This is Fulton Mansion State Historic Site in the seaside town of Rockport, Texas, halfway between Louisiana and Mexico. It was wickedly hot the day we visited and it provided succor from the blazing sun. Inside was the most marvelous surprise – an incredibly interesting museum. When we approached it, I couldn’t help thinking it would make a fabulous Halloween House on a dark and stormy day. Wednesday Addams would feel so at home in my Photoscaped version below. I loved the Netflix series about Wednesday – I felt we bonded on a Greta Garbo level. We both had colonial ancestors named Addams/Adams. Mine was Nathanial Adams who was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1647. Next post will be about beautiful Fulton Mansion and eventually one on my Adams family.
Tag Archives: humor
The Tour Bus
When planning our recent trip to Costa Rica, I thought about booking a tour to coffee plantations or volcanoes. Gasping at the prices of American based companies, I decided it would probably be less expensive to book in San Jose, the capital. At our hotel they told us about a local company who would be able to take us on a small tour to Poás volcano and see coffee plantations on route. Perfect! The tour was leaving at 7.30 am sharp. A small van was taking ourselves and two husbands, staying at our hotel, to join up with our respective tours. When we arrived at the next destination, I inwardly chuckled that the tour guide assumed that the fit young men were going up volcanos and we were going to a spa (to ease our old bones). Luckily, one of the husbands was fluent in Spanish. I can’t think of anything more boring than going to a spa…
We ascended onto the ‘volcano’ bus and greeted out fellow passengers. There was only 4 seats left on our Sprinter so we sat in the back row like naughty students. After 45 minutes we stopped on the side of a busy interstate and were joined by our final two guests, lovely ladies from North Carolina. The passengers were quite eclectic. The couple in front of us were French and Italian. The French lady kept twittering about l’oiseaux, so I guess she was a birder. The couple next to us were from Minnesota, although the husband was originally from New Zealand. I was curious about moving from New Zealand to Minnesota but I guess love is powerful.
One of the North Carolina ladies announced to the whole bus that she had moved from New York to North Carolina after her divorce and it was ‘the best thing she had ever done’. We seemed a chattier group than usual but perhaps this is normal in this post pandemic world? One Canadian man was talking about American politics but survived the trip intact… Teddy was trying to curl himself into a ball in his window seat. He is so used to just being around me and wolves that he was struggling to cope with all this sociality.
Then we spotted the first coffee sign for a plantation. Inevitably it was Starbucks. I think they start off with good coffee but then ruin it with burned milk (just my opinion). We stopped at the next plantation and there was a little visitor center and café. The coffee was nice but the view even better. When we arrived there was a very old man posing with his water buffalo. He berated me for giving him Costa Rica currency – he wanted dollars. How did he know I was American? He would have been less happy if I offered him Icelandic Krona.
The roads were narrow and interesting. Thankfully I was too excited about a volcano to have a panic attack. There were very deep ditches at the sides of roads to deal with tropical rainfall. Generally, the roads were in good condition. It was a very steep, winding drive up to Poás volcano but finally we arrived. Our tour guide said, “Vamanos!”, and we strode up the road to the summit with varying degrees of ability. I have been to Denver on various trips but this was the first time I noticed I had trouble breathing at high altitude. Perhaps the steep hill contributed.
At the summit, the tour guide said that the rest of the passengers were going on to visit waterfalls. Would we like to pay extra and join them? I was keen but Teddy was over the tourists. On the way back we stopped at a winery to meet up with our car to take us back to San Jose. The guide explained to the bus group that we were leaving so we left with Au Revoir, Ciao and Goodbye Y’alls. Our car wasn’t there so the guide suggested that the rest of the group wine taste since we were waiting. It was quite delicious for tropical wine – sweet and red.
While we were waiting, I had a long chat with the driver who only spoke Spanish. He must have enunciated very well because I understood everything and was able to respond. His son is a student in Indiana and they have to travel through Houston to visit. The slightly hassled tour guide interrupted us to say that our driver was at another location closer to San Jose. So…we had to get on the bus, listen to all the jokes (did you have a nice time in San Jose?) and then say goodbye all over again, about 20 minutes later. Another couple were waiting to take our places and go to the waterfalls. As someone who has worked in public and private transportation for years, I was terribly impressed by their efficiency (apart from one little blip). I hope the new couple that joined the group enjoyed a wee chat…
Our new driver was content to put the radio on and drive swiftly back to San Jose. That allowed my wolfman to chill out and enjoy the scenery. It made us both realize that we prefer being travelers than tourists. We rarely saw tourists near our hotel or in San Jose but it didn’t take away from a fantastic trip.
