Pest Control moved in…

This tiny little bug is commonly known as a junk bug or aphid lion – ain’t she cute? Teddy was admiring our fire bush when he saw this wee pile of debris moving.  If you click on the red link to junk bug you can read a hilarious article about this ‘voracious predator’ – it is about the size of the half-moon on your pinkie.  She is a gardener’s friend; the debris on her back is the remains of aphids and other plant eaters (her victims…).  This little dusty bundle is her larval stage and she blossoms into one of my favorite insects, the delicate green lacewing.

Henrik Mackevicius, Pixabay

Teddy and I get so excited when we discover a new animal in the garden no matter how small.  Below is Leo (DiCaprio), one of our many spotted Anoles.  He loves to sit at the prow of the deck and display his bright red throat flap to attract a mate.  There is so much lizard sex going on in our back yard that we should rename it Studio 54.  There are tiny babies, pregnant moms and horny teenagers (none of them are social distancing).

A few weeks ago I found what looked like bird poop in the garage and I was curious.  It was unlikely that a bird had gotten into the garage which is usually closed and then I saw another poop on the front porch.

The black section is full insect bits and the white part is uric acid (pee)

As I was taking in the groceries, through the garage, this week I spotted a small cockroach struggling in a spider web.  Briefly, I wondered whether I should put it out of its misery but when I went back for the rest of the groceries the roach had gone.  Then I spotted her – we have a five striped Skink living in the wall of the garage.  Woo hoo!  She is now called Skinky because I have no imagination.  They eat cockroaches – what more do you need?  My neighbor has one on her front porch and after I told her how useful they are in our bug ridden swamp, she named her Skink, Tiger.

Jan Haerer, Pixabay

Can you tell that the pandemic quarantine is beginning to wear on us?  My psychiatrist forgot to put in my regular refill for Xanax, WTF!  I panicked briefly then I put my big girl pants on and am back in a Breaking Bad situation with a drawer full of meds.  My friend was laughing at Teddy and me when I shared with her that I refused to share my prescription-only painkillers with him.  She felt that it was a perfect senior couple moment – she’s right!

 

The Last Cat

Rest in peace, baby cat

I can still remember the first moment I saw Toffee, 16 years ago. Her mother, Mrs Stripe, came through the hedge at our villa in Egypt closely followed by two 6 week old kittens, soon to named Toffee and Treacle. Toffee was a dark tabby and Treacle, coal black. I sobbed and laughed because I feared that I had scared Mrs Stripe away forever after trying to trap her. It was almost as though she said, “See, this is why I couldn’t be trapped, I had kittens to wean.”

Toffee was precocious and adorable. There were little dusty footprints all over our walls because she propelled herself with a back legs leap to chase everything from lizards to ping pong balls all over our Cairo house. The stairs were open plan and she would talk to us from the half landing, through the wrought iron banisters, with her head on the side. We called her ‘Little Eee‘ and thought she was the cutest little kitten.

When we arrived in Houston from Cairo, with three wild cats, I can remember the look of joy in Toffee’s eyes. “Mummy and Daddy are here with us!” Of all the cats she settled into our tiny one bedroom apartment with delight after leaving a luxurious four bedroom villa with gardens and staff. Eventually she settled into our forever house. That first Christmas in Houston was magical because we had snow and a ham dinner!  Right to the end of her life, Toffee had a fetish for ham. I told her Allah was watching but she paid me no heed. Perhaps she was a pagan or Copt?  For the last three years she has been a spoiled ‘only’ cat after the deaths of Mrs Stripe and Zhenny.  Katniss joined our household for a short time and Toffee enjoyed their shared solitude.

Toffee had a serious illness at the beginning of this year and the writing was on the wall. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a feral Egyptian cat would live to 16 years old with almost perfect health. After a short but serious illness we made the sad decision to have her put to sleep on Tuesday 20 August 2019. That morning, I gave her an overdose of cat Xanax and Tuna. Her eyes started to dilate then she got the munchies. In between, she kept jumping on the couch to purr and cuddle with her mum and dad, each time stumbling a little more. Then we took her to the vet, feeling no pain. Her death was quick and we took her home for a quiet wake.

