Monday, July 31, 2023

yew tree, ants, birds, and a little art

If anyone thinks it's a good idea to build a deck under a mature yew tree that shades 90% of it, let me tell you it's a bad idea. It's not just that it sheds beaucoup skinny little leaves but it also drops thousands of blue berries with the pink gooey shit on them that then stick to the deck, the ones that don't get gummed up in the spaces between the deck boards that is along with the leaves. 

Add in the baby acorns that the overhanging oak has been dropping and it's a royal mess. The leaf blower isn't very effective on the berries because they are stuck to the deck. I love the deck. I love the yew tree, just don't like them together. I'm wondering if I can hang one of those shade wings somehow to catch the berries at least.

Sunday I got out there first thing and thoroughly watered the little backyard and then I pulled the garden cart across the street and emptied it on the burn pile. I've been needing to do that for weeks but it's always in the middle of the day when I think about it. I got as far as the edge of the shade the other day, about 20' from the street on my side, took one step into the sun and nope, no, not doing that now.

I'm trying to be a little more productive so Saturday I managed to get the lower half of the house vacuumed and today, half the upper house so far. Baby steps people. Plus I fixed blueberry pecan pancakes for breakfast this morning.

I did get the rest of the upper house vacuumed on Sunday and cleaned both toilets, yay me, but I am being plagued with fire ants...again. Not inside though, well almost not inside. First the last week some of the fire ants have resurfaced but not so you can see them in the grass that's a little high (we're not mowing because it's really not growing and provides shade for the roots, any grass or weeds in the sun is already brown and crunchy) where I stand when watering the flower beds and I keep inadvertently stepping right there not noticing until they are biting me!

Second, when I opened the garage yesterday morning to let the dog out and go (three guesses) water they had invaded the garage...under the mats, under the boxes of recyclables, a trail leading all the way across the garage. Hauled out all the boxes, flipped over the outside row of mats and went after them with the orange oil spray (it's sold as an air freshener but I use it as an ant killer). No sign of them today.

Third, there were fire ants in my bed last night! Not many but what the fuck were they doing in my bed, how the fuck did they get in my freaking bed! Saw one when I was smoothing out the sheets (because laying on a wrinkle is like laying on a log) and killed it. Turned out the light and laid down and before I fell asleep I felt something crawling on my neck. Killed it and searched for more. Laid back down and one bit me on the back. Really!? Repeat and one bit me on the shoulder. Turned on the light, killed one crawling on the wall, pulled the bed away from the wall and killed three or four more traveling along the baseboard, examined the sheets and pillows, examined the whole room but didn't see anymore, laid there for another half hour with the light, looked around again and finally turned the light off and went to sleep without further mishap.

Sitting here in the mornings watching the birds at the bird feeder. Lots of pitched battles in the air. There's a flock of juvenile cardinals that hang out, 7, 8, of them. Hard to count. They're starting to get their adult coloring, the males looking downright mangy while they make the transition. The chickadees and titmice come and go with their kamikaze hits but there's another kind of little brown bird that won't tolerate others of its kind. Not sparrows I don't think, smaller heads, more slender bodies, maybe a vireo or pine siskin but I've never definitely identified either of those here.

I heard from the gallery after I sent the pictures and she's asking for this one

which is the companion piece for the one I sent in 2021. It's been hanging on my wall so once I pack it up I'll hang the three older magnolia pieces there.

As if the past 6 weeks or however long it's been hasn't bad enough, the next two weeks are going to be even hotter and still no rain.


Friday, July 28, 2023

just a day, same as the other days

Wednesday evening was week three of the current cardio drumming class and it is still so much fun. Only two more weeks left. This was the sky returning home Wednesday evening.

Judging by the number of juvenile cardinals I'm seeing at the bird feeder I'd say this was an excellent year for cardinals.

My gallery called yesterday to invite me to send a piece for their annual anniversary show, 50 of their favorite artists, one piece each. You might remember she called me last year in March about this show because she wanted a box and to give me plenty of time to make it. That was the coral reef box I worked on all last year, well, 4 1/2 months. Anyway, I had to tell her that I have not so much as set foot in the studio since finishing the box and it was just too hot in the studio now to even attempt working over there. You're not retired are you!? I told her that was a question I had been pondering this year but that no I didn't think so, not yet. I don't want you to retire she tells me. So while I have two older pieces I've never sent and am sending her the pics, I may not be represented this year. Which is fine. My interest in the glass art community has waned significantly.

