Saturday, December 28, 2019

Eve and Day and Days

I am having a huge problem here in WA.  My sister-in-law is an excellent cook and everything she makes is good.

Christmas Eve was a lovely day and evening.  My niece and her family came over.  We had  a wonderful dinner.

Christmas morning, we went to my niece’s house. 

Had a huge breakfast

Okay – I’m seriously going to have to exercise when I get home!

And, then

Later that day, we went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  It is very good – pay no attention to the naysayers.  And, it had some surprise appearances – Carrie Fisher (who died in 2016) still starred as Princess Leia, Mark Hamill (who was killed off in the last one) as Luke, Billie Dee Williams as Lando, and a surprise cameo – Harrison Ford as Han.

The days since have been quiet though we did venture out to Downtown Camas on Thursday.  Downtown Camas is a little like Wharton only with better restaurants and a greater variety of shops.

It was nice – no screaming crowds trying to grab up all the “on sale” items.  I saw many things that got my attention but these two made me laugh and/or ask “WHY???”

 Yep! hahahahahaha


 Can you guess what this is???

It’s a beaver tail.  Not sure just what you do with such a thing but, there you go.

28 Dec 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merry and Happy

I hope all was Merry and Happy for everyone out in the universe the past many days.  It has been and continues to be for me.  I know I mentioned that I flew into Portland, OR, however my brother lives in Camas, WA.  It’s a short drive over the river and through the woods to his house.  

There are really tall trees here.

Moss covers everything – rocks, trees, houses, the grass.

NOTE:  Twas it me, I’d leave the moss instead of dealing with grass.  It’s soft, it’s green and, most importantly, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE MOWED! 

It’s a bit chillier here than at my house – 30’s at night; 40’s during the day.  It rained the first couple of day, then was overcast and now is sunny with blue skies.  The humidity is pretty much nonexistent, surprising with all the drizzle and overcast, but there you go.  Weird.

My brother lives in the wild woods and has worked steadily to clean huge areas of run away English ivy, blackberry vines, and such and replace it all with camellias, rhododendron, blueberries, hellebores, heather, and a bunch of other stuff.  And, moss; he works hard trying to keep the moss under control. 

He also has bee hives sprinkled all around the property.

And, a good-sized creek

And this –

I don’t care what he says, I think it’s a
Weirwood Tree or perhaps, the White Tree of Gondor.

They have an excellent guard dog – necessary as they live in the wild woods


where there are bears (probably lions and tigers, too), coyotes, deer, alpacas

And, the other day I was sitting at the table and noticed something flash past the window . . . .

The neighbor’s pet pig got out and
came visiting!

26 Dec 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Adventures in Wild Weird Wharton County

I planned to publish this before I left but was so busy that time just got away from me.  So, here we go with another Texas travelogue ---

The Monday before I left on Wednesday, my friend Bobby and I went adventuring.  We took a short drive through Pierce, TX.  I say short because most of Pierce is private (no trespassing the law will come take you away, ho ho).  We may have ventured in some small part of that private, no trespassing area but no unpleasant results.

Pierce, TX is located off Hwy 59 between Wharton and El Campo.  It consists of eight or so houses, a small post office, a church, and a country club (who knew?).  And there are maybe 50 residents.

It was established by Abel Head (Shanghai) Pierce in 1881.  Pierce, (born in Rhode Island) in 1857, stowed away on a ship, got off in Indianola, Texas and ultimately became a somewhat infamous land and cattle baron.  He was known for his cheapness, branding stray cattle (no matter previous brands), selfishness, and ruthless business dealings.  He commissioned a marble statue of himself - a 6'5" likeness placed atop a ten-foot granite column to mark his grave, 10-odd years before he actually died so he could enjoy seeing it. Well, I guess if you are paying for such a thing, then you should get to enjoy it.

