Brown Pox?

On Sunday we had a very sharp morning, 40 F, and for the first time in many months Teddy and I went to the Mall! This was an excuse to wear one of my favorite outfits that must be at least a decade old otherwise called sustainable fashion. The knitted dress is from Max Studio and the jacket is from INC. A couple of years ago, I noticed that the pleather collar was wearing away so I got some fur fabric from Amazon and our local tailor stitched on top. I was so happy at my inventiveness.

As we wandered around the Mall, I noticed that everyone else was wearing high summer clothes but my lizard DNA keeps me cold under 80 F. The very nice lady in the perfume shop thought I looked like a princess – I guess she hadn’t seen many but I will take the compliment. In the next department store I decided to try on a ‘prairie’ dress and I took off my jacket for Teddy to hold. He said, “your jacket is disintegrating all over your chest”. It looked like a Brown Pox!! The ‘prairie’ dress was a bust – I looked like a tired old woman in the Dustbowl Depression which was not the look I was going for… Just needed a goat and a chicken.

Goodbye, Farewell to my favorite jacket. You served me well on cold trips to Scotland/Oklahoma/Colorado.

It was a grand day out, nonetheless, and I felt much less anxiety about being out in public, now that we have both been vaccinated. Almost everyone was wearing a mask and keeping their distance. Teddy bought his summer cologne, Dior’s Fahrenheit, which always smells good. Our lattes from Nordstrom tasted like the best coffee we have ever had. Everything is new and interesting again. Purdah has made the simplest things tremendously exciting.

Now we need to get the whole world inoculated and keep our fingers crossed for herd immunity.

A Little Levity

It drives me crazy that of all the lovely shots I had taken of me in my wedding dress for our thirtieth wedding anniversary, this is the one blown up on my husband’s office wall.  I guess that is the Kerry that he really loves.  Right now at this crossroad in history we need some lightness.  The last time I felt panicked about going out was in 2003 in Cairo, Egypt.  The Second Gulf war had started and there was a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction.  We were advised to stay home in case Westerners were a target.

Don’t you love the vista behind our balcony?

Since I looked like I did above, it was obvious that I wasn’t Middle Eastern but I couldn’t stand being in the house.  I strode out silently daring anyone to harass me.  Nobody did…I probably looked like a crazy lady.  Then I felt silly.  Now we have to socially distance.  I went to Trader Joe today (our Marks and Spencer sorta) and there were little yellow lines painted 6 ft. distance.  They were only allowing a limited amount of shoppers and it was the quietest I have ever seen the shop – bliss.  As you approached the shop, the Trader Joe artists (there are always some on staff to paint the signs) had put little encouraging words on the yellow stripes.

“Getting closer…”

“Almost there…”

When I got to the checkout desk, I had a little chat with the lady. “I look ridiculous with these black hair dye gloves,” I said.  “Oh, no, I have seen much worse…” she returned with a chuckle.  Then my imagination went into overdrive with WWII gas masks and Breaking Bad yellow boiler suits.  Then I went home and disinfected my purchases.  Earlier in the day, Teddy was convinced he had appendicitis.  I reassured him that it was probably gas and this wasn’t a good time to go to our doctor’s office.  It is right across the road from a retirement community that has been quarantined because of a significant outbreak of Covid 19.  I checked his temperature and poked the sore bit, made him bend over to check for sciatica.  Then I scolded him for being hypochondriacal at the wrong time in human history.  He seems to be fine now – usually Dr. Kerry can scare most illnesses away.  The gas came out eventually – so much so that I fell about laughing and sprayed air freshener in our house.

It hasn’t been long since I had a major bout of depression and anxiety.  I have good days and bad during this crisis but so does everyone.  For the first time, most of you can empathize with how a chronically mentally ill person feels ALL THE TIME.  It is so exhausting to be terrified and worried about everything.  Now there is a pandemic and I am doing okay.  After I reassured Teddy that he wasn’t dying, I went for a walk around the pond and up to the reservoir.  Many years ago, my friend Anne and I took our bikes many miles to our nearest reservoir in Glasgow at Cathkin Braes.  The sign said, “NO TRESPASSING!” but we were about 13 years old with that ‘who cares’ attitude.  We were having a lovely time when the warden found us.  Oh dear… we got a dreadful row about how dangerous reservoirs were and to go home immediately.

