Random moments of happiness

mountain-laurel

Mountain Laurel

I am struggling to write and read just now. Many apologies to all my wonderful followers and those I follow for being absent. I have talked about my chronic anxiety and depression many times so no need for any further explanation. Between sad bouts, I experience moments of great happiness, for which I am thankful or life would not be worth living. These are some of my recent moments.

Mountain Laurel

Close up of mountain laurel blossom

Close up of mountain laurel blossom

My lovely neighbor with green fingers gifted me this tree a couple of years ago because it wouldn’t thrive in her garden. I was very anxious because my fingers are not green (blackish) and then this year we had flood, excessive heat and finally a terrible cold snap. Some of my tropical plants died but the lovely Laurel has new growth and exquisite lavender flowers. They have an intense fragrance which my neighbor could smell as she approached my house. I now just buy plants and ask my gardener to place them in the right spot – it is working, so far…

The Dead Grasshopper

dead-grasshopper
This poor little green person probably did not survive the hard frost and fell out of our house planks. He was perfectly preserved and so green. Normally these noisy critters frighten me because of how they jump but I do like their songs. It was fun to really examine his little body and hold it. There truly is beauty in death. After I took his photograph, I left it on the rock. When I went outside later, some lucky bird had eaten a freeze dried snack. I wonder if she thought, “they are usually juicier than that?”

The Tulle Filled Nest

Romantic front door

Romantic front door

This is a photograph of my front door decorated for Valentine’s Day. My Mountain Laurel neighbor loves to decorate her presents with ribbons and tulle – almost too nice to open. I keep them to use myself and had created a bow with pink and white tulle sitting atop the beads. We had a windy day and suddenly the bow was gone. A squirrel or bird probably has a pink tulle lined crib and I just smile at the thought. Maybe they also had the freeze dried snack…

The Syrian limo driver

During my recent contract work, I was paired with a Syrian-American limo driver. He was courteous, respectful, articulate and charming. You probably expect me to say something about executive orders and how nice Middle Eastern people are but the truth is he was Cougar Eye Candy. I am purring softly as I write this. He was tall, slim and handsome with dark hair, white skin and the most exquisite grey/green/blue eyes with long black eyelashes. I flirted outrageously in Arabic and English, wondering what I would have done with him were I 30 years younger…

The Spanish Translation

In a previous post, I talked about the coffee barista from Jerusalem who is Muslim. He works at my local Argentinean/Venezuelan Café. Those two sentences somehow encapsulate the interesting diversity of Houston. This week I went in for my usual cappuccino and he was serving on his own. The lady in front of me could only speak Spanish and although coffee guy looks Hispanic, he can’t speak it. I offered to translate and I think I got three beef empanadas correct. The lady looked Latino/Indio and was utterly confused by the blonde Texan lady translating to the ‘Spanish’ guy. It’s a wonderful world.

More happy moments to come…

My Crushes…

heartsbook

Aah, there have been so many and I now realize this is a normal part of life. I have been married to Teddy for 33 years and he is now blasé about my various crushes. They are usually my doctors and sometimes I can tell that they are reciprocated – it’s all innocent fun until you take it one step further. It mystifies me that my friend’s doctors don’t hold their hand or tell them they are beautiful… I am purring as all cougars do. 🙂

My first crush was a pretty little boy in Primary school called Gerald with big brown eyes and a mass of dark curls. He went onto a seminary at 12 – perhaps I frightened him into celibacy? At High School, my first crush was on a boy called Jamie and nobody could understand why. I used to write funny stories for friends and at our 25th reunion (we were all 42), they all howled with laughter at my story that plagiarized Wuthering Heights. The final chapter involved Jamie and I, the nanny, meeting in the hallway in our nightwear. We hadn’t had our sex education classes yet so I didn’t know what happened next. That crush disappeared as soon as he got acne – I am so shallow.