It started badly…
Don’t put your socks on before your nail varnish is dry
This is what happens when you paint your nails, are too impatient to wait for them to dry and then put on black socks. I guess it could be a new trend. For the past few weeks I have been hibernating so that I wouldn’t catch Covid for our first vacation overseas in almost 4 years. I was certain that I would cancel it but just kept trying to manage my anxiety by cleaning the house obsessively. In the past I was an intrepid traveler but those days have gone.
The first shock was that my passport will be out of date this February – eek! Many countries insist that you have at least 6 months left on your passport before it’s renewal date. I feverishly Googled in the middle of the night after I woke up panicked, suddenly realizing how long it was since I used my passport. Fortunately, Costa Rica will accept American visitors as long as the passport is in date. I had packed a week before the departure date choosing clothing for variable tropical weather – cold in the mountains and wet at times. Then I decided to paint my nails and you see what happened… My nails remained bare.
Our Uber arrived early and we sped to the airport, negotiating it easily despite the current construction. The fully packed flight left on time despite the airline pleas for people to take another flight as it was initially overbooked. The passengers were an eclectic bunch – many had connected at Houston from Europe and further afield. Most were meeting guided tours but we were staying in San Jose with one planned trip to an animal sanctuary, not a zoo, with SLOTHS!!!
Brown Lump otherwise known as a Tayra,
a fast moving member of the stoat family
The plane arrived on time and we breezed through Inmigracion. I struggled with my bad Spanish but noticed that everyone else just spoke English. It’s polite to at least try to speak the nation’s language or apologize for not doing so. At the luggage belt one of our bags turned up quickly but the other was MIA. I spoke to the United agent and she said the luggage had arrived. She suggested one of the customers might have taken it but I doubted that because it had multi-colored ribbons on it and a luggage tag. After a panicky wait, she got a call from the ground staff – it probably fell of the luggage cart and was retrieved from the runway.
My anxiety was rising but it was okay – we got the bag! Thrifty is my middle name so happily discovered that Ubers were available in Costa Rica but not legal. We walked past the taxis and followed the directions of the staff to the Ubers. It was complicated and incorrect. Our Uber app worked however and Jesus was on his way in a white Chevy. He arrived but we couldn’t see him. I passed my phone to a security officer who described me and where I was. Ropa azul (blue clothes) Blanca (ethnicity) and something else that made her chuckle. I suspect it was something referring to Gringas. We waited and waited to no avail. Then the app stopped working.
Fuzzy sloth in a hammock
Equally fuzzy hair of the person in front of me
We had to go all the way back to the taxis and pay more than I wanted to. Our driver spoke no English but chatted happily in Spanish. The driving was a tad erratic – traffic lanes were more of a suggestion. It reminded me of Egypt where they made five lanes out of three. Then the skies opened and a deluge of rain started that made the driving more interesting. I understood that our driver was blaming the California weather event for this unusual rain. January is the dry month, in theory. He asked if we were going on any trips and I told him about the animal sanctuary. For the rest of the time we were going to explore San Jose. He asked why??? My mood was dipping.
Finally we got to our beautiful hotel with a fantastic view from our luxurious 10th floor room to the mountains and city. There was a faint smell of food that may have been from the vents but it was the last straw. I told Teddy that I wanted to go straight back home and he sat dejectedly on the bed. I started unpacking and slowly calmed down. Eventually we went out for a wee walk and got some local currency at a bank. We had been worried about food because of Teddy’s restricted diet so ate at the hotel that first night.
There was a Hollywood ending! The food was delicious, no more rain just glorious sunshine and the friendliest people. San Jose was a delightful city with amazing museums. We loved the animal sanctuary and even went to see one of the volcanos. More blogs to come with some decent photographs…but don’t you love my outtakes?
Sloth in a bucket who refused to come out
No Resolutions until February!
As a world-weary sexagenarian, (why does that sound better than it is?) I feel fully qualified to give the advice in the title. I no longer make resolutions of any kind – it just puts too much pressure on poor old January and me. It’s a dark and miserable month unless you live in the equator or upside-down world beneath. Many of us have struggled through dysfunctional family get-togethers or excruciating company parties. We need to give ourselves a break in January.
