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Monday, April 30, 2012

# 256 - NFL Draft Party - Fun!

This past week, Deputy Dave and I got to have a bit of fun in the city. We went to Houston's Reliant Stadium for the first part of the NFL draft.

It was a "DRAFT PARTY!"


 
Granted, I didn't feel much like partying since I'd had yucky tests the day before, but it was still a lot of fun to get out to see the weirdness of football fans. Yes, football fans can be weird creatures.


Here I am standing at a window inside Reliant Stadium and you can see Houston's skyline in the distance. Below in the parking lot, there are the players' vehicles...most of them black and decked out to the max.


I think just ONE of these vehicles is worth more than my home.

 
This oddity was getting his kicks by finding children to terrify.


 
And the Houston Texan Cheerleaders were around for photo opportunities...football must have cheerleaders, I guess. Except for Texas A&M...they have the CORP!

Actually, the Draft Party was also the time for would-be Texan Cheerleaders to go through voting to be on the team. They had many family members and friends walking around with poster-boards asking for a vote! Then, a group of girls would dance in the hall to their fast-learned routine. I can attest, some of those girls did not need to be in a cheerleader uniform. It was interesting and fun.

How about a cheerleading team for us old women to participate in? No?

To be fair, I guess that's why they don't have a football team for old-timers either.


We only stayed a couple of hours, but it was interesting. My aunt and uncle are season ticket holders, so they gave us their Draft Party tickets which included free parking --- a Houston biggie!

It's great to live in an area that has fun things such as this to attend, but I'm still aching to get settled in the country and trying to be patient...


Sunday, April 29, 2012

# 255 - Power Tool CrAzY - POW!

The garden is growing beautifully! Tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, onions, sweet basil, squash, lettuce, and more! This year, we won't let the chickens destroy our crops.

Our first year of having a small backyard flock of chickens has taught us a few valuable lessons in conjunction with gardening:

1. Chickens will tear your garden to pieces!

2. Don't think the chickens will only eat the bugs and magically be glorious garden do-gooders for your growing vegetables! Ha!

3. Chickens are opportunistic and constantly hungry. They spend their day pecking and scratching for food. They have even devoured my jalapeno peppers, and these little stinkers are HOT.

4. For some reason, the chickens don't really crave herbs. I guess "weeds" are unappealing to them.

5. Don't garden barefoot while wearing red toenail polish with chickens nearby. If your toe looks similar to a juicy tomato, beware. Don't say I didn't warn you.

To protect our vegetable garden and to call a truce with the chickens, we decided to make it easy on everyone to simply put up a low fence around the garden, made of trellis. Boundaries are a glorious thing sometimes for everyone involved! I love healthy boundaries!

Today, I got to help Deputy Dave build the fence around our little veggie garden and this was very exciting for me because I was entrusted to use the pneumatic staple gun. And the noise was scary, at first, but then I got accustomed to the "POW" sound or the WHOSH of air, if I pulled the trigger too slow.

However, I have a head-full of long, curly hair and didn't know that my first POW of the staple gun would create a massive burst of air, upward to my head, a burst of air so powerful that it caused my hair to blow straight up in the air. Was I startled? Slightly.


I quickly learned to turn the staple gun sideways to let the compressed air release to my side instead of directly in my face.

Once I began to get the hang of this power tool, I confess, I became a little too obsessed. I found myself leaning over the trellis edge that needed to be stapled into the ground post and I decided to staple every little criss-cross of trellis touching the corner post. POW, POW, POW, POW x 3 more POW's!

 It's good to be secure and over-stapled, or so I thought.

Deputy Dave kindly informs me, after refilling the staple gun for the second time within a span of approximately 15 minutes, "You only need about four to five staples per end of trellis for it to be secure, not twelve plus."

I look down at the power tool in my hand; it ached to be used --- POW --- but I partially surrender. I agreed to hold back the urge to pop every single piece of wood in sight.


Later that afternoon I begin to think about all the tasks we will have to confront while building our cabin in the woods, so I ask, "Does a nail gun work the same way?"

Deputy Dave looks up at me with narrowed eyes, "Yes it does, but with nails, of course."

I feel all giddy inside. Pneumatic nail gun lessons will surely be next. However, I can sense this tiny bit of dread within Deputy Dave, as if he might possibly think we won't be able to afford the number of nails I'll be wanting to utilize --- POW, POW, POW.

Then, I spy the circular saw laying nearby and come up with another brilliant plan. Tomorrow, I think I want to use the circular saw. I told him that I saw a few cuts on some left over trellis that I'd like to make on my own.

He answered, "Hmmmphhh."

I don't think a grunt is a proper reply. Actually, I think he had hit the point to where he was tuning me out and responding with nonsensical sounds instead of words. I've been married over 25 years and have learned that these sound effects keep a man free from commiting to anything or to obligating themselves to any statements. Men are like that.

But that's okay because we women are what you might call, "relentless."

Maybe I should tame the inner-construction madwoman within. However, I'm hooked. I finally have caught a glimpse into the world of WORKING WITH power tools, and I don't think I can ever make it back to my previous reality. I've stepped into the realm of Man's-Power-Tool-Land and it's pretty cool; I don't want to go back to plain vacuum cleaners and blenders and dishwashers...I'm ready to use tools that MAKE THINGS!

Most definitely, I'm ready for more POW moments!







Thursday, April 26, 2012

# 254 - Dreaded Medical Tests

The past few weeks have been a roller-coaster for most of our immediate family because of medical scares. First of all, I'm writing today about a few tests I've been going through. If you are squeamish, please stop reading and go find something else to read about. Fair warning.

*************************

A week ago, I had two tests, a Mammogram and a Vaginal-Ultrasound, both on the same day. I can attest to the fact that I felt prodded, squished, poked and violated by the day's end!

To be fair, my mammogram was conducted at the WONDERFUL Breast Clinic in the Clear Lake area. They were awesome, even though I felt permanently altered by the end of the session due to severe compression, it wasn't anything to be scared about.

I thought about the women who avoid mammograms and wanted to yell, "It's no big deal! Even though you'll NEVER look at your boobs the same again after seeing them through the clear plastic as they are flattened by the nurse hand-cranking the machine down on you, it's okay!"

No worries! I don't think they've seen a boob explosion, yet.

For me, I don't miss my scheduled mammograms. My mom died from breast cancer at 57 years of age. As they are cranking down that contraption to squish the breast tissue as flat as possible to do a radiological skimming for potential tumors, I'm not really thinking about anything except that I hope my life-time will see an end to cancer. I always hope the mammogram will reveal no issues or if a problem is detected, I pray that it is handled early and pro-actively.

My mom and dad, at M.D. Anderson, shortly before
she moved onto her Heavenly address.
That same day I also had to get a Vaginal Ultrasound. For you male readers out there, you SHOULD know what this is about, especially if you have moms, sisters, daughters, a wife or two...you should be knowledgeable. And I insist that you be knowledgeable because I had my first V-Ultrasound years ago and had NO IDEA what I was about to go through.

Years ago, I only knew I was scheduled for an ordinary ultrasound. Heck, I've had ultrasounds before, no biggie. Except, this time, there was definitely a "biggie" involved that shocked the living daylight out of me.

