Friday, September 30, 2011

"Things I Couldn't Say" (aka Dear So and So)

Dear So and So...

And again Friday has arrived and with it a new batch of "Things I Couldn't Say" or Dear So and So.....

Dear Dream-maker,

You need to re-think the way you do the dreams that pop-up during my sleep-time.  A lot of the time, my dreams (at least, those that I remember) are completely nonsensical; filled with people I don't know in places I've never been and are just a confused mess.  I suppose there is some message there but I sure don't know what it is.  I can easily dismiss those dreams as just a way of cleaning out the clutter in my mind.  No value-added, if you know what I mean.

But the ones that really annoy me are the ones that do make sense....sort of.  When I dream of real people that I actually know, most of the time I am pursuing some goal and never quite getting there.  Sometimes there is a real sense of urgency or a very strong desire to reach whatever I'm yearning for but I just can't make whatever it is happen.  Those dreams leave me feeling frustrated, thwarted, and miffed (to say the least.) 

So please, couldn't I succeed occasionally??  Couldn't I wake up feeling triumphant or happy or fulfilled once in a while?  Pretty please!  I'm really tired of waking up feeling like a failure when all I have been doing is trying to sleep!!


Dear Writing Muse,

I would like to lodge a complaint.  How could you let me tell all my best stories early in my Blogging days?  As I look back, some of those early posts were great (she said modestly!)  They were the real highlights of my life and experiences.  Now that I've written about so many of the times that were really important or special in my life, all I am left with is the dreck!

It gets harder and harder to find topics that inspire or entertain because I've used up all the good stuff!

And it's all your fault!!  Have you never heard of pacing?  Conservation of resources? 

Thanks a lot, pal!


Dear People of the World,

OK, listen up!  I am mighty sick of all the know-it-alls, fanatics, extremists, rabid loudmouths that keep trying to push the rest of us into doing things their way!  I don't want to participate in your beliefs, religions, cults, politics, diets, cultures, or life-styles.  I am not interested, trust me!  And bottom-line?  Most of what you are pushing is self-serving, manipulative, claptrap that is not much more than the thinly-veiled actions of a big bully, a greedy, two-faced narcissist ....or a wigged-out lunatic.  I don't want to associate with you.  I don't want to follow you.  I don't want to go to your gathering places.   I don't want you running my government at any level --- not local, regional, national, or world-wide.  I don't want to watch you in the media.  I don't want you to exist in my world!  Go away!!

On the other hand, I know that there are still people who believe in tolerance, balance, fairness, honesty, integrity, logic, science, truth, compassion and vision.  We desperately need these people to step up and take on stronger roles in all aspects of society.  They need to become the leaders we crave.  Where are the disciples of Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Truman?  Where are you??  Please stop hiding!!  The rest of us need you!  Because we feel abandoned and fearful at the lack of reason and unselfish leadership in our world, and we are slowly going mad.

Getting desperate!

Dear Clothing Manufacturers,

I would like to inform you of a few realities of life.  People get old.  Bodies change.  Old doesn't mean stupid or blind.  This is particularly true of women.  Women of a certain age still enjoy wearing fashionable and new clothes.  However, what looks terrific on a size 2, 5'7" 19-year-old with a killer figure does NOT look even close to terrific on a size 14, 5'2", 60-year-old woman with a "pouchy" stomach! 

For instance, low-riders and mid-rise jeans and pants just add emphasis to a tummy that has expanded over time from pregnancy, a life-time of food, and age!  I refuse to wear the only alternative that is readily available:  polyester pants with elastic waists!  YUCK!

In case you were not aware, this year (2011) 7,000 people will turn 65 EACH AND EVERY DAY!  About half of them are women....with "pouchy" tummies.  Couldn't you try a little harder to come up with clothes that flatter rather than emphasize the shape of a mature woman?


Dear Magazine Publishers.

I may have mentioned this before, but along the same lines as the letter to clothes makers above, your readers age.  As they age things change, like vision.  Nearly everyone requires glasses sometime after reaching 40 years old.  And the vision just keeps deteriorating over time.  Research has been done which shows that as people get older, they need more and brighter light to be able to see.  By the time one hits their 60s, they need 40% more light in order to read standard print!  Therefore, if your readers include a large proportion of the aging population, using a colored ink on a dark background with smaller than average print size is really not a good idea! 

If you want me to buy your magazine, how about making sure I can actually SEE what it says!


