Sunday, December 31, 2023

glad to see this one end


Once again it is the last day of a year and I for one am glad this one is done. It started out bad and just got increasingly worse. The husband was obviously sick the last week of January and refused any kind of medical care until he was so sick I didn’t think he would survive the night on January 29th, until he was so sick that he no longer had the wherewithal to object and my daughter and I took him to the emergency room. He was in the hospital for 15 days with a stubborn and vicious viral pneumonia and the prognosis was all doom and gloom; oxygen at home and a walker for life. But he did rally, he did recover, he did start going to doctors regularly and is now healthier I think than he was before he got sick but it was months recovering. 

And then 5 months of hell descended on the Gulf Coast with three months of temps in the 90s and two months of temps in triple digits with little to no rain. Highest water bills, highest electric bills ever. Eventually the heat dome broke.

And then so did my sister who dropped dead the second week of November.

I’d beg for an easy year coming up except it’s an election year and things are going to get even nastier with our democracy on the line from those who would see it fall in favor of an authoritarian theocratic dictatorship, the minority ignoring the rule of law and imposing all those things they couldn’t get via elections or Congress onto the majority. Their list is long and none of it good. So, yay, we have that to look forward to.

I plan to end this year watching the Barbie movie with my granddaughter Robin on the big TV over at what I still think of as Pam’s house.

Friday, December 29, 2023

the ways in which I miss my sister

an incomplete list…

Pam was the family memory and historian. She delved into our genealogy tracing us back as far as the 900s but more than that she was the person I always went to to confirm a memory or ask a question about growing up in our house or about our parents. Now that resource is gone and with it so much of my own history because my memory is shit.

She knew how to make anything, everything. We’d be out at some craft fair and if I showed interest in buying some sort of personal hand made product she would whisper in my ear that that person is charging too much for that, I’ll send you the recipe.

I haven’t bought soap in decades because she made our soap. When my supply runs out I’ll have to start buying soap.

I haven’t made pralines in three years because I haven’t had pecans. I have some this year but the only time I was successful was when I did it at her house, in her kitchen, with her.

She was an herb gardener and every spring she would start her herb garden anew. Whatever fresh herb, or dried herb or spice for that matter, I needed when I was cooking I could just walk across the street and get it.

She kept the fence line in front of her house clear of weeds and vines which out here in the county is a monumental task that I now have to attend to.

I don’t have anyone to go to estate sales or art/craft shows with.

I no longer have someone I can vent to about certain people.

She was the one person I would exchange gifts with during the holiday season mainly because she refused to not get me anything no matter how many times I suggested it. I have her present here but she died before I could give it to her. She was a tea aficionado and had a small collection of teapots. This one is an antique cast iron one cup teapot. Now what do I do with it?

We would often, when we were going on an outing, show up in the same shorts and if not the same shirt, the same color shirt. Unplanned of course.

No one will tell me now that my sister and I look alike, a fact that always amused the hell out of us as she was blond blue eyed with straight hair and I have brown hair and eyes and wavy unreasonable hair.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

quiet day, road trip, Marcmas

I trust everyone had a good day Monday whatever that means for you on Christmas. We had our usual quiet day. It was nice out though a little cold after two days of rain. I walked Minnie to the end of the street and got swirled into some of Rocky’s grandkids and their new bikes, scooters, hoverboard. Miss Ellen, Miss Ellen, it’s Miss Ellen! as they swarmed around me. Then I fed the kittens, two of which are starting to let me pet them before I feed them, I even have been able to pick the two tabbies up (one at a time of course) and put them in my lap for more petting. The brown tabby is quiet and had a quiet purr but the gray tabby is very vocal and purrs loudly and readily. The female still won’t really approach and will still only let me pet her while she eats though she is allowing more petting before she moves away.

