Spiders and Snakes and a City Girl

I am, by all standards of measure, a city girl. I come from the neighborhoods of curbed streets with water drainage thingys and sidewalks – even bike routes. Places where there are 7-11’s and Starbucks on every corner and at least three McDonald’s are nearby. The 5 different grocery stores in the neighborhood give you plenty of choices on where to shop and pick up prescriptions.  Or you can also spend your money at the CVS – one in each direction and equidistant from your home. Gas stations from 4 to 24 pumps are just one intersection away. Trash pickup? Bi-weekly from the alley with special blue bags for recycling. The kids primarily walk to school, or maybe ride a bike. Front yards are watered throughout the hot Texas summer with sprinkler sytems. Patios are covered. And by your choice of plants and trees, flowers and bird feeders, you can attract the kind of nature you want in your yard. If you enjoy squirrels, your pecan tree does not even need to be that big.

But here, I am now in a very different kind of place. Here, some of it is city. The main road is filled with stores, gas stations, restaurants, office buildings, and fast food joints. All of them in strip centers with some stand alone’s in front and divided by the next intersection. Lots of traffic in and out. For about 2 miles. Then, it reduces itself to individual buildings, many of them metal, with some space of land in between. The middle lane of the 5 lane highway is for left turns, from either direction. The driveways cease to be concrete and instead become stone. There are no curbs or sidewalks here. We have reached the land of the semi-rural. Farm and feed stores. Mom and Pop restaurants. Super cool “antique” stores full of all things partly rusty and truly vintage. Then beyond all this is absolute rural. Cows and horses in large fenced fields, narrow lanes of paved and curving roads, the leftovers of someone’s home, and someone else’s wash hanging on the line.

All of this in one place. One town. Down one highway. And I didn’t even mention the lake or the beautiful lake houses that surround it.

My house, the one I just moved into about five months ago, is in a sweet little, quiet neighborhood. All the kids ride the bus to school. The ice cream man comes down the street every day. Neighbors bring your trash bin up for you if you forget and leave it out. The neighborhood is hidden from view behind a somewhat industrialized area. Large, fabricated metal buildings with overhead doors and a great many pickup trucks in the parking lots. Bright security lights scare away the darkness down the narrow road leading back to our houses. My house, a duplex really, sits at the bend in the road and backs up to a sort of mini forest. A large tract of land empty of everything but trees…..and critters.

And here, really, is where the story begins. The story of city girl meeting rural reality and super freaky critters.

It’s September, and temperatures have plummeted nicely into the low 90’s. I take a fresh cup of coffee out onto the patio to enjoy a break from unpacking and I notice this strange, little, black insect flying around. It almost looks like two flies are stuck together. I pick up the phone and text my sister who is a know-er of all things, a Master Naturalist, and one who has lived in the more rural parts of this area for more than ten years. I descibe this unusual little bug to her and ask what it may be. Quickly she responds, “Lovebug. It’s harmless. Does not bite or sting.” I take a reassuring breath and continue with my coffee and my day, now safe from this species’ wrath.

Love Bugs – Photo from Wikipedia

A few days later, I am cleaning up my kitchen for the night when I am startled to see what I assume to be some kind of mutated wasp on my kitchen cabinet. Stealthily, I grab the fly swatter and SWAT! Nailed it. Yay me! Dead bug! But I notice it has this bright red coloring to it and that it no longer looks like a wasp. So, quite daringly, I slip the swatter under it to pick it up and have a closer look.

Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth

First of all, EW! But yes, this is what was in my house. Bright red body, lacey black wings. A Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth. It is native to Florida and the gulf coast according to sources. Also, not harmful. Also it appeared out of nowhere (the critter forest) to terrify me. Not being from the coastal region, I had never seen such a thing. Miss Master Naturalist, only slightly chuckled at me for being afraid of a moth.