We drove a bit onto the ranch – 32,000 acres of pastureland, rice and row crops (usually cotton).  You can’t drive too far before you run into gates that close the old Pierce house off from the world.

No one lives there now – it’s used as an entertainment venue.  But we did come across a couple of houses that stand on the cotton fields.

 Pretty sure no one lives in this one, but . . . .

This one has an address, a decorated mailbox, and if you look closely a package on the front porch.  Of course, it doesn’t appear to have electricity, plumbing, or running water and the windows have tin “shades” but there is a door.

The other thing Pierce, TX has is this -

Nope never seen any polo games going on but, I keep checking!  You just never know what you’ll find if you get off the highway!

17 Dec 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

“Leaving on a Jet Plane”

Okay – first of all, I have done my share of travel.  In another life, I had to travel for work – enough that I have no issues with the whole air travel process.  I can deal with my luggage (rule #1), check myself in (rule #2), and find the gate (rule #3) with comparative ease.  Well, as long as I’m in a reasonable airport.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport is no longer a reasonable airport.  It is rather intimidating and really big.

Looks like something that should be flying around in space – right?  With little space ships hanging onto it.

I had an early flight out this week.  Had to be at IAH by 7am.  I live in Wharton.  It’s about an hour and half drive, unless there’s traffic, then it’s a 3 hour drive.

My sister offered to drive me to the airport.  Thank you, thank you, thank you – we had to leave at 5:30am (this is not her favorite time of the day).

I hate to use the long-term parking lots.  First of all, they’re expensive. And, then you have to make a reservation to be sure of a parking place and you have to leave even earlier to go through all the hoop-la of getting to the lot, parking, catching the bus, etc, etc.  So, I was very grateful that she offered.

And, we left at 5:30am and got to the airport with minimal problem – to early for severe traffic and there were no accidents, no totally insane humans, no completely blocked highways.

I hugged her, grabbed my two-ton suitcase and went to find the check-in.  First of all – there were all sorts of airport helper people around.  Check in??  Right over there.  Cool.  Used the check-in kiosk, already had my boarding pass, don’t carry luggage onto the plane.  I don’t because I’m short.  I can’t reach the overhead bin to get stuff into it and then, I can’t reach the stuff to get it out (Rule #1 – I have to deal with my luggage.).  Yes, sometimes tall people offer to help but . . . . .  Besides that, I had a two-ton suitcase. 

Suitcase on its way to the airplane, I went to find security.  Didn’t get pre-TSA (boo-hoo).  Now, there’s the thing – I think there were so many helper people because IAH DOESN’T HAVE MANY  SIGNS.  No sign pointing Pre-TSA Here, no sign Normal, Annoying Security Here, no sign saying Infinity and Beyond Here.  There was a very nice, chatty man that pointed me in the right direction AND held up a couple of younger men brushing past so I could go first.  Cool.

Now, either security is really different at IAH or they let me do the Pre-TSA thing because I’m past the 70 number.  Whichever, getting through was a breeze.  Was met by a nice couple of guard/police/soldier-types with a dog looking for bad things.  None of those.  Then didn’t have to remove shoes, jacket, or half my clothes.  Zipped through with no problem.  Cool.

If you go to IAH, wear your good walking shoes because it’s a long walk to any of the gates.  Something new I saw – every place to sit that had a table, had a iPad attached.  You could, I assume, order something from the close-by bar or restaurant and could watch a movie, play a game or whatever while waiting for your plane.

My plane arrived on time, I found my seat and we left reasonably close to departure time.  And taxied and taxied and taxied (I wondered if we were taxi-ing to Dallas) and finally flew away.  The flight was long and a bit bumpy and I either read my current book or dozed. 

And arrived in Portland, OR where my brother was waiting for me.

More to come.

20 Dec 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

a place where the remains of the dead are buried or interred

I’ve mentioned before that I like to walk through cemeteries.  As a genealogist, it’s interesting to see older grave markers.  Sometimes they’re very sad.  Sometimes forgotten.  Sometimes curious.  I do understand that these places are for the living but I wouldn’t want to be in one. 