We watched three movies Monday. First was Asteroid City which I had heard about and thought it would be good but it was not. It was weird and boring and I kept nodding off so if you haven’t seen it, don’t bother. Then we watched Everything Everywhere All At Once which was much better but half the dialog was in Mandarin (with subtitles) and it moved really fast and was hard to follow sometimes but we enjoyed it. And then last we watched a Christmas movie, (not your usual sappy Hallmark kind, more like Die Hard kind only with Santa) Violent Night with a drunk discouraged Santa who manages to get left behind by the reindeer at a rich person’s house while he sits back and relaxes with expensive whiskey when the house is attacked by a group of criminals intent on killing everyone unless they tell them where the money is and Santa saves the day drawing on his previous life as a warrior. Santa was played by David Harbour who played the sheriff in Stranger Things. 

Yesterday my daughter picked me up and we went to Austin to spend the day with the twins. A pleasant surprise when we got there Marc’s sister Lisa and her son Andy were there. Lisa lives in Dallas and Andy lives in Tulsa and they were in Austin to visit another son Greg and family and were headed to Houston from there to visit Marc’s and Lisa’s mom who is in hospice care now. After they got on the road Sarah and I and Jade and Autumn went out for lunch at a vegetarian/vegan coffee/restaurant place. I ordered a coconut curry with broccoli, onions, potatoes, jackfruit, tofu dish served with brown rice. It was OK but apparently a popular dish as I saw at least three other people being served it. I ordered it because of the jackfruit which I was curious about but I could not have told you which piece went in my mouth was the jackfruit. Mostly it just all tasted like the curry sauce except for the broccoli which still tasted like broccoli. Of course I didn’t take a single picture of the girls though I did take a picture of Autumn’s boyfriend’s dog who had curled his big self into the cat bed.

But here’s a picture of a picture that Bryan took of us all with Jade’s little polaroid type camera when he got off work.

Today is Marcmas, another trip around the sun for him. Our son is coming to visit and he and Sarah are going to take us out to lunch. That’s the plan anyway.

Friday, December 22, 2023

counting coins and other money matters

When I was young, every day when my father came home from work he would empty his pockets of change into a jar and in December they would empty it out on their king size bed and we would group it into denominations and count it and the amount was what they would spend on christmas presents. That's as I remember it, participating in the counting of the change. I don’t remember when this practice ended. My sister would have known.

My grandmother had a small enameled box which I now possess that contained dimes.

She had another small carved wooden box for pennies. I remembering liking to empty them and count the change and then fill the boxes again. Flashes of childhood so far back. These days, the small carved box holds the few love letters my husband has written to me over the years. 

I have a jar. Originally it held five pounds of fine frit in whichever color. It sits on my dresser and contains my loose change, apparently a habit acquired early. When the grandkids were growing up and coming regularly, when the jar was full, they got to count it and divvy it up equally. They're all grown now but I still have the jar and I still empty my change into it when I get undressed. When it gets full I empty it into the coin counter at the grocery store and exchange it for dollar bills and squirrel it away. 

Marc just piles his change up on a shelf until it gets put in various containers. Remember the coin shortage during covid? I know where all those coins were. While he was in the hospital with pneumonia and the house cleaners that our grandgirl Jade arranged for were going to come, I cleaned off those shelves and took all those jars and the mountain of loose coins and dumped them into the coin counter machine. It was well over $600 even after the machine took its 12%.

One new year I made a resolution to spend my change instead of letting it pile up and I did for several years. I annoyed more than one person in line behind me for taking the time to dig it out of my pocket and count it out to the cashier. One woman rudely verbally accosted me because she was in a hurry. I told her standing in line for an extra few minutes was not going to change the quality of her life. It might, she said indignantly.

As teens we kids got an allowance every month so that we did not feel the need to get a job to pay for things like gas, food, music, etc. Our job, our father told us, was to go to school and get good grades. I was a saver even back then. When my father had to leave town to attend one medical conference or another, he sometimes didn’t make it to the bank for pocket money before he had to leave. Those times he would borrow money from me because he knew I always saved a portion of my allowance. I still do that. While a lot of people don’t carry cash anymore, we do. It keeps us from spending too much, easier to keep track than just whipping out a credit card for every purchase. 

