2020, eh?

pink hue

The jury’s out but so far 2020 has been less than good.  Catastrophic world news has saddened me but I hope February is better for us all.

On a much lighter note, Teddy noted that our water bill was higher than normal during September and October before the sprinkler system was turned off.  He worried the problem to death until I said I would use a hose in 2020.  He completely ignored that we live in a bubble of oil and gas, I work at an airport so should have Flygskam/flight shame  and we drive two large but old Coupés with little or no public transport available.  What’s a little water – Lord knows enough rain has fallen in Houston??  I jest, of course, and am scrupulous in using water efficiently.  Last month we used $24 of water so keep downwind of us…

Then our dishwasher (15½ years old) starting making death rattles – our appliance guy said he couldn’t repair any of our old stuff anymore.  Our microwave is rusty, also.  Once I started researching models and prices, I realized it would be cost efficient to replace almost everything (and pay for them to be recycled to avoid new appliance shame/Ny apparat skam).  Thank goodness the laundry is fine and the oven looks brand new because I don’t use it.  When I was young, we had to get a new gas fire for the living room.  There were no savings because my mum was a mentally ill alcoholic on disability.  She bought it on HP and worried about every payment.  That is why I have scrimped and saved our whole lives.

My girlfriend in Scotland had a similar situation with a dangerous gas fire in her bedroom when we were school girls.  She only discovered it was really leaking carbon monoxide when two of us left her room and fell over.  I guess it could have been much worse??  We shared the experience of neglectful alcoholic parents but can still laugh about some of it.  On that note, I have stopped drinking alcohol (until I start again).  I would really like to stop completely but I know myself.  Teddy and I shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio a few days ago and I still feel like I was hit by a bus – or I have a virus!!!!

I had a huge contract job with a manifest that was inches deep – and thousands of clients came from all over the world.  By the third day, I could see that I had feet but could no longer feel them.  Ever loving Teddy kindly drove me to work on the third day.  I can tell that my mood is ‘interesting’ as my hair has been PINK, rose gold and now boring dark blonde, all in one month.

Finally, I was completely shocked by a ‘#MeToo situation’ that had passed me by.  When I worked in Scotland, Alex Salmond, the first Minister of Scotland lived in the next village.  I had met him on several occasions, some connected to my work with local communities.  He seemed utterly charming although I didn’t agree with his politics.  Last week, I noticed in the news that his trial for sexual assault against a variety of women is starting in March.  It is not often that you know the celebrity predators (allegedly) but I am shocked – he didn’t seem the type.  My American friend asked me if he had predated me but luckily I was fat with dark hair then, so flew underneath most men’s radar.

Life is absurd, isn’t it?  One minute you narrowly dodge death by leaky gas fire, the next you avoid a predator’s attention by eating too much crap.  Got to keep laughing…😁

 

The Grinch won’t leave!

What is it about the holidays?  My mental health is better than it has been in months but still the festive season pushes all my buttons.  I think I used to enjoy Christmas but at some point it just became stressful.  It was better when there was very little money in our lives.  Presents were much needed and usually a delight – despite a white and brown polyester dressing gown that I had to wear for years…  In later years my late crazy mother got her knickers in a twist about the varieties of Christmas puddings and drove her daughter nuts trying to find the PERFECT one.  Remember when there was only one or you made your own?

As my mental health was improving during fall, I got very busy creating postcards from Teddy’s beautiful images.  Then I started on my handmade soaps and enjoyed the process.  I wrapped them prettily and gifted them to everyone.  It backfired somewhat as I made some friends feel that they had to reciprocate.  The true joy is in giving with no expectations.

Then Teddy got some unanticipated leave from his new job and we went to Fredericksburg for Christmas, possibly the most famous German town in central Texas Hill Country.  It was really beautifully decorated and the weather was fantastic – photos to follow.  Despite enjoying my environment, historic buildings and endless wineries, I couldn’t stop being irritated.

  • There were too many tourists yet we were two of them…
  • The other cars were driving like crazy Grinches – especially through Austin, the most traffic-congested city in Texas.
  • Our luxurious room wasn’t quite clean enough (it really wasn’t).
  • I was bored and tired.
  • The road from Medina to Kerrville was ridiculous – hairpin bends and really steep gradients. I guess I missed the point about visiting the hill country.
  • Teddy sleeps like an owl and I am like a bear. Maybe I should hibernate through winter??
  • Other guests. That’s a standalone but they were talking outside in broad daylight, beeping their cars locked and worse still, talking in their room at 7 pm.  They ate all the breakfast.

