Monday, December 30, 2013

circle of (plant) life

That last post was a real downer, but I can’t be glum for long.  Life speeds along and so must we, besides, the human lifespan is just too short.  It’s a long story, but I found myself with vacation days to use before year-end.  It was use them or lose them, so I took off.  Even with end-of-year deadlines missed, and a giant migration happening Friday that I’m not prepared for, I'm passed caring.  No matter, I’m “on vacation” until January 2nd, and it has been completely divine!!  

Someone started watching The Walking Dead starting with Season One and we just finished Season Three around 2:45 this morning.  Someone always takes off work when I’m off – he thinks it’s severely unfair for me to have vacation when he doesn’t….we won’t go into my thoughts about his opinions on the matter of vacation fairness.  Suffice it to say, we will never agree in the subject.  Anyway, when TWD is on, I'm going to watch it...even in the middle of night.   
ANYWAY….I’ve digressed.  Today, Someone and I went shopping.  We bought software to do our taxes, and new overhead lights for the garage.  We just have cheapo fluorescent shop lights hanging out there.  I believe the ballasts have gone bad.  With cheapo lights, and when you are like me and have no electrician skills, I just replace the light fixtures when replacing bulbs doesn’t fix the problem.  I was going to install the new lights this afternoon, but instead, a long nap stole away my entire afternoon.  Now it’s dark and cold outside, so the task will wait until tomorrow.
We went into Lowes to get the new lights, and there by the front door was a huge display of house plants on clearance.  Lord, deliver me from evil, but in this case He did not.  I succumbed to temptation and purchased a medium-sized Sansevieria (aka Snake Plant, aka mother-in-law tongue).  It’s not all that spectacular, this species of flora, but I have an affinity for them.  Snake plants are very hardy, in fact, the tag on my new plant says Care Level: Resilient.  Yes indeed, they are hard to kill (which is a very good thing for anything that wants to live under my care).   

snake plant in the foreground

Many years ago, I inherited a very mature snake plant from my great grandmother's plant trove.  It was very large and quite old, and had became root bound in the pot.  As always with most things, I procrastinated with repotting the thing.  Instead of dying, it put up a beautiful tall stalk of white blooms that dripped sap and stunk to high-heaven.  It was delightful!

When I got divorced and moved out, my soon-to-be ex wanted to keep the snake plant.  I had no good place for plants in the new apartment, and it was just another thing to deal with, so I let him keep it.  It thrived root-bound in his window sill for all the years until he moved out of town.  I have no idea whatever happened to it when he moved, but I imagine it went to plant heaven long ago.

So now, a new snake plant is mine!!  I don’t have a place for it yet.  I could never call it a mother-in-law tongue because I’ve had the great fortune of having two wonderfully sweet mothers-in-law.  Thank heavens!  Their tongues have never been sharp, no cutting remarks (directed at me, directly to me).

If you remember that yucca tree I cut last October, the base has sprouted wonderfully.  It’s surviving and showing green again.  The piece that I just stuck in dirt (per the instructions on the consulted Web site) did not survive.  It is no more than a fat, dried up stick in dirt.  I planted spider plants all around it, but I will have to do something different with the pot when spring comes.  My poor poinsettia is dying.  It will not be with us much longer.  

yucca tree is coming back while poinsettia is leaving us

Sunday, December 29, 2013

waiting for the caboose

I started to write a post several times and deleted it.  Why?  This “topic” has invaded my brain space lately and won’t leave, but every time I start to write about it, it turns out sounding like an obituary…or a rant. 
My older brother, D, is killing himself with vodka and everything else he can get his hands on.  It’s like sitting at the train crossing, watching a train barreling past, and thinking surely the caboose will be coming along soon.  How long can one train be?

big brother
It’s been more than a year ago now, that my younger brother (M) and I found a house D could afford to buy and assisted him through the process to buy it and move into it.  D has been unable to work for many years because of his drinking and drug problems, but he inherited money from our grandparents – enough to buy a small house in a declining part of town and to live on for a few years.  We honestly didn’t expect him to live a year, and just like our grandfather did for years, he has hung in and surprised us.  His drug habits have depleted his resources quicker than we expected.  His well is running dry.  