The next critter came along within the following two weeks. As I am stepping out my back door onto my uncovered patio, I spy movement near my feet. Quickly, I retreat. There on the threshold of my door is some kind of devil insect and it is somehow dragging an extra large, hairy spider (dead, I assume and laying on it’s back) across the doorway and down into the grass.

Tarantula Hawk – Photo from Google Images

First of all, where did this enormous spider come from? And how did this much smaller insect find it? Did this flying freak actually kill it or was it already dead? How on earth is the blue and copper devil insect able to move it so quickly? Turns out, there is something called a Tarantula Hawk. It is a spider wasp and it’s goal, other than tormenting people like me, is to paralyze Tarantulas and then drag them off so they can serve as dinner for their egg larva. Or something very similar to that disgusting scenario. And as much as I tried to avoid hearing the gruesome details about this back yard invader, Miss Master Naturalist and her daughters quite relished explaining it to me. “Circle of life”. Again, Ew! NO. Please stop telling me this information. There might have been laughter aimed at the city girl.

Then there was the day I was outside – innocently enjoying the fall sunshine, catching a little vitamin D, and savoring my coffee – when I glanced down at the patio and caught a snake headed straight toward me! I leapt up from my chair and ran directly into the house, dialing my Master Naturalist sister on the way. She failed to answer my panicked call, so I was forced to dial my niece. After describing the slithering beast to her, she nonchalantly told me it was a Coral Snake! Oh, yay. Venomous snakes in my backyard. I’m not sure how long it took for my heart to regain a normal rhythm again. Fortunately, my action in fleeing the scene caused the snake to leave as well. It turned tail rather quickly.

Coral Snake – Photo from Wikipedia, Public Domain

My family members? Pretty sure they had a good giggle over City Girl Meets a Snake.

Of course, I have normal animals in the woods as well. Squirrels, possums, birds….I’ve even heard an owl. But I don’t really consider a big, old black vulture sitting atop my fence to be normal. Nothing I would have seen in the suburbs and there is nothing dead here my not-so-attractive friend. You can move on now. Please.

I have also been witness to your normal, little backyard lizard. You know the ones that hang out around your back door and sneak away into cracks in the bricks? This one was grey, with a white belly. This one took it’s hind foot, like a dog would do, to scratch the top of its head. I thought there was something on its head that it was trying to remove. I was right. As I continued to watch, this helpful mosquito eater, continued to scratch and eventually scratched off a layer of skin. And then, it ate that skin. I know. So gross.

The section of woods behind my house is pretty bare now. Winter temperatures finally forced the trees to give up their leaves and the electric company has spent some time back there trimming branches away from the power lines. It’s been entirely too cold and wet for me to have my morning coffee on the patio. Mostly there are just some squirrels playing out there. I live in Texas, tho, so I’m sure it won’t be long before it warms up and the other creepy critters return. Probably even some new ones. Ew!

By the way, my sister, the Master Naturalist, blogs under Little Wild Streak and has a lot of great posts about Texas wildlife and native plant life with amazing pictures. You should check out her posts!

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Microwave-less

For the past few weeks, I have been living in a house that puts me right back in the mid 1970’s. Having nothing to do with the floors or bathroom fixtures or my decor choices, I am living the lifestyle of my youth. I am living microwave-less.

According to Wired.com, only about a million microwave ovens were sold in the United States in 1975. By 1986, approximately 25% of homes had one. A New York Times article sites the average cost of a 1980 Litton microwave as $425. Seems incredibly pricey, even in today’s world. But to live without one?

I made a 200 mile move recently. Sadly, my microwave did not join us in the journey. Old, ugly, and on it’s way to the appliance graveyard, I willingly left it behind – dreaming of the shiny, new model I would purchase once we were settled in. A red one, to brighten things up. While setting up my kitchen, I even saved a spot on my counter anticipating its arrival. Unfortunately, that spot remains empty and life is not the same.

Waiting for the Red One.