I had an otherworldly experience when I was working a corporate holiday event in December. It felt like Christmas Present looking at Christmas Past. The executives had the lackluster expressions of people who had been to one corporate function too many, aspirational middle managers were wearing expensive togs and eager to please faces, the bottom rung looked nervously excited but ready to party. There were spray tans, tight fitting outfits revealing too much flesh on a perishingly cold evening and the inevitable Holiday Sweaters. Some were not ugly at all…and at least they were warm.
When Teddy and I first moved to Houston, he was on the aspirational ladder. Our first company ball was downtown and it was formal dress. We floated in a sea of unfamiliar faces until someone we knew appeared. They seemed eager to interact with us until a more important executive appeared. Then they rudely ditched us like hot potatoes. We sat at a table of strangers, drank too much and had fun. That was the last Holiday Formal that we ever attended. When Teddy retired, we donated his tuxedo and my long dresses to the thrift store. I hope they made good Halloween costumes.
This Christmas I watched the folks at this fancy corporate event blithely drink until they reeked of liquor. The wee devil on my shoulder thought, ‘enjoy that hangover’ but the angel said, “Merry Christmas!” I write with the smugness of a newly converted Catholic (substitute Mormon, Buddhist or Wiccan) who has signed the pledge. Too bad it took me until now to figure out that alcohol is not my friend. Ever since Teddy’s various cardiac events we have been on the straight and narrow. Our regime has been so successful that our black work outfits were hanging off us like elderly crow feathers.
I still cringe with memories of drinking or eating too much, then feeling terrible. Sometimes I said something deeply inappropriate or blacked out (don’t take alcohol with psychiatric medication). Every January I would sign up at Weight Watchers or at least think about it. Lists would be written with instructions to myself on how to make my life better. If only I could be slimmer, prettier or smarter then life would be perfect. Next year I would find the right career (substitute house, partner or friend) for me.
Who says that January is the start of the New Year? Pope Gregor has much to answer for… We could celebrate Persian New Year, Nowruz, in March. January is a good month to just – BE. Relax, eat a few more chocolates and have that glass of wine. Allow yourself to wallow a little. In Scotland we embrace maudlin thoughts of Auld Lang Syne on New Years’ Day. Use January to slowly form embryonic goals that are realistic. Read a book and listen to old records.
By the time it comes to February you might feel ready to embrace a new routine. A planned vacation might inspire some language skills. My least favorite phrase is ‘hit the ground running’. It brings back terrible memories of the colleague from hell who also plastered our office walls with those ridiculous aspirational posters. There is no rush in life; it all ends the same way so why hurry?
The last thing I wanted to do in retirement was cook meals from scratch. I envisioned long boozy lunches with other retired friends, sometimes in exotic places. Then the Pandemic happened. Life seemed to stop and after a while I stopped drinking too much, ate properly – and felt much better. Who knew? Some years ago, I wrote and published a book. It was my lifelong dream but I still felt dissatisfied. But life’s good enough. For the first time in ages, I feel content. I went to a tiny holiday party in our street and probably talked too much but who cares? ‘I yam what I yam’ – quoting Popeye, the great philosopher.
I am thinking about learning to knit properly, use my sewing machine and painting Christmas cards for next year. If I do any of those tasks, it will because the psychiatrist suggests a fancy new drug that makes me as high as a kite… I will settle for trying new recipes, a couple of short trips away, a contract or two and life will be good. Look after yourselves in the deep midwinter and may 2023 be gentle on us.
The Critters were sad…
It was one dead animal too many and the time had come to deconstruct our deck. We loved that all the critters had a place to shelter but inevitably some crawled under and then passed over the rainbow bridge. I never thought I would have a use for all the terms I learned on the TV show CSI – Crime Scene Investigation, regarding decomposition. Three skunks, one squirrel and a raccoon leg – that’s almost a Christmas song…
When we moved into the shiny new house, 18 years ago, we were lucky enough to get one of the model homes. Granite countertops and fully landscaped back yard. It had grass that was utterly alien to me. In Scotland I had a yard the size of a field that I seeded and mowed. This Saint Augustine’s grass was as tough as old boots, killed the first lawnmower and had to go. We replaced the grass with little pebbles and bull rock and everything was wonderful. That is until, Toffee, our baby cat, decided that the little pebbles was ‘outside’ cat litter. She buried her poos, very carefully, but her toxic digestive system turned the rock green. We shared a parasite or two with the cats from Egypt.
