Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Head Cold Story

I hate having a head cold.  I don’t get this pesky viral infection very often; once every few years, I’d guess.  I managed to escape it when the rick-man and two of our good friends succumbed this past fall.  I guess my time is now due and I’m not really surprised.

These past two weeks afforded me more than my normal yearly allotment of trips to Walmart, Target and B3.  Seems each trip landed me in an aisle next to a youngster or an oldster that was coughing, sneezing and generally looking miserable.  I’m ready to stereotype both the Youngers and the Olders when it comes to colds:  they are equally willing to share their misery.  And I’m also ready to judge both youngsters and oldsters as having taken a day of targeted sick leave, missing their required corporate safety training on the latest technique for sneeze containment:  the bended elbow—that would be theirs, I mean. 

When I get “sprayed” by a stranger’s sneeze (which happened three times in the last two weeks), I have to pay special attention NOT to release my own spray of words expressing--well, you know.  “Bless you” is not what comes to my mind as I’m wiping away someone else’s liquid residue.  I’ll give colds one credit: they level the playing field on the cuteness factor.  Youngsters with colds are no cuter than oldsters with colds.

I’m guessing every hue-mawn hates having a head cold.  I remember a college roommate who complained of gaining 10 pounds with each cold.  She was a self-proclaimed chocoholic.  I especially liked the brownies she baked when she was studying for an upcoming physics or math exam.   But when she had a head cold she would go into her best chocolate creative overdrive:  chocolate-chip cookies; chocolate pudding; chocolate fudge; and if she felt like it, those delicious chocolate brownies.

In terms of my own quirkiness, I hate having a head cold because I get depressed.  I don’t mean the kind of depressed with the capital D that implies a clinical condition.  I mean the lower-case type of depression that creeps up on me when I succumb to my cold’s tiredness factor and attempt an afternoon nap. 

After a sleepless night of cold symptoms, I was surprisingly productive this morning, working on my dulcimer relationship.  But after a carbohydrate-loaded lunch I could feel my stuffy head and nose pulling my body downward, convincing me that a nap was the answer for a speedy recovery:

And so it happened—as has happened since memory served me with each head cold.  I closed my eyes, and gave over to that exhausted feeling that plays a special accompaniment to the head cold. I waited for sleep to come, convinced it would be a ready attribute of exhaustion.  But no--my mind went where it always goes with a head cold: into an active overdrive that has nothing to do with chocolate creations.   Seems every sad, painful and frustrating memory pops into my cold-infested head any time I try and take a rest.  For some reason, the worst memories of my life are always the ready companions to my head cold’s call for rest.
I don’t know why depression invades my rest when I have a head cold, but it always does.  And so it happened today.  I won’t spray a laundry list of the broken parts of my life.  A bended elbow won’t stop them, but you might think a bended knee could.  Fair enough. 
And so after 45 minutes of eyes closed, stumbling through the worst of memories, I got up, blew my nose and wiped some tears.  I put on some John Prine, and decided to pound the keyboard, looking for a story that would help me fly away from this head cold:

Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel like going out in the field with my trusty 10x42s.  Mother Nature always helps me tuck away those painful memories.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Waiting for Recess

I haven’t posted a blog in almost two weeks because I haven’t been wandering (and I haven’t been wondering about anything worth sharing).  It has been a bit of a tough two weeks that came to conclusion just yesterday.  The toughness was self-imposed and didn’t involve any terrible event.  So I’m not complaining; but I am glad to have these two weeks behind me.  Quite simply, the last two weeks were about trading in our Airstream Classic and its thirty-one feet of length (and 10,000 pounds of luxury) for a shorter, lighter Airstream.  That was week one.  Week two was about ALL the work required to clean and equip a new condo-on-wheels.  It is rather amazing how many places I found metal shavings.  The metal shavings I’m still wondering about were the great number that I found lodged in the folds of the refrigerator door’s rubber gasket.  But as mentioned in the beginning, these past two weeks of effort are not a story I want to write about as I can tell you are already bored…

And why did we let go of our beloved condo-on-wheels?  Well, the rick-man and I have learned a lot over these past 6 years of Airstream travels.  We learned that an Airstream trailer is still the right choice for us at this time in our lives.  We like its low profile on the highway.  We like that it does NOT have “slides” to open and close and maintain and let-in drafts and leaves and bugs and …. And we especially like the Airstream windows and their panoramic views.  I won’t go on and on.

But we also learned a lot about the penalties of towing 31’ of trailer behind 19’ of tow vehicle.  And I learned more than I wanted to about the “ups” and “downs” of driving over mountain passes with 10,000 pounds in tow.  (And my blog posts from this past summer mention my white-knuckle experiences when traveling mountain passes after a loss of trailer brakes).

So simply stated, we have once again downsized our homesteading domain:  a shorter, lighter Airstream is now fully equipped and ready for our travels.  But I know I’ve spent too much time this past week in Walmart, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond when I get overly excited about FINALLY finding a trash can that fits “just right” into the Airstream kitchen. 
Airstream outfitting action items are complete.  The rick-man and I are once again happily homesteading by spreading our “stuff” in both the Airstream and CoachHouse.  But it will take me awhile to call this new Airstream home.  That designation will probably come after some time spent with it in Texas state parks.  Traveling locales are where I’ll post pictures of our new Airstream baby.
And now?  I’m SO ready to be back on my bicycle and headed into Bentsen to bird.  I’m ready for my daily dose of recess with Mother Nature.  And so?  It is still raining!  Two weeks of drizzle, rain and humidity in the RGV--a fairly miraculous event after a year of drought.  I’m not complaining; we need the rain.  But I’m REALLY ready for recess….
Otherwise, I’m going to keep stuffing those cookies…

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Own Little Corner

It rained a good bit last night.  I listened to the steady drumming on the CoachHouse roof; an unfamiliar sound as no good rain had visited since last February’s completion of the CoachHouse exterior.   This southern tip of Texas completely missed the most recent rains that brought either drought relief--or flooding, to many areas of this expansive state. 