While you can use your microwave for many tasks, most people I know rely on them for heating things up. Maybe they use it to defrost dinner for tonight, bake a potato, pop some popcorn, or cook a microwavable meal. No one I know tries to microwave an entire gourmet meal. That said, have you tried to heat up anything without your microwave lately?

I have a coffee maker with a thermal pot, but honestly the thermal pot never kept the coffee that hot even when I first bought it. After 7 years of sitting on my counter, it brews hot and quickly turns to warm-ish, then just goes cold. My microwave was this coffee lovers best friend. Pour that liquid heaven into a mug, pop it in for a minute or so and voilá! A hot cup of joe. In these days of my microwave-lessness, the ritual has gone so wrong. Now, I keep a small saucepan on the stove and when I need dose of happiness I have to pour the coffee into the pan to heat it up ON THE STOVE. It’s actually like living in a world that existed before I even started drinking coffee.

Saucepan to heat my coffee in.
So 1970’s.

Then of course, there are leftovers. I am unable to cook just enough food for two people apparently, because I always have leftovers. And leftover spaghetti is the best! Also, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, or macaroni and cheese with a side of green peas. Or any of your favorite meals that you can put in a bowl or on a plate and stick in your wonderfully convenient microwave to heat up and enjoy again. Without that countertop stealing appliance, I have to put my delicious edibles back into pans ON THE STOVE. Not only is this more time consuming, I think it dries out the food. And it definitely creates more pans to wash. Yay. Always wanted more dishes to do.

I’m starting to feel like my mother must have felt when she was raising us. Always cooking or doing dishes. With a family of five, there was a lot more of both. Imagine feeding 5 people every day without using your microwave? Or making sure everything goes to the table hot on Thanksgiving? You know those mashed potatoes will only be warm without that magic oven heating them up while you grab the dinner rolls out of the oven and grandma suddenly remembers the cranberry sauce. Yes, we survived those microwave-less childhoods, but we understand so much more as adults. Like microwaves are essential!

There is much to be said about current day kitchen appliances. From the dishwasher to the air fryers, Keurigs, fancy mixers, and those Bullets for your favorite smoothie, we live in a time of many choices for all of our different lifestyles. But I, for one, would trade any of them for a microwave oven. For its sheer convenience and time saving wonders (a baked potato in 6 minutes vs. an hour in the oven), it is the one appliance in my kitchen that I honestly use every day, several times a day. I can’t wait to fill that space on my counter with a new one!

New Home

I’m sitting outside on the patio of our new home. Drinking coffee and enjoying the coolness of 6am in Texas. 

There’s a big day ahead of unpacking and cleaning and arranging, and apparently changing the air conditioning filter. Every room in the house is in a lovely state of chaos.  The kind that comes to all new homes in those first days of settling in. Boxes and boxes and more boxes.  The crumpled unwrappings of unpacking strewn about.  Counter tops are filled with all the things of home as you find their proper places in new cabinets and drawers. Furniture is lined up in one room or another, waiting for your designer eye to determine the perfect spot.

The garage absolutely seems like a hopeless task as you dig through the stacks of your belongings looking for that certain box you know is in there somewhere.   Usually on the bottom of the last place you search.  It is currently the home of your linen closet, your crystal, your wall art, your dirty laundry,  your unwanted furniture, your 7 tubs of Christmas decor, and your emptied boxes headed for the trash. Yet, in a few days, you may be able to put your car in there.

Everything will fall into place. You will figure out your light switches and your garage door. You will get pictures hung. You will set out your decor. You will find out what day to take out the trash and maybe meet some neighbors. You will get the chalk paint you need for that table and that organizer for your cupboard. You will fill up your fridge and find a new microwave.

But in the midst of all this – this unorganized mess – you look around and you are just grateful.  This is your new home.  Your new beginning. The place where you will live and grow and be with those you love.  You will celebrate here. You will perhaps grieve here.  This is the place you will spend your days and nights. You will cook meals and wash clothes and sweep up dog hair and watch baseball games. You will drink coffee and maybe some wine. 