What to do? We had a cat fence installed (think penitentiary boho chic) and then a deck within that area. The first deck was fantastic! The fence and cats prevented most visitors venturing under the deck. One special day, Mrs. Stripe touched noses with a Mama Raccoon – both were fascinated with each other. The deck lasted past the death of all three cats and the removal of the cat fence that was donated to an animal sanctuary. We lovingly maintained and painted it to match the house. Then the harsh Texas elements started to destroy the wood and the first critter died under it.
Our handyman deconstructed the much larger, original, deck and built a newer, smaller deck. It was nice but never quite as perfect as the first one. Every time the planks had to be removed (for locating dead bodies) and then replaced, it took a toll on the deck wood. When we were younger, it didn’t seem such a big deal; hilarious even. I managed to retrieve the squirrel corpse with yoga poses and a stick. Now there is not enough Celebrex in the world to make me bend like that.
We thought that the original concrete deck might be damaged but it was almost perfect. Manuel power-washed it and it looked amazing. Then our gardener came in and reset all the original boulders, graded the ground, replaced the little pebbles, added some rock and new cedar mulch. Teddy took me out for lunch and took a shot of me, below, in the perfect new yard. Teddy refers to my spotted Calvin Klein coat as my ‘Bet Lynch’ coat…only the Brits will get that but substitute any reality housewife. I have since painted the deck with stain called ‘Adobe’ and it looks exactly as it sounds.
But the critters were sad. Our beloved ‘Tail’ family of squirrels disappeared during the construction. They all had a genetic abnormality with their tails – we called them ‘Half’, ‘Three Quarters’ and the original girl, ‘Tail’. Naming animals is not our forte – we had one cat called Puss. We missed our little friends but then a new family moved in – the Floofs! They have full fluffy tails, glossy fur and bright white spots on their ears. Unlike our ‘Tails’, they run away when I open the door to give them peanuts but soon return. Then, one happy day last week, ‘Three Quarters’ returned! She sat and waited as I found a snack for her. We keep hoping that all the Tails return.
All three of our Egyptian cats are buried in our garden. I hope they approve of the new garden. RIP baby cats.
As Thanksgiving approaches, there doesn’t seem like much to be thankful for this year with ‘Winter is Coming’ fuel shortages, war, pestilence, inflation, climate change and all the other stuff we are worried about. Take self-centered me, for example – my newish bikini razor broke and I couldn’t find the receipt. I took out all my receipts and had a mini meltdown. All the numbers on the receipts blurred and I became panicked – about something that cost less than $20. I really struggled to find my sensible head but wonky head was in control. As always, I calmed down eventually, but I was shaken. The unimportant broken razor was just the catalyst for how I am feeling.
I am not alone but my worries are ridiculous and magnified by my mental illness. The city of Kherson in Ukraine has just been liberated from the Russians who destroyed all their infrastructure as they left. Yet, the residents were smiling and thankful. Perspective always helps to settle my mind so I make sure I read the world news every day. My aunt in Ireland told me that the government has asked local authorities, businesses and households to ration energy use and Christmas lighting displays.
Inflation makes us anxious in the US but it is running at around 85% in Turkey. It’s a post pandemic global issue and the US is about average compared to other first world countries. I just received a check from the UK for £1000 – once converted, it was only $1000. That’s never happened! The fact that I was fortunate enough to receive a check for $1000 should have made me thankful… As a child I was so happy to receive a $20 note in a birthday card from aunts in the USA. The concept of money was beyond me but I remember the excitement of going to the Rutherglen Post Office to change it into UK pounds.
Last week I wrote a draft post about having chronic fatigue but then the clocks changed back and I am not tired all the time. Two weeks ago, I could not walk around our circular street without being exhausted. We had Covid in the summer so perhaps that’s part of it. The ugly truth is that it is nearly always my aggravating mental ill health that causes or exacerbates my other physical complaints. It has been a stressful health year for us but nothing out of the ordinary for older people. Maybe ageing is stressful?
Twitter might be bankrupt soon and Meta, aka Facebook, is failing. Have we finally realized that social media is a potentially toxic entity, especially when managed by ethically dubious people? I have usually lived in small communities and when I heard a tantalizing piece of gossip, there was that initial thrill. Then I assessed it and hopefully made a sensible decision about repeating it. In a perfect world, I would not have repeated it but I am human! Is there anything more fun than sharing a juicy titbit with a friend over coffee? These days, there is less ‘wife swapping’, and more ‘he is in a wheelchair now’ tales. There is a difference between salacious gossip and keeping a community connected.