Anyway, Wharton’s city cemetery is a few blocks from my house and the other day, I walked through it again.  It’s really big – seven or eight blocks square.  Some of it is surrounded by a rusting fence.  Most is open.  It’s not really well taken care of, though I don’t know if it’s the cities responsibility or the families of those buried.  Many of the tombstones have fallen over, sit kilted to one side, or are overgrown with weeds.

I saw some interesting things though –

  There were a bunch like this.  
And, when I saw this one from a distance,
I first thought it was a dead tree stump.  However it’s not.

Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society is a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society founded in 1890, based in Omaha, Nebraska that operates a large privately held insurance company for its members.  The history of this organization includes numerous philanthropic efforts, community outreach projects, and distinctive tombstones depicting tree stumps.  The organization was founded in 1890 in Omaha by Joseph Cullen Root after hearing a sermon about "pioneer woodsmen clearing away the forest to provide for their families". Taking his own surname to heart, he wanted to start a society that "would clear away problems of financial security for its members".

 Some brought out my curiosity
(Inactivated Influenza Chromatographic Vaccine???)
(International Ice Cream Vending???)

Some are really fancy

Some are very simple.

 There are those that seem forgotten.
(or maybe, someone’s trying to get out!)

And those that are not.

This one has a great deal of engraving, not only on the front side
Name, birth/death dates, age, parents names, husbands name
but a message on the back as well.

25 Nov 1911
Oh Lida
Will Papa nevermore behold thee.
See thy sweet face again
nor hear your merry laughter?
No not here my daughter
But surely I will in heaven.

And on the bottom of the stone was this somewhat
odd message –

Erected by my precious Papa who worshiped me as he did his God.

Who added that, do you think?

There were a number like this – simple stones to mark the place.
Nothing on them.

There were the markers of famous people.

Horton Foote was an American playwright and screenwriter, perhaps best known for his screenplays for the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird and the 1983 film Tender Mercies. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1995 for his play The Young Man From Atlanta along with two Academy Awards, one for Tender Mercies and one for To Kill a Mockingbird.

And, some who were not.

And, then I walked home.

13 Dec 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019


I wrote this not long after my husband died.  Today it’s been 9 years. 

I have decided it is much easier to watch someone die when you KNOW they are dying; harder to watch someone die when you believe their situation is not life threatening.  When you know someone is dying, it is much easier to be patient, understanding, kind, to cry with them or for them, to want to spend as much time as possible with them, to be strong.  When you believe they are going to get better, it’s very easy to get exasperated, annoyed, frustrated, full of self pity, easier to think – he’s not trying, not listening, not making the effort to get better, easier to ignore the groans of pain. 

When I look at the months between March and October, I realize Michael’s illness was like watching a child grow.  You see your child every day so the day-to-day changes don’t register.  Then, all of a sudden, BOOM! – two inches taller.  That’s how it was, by October – BOOM! – he was really sick. 

When the pain started in his shoulder and arm, I left the responsibilities of getting medical help up to him.  Reminded him weekly to call the doctor.  Michael went to the doctor complaining of a pinched nerve – “ah yes, the problem”, the doctor told him, “is a pinched nerve in your neck.”  The diagnosis arbitrarily decided based on a car accident that happened 28 years earlier.  The doctor prescribed drugs for the pain, muscle relaxers, nerve drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depression drugs – “You got a pain – I got a pill”.  The pain got worse.  “Call the damn doctor”, I told him, “again, again, again!”. 

Michael could still get up easily, do a little work outside, could still do work his part-time job, although it hurt him to do so.  I discouraged him from doing things that caused the pain to blossom from tolerable to groaningly bad but he did it anyway.  With the clarity of hindsight, I think it was all he could do to show that he was still able to make a contribution to our life, help with the drain the drugs and doctor visits were causing our budget. 

