Hooves and Paws

This is the prettiest bison I have ever seen.  It was the color of a teddy bear, gently snoozing at Franklin Safari Park.  Franklin is a small town just north of College Station, where A & M University resides.  The Safari Park is privately owned and the animals were really well cared for.  Franklin had a F3 Tornado a few months ago.  I remember seeing it on the news and wondering where Franklin, Texas was.  Many of the workers lost their homes but all the animals survived.  Life is full of curious miracles.  We gave the park a large donation along with the entry fee.

Don’t you just want to cuddle this little calf?  So precious with a cute curly coat.

Breastfeeding the twins in public!

This is an Asian otter who refused to let me take a photo of his lovely wee face so instead you have a photo of his lovely coat and toes.

We don’t have prairie dogs near us so I love them!

Isn’t his stripe down his back lovely?

An Aussie Immigrant

Another Ankole Watuzi – even bigger horns on this one

‘Look at my perfect babies!’

‘Are you sure you don’t have snacks’?

“I only have one wing but my pink feet are so perfect”.  We noticed there were quite a few special animals at this park who were just as healthy and happy as the perfect specimens.  I have a soft spot for broken creatures just like me.

 

 

 

 

I have a crush on Texas…

…Well, he is so handsome

Plutons – cores of old volcanoes

And so weird

Franklin Mountains, El Paso

So big

Mother Gray Fox and pup

Really cute

When I first met Texas, I wasn’t really that interested.  I already had a blind date organized with Macaé.  How could you turn down a remote oil town in the Amazon??  Teddy was already out of the closet with his crush on Texas so turned down the opportunity for us to move to Brazil and Houston was on the horizon.  Houston is not a very pretty city with its endless sprawl but the commuter towns have their charms.  The real beauty in Houston is the natural deltaic landscape with so many sub-tropical trees.  Almost every visitor says, “I didn’t expect it to look so green!”  No tumbleweed here but there is plenty in West Texas, an entirely different ecological zone.

Tiny Kerry on Enchanted Rock, central Texas

When we found our ‘Hansel and Gretel’ house in the depths of indigenous forest, I started to feel excited about Texas.  That first flurry of excitement when you get to know each other…  What is that lovely singing in the background of my romance with Texas?  Cicadas, armadillos, skunks, raccoons, gray foxes and coyotes!  Oh be still my beating heart – this animal lover is in critter heaven.

Teddy’s Possum

Then I found out that Texas and I had different political colors.  I was sad until I discovered that Old Tex had been real blue back in the 70’s.  Austin and El Paso are blue but I choose to forget about Dallas –  that red rogue.  Then Houston voted in a lesbian Mayor – who knew?  President Obama signed my certificate for volunteering for the State of Texas.  Swoon…  Our romance has been rocky of late but moving swiftly on.

I should really be in love with California, my birthplace, or Scotland where I grew up but I’m not.  Apparently, I like hot, steamy states that are BIG!  It took me a while to realize that you have to make friends that are also in love with Texas.  They don’t have to be Texan or American.  Teddy positively drools over Texas – it’s almost embarrassing.  Never did I think I would be in a threesome but it’s kind of fun!  Tears fill our eyes on a good day at the pond or lake when we spot an unusual critter or plant – the more dangerous, the better.  The day that Teddy stopped me before the Copperhead snake struck me was so exciting.  Texas – you are never boring.

It’s a true love story and I knew that when I was so unwell this year.  I visited my old fiancé, Scotland, and didn’t feel anything.  There was a pleasant memory but no tingle.  At one point, I thought I would fall in love with Mexico but he is a little unpredictable and doesn’t understand me.  I see Texas, warts and all, and feel at home.

 

 

The Seamstress Fairy

The Texas School of Fairies

The Texas School of Fairies brought students from far and wide for its excellence in fairie acadaemia.  Some were in, dare I say, boring subjects such as Fairy Law but the departments of Magick and Apothecary Arts was so popular that there was a long waiting list.  The Art of Textiles faculty was the best of all; so renowned that Fairy Royalty used their services for special occasions such as coronations.  You could study weaving, sewing or design of fairy fabrics such as thistledown and beetle silk.  On the student tour even Flax, the most pragmatic of fairies majoring in beetle husbandry, gasped when he saw the Hall of Fabrics.  Every color in nature was represented in delicate material – fuchsia silk and golden velvet draped the walls and vaulted ceilings.  Sumptuous fabrics were strewn across the sewing tables; reams of sapphire, emerald, sepia, and scarlet fabric.

