It's that time of year when Don and I often try to get out of Texas. It's not exactly safe to travel right now, but yesterday we headed to our cabin. It's less than 4 hours away and even hotter!
Sometimes I complain about the extra chores that come with owning this cabin. But the jobs are totally different and routine changes are welcome. I battled some cobwebs and dust. Don had some "fun" with the mower and weed-eater. It feels good to do "chores".
Hummingbirds and Flowers
In the early morning, we went on a walk and spotted 9 little fawns!
I put up the hummingbird feeder and stuck a branch of an exotic looking "Paradise" plant, in a jar of water.
I moved the jar from place to place and snapped photos. I thought about painting the rusty table. Next time.
The second evening, we were determined to sit outside.
The air was still, but we iced down bandanas in "Florida Water" and sat on the deck. Ordinarily, I'm a little shy for performing for neighbors, with our ukuleles. But, no one is around these days.
We played for the hummingbirds!
In the past 10 years, Don and I have stopped about a million times at Weikel's, for gas and coffee. It's on TX 71, about halfway to our cabin. Pumping gas is pretty low risk, on the covid safety list, but using the rest room is more worrisome. Today, we stopped for gas and restroom.
There's no one in this photo, but I watched many. It was very entertaining. This is not an area where you expect to see everyone wearing masks, but they are now required in Texas!
There were huge signs outside of both entrances. I was thrilled! Before I headed inside, I watched a few unmasked characters heading towards the building.
I watched a blond woman, with shorty shorts and a sparkly tank top, strut up to the sign. She paused and then fooled me, by digging in her purse for her mask. I saw a man exit his dusty truck and clomp over to the entrance. He turned around and headed back to his truck. I thought he was going to leave, but he reached for where a paper mask and returned to the store.
It was my turn. Once inside, I grinned behind my mask. It felt so good to see every single customer and employee, wearing a mask! The place was clean and orderly and every face was covered. I don't plan to start shopping and dining out and socializing like crazy, but this just made the world look more possible!
We can all just do this. We don't have to make a mask decision. We don't have to worry about anyone judging us, because we all "have to".
I am so happy. At least for now.
I was the first in our family to have a pandemic birthday, in April. At that time, I really didn't think we'd all be hunkering down at home for the next family birthdays... in July.
In the first week of July, we had 3 birthdays. I kept thinking about when our family of 6 last gathered. It was October, in Sacramento. We put on tiny party hats and celebrated Heidi and Don's birthdays. Two days ago, we Zoomed and sang for Jamie, Scott and Chali's birthdays. It was wasn't quite the same as celebrating in person, but it was fun.
We have all been missing each other so much. Coronavirus is not going away quickly and none of us will be flying anywhere, soon. So, we stay connected with Zooms and texts. I love this text, sent by my son in law!
Six cell phones suddenly jumped in on an amusing text thread. We were all having fun with the fantasy of escaping the pandemic. We could safely share this double house in Oregon! Our texting was a fun escape on a quiet afternoon.
How About California?
A few days later, Scott sent this text. Suddenly we were imagining our group living on 10 wooded acres, in California.
Again the texts were flying. We teased about coming up with a name for our family compound. We were being playful, but you could tell the pondering was half serious. None of us anticipated the pandemic when both couples moved west, 2+ years ago.
I doubt we will all ever live in the same home. But I absolutely love knowing that my kids and their spouses have fun fantasizing about it, even for a moment.
Miss these guys!
Communicating While Wearing Masks
I'm all for wearing masks! I'm glad Texas is requiring them. But it's harder to communicate. I find myself talking louder and using my hands more. I try harder to smile, but I'm not always sure my eyes are cooperating. It's exhausting.
It's really hard if you're trying to talk to someone with a mask AND sunglasses. Why would anyone want to talk to someone who looks as unfriendly as this guy?
I talk with my dad on the phone daily. He talks on his landline. Since he doesn't have a smartphone, we talk and listen, without seeing each other. I'm used to communicating without seeing his face.
I told him I understood. We compared our recent outings, with masks.
I told Dad that I had gone to the polls to vote. I described my encounter with a poll volunteer, who had tried to lighten the event with her humor. "I couldn't hear her well, so I asked her to repeat. I couldn't read her face, to tell if she was being funny. It was just plain awkward! I just wanted to vote and get out of there."
