Silvery Pixie

No, I haven’t had a psychiatric break – I just wanted to see what my gray hair looks like. If I was a guy this cut would be so sexy but even so I quite like it. It is more salt and pepper than silver – that is literary license…

I had a light bulb moment when I realized that I can’t even go out to restaurants for many months so why bother dyeing my hair every few weeks. My hairdresser was trepidatious but cut it so cleverly if very short. I have come to terms with the fact that I no longer suit long hair (and perhaps never did). See A History of Horrid Haircuts for reference.

I thought that the texture might be softer but it is not…but it is much less itchy. When all of this is over I might decide to color it blonde again (or pink or peach) or not. My eyes have darkened to almost all gray and I suit different colored clothes.

On a random note, do you notice my Frank’s sign on my never pierced ear? It has long been hypothesized that this vertical crease on your ear is indicative of cardiac disease. Given my family history, that is probably true but why worry? There is always a new pandemic or crazy election around the corner… 😉

Lest we forget

Dad in POW camp Stalag IXG, circa 1940

I just wish to send my personal greetings to all who serve and to all veterans here in the USA and in the United Kingdom.

The photograph above is of my dad; a Gordon Highlander who was captured at St Valery-en-Caux, France in 1940. He spend the remainder of the war years as a POW in Stalag IXG (Muhlhausen) Thuringia in the east of Germany until they were liberated by US troops in the very last days of the war. Dad passed at the grand age of 93 in August 2012. Below are the medals awarded to him that I keep with lots of other interesting memorabilia – stories for another day.

This a copy of a post by my husband on his LinkedIn page. I can add nothing more to this tribute than say that it brought a tear to my eye. May he rest in peace.

I am so relieved

Today life magically went back to normal despite the chaos yet to come.  Teddy and I walked to Kroger and sat outside with our lattes and celebratory snowman cookie.  A lady sat down at the next table (6ft or more away from us) and asked if she was far enough away.  “Of course”, we assured her, smiling widely.  Shortly after a young woman came out and started YELLING down her phone.  It was obvious that her card had just been declined at Kroger and she was pissed.  There was sarcasm, “I am SO sorry you are having a bad day, Boo Hoo”.  There were endless expletives, unusual in our wee forest.  Our eyes and our neighbors got wider at this unexpected display – maybe she voted for the loser??  Finally she stopped yelling and turned to enter the store again.  Just before she did, she apologized for the ‘show’.  I said, ‘it’s okay, we all have bad days”.

This hilarious exchange provoked conversation between us and our neighbor.  She told us that she was looking up scriptures to calm herself because of her relatives.  I burst out laughing because I know the feeling.  She was a black lady about my age and I just had a feeling she shared our political viewpoint even though our forest is very Red.  I said, “Have you seen that car?”  She burst out laughing and immediately took a photograph as we did.  Has he escaped to Texas?  She asked me what the passengers looked like and they were remarkably normal.  Two white females.

Donald Trump in the back seat

It has been a terribly anxious week for all of us and we now have 1 million cases of Covid-19 in Texas so it is hard to truly celebrate.  I literally risked death to vote – the election lady greeted us with NO MASK.  There were no gloves or sanitizing of booths.  There was one INCH between the voting booths and they made us vote for every bloody judge, township director and their dog instead of allowing us to just choose Democrat or Republican.  I ran out of there like there was the devil on my heels.

May we be a kinder and more integrated society; there is no malice in my heart for anyone with a different political opinion but I need my leader to be decent.

WTH is on the chimney?

There was a huge clatter on the chimney after a thunderstorm. Teddy and I looked at each other – WTH is that? Sometimes a mockingbird sings noisily sweetly or a mourning dove coos down the chimney but there was silence…apart from the clatter.

Black vultures have no voice and make a strange grunting noise. This pair were just enjoying their lookout.

A lovely spooky moment as we approach Halloween!

Fat Bear

Courtesy of the Katmai Conservancy

Have any of you been watching the Fat Bear competition in Alaska?  If you were worried about post Covid weight gain, look at 747.  That really is a wide body…  The bears at the Katmai Conservancy are feasting on fish, salmon in particular, to bulk up for their winter hibernation.  I bet 747 is saying, “I can’t face another salmon…maybe a sausage?”  If you look at the website you can see the before and after photos – the opposite of the human ideal.  I would like to snuggle up with him in his cave until spring.

Back in Texas we have had a scary infestation of wee white moths that jump out of the bushes and scare the living daylights out of me.  I panicked because we had a termite infestation in our house some years ago.  Were they termites?  They were really sod web worms which create dead brown patches on the lawns.  Before I knew that, I called our regular bug/termite guy for a treatment inside and out.  There was just one giant cockroach too many – even our lizard colony couldn’t keep them under control.

When he arrived at the door, my first thought was “Are you preparing for hibernation?”  He has always been a tad husky but now he looks like a bear.  There is no judgment from me who used to weigh 200 lbs. It is strange how this pandemic has affected humans differently.  Some people are scary skinny, exercising themselves to death and others have succumbed to the delight of carbs/booze.  I had to go to the eye doctor this week and I was worried because I couldn’t see the computer.  Turns out that my right eye has got better which is weird because it has been Lasiked.  Then my hairdresser noted that my gray hair is darker than usual.  Is it my gluten free diet?