Lying back on the table with a blanket over me, the technologist pulled out this long "magic wand" looking piece of equipment and was putting a fitted plastic bag over it, kind of like the thermometer sheath that is slipped on before your temperature is taken. Yes, it was a Magic Wand condom.

I laid there wide-eyed as the technician said, "I'll need you to remove everything from the waist down; you can use those blankets to keep covered."

My mind begins to race...What the heck? If this is an ULTRASOUND...Why does EVERYTHING below the waist need to be removed? I stared in horror at the "wand" in her hand and asked, "What is THAT?"

Suddenly, the technologist's expression turned as horrified as my own. She asked, "No one told you about this ultrasound?" I shook my head in the negative while not taking my eyes off the wand and she continued, "This appointment is for a vaginal ultrasound and this tool has a camera on the end; I insert it into your vagina and take ultrasound photos."

Stunned, I laid there and murmured, "Nope, no one told me that I was having this kind of ultrasound. They only said the word 'ultrasound' and never used the word 'vagina' -- believe me, I'd pay attention to that word. In fact, I didn't even know this kind of test EXISTED, until this very moment."

From there, the nurse told me that I could take as much time as I needed to get ready or I could decide to not do it, but I did have palpable benign tumors or fibroids that needed to be viewed "close up." Yeah, I'll say that's a very close up view!

I decided to have my fibroids put on a big smile and went for it.

At least this most recent appointment found me prepared for understanding what I was getting myself into. I'd already met the "magic wand" and knew its purpose, even though it appeared to wave around like a banner of creative-medical-imaging gone awry.

It doesn't really hurt to have this test, but I will say it is not a comfortable test either. If you need one of these tests or know someone who needs one...don't shun away from having a test that might detect something amiss. That dreaded test could be the start of life-saving decisions.

I guess men could also go through this test...in another area...if one area can be probed, so can another. Since I was ignorant about this test, I don't want to put limits on its potential.

ANYWAY...this week I followed up with the Mammogram and V-Ultrasound results that BOTH came back as abnormal. Not the results you want to receive. But, the Breast Clinic had me come in for an ultrasound, no probing and no needles were necessary, only a simple breast ultrasound, and the doctor announced happily that I only have fluid-filled BENIGN cysts! Nothing to worry about! Thank God.

Of course, Stefie, in the midst of her own worries and
busy life is sweet to make sure I knew she was
sending me love and saying her prayers. It's great
to have people like her in your life. I am blessed!
Then, the V-Ultrasound abnormal results found me scheduled for a Uterine/Endometrial Biopsy. I had that unpleasant procedure performed yesterday. Turns out, I needed to have two separate biopsy zones and it was NOT a pleasant experience. Immediately after the procedure, the pain was so bad that I nearly began vomiting and almost passed out, even while lying down. I broke out into a clammy sweat and was terribly shaking after the biopsies.

My doctor's office uses no form of anesthesia, some doctors will use lydocaine. I would NOT have this done again by a doctor who doesn't use a topical anesthesia. However, my doctor is amazing. He knows this is a painful procedure, especially for women like myself who have a "chandelier cervix" that must first be manually rotated, then clamped in place before a biopsy can begin. But, as the biopsy took place, I definitely felt the removal of tissue in a long scraping motion, then a plunger kind of ending that seemed to nearly pull my entire uterus with it, and the cramping was horrible at that point, probably up there with labor pains. But, the worse part, for me, was when he said, "I need to clean the cervix of any blood or rogue cells, then I've got to go in again for another biopsy; I want to go the extra mile right now and do the the other side of the uterus."

I nearly rolled off the table and slithered out of the room with my bare butt in view. The second biopsy was the worst part of it all. I nearly shot off the table in pain.

Afterward, I laid on the table for about 20 minutes, trying to make my eyes focus again. The sweet nurse put cold compresses on my forehead and told me to remain lying down, to not even try to sit up by myself. Apparently, my face had absolutely no color left in it. At one point, I could see her mouth moving, but could not hear sound...I knew I was close to la-la-land.

By the way, I drove myself to and from this appointment. I don't like to be around others when I am suffering; I've been through a LOT in life and prefer to be by myself when having a bad moment. Plus, I didn't want Deputy Dave to take off any time from work for TESTS. After all, if any of these results come back ugly, he will probably need that time off for more serious considerations.

My test results on these biopsies won't be back until the end of next week. I'm hoping they will find the reason behind my 43 year old body no longer having periods for the past year. I thought I was pre-pre-pre-menopausal, but that's not the case. Turns out, there's something wrong...there's a reason my body is not working right and the next step is to see a doctor about my kidneys. Process of elimination folks. Not a fun process, but necessary.

Deputy Dave made me a dinner that was fit for a Queen. I didn't have much of an appetite, but each bite was pure deliciousness! And, he even got me Key-lime pie! It's great to have a man in my life who shows his love in this manner. He might not always express it in words, but that's when we've got to learn that words are often empty and demanded out of pure selfishness...but seeing love in action is something solid and meaningful. I looked at my dinner plate last night, heavy-laden with Porterhouse steak, a loaded baked potato, sweet potato with cinnamon - covered in roasted marshmallows, broccoli and cheese, and crescent roll while knowing his love was baked into every bite. For him, cooking is an extension of his nurturing. Plus, he's good at it!


Last night, I laid in bed and the uterine pain was not lessening. I could feel the tears and cuts very plainly along with bad radial cramping. It didn't make for a restful night. Today, I've been a lump on the mattress, staying still and trying to heal --- which I already have issues with healing due to a rare condition, so I just want to get patched up.

Tonight, we had a special date planned; I'm not going to miss it. It's just here in Houston, so I won't have to be out long and I think I can handle it.

I just hope we're getting close to an answer as to why my body is malfunctioning in this area. My uterus is no longer needed, so I would not be devastated about having it removed. That's been one of the areas of discussion, but we also discussed leaving well enough alone if that is not the source of the problem. I guess we'll see how it goes. And I leave it in God's hands. I won't be worried until the time comes to put worry to good use. For now, it would be senseless.

My sister and I at a wedding a couple of years ago.
We are closer than close can be. My sister sent me constant
text messages throughout my painful day, letting me know that
she was with me in spirit.
I'm so blessed to have life-long girlfriends who are super supportive, most of my family are generous and are eager to share burdens, offering loving support during difficult times such as these. My brother even called me the day before my biopsies to shoot the breeze, for a long time. So nice to have family like I've been blessed to have. It's always wonderful to be loved and to know that there will be a day when you will probably be given the chance to give the same kind of supportive love to them in return, not for regular "happy" EASY  day-to-day moments, but for those times when it is hard to find words.

For my finale...my words are...MY UTERUS HURTS!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

# 253 - Chick Quarters

After the "incident" with the chicks and Belle the Yorkie which resulted in a chick losing a beak, Deputy Dave decided it was time to build a proper chick cage.

It looks like our days as being chicken owners have settled into our bones. We've now had chickens for over a year and it appears that we LOVE HAVING CHICKENS!

However, since the two new chicks we've recently acquired must be separated (the injury to one chick causes the other to incessantly peck the flawed chick with vicious involuntary action) Deputy Dave knew the cage needed to have two separate holding zones.


We needed a chicken quarantine cage as well, for sick chickens and for other chickens that might be added to our current flock at a later date.


