Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thank You, Ladies

I met a RN yesterday who graduated TWU (Houston Campus) two years before me.  There's a side story to that.

But I want to talk about something else.  I made home visits today as part of a home health agency survey.  I visited a 65 year old woman who previously spent 19 years in prison for killing her husband.  Her story:  she and her husband lived in a crime-riddled neighborhood long ago.  He brought her a handgun and taught her how to use it for self defense.  Some time later, he came home, and something triggered him to beat her.  She got her handgun and shot him (in self-defense).  Apparently the judge stated at her sentencing, that if it was up to him, he would not send her to prison.

I visited an elderly woman living in government housing apartments.  She hailed from the Maryland coast and had been in Texas in this apartment for six years.  She told me she hated Texas, but somehow, she was ordered to move to Texas.  All her family remain in Maryland.  Except for her physical limitations, she remains fiercely independent.

Another woman I visited suffered from severe osteoarthritis.  Conversationally, I learned she was from a county in which I lived and worked many years ago.  Without prompting, she told me she lost her daughter (who had three children) 10 years ago.  Her daughter was killed by the husband; then he shot himself.  My patient raised her three grandchildren.  They are adults now, well-educated and leading productive lives.

Life can be hard.  We all go through times of stress, challenge, grief, heartache and downright difficult times.  Each of these women had made their way to today, overcoming the difficulties they encountered.  None of them were bitter.

My life lesson today.  Thank you, ladies!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Let's Hear It For The Boys!

Today was Pedicure Day.  Our appointments were both at 11:00 AM.  Vicki and I schedule this time together just to catch-up and maybe use pedi time as kick-off for a Saturday road trip.  Today's pedi activity was to meet at Drew's Place in Como/Camp Bowie area for lunch---right after our pedicures.

So---we're at Drew's and Drew is in the kitchen looming over his gastronomic domain.  The dining room has just a few tables of 3 or 4 persons/table there before us.  The dining room at Drew's Place probably seats about 50, maybe 60 people in a close-knit environment.

BTW, I must preface the rest of this with the statement that I swear I witnessed a cosmic event and the rest will describe this.  Also, I am very curious to hear comments about this post from those of you who are reading this.  DEAL?  Vicki told me that she will never forget today's events at lunch.

Okay---go forward with this explanation:  Drew's Place is an honest-to-God soul food restaurant that pretty much beats any other S-F restaurant I've visited anywhere.  And the sweet tea is PERFECT.

We're sitting at the first customer's table from the front door and we are well into our lunches and our conversations about work, family, etc.  Vicki was facing the door and my back was to the door.  I see her look up, go silent and look at something behind me.  About that time, I could begin to hear sounds behind me, multiple kids' voices, some rising over the others.  There was a slight breeze of air that circled among 9-12 young boys, all about 6-11 years old--all clean-cut boys, most resembled each other, in facial structure, coloring, etc---even freckles.  The boys looked like they were coming off the Boy Scouts' bus into a cafe---straight off the cover of a 1959 Saturday Evening Post cover.  As they "herded in," the boys shuffled, pulled out chairs, to sit, only they would abandon a chair and try to take a seat from one of the others.  There were two couples who came in together, dressed in church clothes---perhaps they were having lunch after a funeral.  These boys were moving deep into this table's outer perimeter.  The boys were closing in and the two couples quickly abandoned their table, picking up silverware and their coffees and iced teas to steer clear of the boys.

We both remarked in astonishment that this was a rare sighting of human public behavior.  As the boys were in herding-mode, a well-dressed woman from a different table comes over, puts her hands on two boys' shoulders and looks each in the eye and tells them to correct their behavior.  To me, it wasn't that these boys were loud and rambunctious; it was as if there were just SO MANY of them and they appeared as if they were in another time--if not the 60's, then it was the early 70's.  The two captive boys were still and looked away while the lady dressed them down a bit.  Afterward, she went back to her table to continue her meal.

We saw another couple come in right after the boys.  The newcomers to Drew's were just like, "Oh, shit."  We got up abruptly so they could sit down. 