Boris and Natasha, the Muscovy Ducks

I REALLY wanted to ignore the NO TRESPASSING sign, at my reservoir today, but two Sheriffs had already passed me.  I just stood and enjoyed the ozonic breeze wafting down from the water.  A Great Heron was fishing for her lunch at the spillway.  She must have caught a dozen little silvery fish that sparkled before disappearing down her gullet.  She was pretty husky for a heron…  Back at the pond I almost stood on the fattest Muscovy duck – I think the neighbors feed her because she isn’t afraid of me.  Teddy usually lumbers after me on walks round the pond – he has a big actual footprint and frightens all the critters away.  This time I was able to see around 20 little turtles sitting on a mud bank with a single White Egret.

I saw a variety of neighbors and we all kept our 6ft distance, shouting the news at one another.  The great leveler is how awful we all look.  Grey roots, no makeup, stubbly beards, Walmart clothes and no one cares.  My Walmart tops are all from the thrift store so I have Eco Brownie points.  Our cul de sac is in a state of excitement right now because we have a new nest with a Black Crowned Night Heron.  They aren’t particularly common round here.  Teddy and I sat out on our deck on Sunday and a perfect little Downy Woodpecker came really close in the tree right above our head.  She had no red markings yet and seemed to be fascinated by the humans.  She tapped and tapped, entertaining us for a full hour.  Take comfort in small moments of joy and be as safe as you can be.

THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD  – POSTSCRIPT 

As I was writing this post, I heard an inordinate amount of sirens – police, fire engines and ambulance.  We live close to one of our major routes within the forest but we haven’t heard them for weeks since everything went pandemic crazy.  I was so bored that I considered going out to see what idiot had sped through our cross stop or ran over a pedestrian but decided to keep watching Animal Planet.  Then our neighbors sent a round robin to say that some desperate guy had robbed people at gunpoint in one of our furthest subdivisions and sped away.  He had gone into our sleepy little street to escape the police and then exited only to wreck his scooter in front of the pediatric hospital across the road.  He is now in critical condition – I guess God decided he deserved a Darwin award.  To give some perspective, this is a sleepy backwater with very little crime so this is unprecedented.  Today was a strange day for me, not just because of the weird robber, and I had already been considering opening a bottle of wine.  The wine is finished…  On a really sad note, two of the elderly residents of the retirement community have died – may they rest in peace.

 

Bah humbug

Krampus, courtesy of AV Club

Krampus, courtesy of AV Club

Nothing I do can get me in a festive mood – I am so grumpy that it is funny.  Every year I love decorating my 7 foot tall, expensive, fake tree decorated with ornaments from our childhood and from all over the world (but not this year).  I create a snow village under the tree that occasionally a cat has peed on or wrecked.  One year our little Egyptian terrorists (cats) raided Bethlehem and the nativity scene.  I used to say that I was spiritual or an atheist depending on my snarky mood but now I know I am a lapsed Catholic doomed to spend eternity in Purgatory or worse…

Most years I host a Christmas party in the house but this year Teddy said ‘No’!  He was quite right – that would have tipped me over the edge.  While he was in Scotland on business, I decorated ‘somewhat’ with my best ornaments hanging from our chandeliers.  I even painted our outside furniture and adorned the porch with some discreet fairy lights and decorations.

As most of you know, I volunteer at an airport which is a hub for Latin America, in particular.  I love it or I wouldn’t still be doing it after 8 years.  I wore my regulation Santa hat (apparently my reindeer antlers don’t cut it??) and my red and black banded tights, with my non regulation miniskirt…  The first person that irked me was another staff member – I was racing across the terminal to help someone and I said, “Ho ho ho!” to him.  He responded, “Or something” with no smile, looking at me as though I was a ‘Ho.  WTF!  This was balanced by another staff member who stopped me on my return to ask me if the elves were still on strike – the kids loved that.