I loved his design so much that I can think of a few pieces of furniture for the house that would do well to incorporate this rustic design. Honey, we're not buying any more furniture...I love this country appeal! My next coffee table. sofa table or component stand will NOT come from a furniture production line, it will come from the Deputy's own hands.

The top part of the chick cage has a nice lid-top that is hinged and opens easily, with a chain in place to keep it open without falling backward all the way. It also now has locks on the front, so we can use it when traveling or to keep nimble raccoon fingers from opening it.

Yes, raccoons can figure out how to open just about anything.


Back into the bathroom the chicks went, but they have moved up in the world to enjoy a roomy, plush pad of their own.

Chicks are separated by wire, but close enough to no longer cry
at their separation.
Not to mention, the cedar smells great. Fresh cedar has such a clean, refreshing smell of outdoors. I love it. However, it will be nice to eventually get the cage moved outdoors so they can be acclimated to the outdoor environment and to the current flock, in a cage that offers a safer transition. 

I can only imagine all the good uses that we will be able to enjoy because of this new bit of construction that Deputy Dave felt compelled to build over the weekend.

Next on the construction list...our cabin in the country and perhaps some new furniture.


Monday, April 23, 2012

# 252 - Weird Happens

Sometimes, weird things happen. Recently, one or our hens laid a freakishly small egg. What went wrong?

Odd.

We get large eggs from our hens every day. One large egg per hen, per sunny day, on average. It seemed as if this incompletely-formed-egg was laid, prematurely.


We will be breaking open this egg, probably this evening, to see what the inside looks like. Perhaps there's a tiny, itsy bitsy yolk inside that little shell.

As for catching up about the house...it's on the market and we already have two scheduled mid-week showings. It's very difficult to show the house during the week because we have dogs, chickens, and a lot of other variables that I must work around prior to the potential buyer walking through the front door. I wish it were as easy as a few dishes in the sink.

I can't just stick the dogs in the backyard because Howdy and Liyla are large enough to look through the window glass panes and behave very unbecoming toward a stranger. It might put a bitter taste in a potential buyer's mouth to have a pack of dogs salivating and growling at them through the back doors. Coming across guard dogs does not seem to be an attractive feature of house hunting.

We have always sold our houses very fast; this one is definitely taking longer. However, it just hit me...we never had large dogs and chickens to contend with. Also, we have two ADORABLE chicks in a very lovely cage, located in our master bathroom. Might this be impacting the sale of our home?

Nawww...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

# 251 - I've Turned into a Mama Chicken; checking for feathers momentarily...

These two baby chicks found our way to our home after they were discovered in one of Stefie's friend's garage, after Easter. They had obviously been Easter chicks that had been discarded and somehow found their way to shelter in the garage. It's amazing they survived as long as they did


Stefie's little friend was trying to do a good deed by helping the chicks, but she was terrified of them and needed to find someone here, in a Greater Metropolitan area, that could take chickens. Not an easy feat. Fortunately, the chicken's had guardian angels who directed them to a place where people love chickens...our house.


Our two large dogs, each about 50 pounds, absolutely LOVE chickens. Lilya is especially giddy over the little chicks and has a motherly instinct that kicks in immediately. She wants to lick the chicks and care for them. Howdy, the Aussie, is extremely protective over the chicks and stands guard at their box, pacing and not letting anyone, but Deputy Dave and I, get near the box. He curls his lips back and growls and makes it clear that these chicks are his shepherding duty.


Liyla is simply so darn happy to have chicks again. We keep the chicks in our master bathroom and can hardly get Liyla to leave the room for us to close the doors. Howdy also is content to lie at the foot of their box and to be on guard. These dogs are truly amazing in their gentle, protective nature toward chicks.


And then, the unthinkable happened. Our little 6-7 pound Yorkie that we rescued last year found her way around Deputy Dave while in the bathroom and she suddenly went into attack mode as a chick was being put back in the box. In a flash, she lunged for the chick's head and managed to bite off the beak, mostly the top beak.

I'd been just around the corner from the bathroom and heard Deputy Dave repeatedly saying, "Oh my God" and I heard the horrible screaming of a chick in distress. I tried to prepare myself as I came around the corner to find his large hands cradling whatever was left of a chick and blood running down his hands, dripping onto the floor.

His hands were so big, I couldn't see what was left of the chick. But, the other chick was screaming too. It was another moment of chaos at the main homestead in the city!

Honestly, I stood there thinking that he was holding the remains of a chick that had been beheaded. In addition, Deputy Dave was thundering mad at Belle the Yorkie; she was in BIG trouble and running for the closet. But as I told Deputy Dave...she's a TERRIER; she's a HUNTER. Her breed is designed to search and attack, ruthlessly. You cannot turn your back on these dogs, especially with chicks. They are prime targets. But, I still love little Belle. However, we will have to turn up the senses a few hundred notches to compete with a terrier's determination. Around here, we are the bosses...she's learning.

So...Deputy Dave was fully traumatized. Here this big man is cradling an injured chick and devastated while at the same week he is working every day in criminal courts for a brutal Capital Murder trial. Not a good week. Same for me...I can't tell too much of what I'm doing right now, but it pretty much involves being exposed to some awful criminal cases that can turn your stomach, so both of our tanks were pretty much on empty already. Isn't that how life goes?


Immediately after the injury. After getting Belle into her kennel so that SHE could live another day...I flew into action online. I quickly went onto www.backyardchickens.com to search injured chicken beak data. Then, I posted a very fast blog to reach out to blog buddies. I did get some very good information and suggestions. One was to check to see if the nostrils were damaged. Man...I learned quickly how to find nostrils on chicks!

The chick, after the attack, clearly showed signs of distress because she could not stand. She wobbled, laid on her side and kept crying and bleeding all over the place. I was thinking, "How much blood can a chick lose?!"

It was horrendous to see a creature, a BABY creature suffering. I must admit, I had instant thoughts of taking the chick outside to put it out of its misery, on my own. However, my rapid on-line search had me second-guessing the chick's ability to indeed stay alive. Maybe there was a slim chance she'd make it through the trauma, the injury, and somehow adapt to living without a top beak. We checked for further injuries and could not see anything remarkable, so we decided to give her 24 hours.

However, the other chick instantly began to peck the injured chick's beak. Within two seconds of that kind of activity, we had the chick out of there and separated in another box lined with hay, a water bowl and feed bowl. But, the injured chick left the food and water untouched.


I tossed and turned all night...wondering if I was going to wake up to find a dead chick. To my amazement, the next morning, she was acting perky again. I was gentle and cleaned her beak of the dried blood packed with bits of dirt and hay attached to it. Then, I began to see if she'd eat. Starvation seems to be the main concern at this point. Initially, she wasn't able to peck for food.

Before the injury, I'd hand fed the chicks and they'd vigorously peck the food from my hand. Now, the injured chick would go into a pecking motion, but her beak area would never quite reach the feed in my hand...almost as if she were having "phantom beak" sensations, as if she had the sensation that the end of her beak were still present. 

Throughout the day, I tried to find a way to get food and water into her system. Fortifying the water with electrolytes, I began to take a syringe filled with the water and to put drops of it on the tip of what was left of her beak. Eventually, her little tongue would appear to swipe the water away and she'd throw her head back to swallow. TRIUMPH! After doing this for a bit, she figured out that the syringe was a source of food and water, so she'd eagerly down some of the goodies coming to a squeezing drop off the end of the syringe (open ended syringe for administering measured liquid medications).