Turns out, these boys are all brothers in the same family.  No, they are not foster brothers in a foster home.  They come a lot of times on Saturday for lunch.  They eat without adult supervision; a taxi-VAN brings them and sits outside to wait on the boys to finish their lunches.  The parents never come. 

Vicki and I were told that these boys order much more food than they eat.  They've been coming for years. 

1.  Are there sets of multiple births? 
2. Twins, triplets? 
3. Do they have different biological mothers?
4. Are these boys cousins, not brothers? 
5. Was the cashier just making up a story about the boys?

Amazing lunch...we like Drew's quite a bit.  We'll go again----for the soul food and now, to watch the boys!

Tune in in about a month or so.  We'll keep you posted; maybe post a photograph--at least one of Drew's.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Maybe A New Blog Title Is In Order

Maybe I am testing the powers that be. Maybe I should just stop asking, "what's next?"

I began to feel that my life was on target several months ago. I became a volunteer rape/crisis advocate. Callie and I began sharing a special bond and we've really enjoyed each other. I love holding her little hand as we walk to the car. I love our conversations. I love the way she hugs and I love being loved by her.

I planned a cruise for Zack, Brooke and myself. And we had a great time sharing new experiences and seeing things together. It was great.

I visited Vicki in Boston---a great trip, saw some of Maine, had my first boiled Maine lobster---fresh from the sea THAT day! We visited Salem, Kennebunkport...and had a great time.

I was on a roll!

Then, over Labor Day wekend, I lost a great friend. My friend Cindy died unexpectedly and I made a fast trip to Baton Rouge to see her family and go to the funeral. Cindy's death was a loss for many people and I have felt honored that we were friends.

I got home about 10:30 PM on the 7th of September---drove straight through in constant rain, sometimes driving down the Interstate between Lafayette and Nachtitoches about 15 MPH. Planned to go in to work a little late the next morning.

I awoke to the fan stopping and knew the electricity had stopped. Looked into the backyard and Rush Creek had crept up onto my patio. The backyard was a lake. I dressed quickly, picked up my still-packed overnight bag, rounded up the dogs and we piled into the car in a torrential downpour. I barely made it out of the neighborhood. Streets were flooding with fast currents of water, sirens were blaring and firetrucks were blocking street accesses.

I had to travel to an unfamiliar vet's office (on higher ground) to get the dogs boarded. Luckily, they agreed to take Lexie and Katie and call their regular vet for shot records, etc.

I started my way to Ruth's house and had texted Zack about the rising water, called Ruth to tell her I was on my way. And, knowing from previous experiences with rising creek waters, this time it was BAD. By this time, I could hear helicopters, more sirens and there was water everywhere. I was distraught, crying and fed up.

I got to Ruth's house two hours later, we went to pick Callie up at her school, went back to Ruth's house. A friend of Ruth's called her to tell her that she saw my house on the noon news. We turned on the TV and saw film of people being rescued by helicopter in my neighborhood.

I called my great across-the-street neighbors and was told that it was very bad. Gene estimated that there was four feet of water inside my house.

That's when I felt that my life had changed and I felt that familiar hole in my being as I had when Clu Flu died. Granted, it wasn't the same.....but I knew that I had lost almost every material reminder of my life memories over 59 years.

It is 30 days past that initial shock and destruction and I have been blessed in many ways through this misfortune. I am truly thankful for the out-pouring of love, concern, caring and support that I have received.

But, I know that hole will remain for a very long time. There have been MANY frustrations with trying to problem-solve and re-build some semblance of my life.

It's a process....and I'm still trying to figure out how to make this a meaningful learning experience and a way to build strength and fortitude.

I'm not going to ask "what's next?" for a long time to come.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Been There, Done That

We're back in the Lower 48 now. I am somewhat transformed...much more relaxed and very appreciative of the ability and opportunity to have visited some of Alaska.

The panoramic views of Alaskan wildlife and sea/landscapes were amazing to behold.

If life's turns had been a little different after college, I probably would have been in Alaska or at least the Southwest today, having worked for the Indian Health Service all these years...but one can only speculate.