I worried about him all the time, helped when I could and when he would let me, which was not often.  He kept me at arm’s length in helping, perhaps his way of fighting what was happening.  From March until late October we tried muscle rub creams and aspercream on his shoulder, arm and down the right side of his back to maybe give him some relief from the pain he was experiencing.  A thimble of water on a raging fire.  He repeated the problems to the doctor – the pain was getting worse every day.  Michael’s appetite fell off.  He still ate, just not very much and if I wasn’t there to make him eat, he didn’t do it.  I fussed at him – he had to eat to get better.

Things just got worse.  Then, in October, I suddenly saw what was happening to him; suddenly something was bad wrong.  I took over the process of working with the doctors (a frustrating process in the best of times; in the worst – almost screamingly infuriating).  He fell in October for the first time.  This really frightened me.  His last visit to the doctor here in Wharton was the end of October.  I should have gone into the exam room but didn’t.  Doctor told him he needed a neurosurgeon and, oh by the way, he’d lost 40 pounds since his last visit, six weeks earlier.  A waving red flag – that flag opened my worry door further.  Funny that the doctor didn’t even question the weight loss.  Michael was barely walking then– it took a huge effort on his part and he could only manage with the use of 2 canes. 

In November he stopped eating all together.  I begged him to eat, raged at him to eat, told him if he wouldn’t eat, he’d die.  Made no difference.  In November he could no longer walk or hardly stand.  It was a major effort for both of us to do anything – bathe, change clothes.  Several times in trying to shift him in his chair or when he fell the second time, trying to get him back to his chair, I just went off into hysterical tears – “I can’t do this, I can’t do this”.  And I know it hurt him terribly, those tears.  I should have been stronger.  Where is the superman suit when you need it.

Then it struck me, if I didn’t get him to a hospital, he really was going to die.  This was not a pinched nerve.  So, with the help of my sister and brother-in-law, we managed to get him into the car.  At what pain cost, I don’t know – he screamed with it.  Every second it took to get him into the car, hurt me too.  But, we did it and took off for UTMB emergency room – the only place that would take him in our insurance-less situation. 

After that, it got a little better for him.  The doctors and nurses there are so professional, so good.  Moving him still caused him major pain but these people were careful and took care to try to hurt him as little as possible. 

Of course, the admitting doctor told me from almost the beginning that she thought he had cancer – and it was - stage four lung cancer that had metastasized to his bones.  Like I said in the beginning, it’s easier when you know.  I drew on whatever strength I needed to be with him as much as I could, to be patient, to hold his hand when he was in pain, to talk about normal things, to laugh with him, to cajole him to eat a little.  I was afraid to leave him for long and am thankful for family and friends that could stay with him when I couldn’t.

Michael knew what his health situation was.  I told him he had cancer.  The doctors told him.  But, I don’t think he actually understood until the last day or so he was in the hospital.  When I told him we were going to come home, he looked at me and asked  - was it really that bad?  Yes.  And, shortly afterward, he sort of closed in on himself.  I reassured him that I would be alright, that the children would be alright, that he would be alright. 

He wanted to come home – had wanted to come home since we got to the hospital.  He came home on December 8 and died at home on December 12.

And, now, I find going home is hard because no one is there.  I miss the phone calls that once about drove me crazy – calls through out the entire day no matter where I was.  Once in a while, the phone rings and my first thought is “that’s Michael”.  Never is. 

Michael Hugh Nash
8 Jan 1947
12 Dec 2010

So much has changed in nine years.  I had someone tell me it takes 5 years to truly get over grief.  Yes, it does.  Do I think about him – sure.  Do I still mourn – no.  The world goes on – it changes and I’ve changed too. 

12 Dec 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Who designs these things? Who wears these things?

First of all – I HATE to go shoe shopping.  It’s not fun.  It’s not relaxing.  It’s usually not successful.  Argh!

