I think I can say with confidence that generic resolutions in January should be banned. We feel guilty for overindulging in the festive season and are determined to become a better, slimmer or more perfect person. This period of time, between Christmas and New Year, is always difficult for me and I quickly get maudlin. Regrets fill my head but what’s the point? January is always a bit bleak even in the tropical south and it is not a good month to start a new regime. Early humans always faced feast or famine so they didn’t need resolutions. They were too busy trying to survive.
There is nothing wrong with choosing to be healthier, happier, more creative or whatever flicks your switch. Most resolutions are a lifelong challenge so a typical resolution puts too much pressure on poor old January… February is nice and short – why not try that month? You can even coordinate it with Lent, if you are that way inclined. Last summer I discovered that my cholesterol was crazy high, so my Summer Solstice resolution was to not die sooner than anticipated.
Inevitably and frustratingly, most people have commented that I am too thin. I am not, but more importantly MY CHOLESTEROL IS LOWERED! I have let things slip in December – not so much the squirrel diet but the exercise. There has been too much imbibing and that makes me want to lie on the sofa watching the Hallmark Channel. Teddy and I have been addicted to the Holiday Baking Show which hasn’t helped. “Let’s have a drink and imagine an espresso mousse encased in chocolate.”
Here are some of my unfinished or unattainable resolutions from last year –
- Finish one of the drafts of my two unfinished books and myriad other embryonic ideas
- Publish my fairy stories
- Write a book about my cholesterol lowering diet
- Not behave like a snapping turtle around my beloved Teddy
- Cook more (I am not a squirrel)
- Go out of the house every day
- Look younger
- Wear leggings less
- Adapt to retirement
- Grow my hair long and plait it
- Read a book or even finish a magazine
- Go dancing every week
- Be consistent with blogging
Without plastic surgery, I cannot look younger. Make-up and fashionable clothes can deceive me or you for a time but then I look in the mirror. My cholesterol lowering diet was incredibly boring, not worthy of publishing, and that was part of its success for me. I could, theoretically, go dancing every week but my bed calls out to me so alluringly…like a fluffy siren. Do I need to be consistent with blogging or writing – who the heck cares except me?
These last two years have been hard enough for all of us without silly resolutions. Take one little step at a time. If you fail and drink a whole bottle of cheap red wine on January 7th – just say you are celebrating Orthodox Christmas. If you are an atheist – just make up a new Winter Festivus. I don’t want to discourage anyone from making good changes in their life just don’t set yourself up to fail. That makes you feel twice as bad. I started cooking BEFORE January 1st as illustrated above – gluten free mini cornbread loaves. One has olives, one has sun dried tomatoes and the other is plain. I intend to eat them with real butter and pray to the cholesterol Goddess, aka Olive Oil.
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS LOW!!!
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…😁
In my last post, I mentioned that I thought I had mislaid my parents wedding photographs. Once I found them, and breathed a sigh of relief, I sat and looked at them. I never really knew my father – he was a creature of legend both good and bad. When I was young, my Mum tried her best to paint a balanced picture of Dad despite the unpleasant comments from family members. These photographs were never displayed but I had seen them many times. I was fascinated by the glamour of a professional shot and thought they were both attractive. As a youngster I really looked much more like my father with our dark Mexican roots.
As I gazed at the shots, I realized that neither my Mum nor Dad looked happy. They married after a couple of months of meeting but they were in their late 20’s, more than capable of making a sensible decision. My theory is that they were pregnant with me and I know that my dad asked my mum to have an illegal abortion. I had admired these photos for years, longing to have similarly glamorous wedding shots, but had never noticed the lack of happiness in their eyes. The social mores of two Catholics not marrying after a pregnancy were overwhelming. My mum told me that a distant relative offered to adopt me so the circumstances must have been dire. Eventually my mum divorced my dad in 1976 on the grounds of mental cruelty. He had already remarried in the States.
Then I found a photograph of my mum with a previous American boyfriend above. If anyone recognizes him, you might have been my sibling!
My mum had mentioned that he was a really nice guy, Italian American, but that she hadn’t fallen for him. Maybe she wasn’t ready but my mum looked truly happy in this simple photograph. How I longed for a normal father like him when I was young. As the years have passed I have come to terms with my Dad probably having some mental health and addiction issues (as did my Mum). I have so enjoyed meeting members of my Dad’s family – seeing distinct resemblances both in appearance and also personality. My mum’s bridesmaid, who has stayed close to me, told me many times that my Dad had a fascinating charismatic side that I had inherited. To the right is a photograph of Teddy and I signing the register 38 years ago – now that’s a real smile.
We had not a single professional wedding shot…❤️
I just made Crimson a noun but Shakespeare messed with words all the time – ‘brevity is the soul of wit‘. For the first time in 15 years our dwarf crimson crape has fully matured and she is beautiful.
Doesn’t she just make you happy? Our neighbors love her.