I must admit, I felt a bit like a PROUD Mama Chicken.


I used my mortar and pestle to ground up her feed into a fine grain...she ate it. Deputy Dave even went to the store and purchased her Gerber Baby Food, pureed green beans! We were determined that this chick would have every chance to survive.

After he got home from work that next day, he sat on the floor of the bathroom with this chick and took his turn, even though he was exhausted, and made sure he got more food and water into her system.

Today, Deputy Dave felt her little throat area and could tell that she's again putting down food. She's looking good. Or rather, HE is looking good. We still don't know if this chick is a He or a She. As previously written about in a former blog post, I am sexually-illiterate when it comes to chickens, especially.

I'll just have to wait and see what we've got in a few weeks from now...kind of like a special Chicken Christmas present. Is it a Cock-A-Doodle-Do or Not?

Stay tuned. You'll find out the moment that I do!

I just hope it survives. If it's a rooster, we're not getting rid of this one. I don't know what we'll do. I don't have ready answers for this dilemma.

It's day by day.  Right now, even though I had a nap earlier in the afternoon, I can barely hold my head up to get this article posted. I'm off to hit "publish post" and go to bed.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

# 250 - Logging Truck Land

On our way to our acreage, we pass the local convenience store and I get a close look at another timber truck. Our area of Texas is a main timber harvesting location, so we see these logging trucks on a regular basis around our land. They are always a bit unnerving. If you've not heard the roar of a logging truck hauling their load at full speed, it is an interesting sound you'd not forget.


As we drove past the truck loaded with timber, I kept snapping pictures. I found it interesting to see that this particular load appeared to hold smaller trees.


Regardless, a truck carrying hundreds of trees is an intimidating sight. In this area, there are frequent news reports of some kind of traffic accidents involving a timber truck. It's quite a photo opportunity to catch a logging truck losing its load. It's not a good opportunity to be driving on the road next to a truck as it loses its load.


It is awesome to have lots of trees growing on our land, ready for any kind of use. Our city house had two trees upon our moving here years ago. Since then, we have planted a Magnolia that is growing strong and we did plant three beautiful fruit trees in the backyard that were laid flat to the ground by Hurricane Ike. We should've planted a couple more trees in the backyard after the storm, but we were so busy after that Hurricane with simply trying to make our house livable and fighting our insurance company, in court, that we didn't really think about trees.

Now, I wish we had. Summer heat is nearly upon us and those trees would sure be nice for a bit of shade in the backyard. I'm thinking we might have to get one of those shade-rooms for the yard or a canvas of some sort to shade the chicken and their coop from the harsh sun-rays as we get deep into summer.

It would be nice to sell the house. However, if the timing is off and it doesn't sell, we will adapt. We'll keep going to our land and trying to get it ready for an eventual move. I do believe we'll put up a workshop as soon as possible so we can better enjoy our land during our visits.

As for potential buyers for our house in the city, I guess we'll see what the rest of April brings us.

A strange happening that has me wondering is...the Great Danes in the neighbor's yard behind us have disappeared. A couple of weeks ago, there was suddenly an absence of the constant night-time barking. We checked to see if the Danes were ok and they were gone. It's been eerily quiet.

It's our opinion that the Great Danes were severely neglected. We'd see someone out there about once a week to dump a huge back of dog food into a pot, then nothing else. No one ever came outside. Of course, everyone in our household would reach over the fence to pet the dogs...it wasn't hard, especially since the dogs were so huge that they could stand on hind legs and peek their head over the top of our fence, which I believe is about six feet tall.

I hope those dogs are okay. They did drive us nuts, but that's only because the neighbor's backyard was painfully small for those dogs that didn't have any other lifestyle other than being stuck in the backyard 24/7 and because the dogs had no one to provide discipline or direction with the incessant barking at all hours. I've always said it wasn't the dogs' fault...I've been disappointed in our neighbor, but they have been elusive.

Strange.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

# 249 - HELP - CHICKEN EMERGENCY!

For all my chicken-loving buddies out there, I'm in need of a honest answer about a chicken being able to live with the top portion of its beak damaged-missing from injury.

If you can please let me know, I'd appreciate it as I don't want a chicken to die a slow death from starvation.

Thanks everyone.

# 248 - MAN - His Own Tribe

Deputy Dave is an expert marksman with a gun, most any kind of gun, small or ginormous. However, I think he told me a fib when he said that he didn't really know how to shoot a bow and arrow. For the record, I took archery classes while growing up; I know my way around a bow and arrow.

I mistakenly believed this man would need a few pointers to get started. Nope.


He took aim at an old ice chest left on the property and hit it with such force that the arrow impaled the side of the chest.

What about practice sessions? I thought you didn't know how to shoot a bow and arrow?

My arrow has now been violated by a marksman. The poor brand new thing barely survived Deputy Dave's first go-round with it. I felt like an apology was in order...


My little bow and arrow set that was supposed to be used for fun and games is now seen as a deadly weapon. No doubt about it. I had intended for the set to be used for shooting into a hay stack or into another kind of unliving target, with a big smile on my face along with some frolicking in the woods kind of intentions. My style of shooting had been to direct the arrows more toward the sky with aim being guided by guessing wind impact and angle.

No such A to B to C method for Deputy Dave; he went from A to Z in one clear, powerful shot.

Needless to say, I will be brushing up on my skills with the bow and arrow. After all, I'm the one with Native American blood flowing through my veins around this household.

However, this episode with the bow and arrow on our property has solidified the suspicion that Deputy Dave probably has Native American in his blood as well...at least he's got SOME KIND of tribal blood flowing through those veins of his. I just don't believe a man of German heritage can shoot that perfectly by instinct...Germans build great machines and nice cars...they aren't shooters. 

Yes, I think that his family has hidden some kind of tribal heritage from being discovered.

As I dwell on the matter further, I realize that Deputy Dave does indeed come from a famous tribe...it's simply called, "MAN."

Never mind. I now understand.








Sunday, April 15, 2012

# 247 - A Pest? Japanese Honeysuckle?

Honeysuckle grows wild throughout our acreage. Taking a walk is delightful because the sweet aroma of Honeysuckle vines is the predominant scent. I say outloud, "Dear God, I bet Heaven has smells like this...I bet there is a Honeysuckle Road up in Heaven, just off Gardenia Street."

Regardless, there is another side to this honeysuckle vine goodness as it continues growing, right now, across our acreage. In 2005, Texas Forestry released an issue with an article about this kind of honeysuckle that is growing on our land. This particular kind of honeysuckle is called "Japanese Honeysuckle" and is easily recognizable.


When my children were little, they quickly learned to suck the honeysuckle nectar from the flower. That's an awesome delicious treat that Heather and Stefanie would work nonstop to find and harvest for themselves. They taught a few of their friends to hunt for honeysuckle goodness and to this day, my girls and I will go up to a honeysuckle vine to pull off the flowers to enjoy that sweet bit of nature. It seems to be a treat sent directly to us from the Good Lord.