Most of us are now personally affected by climate change. This summer was just too hot and I struggled. It affected my mood being unable to go out for a walk because of the heat or dangerous UV radiation. Some of my neighbors got up at 7 am to take their dogs out but I just couldn’t manage that. Last week winter arrived and it was 40 F today but it was 82 F yesterday. That’s a huge change for big critters and little ones. Teddy and I talk aimlessly about living somewhere more temperate but remember how much we disliked the cold in northern Europe. Nowhere is perfect.
I remember bitterly cold nights in Scotland, as a child. Window panes frozen with delicate patterns. On the worst nights every blanket or eiderdown was used on the beds – with winter coats atop. Back then, I didn’t have such an aversion to cold. We had very old flannel sheets that we used in the winter. They were darned, as mine are now. Electric blankets weren’t commonplace so we put rubber hot water bottles in the beds, moving them from the middle to the bottom before slipping into bed. Heaven! My flannel sheets are so old that they feel a bit rough on your skin – maybe I could sell them as a body exfoliation product? This summer, I bought expensive new flannel sheets on sale. Once you go ‘Lands End’ you can’t go back…
Last week, I told the pharmacist that I was going to kill my husband and I think she believed me. We finally switched to Affordable Health Care aka Obama Care from our work sponsored medical insurance. Teddy spent months planning it so the transition would be smooth. My bill for cheap, generic medication was $92. What the heck? The insurance wasn’t working because I had the wrong birthdate on the policy. We assume that it was a Scottish accent problem… The worried pharmacist did a magic trick with coupons and reduced the bill to $13. Teddy was working at the wolf sanctuary so I didn’t want to call him in case he had another cardiac event.
Then I called healthcare.gov (pause for a joint sigh of despair) but it was okay. I had to swear on my first-born cat’s life that I was not committing a felony and sold my soul to somebody. It will take a few weeks for it to be sorted and it was not the end of the world. So, with that in mind, this is what am I thankful for –
- I have healthcare of any type
- There is enough money for food
- We can heat or cool the house
- My illness is manageable
- I live in a democracy
- Thrift shops are my happy place
- Loving friends and family
- There is a roof over my head
Let’s keep our wishes simple, our gratitude real and be generous with time or money for those who have less than us. That can be rescued wolves or homeless people. If you don’t feel good or need help, share it with someone you trust. It’s not necessary or normal to be happy all the time. Keep some perspective about real world problems. Be kind to as many species as possible. Mother Earth will thank you!
Life has been busier than normal recently. My husband was scheduled for a cardiac procedure but after much thought he decided to cancel and/or delay it. At the same time, a family member from Scotland was coming to visit us in Texas. I haven’t seen my family in over 3 years and was so excited about his visit. Every part of the house was cleaned, over and over again. Anticipation, stress and then fatigue… In a brief Zen moment, I lingered in the discount corner of our local supermarket. It had been stocked with wonderful organic potions that caught my interest. Then, I was aware that another shopper was hovering nearby.
“Gosh, I am so sorry!”, I said. “Please come in and have a browse – I can’t make up my mind which wrinkle cream to choose.” She was a pretty younger woman in her 40’s, perhaps? I noticed she was very slim and looked a bit harassed, although smiling. Inevitably, we started chatting about various bargains we had gotten at our two supermarkets’ discount corners. We both had found fabulous discontinued products that we later had to hunt for on Amazon and pay full price for the second purchase. Then she asked me if any wrinkle creams work. I started laughing, pointing at my face and saying, “Of course they don’t!”
Suddenly, the conversation took a turn. The lady said, “I have aged so much over the last 2 years since my husband left me.” My counselling skills automatically clicked on so I just adjusted my gaze and fully focused on her. “He won’t leave me alone but it was his choice to leave. I guess he has to see the children.” I hope I chose the right words and soothed her somewhat but she saddened me. The Pandemic has been bad enough without a separation or divorce. It is often easier to talk to an anonymous lady about deeply personal problems. While I am honored that she picked me but I hope she has someone else to talk to. Or perhaps a blog?