I told Dad that he's had more practice talking to people in masks, than me. For 4 months, his meals have been delivered to his room at his assisted living facility, by masked staff.
Dad told me he doesn't really talk to the staff much. He just says thanks. I told him that was crazy. He needs to enjoy these little moments each day, with others. After I questioned him more, it became more clear. He's just not comfortable conversing with someone, when he can't see the face or hear the voice. I get it.
So that makes me sad. But I'm glad to to remind myself that my dad has pretty darn good hearing at age 91. And thank goodness, he like the phone!
Dad in the World
I was thrilled today, to learn that Dad's first official outing to the doctor was a success. I was also happy that he had a visit with his brother.
But I also feel like Dad should be able to make a decision! He's been cooped up for months. He hasn't been able to decide anything about his life for a long time. If he's feeling like he's ready to mask up for a haircut and his facility okays that, then I'll agree.
But if Dad is enjoying his scholarly appearance and he's content staying away from salons, then I hope he can make that choice.
Early voting started last week in Texas. I wish we had mail-in voting, especially in pandemic times. But we don't.
We arrived at the new tech center a couple miles from home.
I forgot to check the schedule. Friday was the official July 4th holiday.
No voting on July 3. We headed home.
Sunday July 5
There were a few people lined up before the doors opened at noon. It seemed very odd to be voting on a Sunday.
I was glad to see people spaced out in line. I noticed the sign said "Mask Recommended" Hmmm? Masks are required in Texas now.
They only let a few people in at a time. The brand new machines were easy. They even gave us Q-tips, so we didn't have to touch the screen. We were out in 5 minutes.
I feel grateful that voting was so easy for us. I have to remind myself that for many, there are bus rides involved and hours standing in line. There are troublesome issues that make it impossibly difficult. Fall elections are just over 100 days away. I need to start thinking more about this.
...as other 4ths
In yesterday's post, I talked about the odd feel to this holiday. Independence Day 2020, will not go down as my all time favorite July 4th.
I've been thinking about my grandmother, who was born on the 4th of July 1898. I loved celebrating Daw! I still love putting out her Uncle Sam doll each year. This year, I added my own whimsical dolls to the decor. I love all these sweet characters.
Don and I stayed away from national news and started focussing on food yesterday. I pulled out all the corny red, white and blue tableware. I refuse to ignore any holidays.
We had 2 days of feasting. Fried chicken and cake yesterday. Hotdogs and peanuts and summer fruits, today!
We dressed in parade-worthy colors and cranked up some John Phillips Sousa marches.
Neither one of us can march and juggle at the same time, but our skills are improving!
Pool & Games
Don and I have spent many a July 4th around the pool, in the past 22 years. No kiddos playing volleyball this year, but Don and I put on our suits and dipped in and out.
We nibbled and drank and played some Yahtzee, before Don lit up the grill.
Usually we can see our community fireworks from the yard, but they were cancelled this year. So, we turned on the TV and watched national celebrations starting in the east.
We kept our focus on the fireworks and the musical artists, who performed from their homes. (I can't believe I'm almost used to this weird, distanced televised entertainment!) Don and I didn't watch the White House coverage. We heard later that the president assured the country that "99% of COVID-19 cases are harmless." Hmmm.
Full Buck Moon
We had no fireworks in our area, but there was a gorgeous full buck moon in the sky! I returned to the yard a number of times to look and listen. At one point, I could hear some distant fireworks and I actually saw a few quick splashes of color, thanks to a few neighbor kids.
Mostly it was quiet and I was happy for the dogs, who are stressing less this year. But then I worried when the sound of sirens began to fill the eerie night. I learned a short while later that a house in our neighborhood community was on fire. Oh dear...
Right now I'm thinking about July 4, 2021. What will it be like? Very different, I hope.
Independence Day 2020
We've had a number of holidays during this pandemic. All have felt odd and changed, by the news and by the fact that most of us are more isolated. But I decorate and try to enjoy each one.
These reminders of the division in our country are disturbing on this holiday. Oh well,. We'll just be staying at home with all our red, white and blue decor. I'm very grateful that I was born in this country. But I am not celebrating my country's leadership at the moment.