I often work in the international terminal when the Central American flights come in.  This week it was something special, with Abuela’s (Grandma’s) in full traditional clothing coming in from Guatemala and El Salvador.  Many families had traveled with their whole family from other states just to meet their precious relatives who they may not have seen for many years.   Children from this region look entirely Maya and one little poppet who looked adorable in a little white furry jacket.  She looked like a little Maya angel tree-topper.  After three hours, I wondered if the Maya gods would reward me for sacrificing one of their precious children…who were now screaming and kicking my door (I am jesting, of course).  To my credit I kept smiling and reassuring everyone in bad Spanish that their relatives would be out soon – (hopefully not from holding cells).

It was perhaps all the Christmas social events leading up to now that provoked this Krampus spirit within me.  I am feeling very sensitive and every thoughtless comment bothers me.  You will love this one, “I preferred it when you were the happy, smiling Kerry”.  Really, really??  Guess what, me too!! “Your hair is getting a bit long”.  Are you my stylist?  Poor Teddy said, “You have spilled something on the floor”.  Biting sarcasm ensued regarding my qualities as a serf to his Highness.

Driving is always bad here but right now there are demons at the wheel.  Why don’t you all go through the red light – it’s only there for decoration?  What terrible gift are you going to buy that’s worth racing for – just use Amazon like a normal person.  They employ demons to drive their trucks…  Now the weather Gods have turned on us.  It has gone from freezing to about 80 degrees – everyone is sneezing, wearing fleeces with sandals.  Today, I tried to turn the tide.  I went to my favorite coffee shop to speak Arabic to my Palestinian friend.  I can tell he is missing Jerusalem – it’s colder there.  Then I went to the Salvation Army kettle and chatted to the old man about the stupid weather.  I asked him if he needed a cold drink because it was so damned hot!  I passed by the pet store and bought Toffee a knitted toucan filled with catnip.  Katniss got a knitted dog because I thought she would love to savage one…

On a more serious note, I am deeply saddened that road rage or any bad mood could make someone fire a gun and kill a child.  Even worse, kill innocent shoppers at a Christmas market or attack fleeing evacuees in a war zone.  It is within all of us to find our inner angel and love our fellow man.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Super Solstice to all!

 

 

 

WITHDRAWAL

withdrawal

So, I have gone from Princesa Delicada to prescription junkie withdrawal in just a few days. How the mighty have fallen… Before your imagination takes over, Teddy has not tied me to a bed in a locked room with two empty buckets, I have done it all to myself.

When I was very ill this year, with unfathomable fatigue, I asked for another anti-depressant to be added to my mix. Even my doctor was wary especially since I been on this drug before. It did help somewhat until they found that Vitamin and Mineral deficiency was the root cause of my illness. Now that my blood levels are normal, I was beginning to feel the unwanted side-effects of this medication which include strange zapping sensations, lack of appetite and insomnia. Worse still, it seems to increase the desire to have alcohol and yet give you a migraine and hangover with the slightest indulgence.

I agreed with my GP that it would be more sensible to stop after all the holidays but two days ago, I stopped. Let’s just say there have been thousands of law suits regarding the withdrawal from a drug that is not meant to be addictive. I feel like I have flu (real flu), my body aches all over and I am nauseous. I am still on Prozac which is often used to help wean people off so I am less sick than last time. After making myself eat breakfast (to take my Prozac), I have gone back to bed in a darkened room with earplugs in.

Tapered withdrawal under medical supervision is recommended but I was on a low dose and am very stubborn. I want to feel more like myself before our vacation to Mexico in a couple of weeks. If I don’t feel better in a week, I will go back on it until after the holidays. Wish me luck and I apologize for leaving the blogging world during my withdrawal. I will return soon, Hasta La Vista!