Our family visitor came for a lovely but brief visit. We went out to dinner at a local restaurant and I ate gluten, wheat and walnuts. That gave me gas that was incredibly painful, if laughable. Note to self; keep to your sensible diet or suffer the consequences. My cousin is our genealogist and we had great fun looking at old photographs. We currently have a mystery about our great grand-parents. We both thought they had lived their whole lives in Ireland at the farm but an Ancestry DNA link is intimating that they moved to Maine (I have a photo of great grandma taken in Rhode Island) and then went back to Ireland.
My cousin had jet lag, woke up at 5 am and I found him reading out on our deck when I got up. He said there was an odd smell wafting from the deck. Aghast, I looked beside him and there were glittery decomposition flies – gah! All that cleaning and my guest is sitting next to a (very small) dead body on our equivalent of a Body Farm. I blame Baby Cooper Hawk. Did he drop injured prey on our deck that fled under the deck? So…I have asked our handyman to come and dismantle the deck. We are getting too old to deal with our Body Farm so we will have it dry landscaped.
After Cousin left, I lazed around for a couple of days before going to early voting at the library. When I arrived, there was a small queue outside but the weather was glorious – not humid or warm. Two very elderly people with sticks were asked if they would like to jump the line but the old man said he had nothing else to do anyway. Then he told all of us (about a dozen) that his wife had died recently and life was difficult. We all made reassuring noises (and I felt sad again…) Another lady about the same age told us she was glad that her husband died before her and her eyes welled up with tears!
So many people need some talk therapy these days or just a cozy chat. The lady right in front of me then turned around to chat to me about the electoral process. Did I look knowledgeable? She asked me how mail-in voting works and is it secure? I said I had no idea and hoped she didn’t hear my accent behind my mask. I was the only person wearing a mask. This brings me to my favorite funny story about voting in the States.
Some years ago, British friend of mine, in Texas, went to vote in our township. The election worker noted her English accent and asked to see her ‘papers’, despite her voting card and driving license. This provoked my friend to say, rather sharply, “I have been an American citizen for 30 years and this is the first time anyone has asked to see my papers”. Quite rightly, she was outraged at the query, especially since the greater Houston area has a wide array of legal immigrants – many first generation with accents. Unfortunately, for the election worker, there was a lady with a strong Russian accent behind my friend. Her comment was, “This place like Stalingrad!” (You have to read it with the accent.) My friend and the Russian/American lady bonded, they voted and we all lived happily ever after in our suburban bubble.
Keeping smiling at people and chatting. You never know who might need a shoulder right now.
Update – Manuel deconstructed the deck. It was a decomposing raccoon leg – a perfect Halloween scene and mystery. Who ate the rest?? Not Baby Cooper but perhaps a hungry possum. The circle of life…🦝
I was all set, getting ready to leave the house to go to the Dentist. Then I saw a flicker of gray in the garden and crept to the window. It was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, resplendent in knitted pantaloons. If I was little, I would ask my Nana to knit me a stuffed Hawk just like this one.
The Juvenile was very skittish and as I went to get my camera out of the drawer, I noticed a squirrel staring intently at the hawk from the fence. Part of me wanted to warn the squirrel but I really wanted a photograph… We have plenty of squirrels and this one was curious, not scared! Baby Cooper posed so nicely for me, showing off her fabulous plumage. I need to get an outfit of taupe and steel gray now.
Eventually, I made a noise as I was trying to poke the camera through the Venetian blinds and the hawk flew off straight into the squirrel. My heart was in my mouth wondering what would happen next but the feisty squirrel fluffed up her fur like a cat and terrified Baby Cooper. They eat much smaller prey than squirrels. Our squirrel stood her ground, saying, “That is MY Nut Mom and MY garden.”
Please come visit us again, little hawk! I want to see those yellow feet…and those fluffy pantaloons.
When I went out on the walking path yesterday, I met Baby Cooper! She sat in her tree while I have a one side conversation with her. There is an open invitation for her to visit my yard.
I love the not very scarecrow and the upside down witches legs at the next store
I am in a strange mood for the start of my favorite season. Fall has taken some of the heat out of the air and I woke up cold today. Can you believe it was 73 F (23 C) in the house?? Every so often, I have notions about moving to somewhere quieter with better air quality but those places are always cold in the winter so, ‘No Bueno’.
Before the pandemic, I was delighted at myself for fixing the leaking U-Bend pipe under the sink, with step-by-step instructions from the local hardware store. Then it leaked again, mid pandemic, and my husband fixed it. This week it flooded again and the plumber had to be called. Over the last two decades I have cultivated a cache of trusted contractors in Texas. We came from a small village in Scotland where you could rely on word of mouth for good service.
