Monday, December 18, 2017

For a good cause

My sister and I have made a truce, of sorts, to make sure my mother is checked on regularly.  We emailed and texted each other, picking days to call, days to visit.  If this sounds kind of silly, remember that my sister and I are no longer buddies or on friendly terms.  So the least we can do is make sure that our mutual interest (our mother) knows that a couple of us are keeping an eye on her, ensuring we don't miss some valuable and important info.  For example, her falling a couple of weeks ago as she was putting eye drops in...It's good to know about her mishaps so we can follow up.  Maybe call an extra time or two, go down to Brenham and see her a little sooner.  Its not hard to focus your efforts on the people you value most in life.  Most folks do that just fine on a daily basis.  What becomes tricky is getting someone else to think along those same lines. Luckily where Mother is concerned, we both want the best for her.  We want her to be as active and independent as she can for as long as she can, and the key to that is keeping up with her so we know when the time comes to go to Plan B.

All I'm saying is...I still don't trust my sister with my heart.  And I can't see us repairing our friendship.  I don't think enough time has passed and I believe there are some very hurt feelings still pretty close to the surface - for both of us.  But we can both agree that we love Mother and want the best for her.  So that's enough for now, and its nice to know I have someone to help.  My hope is that we don't come to a place in time where we want something different where she is concerned.  Because that will make it harder for us to keep her best interests at heart.  And pretty much guarantee that we won't find our way back as sisters.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December blahs

I feel this December pretty much I like I do every December - pulled in all directions with loads of extra things to go, places to go, people to see, stuff to buy, and the ever-present chores to knock out.  Not to mention work, with it's own stressors.  And Hubby's work stress.  And money stress, which is the worst kind of all.

I would like just one holiday season of calm, but I don't even know if that's possible.  I've been purposely not watching TV or listening to the news, and if it sounds like I am burying my head in the sand, I don't care.  Its all bad news anyway, or loud and jarring store ads with manic holiday muzak.  I don't want to be told that time is running out! on December 9th.  No it isn't, Christmas is still 2 weeks always for crying out loud.  I tried to get as much Christmas shopping done as possible on-line, but I have also had to cram in a Target run or two.  This new work schedule is nice in some ways - leaves much to be desired in others.  Maybe I will miss all this hustle someday when we are out "on our hill" as Mark likes to say.  I would love to find out.

*In keeping with my plan to balance the positive with the negative, the next post will be more uplifting!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Making lists

I have something I use whenever I am on overwhelm...
Behold The List:

Sometimes I will come home after a long day at work and I can't turn my brain off, thinking of all the stuff I need to do the next day.  Sometimes it's stuff I need to get done immediately, sometimes by the end of the week.  Some things are very small, others more important, but ALL of it gets written down.  I used to number the list in order of importance but I don't do that so much anymore - the main thing is to just pick one of the items and get started!  Yesterday this was my list.  It had everything from mop the kitchen to finish the ironing to work on the bank statement and pick up a prescription.  And it all got done!  I felt a strong sense of accomplishment mid-afternoon when I could finally prop my feet up to read a bit.  I was very tired, but it was a good kind of tired, knowing that the week was going to be a lot smoother!  Today I only have a couple of items left to do, and it's entirely possible to get them done early so that there will be more foot propping happening...
Here's to a Happy Sunday!

Sunday, October 22, 2017


I was toodling along IH35 at highway speed when it started.  That feeling came over me, like an aura, then all at once everything jerked to one side.

I felt a little panicky, not gonna lie.  I knew exactly what was happening.  I griped the steering wheel and stiffened up, gritting my teeth and repeating over and over out loud  "No.  Not right now."

I started talking to myself like I was an observer of myself..."Put your hazard lights on.  Slow your speed.  Get over to the right as soon as you can, very carefully.  Pull into the first driveway to the right.".  I missed a couple of driveways, but once I felt like I was going slow enough, I found one and pulled into a shady spot.