If Alaska is a glimpse of what Heaven may be after we depart our worldly shell, then, I'm a believer!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A New Frontier

Like everyone, I have a few regrets tucked away from previous life experiences. The rewarding and positive things totally outnumber the regrets. I look forward to many rewarding things in my life and am in awe of all the greatness life has to offer us.

Zack, Brooke and I are taking an Alaskan cruise in two weeks. This has taken alot of planning and decision-making. There are so many great excursions to choose for Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Victoria BC ports. Between e-mails and phone discussions we finalized our plans today.

Alaska has been on my to-do list for at least 15-18 years. Clu Flu and I always planned to go, but it never' summer activities, summer camps, family vacations, no time to get away, etc. all got in the way of making final plans to do this. Not pursuing our plans for Alaska is one of my biggest regrets. It would have been a great thing for us to experience together.

That has not minimized my excitement in taking this cruise with Zack and Brooke. They are more adventurous (and younger) than me, and they are taking bike rides, zip-line expeditions in rainforest, sea kayaking and dog-sledding/glacier helicopter tours. I will visit a totem village, watch whales; explore for brown bears/bald eagles, sea otters; take a tram to top of a mountain; and examine old Russian architecture. We will all explore Glacier Bay from the ship.

I will eat wild salmon and Alaskan King Crab as much as I can. I will enjoy sitting on our verandah and watching the landscapes, glaciers, sunrises/sunsets.

We plan our short time in Victoria, BC to just sight-see, visit an English pub and just enjoy each others' company. What memories I will have from this trip!

I am humbled and overwhelmed to be able to share this trip with them. Clu Flu will be with us, I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If I Had Been Tempted In The Garden Of Eden

If I had been roaming the Garden of Eden instead of Eve, maybe there would have been a different outcome. You see, I can resist the temptation of an matter how red, unblemished, crisp or sweet....I am able to turn 'em down. "No thank you, I'm fine." "Yes, that is a beautiful apple, but I'll pass."

Remember, even Snow White was tempted by the mean Queen's red, juicy apple. Look what happened to Snow White...a premature demise, a deep sleep.

My temptation would be a glorious, red, full of sunshine tomato. And we are in the midst of the "season of the tomato." Just give me a just-plucked warm, red tomato from the vine and a shaker of salt---I AM IN HEAVEN! I have stood in the middle of my Dad's garden in July, canvassing for the ripest tomato within sight; I have reached down to hold it in my palm, gingerly feeling its weight and girth. The warmth of that tomato on the vine and the smell of the tomato sends me into a state of excitement coupled with the thought that life just can't be better than this.

As I have snapped the tomato from the stem of the plant with just a slight twist and felt the remnants of dew from the leaves as my hand reached through the branches, I anticipate the first bite. I gently rub the tomato against my jeans to knock off any errant sand granules and with the salt shaker in my left hand, I bring the fruit to my mouth. With eyes closed to experience its flavor without distraction, I lean forward to take that first bite. I know from experience that the juice will run down my arm as I take that bite. Then, I shake some salt over the excised and exposed area of the tomato flesh and take the second grand bite. I have no words worthy to describe the flavor. I eat that tomato and walk forward down the row of tomato plants to find my chaser tomato.

You see, Satan would never have tempted Eve with a tomato. For centuries, tomatoes were believed to be poisonous. Satan's goal was to make Eve suffer, not to kill her. And then Eve convinced Adam to take a bite of know the rest of the story.

The next time you pick a tomato from the grocer's shelf or from a basket at a road-side produce stand, remember that if Eve had eaten the tomato instead of the apple....we might all be living in the Garden of Eden, unclothed, happy, healthy and enjoying fruits of our Lord's bounty.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oops! I did it again.

You may remember a post titled "Lexie's Lucky Day." It was almost 2 years ago. Well, guess what. That's right, I did it again this evening. One significant difference was that I was wide awake as opposed to the previous time when I was groggy at 6:00 AM.

The other significant difference was this time, I reached down to pick up her bowl the very second I poured 3 cups of kibble into it. Bad idea. Lexie remains very quick when it comes to gastronomical satisfaction. The growl and jaw clamp from her caused me to jerk my right hand away from the bowl.

I rationalized that two times making this blunder in two years wasn't too bad. Lexie thinks it's pretty damn cool.