LIFE GOES ON


Just what we didn’t need, a hurricane in the middle of a pandemic. Hurricane Hanna chose not to keep her distance or stay at home. Instead she chose to waltz into the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall on the Texas coast as a category 1 hurricane without much warning. The eye of the storm came in just south of Corpus Christi with some wind damage and flooding caused by rising water but no loss of lives. We were fortunate but hurricane season is just beginning.

My plumbago blooms; the cactus blooms.

President Trump tweets daily and plays golf on the weekends.

We order groceries online and do curbside pickup. A sister dies.

And life goes on. I am grateful for every day.

FRIDAY FOTO: DEATH AND HOPE


 

A couple of weeks ago we went out to Freer to celebrate my brother-in-law’s 92nd birthday.  It was a beautiful clear crisp day with just enough warmth to make you want to soak up the sun after being hunkered down at home.  Then we saw the vulture perched defiantly on a light pole as if waiting for something to die.  Yet to its right and just below was an equally defiant bird – a male cardinal resting on a dead limb.  Neither flew away as Husband took a photo.

The tranquil scene seemed to me a perfect relection of this time in the middle of a pandemic.  Yes, there is death and the threat of dying, but along side the darkness there is hope.  While a vulture conjures up thoughts of death and decay, the cardinal is seen by some as a sign of a departed loved one or at least a good omen or good luck.  My mother always told me to make a wish if I saw a cardinal.  That day I put two fingers to my lips, made a wish and blew it a kiss as my mother had taught me when I was a child at this same place.

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FRIDAY FOTO: CAT IN A CAR


 

On one of my walks this week I had to stop and see who was driving this car parked in front of a house.  No, it was not the cat and the car was not running.  The window was rolled down.  The cat turned to look at me and seemed to pose as I took my phone from my pocket to take this photo.  It just calmly looked at me as I continued on my way.   When I came back that way it was gone – the cat, not the car.

Cool cat!  I wonder where he wanted to go?

 

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA


“Love in the Time of Cholera”
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The title of this book by a Colombian Nobel prize author has been running through my head like a song ever since this virus hit our shores.  Weird, I know.  Of course,  it is not cholera or a plague but it has become a pandemic.

Published in Spanish in 1985 and into English in 1988, it is not about cholera at all and cholera was not even mentioned until late in the book.  Rather is is about love, marriage, aging and the inevitably of death as the destiny of us all.  Two young lovers, platonic only, are pulled apart by family and the girl eventually marries an older man.  They never completely lose touch over the years and reconnect when the husband dies.

It is not an easy read, but perhaps I should go back and read it again since it seems to haunt me in this life in the time of OVID19.

Husband and I are doing well as we hunker down at home in Briar Cottage.  We have the usual stock of groceries and are prepared as we would for hurricane season that starts June 1 .  I may have slipped in some extra bottles of wine.

This virus has touched all of our lives with a common thread all across the country and even to the rest of the world.  Suddenly we all face the same threat on a global scale.  The OVID19 knows no borders.  There will be pain and loss.  Life will not go back to the way it was when this pandemic ends.  Yes, we are apprehensive about the unknown and fearful about the financial impact too.  That is normal.  But we are strong together and will get through this.

May we learn from it and never take even the ordinary and routine for granted:  handshakes… hugs… going to work…enjoying a concert… sitting down in a restaurant…visiting a nursing home… exploring a museum…dropping kids off to school…shopping at Macy’s… grocery stores filled with everything we need…  gathering with friends and family in any number… and the list is endless.

Perhaps we did need a time out to be shaken from our complacency to look around and be grateful for what we have.  May the divisions that have been dividing this country be replaced with civility and the acknowledgement that we are all in this together.

Maybe love is the answer in the time of OVID19.  Take care of yourself, help others when you can and don’t lose hope or your sense of humor.  Cheers!

RANDOM RAMBLINGS


Basil in my kitchen window.

My last post was December 1 when I posted a poem by Ron Koertge to mark World Aids Day. So it seems I have experienced my usual  winter blogging slump even though it has been a very mild winter for us.  March has arrived and tomorrow will be in the 80s again so I have no valid excuse.  Here is my offering of random ramblings.