I do have two pieces I've started on the wax models for, if they haven't melted into a puddle by now, though I have abandoned the idea of remaking the luna moth piece and completely abandoned making the comet moth piece. And I have a major piece I want to do comprised of three separate parts for the wall but even if the air conditioner could keep the studio room cool the cold work part and the kiln is in the un-air conditioned part of the shop and I bet it's well over 110 in there without the kiln being on. And then there's the no water part which I haven't addressed yet and don't plan on until working outside isn't an immediate threat of heat stroke. Hell, it's so hot I don't even want to walk across the street much less open up the shop.

I'm still spending my days watering, making sure the bird feeder and bird baths are full, playing games on my phone, reading a bit, streaming shows, currently The Bear which is about a young up and coming chef, Carmen, working in an upscale NY restaurant when his brother commits suicide and he returns home to take over the family sandwich shop to try and save it and make it into something better. Doesn't sound all that interesting does it but it's really good. Two seasons and we're about halfway through season one. What I am still not doing is anything creative. Well, I've been here before and it will pass.

I've mentioned I've been putting raw peanuts in the shell out for the squirrels to help keep them out of our pecans which have suffered another less severe attack. A while back I noticed three little plants in a different part of the little backyard that I had never seen before and didn't know what they were but decided to let them grow until they revealed themselves (not great pictures, a little out of focus).

I happened to notice the other day that one of them had little yellow pea shaped flowers.

I finally looked it up today and I'm growing peanuts! Those squirrels are planting them for future reserves I guess.

And this, Mexican bird of paradise, one of the few things that does not mind the heat and lack of rain.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

she's so......heavvvvvvvvy

One more long post, should probably be split in two, this one about more republican political malfeasance and outright lawlessness, and then I swear I'll lighten up for a while.

Once again our governor Greg Abbott is showing us that he hates democracy and that republicans are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to remain in absolute power. Out of 254 counties, the Texas legislature has passed a bill enabling the secretary of state to re-do the results of an election in the state's largest county only, Harris, which includes the fourth largest city in the nation, the city of Houston and which votes overwhelmingly democrat. Harris County has sued to prevent the new law from taking effect September 1st.

Abbott's cruelty knows no bounds with his deployment of razor wire along the banks and under the water of the Rio Grande with a line of floating spiked buoys with netting underneath down the middle of the river violating federal law and international treaties instructing the National Guard and the Department of Public Safety deployments to push people back in the river including children and refuse them water, orders so inhumane that it caused at least one trouper-medic to complain to his superior listing the injuries and deaths he observed...a four year old passed out from the heat pushed with her group back into the river, a man with a severe laceration after trying to rescue his child caught on razor wire on a buoy, a young woman caught in the razor wire having a miscarriage, a 15 year old with a broken leg suffered while trying to cross, and much more. His reason? The hordes of brown people crossing illegally which is the bald faced lie republicans won't let go of because it riles up their base. Biden's border patrol and policies are doing their job, illegal crossings are down 70 some odd percent, Mexico is engaged in protecting the border, drugs seizures have increased. When informed by the DOJ that Abbott was facing a lawsuit if he did not remove the razor wire and spiked buoys, his response was 'see you in court', claiming he has 'sovereign authority'. Let that sink in, 'sovereign authority'. He is not king, he is not president, Texas is not a republic; it is one state of many in this nation. He has no sovereign authority and no right to ignore federal law. The DOJ has filed suit but what Biden should do is just send in the Army Corps of Engineers and start dismantling it all.

I've already reported that Abbott has tried to have parents of trans kids investigated for child abuse and now the Florida republican legislature passed a bill, sending it to DeSantis to sign, that legalizes taking trans children away from their parents.