The most lingering crush I had during high school years was with the librarian at our local public library. My childhood wasn’t always happy so I retreated into the world of books. I read my way through the children’s library and at 14 could move onto the adult library. I guess he was about 4 years older than me, fresh out of school working as a library assistant. It was pretty obvious that I had a crush on him, all big eyes and smiles. He kindly flirted back and joked about how many books I read. I suspect he thought I was making excuses to go to the library but I genuinely read six books a week. By the time I got to college I had read most of the library’s books.

Moving on in time, I was in my third year of college, just before I started dating The Spark. I think I was 19, wearing something that made me look like a ‘ho, and full of fun. My girlfriend and I bumped into the LIBRARIAN and his friend at some college function. Initially, it was SO exciting – chatting about how much I had changed, Catholic school girl to ‘ho. (Blondie was my role model). He had decided to go to college later in life and had left the library. He was still handsome and revealed that he had also had a crush on me which titillated me. Then we kissed and there was nothing – no spark, so sexual attraction just a faded crush. Curiously, he seemed really sad that I wasn’t interested but the hunt was on for my next boy to predate. I am really a very nice, kind person but my hormones seemed to take over, leaving a trail of broken hearts behind me. Sorry to all those nice guys I predated and unceremoniously dumped.

Blackout

blackout clipart

I had a strange day on Sunday. As most of you know, my husband has been laid off, my mother in law just died so we had to make a sad transatlantic trip and now I have a strange cataract to be removed. It all just hit me last week and I became ill. I spent a few days in bed and then ‘suggested’ to my husband that he take a small road trip just for a break. Both of us needed a break from each other and the situation. Somehow I can only clear my head and get my equilibrium back in complete solitude.

He was eager to leave… Off he went to north Texas, taking photographs and then asked if he could stay another night. “Of course”, I said and then pondered about how bad I had been to make him stay away. Yeah guys – there is no understanding women (especially menopausal women who are unwell). The first day he left, I slowly got back into normal life, got out of bed and cleaned the house. The GP diagnosed some kind of allergy to an, as yet unknown, substance – my tummy is really itchy but no rash. I have been trying to cut out foods, as suggested, to no avail. The result has been that my cleavage is getting smaller – why does weight always come off the boobs first?

By the time he came home on Sunday, I was my normal sunny Bunny self and had worked out a realistic plan for our proposed new business. He frightened me when he returned because our garage door started opening at 8 am! He hadn’t been able to sleep so had just driven back at dawn. We went to the mall for a coffee later and became fairly excited about prospective new plans which may or may not work. We both felt optimistic (and still do).

In the evening I made dinner but I just had some vegetables. We opened a bottle of Trader Joe wine to celebrate his return and the future. Before I tell you what happened next, I should explain that I have a very low tolerance for most medication and am on a child’s dose of anti-depressant and 3 x a cat’s dosage of anti-anxiety medication. Additionally, I have a low tolerance to alcohol… Since we moved to the States I have got ‘blackout drunk’ about 5 times. It only takes a few glasses of wine and usually a tummy upset. I have a permanent gastric issue from contracted Giardia (an amoeba) in Egypt and it being undiagnosed for 5 years. Thank goodness I have an understanding husband who looks after me.

Anyway, we go to bed and apparently I started to slur my words but instead of blacking out, I first start crying, for half an hour, about how upset I am at some of his mum’s relatives for ignoring her for 4 years in a nursing home. He comforted me although he was dead tired and just wanted to go to sleep. Then I got frisky and offered sexual favors that would make a Thai lady boy blush. Let’s just say that the number 69 came up a few times. Finally, after my predation was rebuffed, I fell into a dead sleep. No throwing up.