Happy Birthday Daw!
This weekend, I'm celebrating my grandmother, who would have been 124 on this 4th of July. Her birthday is tomorrow and I've already made a cake. It's just as funny looking as the one in this photo!
My decorations and my cheers are for Daw! How fun our celebrations used to be!
Here's a new one. I've seen so many different lists and charts that help us determine what activities are safest and most at risk. This one has colors and pictures. Thank you.
Yikes. I haven't done anything in the red zone yet, but I've had my hair cut. That's in the Medium/High zone. Fingers are crossed that I show no symptoms. It's been over a week.
I'm not tempted by any of the red zone activities, but I'm itching to travel. Where is "staying in a hotel" on this list?
When I was a kid, I loved the idea of breaking records. I especially loved breaking records in the summer, when the days were long.
How many minutes can I stand on my head? How long can I stay underwater? How many poems can I write in a day? (they were 4-liners) And how many fish can I catch compared to my siblings?
Records in 2020
I don't like the kinds of records that the U.S. is breaking. I'm also getting tired of the records my own state is breaking.
Texas set a daily record of 8,076 new covid cases, yesterday. That's more than double the numbers, from two weeks ago. Yesterday in the Houston area, 2,142 cases were reported.
Texas is a state that likes to brag. This is not a fun thing to brag about.
Banned from Europe
I guess this is not a huge surprise.The news this morning let us know that U.S. travelers will not be allowed in Europe.
That's okay. I already put my Italian tapes away. I hid the beautiful travel book that showed stunning photos of Cinque Terre's coast. I already knew we would be canceling our trip in October.
That's okay. We'll put it off.
It's nice to dream about the day, when we can eventually do this trip, safely!
Back in May
All this at-home-time, is giving me lots of opportunity for plant appreciation!
For Mother's Day, the kids helped out with that. Scott & Chali gave me a fun, Home Garden Kit. Heidi and Jamie gave me a beautiful plant, already blooming and lovely! I was excited to begin enjoying a new healthy focus.
I opened up my kit, like an eager Scientist/Chef!
Sage, basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro!
I had so much fun! I was thrilled when the plants began to grow. I will not show you what they look like now. Have I really killed them all? How can this be? Luckily I have more seeds.
In March I bought flowers for the pots on the patio. It was before we went into "lockdown" and I was determined to enjoy that yard. They looked so pretty. I never thought to take a photo.
Then they started to look dreary. I took a photo because I wanted to have an image of what they looked like, before I nursed them back to health! I was sure I could do it! But they got worse and I pulled them out. What is my problem?
My hibiscus plant has been fighting bugs for months. I haven't seen a bloom all spring. I tried everything I could find in the garage, but nothing did the trick.
The plant has recently begun to get green and healthy! A few days ago, I studied the leaves with my glasses and cheered to see no bugs. And look what I found yesterday!
Oh how I needed this festive bloom! There is hope in my backyard!
Late June 2020
We lucked out in early June, but now the humidity is kicking in.
Don and I could wimp out and stay inside all day. But, we want to get out for walks and we want to enjoy the yard. It's hot, but we need to absorb sunshine.
Feels Like 1960's
This summer feels like the summers of my childhood, when the days were hot and long. We stayed close to home and often complained, "I'm bored!" I didn't go to summer camps or even swimming pools when I was very young. When we got hot and sticky, we played in hoses and sprinklers
This 1964 photo, was taken in a park, in Staten Island. I loved that crazy sprinkler and I loved my flip flops. We called them thongs.
I haven't played in a sprinkler in a long time, but I had a chance the other morning.
I was on a run, when I came upon a little water excitement!
I paused to snap a pic and thought about veering off to avoid getting wet. Then, I decided to just enjoy the fun.
The cool water felt refreshing! I was a little surprised to suddenly realize I wasn't the only one heading right through the sprinklers. I saw a woman coming towards me.
As she came closer, I was able to see the woman was wearing something special. She wore a mask over her face and over that, she wore a clear, protective face shield! I've seen that before, but never walking through sprinklers! I stepped into the grass and tried not to laugh. That would have been okay, since she wouldn't have been able to see me. She didn't have windshield wipers and she appeared to be a little blinded.
I suddenly knew it was 2020, not 1964!