The current problem with Japanese Honeysuckle is, although the vine is beautiful, fragrant and sought out by many for the nectar, it is becoming known for being a noxious weed that is killing shrubs and young trees...making a definite change to forest landscapes. It is now considered a mostly evergreen "invasive plant" with too few enemies to keep its growth in balance.

Yes, I am shocked, my beloved honeysuckle vines have made the list of "pests" in Texas because they are too strong, fast-growing and adaptive, so they are only to be welcomed with great care and boundaries.

I admit...just being in the midst of all this honeysuckle makes me feel so happy and content. It's these little things, such as the high level of fragrance of a Japanese Honeysuckle on our land that make this place so wonderful. Wild Honeysuckle is definitely a big bonus, unless it is murdering your other plants before they even get a chance to make their way in the world. An unruly Japanese Honeysuckle can even cause a tree to grow malformed...the vine keeps the tree from getting water. It's a brutal example of, "Survival of the Fittest."


Almost everywhere I look on our land, there's more honeysuckle. However, we also have towering, established trees, so the vines aren't capable of doing that much damage. Actually, for our land, the honeysuckle vines might be helping to keep new growth to a minimum. Good for us.

As for the nectar of a honeysuckle, if you've never harvest a little for yourself...don't let another opportunity pass you by. Do it. You'll be glad you did and you'll always remember the flavor as being divine.



The old picnic table in the below picture has been around for several decades. On the day I took these pictures, recently, I would have loved to have had my daughters there with us. I'm sure Heather and Stefie would have been running around collecting honeysuckle nectar so that we could sit down and enjoy the sweet treat together.




From this picnic table, your nose is filled with the smell of honeysuckle. It is the primary smell of our forest at this time of year. It sure makes me long for the days when we will be living on our land in permanent residency and no longer be living on the industrial side of Houston which means you are forced to smell the chemical plant releases. I'll take the honeysuckle option any day of the week!

Regardless, the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has shown that most of East Texas is prone to growing Japanese Honeysuckle in the wild. Along with other areas that are becoming inundated by this plant, our area is definitely on the list for Japanese Honeysuckle being out of control.

I understand the damage that this vine can do to other plants, it seems unfair that such beauty and enjoyable sweetness can be so strangling to other plant sources critical to the forest. So, dicky-darn-darn, that means I will have to employ good old-fashioned hand-pulling gardening tactics to keep this vine from choking other vital plants that are trying to grow in certain areas of our land. In other zones, we'll let the Japanese Honeysuckle waft in the breeze and do its thing while daring the next person to call it a "weed."

To me, it'll continue to be a slice of Heaven that simply needs a bit of attention.

Friday, April 13, 2012

# 246 - One Prepared Woman!

Deputy Dave felt compelled, while chuckling, to click a photo of me in my special outfit. I was not thrilled about this photo, but I submit it to my blog with a lopsided grin. So...let me explain...

1. Straw Cowboy hat to protect my head from the blaring Texas Sun
2. Sunglasses to protect my light colored eyes so I can continue to see, preferably into old, old age
3. Whistle hanging around my neck for emergency call-out and for dog commands
4. Water bottle stuck in front of sun-dress; bottle is empty and ready for blackberry gathering
5. Canteen on hip, full of fresh, cool water...attached to canteen belt (best purchase EVER)
6. Garden gloves, just in case
7. Walking stick (not in view)
8. As soon as Deputy Dave hands the camera back to me, it goes IN the dress, next to the water bottle



Geesh...my husband is one lucky dude. Ha Ha. At least I am prepared.  

Ready to go for a walk?






Thursday, April 12, 2012

# 245 - Playboy Articles...Not Likely

Being on our land gives me the most peaceful moments, ever. It also gives me the most hectic, scary moments, ever.

Part of my peaceful moments has included reading, as usual. If I can't read my blog buddies entries, I'm reading a book. For now, we don't have Internet connection on our land. I hope that will change very soon.

Lately, I've been re-reading a favorite book, "Outlander." In fact, I last read this book about ten years ago. So, when I came across it again while browsing the shelves at Half Price Books, I purchased my dad a copy as well so that we could read it around the same time and talk about it. I have one of those awesome dads who loves to read.


Outlander is a novel mostly about characters based in Scotland, which includes a few interesting English characters. The main time-frame is circa early-mid 1700's, and it is fantastically written with historic facts and tidbits weaved into the storyline. Since I lived in Scotland for part of my childhood, it's a book that brings back fond memories of the climate, the language, the people, the traditions...it is a land that will be a part of me until the day I die.

However, if you are thinking about reading this book, let me give you a friendly warning...if you are hesitant to read "red-zone" material or are uncomfortable with reading "sex" subject matter, then don't consider this book because it's an integral part of the book. The hot-topic doesn't come up until later in the book, but it is a definite eye opener for those of us, such as me, who do not watch Rated-R movies. I've probably seen less than five Rated-R movies my entire life.

Until this past year, we NEVER had more than basic cable in our house. Then, for a couple of weeks, after the cable company added "free" movie channels to our selection, without a choice, I received an education into how shocking television can be...it's not to be underestimated. To put it lightly, I was HORRIFIED. I never allowed this kind of material into our home because I didn't want to chance a "bad" channel being watched by any of the kids coming in and out of our home.

Now, I'm not from the dark ages, I'm sure my kids saw their share of Rated-R movies through the years, and I did allow them to watch "The Shining" at one point, but the options in our house were extremely limited. I'm thankful for it, personally, because I learned very young to keep my mind from being a trash container. Unfortunately, once something goes into our mind, we can't dump it out...it stays. So, I am selective. Just because something is available to read or to watch doesn't mean that you should allow it free entry...guard yourself...having a selective memory is truly a joke.

Regardless, I found "Outlander" worth traipsing through the red-zone. If you like historical reads with lots of twists and turns along the way with details that appeal to every sense we were born with, then this is a read for you. The author did her research, it is evident. It's not a light read, but it is a worthy read.

Speaking of red-zone, I must say that one trip to Bourbon Street in Louisiana during my late twenties probably exposed me to more Rated-R material to hold me over for a life-time. Frankly, I don't want my mind filled with that rubbish, so Deputy Dave and I decided to never go back. One time was enough. Although I did learn to proficiently tie a cherry stem with my tongue in 30 seconds flat during that trip. I'm one talented woman. I'd never seen that done before that trip, so I had to learn. And, I was sober. Of course, I had to teach this amazing feat to my daughters. I'm also easily entertained. But, you'll be pleased to know that I put my foot down when they asked to do this for Show & Tell at school.

Bourbon Street...I can only imagine the other things learned from being in that kind of setting for too long. Like I said, I can live without it.

Regardless, I felt as if I needed to be clear about part of the contents of this book. Since I am not a nun, I'm not afraid of broaching the "sex" subject and am not afraid to read a bit of fiction with it included, as long as the storyline is INCREDIBLE. I guess that would give the Playboy reader validation..."I only read it for the articles." Sure. Right. The articles are the magnet...skim the photos and read the articles. Blah.

I've had fun conversations this past year with my mother-in-law, specifically about today's romance novels. The first time she gave me a load of her books, I read a few and told her, "I'm surprised that you are reading porn!" She laughed hysterically and replied, "I can't believe you said that! It's NOT porn!"

I decided to think about it for a moment, then agreed, "You're right, it's not porn, there aren't pictures; therefore, it's smut."

