Tuesday, February 28
Tuesday, February 21
LEAVE YOUR HOUSE
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
LOOK UP WHEN YOU ARE WALKING
SIT ON YOUR FRONT PORCH
USE YOUR LIBRARY
BUY FROM LOCAL MERCHANTS
SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE
HELP A LOST DOG
TAKE CHILDREN TO THE PARK
SUPPORT NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS
FIX IT EVEN IF YOU DIDN'T BREAK IT
HAVE POT LUCKS
PICK UP LITTER
READ STORIES ALOUD
DANCE IN THE STREET
TALK TO THE MAIL CARRIER
LISTEN TO THE BIRDS
PUT UP A SWING
HELP CARRY SOMETHING HEAVY
BARTER FOR YOUR GOODS
START A TRADITION
ASK A QUESTION
HIRE YOUNG PEOPLE FOR ODD JOBS
ORGANIZE A BLOCK PARTY
BAKE EXTRA AND SHARE
ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
OPEN YOUR SHADES
SHARE YOUR SKILLS
TAKE BACK THE NIGHT
TURN UP THE MUSIC
TURN DOWN THE MUSIC
LISTEN BEFORE YOU REACT TO ANGER
MEDIATE A CONFLICT
SEEK TO UNDERSTAND
LEARN FROM NEW AND UNCOMFORTABLE ANGLES
KNOW THAT NO ONE IS SILENT THOUGH MANY ARE NOT HEARD
WORK TO CHANGE THIS
Monday, February 20
(****Editorial note...if you want to skip all the details, scroll to the bottom for a synopsis, otherwise enjoy the ride)
My last trip to Houston was supposed to be purely for fun...of course we all know how that ended (see heartbreak blogs from November). This trip was purely about business, health and seeing the folks this time around I didn't get a chance to see the last time around (for those of you I still missed..I'm so sorry). Here's my Houston agenda...remember, I was still sick:
- arrived in Houston in the afternoon
- rested and got ready to go to dinner with a friend
- friend had to make a quick stop at a political fundraiser beforehand
- cracked many faces, enjoyed the hell out of it; genuinely glad to see some of the people
- ate great seafood, had many libations and talked for hours 'til we closed the place down
- fell into bed realizing it takes more energy than I'm willing to expend to be "on" with people who don't feed me
- authentic Tex-Mex breakfast...huevos y papas
- neurologist for a checkup; great news...all is well and I can go off medication; skipped out of the doctor's office and called my momma
- rearranged stuff in the storage unit to make room for bits of furniture stored at this one's house and that one's house and someone else's house whom I didn't originally leave it with
- had a dose of reality...underneath all that bravado, you are a coward
- stopped off at Pierson House to visit former co-workers and meet new folks; fell into old habits playing toss the koosh ball back and forth while listening to music...fun
- stopped off to visit with friend who will soon be 40; she has nothing to worry about...great valentine's day decorations, by the way
- stopped off at The Chocolate Bar to see a friend and pick up some sweet treats
- went to my church to see the pastor give him a great book on Ecclesiastes called "Against the Grain"; he wasn't there, but it felt good to be in that sacred space again; took a turn around the labyrinth for good measure and then...
- stopped off for a surprise visit which lasted all of a few seconds as she was walking out as I was walking in...still fun to see the shocked expression on her face
- back to my friend's house (been in town more than 24 hours now and still haven't seen her!) to clean up and rest before dinner
- got to hug Holly's neck finally and see Miss Emma (Mocha's puppyhood playmate and fellow chocolate drop)
- Mexican food and ritas...I must be in Houston! Lordy we ate 'til I was about to bust and then we ate some more. Learned some new lingo that I'm sure will come up in the future and had a eyebrow raising discussion about chaps...have mercy!
- decisions, decisions...go out and dance or go to the house...hmmmm
- pit stop to meet the new girlfriend...nice & I like her dogs
- final stop...big cushy sofa in our jammies for girl talk and catchin' up
- sleep, sleep, sleep
- coffee and goodbyes with Holly and J
- brunch at the Hobbit Cafe with Kris
- shared the events of our lives from the past 6 months over great food
- pit stop to meet the new girlfriend...nice & she works with dogs
- filled up the tank, fired up the cell phone and waved goodbye to the skyline as I headed northeast to Overton, TX
- tried to do way too much in too little time
- ate favorite foods...mexican, seafood and Hobbit Cafe
- renewed some old friendships
- cast away the remains of friendships that were nothing more than lip service
- got warm and only had to wear one layer of clothes
- cracked some faces
- left people to draw their own conclusions
...next stop, a reunion
Wednesday, February 15
It was a bright and glorious day as I set out on my 3 1/2 hour trek to Houston. Having driven in under the cover of darkness a few nights before, I had no sense of my surroundings or to what I would bear witness.
The Sabine National Forest is located on the Texas/Louisiana border and covers thousands of gentle rolling acres populated by native pine trees, dogwoods, wild azaleas and other native flowering trees. The pines are soaring and majestic and have provided me, my family and friends with the most magnificent pine cones. What I love most about this forest is the light play as the sun filters through the pines and gently washes the undergrowth and forest floor, blanketed by russet colored pine needles.
