A Simpler Life

There has been very little work for me during the Pandemic but life is getting busier again.  Last week I worked an evening event in downtown. I had a couple of hours to myself so went to the restaurant next door, found a quiet place in the bar and sat down.  Then I people watched.  It was as though my life was flashing before me.

Like most of us, I haven’t been out to an event or party for a long time.  This was a midweek night but the joint was jumping.  A very loud party was on the patio close to the bar.  They looked as though they were at some type of conference; certainly they were work colleagues with briefcases or whatever you call them now…  As I gazed at them over the top of my glasses with a slight frown, I pondered how old I was and how much I looked like my auntie in Ireland!  The booze was flowing and I recognized myself in past decades.  How much fun it was to meet colleagues or even better friends after a long absence!  Everyone was talking over each other and screeching with delight.

Then another party started arriving – equally fascinating to stare at.  They were all Latino and they could have been attending a Quinceneara but I didn’t notice a teenager in a vividly colored prom dress.  I then surmised it was something like an engagement party.  They were all dressed beautifully with glamorous gold lame and shimmery high heels (not the men).  The ladies make up looked like it was professionally applied.  It was a fancy schmancy restaurant and some of these guests looked a little ill at ease but at least they were following the dress code.

A young white couple came in; she was wearing a lovely summer dress but he had shorts and a baseball cap on.  The host asked him twice to remove it – I wanted to swipe it off his head and give him a lesson in etiquette which again proves how ancient I am.  I was wearing a uniform of sorts so looked business casual but I had comfy shoes on.  You reached the restaurant by precariously climbing wooden stairs (it was a historic building) and I have no idea how the ladies with stilettos did it.  I had to walk sideways and hold onto the stair rail because it was so dimly lit.  The next day my thighs hurt as though I was doing squats.

We moved to Egypt in our 40’s and went to some very glamorous events and restaurants.  After two decades in rural Scotland with rubber boots and anoraks, I took great delight in my new wardrobe full of fluttery dresses and so many shoes!  Egyptian women have wide feet and for the first time I could buy ‘Burberry’ slides, kitten heels in embossed leather with a matching bag in every color.  It was even better in Texas and I still remember my glittery pink cowboy boots.  At the time I was prepared to suffer the discomfort of uncomfortable shoes just to look pretty – not any more.

Teddy and I used to indulge ourselves with very frequent meals out and enjoyed the buzzy atmosphere of a busy bar or restaurant.  Now we have a no salt/no alcohol/no nothing regimen.  I doubt that I would truly enjoy a restaurant meal again except on a special occasion.  When I was a child, we never went to restaurants.  All we could afford was a coffee at a café or maybe a real Coca Cola with the swirly bottles.  I still love egg sandwiches with a soupçon of sand in them. Such happy memories of Nana, Mum and I taking the train to the beach with a picnic on sunny days (the sand came afterwards).

Bit by bit, the customers started to leave.  Darkness falls early in the sub tropics so I sat there longing to be in my bed watching ‘The Gilded Age’ or somesuch. In the past I would have taken the opportunity to chat to the hostess or if I wasn’t working, I would happily engage someone in conversation at the bar.  Now I just want to sit in silence.  Finally, there were three people left at the other work event on the patio.  The noise level had decreased but the drunkenness had increased exponentially.  I watched with great amusement as a handsome young Irish man tried to wrangle his two female colleagues out of the restaurant and safely into Ubers.  It was a struggle not to laugh as the following scene played out in front of me. 

Woman staggering as Irish Man tries to hold her up, “I hate it when I drink and everything is fine and then suddenly, I am so drunk!  Why does this happen to me?”  Irish Man, “You’re alright love.  I understand.  Let me help you down these stairs and into an Uber.” “No, no! I don’t know what’s happening!!”  Meanwhile his other drunk colleague is barely managing the narrow indoor stairs that lead up to the restrooms and heading in the wrong direction.  He was herding cats and it was hilarious!  No judgment from me, however, as it took me many years to figure out exactly how much I could drink.  Two glasses of wine are my limit and even that is pushing it.

Suddenly old age and retirement seemed so appealing.  You should enjoy life to the full when you want to because one day you will be tired – like me!  So, this leads me back to the title, ‘A Simpler Life’.  It seems as though I have come full circle and I am happiest leading a quiet life full of squirrels.  The two pictured at the top were exhausted after another hot day.  One is named ‘Tail’ because hers was fractured at some point and is wonky (medical terminology) – the other is her boyfriend or sibling?  They snooze together and gently play tumbling their wilkies while giving each other wee love bites.  We look at them and just melt.  Who needs fancy nights out when you can look at wildlife all day?