Dear Users of Electronic Costumer Service Menus,

Whoever came up with the concept of electronic menus for conducting business with companies that deal with the public was a cruel and heartless beast!

These menus have multiple options, but none ever fit exactly what I need.  To have to punch in number after number just leads to mistakes and having to start over.  A lot of time they don't offer ANY OPTION  for talking to a living, breathing, human being!  That is ridiculous!!

The main function of these systems seems to be the creation of anger, frustration, and complete lack of "customer service".  When there is a problem, I don't want to talk to a recording, I want to talk to a person!  How hard should that be???  We purchase your merchandise, we use your services, we pay for the privilege.  Can't you do better for the people who actually keep your company in business??  Really doesn't seem like too much to ask!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"I've Had My Moments"

In my last post I wrote about all the things I have never done.  It really wasn't all that long a list and there weren't that many things that I'd still like to do.  So I didn't feel too bad about it.  After all, "I've Had My Moments" just like everybody else.  There have been things I have done that a lot of people would never have been able or even attempted to do.  (I have previously written about some of them in detail, so they might seem a bit familiar...sorry for the repetition)  Anyway, here's a list of my "...Moments."

1.  I won a blue ribbon at a county fair for a cake I baked.

2.  I have been an actor, singer, dancer in front of audiences of between 20 and 1,000 people!

3.  I have been on television (OK, so it was just answering phones for a fundraiser, but still....)

4. I have been to Hawaii.

5.  I was the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO of a large Hospital system.

6.  I have given three very successful surprise parties; one for my parents, one for my husband, and one for my sister.

7.  I have lived North (Illinois), South (Texas), East (Florida), and West (California).

8.  I have directed extremely successful productions of  "Bus Stop", "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff", "Barefoot in the Park", and "The Odd Couple", among others.

9.  I have ridden a burro.

10.  I was a cheerleader in High School.

11.  I have had lead roles in many theatrical productions, including Golda in "Fiddler", M'lynn in "Steel Magnolias", Ethel Thayer in "On Golden Pond", Madame Arcati in "Blithe Spirit", Grace Ferrell in "Annie", Clairee  in "Steel Magnolias", and Mrs. Mullins in "Carousel", and others.

12.  I was a Girl Scout until I was a Senior in H.S.

13.  I have been on a canoe trip.

14.  I have been swimming in the Atlantic, the Pacific (very briefly, it was cold!), Lake Michigan, and the Gulf of Mexico.

15.  I have been to college.

16.  I was one of several chaperones for a large group of 13-year-olds on a class trip to Washington, D.C.  (and survived!)

17.  I have an IQ of 134.

18.  I have been the soloist at many weddings.

19.  I have been to the top of the St. Louis Arch, the Washington Monument, the John Hancock building and the Sears Tower (or whatever their names are now).

20.  I have made several solo cross-country driving trips (from Chicago to Orlando, San Jose (CA) to Phoenix, Austin to Phoenix,  Austin to Chicago, and Austin to Arkansas.)

21.  I have had a poem published.

22.  I have shaken the hand of Loretta Young, Michael Feinstein, Buzz Aldrin, Elaine Stritch, Gene Nelson,  and Bozo the Clown.  (Do I hang around with the cool kids or what??)

23.  I have read more books than I can count.

24.  I have lived in 18 different residences since the age of 4.  (There were others before that but that's as far back as I can remember.)

25.  I have been in 25 states and D.C.  (Only 25 more to go....sigh.)

26.  I saw a whale while in Hawaii.  (It was tres cool!)

27.  I have been in 3 (very mild) earthquakes, one hurricane, and a couple of blizzards.

28.  I have broken my left elbow, right wrist (twice), badly sprained my right ankle, and a total of four toes (not at the same time!)  Is it any wonder I have a fear of falling??

29.  I was able to take Gregg Shorthand (was being the operative word!)  I could use a mimeograph machine, a dictaphone, a manual typewriter, and an adding machine.  (Have I mentioned I am OLD?)

30.  I have eaten snails, sushi, liver, and chocolate covered ants (I was a kid, what did I know?)  I won't eat any of them ever again!

31.  I have been married to the same man for 45 years! (Now that's an accomplishment!!)

Hmmm, I guess it's really not that great a list...nothing all that unusual or that special.  Nevertheless, like I said "I've Had My Moments",   It seemed like I was having fun at the time! 