You will enjoy mornings on the patio.

A Texas October

It’s October. A month known for gorgeous fall colors and cool, crisp, sunshiny days. – Here in north Texas, it will be a cool 92°. A month for crackling fires in a firepit, roasting marshmallows and telling tales. In October, we break out the plaid sherpa blankets and the plaid, flannel shirts. – Nope, still wearing shorts and flip flops. We light fragrant candles that add warmth to our lingering evenings. It’s the coziest of months. All filled up with scent and ever changing color. – In mid-November, our leaves will change from green to brown and become an overwhelming pile of chores.

October is the month of apples in all their amazing varieties of glory. Peeled and sliced in pies and breads, in warmed cakes and cobblers, and brand new mason jars. Or sticky and sweet, carmel covered and rolled in nuts on a thin wooden dowel. – Still way too hot for baking here. Maybe next month.

October gives us pumpkins worthy to be carved and painted and stacked on our front porches. Miniature ones decorate our table tops. Pumpkin spiced lattes fill sturdy paper cups. Pumpkin pies await that perfect dollop of whipped cream. And little ones cannot wait to dress up as princesses or princess warriors, as wild west cowboys or Dallas Cowboys, so their magic, plastic pumpkin can be filled with tooth decaying candy. – But not from my house because the dog goes hysterical if anyone rings the doorbell.

We love October for the state fairs where you find roasted corn dripping with butter and scribbly funnel cakes topped with powdered sugar. We love it for hot chocolate served at high school football games where the homecoming mums are as big as Texas. – So BIG y’all! For hay rides, Oktoberfest (- yay for beer!), and for trips to the crafts stores as we prepare for the holidays to come.

And of course, we love October for baseball! For the Boys of October swinging for the fences as they battle for the right to play in the World Series. Ace pitchers and base stealers and amazing grabs in the outfield. Watching our favorite players doing what they do best while we snack on peanuts and Crackerjack.

October is the time of the year to appreciate our surroundings, to see the vibrant colors, to taste the comforting flavors. To slow down a little bit before we rush headlong into an often commercially driven chaos. And while here in Texas, we may not experience a complete fall season, October still brings us all the bright imaginings of hearth and home. 

*Photo of Homecoming mum, courtesy of Rene’ Natali’-Diebold and Marty Crisler Frank who spend hours making these beauties.

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9/11 – 20 Years

This week we have been watching some of the shows covering the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

For the 13 year old, who had only heard about this unbelievably tragic day in a history class and seen a video or two on YouTube, these more in-depth stories from a survivor or about one of the heroes have been eye-opening. But I don’t know how much you can understand about this day if you didn’t witness it.

I remember my mom called me to tell me that a plane had crashed into a building in New York. She had woken me from a sound sleep and I just didn’t know why she had done that to update me on a news story. Assuming it to be some terrible accident, I sat up in my bed and turned on the news. I’m talking to her and trying to listen to the news anchor as I see the smoke pouring out of the World Trade Center. And then I clearly see the 2nd plane crash into the 2nd tower.

We knew then that this was not an accident.

And the news did not get better. The Pentagon. The empty field.

The 24 hour restaurant where I worked, actually closed because we were so near to the Dallas World Trade Center, and no one knew what to expect. When or where or if another attack was coming.

And then the skies were cleared. It was eerily quiet.

Glued to my television set, as was everyone else in this country, I didn’t even realize there had not been one commercial interruption in news coverage until some 3 days later, when one finally aired. Over and over we watched the towers tumble. We listened to every word from Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather. We were shocked and stunned and so sad. And we somehow needed to hear every awful thing the news anchors could share with us. There was no discussion anywhere except the discussion of this terrorist attack on our country.