She and I shared a hearty laugh over that observation.

Even though "Outlander" is FAR from smut, it has its smutty parts. Still, I'd not miss this read and look forward to reading Diana Gabaldon's other books in this series. Those will be a first-time reads. My kids are grown, so I definitely have more reading time on my hands.

Regardless, smut pages or no, the book is awesome. I love how this author writes without fear. She seems to immerse herself into the feelings of the moment in such a manner that you are drawn into her world. Sometimes, it is great to mentally travel to another time and another place, even if you are already sitting in the most magical, natural environment you've ever visited. I'll take a trip back to Scotland any time.

This afternoon, I'll be calling my dad to see what chapter he's reading. I'll be truly laughing out loud after he reaches the red-zone and tries to pretend he hasn't read it yet. Well, since my dad and I are good friends, he might readily admit that it's better than the Playboy articles he studied in his younger days.

I'm sure.







Wednesday, April 11, 2012

# 244 - The Boy Wants to Go!

Smart dogs can be amazing AND a pain. As we are preparing to leave for a weekend on our acreage over Easter, Deputy Dave hitches up the trailer, loads it to the max, and he starts the truck to cool it down. Finally, the dogs are allowed to run outside and jump in the backseat. They've been waiting for this moment all morning long.

As usual, I'm lagging behind. One last trip to the bathroom I must make, after all, once we get to our land I will not have the luxury of a fully working restroom...it will be a bucket lined with plastic, a bit of chemicals and a toilet lid set on the top for comfort. Yes, that last trip to the bathroom is important. Then, I must make sure I have my mug of tea. Check and double check for things that I will probably end up forgetting anyway, but each step is important as I'm trying to walk out the door to get in the truck.

Have I ever mentioned that Deputy Dave has grown to be an infinitely patient man?

Meanwhile, The Boy...or actually, the dog Howdy...he not only can open doors in the house and pry open his kennel and nearly serve dinner, he knows how to work the button on the truck door to roll down the window. When traveling, we must keep the window locks engaged because he stares at the truck door, presses his paw against the window control as his eyes sharpen with focus and he delights at rolling down the window. Once we lock the windows, he continues to try, in vain, to roll down the window. After he realizes that he can't do it anymore, he literally lets out a huge huff of anguish and becomes complacent with his situation, the big smile lessens, but he calms down a few notches for the near two-hour trip to our land.

However, as we are leaving the house and walking together outside to get in the truck, we noticed that Howdy had already rolled down his window and had a big smile across his jaw.

I could almost hear him bark, "Come on Woman! We're all waiting on you and eager to get on the road!"


The funny part about our road trips to our acreage is that the big dogs become so excited that the energy they exude is palpable. Once Deputy Dave begins to load up the trailer, they KNOW exactly where we are going and they become filled with exhilaration, running around, whining and jumping in the air at nothing. It's quite entertaining.

I love the look that Liyla gets on her face while traveling to our acreage. In the photo below, we are half way to the land, stopping to get gas. She is watching Deputy Dave like a hawk. Of course, I had just taken the window locks off so that I could roll down my window to talk with Deputy Dave as he filled the truck with gas and Howdy promptly rolled down his window as well. I had to quickly lean over to Deputy Dave's side again and roll up the windows, then engage the locks again. Forget it. Howdy is too quick on the draw for my comfort. On the other hand, Liyla is content to look out the window and to watch her beloved Master as he fills the tanks with expensive gas. At least she makes the eye-popping price tag more tolerable with her sweetness.


For the dog who can open doors and roll down windows as if he has a controlled finger on the button, so precise, not a mistake, but on purpose...I have to wonder what else he'll figure out once we get moved to our acreage.


Maybe we can show him how to operate the lawn tractor. On second thought, nope. That's my meditation time with nature, even if I go as slow as Christmas, it's a job I can handle for bits at a time. I'll have to keep the tractor keys out of his view, just in case.









Tuesday, April 10, 2012

# 243 - White Oak Tree and a Wedding

This past long Easter weekend at our acreage found Deputy Dave and I to be basking beneath the swaying trees of the forest...of "our" forest. Of course, being on our acreage means going nonstop from dawn until dusk, but it is rewarding and deeply satisfying to see the dent that our efforts make to the landscape of our acreage.


First of all, upon arrival to our land, taking the turn onto our private road leading deep into our forested acreage is a moment that always seems to take our breath away. It is always overwhelming to take in the incredible growth that has taken place. It never ceases to amaze me to see our land as majestic as the first time we laid eyes upon it.

The tanged forest of greenery never fails to make a powerfully visible statement about the enduring, sufferable abilities of raw nature.


This trip, we brought along our new 9'x17' tent which was INCREDIBLE! We could actually stand upright inside the tent! Deputy Dave marveled at his ability to stand straight and tall while still having ample room above head to maneuver around! We felt as if this tent were our mobile castle! We had plenty room and the four entrances/exits around the tent made daily chores much easier. We put the bedding at one end and stayed clear of that side during the day to keep the bedding as clean and debris-free as possible, while leaving the food boxes and miscellaneous goods at the other end of the tent with a separate opening, making it neat and convenient.


And the view...ahhhhh...we left a couple of tent flaps open at night so that I could lie there looking up at the shadows of the trees and enjoy the bright moon shining over our tent. Magical.


Deputy Dave purchased a new chainsaw, a long overdue purchase. Farm life is not necessarily cheap. He began to strategically cut a fallen white oak tree into assorted sized slabs that will be used at our oldest daughter's wedding. Heather will use these slabs for such things as a wedding cake stand and for other props to go along with her wedding theme of "City Girl Meets Country Boy."

This was a weekend on our land that had great purpose and cutting those white oak slabs for Heather's wedding was a priority. Her daddy worked like a beast to get choice cuts from a beloved fallen tree for his daughter's wedding. It was hard, laborious work laden with sweat and grime along with a bit of danger, but it was well worth his time.

Starting at the smaller "tip" end of the tree.
You can purchase thin wood slabs on-line, but White Oak tree slabs can be pricey, especially at the thickness her dad was allowing for the cut. We feel strongly that it is important for her wedding memories to be tied to these oak tree slabs because they come from a piece of her own childhood history...cut from a fallen tree on the land where she played while growing up.

Many times she had sat beneath the shade of this particular tree while eating at the picnic table and enjoying forest surroundings with family and friends. For years, this Grand Old White Oak towered above us with impressive secondary branches, and once it fell, the solid root ball itself spread out more than six feet across. The old oak succumbed to hurricane strength winds that reached our acreage during a bad storm.

During our first inspection of the land after that storm, we found ourselves in a moment of gasps and sadness that brought about tears as we drove onto our land, down our private road, only to come across the great fallen grand oak laying on its side, in defeat. It was a shocking find; the tree that we thought would long out-live everyone in the family had come to rest in giant prostrate form across our land. Very sad day indeed.

With her, the oak took out several electrical poles and blocked our private roadway. We decided to re-route that part of the road, which was fortunately at the very end of the our road. No big inconvenience. Letting her lay in peace, we tried to decide what to do with the old tree. We certainly didn't want to chop her up for fire-wood; the purpose had to be more meaningful, so there she remained for a long while.