Oh God, I am the most boring person on the planet!!  Argh!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Never on Sunday"

There are a bunch of things I have never done...."Never on Sunday".....or any other day of the week either!  I'm not talking about big impossible kinds of things like curing cancer, or creating world peace.  Nope, just kind of ordinary things that a lot of people have done; but for whatever reason, I haven't.  I don't know why, circumstance just didn't offer me the opportunity, I guess.  It's not that I think my life has suffered because I haven't done these things.  I've mostly had a perfectly lovely time living my life and I don't have a burning desire to do any of them. 

I just thought it might be a topic  to write about.  (Translation:  I can't come up with anything else!!)So here we go.....

1.  Never had anyone throw a surprise party for me.

2.  Never gone on a scavenger hunt.

3.  Never played at a water park.

4.  Never been to New York City.  (Hard to believe, right?)

5.  Never been on a trail ride.

6.  Never seen the Grand Canyon.

7.  Never been to any another country.

8.  Never served on a jury.

9.  Never been on a cruise.

10.  Never seen Lakes Erie, Ontario, Superior, or the other one.  (The one that's not Lake Michigan.)

11.  Never bought a thing from Bloomingdale's, Tiffany's, or  Abercrombie & Fitch.

12.  Never learned to drive a manual transmission.

13.  Never learned another language.  (Sorry Mrs. Petering, Latin was useless!)

14.  Never gone to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

15.  Never planted a vegetable garden.

16.  Never been on an actual diet.

17.  Never been in a helicopter.

18.  Never been swimming in the Pacific.  (Boy, talk about cold!)

19.  Never wore contacts.

20.   Never even attempted to bake a pie.

21.   Never changed a tire.  (That's actually good news!)

22.   Never been to a Haunted House on Halloween.  (Or any other time!)

23.  Never been to any of the Pacific Northwest states.   (I hear tell that it rains all the time!!)

24.  Never went to a prom.

25.  Never learned to "spot".  (It's a dance term.)

26.  Never played a musical instrument.  (I play "at" the piano, but that's not the same thing at all!)

27.  Never been sailing.

28.  Never been skiing.  (That's OK, I'd probably fall off the mountain.)

29.  Never got a tattoo.  (Just in case you were wondering.)

30.  Never been arrested.  (Actually never did anything to get arrested FOR!)

And yet, I don't think my life has been boring.  Maybe one day I'll write about things that I HAVE done.....but that most people haven't!  (It would be a much shorter list!)

What about you?  What haven't you done?  What are your "Never on Sundays?"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"A Cappella"

Shhh, I don't want to say anything too loudly, because it might scare it away, but IT'S RAINING.....SHHH!   Right outside this minute.  yay!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Could It Be?"

When we got up today, the sky was grey, even dark grey in some sections.  It looked like rain.  Of course,  rain clouds have flirted with us frequently this year, only to scamper away about late afternoon without leaving even a drop or rain.  So even though it looked like rain, we weren't expecting much.

I had an errand mid-afternoon near the very most southwest corner of Austin.  As we live at the very most northwest corner of Austin, I had to drive about 17 miles from my house to my destination. 

When I was about halfway there, it started to rain!!!!  Really!  Drips from the sky!  It was lovely!   The rain came down nice and steady for about an hour or so. I had to turn on the wipers and everything!   Oh Yay!  "Could It Be?"  Could we finally be getting a break from this long dry spell? If we could have a nice long, slow steady rain for the next few days, it would definitely help our poor drought-stricken area. 

When I got home, quite a bit later, I asked how much rain we had gotten at home.  Mikey's answer?  "I don't think it rained here at all!"

Ohhhhh, Drat!!  That's just not fair!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Wedding Day"

My parents were married on September 15, 1945 in Minneapolis, Minn.  They remained married till death (my dad's) in 1978.  So they were together for 33 years. If they were both still living, today would have been the 66th Anniversary of their "Wedding Day."  But neither of them lived that long.

Because Mom's birthday was September 9, when I was a kid I could never remember for sure which was which.  I knew the events were only a week apart, but I was always afraid I'd get it wrong.  The fact that I didn't get it wrong was never due my prodigious memory.  Nope, every year sometime in August, I'd cleverly ask my Dad "When's Mom's birthday again?"  I never had to question the anniversary date once I was sure of Mom's birthday!