Florida governor DeSantis has recently created a State Guard whose purpose, when announced, was to help with disaster relief efforts but is being trained as an armed combat ready militia under boot camp conditions in camo uniforms under his personal command. It's initial maximum size went from 400 to 1500 and it's being financed by Florida taxpayers with a $107M budget approved by the state legislature. DeSantis wants to acquire helicopters, boats, cell phone hacking technology, and the power of arrest for this force outside of federal jurisdiction. Veterans who initially joined either quit or were physically removed after expressing concern about the training. DeSantis is training his own private little army.

Florida's State Board of Education's new standard for teaching about slavery is that slavery was beneficial to slaves because it taught them valuable skills which could be applied for their personal benefit when the opposite is true, that the “history of cattle farming, river navigation, rice and indigo cultivation, southern architecture, music, and so on in this country depended on the skills and traditions of African people” (from Heather Cox Richardson's newsletter). Pretty soon they'll be teaching that slaves came here voluntarily and begged white landowners to buy them. The new curricula doesn't stop there, it pretty much white washes everything about slavery, emancipation, reconstruction, and the hard won civil rights for blacks and women, all bestowed by benevolent white men according to the new standard. HCR's newsletter goes into great detail about Florida's new curricula and I recommend reading it. 

Alabama is trying to pass a law that criminalizes miscarry and stillbirth, automatically triggering homicide investigations of the women to see if they purposely put themselves in a situation that could result in a miscarriage. That could even be a situation where the woman has an abusive spouse and doesn't leave because of circumstances like having nowhere to go.

Other republican attorneys general are petitioning out of state hospitals and doctors for the health records of trans people which ordinarily would be a HIPPA violation but is allowed if they are requested as evidence in ongoing investigations. Regardless, this is just one more attack on the privacy and rights of the trans community.

Also in Alabama, the Supreme Court confirmed they were violating the Voting Rights Act and were ordered to redraw their congressional districts to include two black majority districts. July 21 they openly violated the Supreme Court order and passed a new map which did not include two black majority districts and which the governor signed.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines (as in democrats voted for, republicans voted against) on a bill that would require the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of ethics in line with every other federal judge after revelations that several of the justices have received unreported money, gifts, vacations, homes, private school tuition from mega donors with suits before the court and which these justices voted in favor of. Why do republicans object to the Supreme Court having a code of ethics?

In a blatant act of lawlessness Marjorie Taylor Greene displayed poster sized photos of Hunter Biden's dick pics on the floor of the House, claiming they were proof he was making pornography. She was neither called out, censured, nor removed from committees. It is literally against the law for someone to show or publish private nude photos of someone without their consent, especially when they have been obtained illegally as these were done. Then she sent them to everyone on her email list.

Angry that their cult leader Trump is finally being indicted for his criminal behavior, republican Jim Jordan of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to the chair of the Committee of Appropriations to defund the FBI which investigates crime. So much for the party of law and order. Apparently they believe that the law is for us and not for them.

All of the above are horrendous acts of cruelty or attacks on our civil rights and our democracy or outright acts of lawlessness but it's nothing compared to what republicans plan if they take the presidency and the Senate and keep the House. Trump loyalists have been very vocal about their plan to consolidate power in the presidency under Trump and not just Trump but any republican president. They have told us out loud they intend to remove the independence of various agencies putting them under the direct control of the president, they intend to defund the IRS so that their rich donors can continue to get away with not paying taxes, they intend to defund the FBI and the DOJ and put loyalists in charge that will investigate and prosecute Trump's opponents in retaliation for their opposition, they intend to do away with the protections afforded the Civil Service that prevents them from being fired for political reasons, they intend to do away with Social Security and Medicare, starting with putting restrictions of those working Americans who are paying in but not receiving benefits yet, voter suppression tactics will continue unabated to insure that once back in power they will stay in power, they intend to make abortion illegal nationally. This is a short list which adds up to ditching the constitution and turning our democracy with its balance of powers, into an authoritarian regime. The New York times, the Washington Post, and MSNBC have written about these well known plans.

Do not get complacent! This upcoming presidential and congressional election is even more important than the last one. Our democracy and our civil rights hang in the balance as well as the separation of church and state and any hope of combating climate change which is essential for continued human survival. 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

back to the mundane

coral butterfly ginger


If your reason for allowing or supporting this travesty is religion then try again. I do not accept any religious belief as proof of or permission to demonize this small group of people. Your invisible big daddy in the sky has no authority.