Meet Shrimpy Shrimp, as I call our shrimp plant. Shouldn’t all our plants be named? The early botanists made a marvelous job with the Latin monikers. This is her much more gracious formal name – Justicia Brandegeeana. She seems to dance with hot pink petticoats. Justicia is a native of Mexico and seems to love our garden as you can see from the shot below in front of our other pink crape.
I deliberately clothed the garden in pink at the front – it just looks so pretty together including the Ti plant which is to the right of the tree. He is a Hawaiian native – aloha!
Even our dragons live in luxury on the porch with velveteen pink cushions. This is a spotted Gecko, unnamed, as there are literally hundreds all over the garden. You can name him if you like?
30th Wedding Anniversary
I married in 1982, one year after Princess Diana. Many of the dresses of that period look dated but my lucky bargain dress stayed stylish and beautiful. This photo (set) was a gift to Teddy on our 30th wedding anniversary – 6 years ago. My wedding dress had not been cleaned in all those years and had traveled across continents. It was in a plastic bag in our attic in Texas and after I lost weight, I decided to try it on. It looked amazing so I took it my local dry cleaner who made it like new for less than $10. It is ivory satin with tulle and Belgian cotton lace on the bottom. I was struggling to find a wedding dress in Scotland because my skin is really more sallow than it looks. All the bright white dresses washed me out. Finally, my mum and I went to Fraser’s department store in Glasgow and found this dusty ballgown (not a wedding dress) reduced from 100 to 15 GBP. Even then that was a steal.
As soon as the photographs were taken, I took the dress to my local thrift store so that some other lucky bride could enjoy it. I felt somewhat guilty for having ignored it for the previous 30 years… Below is the dress on the original day, 19 July 1982.
Teddy and Bunny, with our Mums at our side in 1982
So this is the original color of my hair and also Teddy’s glorious blonde hair. My hair is naturally curly and covered in confetti. My mum had sewn up the low cut neckline for modesty but the stitches burst open as soon as I stepped (elegantly) out of the taxi. At least Teddy and his grand-dad looked really happy at the view! I was 21 but looked like a teenager – nervous about marrying a virtual stranger and living in a new country.
The anniversary photographer had a make-up artist so I posed for a variety of shots. Teddy proudly displays them in his office and delights in visitors saying “Is that your wife??” Yes, she is. ❤
This is the inside Princesa – Toffee. It is hard to get a good shot of her because she is a darkly colored Tabby (mixed with Egyptian Mau). In reality, her markings and fur are exquisite. She has the typical saggy beige fluffy tummy of a Mau and little fluffy Hobbit feet to protect her from the desert heat. We rescued her as a kitten in Cairo but at age 15, I still can’t pick her up. For years she hardly spoke but since the other two Egyptian cats died she has not shut up… She talks about everything with precise vocalizations. “Thank you” for lunch sounds very different from “Clean up my poo stat!” Although she and Katniss have never met face to face, Toffee chats to her through the open window. In some Disney world they would be sleeping together but they are both little ferals, happy in their own worlds. She hunts sunbeams around the house even though I keep the temperature at 76 degrees or above. I move Nana’s orange and brown rug about so that her old bones are comfortable in the sunbeam.
This is the outside Princesa – Katniss. I rudely call her Fatniss because she is a voracious but slow eater. She is probably about 3 or 4, maybe neutered by the local cat people and I think she belongs to me now? At the moment I was writing this, I ‘knew’ that she was outside, so I interrupted this post to feed her with newly clean dishes. The raccoons have been playing with the dishes again and I had to hunt for them around the garden. From time to time, Katniss rolls in the garden and I get to see her lovely white tummy with a black belt (in Karate?) She has a lovely mixture of black and pink toes, usually immaculate despite living outside. She also talks – do they get it from me?? Katniss has a tiny little voice and chats while I feed her. Sometimes the tone is terse when it is cold or wet. She also hisses when she is happy – I think she is just trying all her vocalizations.
They make me happy. ❤
Standing on route 66, Tulsa
I have wanted to visit Tulsa for such a long time. Finally, Teddy had a short business trip so I accompanied him last fall for a one night stay. It is a small city but I saw some fabulous highlights. Oklahoma is mostly flat prairie, uninteresting to some but the sky goes on forever. Tulsa is unusual because it has hilly terrain. It has been a wealthy city for many years – it is an oil city and on route 66.
Fountain in downtown Tulsa
I expected people to be friendly and they were, with a little reserve. That might be because we travelled the day after the election in 2016. Everyone was frightened to say anything in case they offend their political viewpoint – we still are, for the most part. You could see that the oil slump had affected some of downtown but it was still resplendent with Art Deco architecture in another boom time and more recently with fantastic modern buildings.
Last year was a strange one for me and my health. The trip was in October and in my head I feel that I have aged hugely, in one year, but when I look at the photograph above I can see a glimmer of happiness. It is strange how the mirror rarely reflects the truth.
More lovely photographs to come from Tulsa.
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.
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
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
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…