My parents were introduced to each other by one of Mom's cousins, Toots.  (We have the oddest names in my mom's family!!)  I think Toots had dated my dad first, but I guess the sparks didn't fly.  They double-dated for Mom and Dad's first date, if I remember correctly.  I don't know the date of their meeting but I would surmise that it was sometime in 1939 or 1940.  They only actually dated once or twice before my dad was shipped overseas to the South Pacific.  Due to one of those Catch-22 Army situations, Dad was in the South Pacific for nearly five years.  (You would be discharged when you accrued enough "points".  Points were earned through amount of time spent overseas (or something like that).  Trouble was, they kept raising the number of points required for discharge.  Anyway, the upshot of it was that Dad was out of the country until after V-J Day in 1945.

During those five years my Mom and Dad corresponded with letters through the mail.  It wasn't like the V-Mail system that was used for the war in Europe (where they were limited to one page that could be put on film and then re-printed upon arrival.)  These were regular letters.  Mom still had a couple and there were words, phrases, and whole paragraphs cut out by the censors!

Despite the censors and the difficulty of mail deliveries to the ever-changing  location of the troops, enough of the letters must have gotten through, because that's how they got to know each other.  Somewhere during those five years, Dad proposed and Mom accepted, but they had to wait
until the War was over.  It was a long time to wait, but they kept on writing and sure enough, as soon as his discharge came through, Dad came back to Chicago (all in one piece and uninjured.)

It was just a couple of weeks after that they eloped to Minneapolis, on the train.  I don't really think it was an elopement in the strictest sense of the word.  There was no secrecy.  At a time when a big wedding seemed like a lot to go through and money was kind of tight, they decided they would have a small wedding trip instead.  At least that's how I remember the story.  Anyway, off to Minneapolis/St. Paul they went and they were married on September 15 by a Justice of the Peace. 

As I recall there is one black and white photo  from the "Wedding Day".  Mom was wearing a dark suit with a light colored blouse and she wore a dark hat that had a bunch of flowers perched on the brim.  Now I haven't seen this photo for probably 25 years or more (Little Sis has all the family photos), but I'm pretty sure Dad wore a medium colored pin-striped suit with a white shirt and patterned, wide  tie.  He had glasses and a thin mustache!  He kept that mustache for a couple of years, but when it disappeared, it never returned!  I was always glad he didn't keep it, I don't think it suited him at all!

Anyway, I don't know how long they stayed in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  I think it was only a day or two and they they came back to Chicago. 

I was born 9 months and 15 minutes later!  LOL!    No really!  June 25, 1946 is my birth date and Mom always said I was a little LATE!  So you do the math!!    (teehee)

Like any marriage, they had their ups and downs.  They didn't really know each other very well when they married.  After all, they had only a couple of dates and five years' worth of censored letters.  Not much to build on.   But they made a life and home together for both my sister and I.  They were separated for a little over a year when I was 17, but they got back together.

Dad's health had started to deteriorate when he was around 50 or so.  He had several strokes and a couple of heart attacks.  Partly due to the worry about his health, the Big Guy and I decided to throw them a surprise anniversary party for their 30th Anniversary.

We invited all the old friends they had known years and years ago including my Godfather (who was Dad's best friend forever) and my Mom's cousin, the aforementioned, Toots (not like "hoots", more like "puts".)  Several of my aunts and uncles were there too, as well as 17 year old Little Sis and 9 year old Ratchlet.  Altogether we had about 30 people.  It was a little tight, but no one cared!

It was a huge success! My folks were genuinely surprised, you might even say flabbergasted!   Mom and especially Dad were thrilled and happy to see all their old friends.  There were tears and happy smiles, hugs, lots of laughter, and lots of catching up.  It was a wonderful night!  You can tell from this photo that it was a happy night! It was probably the best thing I ever did for my Mom and Dad.

Daddy and his girls!

Three years later Dad was gone.  Mom lived on for another 28 years or so.  But that night was the best celebration they ever had and the memory of that night, and their marriage has stayed with me ever since.  Every September 15 I am reminded of my parents and how much I loved them and miss them so!

I was thinking of you, Mom and Dad, on this your "Wedding Day."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Make Believe"

I wanted to clarify a bit about why I used John Lennon's "Imagine" on my 9/11 post.