Then I called work and told them I would be late...didn't know how late, but I was very close by and would call when I got there.  What else could I do?  I sat there at least an hour.  Pretty much trapped in the car.  I opened the sunroof for air and leaned back in the seat.  Trying to breathe deep and not cry.  Hoping no one would come along and tell me to get out of the parking lot.

And gradually the world stopped spinning, and I made my way in to the hospital about 5 minutes away.  A little foggy headed still.  But alive.  And with resolve to do those damn habituation and head and eye exercises DAILY.  Not to mention see and ENT and see what is going on.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunbeams through the weeds...

Last week was not good.  In so many ways.  And I guess I could talk about my troubles, but I guess I ought to also mention the blessings.  Just to keep things in perspective, I guess.

*Dylan announced to us last weekend that he is moving in with his girlfriend.  That he's been dating for a couple months.  So now he will be legally bound by a lease to stay in the apartment for a year, no matter what happens in the relationship.  Plus, his car insurance went up and he now has rent and utilities to pay.  So he's talking about getting a second job, which I have been harping on him for months to do.  Pro:  Many adult life lessons will be learned.  I hope he likes Advil.
*A friend told me she was putting her house on the market and moving out of state.  My only friend at work, really.  And while we don't actually work together anymore, we lean on each other for venting about work issues. And we help each other celebrate holidays and birthdays.  It's been great having that person in my life for 10 years...every time this happens to me, I gradually lose touch with the friend.  Seems inevitable that time and distance will push us further apart.  Pro:  she and her family are making some major changes to their lives that may reap huge benefits for them in the future.  Don't we all want the best for our friends?  My plans do not include making this any more stressful for her than it already is.
*My hearing seems to be deteriorating.  The right ear barely shows up for work anymore.  The tinnitus is  near constant, and I have been having vertigo now and again that scares me to death and makes me nauseous -  and sluggish for the rest of the day it occurs.  Most inconvenient and possible fatal if I happen to be going down the interstate...  Pro:  I am taking steps to find out what is going on with my inner ear, and my audiologist adjusted my hearing aid on the right.
*Hubby is stressing his job.  Again.  Seems like for the last 5 years he's been in a life or death struggle with his job.  Maybe he's just telling me all of the negatives, and not thinking to share the positives, but it sounds like work is not invigorating him and he talks a lot about what we will do for Plan B.  I have no plan B.  I may end up disabled over the damn vertigo thing, not to mention deaf.  And my job is no happier than his.  In fact, it's been craptastic for over a year now.  At the moment it seems like we are just coping with getting through the now to get to the then, and who knows what the future will hold?  No one.  Pro: We both have jobs and are being proactive about maintaining good health and making sound financial decisions.  What else can we do?
*Spencer has boomeranged back - huge shock.  He was in a less than desireable situation so I am happy to provide a roof over his head.  For now.  We barely see him because he's always at work.   But his choices with money and vaping and beer send me over the edge.  At some point I want Spencer to be raised.  Sooner rather than later.  Pro:  He's making baby steps.  I guess all I can ask for is some forward movement. And he does seem to have a strong work ethic.
That's all I will dwell on for right now. Soon I will post about the happy things only.  I am trying my best to focus on the pros but that doesn't mean I want to bury my head in the sand about the cons...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

It's always something

 I'm not a country girl, and I don't know much about surviving out there, but I will have to learn...

We spent the weekend at Highlands, working on the pumphouse shower, mowing, and tromping around collecting prickly pear fruit.  In the middle of the night Sunday I woke up with crazy itching on my feet!  The next day, when I got out of the car at the grocery store, the itching was driving me nuts.  I looked down and saw a war zone of bug bites.  Either chiggers or fire ants - both rampant out there.  Along with all manner of perils I don't yet know about...