I wrote the above down hurriedly last night during dinner after I read something on one of the social media sites so I wouldn't forget that I wanted to write about it. I typed that up and thought to myself, OK, I think that's enough so I'll remember and then went back to the table and now the next day I can't remember what it was that made me get up and make a note. It was about trans people and the attack on their civil rights and healthcare but I don't remember specifically what the post was about.

I have been completely unmotivated since this horrid heat dome settled in and shows no intention of ever leaving. I don't watercolor, I don't draw, I don't sketch, I don't sew; I play games on my phone, read, or stream something on TV. Right now we're watching the second season of The Flight Attendant and Secret Invasion. I go out for an hour in the morning to water or attend to other tasks. The other day I got my clippers and brush/stump killer spray bottle and scoured the property for trees. I bet I cut down and treated 50 little trees...pecans, hackberrys, rain trees...anywhere from 6” to 3'. You'd think that I could just cut them at ground level and they would die but you would be wrong. Those little bastards will come back again and again and again. I don't care how many times you cut them to the ground.

Yesterday I repotted 5 things that were so root bound I couldn't water them enough, things I hope to give away because I already have plenty in the yard. This morning I pulled out the tomato plants and tossed them on the compost pile even though they were still making little tomatoes but the stink bugs had invaded and I haven't had the energy to fight them off for ping pong ball sized tomatoes.

Late spring, early summer every year the Mississippi kites migrate and summer over here. I saw one pair early on but no others since, and not even those again, until last week. There has been a pair that I would see and hear every morning when I was out but no sign of them today.

image via

Another thing that has been absent so far are paper wasps. Usually they're building nests all over the place but not a single one this summer. Where are the kites? Where are the wasps?

What I have seen is one of the resident red shouldered hawks on one of the bird baths and just now a pileated woodpecker on the tallow tree out my window. Neither stayed put long enough for me to get a bad photo on max zoom through the dirty glass in the door.

I mentioned I had started to see squirrels again and that the trees are holding onto their pecans and I went out one day and saw the ground under one of the trees littered with half chewed green pecans. I picked these up in about a 5' diameter circle, one day's damage. Fortunately, I haven't seen it repeated, hoping the peanuts and cracked corn I put out every day tempts them more.

I bought a new toy, uh, tool, a small battery operated chainsaw with a 4” cutting blade. It's good for cutting up to 3” diameter and I plan to use it on the wild grape vine and other things that the cord for the big electric chain saw won't reach to. Haven't used it yet because it's too fucking hot out there to do anything remotely resembling physical labor.

I'll end with the tall phlox.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

the empowerment of women, mass shootings, and the male identity crisis

I've been working on this post for more than a month, and I warn you, it's long, but I always got stuck towards the end. I didn't want to correlate the rising empowerment of women with the rise of male isolation, hardening of the toxic alpha male personality, and the rising resort to violence. And yet it's hard not to come to that conclusion and I suppose the rise of women's independence does have a part in the current crisis of masculinity, the loss of and struggle to define. However, two new essays have pointed out that this issue, the crisis of male identity, is nothing new and dates back to the late 18th century in this country.


When Jade was here weeks ago I was telling her about a study on the dating and relationship status of young adults which revealed that 63% of young men in their 20s are single, not dating or in a relationship, as compared to 34% of women in the same age group. There's an article in The Hill about the Pew Research Center study on why/how this has occurred and what it may mean for society (young men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than young women and young men are responsible for the rise in mass shootings). As young women have become educated and empowered and able to achieve a lifestyle through their own efforts that previously they could only rely on a man to provide, they're no longer so eager to 'get a man' and get married, unwilling to give up their independence. They don't see the upside to the patriarchal structure of most marriages where women work and bring in nearly equal or higher pay and then bear the brunt of the household and child raising or they don't want to 'marry down' to a man with less education and income than they themselves have. All of which is fine for women but it has left men behind when their role has always been the provider and protector, head of the household lording it over the women, being the one with all the power financially, socially, and personally. Instead of evolving to a new partnership along with women that is not based on the patriarchal model, they have become more reclusive and isolated, incapable of a relationship based on equality. As an independent young woman with an excellent income, the young man Jade had been spending time with complained that she didn't need him. No, I don't need you, she told him, why isn't it enough that I want to spend time with you?