 I debated a long while before posting the song. I know that it's content is controversial.  I fully expected comments arguing against the use of the song, but I really only got one. The comment came from one of my favorite blogger pals, Cass from "That Old House" , a lovely blog that I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to. She left a comment about my post. As I told her, I'm not at all bothered by her comment, basically I agree! (You can read it in the post's comment section.) This is the reply I sent to her

Lennon was a dreamer, but a lot of people condemned him for heretical beliefs.  But this song is not a call for real change, it's a song to think about.  Just imagine....let's pretend what it would be like if.....   It's about "Make Believe."

In our very real world, none of the "imaginings"  are workable or even possible.  However, the line that has always resonated with me is "nothing to kill or die for".  Our world has been dreaming of peace since the dawn of time.  Even though many of us have become civilized, and educated, and survival is not the struggle it once was, we still (after centuries) cannot get over the concept that whatever we believe is what everyone must believe!  I'd love to live in a world where being different is no longer a crime punishable by death and destruction. But we seem eternally stuck as a species where  we, and they, are willing (perhaps even eager) to fight and die for our particular beliefs, no matter what they are.  We keep losing our young men and women because there is always something to go and fight for!  How many have died in name of a cause or belief?  How many innocent "bystanders" have died?  What seems ridiculous to me is that both sides of any conflict are fighting under the same principle:  We are right and They are wrong!  No matter who the We and They may be!!

 I like to imagine a world where there are better ways to settle differences and it's OK to believe something different than the guy sitting next to you on the subway.  I, too, love the myriad fascinations of our world and it's people and would not want to live without them.  I just wish we could stop killing each other over them!

That's the great thing about imagining, you can "Make Believe" anything even if it's not really a good idea!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


World Trade Center
September 11, 2001
We shall never forget!
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
living for today

Imagine there's no country
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
and the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed nor hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
and the world will live as one.

                                 --  Words and Music:   John Lennon. 1971

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Bits and Pieces" (update)

Just little bits of this and a few pieces of that....

I should have started writing this earlier but as always time gets away from me.  This needs to have a September 9 date/  I think I have finally figured out how to make Blogger post the date I want rather, than the actual date, we'll see.  Anyway, a bunch of stuff today.

1.  Today, September 9, is the 89th anniversary of my mother's birth.  She would have been 89 today.  She left us in November 11 six years ago.  Even though it's been six years, I think about her a lot and I keep thinking, "I wish I could ask or tell Mom ______; she would know, or remember, or enjoy."  There is a lot of family history that no one knows anymore.  Her stories and experiences and memories gave me an appreciation of life in the 1930s and 1940s.  Mainly, though I just miss her.  She could make me laugh and she always laughed when I tried to be funny.  She was loving, and generous, and fun.  Sometimes even an old girl (like me) really needs her Mom! 
Mom, me, and Little Sis - 1963

2.  Last night I had the opportunity to see Michael Feinstein in concert.  It was, I believe, the 4th or 5th time, I've seen him perform in person.  He is a wonderful musician, pianist, singer, and teller of tales.  He is the living repository of the great songs from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s (and beyond).  My mom would have loved it, that was "her" music and she probably knew every song he sang! (I only knew about 2/3 of them!)   Last night the program was an all-Sinatra celebration.  Frank Sinatra recorded hundreds of great songs and many became strongly identified with him.  He worked with all the great songwriters of that period and there were LOTS of them and they were very prolific.  It's the kind of music you can actually sing and understand.  The songs are like memories of your life.  Feinstein did a great job.  He worked with an 18 piece swing orchestra made up of local musicians that came together just for this event.  They sounded every bit as good as the Dorsey, Goodman, or Whiteman orchestras from back in the day!  (I guess they don't call Austin the Music Capital of the World for nothing!)  Feinstein has the kind of talent that I would love to have even a little piece of.  He just sits at the piano (or stands at the mike) and lets those old songs rip!  And believe me, there wasn't a soul there who wasn't tapping a foot or swaying and enjoying every note he sang! 


3.  Tomorrow night (Saturday) will be another music night.  This time it will be the Austin Girls Choir starring Maddie-the-Great!   (Well, ok....she's not really the star to anyone but us, still...)  It's the first concert of this school year.  Looking forward to hearing them again.  They may not be as talented as Sinatra or Feinstein, but you can be pretty sure that these girls enjoy singing almost as much as Ol' blue Eyes ever did!