It wasn't summer of 1967, either. There were no face shields and mask wearing families in 1967. But there were fine yard sprinklers that rotated back and forth!
Wish I could go back and enjoy that hot and muggy backyard in Tallahassee, Florida!
For the last 5 days, the weather has matched my mood. We've had long rains and muggy, breeze-less mornings. These are the downer news updates that match the that weather...
Those are my covid related worries. There are other thoughts on mind.
I've been keeping an eye out for rainbows, but I haven't seen one since this rainbow, a month ago.
I need another bit of rainbow distraction.
Right now, I'm thinking about our special neighbors, dealing with heartbreaking loss... in a time when hugs and even casseroles are difficult to offer. I'm worrying about a friend, who had her worrisome surgery postponed, due to covid issues.
I'm sad that both our kids and spouses live a couple thousand miles away. Poor Scott has 5 stitches in his foot right now, from a little mishap. I can't run over with a card and cookies.
I need to make my daily call to Dad. But I'm tired and I'm running out of clever converstaion starters.
I'm going to keep an eye out. We're due for another rainbow.
If I were a kid, I would crawl up in this tree and just hide out for the day. There's nothing good about today.
But, this list of worries is not the saddest part of the day. The worst part came with a phone call.
This morning, I got a call from a friend with news of an unexpected death. That is all I will say. I'm troubled and heartbroken and confused, but my feelings are nothing, compared to the emotions of my friend. We have shared news and hugs many times over the years. I can't believe I can't run give her a hug.
Thinking of Trees
So, I won't go climb a tree to escape right now. I'd probably fall and have to go to ER. That's not something anyone wants to do right now.
So I'll think about trees. That's always been a soothing escape for me. If I can't climb them, I can look at them. If I'm inside and I can't see any, I can close my eyes and draw them in my head.
I'm not making that up. It works for me.
I've been griping about mask-griping, for months.
This little squirrel (who looks out, over TX 71) has been my Facebook profile photo for a long time.
Today, I changed my profile pic, to this one. Maybe it looks a little sassy, with hands on hips. Masks have become so political, especially on FB.
But now the county we live in, has a mask orders in affect.
Some I'm sure are mad, but I'm relieved.
What's Your Excuse?
If I see you in a store without a mask, you better have a good excuse.
Even Van Gogh is making an attempt. I know masks can smudge make up. I know they're hot. I know we can't show off our lipstick color. But most of us are lucky. We don't have to wear them for 8+ hours.
I Like These
I've spotted some good reminders.
I have yet to see anything very clever, that argues for the freedom to not to wear masks.
So Many Styles
You'd think some people would be excited about all the style and fabric options.
These comfy masks were made by my incredible neighbor. In March, she made masks for friends on our street. The polka-dotted one was my very first mask!
I found out that my friend who is an artist, had some of her paintings featured on masks. I ordered some sweet koi fish and elephants for me. Don went for a retro space theme.
Don loves a tiki theme as much as me, so he ordered us some tropical masks from Trader Joe's! We'll need holes for our straws, with these!
I think I'm ready to order a few more masks now. I might need a mask for every mood.
Seriously though. If masks are required... and if people really start wearing them, we really may slow down this spread down. The hospitals won't become overwhelmed and fewer will die.
Don has it easy. He's been cutting his own hair for years. He looks pretty much the same, except for the quarantine beard... which has now bcome just a mustache.
Don's had some fun with his hair growth. I have not.
Then I saw this photo that Don took a couple weeks ago. Sheesh. I never see the side of my head, that way. Long and stringy and some creepy coloring!
I called for an appointment a while back and now June 24th is suddenly here! Should I go? The National news is telling us scary things about the covid spread in Texas!
That sign actually just went up on the door today. Today is the first day that our county is requiring masks in businesses. I am thrilled.
I'm not thrilled to share this photo. I look really bad.
She wore her mask and I wore mine. I took the loops off and held the mask to my face when needed. I was glad to hear her share her concerns about people not taking this pandemic seriously. We were together 2 hours, but I felt safe and happy. Her job has become much harder, I tipped well.
I was relieved that I got to go home and take off my mask.
I posed with my elephant mask and felt lighter, with no hair hanging on my shoulders.