Most students grouped in their natural color or environment; Pacific fairies group were working with sea foam, marine blues and corals.  Piney Wood fairies were cutting deep green and chocolate velvet.  Some of the more gregarious fairies were working outside their element rejoicing in non-native hues such as New England Fall.  Crimson, pumpkin, yellow and copper fabric gleamed like an autumnal sunset.  One little fairy, named Aiya, felt she was in fairy heaven!  She had travelled from her home in Missouri to the Texas School of Fairies but came from a very special lineage.  Her father was a Japanese Maple Fairy with magnificent copper and flame colored wings.  Her mother was a descendent of the much revered Irish fairies.  Humans have a similar reverence for the Irish…  Aiya’s mother was a woodland fairy with long glossy brown hair and fair of face.  Her wings were gentle shades of green from the old country.  Like many fairy parents they met at school when glimpsed each other the Apothecary Arts class.  Their union was not entirely approved of by fairy society as they came from very different family lines but their attraction was so powerful that they moved to the state of Missouri just to be together.

Aiya, which means beautiful silk in Japanese, was a striking mixture of both parents.  Her long dark brown hair gleamed as did her eyes which were almost black.  Her wings were a melange of her parents coloring – deep amber with the palest cicada green.  She was only 12 so her coloring would change after the blossoming and she would choose an appropriate Forever Name.  Aiya was one of very few students chosen to study Textile Arts and she had already displayed a natural talent for couture and sewing.  Just like every other college you have to submit an application and a sample of your talent.  Aiya sewed the most exquisite coin purse in delicate beetle silk.  It was a simple creation but her color choice of deep garnet red with gold embroidery and tassels impressed her tutors.  Monsieur Marcel, head of design, was quite taken with this young fairy’s skills and envisioned a future with one of the Royal Families.  As excited as Aiya was for her tutor’s vision, it seemed intimidating.

Her new friend Ria, from Brownsville on the Texas border, had told her about Selina the seamstress’s workshop in Mexico and to Aiya that sounded exciting enough.  It was a trip to meet family in Japan that sparked her love of fabric and sewing.  One glimpse of a fairy kimono made with spider silk and embroidered with chrysanthemums made Aiya’s heart race.  For years after that she would sketch kimonos and make miniature outfits for her little willow twig dolls.  Aiya had the great fortune to attend a royal fairy wedding in Japan and her grandmother made her a special kimono to wear.  It was silk in a delicate Celadon green with copper leaves embroidered on it. Her Jiji, or grandma, had spent many hours lovingly sewing it for a precious granddaughter that lived so far away.  Aiya’s loved the kimono but was terrified by the pomp and ceremony of the wedding.  She had been instructed to be absolutely silent and bow very deeply when the royal couple walked past.   They didn’t seem like real fairies.  The Princess bride’s formal makeup created a solemn mask – there was no twinkle or sparkle.  Their wedding robes, in scarlet, gold and black for the Prince, were magnificent but stood stiffly to match the seriousness of the occasion.

Aiya’s Dolls

One day, Ria, Blu and Aiya walked into the Hall of Fabrics to a stunned silence.  “What has happened?” whispered the girls.  Just then Monsieur Marcel coughed loudly for attention, “Attention, étudiants féeriques!” Blu, who loved all things French, translated “Attention Fairy Students!” “By Royal Decree, it is my pleasure to announce the arrival of a new student for one semester – her royal highness, Princess Kaida from Japan.  She will arrive tomorrow with her entourage and you will all behave respectfully.”  Aiya blanched as every other student chattered excitedly about this noble arrival.  Ria and Blu were already discussing what outfits they would wear but all Aiya could feel was panic.  Just then, Monsieur Marcel appeared in front of the three girls and said, “I understand that you have attended a royal wedding in Kyoto, Aiya?”  Ria and Blue looked at their friend from Missouri in stunned silence.  Aiya blushed furiously and looked at the floor.  “It would make me very happy if you could accompany Princess Kaida during her visit with us.  We have arranged for her hammock to be put next to yours in the dormitory.  Her parents want her to be treated like any other student”. “It would be my pleasure” whispered Aiya in response to Monsieur Marcel.

