Easter 2020

It’s hard to wish anyone a Happy Easter this year but I hope you are able to find small moments of joy.  Teddy took this photograph of me on Good Friday while we walked around the containment pond.  On route we chatted to some new neighbors across the fence, we met a fisherman who caught a foot long bass fish out of the pond!  Whoo Hoo!  We high fived from 10 foot distance – I have only ever seen heron sized minnow snack.  Then we moved aside while a community minded neighbor mowed the walking path with her son so we could walk more easily through the long grass.

I think you can see from the look on my face above that I am struggling to keep being vibrant although the little Zen cairn made my heart happy.  Just like all the vapid celebrities, I have no makeup on and a baseball cap to hide my hair…  As we sat down last night to watch yet more Netflix or Prime, I commented to Teddy that this is probably my worst Easter ever.  Immediately I felt guilty for comparing my luxurious life to anyone else’s this year.  How awful to be in a refugee camp or to be any of our first responders.  As I mused, I remembered my real worst Easter which was in 1970.

We lived in prefabricated metal public housing that was unbearably cold in a Scottish winter.  In the autumn of the previous year, I started getting chest infections consecutively.  My health and lungs had been compromised from babyhood in part from my mum having tuberculosis during her pregnancy with me.   In our community there was no choice of family doctor and ours had many complaints about his incompetence.  My mum pleaded with him to refer me to a pediatrician but he blankly stated that she was neurotic and continued to prescribe antibiotics.  By midwinter my Nana and mum had created a little bed for me in the nook of the fireplace of the living room which was the warmest place in the house.  I woke up every morning with dried mucus covering my whole face like a veil of illness.  My breathing was terrible and I missed months of schooling.

In desperation my uncles gave my mum £40 (a fortune for us) to visit a pediatrician privately.  He also worked for the National Health Service, as do most private surgeons, and I was in hospital the next day.  By this time 6 months had passed and it was almost Easter.  There was no room in the children’s ward so I and 3 other little girls were placed at the end of a Victorian long ward full of ladies with cancer.  I was terrified by the older ladies barely holding onto life and the strangeness of the situation.  The two little girls opposite me were sisters and had been flown in from one of the outer Western Islands.  Was it a twofer or were they both genuinely needing their tonsils out?  It would have been very expensive back then to fly in from Barra.  They were relentlessly cheerful and kind to me in their soft accents from speaking Gaelic.

My mum tried to visit every night after her very long work day and I think I sobbed every visit.  When I was wheeled to surgery, alone, I asked the surgeons if I was going to die.  They removed my adenoids and tonsils – a complaint was made about our family doctor who we still had to see because of no options available.  In those days they made you eat scratchy toast to heal up your throat – ow!  All the food was awful and worst of all – it was EASTER!  Family and neighbors rallied around with an array of chocolate eggs that I could not eat.  All except a little egg box full of Cadbury’s Cream Eggs with a sixpence underneath each from my aunt Cathie and uncle Donal.  I was able to suck the cream out of the eggs even though I couldn’t eat the chocolate.

Eventually I went back to school although I had some home tuition.  I had no voice for weeks and I struggled to catch up.  But I did, and life moved on.  It was so stressful for my poor mum that she had a major mental breakdown after this and never worked again.  I am so grateful for the all the kindness given to us at that time.  One of the greatest sacrifices was from my mum’s colleague’s son who donated his extensive collection of rare American comics to this sick little girl.  Richie Rich and his friends made me so happy.  I still love the gift of a magazine – it feels like a treat.  The taste of artificial cherry that disguised childhood penicillin makes me feel sick, as does the smell of a hot toddy.

Kerry’s egg shaped cyst behind her lungs

In retrospect, I realized that my peculiar egg shaped cyst behind my lungs may have made me sicker than I would normally have been.  It looks like a portent of doom, doesn’t it, but the cyst has shrunk back to the size of a raisin.  There is always light at the end of darkness.  Hollywood endings are rare but we will overcome our current sickness and learn how to make our lives safer.  I had the Catholic Last Rites when I was less than a year old but so far, so good.  Keep faith in humanity.

I send springtime wishes to all of you, whatever your faith or lack of.  Be well.

Katniss has Help…

Katniss playing

This post is an excuse to tell you some random stories and wish everyone Happy Easter, Passover, Pagan spring thing or whatever.  I hope you enjoy scampering naked through a field of wildflowers, eating too much chocolate or going to your church.

Katniss has Help…

As most of you know, we have a feral cat who visits twice a day for dinner.  We named her Katniss and have a collection of little plates just for her.  Rabies is quite common in Texas so I am very careful to separate Katniss’s plates from Toffee’s (our indoors cat from Egypt).  I am also lazy and end up with a pile of dirty dishes after a few days.  Then I will put them in a bucket of soapy, bleachy water to soak and then will clean them.  A week ago, I forgot to finish my task and left the bucket outside overnight.  I sleep with industrial ear plugs because Teddy really snores like a bear.  He commented in the morning that he wondered what the raccoons had been doing in the night (how could he hear anything over the snoring?)  He said that it sounded like they were breaking something and were chittering noisily.  Later on, I remembered my bucket and went out to do the dishes but someone had beaten me to it.  I looked at the bucket quizzically because the saucers were all placed tidily alongside.  I burst out laughing when I realized that the raccoons had ‘washed’ the dishes for me.  They are very smart little critters who love playing with water.  They will dip toys in the water as well as their food.  Our neighbor found them swimming in her pool one night, chittering happily.  I wondered if I should get them a toy kitchen.

The Help

The back-handed insult

St Mary’s Catholic Church
Brenham

I will be volunteering on Easter Sunday, as usual, and my doctor refers to it as my church service.  I love that idea and the next time a rude customer asks me if I have nothing better to do on a Sunday, I will say I am at my church doing something more useful than singing hymns.   Last week a pleasant older lady asked me where I was born (Scottish accent).  I told her the long story short – Californian Irish Mexican hybrid.  She looked at me carefully and then said, “You are a beautiful woman” “You don’t look a bit Mexican”.   I really didn’t know how to respond to that ‘compliment quickly followed by insult’.

The real compliment

Bluebonnets by the side of the highway

On my recent trip to the Texas countryside, I was driving along the major route between Houston and Austin.  The speed limit is 75 miles per hour but in Texas we read that as 85 or more; it is some kind of state dyslexia…  I noticed a group of cars had stopped on the side of the road and then saw the reason – BLUEBONNETS!!  To my own astonishment, I slowed down and did exactly the same.  Every Texan gets excited about our wildflower season but bluebonnets are an indigenous little blue Lupine that sets our hearts aflame.  Here is a link to a previous funny post about Bluebonnets.  After acting like an idiot on the road, I noticed a field of them next to my hotel which was near a super Walmart and, even better, A THRIFT STORE!  Kerry was in heaven, both with bluebonnets and cheap clothes.  It was a treasure trove with rich ranchers’ cast offs.  One top still had the ticket on it – $50 for $5.  At the desk, the young girl tentatively asked me if I was over 55 (30% senior discount) and I brought out my driving license (yes, they really gave me one).  She said that I didn’t look 55.  As I related this story to my colleagues later they expressed surprise at my real age and willingness to admit it in this age obsessed society.  Again I burst out laughing – I just told them I shopped at thrift stores so why hide my age.  Dang it, I would do pretty much anything for a 30% discount…