4.  Can you stand yet another weather update??  (If not, skip ahead, it's ok!)  Well, the temperatures have dropped a lot from 2 weeks ago!  Highs have only been in the 90s and lows are now dropping into the 50s at night!  But we still have no rain!!  Austin's total rainfall for the year is currently 16"-20" BELOW normal!  And there is no end in sight.  But at least most of the fires are either under control or out completely!  Of course, what comes next for those areas is clean-up, rebuilding, and recovery.  Certainly not an easy task.  I am very grateful we were never in any real danger and all those who were less fortunate and were caught in the conflagration have my heartfelt condolences over their losses.  The worst of it is, of course, that until we get some serious rain and the drought ends, things just keep getting drier and drier, so wildfire danger is just as bad as it was before the fires.  We haven't unpacked our papers and photos and things and we won't till that danger has moderated significantly!


5.  The other day I wrote about feeling blue over my lack of commenters and questionning if I should just quit writing.   Well, I got some lovely responses, all pretty much saying they enjoy my blog and I should continue.   After everyone's kind words, I am pumped up enough to keep on keeping on!  I want to clarify however,  I absolutely understand how overwhelmed one can get when following a lot of blogs.  Reading and commenting on everything is impossible and can really use up a lot of time.  I do NOT expect anyone to comment every day or about every post.  A lot of it doesn't require a comment or deserve one!!

The people I don't understand are the ones who sign up as followers but have never visited again!  They never read or commented after their first visit!  If they aren't interested in what I write, why did they sign up??  I'm not looking to inflate my followers for advertising income (I don't have ads.)  I don't try to sell anything to anyone so there is nothing to buy.  I don't have contests or giveaways (mainly because I don't understand how they work, and besides I'm not trying to bribe people to read my blog.)  I'm not too interested in the "If you follow me, I'll follow you" kind of exchange. 

If I like a blog, I will follow it.  I will read it pretty regularly.  I will comment when I have something to say.  I don't follow people so that they follow me back.  The only kind of followers I want are those who want to read what I have to say!   The kind that will comment from time to time if I hit on something that strikes a chord in them! 

I love having followers and readers who have some type of reaction to the words I type!  I love that they come back occasionally or regularly.   I'd love it even more if they would say something now and then, just to keep it from getting too quiet around here, you know??

I would be extremely remiss if I did not publicly thank my very good blogger friends who hastened to assure me that it's not just me!  They individually wrote some lovely things and boosted my bruised little ego back to the point where I'm out of the downward spiral.

I'm grateful to Mona, Jim, Laurie, Manzanita, Theresa,  Beth and Sandy!  You guys are the BEST!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Am I Blue?"

"Am I Blue?"  Oh, yeah, plus a bit disappointed, somewhat uncertain, and just a tad snarky.  Let me explain why.

On Monday I wrote about the horrendous wildfires that were appearing in various locations in Texas.  There was a cluster of fires of various sizes located in a U-shape around Austin, the closest of which was less than five miles from my house.  (That fire is now contained, so we are ok!)

Having been a blogger for two plus years now, I have visited many bloggers I follow when they experienced or expected some sort of potentially catastrophic event; everything from serious personal illness, family illness, loss, accident, and deaths, to hurricanes, earthquake, rains, winds, tornado, flood, blizzards, and other natural disasters.

 Bloggers, as a rule, are incredibly supportive, caring, and friendly individuals.When something happens with a blogger friend, there is usually an outpouring of offers of help, prayers, good wishes, and worry that arrive from followers, subscribers, lurkers, and friends!  Everyone seems to care.   Complete strangers in every way except for what they write on their bogs, still send loving messages in times of  stress and fear.  It's one of the loveliest things about blogging.  It always impresses me when I see it.  People are basically good and this kind of thing is evidence that that is true!

So after I posted on Monday about the fires all around us in a circle of about a 50 mi. diameter, as well as about packing up valuables and hoping our home would remain out of harms way, I more or less expected that there would be a bunch of comments in the next day or two.  After all, I had 47 followers, several others who checked in regularly without actually blogging themselves (my sister,  for instance) and still others who would frequently show up in the stats but never identify themselves or write or comment about anything.  I thought a few of these nice people would express some concern or acknowledgement of our dangerous situation.

Well, it didn't happen.  I got two comments.  One from JE at "Moment by Moment" and the other from Beth at "C. Beth Blog"  These two friends are my best blogging buddies.  They visit every day and comment on nearly every post.  I happen to know Beth personally (she was one of my inspirations to start blogging) and JE and I appear to have been twins separated at birth!