Maybe I should have just let my gray hair take over. Maybe I should have let Don chop off a few inches.
Too bad I have nowhere to go, with my freshly fixed hair.
I'm still not tempted to dine out in a restaurant. But that doesn't mean I don't miss dining out. Our carryouts never taste as good when eaten at home. Especially our favorite Chinese and Thai foods. Sushi does not taste good, eaten from a plastic container.
But, I've decided the proper dishes help a lot! Our feast from Mori Sushi tasted much more exciting, when we put it on these little dishes.
I think I bought these plates at an Asian grocery store years ago. I can't believe we still have them.
I'm so glad, because I needed them, so I could pretend I was dining at Panda Garden.
Luckily I found a few of these special spoons tucked into a drawer, so I could properly eat my Vietnamese pho. The little plastic spoon that came with the carryouts looked like it couldn't hold the weight of all those heavy veggies and chicken!
When we finally get a vaccine, I'm going to go to Houston's Asia Town and pick one of their 100+ restaurants for lunch. Then I will go have a Chinese foot massage! Yes!
... During Pandemic Times
I don't know any woman who loves her annual mammogram appointment.
But it's even more stressful these days. In recent months, we were encouraged to put off non-essential appointments. I could have procrastinated. But I was happy to go get this done. This pandemic might be crazier, later. Who knows.
I was able to get an early appointment, so that was nice. They even had the door propped open, for more airflow... I guess.
I put on my hideous blue gown, which clashed a little with my mask. I did the mammogram thing. And then I had to do the ultrasound thing... because 4 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have to be sure.
But I had a nice surprise. I had a technician I've never seen before. She was the most gentle, relaxed person ever. No holding my breath or making fists. She was a magic technician. I left in a good mood.
Hope my results are good ones.
No Kids and Dads Together
So here we go again. One more holiday or celebration, with just the 2 of us!
We had no kids to celebrate with us. And I was hundreds of miles away from my own dad. But at least we enjoyed a very unhealthy breakfast, on the balcony.
I was able to get the Sunday New York Times for a special treat. We haven't looked at a real newspaper in years!
When I called my dad, I told him I was looking at the Sunday Times. That's one of the fun things Dad enjoys weekly, while being trapped in his locked-down assisted living facility in Missouri. I thought we could look at our papers and share a little. But we didn't actually want to talk about Trump going to Tulsa... or the culture wars in churches... or Trump firing the prosecutor.
It rained a bit during the day, so it was cozy in the house. Don and I watched a "Master Class" on the internet.
Wolfgang Puck taught us how to cook Pepper Steak with Red Wine Sauce. Luckily Don likes to cook, so he wasn't a bit bothered by cooking on Father's Day.
I made humongous twice baked potatoes, so there was no room for healthy green vegetables on our plates.
The highlight of the day was Zooming with our kids. It's not quite as good as being together. After Zooming, we had to have some gift time. With our stay-at-home time, internet shopping has been a little too easy! Mother's and Father's Day gift time was a little overdone this year!
Our last bit of celebrating had to do with cheesecake. I didn't trust my cooking, since I've had some major flubs lately. So I happily picked one up from Whole Foods, early in the morning. I haven't gone inside a grocery store since mid March. I broke my no-grocery-shopping-record, to be sure we had something sweet for Daddy Don!
Happy Father's Day!
Rally in Tulsa
Our family lived in Tulsa for 7 years. I have fond memories of the city.
Today, I'm glad I'm not in Tulsa. Crowds have been lining up for days, to attend Trump's first campaign rally at BOK Center. This is not the time for thousands to gather inside a building! No one will be required to wear masks. Covid numbers are rising in Oklahoma.
It is also not the time to be taking away from Tulsa's Juneteenth outdoor celebrations this weekend. Celebrations began yesterday in the historic Greenwood District.
Juneteenth is getting an extra spotlight this year. The recent focus on racial injustice has suddenly made more people aware of the special day in June, that marks the end of slavery in 1865.
Tulsa's Greenwood District is also getting more focus, because more people are learning about the massacre that took place here, 99 years ago.
In 1921, angry mobs torched this area and about 300 were killed. Homes and businesses were destroyed. I've been worried about what might happen with these two events occurring so near each other in Tulsa.