When I woke up the next day, I had absolutely no memory of anything after we went to bed, not the crying nor the predation. I could not remember sending emails a short time before we had opened the bottle of wine either. I am just so grateful I didn’t blog later. There might have been some shocked readers. Possibly I was also anxious about my first visit to the eye surgeon on Monday (more of which later) but the funny ending is that now Teddy would quite like to ‘play’ with Bunny but Bunny can’t risk a UTI or the antibiotics before surgery on the 24th. A Happy Valentine’s Day for both of us, eh? 🙂

Meet Pumpkin

Kerry's egg2

Since it is nearly Thanksgiving, I thought I would gross you out with a scan of my cyst (water filled benign tumor). But look at that beautiful brain – I am sure it is bigger than most…. 🙂 Pumpkin, the cyst, was discovered after a bad car accident and they were scanning my neck and spine. Doesn’t everyone name their cysts?

I had to see three neurosurgeons following the car accident as the first one came to the consultation with dollar signs in his eyes holding his scalpel behind his back. The second one said, “Never have anyone operate on your spine, it may damage you permanently, but there is one other thing…” His assistant who was from Africa, where they are all sensible, had previously shown me the cyst and his opinion was that it was likely congenital and harmless. That said, the neurosurgeon said they would normally remove cysts that size in case they became malignant.

So…off to the very handsome cardiac/thoracic surgeon who greeted me with, “Whoa, you don’t look like my normal patients”. I responded that his waiting room looked like the Walking Dead. This is what happens when you don’t qualify for ‘free’ healthcare until you are older. Even his receptionist asked me if I was waiting for my Mom. His conclusion was that in order to remove it, he would have to deflate a lung, it was not cancerous and best leave well alone with regular scans to check it wasn’t growing.

The final, wonderful, neurosurgeon concurred that it was congenital, including my spinal issue and that surgery hadn’t progressed enough to do anything about my particular spinal issues. Subsequent scans have revealed other cysts in strange places like my bile duct – who would want to live there?? My conclusion is that I ate my twin. My mum’s Ob/Gyn heard two heartbeats but then I arrived alone and prematurely.

I decided not to bother getting another scan until I had two bouts of bronchitis and trouble breathing. I now have a handsome and very flirty lung specialist who sounds exactly like the cat in Shrek. My inner cougar starts to purr… He gave me lots of free inhalers (screw Pharm, VD!) and sent me for a scan. Pumpkin has lost weight – hurrah!! Truth be told, I know immediately when she is increasing in size because you can feel it. I have grown to love her and I am sorry I ate my twin – it was survival of the fittest.

Daryl – grrrrr….

Come ride with me, Daryl

Come ride with me, Daryl

That was a cougar growl. Forget Carol and dead Beth or come out of the closet – I am here in Texas. We love bikers (except in Waco – avoid Waco, Daryl.) What a complex character Daryl is. Is he gay or straight or bisexual? Whatever – he is gorgeous. It took me a couple of series to really warm up to him especially since he had a horrible brother.

I can empathize how a brutal upbringing can influence how you turn out. Merle, his brother, took the brunt of the beatings to help protect Daryl. This love softened both of them. I didn’t have a brutal childhood but at times it was neglectful and poverty stricken. It made me stronger and yet vulnerable; compassionate but pragmatic. Daryl has all of those qualities and is brave, too.

Through the apocalypse, he is the one who becomes more introverted when stressed rather than breaking down as Rick has done. He is here and yet not here. Sometimes I feel like that – when life feels very stressful I want to retreat to a solo vacation or just on a walk. Having a motorcycle essentially makes you a solo traveler unless you have a chick on the back – and Daryl rarely does that. I can’t ride a motorcycle (spinal condition and neuropathy) but I love driving alone. There is such a sense of freedom on the open road, especially in the countryside. It is easier without walkers…
So when you decide what team you bat for, Daryl, come look me up…

One sleep to Halloween….