As soon as he walked away, Ria and Blu had a torrent of questions for Aiya.  “Was Aiya a Princess?” “What does Princess Kaida look like?” “What was it like to attend a royal wedding?”  She briefly, almost tersely, responded that she was a distant cousin of the Japanese Royal Fairy family, she had never met Princess Kaida and that the Royal wedding was AMAZING (because overwhelming and terrifying did not sound right.)  Aiya ran off to prepare for the next day.  She sat on her hammock and tears rolled down her pretty face.  This whole situation was so embarrassing; she just wanted to be a regular student.  Now she had to babysit a spoiled Princess whose name meant “Little Dragon”.  She slept fitfully that night, endlessly playing out her meeting with the Princess.  Her family would be so disappointed if she didn’t welcome Princess Kaida gracefully.  “I hope she doesn’t breathe fire…”was Aiya’s last waking thought.

The next morning Aiya put on her best green silk pinafore with an ivory blouse; Ria was in a chocolate velvet pinafore and Blu in the palest blue linen.  At 7am, all the students gathered in the Hall of Fabrics anxiously awaiting Princess Kaida’s entrance.  Most Texan students had never even seen a sketch of a Japanese princess so the excitement was tangible.  There was a fanfare of fairy trumpets fashioned from bluebells and Princess Kaida fluttered down with her consorts.  There was an audible gasp from the assembly at her vivid peacock blue kimono embroidered with a red dragon.  Her face was painted with formal white makeup with red lips and her black hair was coiled all over her delicate head.  The principal of the school welcomed Princess Kaida and after the formalities, Aiya was called over to accompany the Princess to the dormitory.  Two of her royal servants followed behind with a golden trunk.  Aiya bowed deeply to the Princess and greeted her formally in Japanese.  Princess Kaida bowed in return and followed Aiya to the dormitory.  Once they arrived, the servants were dismissed and the Princess collapsed laughing onto her new hammock, “Oh, I am so glad that is over, Aiya.  Can you help me out of this kimono?”  Aiya looked at the Princess perplexedly but immediately jumped up to help her.  Princess Kaida then looked her trunk to find a light turquoise pinafore with a similar ivory blouse to Aiya’s.  Then she grabbed Aiya’s hand and rushed to the bathroom. “You take my hair down and I will take off my make-up.”  Aiya carefully took out what seemed like hundreds of pins until the Princess’s beautiful long black hair lay straight to her waist.  With a wipe of a flower puff and witch hazel, Princess Kaida soon washed all remnants of her make-up off.  As she turned around, Aiya gasped in astonishment! Princess Kaida was just a little girl fairy not unlike Aiya, who was a relative after all.  “So, cousin Aiya, what are we going to do first?  Can I meet some of your friends?”  Almost inevitably Blu and Ria were right outside the door and within minutes the four fairy girls were chatting like they had known each other forever.

It was a very busy day, exploring the campus, watching Princess Kaida’s face as she tried Texan delicacies such as root beer and deep fried cactus.  Princess Kaida’s English was perfect but she really enjoyed all the local accents y’alls.  When the sun set Aiya and Princess Kaida settled down into their hammocks.  Within minutes the Princess fell into a deep slumber – even fairies get jet lag.  Aiya reflected with surprise upon her day.  Despite her name and nobility, Princess Kaida was just as much fun as Ria and Blu.  She realized that the pomp and ceremony was just that.  Fairy Princesses were just as real as anyone else.  Aiya fell into a happy sleep dreaming of designing royal kimonos…with dragons on them.

The End

Postscript

All of my fairy stories were written to celebrate a friend’s birthday and include elements of their life.

 

Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Brenham, Texas

Lord, make me an instrument
of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred,
let me sow charity;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

Sam Houston Dellinger — Stories of My Family

As most of you know, I am obsessed with finding new family members. For the most part, they are long since deceased but within the last few weeks a new, and very much alive, cousin has come into my life. Sarah’s great grandmother was my paternal grandfather’s sister (Nelle and Raymond Dellinger) so we are Dellinger 2nd cousins, one generation between us. We have been excitedly sharing information and photographs to help build a picture of our most interesting family. Sarah had never seen a photo of Raymond, or I of Nelle, so that was very exciting. If you look at Sarah’s gravatar image you will see a resemblance in our smiles. To my astonishment, Sarah thought that I look like a Dellinger. As an only child with little connection to my paternal side, this is all manna from Heaven. Curiously, we both have WordPress Blogs and write similarly. Now we are pondering whether the writing gene comes from the Dellinger side…and why do we have so much Swedish DNA???
Please enjoy this beautifully researched genealogy post below on Sam Houston Dellinger (my great-grandfather) and have a look at Sarah’s blogs – Stories of my Family and A blog dedicated to my love for books

The Dellinger side of the family is full of of fantastic stories. Samuel Houston Dellinger and his wife, Lillie (née Dillingham) were quite the characters and it is not surprising that their independent, pioneer spirit rubbed off on their children (though it manifested quite differently in some of them).

via Sam Houston Dellinger — Stories of My Family

The Dystopian State of Texas – 2038

My favorite reading genre is science fiction.  This is just a tale of the future inspired by current events.  It is written in the first person.