Yes, I cried for this beloved tree that had stood through historical moments that I can only read about in books. I had looked forward to seeing this tree stand tall throughout the remainder of my life-time, but nature had other ideas, so it will simply be a part of our lives in another form.

If you can love a tree, this was one to love, by all of us in the family. So, it seems fitting and right that this grand old tree be used to adorn Heather's wedding celebration. Instead of plain chunks of wood from any old tree, she will know that this tree was her shelter and protection during many hot summer days in Texas and be happy to know that the old tree did not disintegrate without being utilized to the fullest extent of our ability.

Part of this tree is likely to become a portion of our kitchen and bathroom countertops. If there is enough of the tree left, we might make a few table-tops for side-tables in the house and for the porch. The rings of the secondary branches are incredible. I can only imagine how those long slabs will look once they are cut for the counter-tops. We will probably hire a company to come to our land and do these cuts, professionally. Until then, there is plenty wood for Deputy Dave to be cutting for our own family's use. I believe I'll also be giving each family member a natural cutting board from this oak tree, sanded to perfection, and covered with mineral oil, ready for a lifetime of use and beauty in the kitchen.

I'll have to write about our weekend in the next following blog entries because we had a wonderful time in the country. I'm beyond exhausted, but in a good way. My body is exhausted, but my mind is renewed.

We also walked part of the land and confirmed the spot where we will be building our cabin in the woods. I could barely contain my excitement while standing in the spot where I anticipate, one day, to be standing from INSIDE the cabin, looking out over the land. The scenery is breathtaking. I can't imagine waking up to that kind of view each and every day. It's got to be something that never gets old!

To think about it...waking up each day, good or bad, to look out over a grove of trees and a creek-bed, well, that has to be calming, especially since the scenery remind me of what it feels like to gaze at an intriguing, famous painting that only grows more valuable with each passing day.

Anyway, we are doing our best to keep plugging along and hoping that God stays tight along with us as we make our decisions to move forward in life.

This week, I am trying to level out my excitement at the prospect of moving to that little space on our planet that Deputy Dave and I find to be rooted into our souls. Anything worth having is worth waiting for...I'm trying to be patient and knowing that the move will come when it is deemed right by the Good Lord. To that extent, we already had another showing at our house in the city this afternoon. As I'm trying to wash all the camp bedding and towels caked with dirt, we got a call that someone wanted to come see the house.

Timing...it's  not always to our liking.


Until the moment we officially are moved to the country, we are thoroughly enjoying our excursions to our land and appreciating all of the bug bites, scratches, bruises, cuts and sore muscles that come with stepping foot onto that heavily wooded soil.

It's worth every step we take.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

# 242 - Moving Along, At Least Trying to...

The entrance to our country home will have something similar to this archway welcoming everyone. Once we get moved to the country, I believe we'll have some kind of design especially welded to reflect our family's individuality.

Whichever design we decide upon, we will be sure to incorporate it throughout our acreage, in different ways, on a smaller scale.




Our house in the Greater Houston area has been for sale for just over one month, and things are slow. The changes in our housing economy are harshly evident. However, Deputy Dave and I feel confident about knowing that we're doing our best, and whatever the Good Lord wants for our future, He will handle it. If our efforts are blessed (which I hope is the case) we'll be moving along to the country in the near future.

I was hoping the house would sell rather quickly, but to the honest, so much chaos has been happening the past few weeks that if we had received a contract we would have been a mess. As it stands, we are better able to prepare for our move.

There's no doubt, I still feel it coming. The move to the country is lurking around the corner. The house is still for sale, we've even lowered the price. It will simply take the proper buyer to come through our doors to know that this house is "the one" for their own family.

At that point, we'd still have to move along very quickly to get packed and to wrap up details that are currently dragging onward.

Time is precious. I guess "time" itself will dictate our move. Timing. If there were some secret clock that I could speed up to get us down the road, out of the city and settled onto our country property, I might fast-forward the clock a tad. (Well, maybe not a fast-forward of time...How about having a Crystal Ball instead?) However, I also realize that everything happens for a reason, in the timing that it was supposed to occur, so I will remain relaxed and ready...even though I can clearly see the number of buyers has dwindled in our real estate market over the past couple of years, I am so thankful that truck loads of strangers aren't scoping out the house. Less serious buyers means less interruptions.

However, I'll gladly be interrupted for that one gung-ho buyer that is ready to move into our house as fast as we are ready to leave it.

For now, we enjoy our house. We're supposed to be here for some reason. Well, this weekend our family and guests are supposed to be here while Deputy Dave and I leave town for our acreage. It will be great to get a break away from the house. Even though I truly love this beautiful, luxurious home, I still am thrilled about getting to sleep in a tent for a few nights and rough it.

Thank God for us Country Girls who never forget how to be one with nature.




Wednesday, April 4, 2012

# 241 - Blogger Blog Limits - Photos

Does anyone have any suggestions about the blogger limits on photo storage, etc.? I have been given a message, upon trying to upload photos for my next blog, that I am at my max storage capacity and must purchase extra storage space.

Then, I went to look at my photos via the Blogger upload side button --- didn't realize I had a photo account with Picasa (sp ?) and there are duplicates of the same photos, all throughout. Strange. It's as if their software automatically takes one photo and duplicates it, sometimes up to 15 times in a row, apparently in an effort to purposefully use more space.

If anyone has suggestions, I'll be grateful. I am not knowledgeable about this part of blogging and don't know if there's a round-a-bout way to go around this hijack manner of getting our money.

Of course, I don't want to delete past posts as they also serve as my personal journal and record-keeping for our farm life lessons. The photos are very important to me. Plus, my readership is important and I've made many friends with fellow bloggers over the past few months with this blog. I'd rather not have to make any drastic changes as many readers like to read past posts to sort of get caught up.

I'd love to be able to delete those extra photos off the Picasa (sp ?) account that I didn't realize I had set up. I'm using a Yahoo email address and am scared to change that because of it causing additional problems; however, I will do whatever is necessary.

I guess I should check the gmail account that is given upon opening a blog, but I've never had to use it since I have Yahoo at my beck and call --- hence --- I KNOW how to use it already.

Any help is very appreciated. If I can figure out how to erase all of those "extra" duplicated photos that I KNOW I didn't load, it should free up valuable photo storage space.

Suggestions, advice and personal stories are always welcome so that I can get this settled over the weekend.

By the way...family is coming into town to stay at our house to dog-sit and chicken-sit, but we are getting to make a long-awaited trip to our acreage this weekend! We've purchased a new, larger tent and will be taking the two big dogs with us on our trip. It's been a long while, since about December since we last went, so we are thrilled.

I'll be praying for NO TORNADOES! As for the Greater Dallas Area, I'm blessed that my oldest daughter Heather and her fiance were not hurt in the tornadoes yesterday. I'm a Southern gal whose home has been hit by a tornado in 2008, but I'll never become accustomed to the terror that comes with the whirling winds and devastation.

Little tent weekend, let there be good weather or we'll be high-tailing it back to the house made of sticks and bricks.

Oh yes...blogger photo storage...help.

Monday, April 2, 2012

# 240 - Yes...No...Maybe So

This kiddo is the light of my life. Well, I've got a few other bright lights in my life as well, but this little one is a sparkling light that makes me smile.