So if twice as many young men are not dating who are the women dating? Before I could answer that question when proposed to her, Jade replied, “each other” and that's exactly what the study found, that and older men. Women are going out with women either romantically or because they'd rather go out with a friend than go on a bad date. They are tiring of emotionally distant men and men are seemingly ill equipped, because of our culture and their upbringing, to become more open and empathetic. The article goes on to talk about the decline in men forming friendships with other men. Thirty years ago, 55% of men reported having close male friendships, two years ago that number had dropped to 27%.

Back when women were dependent on men for any kind of life or lifestyle, even the least desirable guys could get a woman. That's no longer true and now these young men who are incapable of attracting a woman, 'incels' (involuntarily celibate), misogynistic men who blame women for their inability to find romantic partners instead of trying to understand why women aren't interested in them and changing their behavior, are even more isolated due to the fact that they have also failed to develop friendships with other men, finding reinforcement via the internet that increases their hostility towards women and the men who can attract women.

Unfortunately our current culture of violence, in general promoted by the far right and the gun culture they cultivate, the toxic hypermasculinity they promote combined with their constant claims that America is being destroyed by the 'libs' (black, brown, other gendered, trans, drag, jews, women, anyone other than white christian cisgendered far right extremist males) has given tacit approval to these isolated and friendless loners to act out their fantasies of revenge. They are the real victims deprived of the life they were intended to have, the life that god himself ordered. If they aren't in control, if they don't have all the authority, if they can't lord it over everyone else, if they can't even get laid, then what future do they have?

The empowerment of women, and not just women but people of color and the other gendered who just want their rights and to be left alone to live in peace, has threatened a segment of men in this country. The older men (and the women who support them because they also see equality as a threat to a life where they are taken care of as opposed to having to be responsible for themselves) see the rise of equality as a threat to their position of power, the position they have had their whole lives while the younger men are left with an uncertain future. Instead of learning to redefine what it means to be a man, they blame women. They lean in to the toxic alpha male where being thoughtful, reasoning, empathetic, compassionate, caring, nurturing is anathema.

This obsession with the definition of masculinity, the crisis of male identity, is not new. In the last week I have read two essays on the subject, Christine Emba's Men Are Lost. Here's A Map Out Of The Wilderness published by the Washington Post and Virginia Heffernan's The Crisis Over American Manhood Is Really Code For Something Else published by Politico. Both long essays are worth the read. While today's problems are real and documented...the labor market has shifted and not in men's favor, women surging ahead in education and income and no longer needing a provider...Emba and Heffernan both write that this obsession with the definition of masculinity, what it means to be a man in America dates back to the 18th century with Heffernan providing a timeline of masculine identity crisis. Both essays, while they cover different aspects, come to the conclusion that, yes, there is a current crisis among American men and boys and only one group is addressing it...the far right and both authors write about current influencers trying to define manhood, trying to lay a path forward, notably Josh Hawley who spoke at the Stronger Men's Conference. Unfortunately those paths are just reinstating religion based patriarchy.

Well, we've been there before and women aren't going back. Perhaps men do need a new definition of what it means to be a man, what a good man looks like, what he thinks and how he acts in this modern world. There is nothing wrong with including provider and protector, both good qualities as are acceptance of women's autonomy and power, building relationships with women based on mutual respect, equality, and pride in each other's accomplishments instead of ones based on the idea that men are intrinsically superior.

Or maybe they just need to get over themselves.

Disclaimer: I do know that many men are not floundering, I daresay even most. In fact all the men I personally know are firmly rooted and aren't at all concerned with their masculinity. Unfortunately there are many who are floundering and they are seeking validation and identity from the wrong people, joining hate based militias or going far down the rabbit hole of social media hate groups until they finally act out in a way that is detrimental to themselves and society at large.