I know the plumber’s wife very well and we chat away like old friends, both trapped in the house by work or anxiety. “Hello, Mary”, said I, “Could you send that nice young man that came before?” As soon as the phrase was uttered, I burst out laughing, as did Mary, at how horribly ancient I sounded. We shared memories about how embarrassing it was when our respective mothers talked to complete strangers. You never think your mother’s words and accent are going to fly out of your mouth like Parseltongue. Then you look in the bathroom mirror and she is staring at you…like Moaning Myrtle.
Mary told me that James would be delighted to be requested, especially from a VIP customer, such as myself. James came early but phoned to see if that was okay (isn’t that perfect?) and arrived with his wee pal, Carlos. Both were married and about 30 years old but seemed so young to me. About a decade ago, I might have tried to emulate Mrs. Robinson for a good price (for the plumbing) but can only pull that off with old codgers now (the electrician, for example).
They went straight to the sink and James said, “This is my last day.” NO!!! Then I turned into Auntie Kerry as he told me that he had to take 2 months off work because his mother, in Washington State, just had a serious stroke and was awaiting a brain operation. He was really agitated about it, understandably, but particularly because he might lose the best job he had ever had. We chatted some more about making difficult decisions but I assured him that he was making a good decision. Life is so short; he would probably regret not going and the plumbing company would keep the job open as long as they could. If not, there is always a need for contractors.
As they were fixing the sink and then the cistern, I whispered to Teddy about the situation and asked him to find a nice geological rock for James as he collects them. As they were leaving, and undercharging us, Teddy presented James with an ancient rock from Ireland and one from Scotland. Carlos was just standing, being supportive to his colleague and I felt sorry for him. So…I asked him if he would like a Popsicle? Now I had gone from Auntie to Granny Kerry. They both left, looking happier with popsicles and rocks. How does this happen and when did I turn from sexy cougar to nice Nana? Thank goodness I still have my gardener who calls me Babe! Even Martha Stewart does thirst trap Instagrams.
On the squirrel front, ‘Half’ has been behaving badly. He was chasing everyone off the deck so he could eat all the peanuts. I opened the back door and shouted, “Half! I am going to smack your bottom, if you don’t stop that.” Distant neighbors will be calling social services about the Scandinavian neighbor who assaults her children The drought has returned and I am watering the garden again. Yesterday I went into the back yard in my disgusting nightie (stains, no shape). As I was hosing, a GIANT grasshopper landed on my head. I had a tiny mental break, lost control of the hose which soaked me and my newly cleaned windows. The grasshopper was terrified too.
I got washed and went to Trader Joe for groceries. It’s a hip and groovy store and all the checkout staff are interesting… My Dude was about 45 years old and looked like he had started a degree at a liberal arts college in California. In my imagination, weed and surfing took over his life and now he works at a store. He was so friendly, Bro, and we started talking. I had bought some cans of wine (it’s a trailer home next) that were pre-mixed with sparkling water for Teddy’s restrictive diet. The label said that the beverage was for those with an active lifestyle? I started laughing and told him that I fully intended to sit motionless on my sofa and watch Netflix with said cans of wine. He laughed and suggested I drink the harder stuff at the weekend. In response, I told him that I only drink Jagermeister at the weekend (I was joking) but he looked at the old lady with new respect. For the Brits, Jagermeister is the equivalent of Buckfast. Gives you a hell of a hangover.
There was a big social event in the street – the second I have attended in a month! I was so pleased with myself for going to both, behaving like a normal person and not drinking much. But a toll has been taken – my mental health took a dip from all the social anxiety. They were all people that I know and like but these last two years of introspection have made it difficult fight against my overwhelming desire to stay at home all the time. I know it is important to keep challenging myself so although I didn’t feel like it, I kept a promise to visit one of our local antique towns today, with Teddy, and regretted it almost immediately. Still, I followed through, and that’s important to improve my health. Now we are meeting friends for lunch on Thursday. Go, Kerry, Go!
Who doesn’t love a Corpse Bride at the Wedding Store?