The best advice my mother gave me was to always keep an escape fund (the worst advice she gave me was to let the boys win when we played games as they didn't like being beat by a girl). This comes from back in the days when women could not get a bank account or a credit card without a husband or father cosigning, when most women stayed in the home and were financially dependent on their husbands. Control the money, control the woman. You might never need it, she said, and if you don’t you have money for a vacation. Or, more likely, some piece of art I want.


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

ringing the alarm (again)

I haven’t written about the sorry state of the republican party in this country for a while. Been busy with sudden death and grief of my own, but believe me, the House republicans are still engaged in clown show revenge investigations by the extremists of the far right ‘freedom’ coalition instead of doing the work they were sent to Congress to do thereby hamstringing the government and impacting our national security to the benefit Trump’s good buddy Putin; all indignant because Hunter Biden refused to honor a subpoena to answer questions behind closed doors (Hunter is more than willing to answer their questions in a public hearing but republicans don’t want that because then they can’t lie about or misconstrue his answers as they have done with other witnesses’ testimonies given in closed door sessions). Just a reminder that republican Jim Jorden also refused to honor a subpoena from the investigative J6 committee but no one seems to care about that. And while the democrat controlled Senate was still in session trying to get necessary bi-partisan bills worked out, the extreme holier than thou republican controlled House recessed early until the new year. Their parting vote was to formalize an impeachment inquiry against President Biden even though the committee to investigate the “Biden Crime Family” has come up with zero evidence of any wrongdoing either while Biden was in office or as a private citizen. Zero. No matter, they say. They admit it’s bullshit and don’t care. They admit the whole point is to make Biden look bad prior to the next election. It’s the same reason every republican always votes against immigration reform and funding border patrol even as they scream about the ‘open border’. If they actually do something to better our immigration policies they will lose an issue they count on to bring out their base during elections.

Meanwhile republicans have been busy enforcing their draconian anti-abortion laws. In Ohio a woman has been arrested and charged with abuse of a corpse for having a miscarriage at 21 weeks at home while sitting on the toilet. She had gone to the hospital several times, her water had broken but since the fetus still had a heartbeat they sent her home each time, even though the fetus would not survive (and did die in the womb) and she had a significant risk of death to herself, where she finally miscarried.

In Texas a woman learned at 20 weeks that her fetus had the fatal disorder of trisomy-18. The fetus would not survive and would end with a miscarry or stillbirth. Because her two previous childbirths were by cesarian the continued pregnancy had the very real possibility of rendering her infertile so that she would not be able to get pregnant again which she desires to do. The woman went to court and a judge ruled that she was allowed the abortion she sought. But then our AG Ken Paxton who prefers to see women die or become damaged wrote letters to the three hospitals her doctor has admitting privileges at telling them they would be prosecuted if they allowed the procedure and then got the state supreme court to rule against the lower court denying her the health care she needed. The woman finally had to travel out of state for the procedure.