“If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain

Texas is now one of the fourteen states that  holds its primary elections on “Super Tuesday,” March 3.  In Texas if you are over 65 years of age you are allowed to mail in a ballot.  Husband and I decided to take advantage of our senior status and voted by mail for the first time.  At first we were reluctant; mailing in a piece of paper was too easy; it was our duty to go down to the polls even if we had to stand in long lines (we seldom had to do that!); we would miss the civic pride being there with our neighbors as we cast our votes at the community center.  Of course, during a primary election, the Democrats would line up for the room on the left: the Republicans went to the right.  At least that is the way it works in the booming city of Portland.  Yes, we vote on the left.  One advantage in voting by mail was that we hadplenty of time to see who is on the ballot and research any candidates down ballot that we were not familiar with.

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Yesterday I finally planted the herbs (basil, oregano and cilantro)I bought a week ago in pots for the patio.  Part of my death cleaning was getting rid of some pots.  Most were in the process of passing peacefully, but some I simply had to abort.  All of my plants are on the patio and under shade and usually only get nothing but rainwater until about late August when sometimes my rain barrels run dry. 

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Have you done your taxes yet?  I am volunteering again through United Way of the Coastal Bend for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).   Last tax season I went in four days a week.  This year I am only volunteering one day a week and am grateful to be able help provide free tax preparation for those with a certain level of income.

“In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell

CHEERS!

ON WORLD AIDS DAY 2019


While I was in my death cleaning mode I found a copy of this poem I had printed out from Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” from National Public Radio (NPR ).   It  was dated Saturday, December 27, 2003.  It seems appropriate for this World AIDS Day 2019.  Funerals can unite us.

1989
by Ron Koertge

Because AIDS was slaughtering people left and right,
      I went to a lot of memorial services that year.
There were so many, I’d pencil them in between
      a movie or a sale at Macy’s. The other thing that
made them tolerable was the funny stories people
      got up and told about the deceased: the time he
hurled a mushroom fritata across a crowded room,
      those green huraches he refused to throw away,
the joke about the flight attendant and the banana
      that cracked him up every time.

But this funeral was for a blind friend of my wife’s
      who’d merely died. And the interesting thing
about it was the guide dogs; with all the harness
      and the sniffing around, the vestibule of the church
looked like the starting line of the Iditarod. But
      nobody got up to talk. We just sat there,
and the pastor read the King James version. Then he
      said someday we would see Robert and he us.

Throughout the service, the dogs slumped beside their
      masters. But when the soloist stood and launched
into a screechy rendition of “Abide With Me,” they sank
      into the carpet. A few put their paws over their ears.
Someone whispered to one of the blind guys; he told
      another, and the laughter started to spread. People
in the back looked around, startled and embarrassed,
      until they spotted all those chunky Labradors
flattened out like animals in a cartoon about
      steamrollers. Then they started, too.

That was more like it. That was what I was used to-
      a roomful of people laughing and crying, taking off
their sunglasses to blot their inconsolable eyes.

DEATH CLEANING AND MORE


No, I am not dying.

It all started with having the outside hurricane roll-up shutters removed; then all the windows were replaced with double-pane hurricane windows.  Some of the window sills inside in the living room and dining room needed repair which would require painting.   We might as well have those rooms painted; if we did that we might as well have the kitchen and cabinets done and that led to the entrance, hall, bedrooms and bathrooms.  OK, the whole house needed painting inside.   Before we could have it painted, we needed to address a couple of cracks in the doorway of the bathroom in our bedroom.  That required foundation work according to an engineer. 

Thus began our adventure in home repair!  Remember the movie, The Money Pit, with Tom Hanks?  Two weeks!  Some days we felt as if we were living in that movie.

A crew came to do drywall repair inside before the painters came.  For that we took everything off the walls, moved small furniture to the garage and pulled the furniture that was left to the middle of the rooms.  I also had to unload my book cases and box a lot of stuff.