Blue Lagoon

It’s official – Infinity is a bust!  More precisely, our Pyrex Infinity Pool was not appreciated by our garden critters.  We watched as they walked cautiously around it, looking at it suspiciously. “What did the People do with the old bowl???”  I think they couldn’t see the bottom of it or the edge and it made them wary about how deep it was.  The critters had spoken and we trekked off to our favorite ‘antique’ shop in Tomball  to replace their pool.  We enjoyed our antiquing but you know it is time to stop when you wonder if they would like our stuff…  The precious bowl Blue Lagoon was actually found at the church shop and cost $2.

Infinity’s a bust!

I was tickled that it was a genuine ceramic from the Coushatta Casino Resort in Louisiana. The Coushatta Tribe moved from their home base in south west Louisiana to Alabama to avoid Spanish explorer Hernandez DeSoto after an encounter in 1540.  They relocated back to their homelands and some live in East Texas.  Gambling casinos are illegal in Texas despite a recent bill in the Texas Senate.  Teddy felt that we should have made some miniature roulette tables to our lagoon but it is too hot to be bothered now!

The new Blue Lagoon is a hit with the garden critters as you can see at the top and below with the infra- red camera.  That is an indigenous pack rat sitting on the diving rock.  Given his occupation, he would have loved rummaging through the antique shop.  My favorite find was a George Bush doll! 

Perfect for a pack rat!

Does anyone else remember old school desks that still had the inkwell in them?  By the 60s we had stopped using the inkwell but I do remember having a few fountain pens.  It was a really hot sticky day so Teddy and I enjoyed a wee glass of Pinot Grigio at this lovely outside bar.  Afterwards we realized we hadn’t had any breakfast – we are turning into retired reprobates.

Cheers!! Sláinte!! Salud!! Prost!!

Voiceovers are not my forte…

…as you can hear below. This is my homage to Janey Godley who has kept me sane during the pandemic with her hilarious voiceover videos. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. What is it about our own voices that cause us to cringe? This is a real video from our garden with two squirrels on our outside cat house, Lesley is on the roof and Danielle is down below. I placed blackberries up the stairs to get a fun video.

Perhaps a wee bit of helium would have helped? In my head I believe my funny voices and penguin walks are hilarious but you can see why Teddy is ready to go back to work! This is how it should be done – there is a couple of wee sweary words but it made me laugh out loud. Happy Memorial Weekend!

Just call me Isobel…

Meet Fluffles, a new temporary resident in Katniss’ old house. It makes my heart sing to see something furry enjoying it. Fluffles aka Fluffless (she keeps losing bits of her tail in skirmishes) is looking out pensively asking Nut-Mom to turn off the rain. Nut-Mom has the power to provide banquets of pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds and apple cores but not weather.

Fluffles runs up as soon as I open the back door and very politely asks for a snack. Her sometimes friends are Polar, who has bright white spots on his ears, Floppy with one ear down and Big Foot. Little gray squirrels have white markings on the back of their ears so that a predator from above thinks they are bigger than they are – bio mimicry. When it is quiet, I can sometimes hear one of them ‘chappin’ or knocking on the door.

Corn-dad provides the corn cobs which I can’t stake in the ground. I know we are not alone in our lunacy because I have been searching for squirrel furniture on the web and there is plenty of it. They usually just get an occasional treat but cold weather has arrived with a vengeance. It is hard to stay warm when it is below freezing when you were just born a few months ago. They are the glossiest squirrels for miles around with white fat tummies. The video below will explain the title.

Sincere thanks to Janey Godley for keeping me amused in this crazy time!

A perpetrator caught on camera!

Patsy Sue

Patsy Sue

After the Vandals in the Suburbs, we put the infrared camera out at night to see who our visitors were. This time it was Patsy Sue, the Possum! I am certain that the previous marauders on the porch were raccoons because Possums are gentle little critters – the only marsupial in America. Possums eat very slowly and noisily, with their mouths open (see the video at the bottom). In my mind, they are southern folks, so Patsy’s Mama was Betsy Sue and she was a big girl! Last year we caught her on camera, walloping the baby raccoons who were too boisterous. Was Mama Raccoon a Hoochie-Mama, out on the town meeting new guys?

The squirrels are all Hispanic because they are fast and talk very quickly. We had a Mario for a while until we realized it was a Marisol with swollen teats. Possums carry their little babies on their body, clinging onto the fur. My friend came across one at night and a Mama Possum covered in babies gratefully accepted some dog treats that she had in her pocket. You can’t really see Patsy that well because of the Infrared film but this is another one that was on the rooftop opposite Teddy’s work.

Teddy's Possum

Teddy’s Possum

This one is also a juvenile and look at that little face. Soooo cute, holding her stick! We sent my cousin in Canada a toy,stuffed Possum for a Christmas present and they wondered why we had sent a rat… They just have ratty tails but the funniest little feet.

Possum toes

Possum toes

Click on this red link to see Patsy Sue eating very slowly and noisily.