Last night’s rain gave me excuse to not find sleep.  I listened to the rain and smiled, hearing in my head the joyful thanks of the citrus and produce farmers.  I knew that I was not the only valley resident listening to this wonderful sound.

The promised rain of today has been scant.  The solid gray sky and wet cold humidity have seemed the more familiar upper gulf coast’s winter day.  I like this weather.  It gives me chance to spend a day in my own little corner:

I don’t think I’ve ever confessed this to anyone although my mother knew:  I loved the Cinderella TV movie of my childhood. My one and only understanding of this story was produced for TV in 1965 and “introduced” Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella.  I watched that rendition of the stilted storyline who knows how many times; enough times to hear in my mind (even today) Ms. Warren’s voice--whether in speech or song; enough to still picture her gown as she walked down those steps to the ballroom; and most especially enough to personalize the dreams she dreamed from her own little corner—that tune and lyrics still play in my head today.  “I can be whatever I want to be.”
I could laugh at myself (as you may be) for so loving the Cinderella story.  Certainly it did not influence me in the ways one might assume:  forget the fancy clothes—if it’s not cotton, don’t bother me.  Forget the idea of a prince entering my teenage world where my home was no safe haven—it never crossed my mind to want a prince, much less hope for one.   But when I stop and think about it, I realize that I was probably greatly influenced by that 1965 movie that was broadcast year after year during several of my impressionable childhood years.
Quite simply, I latched on to Cinderella’s capacity to daydream herself into the best of opportunity--whenever she had alone time.  She was not a “woe is me” personality.  She was a character that found her inner strength in solitude (OK, helped along by a fairy godmother type person that could turn a pumpkin into a carriage).  But stilted story aside, it was in her moments of solitude that we saw her strength.  She was honest with herself; she dreamed big dreams; she focused her introspect to give her courage rather than give her excuse. Quite simply, I latched onto the idea that a regular dose of alone time is needed to pursue my passions, find my inner strength, and ground myself to live my life.  Maybe Cinderella, rather than Prince Charming, is the reason I am an introvert.
The rick-man would tell you he is still figuring out my need for alone time, and especially my need for my own little corner.  But he is so good to me about supporting both.  And although my winter months in the RGV teach me to spend most of my time outdoors with Mother Nature, they also teach me about living in a homestead of less than 280 square feet. 
This gray day gives me opportunity to find myself in my own little corner:

I spent the beginning of this day working on my new relationship with my mountain dulcimer.  And now I’ve spent the latter part of this day honing an old neglected relationship with text and photos.
But sometimes I just need alone time to sit in my own little corner and look out the window.  Time to daydream; time to reflect on old friendships I treasure and sorely miss; time to miss having and being a mother; time to miss being and having a daughter.  
But the Cinderella story always reminds me to take precious alone time and find an inner strength; to sit in my own little corner and wonder what it is that I can be—stilted or not.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Family Field Days

Those who somewhat know me would comfortably exclude the gift of hospitality from their description of my character.  They would mostly be right.  I’m not big on gatherings of people that focus on food or sofa-sitting as the method of visiting.  I don’t enjoy days of cooking followed by hours of clean-up when the “main event”—the breaking of bread, lasts an hour together at best.  Utilizing the analogy of the famous first-century sisters known simply as Martha and Mary, I’d rather be with Mary, listening to the conversations of those gathered; I wouldn’t volunteer to be with Martha, working tirelessly in the kitchen to feed the masses.  No one is perfect.

Don’t get me wrong.  No one enjoys good food more than I do; and I certainly treasure an evening with family or friends to embrace our epicurean pleasures and partake in the intimacy of good conversation.  But housing and feeding folk, as the primary agenda for a gathering of people, is not my cup of tea.

Those who know me well would comfortably include the gift of hospitality in their description of my character.  I’d like to think that they are right, assuming hospitality need not be limited to the housing and feeding of folk.  The logistic preparations and supplies required to equip loved ones with a day in the field are my preferred method of sharing hospitality. 

A day with the community of family or friends, wandering around Mother Nature’s backyard and focusing conversation on the wonders of planet earth is a treasured gift; and it seems a rare gem in today’s world of busyness and geographic distance between community members.

I could be self-centered, and say I’m blessed with an accommodating family that seems to enjoy my planned outings.  Or I could be relationally-centered, and say my passion for days in the field is likely a product of multi-generations of family that worked the land and faithfully gathered these last fifty-plus years for reunions in outdoor venues.  I come from a family that considers “visiting” to be a bi-product of camping, birding, fishing, or simply sitting outside in circled lawn chairs, enjoying a cool summer breeze in the shade of Texas Loblolly Pine trees, while catching up on a year’s worth of living.

This past weekend brought three family members to our RGV winter home, with our time together focused on birding two state parks in two days.  Both Bentsen State Park and Estero Llano Grande State Park are World Birding Center sites providing easy strolls and fantastic birding:

 And while we three hue-mawns focused on birds, my four-legged nephew, Mr. Rudy, readily spotted a rabbit:

And Mother Nature assisted my hospitality efforts--it's not every day that family can gather to view a Common Pauraque:

Although the womenfolk of my family don’t find the kitchen to be the best hangout for caring for our menfolk, we can always be counted on to provide a helping hand for bird identification--whether requested or not:

A day in the field with family?  Priceless!

Special thanks to the rick-man for the photos!