The Bluebonnet Saga

Texas Bluebonnets in Mercer Arboretum

Texas Bluebonnets in Mercer Arboretum

All the Texans will immediately know what bluebonnets are but for the rest of the world they are a small, indigenous Texan wildflower that grows prolifically on verges or prairie in the springtime. My first thought was that they looked like little Lupines (and they are). When we moved into our brand new house, 11 years ago, we were delighted that our township planted the verges along the walking paths with thousands of bluebonnets. I think the first year everything was fine – we loved looking at them. By the second year, locals and outsiders alike had discovered that they could take the annual Bluebonnet shot (grandchildren sitting in bluebonnets) just north of Houston instead of going into the hill country.

Our street was outraged because if you sit on them, you kill them and they won’t come up the following year. All you could see were sad little broken stems. In a large area, they seed easily so there is not such a problem. Not only that, we had PAID for them in our outrageously high rates! One quick thinking neighbor put out an adorable little sign that said –

PLEASE DON’T SIT ON US. BLUEBONNETS ARE VERY DELICATE AND WILL NOT GROW NEXT YEAR. THANK YOU FOR BEING CONSIDERATE.

My sign would have been more like this –

GET YOUR RED NECKED IGNORANT ASSES OFF MY BLUEBONNETS – REVENGE WILL BE MINE. F*** OFF BACK TO YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD OR I WILL GET MY GUN.

On the lighter side, my friend and I hatched so many nefarious plots to get rid of them that it kept DESPICABLE US amused during the slow murder of our bluebonnets. Her plan was the most achievable – we dig up a nest of fire ants and put them in the middle of the verge. I wondered about getting some snakes from my reserve but they might have killed them too. Blow darts are always a consideration in my mind (native ancestry, perhaps?) but I don’t know how to get the poison delivered. Do you think Amazon delivers that kind of thing? I think what incensed me the most that they actually blocked our street with their stupid red neck family vehicles.

This is not a Disney story – there is no happy ending. Over a period of years they systematically killed our bluebonnets. Finally, to our relief, the township decided that it was more sensible to seed a variety of wildflowers which change every year. As much as I loved the bluebonnets, I am just as happy with poppies, Indian Blankets, Indian Paintbrushes and the ubiquitous but cheery pink and red poppies.

The verges look like this now

The verges look like this now

A rosy rash of poppies!

A rosy rash of poppies!

The Scotsman on the train

This is the main train station in Glasgow.  So many hearts have been broken under that clock.  Before cell phones we had to have a meeting place for dates.

This is the main train station in Glasgow. So many hearts have been broken under that clock. Before cell phones we had to have a meeting place for dates.

I briefly mentioned this fine gentleman in a previous post Sexual History through the Ages – Part II
A couple of years ago, I was on one of my regular trips to the UK and took some time to visit friends in Aberdeenshire. Scotland is a small country with an excellent transportation system. You can fly from Aberdeen to Glasgow but it is easier to hop on one of the frequent trains. I had to travel about 30 miles to the train station by bus and was perplexed by a young man wearing a kilt. Men do wear kilts in Scotland but not in everyday life unless they are a busker or going to a wedding.

When I arrived at the train station in Aberdeen, there were kilties everywhere! My heart sank – that meant they were travelling to Glasgow to attend an international soccer tournament and in this case it was Belgium. That is the other occasion when men wear their kilts. Drinking and soccer go together like a margarita and fiesta. We are fairly sophisticated in Scotland and the trains always have a trolley with food and alcoholic drink to purchase. As you can image, that is expensive.

We all rushed to get on the train when the barrier lifted. Sometimes you reserve a seat but usually you will find something. I managed to find an airplane seat (without a table) and ensconced myself in the window seat. The train was filling up very quickly with not just soccer fans but men returning from oil rigs. I focused on my Kindle but out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of oil workers sitting at a table but one of them broke away from the pack and sat next to me.

Sigh! I am not usually this rude but I could already smell some liquor on his breath and I just wanted a quiet trip. His friends were sniggering like school boys about him sitting next to me. After a few minutes there was an out-stretched hand in front of me and a voice saying, “Hi, I’m Nick”. There was no alternative but to turn around and look at him. I probably gasped and my eyes might have dilated. Not only was he tall, dark and handsome but he was the spitting image of my psychiatrist. It was uncanny and I have always had a crush on my psychiatrist although it is fading after 11 years.