I wanted a pair of loafers.  Something easy – can just slip on – nice looking – wear with jeans or a dress - doesn’t cost $200. 

Did I find anything in my size?  No, nada, none, zero.  Argh!

Yes, I did look on line but that’s like playing roulette, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you pay twice for shipping (once to you, once back to them).  The problem is all the shoes I like, that meet my needs either don’t come in narrow or narrow starts a half size too big.  Argh!

Ultimately I had to change my wearing criteria and found a pair I can wear with socks  ugh, like back in the 1960’sArgh!

Next life --- I’m going to wear a normal size shoe, maybe a 7M (I’m also going to be 2 inches taller and have perfect vision!). 

So, I expect you’re wondering what all that has to do with the price of potatoes. 

Shoes have been hovering in the hallways of my
mind for a while.

Yesterday my friend Donna and I went “resale shop” – ing.  We went to several “upscale” resale shops.  She was looking for something particular and I was just looking.  And this is what I found -  -

 R E A L L Y ? ? ?

Obviously these shoes were meant to be worn while you are sitting, lounging, looking seductive, etc because I just don’t see a smooth gliding walk in them.  And, don’t you know the first “clump, clump, clump” steps would do away with any seductive, etc.  For myself, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t balance, much less walk in them. 

Finally, I saw these -

with this hanging close by –

So, maybe it’s at the resale shop because someone fell flat on their derrière trying to manage stilettos and fluffy ruffles.

11 Dec 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Politically Correct Holiday Greeting—

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all . . . . . and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2019, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee.

(By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.)

10 Dec 2019

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Beauty and Health

The other day I had to meet someone at a building owned by my friend Donna.  Once upon a time, the building held her antique store – Miss Hattie’s Place.  However, she moved the store to Rosenberg and now the building is used for storage and as a workshop.  So, while waiting, I picked up a book and thumbed through it.  And now, I’m going to share this magical little self-help book with you.

Beauty and Health
A course in loveliness
By: J. Howard Crum, MD

He touches on every aspect of making a woman beautiful (and it’s not inner good glowing outward).  His topics include

Gaining and Losing Weight
Cosmetic Dancing
Eternal Youthfulness
Conquer Worry
Personality Tonics
Sunshine as an Aid to Loveliness
Firm, Well-molded Breasts
The Truth about Plastic Surgery
Improve your Voice

along with

The Crum-a-cises

He suggests “a few simple movements” which should be done twice a day.  According to Dr Crum, they

should be done in a room with the windows wide open whether summer or winter.  The exercise should be done without clothing of any kind.  Wearing clothes will restrict your movements, prevent you from seeing what you are doing and deprive you of the inestimable benefits arising from having the cold air play directly upon every inch of your body. 

Okay – flash the neighbors too. 

Lovely Complexion

For a beautiful complexion, he suggests

1.    Turn on water.  Get it lukewarm
2.    Cup water in hands and apply on face and neck till skin is warm
3.    Lather face and neck and scrub with a brush or stone
4.    Wash lather off
5.    Add hot water and rinse again until skin is quite warm
6.    Add cold water and rinse again.
7.    Dry with coarse towel
8.    Rub face with paper towel.

Hmmmmm – pass.

Care of Hair

Interesting though doubtful . . . 

Your hair is nothing more or less than a special kind of skin. There is a color mixing laboratory in the mechanism of each hair.  When the laboratory is running full blast, it produces brown, black, red or whatever. When the laboratory slows up because of the slowing up of vital activities throughout the body, it fails to produce the pigment and is only able to produce gray hair which is hair without color.

Also, according to the doctor, baldness (for men or women) is caused by wearing short hair styles, hats, and not exercising your hair muscles enough.   Not scalp – each hair follicle has it’s on set of muscles that push the hair up and out.