You may think that these are two extreme examples but this is happening to women in every state that bans abortion. Republicans don’t give a fuck about women or their lives. They want to control women so much that they insist we continue to carry a dead fetus or one so damaged it has no chance of life until we miscarry or become so septic that we are on the verge of death ourselves. And if we miscarry? Then we are likely to be arrested and investigated to make sure we didn’t ‘do something’ to induce a miscarry. If someone helps them travel out of state for legal necessary medical intervention, that person may be sued. Several cities and counties in Texas that border states where abortion is legal have passed ordinances making it illegal to travel on public roads to go out of state for an abortion which is clearly unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the republican party and religious right continue to kowtow to a man who breaks every single commandment every breathing moment of his life, believes he is king and completely immune from the laws of this country, a traitorous bastard who tried everything he could think of legal and mostly not to stay in power after his very real defeat including but not limited to J6 and the obstruction of the peaceful transfer of power and then refusing to cooperate with Biden’s team prior to the actual swearing in of President Biden, who stole classified and top secret documents when he left the White House and refused to return them, who is very vocal about using the DOJ if reelected to retaliate against everyone who has opposed him after he stuffs every corner of the government with loyalists to do his bidding regardless of legality. He’s very clear on his intent to become an authoritarian ruler. You need only listen to his speeches at his rallies, quoting Putin, expressing admiration for Kim Jon Un of North Korea and Viktor Orban of Hungary, and emulating Hitler, using Hitler’s words to demonize immigrants, claiming they are “poisoning the blood of our country” and calling them ‘vermin’. These are the very words Hitler used to demonize the jews in Germany and we know where that ultimately led. He claims that criminals and people from mental institutions from all over the world are pouring into this country (zero evidence this is true) “destroying the fabric of this country” and has already said at his rallies and on social media that he intends to create detention camps for undesirables and deport millions of people he considers inferior. He’ll start with immigrants from south of the border and muslims but he won’t stop there. Really anyone who is not a white heterosexual christian nationalist would be in danger. Book bans will get worse, more rights will be stripped away which they are already engaging in towards women and the LGBTQI+ community. Their ultimate goal is to replace the Constitution with something they like better giving them total control with no hindrance. Again, if you have any doubt about this, research their blueprint for the next republican administration (regardless of which candidate wins the office of president) Project 2025.

Now of course, certain legislators have been trying to do damage control after everyone suddenly noticed the Hitleresque rhetoric last weekend, claiming that Trump didn’t mean it that way but a different way and Trump himself, after repeating the words at a recent rally, claims he has never read Mien Kampf (although rumor has it he keeps a copy on his bedside table) but that nazi Stephen Miller, Trump’s trusted advisor and speech writer, certainly has. Make no mistake, they know exactly what Trump was saying.

So, y'all know what to do if you care for this democratic republic comprised of immigrants from all over the world, a nation that, up until now, expanded rights for all citizens instead of taking them away. E pluribus unum. 


Sunday, December 17, 2023

elders, pecans, and kittens

Thursday at SHARE one of the boys, the 18/19/20 something kids they call Elders, asked me if I was excited about christmas as the other asked if I was ready for christmas. I gave them my stock answer…as ready as I ever am. Which is to say, not at all since I don’t do christmas. It’s just easier to brush off the inquiry with a false impression than to get into why I don’t believe in or do religion especially with ardent young men who are out doing their ‘good work’ knocking on doors which is part of what they do when they aren’t volunteering at SHARE and in fact were on my street Friday afternoon. I saw them as I was crossing back over from Pam’s house. Apparently they weren’t having much success as they asked me if I knew anyone who would want to hear about Jesus. Since everyone I know is already a believer or they aren’t interested, perfectly happy with whatever alternate beliefs they hold or none at all, I told them "no, no, I really don’t". I can’t imagine there is anybody in this country who doesn’t already have even a rudimentary knowledge of Jesus since it’s so pervasive in our culture and society.

We get new Elders about every couple of months as their church shifts them around to other locations and, it appears to me, are kept a close eye on, I guess to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow of their Mormon teachings. They used to show up in T-shirts and jeans but the last month or so they’ve been showing up in their uniform…black pants, white shirt, and tie. This week was a food delivery day from the regional food bank in Victoria and so it was very busy getting it all sorted and put away and consequently we had a veritable mountain of boxes piled up. When I empty a box, I collapse it immediately, takes 10 seconds, and take it out to the main storage area but I’m about the only one that does that. Just about every week I tell the boys that if they are in-between, sitting around waiting for the next car to pull up for their food or whatever they’ve been asked to do, to collapse the boxes so that I can take them to the container for recycling. Thursday I didn’t. I just went out with my box cutter during a break in food orders, and started in on the pile without saying anything to the boys who were sitting around also not doing anything during the break in food orders. After I’d dealt with a few of the boxes one of the boys came over and started helping and then when we were nearly done the other picked up a box or two. I wonder if next week they will just do it or if I’ll have to remind them again.