Perhaps being so far away from the terrible scenes of the day, here in Dallas, life began to move on a little sooner than those places where the events of 9/11 had unfolded and continued to surround its people. Still, the first time I saw a plane in the cloudless sky, it was mildly distressing.

Only 12 days after the attacks, I got on a plane myself and headed with a friend to the sunshine and sandy beaches of Cancun. Many thought us crazy. We felt that airline travel had never been more safe. The immediacy of changes made in airport security, of baggage checks and identity checks, was assuring. Escaping from the horrors of the previous two weeks was restoring.

It is curious to me how much of this day I clearly recall. Now, 20 years since the tragedies of 9/11, watching the reading of the names of all those lost on that terrible day, it does not escape me how much those more closely connected to it must remember. The mothers, the fathers, the siblings, the children, the besties. The lives of those lost and the lives of those who survived. All of the people to whom this day marks only the date of something and someone that they remember every day.

My heart breaks for those who lost their someone. For those whose lives were forever changed on that horrific day 20 years ago.

As we pause today in memoriam, my hope is that those affected can feel the love coming to them from across the country, and across the world, and that they may find comfort from that. Comfort in knowing that we too, will Never Forget.

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Turning ’21

Let’s face it. 2020 was NOT the year.  Not for any of us. And I don’t know anyone who isn’t more than ready for it to be over. 

The words pandemic and coronavirus have been permanently and boldly inscribed in the book of 2020.  But it wasn’t only about the complete awfulness of covid. A pandemic doesn’t change the basic things we still have to get through in life – kids, families, mortgages and bills, birthdays/ weddings/holidays, housework, laundry, cooking! The virus just amplified the stress. Less work equals less money equals more stress over mortgages and bills. Kids in online school equals more food to cook (although it might give you a laundry break). Cooking 37 meals in one day wears you out. Anxiety over not being able to see or hug family members for fear of being asymptomatic, makes you sad. Our emotions have run rampant in this past year and it has driven us to the brink of our sanity.

And right here is where we find the silver lining. Because we didn’t actually lose our sanity.  We didn’t give up or give in and let everything fly right out the window. In this time of extreme difficulty, of constant change, of overwhelming stress and genuine fear…we are standing here at the end of this nightmare year for several reasons. 

For me the biggest and most important reason I didn’t just curl up into a ball and lay crying these past months is friends.  We somehow learned to build better friendships in 2020. Closer connections.  We became more supportive,  more sympathic, more understanding of each other’s lives.  Maybe because we had more time to do so without all of the hurriedness that the virus forced us to leave behind. Maybe because in the midst of a worldwide pandemic we learned to reach out more when trying to cope with things out of our hands.  Or maybe being able to laugh at life together just adds an intangible to the mix.  And we did laugh – at  killer hornets, at weird packages of seeds, at dogs eating dentures (after we cried), at meth-gators and angry otters. We laughed at our bosses, our families, and each other. And memes. We laughed a lot at memes. 

Friendship & Laughter

Another reason we made it through this terrible, horrible, awful, very bad year is because in the midst of the chaos that was 2020, we remembered to be grateful. Yes, it was a hard year. Yes, we struggled to just get through some days. Yes, we lived in our yoga pants and pajamas. But how grateful and thankful were we for the days that went well, for the return to on campus school, for our teachers, our healthcare providers, Amazon deliveries? How grateful for healthy families, for a day watching your kid play baseball? How grateful for toilet paper or being able to get a haircut? And how grateful for those who have watched over us and blessed us with their love, who have somehow been able to ease our struggles? Or the ability to help others? We learned how to look at things differently, to change our perceptions of what mattered most. I know that not everyone learned these things. There are still people wasting their breath every day complaining about having to wear a mask. I can certainly think of worse things, but I am choosing to see better things.

It’s the end of a most unforgettable year. A year we are eager to see behind us. But this pandemic isn’t going to go away for awile, so I hope we can take the lessons of 2020 with us into 2021. I hope that we can build on them and share them and grow into being better humans in this new year. To more laughter, stronger friendships, and more gratitude. Cheers 🥂 ! And a very happy 2021!