Sunday, July 16, 2023

just another few days

Sometimes I wish I could get a transcript of all the crazy shit that passes through my mind when I'm trying to fall asleep and when I'm wakeful in the night. Sometimes when I'm wakeful I'll try to bore myself to sleep by mentally reciting a list. Lately, it's been the sequence of yoga poses for the next time Abby asks me to lead the class. Usually I get four or five down the list before my mind starts to wander and I have to drag it back, sometimes just the very first seated meditation position and off I go. Eventually I do fall asleep.

I have another very long essay I'm going to post about feminism, the rise of mass murder by young men, and the eternal male identity crisis. Instead of having two long posts back to back I'm posting this frivolous little piece.

It is still just horribly hot and dry with no relief in sight. The next three days the highs are 100˚, the next 12 days 95˚ - 99˚ and no rain. The oak trees are dropping their baby acorns by the bucket full

but the pecans seem to be holding on. I've only seen a couple on the ground. I guess it helps that those three trees are on the edges of the septic system drain field. One good thing I guess is that with this extreme heat the fire ants are deep underground. I did unintentionally roust out this toad from his shady hiding place.

For today's 'what's blooming in the yard', the theme is white. 

white orchid tree in a pot

cone flower lily/ginger

spider lily

sword leaf

bridal bouquet plumeria

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

the last year of my first marriage

Mary Moon's post 
about her early hippie life living days in a shack with her first husband reminded me of my own little living off the grid attempt. I was 23 in 1973 and many decades have passed since and I found I had a hard time with the timeline. I think it's basically correct. I had to reconstruct it based on the jobs I held, 5 in three years, I know the order in which I held them and the one that came before and the one that came after so the summer trip around the US had to be 1973 though the woman who went with us as far as California thinks it was earlier but I'm pretty sure it was not 1972 just a year after we were married.


My first husband and I decided we were going to build a yurt in the woods.

something like this

This was back in 1973. The whole yurt thing came about because the summer of '73 we took a car trip around the country and stayed in a fabulous yurt in the woods of New Hampshire for a couple of nights and we just fell in love with the whole idea of a yurt in the woods. At some point my ex got a line on a landlocked acre in East Texas outside Nacogdoches in the piney woods but I'm fuzzy on when we bought it and I don't remember spending any time there in the winter. We had to open a gate and drive through a pasture to get to it (the law required the land owner to give us access). It had been used for hunting and had a shack on it maybe 15' x 30', 20' x 40' (it's been many decades and my memory of the condition of the thing is fuzzy, size is also a guess) that we shored up and made weather proof but no electricity, no generator, no phone, no running water, no well, no septic system, we pooped and peed outdoors. There was a little creek we could take cold baths in. We had acquired some building materials that we took out there and had actual construction plans for the yurt. Apparently it never occurred to us we would need electricity to build the yurt, I guess we thought we were going to cut all those boards with a hand saw. At first we would go up on weekends but nothing was getting done so at some point we decided that my ex would move up there, see about getting a job in Nacogdoches and start building the yurt while I stayed in the city and worked and join him on weekends. Great plan, right? Except my ex being the druggie rat bastard that he was, no job ever got got, no progress was ever made, he had made friends he hung out with in Nacogdoches.

April of 1974, on my birthday he showed up at my door in the city, had a great plan to solve our marital troubles. We needed to get a divorce but still be together because in his mind things started going downhill after we got married, not because he refused to get a job, that he stayed home all day doing drugs and watching TV in bed, that he would not lift a finger to clean the house or cook while I had a full time job, would not even empty his overflowing ashtray, and wanted an open marriage so he could fuck whoever he could get to stay still long enough. And that suggestion opened a door that could not be closed.

He went back to the property, I stayed in Houston working while I considered the whole divorce thing liking the idea more and more (but not the staying together part) and not joining him on weekends until he showed up again about a month later. Divorce was a bad idea, he had changed his mind, he didn't mean it, and convinced me to give us another try which I foolishly did, quit my job, gave up the cute little house I was living in and we moved the bed, the metal kitchen table and chairs, the stove, and as much other furniture as we could cram in that little shack with zero insulation and a dirt floor, got a propane tank for the stove, used an ice chest for a refrigerator. I planted a very small vegetable garden in that dry red dirt, had to carry water up from the creek to water those little plants, which failed almost immediately. But things did not change. He would be gone all day ostensibly looking for a job while I was isolated out there except for the few times I would go in town to visit friends and get a shower.