But, no other comments were received at all.  Not even from my sister! (She might actually be out of town, so I can't be mad at her.)  But I don't think any of my "followers" even read the post.  Well, I can understand that, I guess.  It was the holiday weekend and people get busy.  It didn't even surprise me all that much.  There certainly wasn't anything anyone could do about the fires and we didn't appear to be in any danger. 

Believe it or not, I am not sitting here with my nose out of joint because I wasn't flooded with warm fuzzies from concern from my blogger friends.  Well, not exactly.

What has disappointed me, made me kind of blue, and just a tad snarky is that this lack of response is becoming the norm....which makes me kind of question whether or not I should continue blogging at all.  I kind of feel like I'm talking to an empty room, you know?

Now to be fair, there are four or five others of my followers who will pop in with a comment from time to time and I am always glad to see them.  It's the others who have signed up as a follower and then completely disappear that bothers me (this is the snarky bit).  When I follow someone I read their posts almost daily and I comment when they have posted something that sparks a response in me.  I don't comment every day but I do comment frequently.  If there is a blog that has turned out not to be what I thought it would be,  I have stopped following them, rather than just ignoring their posts.

I guess the thing that has me questioning is that I don't know if people have been disappointed by my blog, or find me too outspoken, or don't like what I have to say.  (Yes, I am insecure and I want people to like me.)  I have mentioned that I don't make friends easily.  Is my blog an extension of that??  Is my blog too unfocused??  Are my posts just too darn long??  Or am I just boring?  I don't know and I wish I did. But at the moment, "Am I Blue?" is a question that gets an unqualified, YES for an answer.

"Is anybody there?  Does anybody care?"

P.S.  Of course, while I was writing this, another of my blogger friends stopped by and commented on Monday's post.  She is the lovely lady who writes   Thanks, Mona.  Great timing!!  :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Fire and Rain"

Tonight I did something I have never, ever done in my whole entire life!

I have lived in Florida, Illinois, California, and Texas.  In Florida there are hurricanes, Illinois has tornadoes, California gets earthquakes, mudslides, and wildfires, Texas has drought which brings about great danger of fire. 

When I was 14, Hurricane Donna passed right through our town.  There was a lot of wind damage, broken windows, trees down, and a week without power or water and no school.  At 14 the one that had the biggest impact as no school!  A whole week without classes!  That wasn't bad news to us kids!

In Chicago, we had several tornado warnings and watches every year.  But despite having them all around us, I never even saw a funnel cloud.

In California, despite living there for 10 years, I never experienced a major quake.  The wildfires and mudslides were typically close to L.A., but we lived near San Jose and those things were not too much of a threat to that area.

And now here in Texas this is the third time since we came here that we have official drought and this is the worst of the three!  We haven't had rain for months, so now there are mandatory water restrictions.  The grass and trees are like tinder and crops and livestock are are extreme risk.  But the biggest danger is fire.

And today, the fires arrived.  There are severe wildfires and residential fires all around the Southeast in the Southwest in the Northwest in Cedar Park....and to the North in Pflugerville....and only 5 miles South down the road from us in a development called Steiner Ranch.  According to the news there were somewhere between 20-30 homes destroyed in that development!!  There was heavy smoke visible to the South and West.  We could even smell the smoke by our house.  As fire goes, that is pretty damn close!  There are several mandatory evacuations being enforced.  And it has been extremely windy all day.

There hasn't been any mention made of immediate danger or evacuations for us, but wind and fire are a deadly combination and are capricious and unpredictable.    There is STILL no sign of rain anywhere in our immediate future, so once these types of fires start, it's up to firefighters and others to get it under control.  There is no help from the skies!

So tonight, the Big Guy and I packed up all of our photographs, especially the irreplaceable and treasured ones.  We got out our fire resistant box for important papers and added in some other things that we wanted to protect.  We (well, at least I, Mikey said he's get to it) packed a bag with some clean clothes, my medications, my good jewelry (of which there is very little!), my favorite hairbrush and makeup stuff, pajamas, some shoes, socks, clean undies, and my camera, phone, and Kindle.  All of them are packed and standing at the door to the garage, ready to load.

Space has been made in both cars.  If necessary, they can be loaded into the cars in about 5 minutes.  If we get a call to evacuate we will grab the laptop and the 2 CPUs, and can be out of the house in 10 minutes or less, and save our most important belongings to boot! 