Personality Speaking

Funny the things that pass through your mind when you are simply minding your own business, just having that first cup of coffee in the quiet pre-dawn hours.

This morning my mind decided to take to me to the far away place of my birth, and it asked me, “Would I be a different person if my parents had chosen a different name for me?”

Man, did my mind go wandering off along all the merry little byways upon thinking that thought.

My given name is Patricia, although I have only been called Patricia if I was in trouble. For all of my memories, I have just been Trish, which is a good thing because I am definitely not a Patricia. Patricia is ladylike and proper. Patricia is delicate, refined, calm. I am none of those things.

And this is where my mind went wandering. Had I been called Patricia, instead of Trish, would I be those things? Or if Patti ( most definitely with an i) had been my nickname, would I be a Patti – bubbly, outgoing, outrageous, a hugger? Would a Rose by any other name still be like our not so bright Golden Girl?

Originally my parents thought to name me Elizabeth. Who would I be with that name? Probably more like a Liz than Lizzie, but most certainly not a Betty.

I sometimes think that we are partly who we are because of our names. Certain names hold certain qualities within them and when those names are given, the person so named just has to have those qualities within them.

Take the name Debbie. I have never met a Debbie that I did not like. Debbie is sweet, a good friend, caring and fun. Debbie understands. Or Robert. Never met a Robert I didn’t like either. Robert is a joker who knows when to be serious. Robert is emotionally strong and sees below the surface of things. Bob? Different guy. Bob is still a joker, fun loving, friendly, warm. He’s a beer and BBQ guy.

Is my Will going to grow up and carry the strength of William? Or because we call him anything but William, will he grow up to be friendly, consistent, steady, the comic relief?

Then there is the family name influence. Is there a weight to that on our personalities? William is a family name – goes back generations on my side. Does having a family name put pressure on you? Is there an obligatory sense hiding deep down that says you must live up to the family name?

My middle is a family name. I never really cared for the name, though I loved the woman so much I gave the same middle name to my daughter to honor her. I’m not sure I ever felt a need to live up to grandma’s standards or even to be like her. But I will say that I do have her hardworking nature and I hope I’m as brave as she was.

Celebrities often like to name their children quite unusual names. Their names have no qualities associated with them, so how do they know who to be? Who will Apple and North and Blu Ivy grow up to be? I always feel sorry for these kids anyway. The uniqueness of their name alone tells you who they are – a child of the rich and famous – and forever they are trapped into being someone’s child instead of their own person. If you were to meet Moon Unit, you would immediately think, “oh yeah, Zappa’s kid”.

Names from the past are becoming popular again. Girls names like Grace, Emma, and Lily are filling up the kindergartens. All while Tiffany, Brittany, and Taylor are past being soccer moms and are soon to be grandparents. I’m guessing they won’t be called me-maw.

At the end of all these musings upon names, I have to say that I do believe the name you are given does somewhat define who you are. Maybe it’s because the people who chose your name have certain expectations for you and your life, or maybe it’s just one of those unexplainable phenomenon in the world. I also know that while being named John, Mary, Cecil, Dorothy, or Seven may contribute to who you are, it also doesn’t keep you from being who you want to be.

Grown-ups Need Villages, Too

The quote that “It takes a Village to Raise a Child”, popped into my mind today as I was thinking about my friends, my support people, and my family members. The people who are holding me up and holding me together in this time of separation and fear.

Thru all of this social distancing, I am clearly seeing the people in my life who are showing themselves to be my village. I am seeing them in those terms.  The people who have formed around me, to build and grow. The ones who are raising me up – teaching me to be a better, stronger person. A kinder person. A more positive person. They are showing me who they really are and who I hope to be more like.