I laid her on her Tempur Pedic cushion, wrapped in her shroud and favorite blanket, then cuddled her for most of the day. She was so undomesticated that this was the first time in 16 years that I could hold her to my heart and tell her how much I loved her. Teddy dug a deep grave in our terrible forest soil. The heat index was about 108 degrees. With both people and animals, I can’t bury them until rigor mortis has set in, so Toffee sat in our living room until night fell.  On reflection, it would be a tad speedy to bury a human any earlier…(some dark humor there and watch out, Teddy.)

Our hearts are broken, especially knowing that this was the LAST CAT. We cannot endure the worry of who would look after our animals in the event of our deaths, which will be sooner rather than later.  I have always had a pet so  feel bereft but also feel guilty about enjoying a litter free laundry room and a smell free house. We can go on vacation whenever we want but what we would do for one last cuddle or vocalization.  As much as we enjoyed the other 10 pets we have had, Toffee was truly the best cat.  Sweet-natured, loving and unique.  My health has not been great in 2019 with a sad family funeral in Scotland and now Toffee’s passing.  I hope she is enjoying catching neon colored lizards over the rainbow bridge and some kindly angel releases them, as Mummy did so often.

Isn’t there always an anti-climactic reason to laugh?  The next day we noticed that an animal had dug up Toffee’s grave but hadn’t got quite deep enough.  With a sigh, I put all the soil back and put a board over it, sprinkled with vinegar.  That night we set out the camera, baited with an apple.  A raccoon and baby possum visited, as did armadillos.  We couldn’t get the armadillos on camera but turn the sound up to enjoy the summer cacophony that we attempt to sleep through.  The most raucous noise is the frogs and the high chirrups are the armadillos.  The  baby possum has the starring role.

At least we will never be alone…

Bibles?

It is always my birthday, the day after our anniversary…until I get a new husband.  😈 After we got home from my birthday dinner, I received this series of texts from my friend who lives a few doors down the cul-de-sac or, as we call it, the ‘hood’.

You can’t make this stuff up – God Bless that auto-correct!

Kerry with ‘bibles’ in elegant negligee and Walmart slippers.

San Diego Mugshots

…and to another brilliant segue by Kerry – from Folsom to San Diego. There is a lovely little seaside community in San Diego called Seaport. As I was walking about I noticed this fancy schmancy shopping and dining center, The Headquarters at Seaport. Even more intriguing was that this was the original San Diego Police Headquarters built in 1939. What a place to work with magnificent views of the water! As the city increased in size they outgrew the original headquarters and here we are today. Amazingly they kept the original 8 block cell intact with some of the mugshots of the prisoners. This is a link to the history and architecture of The Headquarters.

Since I went to San Diego to research my ancestors, I looked with cautious trepidation at the mugshots. Was one my relative – not to my knowledge? What an interesting bunch they were. Such a mix of ethnicities and most of the crimes seemed relatively minor.

Block of 8 jail cells


The cell blocks themselves looked better than most youth hostels I frequented in my youth. You had a bed, toilet and sink all to yourself – wow! I bet there was even hot water…


As fascinating as it was, I was left with a feeling of sadness that so many of them were drug addicts. How little life changes over the generations. At least they had reasonably sized jail cells with the smell of the ocean just outside the door.

Holy Tulsa!

Stained Glass in arch of Holy Family Cathedral

I am posting yet more photographs of the lovely Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa. Guilt is weighing heavy about brow-beating the church secretary into opening the cathedral for me… A therapist would have fun trying to figure out why a lapsed Catholic spends so much time in church!

Organ in cathedral

As I mentioned in a previous post, they were servicing the organ and I would have loved to have heard it in a mass. These old architects really knew how to create fantastic acoustics. The colors in this cathedral particularly appealed to me. I adore the color lilac but my mother hated it, as did my mother in law. Perhaps it was the association with mourning?