Poor Elimination

Some people fall to the depths of melancholy and feel guilty if they fair to eliminate once or more often each day and then in turn are in seventh heaven when they succeed in accomplishing the feat. 

His suggestion for this problem is first thing every morning drink 3 large glasses of warm salt water as fast as you can.

Care of Eyelashes

Now, don’t we all want long eyelashes?  Here you go –

You may obtain some help by gently pulling and jerking on the lashes each day.

Hmmmmm – again pass, pass, pass

These are just a few of the tips from this - uhhhhhh – unusual, uncommon, strange, bizarre little book.  To be honest, I didn’t read it, cover to cover, just sort of picked and chose.  But everything I did read stayed in the same vein as above - questionable.  

Because I’m generally curious, I looked up Dr. J(ohn) Howard Crum.  In 1917 his occupation was described as “Experimental Medicine” working for Parke Davis Pharmaceuticals.  In 1925, Sales Manager.  And, by 1940, he’s listed as a plastic surgeon with an office on Fifth Avenue in NYC.  He did reach some public fame when, in 1931 he performed the first public face-lift on record in the Grand Ballroom of the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York and followed it with several others, during which a pianist accompanied him with popular tunes.  A plastic surgeon with questionable ethics certainly.  Really truly a doctor?  I have no idea however he wrote this book and a couple other on how to be beautiful.

Anyway if you’re looking for beauty tips my friend is selling Beauty and Health on ebay. 

1 Dec 2019

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Week in Review

Since today is the last day of November (and how exactly is that even possible??), I’m going to try to close out the month with this past week. 

First of all, I had planned every day to sit down at the computer to start writing.  And, every day, by the time I sat down, my brain said NO, NO MORE THINKING, DOING, TIME FOR JUST SITTING.  Nothing, obviously, got written.

So, this has been a full week.  Monday was the day of catch-up, errands, housework, laundry – you know – all the fun stuff.  The day ended with yoga and then I was pretty much useless for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday was, weather-wise, a terrible day.  Very warm (hot), very humid (sticky), and very windy (25mph) – all day long.  Tuesday night, however did settle down to just hot and humid.  A good thing as it was the annual Christmas parade downtown.  This year, my sister and I decided to go and see.  As it turned out, we had almost an hour wait for the actual parade.  But we watched the first “floats” , of which there were dozens, trundle by . . .

The Geygaw Vendors
Everything on their trolleys lit up, flashed, blinked, or twinkled.

Then, at 7pm, the courthouse square lights came on – nice!

The Color Guard marched by . . .

Then, some very nice floats.  Some were done by local small businesses, some by local politicians, some by scout troops, high school groups, fire engines (thank god there wasn’t a fire anywhere close) and a few by big name businesses.

There was royalty, of course . . .

And, the ho-ho-ho guy at the end . . .

Not a bad parade.

Wednesday I cooked – made my contributions for Thursday and Friday (I celebrated Thanksgiving twice). 

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I celebrated with my sister’s family.  We went into Houston to my niece’s house for an afternoon of good food and lots of laughter.  And, although I did take my phone, I did not manage to take a single picture. 

On Friday, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my grandson, youngest daughter, and her new husband.  We did our usual Thanksgiving Day activity, we went to the beach.  When I was very small, we had Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house.  However when it became time to “pass the torch”, my mother refused to fix a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Her attitude was – she’d have to do it again in a month, and refused to do it twice.  We went to the beach instead.  And, that carried over to my children. 

It was a beautiful day.  Not too windy, not too cold, not too hot – nice.

One of the things I like about the beach and ocean, you never know what you’ll find or see.  I have to say, I’ve never seen a guy out walking his macaw.

There were some shells and I managed to bring home a pocketful.

Lots of solitude and quiet

The bluebells are blooming

Along with a variety of other beach flowers

Then we drove back to big W and had a wonderful lunch of fresh caught shark steaks.

30 Nov 2011