My sister. My sister, the Textile Ranger*,  has always been a strong force in my village. The one who has been with me since the beginning, who made up bedtime stories for me and played paper dolls with me. A smart and talented woman, she is generous and funny and she always has a shoulder for me to cry on. We enjoy each other’s company and we share a common background, a history, so we understand each other. We have inside jokes. We appreciate each others creativity. She is still the one I turn to for advice and wisdom. She is still the one who listens to me and hears what I am saying. I respect and admire her. I am sometimes in awe of her. There is a peacefulness when I am with her.


My work posse. A varied lot, these three women who have come to mean so much to me. Each with their own unique character and attitude and style.  We started chatting thru texts every morning during this pandemic.  We joke, we laugh, we bitch …we check in with one another.  The truth is, we all had things going on before Covid-19 flipped our world upside down. Not just business stuff, but life stuff.  So we awaken each day to our new little pattern. Coffee, tea, and texting.  It’s something I look forward to – their perspectives, their humor, their positivity in this time when so much out there is just plain scary. I see something in each one of them that I would like to better emulate. Strength, energy, generosity, perseverance, joy. These are the types of women who unexpectedly walk into your life and just make you feel so blessed because they have.

Then of course, there is my BFF Jill**. Only her name isn’t really Jill – her name is Mama Jo. Friends for years, thru thick and thin. Since she moved out of Texas, we definitely don’t get to see each other very often. She is part of my long distance village.  Long phone calls, Facebook sightings…. Jo is the girl who teaches me how to be a friend. The one who is there at 3 in the morning, who goes out of her way to rescue you, who sits for hours in a hospital waiting room with you or in a hospital room for you because you live 1200 miles away and your dad is really sick.  I wish that everyone could have a friend like her.

Teachers.  The real ones, who under normal circumstances would be suffering my kid’s inattentiveness and charming attempts to not do his work in a regular school building.  This year, this thing that we are all trying to do online, these teachers are a huge part of my village.  And not just because of what they are doing for the kids, but because of the support they are giving to me and other frustrated parents everywhere.  We have three teachers here in the land of 6th grade.  They call me.  They email me.  They check on me. Am I doing ok? How is it going for me? Do we need anything? Is there anything they can do to help? I know very well that they are working harder than ever to keep us going, to keep teaching. I know they have their own families and are as equally affected by this quarantine as anyone.  But they have inserted themselves into my village and I could not be more appreciative.


We do not lose the need to learn and grow and be supported because we become adults.  We still need people to pick us up when we fall down, to help us become better as individuals,  to remind us of the good that is already within us.  Here and now, in the world we are living in, we need our villages more than ever. We need these people in our lives – the ones who listen and laugh and love and live through the daily ups and downs with us. 

Maybe we can’t be physically with them right now, but knowing they are right there makes getting through this time so much easier. 



*Deep in the Heart of Textiles, Textile Ranger’s Blog



**In case you want to see that commercial. https://youtu.be/4nIUcRJX9-o

Finding Joy in the Little Things

This morning I was thinking about joy. I remembered hearing Marie Kondo, expert organizer, saying that you should keep only the things that bring you joy. That may not always be the practical thing to do; my dish set does not give me joy, but I really need my dishes. But the idea of having things in our lives, in our homes, that bring joy, that I love.

Right now we have so much need for joy in our lives. The days run together as we try to just get through another day of schooling at home, working at home, cooking every 10 minutes…. It’s stressful. It wears on your soul.

But also, we have that awesome set of towels in the linen closet or guest bathroom, just sitting there waiting to be used and admired.  Great grandma’s beautiful china, put safely away in a hutch. A bottle of wine we are saving for a special occasion. A lucky t-shirt in the drawer. Things that bring us joy.

Isn’t it time to use those things? Just think of getting out of a nice, hot shower and folding yourself into your best towels. Put on your lucky t-shirt and think about today as a special occasion and open that wine. Serve your mac’n’cheese in grandma’s china bowls. Then savor it. Savor the moment and the time and let it bring you joy today.