M has a key to the house and checks in on D a few times a week.  He passes the neighborhood on his way to and from work.  We both expect for M to walk in one day and find D dead.  Usually M walks in and finds D passed out on the couch or floor.  D falls a lot. 

So, well, D is never really sober because if he gets too sober, he has seizures.  M wanted us all to get together for breakfast on Christmas Eve morning.  It sounded like a bad idea, but M is lonely these days and holidays can be extra lonely for people who are alone in this world.  I picked M up and we went to D’s house to assess him.  D was expecting us and seemed sober enough to make a public appearance (i.e. he was able to stand up and move his feet).  We helped him into and out of my car, took him into a restaurant, and ordered for him.  We sat at the table and D looked around, obviously confused about where he was, and asked who died.  M and I laughed and remarked how incredibly odd it seemed for us all to sit together in one place with no funeral going on. 
The most upsetting thing about that morning was that D kept forgetting who I was.  Several times, M and I reminded him that I was his sister.  He would then look at me with a surprised look on his face, and tell me he misses seeing me.  Perhaps I should schedule to see him more often, but I don’t want to.

the end was already beginning
In my mind, D is already dead.  He is brain-damaged past recovery.  He’s not been the brother I prefer to remember for almost 30 years.  He’s had two near-death experiences in the past year.  Even when he’s detoxed, the only thing on his mind is getting a bottle of vodka and some pills.  Both times, he stopped on the way home from the hospital to get his boarding pass… to jump right back on that train.       

Sunday, December 22, 2013


When Emily was in kindergarten, just weeks after her 6th birthday, she ran away from home.  It’s a morning Someone and I will never forget.  I can only say how blessed we were that we learned she was safe and in police custody before we learned she was missing.
It was an unusually warm January morning.  I was always first up, and apparently my alarm clock always woke Emily up.  While I was in the shower and everyone else still sleeping, she sneaked downstairs, opened the door that goes into the garage, and slipped out under the garage door.  We have a security system, but the door she used (at that time) had no chime when it opened.  It was the only unsecured door.  We always left one garage door up about 3 feet so our dog could have access in and out of the garage where she slept.

Emily was afraid of the dark, but she went downstairs through a dark house without turning on a single light.  She left with no shoes, wearing only a flannel nightgown.  She was two blocks away from home when a neighbor man, who by chance was up extra early to go to work, saw a little girl in pajamas walking down the side of the road with no coat on, barefooted, and dragging a white blanket.  He pulled up beside her, rolled down his window, and asked her if she was lost.  She ignored him.  He then parked his car and got out.  When he got closer, she put the blanket over her head and stood like a statue.  He told her to wait where she was and he called the police from his cell phone.

I was out of the shower and getting ready for work when I heard the phone ring.  Someone (still in bed), picked up, answered a few questions, and asked me to check and confirm that Emily was in her bed.  I walked into her room, no Emily.  I checked under the bed, in the closet – no Emily.  PANIC.  “She’s not in her room!!”  I yelled to Someone.

I then started through the house calling and searching for her, waking everyone up.  Someone caught up with me and told me the police had her and were bringing her home.  We waited in the driveway.  The cruiser came, the officer opened the car door, and out comes little Emily with a sucker in her hand and smiling like nothing had happened.  I grabbed her up and hugged her so tight she said, “You’re squeezing me to death.” I didn’t care, it was hard to let go of her.

So after all that drama, she said she ran away because she didn’t want to go to school.  A virus was making rounds and many of the kids in her classroom had thrown up in class.  Just the day before, a little boy sitting at a table across from her threw up on a paper she was coloring – that was the last straw.  I took her to school that morning and had a chat with her kindergarten teacher.  Anyway, her teacher talked to her and they worked something out.