I don't remember how many weeks I spent out there in the heat and humidity, but one day while he was gone I packed all my clothes and personal items and when he showed up told him I was filing for divorce, got in my car, and left, moving back in with my parents as I had no job, no money, and no place to live. Went back later with a borrowed truck and a friend when I knew he wasn't there and loaded up all the furniture that was mine. The divorce was final in October. By then he had abandoned the acre and everything still there I guess and taken up with another woman in Galveston. The divorce settlement was simple, no children and all I wanted was what I had brought with me into the marriage, he could have everything we acquired as a couple including the debt still owed on the acre. He eventually moved back to Barrington, Illinois outside Chicago where his family lived. He wasn't completely out of my life though until 1981.

In '75 he had a mutual friend try to pump me for information about why I had divorced him which I declined to revisit. When he found out in '76 I was living with another guy (my now husband) he showed up unannounced and uninvited at our house to check him out. When he found out in '77 I was pregnant with my daughter Sarah, I got an indignant nasty phone call, I had never wanted children with him. The last time I heard from him was in '81 when my son was two. He called one evening drunk or drugged or both wanting me to tell him why I had divorced him, that I had ruined his life, that he hadn't been able to form a steady relationship with anyone since. I wasn't about to get into that with a drunk drugged up rat bastard, simply told him if he didn't get it then he wouldn't get it now and hung up.

Years later when my father died in 1996, the woman my ex had shacked up with in Galveston saw the death notice and called to offer her condolences (we had been acquaintances pre divorce). She filled me in on what she knew of my ex. That's when I found out he had moved back to his mother's house in Illinois, went to work at their family electrical engineering company (at his mother's insistence I'm sure) where he was involved in some kind of accident (probably because he was stoned) and got on disability, hooked up with another druggie who inherited a house from her grandmother or aunt which she sold and they moved to Florida somewhere, living in a trailer. Sounded like the perfect life for him, doing drugs all day, on disability, never has to work, druggie girlfriend with money.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

day trip

I've mentioned that my niece and great-niece are visiting my sister. Yesterday the four of us went to Galveston to spend the day. I knew the three of them had the trip planned but at 7 PM Friday night my sister called and asked if I wanted to come with and yes, yes I would. OK, she says, be ready to leave by 8 AM. 8 AM, ugh. I'm usually barely out of bed by then. But I packed my bag and got up at 6 so I would have time for coffee and breakfast and visits to the bathroom.

a mural on the side of a building

It's a two hour drive to Galveston Island from here. It was completely overcast and rained on us off and on with Charlotte, my great-niece, checking her weather app about every 15 minutes. She's been living in Denver and having grown up in Arizona and New Mexico she was sick of the cold, snow, rain, and overcast in the mountains and wanted to lay out in the sun for a couple of hours. It stopped raining right about the time we got there and we walked up and down The Strand, Galveston's tourist trap historic district, 

with all the shops and bars and restaurants. One shop, half their merchandise was Christmas ornaments or Christmas related. These caught my eye because of course everyone wants avocado toast, bacon, and ranch dressing hanging on their tree.

After our stroll on the Strand we had lunch at Fisherman's Wharf

my niece/namesake and me

and by the time we finished, it had cleared up outside and the sun was shining so we headed to the state park on the west end. We went there rather than any of the stretch of beach from downtown because it has bathrooms, changing rooms, and outdoor showers available.

Galveston Island is a barrier island with 3 more sand bars marching out from the shore that the waves break over and stirring up the silt so that the water here at this part of the Gulf is almost always brown. Rarely though it will be still enough where it looks clear and blue, maybe a handful of times all those years we had a beach house. But today, past the last sandbar you could see a strip of intense aqua before the horizon. I took this picture on zoom so you could see the strip of aqua better but you might be able to see it in any of the photos of the water.

We set up the big umbrella and the chairs and Charlotte spread out her towel and we breathed in that wonderful salt air and the soothing sound of the surf washed over us as we heaved big sighs.