When I wrote this we were having the first bands of Hurricane Delta – I can’t believe we had to move onto the Greek alphabet because we have had so many storms.  The one thing that I miss from Scotland is the wind.  I love a fresh breeze, especially near the ocean.  Here in Texas, wind always means something sinister.  Nonetheless, I went to the pond, lay down on the grass and imagined I was at an ocean.  All 11 ducks/ducklings are accounted for so all is well.  Have a happy Weekend!

Yee Haw!

There was a tangible sense of excitement as the lead horse approached, dancing his way across the main street in Tomball that was closed for this yearly pilgrimage of trail riders to the Houston Rodeo, the biggest in the USA.  Then the crowd started cheering as they welcomed the wagons with mules and horse riders.

Sam Houston Trail Ride

There are 12 trail rides that come from all over the south Texas area to converge in Memorial Park in central Houston.  The Sam Houston Trail arrives in Tomball on their third day.  They are on route to Houston and the trail originates from Pinehurst, Montgomery County.  All the trails are astonishing when you think that they have to traverse a vast city full of interstates but it reflects the original settler’s routes which eventually turned into proper roads.

It tugs on my heart strings because I can envision how life was like for my early pioneer ancestors, especially my great grandparents, Sam Houston and Lillie Dellinger who settled in Oklahoma and north Texas.  He was named after the original Sam Houston, one of the original leaders of the Texas Revolution.  My great grandfather was an intriguing man, well named, some might say.  Even my father’s middle name was Houston.  All the signs were pointing to us ending up as Texan folks even though I was born in California.

I love all animals but I am particularly fond of donkeys and mules – an elderly donkey was one of my first sponsored animals as a child.  The wagons were just amazingly well restored.

One of the groups comprised of two charming brothers from Cajun Country in Louisiana.  They had taken the animals on trucks over to Pinehurst to join the trail.  One of them asked me if I would like to get on his horse!  He was so handsome that I would have been delighted if it was a euphemism… 😉 Teddy was there, however, and I stupidly wore a short skirt so couldn’t attempt getting on his horse without taking my skirt off first.  Maybe in 2022 we will have conquered Covid-19, the trail riders will visit again and I could try to get on my first horse!

This softly spoken cowboy was whispering sweet nothings to his adorable mare in case she was frightened by the crowd.  Everyone was so well behaved especially the little children.

 

Some good stuff

It is hard to ignore all our global crises, from the pandemic to catastrophic weather, but laughter truly is a medicine.  My psychiatrist Zoomed me last week and I made him laugh out loud.  He suggested I try a stand-up comedy evening and generally gave me a gold star for trying hard to keep the blues away.  The next day, I felt low and overwhelmed but just watched one of my favorite Youtube comics.  The First Minister in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has been giving daily briefings to Scotland on Covid-19.  Unlike ours in the US, her briefings are succinct, sensible and more importantly CORRECT!!  A Scottish comedian, Janey Godley, does a voiceover of the briefings in a strong Glaswegian dialect.  They make me howl with laughter because they are so familiar.  I doubt that many of my readers could understand her so I have put a translation underneath.  The First Minister approves of the voiceovers because Janey Godley keeps the real message intact within the comedy.  WARNING!! There are a couple of F bombs in it (common parlance in Glasgow) but the other video below is more gentle and doesn’t need translation.  Just one wee eff at the end…

Right here’s the official word and I will tell you (for) why.  All the Sandras, big Jeanette, all the Pippa Dees (Tupperware like parties?) have all been cancelled.  Nobody is going to Torremolinos (Jersey Shore style Spanish resort).  We are all just chatting on the Snapchat Group.  Stop going out.  Stop meeting your friends.  Stop going to the park and gathering together.

A Bunch of effing Idiots.

You have all been told.

Everybody is going to die if you keeping going about and going home with a virus on you.  So, I’ve told you once and I’m not going to tell you again.

This the Official Line –

If I see any of you out there, I am going to take a run and put my toe up the crack of your bottom.  So stop it.  Stay in the house, wash your hands and keep your families safe.  Effing snapchat your friends.  I will be speaking to Big Teresa later.  All of you; use your phone and STOP IT!

If you browse Youtube you can see the real briefings – that have no F bombs and are less fun!  I know that we all need a wee massage at the moment so I hope you enjoy the virtual cat one below.  I think you will understand this but let me know if you need a translation.  Happy Weekend, Wash your Hands, Keep your Distance, Wear your Bloody Mask and Keep Safe.  Most of all, keep laughing.

A threesome of tunics

Since Covid-19 started, I have been wearing the same as everyone else – leggings and a t-shirt.  Actually, that is not entirely true.  Most of the time I have been wearing a nightdress…  I am a thrifty shopper and love a root around at Goodwill or charity shops but they are not suited for social distancing.  When I cleared out my closet in spring, Goodwill benefited.  Humans get an endorphin shot when we buy something, even a lipstick.  Perhaps it goes back to early human foraging?  I have been window shopping on the internet for months without buying anything but then I found this online site Rockflowerpaper   (They didn’t financially compensate me other than offering me a bargain!)