That very afternoon, I had the home security people come back and install a chime on that door to the garage.  For a few mornings after that, I peeked into both girls’ bedrooms just to be sure they were there.  Coincidentally, the man who found Miss Emily is the husband of the lady who works in my dentist’s office.  She told me all the details about what happened that morning and we had a good laugh together.  Thank heavens it all ended well so we could laugh about it. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

highway to hell

I have time to kill time.  It’s one of the few blessings about business travel.  I can sit alone in a motel room and have nothing that needs doing (besides work….and I’m not doing that tonight).  I investigated getting an earlier flight out.  Long story, but I wouldn’t have made it home until well after midnight (if everything went as planned), so I returned the car and shuttled to a hotel adjacent to the airport.  I’m not so sure that was a great alternative – my flight in the morning is at 7AM.  The desk clerk here said I should catch the 4:00 AM shuttle because it can take 2 hours to get through security in the mornings at this airport.  Lovely.  

Guess who will be sleeping on the plane tomorrow?  Me (if at all possible).   Middle seat though, of course (on the first hop), which makes sleeping nearly impossible.  The second hop is on a tiny mosquito plane – 19 passengers packed as tightly as sardines in a can.  Both flights are full.  Ugh.      

In a different town, I would use this free time to go exploring to see what’s here.  This is Houston – gigantic metropolis – traffic is totally insane here, and even 25 miles away where my business was.  It’s like I never left the city.  Highways crisscross over each other in layers – it’s like basket weaving.  The worst part about being here is that there is always construction, and my GPS never seems sure where I am.  They just build highways beside highways here, so my GPS doesn’t really know which one I’m on.  It will tell me to exit but there is no exit.  It’s stressful driving here, which makes me very glad I don’t live here.
Erin had her last Christmas orchestra concert forever last Tuesday evening.  It was lovely, and it makes me a little bit sad to realize it’s another “last thing”.  It’s a year of last things for them both, which is wonderful and sad.  They are ready to move on to college – separating from us and separating from each other.  I think it’ll be hard for them to live 100 miles apart, but they will FaceTime and text.  Someone is going to be devastated when they move out – they are his world.  But still, thank the Lord they are ready, able, and eager to go.  This is exactly how it’s supposed to be.

Taken December 10, 2013, just before the concert


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

technology dependence

In the kitchen the other night, I stood folding laundry and stacking items into three giant-sized laundry baskets – one for me and Someone, one for Erin, and one for Emily.  I imagine that next year when the girls are living in dorms and on their own, they will not be wanting their clothes washed as often as they do when the house-slave (me) does the laundry.  The girls were sitting at the kitchen table with cell phones in hands and this conversation began:

Emily to Erin – “What if you had to actually go out on a date with every boy who you ever replied to their text message?”

Both girls started scrolling through their text message history and naming names, and giving appropriate reactions  - mostly ugh and ewww, but a few boys garnered positive ratings. 

Then, Emily asked me – “Did you and Daddy text message before you started dating?”

I explained to her that neither of us had cell phones then, because the phones in those days were big and not convenient to carry around.

Erin asked, “Did you email each other all the time?”  Both girls snickered. 

I commented that their daddy didn’t really use a computer much in those days, so no, we didn’t even email.

So then Emily said, “Well, what did you do then?  Did you write letters by hand….and then send them by carrier pigeon?”    

Oh that Emily!  She’s such a hoot. 

The truth is, it’s hard to remember life without Internet and wireless technology.  When my cell phone battery drops below 30%, I start worrying it might go all the way dead before I can charge it.  It’s probably not a good thing to be as dependent on technology as we are these days. 

Maybe technology is a wonderful curse.  It saves lives and time, but what is the cost?  We become more impatient and inactive, and maybe even less imaginative in some ways.  It makes us able to do more with less, but the productivity gain discounts the effort required to complete a task.  Whereas it provides means for humankind to be more collaborative (and we are), it also enables us to be more isolated. 

Even so, I bought myself a birthday/Christmas present last weekend.  It’s about time!!!!  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for well over a year, and soon (maybe in just two more days) it will be on my doorstep.  It’s an iPad Air.  Yes, World, soon I will have it all. My only regret is that it won’t be delivered by an octocopter.  Maybe the next time I get one, it will!