I know what you are thinking – poor Teddy.  It’s true that he put up with a Grinch wife but we still had wonderful meals and laughed all the time.  I am hoping that made up for the time, after driving for hours in silence, I turned on the CD to keep myself focused AND THEN he started talking.  I told him to Shut the F*** Up and gave him the finger.  Thirty seven years and counting – I love you Teddy!!!!

 

Cute Closeups

Miss Franklin, Texas 2019

What a beauty this little girl is – those brown eyes and eyelashes!

Burro Whiskers!

PLEASE give me a snack, Teddy???

Ilford – only the oldies will get that moniker.  I will give you a clue – what color is she??

This is my best side…

I only have one curly horn but still I am handsome…

A glorious little redhead – Cersei, perhaps?

Modern Love on Prime Streaming – a review

Anne Hathaway
courtesy of Wikipedia

 

This is my first review of anything on TV but one particular episode on this new Prime series, Modern Love, resonated so deeply with me that I had to share it.  The particular episode # 3, ‘Take me as I am, whoever I am’ stars Anne Hathaway  as a young woman negotiating dating and life with a diagnosis of bipolar illness.  Mental illnesses straddle a spectrum and we may share many of the same symptoms if not diagnoses.

The premise of the series is this – individual short stories about love inspired by personal essays in the New York Times column, Modern Love.  This episode followed Hathaway through a funny/sad shift in moods while trying to connect with a new boyfriend.  He couldn’t understand why she was acting so differently because, quite naturally, she didn’t want to reveal something deeply private.  She finally realized that she couldn’t keep hopping from job to job and leaving friends mystified, so started to share her secret diagnosis.  In this story, it seemed to be a rewarding experience.

What impressed me most was Hathaway’s brilliant acting although it might seem contrived to someone who had not experienced bipolar symptoms.  There is a hilarious scene in a supermarket, when she is on an obvious high, and in her head she is in a stage show.  This isn’t exactly how I feel but it is pretty close.  When I am feeling good, the world is vibrant, friendly and buzzing.  Tunes and thoughts are happily dancing in my head.  Everyone is my friend and I talk the pants off every stranger I meet.  I can even tell that I make people happy.

Then there is the abrupt change – going to bed for days on end unable to even look at my blog or emails.  It is physically painful to move my joints or answer the phone.  Most of the time my cell phone is on mute, unless I am working.  What Hathaway emoted, so successfully, was her inability to control this or explain how she was feeling.  My years of dealing with my family and personal mental illness, along with working in the field have given me some terrific masking skills but I can only keep it up for so long.

Thank goodness I met Teddy, who is naturally empathetic and nonjudgmental.  I can only imagine what it is like coming home to ‘who will she be today?’  Sometimes I am curled up on the sofa with dark circles under my eyes and a haunted look.  Nightmares plague me for weeks on end.  Of late, happy Bunny has arrived and Teddy is relieved to return to a funny expression from his beloved or even jumping out from behind the door.

It was such a joy to watch an uplifting short program about mental illness that wasn’t patronizing or dramatic.  I don’t know if Hathaway has a personal experience or the writer had but it was spot on.  She wasn’t homeless or self-medicating and eventually used her common sense to relieve the worst of the symptoms.  Even better, she was educated and attractive – many of us are just that.

An old boyfriend once said, with passion in his eyes, that he didn’t know which version of Kerry he was dating.  I am a chameleon with my style, personality and moods.  My varied career gives the wrong impression of my intellect. In Scotland I worked with my friend’s husband on a project.  He had shared with her that he didn’t realize how brilliant I was in certain work situations, especially facilitation or brain storming.  Clearly my friend didn’t know that either and was surprised.  This isn’t bragging but just an observation that I wonder what I might have achieved without this illness.  Hathaway demonstrated this in the episode by sadly expecting to leave any job quite quickly.  Not many employers are willing to give some leeway although in recent times my bosses have understood my inability to fully function at times.

If you get the opportunity to watch it, please do.  Hathaway’s acting says so much more than mere words can.  Prime/Amazon are not paying me for this review – or anyone else!