Most of their tops start at $50 and up but their clearance items were a real bargain, ranging between $4-7.  I decided I could risk $26.45 for four final sale tunics including shipping.  They arrived really quickly in the mailbox and I had a visceral thrill when I saw the package.  All four were sized small but one said that it ran a little neat so I was forewarned.  That one was gifted to my slimmer friend.  They were all different fabrics and styles.  The red and orange pin tucked tunic is my favorite but the blue and cream tunic is incredibly soft.  The gauzy pink and orange tunic suits me the best but it isn’t as soft as the other two.  All in all, however, I was delighted and Rockflowerpaper is a woman owned enterprise in San Francisco.  I liked the hippy, boho vibe from my birth city.

It was so much fun to create a fashion post after such a long time and you might notice that my hair has been ‘fixed’.  I put my tail between my legs and went to my other hairdresser for a revision.  Putting make up on felt weird too but I loved having bright lipstick on and SMILING!  My model mother is alive and well both in face and poses…😁

 

My Enigma

Every time I call the doctor or health insurance of late, there is an extra message to check that my mental health is okay and offering care options.  I feel a little bitterness that it has taken a tragedy for society to take mental ill health seriously – where were you when we had to wait many months or years for psychological help?  Clearly, Covid-19 has challenged even those of us who have not had a pre-existing condition.  My psychiatrist seemed shocked at the amount of patients presenting with psychosis during this time, although I am not.

My diagnosis/mental health had always been an enigma to me, the people I love and the medical profession.  Like many others, my original diagnosis is not my current one.  After years of working in the mental health field (and my own personal experience), it is clear that we know less about this complex field of medicine than others.  Heart bypass surgery has become almost commonplace and much safer, for example.  I was perfectly happy with my original diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  It was such a relief to find out why I had to check the gas was off a dozen times or more or check that a plastic bag in the road was not full of cats.  In the back of my mind, I was sure I had separate depressive and anxiety episodes but perhaps it all goes together, I thought.

As much as we would like a clear cut name for our individual illness, for many of us diagnosis seems to be a wavy, mysterious line.  That is not the fault of the medical profession, necessarily.  One of my cousins had very different diagnoses in her later years and she ultimately died of an overdose.  I imagine her doctors were trying desperately to find a medication to make her feel better.  Then there is me.  I present a chameleon personality to both my doctors and loved ones.  At a social event, I seem like ‘party central’ – confident, amusing and fun to be around.  This exhausts me.  My mother was so concerned about my shyness as I child, that she made every effort to bring me out of my shell.  Drama classes in high school and finding a group of peers helped me to blossom.

This pandemic has had the opposite effect on me – my mental health has rarely been better.  Teddy and my doctor express astonishment that I am coping so well.  The truth is I always knew what was best for me – isolation and silence.  After I married at age 21, I followed Teddy around the world for his career.  He was always going to be the major breadwinner with ambition and skill.  He kindly says that he couldn’t have done it without my support – who knows?  My IQ is above average and I have honed my people skills over the years.  As Teddy was pursuing his career as a Geoscientist, I did a variety of dead-end jobs such as cleaner, bar person and fossil picker.  That last job sounds more exciting than it was.  My husband’s company offered me training and a job looking at tiny fossils down a microscope.  I then transferred those of interest to a slide and a micro paleontologist would further assess them – this was all in the pursuit of oil.

It was the perfect job for someone with OCD – timing and precision was critical.  Even though I was smarter than the average bear, I was quite happy to stay in this dead end job.  Teddy persuaded me to push my ambition further and that is how I ended up in the mental health field.  That led to various other jobs where I could use my writing and people skills to their best capacity.  But I was always so stressed, even when I enjoyed the plaudits.  The job I really longed for was Librarian.

So here we are in 2020.  At the suggestion of a doctor friend, I started eating gluten free at the beginning of the year.  This was to try to address my curious neurological sensations in hands and feet.  I have since read some medical journals on the effect of gluten on the brain – fascinating.  It was relatively easy to change my diet – I guess I avoid gluten naturally. At the same time, I stopped working and driving because of Covid-19.  Now I don’t know if the absence of gluten or driving/working has helped but my neurological symptoms have abated considerably.  It’s another mystery – but a silver lining for me.

Turning 60 in 2020 has given me so much time to think about growing older.  Unexpectedly, I have reached an acceptance that I do feel different and a little less sexy.  Teddy disagrees – thank goodness! There is a huge sense of relief that I don’t have to work anymore and I realize how lucky I am to be in that position.  I am perfectly happy cleaning the house, watering the garden and making very short journeys away from the house.  When all this is over, will I enjoy the normal pace of life or need to buy 10 acres of wilderness for peace and quiet?  I guess we will all adapt and realize how strong most of us are, even in the most desperate of situations.

For now, my Enigma remains just that and I am grateful for this moment of stillness in society.