Cross and Flowers

I wandered around the exterior of the church and this cross was in the side garden. Trespass is an unknown concept to me; it is either my native blood or growing up in Scotland where there is no true law of trespass. Mr Trump was very upset that ‘anyone’ could walk across his precious golf course…

Finally, this plaque in honor of the Year of Mercy touched my soul. Not sure about my indulgence though with the whole brow-beating thing going on…

Boobs, burgers and snarkiness

This post is a bit all over the place but let’s begin.  I went for a mammogram last week at the insistence of my new gynecologist who is determined to sort out my dodgy hoo-ha.  He has suggested that I take a genetic test to see what cancers might lurk in my future – not as much fun as the Ancestry genetic test.  He has put me on estrogen – top and bottom.  Y’alls know I live in Texas, the land of strange modesty, and when you go for a mammogram, the female nurses delicately slip off part of your robe and pull out each boob.  This time I said, “Look, I was brought up in Europe.  If you don’t mind I am just going to take off the robe and stand in my knickers”.  She laughed and said that in Sweden women just sit in the waiting room breasts akimbo.

She asked me why I was having a mammogram and said I was a little anxious about HRT.  Turned out she is on the same treatment as me and she told me that 98% of women, diagnosed with breast cancers, had not been on HRT.  That said, however, I bet many of them had been on the contraceptive pill.  Then she asked me about my ethnicity and was a tad surprised about the Native, North African and other exotic parts of my DNA.  She noted that I was slim and my skin was in good condition.  In her opinion, people’s eating habits in America had much to do with their health and I have to agree.  It shocks me to see queues of rich people waiting at McDonalds for their lunch (they have a choice).  I would no more eat a fast food burger than fly to the moon.  I do eat processed food from time to time but try to lean towards clean and organic food.  Perhaps there is a tad too much vodka in my life…I’m not perfect!

So…on Saturday I went out early to take some of my fancy dresses to a resale shop.  They only wanted one of them and gave me $4.55 for a dress worth close to $100.  On the way home I gave most of it to the fireman with the charity boot – what a waste of time but he was a handsome guy!   I called Teddy to ask him to get washed and dressed so that we could go out for lunch.  When I got home he was still in his pajamas.  Normally this would raise merry hell but the HRT has a curious calming effect.  FINALLY, after many baleful looks, we got on the road.  We went to a local foodie place that served a perfect lunch.  I had a delightful glass of Albarino from Spain – just faintly pink and dry, followed by a miniature appetizer.  It was four little chickpea fritters with two delicious salsas.  You could taste each individual flavor.  Teddy had a crab and avocado sandwich with micro cilantro (weird but lovely).  To finish we each had one scoop of yummy ice cream about the size of an egg.  That is a perfect portion for lunch unless you are a marathon runner.

I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone and it drives Teddy crazy that I don’t answer his texts (all the more reason not to…)   He asked me if I had seen his text.  No, was the obvious answer but I got out my phone and looked at his text.  It had been sent from a new ‘dragon?’ app where he just speaks into the phone and it sends the text.  I texted, “Good for you, asswipe”, his face was a picture especially when the female computer voice nicely enunciated asswipe.  He then spoke into the phone saying, “I am not an asswipe” to which dragon lady responded, “I – am – not –an – asswipe”.  By this time I was really laughing but became hysterical when the phone auto-corrected his text to “I am not a Muslim”.  My laughter ricocheted from one end of the restaurant to the other.  As you know, I am not bigoted but just love those autocorrects.  I am just grateful that most people can’t understand our Celtic accents.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!🐤🐰

PS   The mammogram showed that I have benign stuff (that’s a medical term) bilaterally. Don’t you panic when it says anything other than negative?

The HRT is turning me into a snarky teenager…

 

Modern Tulsa

Hyatt downtown Tulsa

I love the sharp edges of this contemporary hotel building contrasted with the bright, cold sun and autumnal leaves.

The shadows are so vivid in this shot, just before sunset.