Python Pants and Slithery Stories

I thought I would try and combine a fashion post with a funny tale.  For those of you who care, animal prints are back in fashion, and that makes me HAPPY!  Out comes my leopard print Calvin Klein coat, my ancient leopard booties and now…my new python pants!  These are the softest cotton bell bottoms (fancy leggings really) and made by a company called Originality.  I browse the juniors section of the various department stores because I don’t want to look frumpy even though I am approaching my sexagenarian decade.  Shall I be a sexy sexagenarian???  The black top is by Tribal with lovely sheer sleeves and the pendant a turtle gift from Trinidad and Tobago.  The Kanna espadrilles are so comfortable…

I have been obsessed with snakes and snake print (not skin) for a very long time.  At college in Chester I jumped at the chance to intern at Chester Zoo where I helped edit the magazine in 1983.  It is a famous conservation zoo and ‘my’ magazine focused on a Dominican fruit bat facing extinction.  This was partly because of loss of habitat and environmental issues.  Fruit bats were critical to the banana crop of the Dominican Republic.  Nobody could breed them in captivity until they figured out that the juvenile bats were being bullied and failed to thrive.  Separating them until maturity solved the problem.  Then they were re-introduced to the islands and we can eat bananas.  Hurrah!

How many cute wee faces can you see? Mexican fruit bats.

While I was interning, I expressed a desire to see a snake.  In Scotland, we only have one venomous snake, the adder, and it is shy.  As a hill climber I had to be aware of the danger but had never seen one.  At Chester Zoo I was offered a trip behind the scenes at the Snake House and my eyes went straight to some baby snakes.  The keeper laughed and said they were too venomous for me to go near (the babies often have more venom to protect them).  Instead, he went straight to what looked like a blanket box, opened it and asked me to put my arms out.  Then he placed a 20 ft Royal Python in my arms – I fell immediately in love.  She snuggled in; contrary to my expectation her skin was warm and dry.  She was very relaxed because she had just eaten a rat and it was warm in the snake house.

Since that moment, I have been trying to see snakes in the wild or in captivity.  Our garden is full of them but they hide under the deck or in the reserve.  Most are nonvenomous and very useful for keeping rodent populations in control.  One of our venomous snakes is the copperhead and what a beauty she is!  You can easily identify her because her markings look like Hershey kisses.  A baby did rise to strike me because I frightened her.  After backing away, I spoke to her softly and she slithered into the forest.  Every new nature or landscape is an opportunity for me to find new varieties.  One of my neighbors had a blue ribbon snake come up her bathroom sink during the drought but she just gently put it outside.

Back to fashion for those of you who can’t stand snakes.   Around the age of 40 I was quite overweight but started to lose it steadily.  Finally I felt I could wear normal size pants/trousers and saw a lovely pair of snake print trousers in Marks and Spencer’s.  To my delight, a size 12 (US 8) seemed to slide on.  Then I looked in the mirror and burst out laughing.  I looked like a Burmese python that had just eaten a fat Capybara.  That wasn’t really the glamorous look I was going for…  At that time, I worked in a mixed sex office of engineers and administrators.  At break time, I made everyone choke on their coffee when I related this hilarious snake tale but I always remember one of my female colleagues was horrified that I would share something so unflattering about myself.  Her reaction revealed so much more about her personality than mine.  I have always been comfortable about my sexuality whether plump or skinny and that leads me onto my last tale.

When I work and wear a skirt, I have to wear hose/tights.  I guess this rule is to protect our eyes from varicose veins or funky toes?  Anyway, I usually wear patterned or lacy hose to match my uniform.  Two weeks ago, at 9 am, a silver fox came up to my desk and asked me if my hose were thigh high or went all the way up.  WTH!!!  # Me too passed him by, I suppose.  I looked at him leering at me and decided I would try and kill him, although I am pretty sure that’s not in my job description.  At this stage he hadn’t heard my Outlander sexy Celtic accent and I thought it was likely that he had a dodgy ticker.  Perhaps he had also taken a Viagra the night before given his predation.  So, I said –

“Actually these go all the way up but I do have some thigh highs in ecru lace that my husband loves.  The only problem is that my legs are so slim that they tend to slip down to my ankles…”

He went bright red, made a comment about me not wearing a wedding ring, and reversed back to a seating area.  Later on I had to shout to the general public about something that had changed.  I walked over to him and said, “I’m not so sexy now that I sound like a fishwife, am I?”  He was still alive when I finished my shift.

Tagged -Wanna Know You Better!

Would you vote for this person?

My thoughts are empty and chaotic all at the same time, unable to think of a post.  Then I got tagged by my lovely young friend, Eliza, on her thought-provoking blog Journey to Life.  Eliza  always signs, ‘Love, Light, Glitter,’ which invariably makes me smile.  It never ceases to amaze me how many diverse friends I have through WordPress, connected through our love of words, emotions and images.  We connect despite a disparity in age, lifestyle and often language.  You can tell how old I am when I say that the title of this tag/post is bothering me – I want to know you better?  Grammar is so important, girls! (In the voice of Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie).  In a brief interlude with fame, my friend and I were asked to interview for the BBC Scotland series that followed the original film.  We were loveys in the Drama Group but both declined because college was beckoning.  Most of the younger schoolchildren in that second series attended our drama-loving high school.