Map key

Red line – fortified wall between Texas and Mexico

Green line – almost impenetrable forest between Texas and The Louisiana Wasteland

Gray dotted line – new El Paso territory

It has been 15 years since Imperator Trump became leader of the New American Federation.  No longer the 50 United States but some 30 disparate states, many with new boundaries and names.  In 2018 we were unaware that medical and DNA facilities were collating data about our ethnicity.  Under the guise of scientific advancement, the government had colluded with the data gatherers to make America as white as possible.  Anyone with 85% white or Caucasian genes was reclassified as Pure Citizens.  All others were no longer citizens but subjects; in a caste system.  On rare occasions, subjects could pass as citizens but dare not procreate for fear of recessive genetics.  The caste system is not truly based on darkness of color but your worth to this new society.

A Nigerian doctor might be part of Caste #1 but a Guatemalan farmer could be Caste #4.  Many people of color fled after rezoning to Free States such as those in the Pacific West (formerly known as California, Oregon and Washington) or to other continents.  Curiously, white Neo-Nazis from Northern Europe and Argentina flocked to immigrate to New America and they were welcomed by Imperator Trump.  No one dare call him any other name but they can’t control our thoughts.  I am now an old woman stuck in a country I despise, the country of my birth and ancestors.  Despite my mixed blood, I have 85% Caucasian genes and look as fair as any Aryan.  My hair is snow white, my faded dark blue eyes are cloudy and my skin as fair as milk.  I am treated with veneration to my disgust; for safety I smile at all the compliments and kindness.  Even monsters have some capacity for good, don’t they?

Those subjects who were unable to escape New America now live in ghettos.  Some are better than others; just old suburban areas but clearly differentiated.  No one from Caste #1 can marry, live or have a relationship with someone in Caste #4, for example.  Two doctors of different color in Caste #1 can marry even if one is of Chinese ethnicity and the other Mexican.  To the white citizens, they are all less than pure.  The 85%, as we are known, live in fully armed and gated communities.  A very few are similar to the Mar-a-Lago estates of the old days.  Fort Trump is an example with multi-million dollar homes, gilded from top to bottom.  Imperator style is ornate and gaudy; like one of Imperator Trump’s many casinos.

When the states separated, I hoped that democracy would prevail in Texas but “Make America White” struck a chord in a Republican State.  El Paso had always been blue and was able to create a new territory which is governed and protected by Mexico.  New Mexico, mostly Hispanic, is a Protectorate of Mexico.  Oklahoma and Arkansas merged into what they once were – Indian Territories. In this strange new world, Native Americans have retained power and sovereignty but are not Citizens.  Louisiana is a wasteland; devastated by flooding, hurricanes and poverty.  It has become a disease ridden swamp that only Cajuns and other indigenous people can survive in.

Houston too did not survive the vagaries of the increasingly turbulent weather systems.  The coastline has retreated further north and Galveston has reverted back to a sliver of sandbar.  New Houston has taken the place of Austin as State Capitol.  It is a grim city with no rainbows or sunshine.  It is full of dangerous ghettos as is South City formerly known as San Antonio.  All Spanish words are banned, so Amarillo was renamed Yellow City, a literal translation.  Many times over the years I wished I had kept my Spanish maiden name but a white name kept me safe.  I whisper it under my breath to remind myself of who I am.

So why didn’t I escape to Mexico or Pacific West?  By the time I realized that Texas would succumb, I was a widow and too frail.  I live in the Big Thicket in the same house that I always did.  The forest has encroached and the roads are barely passable.  The ocean is much closer than it used to be and you can smell the ozone on the breeze.  Since I was stuck inside the New Federation and inconspicuous, I have secretly volunteered for the Underground Railroad.  We are close to the Louisiana border and despite the danger many people are willing to brave their lives just for a chance at freedom.  Small boats are guided through swamps by the Cajun Navy until they reach open water.  If they are lucky a refugee rescue boat will attempt to take them to safety.