TREE LICE SILK1

This is the Halloween story I promised following the Cougar and the Cherokee blog – https://chattykerry.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/the-cougar-and-the-cherokee/ I had gone into our local hardware store to speak to the master gardener about a strange webbing all over our Live Oak. Both my husband and I thought that it was a very industrious spider but then the web was literally all over an oak tree that is as tall as our house. I was chatting with a friend who queried whether it could be something harmful like a silk worm.

To my astonishment, the master gardener brought up some photos on her computer of the perpetrators and their web – it was bark lice. They are amazing little friends of nature. Live Oaks attract lichen because of their open bark and this can kill the tree. The bark lice eat lichen so they come as a landscaping team – probably speaking Spanish – cover their web all over the tree, eat the lichen, roll the web back into a ball and take it with them to the next tree. Isn’t that fantastic?

Here is a link to more information about them. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-41_barklice2_Cerastipscus_sp.htm

I looked very hard for Ernesto, Adelpho or Pedro but I couldn’t see the little stripy critters under the webbing. I hoped it would last until Halloween and I could cover the tree in fake spiders but their job is done and our tiny landscapers have moved onto another tree. Nature is full of joy and mystery.
BARKLICE2

The Cougar and the Cherokee

Once again my funny story comes from a shop – our local hardware store. It is one of these wonderful small stores that has retired tradesman who can tell you exactly what type of screw to use and you can just buy three! This time I was in a panic, because I was not brought up in the subtropics and the ecology is unfamiliar to me. I had a gardening problem which I will share closer to Halloween and it was solved completely by the lovely lady gardener. We started talking and she asked me if my Native genetics were Cherokee? I was perplexed especially since I believe we might have been from family lore. She had noticed my high cheekbones, profile and unusual teeth. My husband’s cousin is a dentist and he was puzzled by why my teeth were not worn down – I still have all the little indentations that children have at the bottom of their teeth. The gardener told me that a dentist had told her that Cherokee teeth, in particular, are very strong and that’s why the enamel doesn’t wear down. Now I was intrigued and asked her if she had white or brown earwax. Some Native Americans and Japanese people have white earwax which is dry and has to be scraped out. I have the white earwax which explains why my UK doctor thought I had eczema in my ears. There is an evolutionary reason for this – something to do with cold, windy plains in Siberia.

She told me that she had been brought up on a farm in North Texas – so we shared North Texas ancestry stories. When she was a child, a Native man dressed in regular clothes walked barefoot to their farm, handed a medicine stick to her and walked away without a word. She felt she had a natural affinity to the land and I have a natural stalking ability (you will want to be friends with both of us when the Zombie Apocalypse happens…) One day, when she was an adult, she was visiting the family farm with her young daughter. The little girl disappeared so the lady and her mother started walking across the Prairie to find her. They were shocked to find the little girl fast asleep with a cougar (mountain lion) sleeping alongside her. Her mother opened her mouth to scream so she quickly put her hand across Grandma’s mouth to stop her making a noise. Grandma then went back to the house to get Grandpa. The lady signaled to her father not to move and very gently went and picked up her still sleeping daughter. As she moved backwards the cougar stood up and stretched its front legs which is a social cat habit (to express friendship) and just walked off.

Before she told me the end of the story, I knew that the cougar was protecting the child from something and indeed it was. The property had a problem with venomous snakes that year and the child had fallen asleep with snakes all around. Mama cougar must have instinctively realized that she had to protect the human cub. It was such a wonderful tale that my eyes filled with tears at how amazing nature is. Today I was meeting friends at the local Starbucks and got chatting to a very pretty lady waiting for our coffees. She admired my skirt which I had ordered online from India. She showed me a photo of her beautiful children who are half Bangladeshi. She then told me that she was half Native American (Cherokee/Choctaw) but she was even fairer than me with translucent white skin and beautiful blue-gray eyes. It is actually quite common to be native around here because the tribes were corralled into Oklahoma so local European settlers intermarried. I bet you are wondering why I am called Chatty Kerry, eh? Life is so much more fun when you talk to people.