The weather is being schizophrenic these days which is usual for this time of year. Wednesday and Thursday were lovely, Friday was overcast, colder, wet and icky. It rained off and on all day. Saturday colder but sunny. I’d been planning to make another foray into the backyard of the vacant house across the street and adjacent to the shop property to pick up more pecans. There are three big trees back there and the ground is solid with them that no one is picking up, in fact I don’t think the people who lived there ever picked them up but I could be wrong about that. Since I knew the weather was going to turn I finally did it Thursday after lunch filling up two of my bigger metal buckets. As soon as the kittens saw me back there they came running up and meowing but no hissing this time. Sorry kids, not feeding time yet. These are the pecans I have picked up from my yard, about 160 pounds, minus the ones I’ve shelled (about 40 pounds giving me 20 pounds of shelled pecans).

These are the ones I’ve picked up from the two neighbors' yards.

I’m having a hard time getting this post finished and published. I’ve been working on it for 3 days now. I write then change my mind and take stuff out, change day names from yesterday to whatever it should be, add stuff in, and then just peter out and walk away. Another cold but clear day though we’re on a warming trend now after last night. And speaking of last night, an update on the socialization of the kittens. The ground was wet from the rain so I didn’t want to sit and offer food in my hands. When I walked around to the back porch they all came running out, running right up to me, no hissing! I squatted down and coaxed them to me and the brown tabby, he’s such a handsome fella, finally came up to me and let me pet him and stroke him and scratch his head and then the gray tabby who is very vocal also let me stroke him quite a bit, all before I got the food out of the shed. This is major! Since Momcat has been fine with petting that just leaves the female who looks like mom who has been the most skittish. Still waiting to hear from SPOT about getting them fixed but they are still working on it, apparently had some other kittens that took precedence but I think they have been dealt with now.

One last picture or two. Atmospheric conditions were just right for contrails the other morning. This plane was streaking across the sky above three other fading contrails, one above the cloud, one at the bottom of the cloud, and one beneath the cloud (the second picture).

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

kitties, the Mac mini, and death effects

I'm still waiting for SPOT to arrange to have the three 'feral' kittens fixed and sent to their new homes. I have feral in apostrophes because they aren't exactly feral, not completely tame but not completely feral either. They are very wary but I've been doing what I can to acclimate them to human touch. As reported earlier, I am able to stroke all three kittens while they eat. Sometimes just two or three times as long as I don't try to touch their heads before they back off except for the brown tabby. He lets me stroke him the most. When I go over to feed them in the evening about 4:30 they come running out and hiss at me.  Saturday night before I put food in the dishes underneath the screened in porch I sat on the ground with a handful of food in my outstretched arm calling to the kittens. The gray tabby circled me continuously, would approach but never got up the courage. I held out the other hand with food as well and, being hungry, all three would sort of approach but then back off because I was watching them. So I averted my gaze and waited patiently and the brown tabby finally got up the courage to eat out of my hand and then the female that looks like Momcat came and ate out of the other hand which really surprised me because she has been the most skittish. The gray tabby that I thought would be the first never did. After most of the food was gone out of my hands I filled their dishes. So I did it again Sunday evening and last night. They were quicker to approach last night.

I spent most of the day Sunday and the morning yesterday getting my new computer set up and all the data transferred with constant help via face time from my niece’s husband Greg so now I’m using the Mac mini with a Dell monitor. Yay!!! I’ve unplugged my ancient iMac and moved it aside. 