I laugh bitterly because all we used to worry about was a wall.

 

Courtship by an Angel…


I saved my most surprising tale from Merida for just before Valentine’s Day. As you know, I had a marvelous driver, Angel, who I paid to drive me all over the Yucatan. We are both naturally chatty and speaking different languages didn’t stop us. I had a Spanish/English book and he had Google Translate when we were in cell phone range. When we first met, he asked me if I wanted to travel in the front or the back. It would have been weird to have been in the back, as though he was limousine driver, so I jumped in the front.

We learned a lot about each other over two days. He showed me photos of his pretty wife and children. They had been married for 14 years and he was astonished that I had been married for 35 years (so am I…) I think he thought I was in my mid 40’s and I would have guessed he was in his late 30’s. On the first day, we chatted about my Mexican Spanish heritage and I told him about my mum and dad. He asked me if I was famous which perplexed and amused me. I think it was because I told him I was a writer and my mum was a model. As many of you now know, being a published writer doesn’t necessarily make you ‘famoso’ or wealthy.

By the second day, we had got into a good groove with our Spanglish banter. I was feeling good and I put on some mascara and lipstick. Maybe he thought it was for him? Both days I just dressed in t-shirts and leggings because the rural Yucatan areas are quite conservative. My expeditions were into potentially dusty and dirty areas, so no point in being glamorous. He was very intuitive about what I would enjoy and had asked all the right questions. Yes, I wanted to see unusual pyramids (no turistas, por favor) but I got most excited about handling an iguana and seeing fruit bats. Curiously, when I showed him my photograph of the Carpenter Woodpecker he knew immediately what it was. Perhaps he had worked in another field before driving.

I make a good traveling companion, if my health is good, and I could see that he enjoyed all the laughter. He told me that I was a really nice, funny person. There are police checkpoints all over the Yucatan and I said, “Lento, Policia!” which means ‘slowly, police!’ Angel wasn’t speeding (he was an excellent driver) but he thoroughly enjoyed my mime of what I do when I see the Texas police, braking really fast. They seem less afraid of Mexican police than we are of Texan ones…

About an hour before we returned to Merida on the second day, he told me that I was very pretty. I laughed and said, ‘Pero vieja (but old)’ “No, no” he insisted “Muy bonita”. Finally, I just accepted the compliment. Then he asked me if I liked to dance and my face lit up. Salsa is my favorite, I shared, and it is very popular in Houston. “Do you have lots of boyfriends?” “No!” I squealed, “I am married.” “Did I have lots of boyfriends before I married?” I explained that I married at age 21 but yes, I did have lots of boyfriends. Of course I did!

So, after beautifully predating courting me for 2 days he came up with the final stunning question, “¿Haces trampa?” which means do I cheat (on my husband). Another squeal of NO from me followed by delighted giggles. I have had plenty of propositions even in recent years but I was beginning to think I was getting to my ‘best before’ date. Then I explained that even though my husband was REALLY old, he was very romantic, telling me he loves me most days and that I love him.

We reached the hotel, having previously organized that he would pick me up for my early flight the third day. He ran around to open my door (please take note, Teddy) and we shook hands while Angel looked at me with big brown eyes. Just at that moment a few Europeans appeared across the road. One of the men shouted in broken English, “You should take her!” Angel didn’t understand what he was saying but I thought, “He very nearly did.”

I was a little anxious about the atmosphere on the ride to the airport the following morning, after my rejection of my suitor. He usually turned up early and I was pacing at the hotel door. Then the red car turned up and I ran out with my suitcase. A woman got out of the car – he had sent his wife!! She was really very pretty and charming. One of his little daughters was in her school uniform, for an unusual school run via the airport with a strange blond lady who spoke bad Spanish. It is not the first time that a much younger man has approached me, even when they know my age. I am complimented and fascinated. Perhaps some of the ageism has disappeared from society. Maybe a good figure and a fun personality negate the age barrier? Keep it coming, guys, because it makes me feel fantastic!

PS. Before anyone mentions hashtags, bear in mind that no boundaries were crossed. I was perfectly comfortable and he just asked me questions. As to whether he was a cheater; I am not sure. It was curious that he showed me his wife and children immediately. Perhaps I just enchanted him and he saw a once in a lifetime opportunity with a quirky white cougar who might be really good in bed….