As the winding farm road carried me into the forest, I could scarcely believe what lay before me...a forest scarred, burned, twisted, disheveled and discarded, like litter thrown carelessly on the side of the road. I knew Hurricane Rita had dealt a mighty blow to East Texas, but until I saw the forest, I had no barometer to measure how fierce and unyielding the wind, rain and lightening must have been to exact such devastation. I tend to view natural disasters as Mother Nature's way of cleaning house, but did she have to be so vindictive to her children?
I had to stop several times; walk into the forest and lay my hands on the trunks of the fallen. It was as I would imagine a graveyard of dinosaurs might have been.
Normally quiet, save the wind through the pines, the forest now moaned and creaked and bled. Those still standing had trails of thick sap running down their trunks...silent, sticky tears. Standing there, I remembered my mother telling me shortly after the hurricane had passed, the dogwoods and wild azaleas burst into flower, even though it was August and they normally don't bloom until March. Was this unnatural act a memorial or a beacon of hope?
What hurt the most was to see the forest unattended, littered with the dead. Part of me wanted to leave it as is...a lasting memorial. The other part shrieked to remove the carnage from my sight. Standing amidst so much devastation, my spirit was filled with the internal wrestling of fight or flight. Flight won out and I bolted for the safety of my car and headed for the city...for I knew what wreckage would await me there.
Monday, February 13
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy have I been sick. So sick I wanted my mommy. My body produced more phlegm than I thought humanly possible. My trip home was delayed for 2 days until I had the strength to drive from Tennessee to Texas.
The first leg of the trip was from The Ridge to my parents house in deep East Texas. How deep you ask? So deep when you walk down to the dock, step in the boat, navigate out the cove and around the corner you are in Louisiana. So, last Tuesday morning I took all my medicine, pointed the car in a general Southwest direction and 2 rest stops and 12 hours later, I pulled up to their door. It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, although the last 30 minutes lacked any degree of charm or enjoyment. The truckers kept me entertained and I played russian roulette with my CD collection. Never played? Well..it has to be dark outside, you open your CD case and randomly pull out a CD without looking at it and pop it into the CD player, crank up the volume and sing at the top of your lungs. Most importantly, you must listen to the entire CD...no early ejection. My favorite surprise was Colour Me Badd, "I want to sex you up!" I didn't realize I owned the CD, much less listened to it in the past decade.
The folks are doing OK. I was only there for a day and half, but we managed to visit, solve the worlds problems and play several hands of kings on the corners before I had to leave on the next leg of my journey. I was truly proud of my Mom. She honored my request for no sweets. I honestly didn't think she was capable of preparing for a visit without baking:
- pie - fried and/or baked
- banana bread
- all of the above
Bless her heart...she did it!
My folks are aging. Bill (the cutey in the red sweater) is 80 and Mom (the cutey with the red hair) will be 73 in April. I had something very important I wanted to share with her, but she wanted to talk about her funeral arrangements, so my news was trumped. I'm glad we had the talk, even though I sat there crying and couldn't say a word. It's good to know what hymn they want sung and what NOT to serve at the covered dish supper. She wants a "green" burial...she didnt know that's what it was called, but she wants to be put in the ground in a sheet and tree planted on top of her. I support her, but I'm afraid the small church cemetery out in the Piney Woods is not going to cotton to me dropping my Mom into a hole without the usual trappings, pomp and circumstance. We shall see...the women in my family usually get their way when it's all said and done.
So, with the first leg of the journey complete, I rose with exuberance to begin the second leg...Houston. What had hitherto been a 3 1/2 hour drive I normally bemoaned seemed now like a walk in the park on a sunny day. And the day was sunny and bright, perfect for driving through the Sabine National Forest.
...more tales from the road to follow
Sunday, February 5
Thursday, February 2
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Wednesday, February 1
So at 8:00 pm, central standard time, I braced up and attempted to be a responsible, informed citizen of these United States and listen in. Immediately, I realized I couldn't even look at the screen, so I averted my eyes and listened...so far so good. Within 30 seconds, I began tossing anything I could get my hands on at the screen, shouting retorts at the top of my lungs. After battling a very nasty cold/flu for the past week, I just didn't have the energy to sit through it, so I went upstairs to check my email...a much better use of my time. With about 10 minutes remaining in the speech, I went back downstairs, thinking it would be safe as he'd be wrapping up with all the good news we dutiful citizens were supposed to believe. I was wrong...the first sound that registered in my ears was our President once again butchering the pronunciation of nuclear.
Is it too much to ask that the leader of our nation have a command of the English language? For God's sake, he's been in the public arena for more than a decade! Don't you think someone in his administration would have pulled him to the side by now and tutored him, as they do on everything else?
I know in the grand scheme of things, this is the least of our worries, but if W can't pronounce a 3 syllable word properly, how can he possibly begin to address the ills of our nation? I headed for the liquor, telling myself it was for medicinal purposes to quiet my seizing cough. I'm afraid the tightness in my chest has nothing to do with the common cold but the ineptitude of a corrupt and delusional man.