Then Charlotte, who is my grandgirl Robin's age and who was a gymnast in school had her mom take a video of her doing an amazing perfect cartwheel and then a back flip for her to post on SnapChat or TikTok, not sure. I told her I couldn't do that but I could do a headstand so they made me get out there and do a headstand on the beach. Charlotte took a video.

Charlotte and Denise went in the water a few times while Pam and I basically just waded up to our calves and walked down the beach. Here's some of the things I saw.

Porpita porpita blue button jelly (not really a jelly but a different marine animal, the center is about the size of a penny.

Heavy duty rope floated in from a ship or tanker (aqua seems to be the color of the day).

Sargassum seaweed floats in this time of year.

Gazing back towards the way I had come.

We stayed for a couple of hours and then headed home. 

Sunday, July 2, 2023

and now back to our regular programming

Once again I've been AWOL for the past three days. Well, I'm always absent on Thursdays since that's my volunteer day and I have no time in the morning and that's when I read and write. Friday we had three major errands to do; stop at Spec's and stock up on liquor on our way into the city to procure a different indulgence and then CostCo to stock up on the stuff we buy there. And yes we did go on the very worst day one can possibly choose to go to CostCo...a Friday (which is bad enough) before a holiday weekend. Yikes! But, you know, CostCo has it down and we were in and out with a minimum wait time.

Yesterday though I went to a baby shower for my great niece, my sister's daughter's daughter. My sister's other daughter is here from Albuquerque visiting her mom so the three of us piled in my name sake's car (Denise's first name is Ellen) and headed to Goliad where the mother to be's mother lives and where the party was held. Vickie, my great niece and her husband live in San Antonio. I got her a baby food grinder so she can make her own baby food. I had one and our kids ate what we ate. This way their food was always fresh, I could control the quality, no chemicals etc. I don't think I ever bought a single jar of baby food, not for at home at any rate. Vickie was thrilled. She also got all the standard baby shower gifts and when little Dean Edward is born in about two months I'll have a great great nephew.

Remember when I remarked that I hadn't seen any squirrels in weeks, maybe even nearly two months? I asked my neighbor Gary if he had seen any yet since we had been talking about their absence previously and he mentioned he had seen one and figured they were coming back since we all had pecans on our trees this year. I looked up a minute ago to see two squirrels in the tallow tree outside my window. Those little fuckers better leave my pecans alone when they have cracked corn and peanuts offered.

It was overcast this morning when I got up, completely different than the clear low humidity blue sky days we've been having, low enough that my lips were starting to feel a bit chapped yesterday. Still cloudy, tall billowing cumulus with enough patches of blue for the sun to come streaming through. Probably still won't rain but at least there's some moisture up there that might want to fall. Still I was out this morning setting and moving the sprinkler around, deadheading the zinnias, and cutting back the very last of the purple coneflowers, cutting down all the volunteer rain trees from around the native peach tree and pulling wild grape vine down and out as best I could as it's starting to reach for the closest pecan tree, no no no no no, and was drenched by the time I came in. I'm going to have to get the ladder to reach the thick vine that is reaching out from the wild space.

Well, I had to bring the bird feeder back in. One or two grackles I can tolerate but now the word went out and there are five or six out there squabbling and tossing seed out left and right, intimidating the other birds. They're still not convinced it's gone, keep flying to the platform it sits on in between hogging the bird bath and splashing all the water out of it. It's like a day at the pool for them.

So now we're to the what's happening in the yard part of the program. My definitely pink new crinum lilies,

the agapanthus (nile lily) that I thought I wasn't going to get any blooms from this year has given me two,

pecans getting bigger on the trees,

and then this happened yesterday while I was gone. Marc was sitting at the dining table where he faces the window looking out over the deck when he heard a big thump, thought a branch had fallen until he looked up and saw that it was a 5' maybe a little bigger rat snake that had fallen out of the yew tree and onto the deck. He took a video through the window of it moving off and, I suppose, under the deck. It's a bit blurry but here's a frame of the video.

Big but harmless to humans. I love those big ole rat snakes. No rats around here. Having lived in an old house for over 40 years in the inner city with rats in the walls, it can live here as long as it wants. I've only seen one snake so far this year, a pretty little ribbon snake. Didn't have my device on me but it moved too fast for a picture anyway.