No more Banana Bread…
One of my favorite treats is eating some delicious banana bread at a country café. My favorite type is oozing with ripe bananas, some walnuts and cinnamon. This is now a beloved memory after I finally went for allergy testing. I thought, like my mum, I might have a protein allergy. Chocolate, eggs and cream gave her fantastic welts on her forehead – often spelling Mars Bar. She would swear blind that she hadn’t had chocolate but I always knew. Finally, she would break down after my interrogation, laughing hysterically. One little cousin had allergies to almost everything but has grown out of some of them. Over two years ago, on the advice of a good medical friend, I stopped eating gluten. It was difficult but I now have a very healthy diet full of
walnuts (allergic), bananas (allergic), cinnamon (allergic). My friend was correct and I am also allergic to wheat, yeast, peaches, cashews, almond and mustard. Who the heck is allergic to bananas?? I can’t bear the smell or texture of seafood but am allergic to nothing (unless it has a mustard sauce…)
My diet is mostly vegetarian but I have no allergy to milk or meats. On a side note, I received a note from Ancestry DNA to say my profile had changed again. To my surprise, I am 3% Basque, which might explain my lack of Spanish DNA. The Basque people are ethnically unique from their neighbors, France and Spain. They come from a very ancient group of Europeans and have more Neanderthal DNA than most (as do I). Many years ago, on a trip to Madrid, I looked with trepidation at all the Basque terrorists on the “Most Wanted” posters, hoping that the customs officer wouldn’t notice they looked like my siblings. Perhaps I should embrace my hunter/gatherer origins and just eat the squirrels in the garden? Luckily, I am not Epi-pen allergic but should avoid certain foods or start the allergy shots.
I was quite overwhelmed by the lovely comments on my post The Biopsy, and I am happy to say that my tardy results finally came through. Nora, the thyroid nodule, is not malignant. Dear reader, you may wonder why I am having so many health issues right now. My recent Covid infection provoked some of the doctor visits but I am also trying to catch up on yearly tests that I avoided during the pandemic and before our ‘good’ insurance stops soon. My husband retired two years before he could claim Medicare (next May) so we have taken advantage of his last work insurance. COBRA is a US scheme that allows you to continue your last work insurance for 18 months, at your own cost.
Recently, I saw a new doctor at our practice, and it was just to ask for a referral to physiotherapy. She thought that perhaps my incessant coughing during Covid triggered my cervical pain and numbness again. She said, “I see you have spinal stenosis”. “I do?” responded Kerry, having completely forgotten about that diagnosis. When we lived in Scotland, I became a minor celebrity at our local orthopedic hospital because of my strange spinal problems. It’s likely congenital and what a gift my relatives have given me! Mental illness, high cholesterol, dodgy spine, allergies and Lord knows what else. They also gifted me great skin, good legs and an amazing sense of humor. You take the good with the bad… That doctor suggested allergy testing after I expressed some frustration that I ate more fiber than a heifer but still have digestive issues.
When I was being poked by the allergy nurse, she asked if I would like environmental testing also. “Why not?” said I. This one was less fun – I could feel one prick throbbing almost immediately. Bottom line; I should not live in a humid forest. I am most allergic to OAK – you can see the beautiful live oak outside our house, above. Then there are three water oaks behind my house. Few of our neighbors have oaks. When I came home, I pointed at Miss Live Oak and whispered, “YOU!!!” Don’t worry I will cuddle her next week, perhaps with a mask on. Almost all the molds were ticked – who knew there were that many??
Teddy and I were talking about getting a horse and wagon, given the gas prices, but we will have to switch to an Ox. I am allergic to horses but not cattle. I don’t think the neighbors would mind a lovely Ox on our shared pasture… On a creepy note, I am allergic to COCKROACHES (and dust mites)!! Our trusty bug guy came out last week because the cockroaches were getting out of control. As soon as he left, dying cockroaches were crawling up walls and making me ALLERGIC!!! There is very little dust in my house because I have OCD – et Voila, another silver lining. I will now take bareback horse riding off my bucket list.
Walnut, Sycamore, Sweet Gum, Cottonwood and Cedar trees are on the list. Ragweed, Russian Thistle (Que?), Sagebrush and Marsh Elder also make me itch. Maybe Greenland might be a good place for me to live or just stay in the house as I currently do. I am seriously considering the allergy shots because I would like to enjoy my beautiful environment more. On a funny final note, Teddy and I were herding ducks across the four-lane road at the end of our cul-de-sac. Our beloved Muscovy ducks at the pond have decided to visit all their friends in our street. I stood in the middle stopping the traffic and Teddy hopelessly tried to herd them across to the pond. At a street birthday party this week, I discovered that other neighbors have also been herding ducks/halting traffic. So far, there are no dead bodies (human or duck) on the road and I am not allergic to either!