I thought the questions in the second part of Eliza’s post were intriguing enough to inspire a post.

  • If I were a politician I would be – honest. I think it is really that simple but I doubt I would ever be a politician.  I can only imagine what the media would make of my mental health, ‘interesting’ family and ex-con father.  On the other hand, could it be worse than what we have?
  • If I were a writer I would be – successful. With a Kindle book, a blog and published articles, I am a writer of sorts.  In the past I imagined I would be science fiction author who would make millions incorporating aliens and romance.  My next medication might help that happen…
  • If I were a book I would be – a self-help guide. I long to nurture anyone that comes close to me and have always sought jobs that are ‘helping’ in nature. But in my head I would prefer to be a Courtesan, so that might be a 50 shades novel?
  • If I were a chat show host I would be – hilariously funny. A female version of Craig Ferguson, perhaps?
  • If I were a criminal I would be – endearing? I doubt that I could be a criminal other than by accident.  See below.
  • If I were a religion I would be – (lapsed) Catholic. In my youth I rebelled against my restrictive religious upbringing but now I have relaxed into an appreciation of my culture/faith.  My moral code is mostly informed by Catholicism with some common sense.  Heavens, I don’t sound like Courtesan material, eh?
  • If I were a mythical beast I would be a Selkie!  Selkies are a Celtic combo of a seal and mermaid that can turn into a human.  They are cute and furry, just like me, with a touch of naughtiness.  Maybe I could be a Courtesan/Selkie?
  • If I were a Disney character I would be – Donald Duck. You should hear my impersonation.  Children either laugh or run off crying when I start mumbling unintelligibly like a Drunk Donald Duck.  Teddy thinks I should enunciate better and that makes me do it more just to annoy him.
  • If I were a drug I would be – Prozac. That drug was truly made in my image!
  • If I were an animal I would be – a lizard. Despite living in the subtropics, I am always cold.  I am writing this with a fleecy dressing gown on – it is 100 degrees outside.  My feet are cold but the air con is at 78 degrees.
  • If I were a piece of food I would be – a yellow mango. Sallow skin but deliciously sweet on the inside.
  • If I were an illness I would be – Anxiety! Tense, edgy, scared.
  • If I were a mood I would be – blue. The color of my feet right now…
  • If I were a vacation resort I would be – anywhere that is not a resort. I like to think of myself as a Salt Lake – intriguing, healing and usually remote.  They are a little stinky but so am I when I use my Sulfur wash.
  • If I were a pattern I would be – Paisley.  A little old-fashioned, with a Scottish accent, but chic, too.
  • If I were a tree I would be – an Oak. Steady, balanced with feet planted firmly in the soil; nurturing so many critters in my branches.

Thank you to Eliza for giving me something to smile about!  Love Light Glitter!

 

Crocodiles, Tortoises and Piggies, oh my!

Kerry with a giant tortoises, more below

He was saying, “I’m not going to talk to you unless you have baby carrots”.  This is a reserve close to Alvin, Texas called Crocodile Encounter.  It was literally in the middle of nowhere on a rough road that had just been repaved.  Even so, there was no room in the car park for me.  It was as hot as hell – 109 head index with humidity through the roof.  The shot below gives you a little feel of the conditions.

It wasn’t raining – this is the humidity on my camera.  I truly love alligators and crocodiles; primeval animals.  To be honest, I don’t know which ones were alligators or crocodiles because the heat had fried my brain.  I prefer reserves to zoos for all the obvious reasons and this sign describes why I liked it.

There are so many predators in the wilds of Texas that small crocodiles could be eaten.  It looked like crocodile heaven and even hog heaven.  I wanted to jump into the pool with the little piggy.

I loved that you could get really close to the animals.  We live alongside alligators all the time in south east Texas and these ones are really well fed.  In Louisiana we saw kittens playing close to an alligator who was basking in the sun.  Plenty of catfish to feed everyone.

This is such a beautiful crocodile, perfectly designed for living in the swamp.

Can you see me?

I love carrots!

On a slightly tangential note, I had a friend in Egypt who kept rescued tortoises, most of whom were endangered.  When they have sex, they moan and groan like they are starring in a porn movie.  It was the most hilarious noise I had ever heard; although the tortoises took love-making very seriously.  I suppose you would, if you were endangered.