When I wasn’t setting up the new computer Sunday I was moving more plants in as it dipped down to near freezing that night and we definitely had a frost. 

But no rain, all the chances of rain dissipate so now I’m back to watering my yard and Pam’s. I’ve been doing a little maintenance over there, mostly weeding her few flower beds. She swore when she moved into that house that she was done with flower beds, just wanted a few plantings and an herb garden. I scoffed. Little by little a little flower bed appeared and then another and then another, five or six. 

When all the family was here I think the grandkids went through some of Pam’s christmas ornaments and took ones they wanted. All her christmas stuff is in tubs in her shed. I need to sort through that stuff now that the immediacy of her death is over, take pictures and canvas her kids and grandkids and see if they want any of it before I donate it somewhere. She had an antique Santa that people have tried to buy off her many times. 

It was a month last Sunday that I found her. Has it only been a month? She’s drifting further and further away. I’m a little freaked out when I think about it. Our father died of a massive stroke at 73, the age I am now, my sister at 76. She and I, we expected to take after our paternal Aunt Doll who lived well into her 90s and only died because she got tired of living so this was a cold splash of water in my face. What does that mean for me? Do I only have a few years left? Should I start getting my ducks in a row, preparing like my sister did? Her will and the letter that accompanied it that she started working on after she moved over here was so organized…here’s where this is, here’s where that is, this is what to do about this other, these are the things that are valuable, this book has all the information you will need, etc.; as if she knew somehow. Maybe she did. She was very open to the spiritual world, she saw ghosts unless she walled off that part of her psyche. I wondered if she would appear to me. So far no, not even in a dream, but then I’ve never had that ability to see. 

They say one of the stages of grief is anger. I’m not angry. I’m sad that’s she’s gone, I’m sad that she abandoned me. I can’t think of her too much, about how sudden her death, without crying still.

OK, that’s enough of that.


Friday, December 8, 2023

another week gone by

This is what the sky looked like Tuesday night.

Also Tuesday was the outing to Brookwood in which I had a very good time. Our fearless leader couldn't get lunch reservations at the restaurant, busy time of year, so we just did a little shopping, wandering around the gift shop and then the retail greenhouse which was 90% poinsettias, amaryllis bulbs, and christmas cacti.

This is the main hall between the restaurant and the other 'shops' all decked out in christmas trees, ornaments, decorations, gifts, and general holiday stuff a lot of which is made by residents. It leads out to the retail greenhouse

The other retail space has a small art gallery with paintings, bronze sculpture, woodwork, ceramics, glass, jewelry. This just shows about 1/5th of the space.

The hattery.

This room had fancy food items.

There was also an area with clothing which I did not take a picture of. Finally we all wandered out to the retail greenhouse.

I bought two crystals but they are so much bigger than the ones I already have hanging in my window so I may give them away or I may keep the one on the right. That's a quarter for size reference.

Wednesday Rocky showed up to fix the sagging back wall of the studio. When he built out the space we combined two rooms into one taking out a load bearing wall which he thought he had braced sufficiently but sometime during the summer it began to sag. He was also making a trip out to the transfer station so he loaded up my big pile of crap in the shop I was throwing away onto his trailer and hauled it away for me. 

Still picking up pecans and shelling them though my trees are just about done I think. Hard to tell with the thick layer of leaves, have picked up 142 pounds of pecans from just my three trees. So far I have 15 pounds of shelled pecans, have given away four of those and have three more to send out. The rest will be for me. I want enough for two years just in case I don't get any next year. I have no idea how many that would be so I'll shell til I get tired of it and sell the rest along with the ones I've picked up from two neighbors' trees which I don't weigh at all.

Picked up the death certificates and my sister's ashes yesterday afternoon so we can finally settle Pam's estate. The boys seem to have adjusted to Pam's absence and Robin's continued presence.

The only thing blooming now is the cosmos, roses, and the shrimp plant.

Another front is blowing in and the wind is fierce and gusty.