That brings me to death cleaning . In  Margareta Magnusson’s book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning:  How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, she explains that in Sweden “there is a kind of de-cluttering called döstädning, meaning ‘death’ and städning meaning “cleaning.”  It implies disposing of a loved ones things when he or she dies but also means making life easier for yourself by keeping less and realizing possessions may not be that important.

After forty-two years in the same house, we have accumulated a lot stuff!  It has been like moving in place as we evaluate what we want to keep and what should go.  I am sentimental and want to keep everything yet I truly want to de-clutter. Two bookcases and one wine rack were the first to go.  Daughter and Son will each take one of my father’s clocks.  Who will want that wooden art that I brought back from Nassau years ago?  They will probably fight over it.   I let go of some books but can’t l can’t part with most of my old friends, especially my collection of Victor von Hagen and John Lloyd Stephens books.

The house was new when our family of four moved in forty-two years ago.  It  now has new windows, a stronger foundation and new paint inside.  And perhaps less clutter and a fresher look.  But the memories will remain – holidays, birthdays, challenges, loss, triumphs, laughter, tears, dreams, anger, rebellion, love, joy, peace and most of all hope for the future.  Cheers!

(In her blog, “Muddling Through My Middle Age,” Ann Coleman  wrote about helping to move her mother from a home with generous space to a one bedroom in assisted living.  She titled it:  Moving Forward.  Getting rid of “stuff” was not as easy as she expected.)

 

CAMELS ON THE COAST


The Texas coast town of Indianola  was once a major port and the county seat of Lavaca County.  Incorporated in 1853, it was a port of entry for many German immigrants and at its height had a population of 5,000.  In 1875 a hurricane destroyed the town and killed several hundred people; those remaining rebuilt.   Just over ten years later in 1886 another destructive storm struck the recovering town.  This time the residents did not rebuild but scattered as the county seat was moved to nearby Port Lavaca.

Today if you visit the area you will not find much of this ghost town left other than a stone marker for the courthouse and a Texas Historical Marker for the town of Indianola.  And there is a rather strange rustic metal sculpture of a man leading a camel.

This photo came from the Calhoun County Historical Commission website.

A few feet in front is a state marker with this title and explanation:
THE GREAT CAMEL EXPERIMENT

No immigrants arriving in Indianola were quite as exotic as the seventy-five camels that came ashore in 1856 and 1857 from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. As early as 1836, politicians, diplomats and the military were considering the importation of camels for use in North America’s desert wastelands. In 1853, secretary of war Jefferson Davis, a man familiar with harsh desert conditions, proposed to congress the use of camels as pack animals in the desert southwest. Congress approved the request on March 3, 1855. After a three-month voyage from the Mediterranean, the Fashion entered Matagorda Bay on May 13, 1856 and landed the camels at the wharf at powder horn. Thirty-four camels, ranging from Bactrians (two-humped variety), Arabians (one-hump variety) and a hybrid-cross between the two, came ashore. Many residents of Indianola recalled the unusual sight of the camels being led through the streets. By February 1857, a second government shipment of forty-one camels arrived in Indianola. Military camel caravans carrying supplies became more common in the Texas Hill Country between the camels’ home of Camp Verde and San Antonio. The camels, along with traditional livestock, were used in the summer of 1857 to survey the great wagon road between Arizona and California, now known as Route 66. The camels were also used in 1859 and 1860 for reconnaissance in west Texas, surveying routes to the U.S./Mexico border. In 1861, upon the outbreak of the Civil War, all U.S. military assets, including the camels, came into possession of confederate troops and, after the war, the camels were auctioned off. (2013) Marker is Property of the State of Texas”

There is not much left of the old Camp Verde  facility, located between the towns of Kerrville and Bandara in the Texas Hill Country, except for a stone marker.  About a mile away is the site of a store on Verde Creek established in 1857, mainly to supply the fort.

The original store was was washed away by the creek.  Today it is the site of Camp Verde General Store and Restaurant, a rustic Hill Country attraction.  Outside is a rather abstract metal camel sculpture as a nod to its past.   Husband and I would like to visit both sites in the fall.

Photo taken from Camp Verde General Store and Restaurant website