Vivid blue flowers with silver umbrellas

Building reflected in stripes

Symmetry

This final image made me laugh out loud. If you look closely at the Petroleum Club of Tulsa, you can see that there is a Thai Spa. Do you think they get happy endings?

Look closely…

Alternative Facts

Look at that face! How could Kerry tell an alternative fact?


I have been known to tell a few… Then I had to go to confession and tell the priest, “Father, forgive me for my sins. When Nana wasn’t looking I ate two spoonfuls of soft brown sugar out of the pantry”. I think I got an ‘our father’ and a few ‘hail marys’ for that one and looking back wondered how the nice priest managed not to laugh. The bad priest was all fire and brimstone and that’s not an alternative fact. In our household, it was a sin to steal food unless you had asked. The only exception was the fruit bowl and one December I ended up with hives at the doctor’s office because I ate a full bowl of clementines at once. God just decided to leave out the middle-man and punish me directly.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if priests were able to write funny little books about what children say in confessional? The adult version could outsell 50 shades of Gray and even the Bible… (I am visibly cringing as I write this, looking out for the bolt of lightning). As I got older, I stopped going to confession because there were too many sins. My mum said to me once, about boyfriend #4, “Are you having sex with him?” “NO!” was my outraged alternative fact. I don’t know why I lied told that fact since she caught me and was just curious. My GP asked me if I really needed the Pill for my heavy periods or was I having sex – my red face gave the game away. God has since punished me with a dodgy hoo-haa, a mental illness and myriad other health issues…

I had stopped watching the news for a while when I was feeling blue but now I actively enjoy watching Sean Spicer get angry as he tries to defend alternative facts. He seems to magically transmogrify into Melissa McCarthy and I keep waiting for him to start pushing the podium into the press corp. That girl needs an Oscar for that skit – how did she look so much like him? Even he laughed when asked about it. What sins has he committed to get that job???

People from Scotland rarely mention an appalling fact about our ILLUSTRIOUS LEADER. His mother was born on one of our outer islands where the residents were almost exclusively from a strict Protestant cult faith. If you did anything other than read the Bible and attend church on the Sabbath, you were shunned. Curiously all the Catholics and Protestants lived on separate islands – you can’t make this stuff up. Perhaps Mama Trump left for America because she couldn’t stand the restrictions but I imagine she is twirling in her grave about the various alternative facts. It is important for you to note that the population comes from a very small gene pool… That might explain many things – limited vocabulary, short attention span and generally daftness.

Here is a little puzzle for you – am I telling alternative facts below?

Our FANTASTIC, AMAZING President is going to make American white great again. We will have a TERRIFIC wall through ecologically fragile areas to protect us from the NASTY Mexicans who have made our lives miserable. Global warming is just a story – let’s open up all our coal mines and use even more fossil fuels. Why don’t we build a pipeline carrying CANADIAN fossil fuels and build more GREAT refineries on the gulf coast? They are so lucky to have close proximity to a FANTASTIC Cancer Center in Houston and we can all use it because we will have an AMAZING health care system. Finally, I am so grateful that our cabinet is full of old wise white MEN, some with TERRIFIC links to Russia.

God knows how many novenas I will have to say for those whopper alternative facts… PLEASE make my day with a comment. I will respond in the style of Sean Spicer (castigation or obsequiousness).

An Irish Lady, an Egyptian Man and me

Me, in Mexico, last week


I am sure I am not alone in loving the discount corner of my local supermarket – actually Teddy loves it even more than me. We call it Compost Corner after the first discount area that we found in a furniture store. About 30 years ago, I said “we are going out to buy a dining table for £10”. Teddy was incredulous but we came back with a beautiful ‘teak’ table that £10. We loved it and my mum claimed it when we moved on to another table.

I digress… Today, I was lurking around my supermarket’s discount area and starting chatting to a lady with a northern accent who looked completely Jewish. We discussed our various finds, from $1 Italian wine and myriad other exotica. She and her husband called it the WooHoo section. We were joined by a man who looked Middle-Eastern. He joined in the conversation and we agreed with him that it provokes you to try something new when it is discounted. He was handsome and the ‘Jewish’ lady heard his accent (swooned a little) while asking him where he was from.