On the news, I saw people carrying weapons.
I watched the news and saw people in Maga hats and BLM shirts in the streets. How could I not think about the race riots nearly a century ago?
Why did Trump need to have this rally in Tulsa, NOW?
So it's late now. The event in BOK is over. Fewer attended the rally than expected. There were a million RSVPS, but only 6,660 thousand inside. That's a whole different thought.
I'm glad Tulsa came out okay. This photo with a BLM protester and a man in a MAGA hat, is a positive one. I'm feeling very relieved.
Lately, we have been reminded of the not so good parts. of our country's history. Today is the annual holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the US. 155 years ago, the news that slavery was abolished, came to Galveston, TX.
That announcement came 2+ years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. I've seen the building in Galveston, where that announcement was made, but I never knew the history. I don't think I knew anything about the celebration of Juneteenth, until after we moved to Texas 20+ years ago.
This history is sad, but I am so happy that more and more people have become aware of the holiday, this year. It is a day to celebrate freedom.
Here is my tiny gesture of celebration... on my porch.
News in the Morning
Sometimes I forget to check the local news. I watch National news and see how all the states are doing and sometimes they mention the Houston area.
Texas is getting some attention, along with Florida, Arizona and Oregon. We have something in common. Rising numbers of cases.
You can try to blame the rising number of cases, on all the extra testing. But rising numbers of hospitalizations, is a different story. We all want that hospital bed if we need it!
A lot of people aren't worrying about these numbers. Texas is a huge state. But, 2,622 cases reported in one day! That's enough to make me stay home.
But I don't stay home. I head off to walk or run.
I get out and live in the moment. I watch the turtles and red-winged blackbirds and study the Cypress tree knees. I don't think about Covid or elections or anything else. Yay.
There's always a new worry. Now it's about mail service.
We need a good mail service, especially this fall. This pandemic could make voting a nightmare in the fall.
Best Mail Carrier
I've been using the mail service a lot more in past months. I appreciate all the people who have made it possible for me to receive and send cards and letters.
Here is my favorite mail carrier of all time. Minouz no longer delivers our mail, but I think about her and all those who have been handling our deliveries during these stressful times.
Father's Day Package
On Monday, I packaged up some gifts for my dad.
I ordered a few out of print books, related to stories my dad has told recently. I am grateful for all the memories and stories that have surfaced over these quarantine days.
Worn and Weary
Once packaged up, I made a trip to the post office. I could have just thrown a million stamps on the large envelope and tossed it in the box nearest my house. Just look at that sad postal box, where I mail my cards and letters.
But I headed to the Sugar Land post office and parked in front of the faded building. It was a reminder that the postal service could use some money. The interior looked just as weary.
I wore my mask and stood at the end of a long line. There were strips of yellow tape to keep us standing apart.
As I moved to the yellow line closest to the door, I studied the sloppy signs taped to the glass. Wow! Masks are required! I love it. I looked around and counted 13 people in both rooms. Everyone wore a mask. That made my day!
June 16, 2016
Four years ago today, I went in for a lumpectomy. Don went with me early that morning and my daughter drove in from Austin, to join us at the hospital. It was good to have support.
My surgery was no big deal for the doctor, but it was a mighty big deal for me. Don and Heidi kept me distracted and relaxed before I headed in.
Right now I'm thinking of all the people who have faced hospital worries alone, because of the Covid crisis. My daughter-in-law had a scary ER experience in April. Alone. My dear friend faced breast surgery alone, last week.
I was able to come home later that day. Heidi and Don pampered me and I even managed a song or two on the uke. (my drugs must have helped)
My friend didn't have it so easy last week. She was dropped off at the hospital and had to stay the night. She is just one of many in past months, who have faced scary surgeries or illnesses... or even the happy births of babies, all by themselves.
Then and Now
So today I'm thinking about that summer day, in 2016. I'm remembering the days and weeks and months that followed.
From that day on, we hunkered down and focused on health and kept fingers crossed about the future and connected with friends and family and focused on the things that were important and filled the house with upbeat, whimsical decor and read and ate and watched positive things on TV and cringed when we worried about the election in November and we lived in the moment and enjoyed the yard and looked at photo albums and dreamed of all the trips we'd take...
Some things are pretty much the same!