This past week, me and my niece, Shaye.
March 2012
Being an aunt is a lot of fun. I taught my niece how to answer a question by responding, "Yes, No, Maybe So."

Little Miss Sassy. Yes, I warned her to not say it in school, but now she loves to giggle and say...

Yes...No...Maybe So...

It has indeed been so funny. All day long, she answers every question with "Yes, No, Maybe So."

Well, as the day was coming to an end. I found that if you ask her if she wants ice-cream, she looks as if she is in physical pain because she wants to give her sassy answer, but then she finally says, "Absolutely!"

Glad to know that she still knows how to respond appropriately to certain questions.

Good kid.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

# 239 - My Love for Mother

The close of March is always a difficult time for me since March 31st is the day my mother died. Of all the battles she had conquered in her life, to include Polio, it was breast cancer that finally consumed her warrior body and never-quit mindset.

My mom was truly a beautiful woman. The scars of life could not lessen her beauty.

Me at about three years old, my dad and my mom.
 At only 57 years of age, she died at home after she'd been constantly surrounded by loved ones.

My mom was about 35 years old here and my dad
was about 38 years old.
 My dad has dated several people since he lost his wife of approximately 40 years of marriage, but he's never re-married and will likely be content to focus on his family and remain a single man until the day he joins mom in Heaven. He told me that he's not interested in marriage any longer, it served his life for a meaningful purpose and he's not intending to start all over with someone new. That doesn't mean he's not able to find fulfillment and joy, it just means he won't have a marriage certificate applying to him any longer.

It's now been six years since she died and he's often been hit hard by the fact that his wife had been a woman full of passion and love. Sometimes he took that forgranted when she was with us, as most of us do when we have our loved one available to us as needed. She was eager for adventure. He misses this part of her the most. At a moment's notice, she was ready to pack their bags and head out the door with a huge smile.

Every year, dad took mom to the Texas Hill Country to see the Bluebonnets in full bloom. This yearly trip of theirs had been sacred. I think dad misses these poignant trips. Every time he sees wildflowers and bluebonnets springing up from the earth, he is pained, yet overjoyed at remembering their jaunts to admire God's carpet.


Shortly before my mother passed away, we'd made a day trip to our land to mow and before we left to head back to Houston, I stopped along the frontage of our acreage to gather a huge bouquet of wildflowers. It was one of the most beautiful collections of wildflowers I'd seen. I brought them home to her, put them in a vase and set it on top of her dresser for her to enjoy.

I knew she'd not be able to ever leave again for another trip to see her beloved wildflowers, so I brought them to her.

Stefie and Heather with their Grandma who they
loved more than any grandma can be loved.
This visit to the hospital to see my mother was difficult, yet full of smiles. We were at M.D. Anderson as she was having brain radiation for cancer growths near her brain stem. By this time, she had cancer all over her body...along her spine, in a femur, her ribs, her lymph nodes...everywhere. However, once it reached the brain, she became truly distraught. She had a Master's Degree and had worked to overcome Polio and be educated...her body had been ravaged by Polio at only five years old so her mental capacity for learning had been her treasure in life. She might not have been able to walk right and she didn't have the use of both arms, but she sure could out-think and out-smart anyone.

The radiation treatment used state-of-the-art laser beams that stretched several city blocks across Houston underground and the beams directly targeted the three tumors and zapped them efficiently enough to not destroy surrounding tissue. High science in action saved her from her worst fear coming to life before the cancer cells caused her death.


My mom and I had such great times together. We could talk about anything under the sun, stars or moon. She could tell me anything, and I could tell her anything, ours was a true two-way relationship. We wanted to spend time together. It's a huge blessing to consider your mother a friend and confidant. I feel very fortunate to have appreciated my mom and to have accepted her so completely...none of that ridiculous crap with expecting a mom to be perfect, but to just love her the way she was...all the good, all the bad...I loved all of her. Of course, she was just about perfect to all of us.

Deputy Dave and my sister, Robin, were taking turns having
their picture taken with mom. We all wanted our turn.
These days, I still miss not being able to pick up the phone and to hear her on the other end. I miss talking with her for hours about nonsense. I miss her coming to pick me up so we could go out to eat together. I miss going go the fabric stores together and to the craft stores together. I miss getting to see the next new beautiful project she would have surely painted. I miss seeing her with the grandchildren she adored, and my heart aches that she was never able to meet my niece Shaye. My sister had been expecting her first child when our mother died. Whoever said death was timed according to our desire? No doubt, our mom longed to meet Shaye. My sister had been fortunate enough to tell our mother that the baby was a girl and would be named for her namesake, Shaye. Mom never had words to express her personal grief, she'd simply raise a hand and lightly lay it against my sister's growing abdomen. No words were needed. In life, mom felt empty over this loss, but I hope in death she found the richest fulfillment possible.

My sister and I often talk to Shaye about her grandma, letting her know that grandma would have adored her to pieces. But, I know, if she could, mom would be with us. She had an uncanny way of making each of us feel as if we were the most special one in her life.

In part of sharing my mom, I am including one of her handwritten recipe pages that she jotted down for us. Here is her recipe for King-Ranch Chicken and Sour-Cream Biscuits...my mom truly made the best biscuits on the planet. She was the best Southern Chef you'd want to meet. Dinner at our house always included Southern smells and tastes.


The Good Lord knows that there are a few people whose death has a profound impact upon us because these people shared our life with us in significant ways. We can't imagine how life can move forward without this person. After the loss of my mom in my 30's, I sometimes felt like saying, "Mom, but I never heard the rest of the story about Grandpa's war days, and I wanted to REALLY listen this time to the stories about our youth!"

She's gone and with her absence I feel the tragic loss of her friendship and of the information that we cannot grasp tightly because her personal stories are no longer accessible. Losing a loved one is kind of like a chunk of your history has fallen off and disappeared from sight.

Like mom's spirit that has fled, all the valuable historic information about our own family that she knew is out of our reach. It's yet another way to feel left behind.

To counteract this kind of pain, I've purposefully kept extensive journals. For years and years, I'd usually write in my journals about ordinary happenings of day to day life. However, I've decided to start a journal, in honor of my mother, to tell the stories that I know regarding our family and including my beautiful mother. One day, since I'm the oldest child and have more historical information than my younger brother or sister, it might come in handy or be interesting to those who would want to know. I guess the journal would be appropriately called a collection of short stories about the family. Oh how I wish to have one of these left behind by my grandmother or grandfather!

I'll do my part to give my own family a better written history with accurate personalization so that we'll have more to enjoy for historical reference other than birth and death certificates.

One of the reasons I'm eager to move to our acreage is that my mother had graced and blessed our land with her presence. This fact gives me tremendous joy! Years ago, we picnicked on our land together. She loved being in the midst of nature, she'd soak in nature wherever she could get it.

The city house where we currently live was purchased after mom's death. That's the way of the world; we might lose the ones we love, but we must continue onward. I believe we should live so fully as to honor our own life and the one of who is now gone. Live with DOUBLE fullness! Regardless, it will give me additional peace and contentment to know that my mom had enjoyed our acreage; she actually saw the home-site where we will be living for the last portion of our own lives. It makes me feel good to know that she had loved our acreage and that her voice had let go of soft words and soft laughter to float among the forest.

It just feels good to know that.