Then it turned into a competition. I knew he was Arabic so I guessed Lebanese and greeted him in North African Arabic. No to Lebanon but my next guess was right – Egyptian. I should have known; he was in the discount area although he was probably a doctor and both charming and chatty. Then the Jewish lady revealed that she was Irish American. She absolutely did not look Irish. So, then they had to guess where I was born (San Francisco, Hispanic/Irish hybrid). Nobody got that right.

So, we had a Hispanic (me) who looks Irish and sounds Scottish; an Egyptian man with an ‘olive chin’ that hints at his ancestry and a ‘Jewish’ lady who was really Irish. We all started laughing about how typical this was in both our area and the Houston area. The Egyptian man commented that this was makes America great – (if only everyone agreed with him). I told him about the barista who longs to speak Arabic so I imagine he will visit there next. As I left, I bumped into the barista and told him about speaking Arabic to an Egyptian man – his face lit up at the idea of a potential new friendship.

My secret pleasure…

BARBIES!

BARBIES!

Get your minds out of the gutters – it’s Barbies! One of my secret wishes was to win the lottery and then have a (small) room full of Barbies, antique and new. My desire was triggered this year by an article in Time magazine profiling a new set of Barbies that are curvy, petite, tall and generally different. They come in a variety of ethnicities and my heart started pounding.

Barbie #25

Barbie #25

When I was a child, an aunt from California sent me a Francie. She was Barbie’s friend and like me, she had dark curly hair and eyes. She came with a wardrobe full of snazzy clothes and shoes. I was in heaven. Barbie’s were not as popular in the UK and NOBODY had a Francie! In the packaging was a little catalog for other Barbie friends. One of them was Diahann Carrol (link courtesy of Amazon), the first African American doll I had ever seen. I longed for my aunt to read my mind and send me one but I think she had sent Francie because our family is Hispanic. My favorite of Francie’s outfits was a black chiffon midi skirt with white blouse. When I was 19 I bought an expensive black chiffon midi skirt exactly the same. This was money intended for law books but I HAD to have the skirt…

Barbie #32

Barbie #32

The Time article focused on the more realistic aspects of these new dolls and as much as I appreciate this, I never thought that skinny Barbie with tiny feet was real. Later my mum bought me a real Barbie at great cost with beautiful long straight copper hair. I have mentioned my other fetish before – scissors! I was only allowed plastic scissors until I was 12 because of my penchant for cutting doll’s hair and mum’s best lingerie. Despite all that, I could not resist cutting the long copper hair. My mum was so disappointed in me. I was sad that she had a pixie crop but it felt SO good. I wonder what Freud would make of all this.

Back to the present, I was in Walmart and saw Doll #32 and Doll#25. I just had to have them. There were a few adults looking for gifts (the children were all transfixed by Frozen dolls) and I helped a girl find a red-headed doll for her niece. Finally we found the perfect one wearing a soccer outfit. I have thought really hard about why I chose the dolls I did. Their figure was of no consequence but their hair and skin tone, along with clothes influenced my choice. After Christmas, I opened them and the first thing I noticed was that Doll #32’s lovely long hair was stuck with glue to the box. Sacrilege! I combed it out and then – wait for it – trimmed the knotted section off. Then I tied her hair back and tried to plait it.

barbie-32

Doll #25’s hair was even more upsetting. Her hair looked like it was pulled up but you couldn’t comb it without ruining it. The final straw was discovering that neither of them had any underwear on. My Nana speaks through me… The pleasure was short-lived and I have placed them perfectly back in their boxes to give to charity. At least one of them has better hair than she started with. The final conundrum was why are they numbered and not named? I think they are really aimed at adults, collectors, gay men and mentally ill women. My act of kindness is to name them, #25 is Winter and #32 is Autumn.