We're as ready as we can be.  There are other things I wish we could carry out quickly, but the rest of the things are just....things!  Replaceable and without emotional ties.  But those things we love are already packed up and are ready to move; they will stay standing by the doorway until the damn drought is OVER and the rains are once again falling on our lands. 

And then, the only time I ever want to consider "Fire and Rain" is when I hear Sweet Baby James (Taylor) sing!!

Cripes, this has been one pip of a year! 

To my fellow Texas Bloggers, stay safe and stay alert!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Sounds of Silence"

Even if you don't have any children, you probably noticed new school supplies in the stores for the last couple of months.  Yep, according to most school districts, summer ends sometime between August 15 and September 6,  when it's back to school.  Parents of school age kids trot off to Wal-Mart or Target or wherever, list in hand, to pick up the paper, glue sticks, rulers, protractors (do they still use protractors??  Do you even remember what a protractor looks like???  Or what you do with one??), notebooks, pencils, markers, erasers, and so on for the little darlings.  Oh, and don't forget a new pencil box!

I used to love helping Ratchlet get her supplies together.  It was fun to see all the new colors and designs and gadgets that come out each year.  Picking out a new lunch box (they never last more than one school year!) and new school clothes (even if it's just the school uniform in a larger size!),  all of it was fun, but then I only had one child.  I don't know how multiple-child families do it!  Just the logistics of doubling or tripling (or more) all those things and keeping it all straight so that Susie and her brother don't get their stuff mixed up (oh Heaven forbid!....."Mo-ooom! Make Susie get her cooties off of my new Darth Vader lunch box!!!")....I shudder to think!

Every year kids get older and the supplies get more complicated and more expensive!  No more lunch box, now it's calculators and laptops.  The sneakers they "must" have cost more than all the stuff from previous years put together!  Oh my, the mind reels!

It's a ritual and process that every family with kids goes through for a whole lot of years!!  A huge chunk of their lives is spent in school....from pre-school to kindergarten to grammar, middle, and high schools, then some go on to college (where it gets REALLY expensive....start saving the day you find out you are pregnant!  Trust me on this!).  Let me reiterate, every year costs more than the year before....pre-school crayons are textbooks are NOT!
You will learn that EVERYONE applies for financial aid for college.  There is no shame in applying!  I've even heard that some people actually GET money!  Not us you understand, but some people.  Did I mention that it gets REALLY expensive??!

Of course, then if your kids make it through those four years and aren't totally sick of school, they could even choose to pursue a Master's degree and then.... (oh help!).....a Doctorate!!  We won't even mention Dental, Medical, or Law School!!  If your child chooses that route it's time to take out that 2nd mortgage because you will have used up all your money paying for college and grad school!

Now if you have raised your kids right, (meaning they understand that you are NOT Fort Knox), somewhere along the way they will take on at least partial responsibility for their education costs and will get a job AND apply for loans (which they will then pay off for the rest of their lives!).

Once you get to that point the end is in sight.  Usually by the time they are in their mid-to late twenties their school days are over and the financial drain on the Bank of Mom and Dad dwindles to a halt!  They are educated and on their way! They have an actual job, with an actual salary!!  And mom and dad can suddenly afford to buy steaks again!  Oh happy day!

Whether there is one child or six children, eventually the family reaches the point when all their kids are....dare I say it??....grown up. They have moved on.  They have moved out.  When the last one takes that very last box filled with whatever has been hiding in the back of his closet for the last 20 years, the house will echo every sound, the house suddenly loses its color and verve! Mostly what you hear are " The Sounds of Silence" 

You worry, you cry, will he really be able to take care of himself by himself?  He can't even find the clothes hamper most of the time!  Mom will decide to make one last sweep to make sure nothing was forgotten. "Oh,look, he forgot a sock!!  Well, I'll just drive to Denver from Miami to get his favorite sock back to him!! I can check on him and make sure he's all right, but it won't seem like I'm hovering exactly, 'cause he's gonna want that sock...Right???"  Yeah, right.

 After you've gotten past those first few weeks of empty nest, it won't take long before you turn his room into a crafts room, and you're looking at brochures for getaway weekends....or CRUISES! Then at some point he'll come back for an extended visit, and oh my word, you'll wonder how you ever lived with the noise!!

It's a long and winding road, getting those kids educated, raised to be responsible and functional adults. But the pay-off is worth every penny, every headache, every worry. Courage, my dears, you will survive, as will they. 

And looking back, you will be proud!


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