The truth is, as this virus continues to spread, we really don’t know if the perfect time will come to use the things we cherish. Sheltering in place, quarantining, has been extended across the nation. While we look forward to returning to a place where we can move about more and hug our friends and family tightly, we have today to make a place for some joy.

I have a friend who is really great at creating joy around her. For Easter, she donned her very best Wal-mart housecoat and sent greetings out to everyone.

Photo used by Permission

Maybe we can’t do the things we are used to doing. Maybe we have to do some things differently. But we can add joy to the things we do just by changing our attitudes about it.

Whether it’s using the things we hold on to and treasure, or creating a new way to do something traditional – joy is there for us to find. So go pull that feather boa out of your closet and dance in the living room. Turn on some twinkly fairy lights. Make a birthday cake even if it isn’t anyone’s birthday. Go outside and sit in the sunshine for 15 minutes and just breathe. Find your joy. It’s in the little things we do and we need it now more than ever.

Now excuse me while I go pour some coffee in my favorite cup and find my own joy today.

The Lost Season of Baseball

Since I post as Baseball Gal, I decided I really should step up to the plate, so to speak, and put down some thoughts on the season that isn’t.

Isn’t it just amazing how the world has come to a screeching stop? How did we get to this place where America’s National Pastime has no opening day in Spring? Stadiums around the country just sitting there, empty. No cheering fans. No hot dogs! No one robbed of a homerun by some amazing catch at the wall. No razzle-dazzle on the mound. No batters going through a five minute ritual at the plate. (Okay, that one we can live without.) But no baseball – not anywhere?!?

For the fan it is unthinkable. It is heartbreaking. Not hearing the beautiful sound of the ball connecting to the bat and watching it sail through the air to meet it’s destination…not seeing our heroes on the field. Baseball is where our passion meets our hopes. And now in the midst of this terrible pandemic, baseball, like so many other things, is lost to us.

And certainly the fans understand the reasoning behind the loss of what may be an entire season of baseball. We understand the need for so much of our world to be shut down right now. We know that for the greater good, we all must be patient about so many things and baseball is one of those things.

My team, the Texas Rangers, was to open a brand new stadium this spring. It’s not that pretty, kind of looks like a big ol’ metal barn from the outside. And the front is way-too-modern glass and orange? To the creative minds behind this building, let me just say the Astros play a bit further south. Oh, and it’s turf. On the plus side for many here in the 100° plus Texas summers, it is air conditioned with a roof that closes. So, no rain delays.

Personally, I love the brick beauty that is known as the Ballpark. We made so many memories there over $1 hot dogs and $2 t-shirts. We had all of our favorite players: Moreland, Hamilton, Kinsler, Young, Pudge, Elvis, Joe Nathan, Darvish, Cruz (and his boom stick), Choo, and of course, my man Beltre. It’s where we witnessed Sammy hit his 600th homerun and Beltre making his 3000th hit.

And maybe this year there is no season at all. I cannot imagine life so quickly returning to normal when, even as I write, stricter guidelines for staying at home are being put in place and across the country we are beginning to put on masks. When in America did you ever expect that to happen?

Maybe this year, no one hears the roar of the home crowd. Maybe the vendors won’t be calling out “hot dogs here”. No foul balls going home with a proud kid, no autographs of a favorite player. And players may not have that great season we know they are destined for. We may not see our team make a run for the pennant this year. There may not be any stars in October.

As a fan of the game, I truly hope that we will get whatever shortened season we can get, with boldly asterisked numbers filling up the record books at the end of it. I truly hope that after this period of isolation and anxiety, fans will have the chance to ” root, root, root for the home team”. I hope we get to pay $10 for a lukewarm beer while wearing our team logo and that we get to see one of our guys diving for a catch that will save the game. I hope we get to stand shoulder to shoulder and sing our National Anthem as a huge American flag is unfurled on the field. And wouldn’t that be an amazing thing?