He misunderstood my reaction and immediately thought, “I’m in with a chance!” We started chatting and then he must have seen Kind Kerry hiding behind Sexy Kerry because he revealed to me that his mentor had just died in a terrible oil rig accident (that was all over the news) and he was devastated. I summoned up all my counselling skills and listened to him. It was fine to start with and then I noticed that he, and all the other men on the train, had their own supplies of liquor under the seat.

The steward came around with the trolley, totally out of his depth with some of the bad behavior that was already happening on this crowded train, and I ordered a glass of wine. ‘May as well join in’, thought I. As the journey progressed Nick got drunker and then noticed Sexy Kerry again. Oh dear… There was nowhere for me to go, he had lost all sense of personal space and determined to flirt with the first woman he had seen in weeks.

Coincidentally, we had been brought up very close to each other in Glasgow and I guess he thought we were the same age. He revealed he was 42 and I was about 53 then. He was convinced that we had met at one of the clubs and been intimate. More sighing from Kerry; trapped in a third of her original seat. If we had been intimate I would have been the worst babysitter in the world. 🙂

The water boarding was not yet over. Finally the drink made him aggressive and unpleasant. Swearing and talking about politics, very loudly. At long last the train trundled into Glasgow. I was stressed and irritated because I had just missed a beautiful journey by train with nostalgic landmarks. He was drunk and annoyed. I can only hope that his wife was able to deal with him better than I. I wish I could think of a moral in this tale but there is none! It was just another weird traveling story with Kerry.

Which eye?

kerry refuge

Do you ever wonder what you might have been in a previous life to deserve the one you have? I think I might have been a serial killer of kittens. No, hang on, that was this life when I had to euthanize Mrs. Stripes’ endless sick kittens. The veterinarian did it – I am not that creepy. Anyway, as you know, life has been a tad stressful recently with layoff and bereavement. Now I can add unexpected eye surgery to the mix.

We were getting all ready to choose an affordable health plan instead of taking Cobra in March and I have been seeing all my doctors in preparation. Today I had my yearly eye exam and paid extra to have that fancy new test that sees deep into the eye. Last year I was nonplussed to find out that I had very small cataracts in both eyes. I am in denial about middle-age… My assumption was that they would take years to develop into full blown cataracts.

Today the eye doctor said, “What can you see on the screen with your left eye?” “I can’t even see writing on the screen”, I replied. Even my doctor was shocked and astonished at how rapidly it had grown. At this stage I am essentially blind in one eye. We are very fortunate to live in the greater Houston area and I now have an appointment with an eminent eye surgeon next Monday. The plan is to have the cataract removed and a lens implanted. I knew it was serious because he held my hand.

Now we have to continue with Cobra, which we are fortunate to have, because this wonderful eye surgeon and my eye doctor are not covered on the new plans offered. Additionally, I went to my GP today because I thought I had shingles (without the rash). That could mean that the surgery would have to be delayed until my immune system is stronger. My incessant itching and upset tummy is a bit of a mystery, however, and despite a barrage of questions (and another doctor’s opinion), it doesn’t seem to be shingles.

Dr. Kerry thinks that my body is just under stress from recent travel across the Atlantic and everything else going on. Certainly my new pirate façade is not helping the stress! The weird thing is that you can’t see anything and that I have not noticed such a massive shift in vision, probably because I had mono-vision anyway. I have just realized that the lucky readers who have a universal health system won’t realize that Cobra is a government funding system that allows you to continue your work funded healthcare for 18 months after redundancy/layoff. You have to pay the full cost by yourself, however, instead of 20% or whatever we paid.

Dang it – one minute it is the menopause, then it’s the eyes! Last week I discussed with Teddy that I only want to live until 75 (an arbitrarily chosen time) but it looks like my parts are wearing out quicker than I thought. That was some black humor. I would feel better if I could drink a bottle of wine but I have to stick to a bland diet until my gastric system settles down. Think of me when you are having your Thai meal with some wine tonight!