on my handmade soaps and enjoyed the process.  I wrapped them prettily and gifted them to everyone.  It backfired somewhat as I made some friends feel that they had to reciprocate.  The true joy is in giving with no expectations.

Then Teddy got some unanticipated leave from his new job and we went to Fredericksburg for Christmas, possibly the most famous German town in central Texas Hill Country.  It was really beautifully decorated and the weather was fantastic – photos to follow.  Despite enjoying my environment, historic buildings and endless wineries, I couldn’t stop being irritated.

  • There were too many tourists yet we were two of them…
  • The other cars were driving like crazy Grinches – especially through Austin, the most traffic-congested city in Texas.
  • Our luxurious room wasn’t quite clean enough (it really wasn’t).
  • I was bored and tired.
  • The road from Medina to Kerrville was ridiculous – hairpin bends and really steep gradients. I guess I missed the point about visiting the hill country.
  • Teddy sleeps like an owl and I am like a bear. Maybe I should hibernate through winter??
  • Other guests. That’s a standalone but they were talking outside in broad daylight, beeping their cars locked and worse still, talking in their room at 7 pm.  They ate all the breakfast.

I know what you are thinking – poor Teddy.  It’s true that he put up with a Grinch wife but we still had wonderful meals and laughed all the time.  I am hoping that made up for the time, after driving for hours in silence, I turned on the CD to keep myself focused AND THEN he started talking.  I told him to Shut the F*** Up and gave him the finger.  Thirty seven years and counting – I love you Teddy!!!!

 

Short, sassy and seasonal

 

I have been growing my hair a little longer, of late, and coloring it a shade darker.  Looking in the mirror it just looked dull so VOILA!  My stylist cut it in a really short style and I lifted it a couple of shades to a light ash blonde.  I always color my own hair and this time I used Ion color and Developer from Sally’s Beauty Shop.  It’s a cheaper way to color your own hair and wastes less product.  I mix and match the shades until I get one that suits.  This was a mixture of 10 AN (Ash Neutral) and some High lift blond with 30 % developer.

This photograph shows a little more of the texturized effect.  I have incredibly coarse hair that refuses to sit properly so it took my stylist a good hour to cut and re-cut when dry.  The left side of my hair (in the photo) has always been the difficult side, even from childhood.  Frizzier and less compliant than the right. Teddy is my patient personal photographer…

The hot, hot summer takes it’s toll on my hair but once it gets a bit cooler, I always feel like changing it up.  Especially when it is BOOT season!  Last weekend I wore my silk flowered ankle boots – totally impracticable for anywhere with a real winter.❄️❄️

Before  Teddy took the previous two photographs in the back yard, I took this selfie on the front porch which is shaded.  It is fascinating how different the photos look – just a different camera and position.  Teddy was able to make me look sunnier but I quite like the thoughtful look above.

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season.  I will be offline in a few days for the holidays.  Merry Christmas!

GRINCH BITCH POSTSCRIPT

I composed this draft yesterday.  Then Teddy came home late after a frenetic work day so we went to our local steakhouse’s bar for a quick happy hour meal.  I noticed with trepidation that the car park was full and suddenly remembered Christmas Work Holiday Parties – shudder!  We found a little table for two in the corner but it wasn’t secluded enough…  Sure enough, hyena screams started coming from a table of what looked like lady realtors.  I quickly ascertained that they were all in competition with each other thus the screeching across the table.  Then I looked at their hair.  Every single one was wearing a Rachel cut.  It was hard to tell their age with all the fillers/Botox but I would guess between late 40’s to my age.  There were no real beauties but all were attractive and would have benefited from a new hair style – a pixie here, a lob there even just a blunt bob.  I laughingly asked our wonderfully patient waiter if they had a volume control (perhaps at the back of their matching black shift dresses).  I hope they gave him a whacking tip.  Oh that feels so much better especially since a Swiss jackass (CH on Audi) in Trader Joe’s car park tried to take me out this morning.