Lord, how they itch and burn.  Scratching them feels good for about 10 seconds, then the pain intensifies!  I thought I sprayed my self pretty well with Cutter, and I assumed since my feet were mostly enclosed, they were safe.  But when I switched to flip flops, I didn't spray again.  My bad. 
Every now and then I think I'm not cut out for country life.  I like civilization, indoor plumbing, and all the conveniences.  I don't consider things like critters and bugs.  So when stuff like this happens, it seems like just another something negative to adjust to.
It'll be fine, I know.  But for now it's a painful learning curve.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Single, with dog

The worry about your kids doesn't stop when they get grown.  It just changes shape a bit.

That was a revelation to me.  I figured that once they were all settled in to their adult lives, all would be well.  After all, it's fair to say that Mark and I struggled mightily to raise four kids, having no extended family to guide us.  Adolescence strained the limits of our parenting knowledge.  So we figured once we got them to the edge of the nest, they would fly.  And little did I realize that leaving the nest is not all that simple a transition.

  I myself could not WAIT to get the hell out on my own.  My home was always filthy dirty, with broken things all around, very little money, and constant worry on my mother's part.  I had a sister who ran away from home and a brother who was constantly into trouble.  I worked hard in school, had a plan for college, and worked part-time, and the upheaval at home made me eager to leave as soon as I could.  I knew my mother was proud of me and loved me, but I was ready to have my own space that was clean, and calm, and mine.  I was OK with being alone for the most part - but I wasn't really alone because I did have Mark.  

Chloe has Teddy.  And while he is a source of love and comfort to her, he is after all, a dog.  He can't hold conversations or her hand after a long day.  He can't help pay the bills.  Come pick her up when her car dies.  Make dinner a couple nights a week.  Or share the burden of laundry and apartment cleaning.  And Chloe is now 26, so I worry that she is settling rather permanently into this single, alone life.  That's not what I envisioned for her. I know it's not my life to live, but I worry just the same.

At the end of the day, I just want to know that she is happy and doing what she wants to do.  But I also want her future to be full of more than just Teddy.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rain games

 Last Sunday it rained all day in south and central Texas.  (And now there is a catastrophic situation in Houston, with The Girl and Teddy smack dab in the middle of it.)

But Hubby had planned to clear out the garage for "big trash day" on Sunday anyway, so he just opened up the garage door and got to it.  A lot of crap got put out at the curb, including a giant roll of carpet he had been hanging onto for TWELVE years.  I vetoed his idea of putting carpet in the barn - that's a big NO.  Out to the curb it went.

The original plan was to putter around the house in the morning, then go to a wine pick up party in Wimberley.  But due to all of the flooding the pick up party was cancelled and our 5 bottles are in limbo for now.  But that was hardly a concern for us.  We were both a little stir crazy though I continued to putter, and he stayed glued to the TV news, which does nothing to allay your fears over wtf is going on in Houston.  To kill the time, forget the TV a little bit, and try to relax, we made our own pick up party with snacks and a card game or two.

I'm a firm believer in not drinking on an empty stomach, even if I'm not the driver. Well, I'm never the driver when I have had more than one glass of wine...but we managed to kill three bottles of wine over the course of the afternoon and evening.  It was a temporary reprieve for us.

The weather radio was still alarming in our ears, Hubby was still obsessively-compulsively checking his phone, we weren't able to get our messages to The Girl about the storm, and the rain just seemed to go on and on...Monday I felt like an emotional zombie at work.
Fast forward the week and our nerves are pretty worn.  It's hard to go calmly about your daily business when there is so much destruction and uncertainty happening.  If my only daughter weren't there in the midst of it...but she is.  So it's about all I can think of.  
Our plans included getting her to Austin as soon as we can because who knows how long it will take life to get back to any kind of normal in Houston?  And yet getting her here represents its own set of challenges.  So even though its over, it isn't over.  But thank God, the rain is...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Come for lunch

Come over for lunch, I always tell him.  

I have plenty of food, and your brothers and I would love to see you.  And it's about the only time I can drag information out of you to see how you are doing.

I see what you are doing there - STOP IT.

Maybe tell me about your day.  How is it going with work?  What have you decided about moving to Leander? How are your finances lately?  Are you getting enough sleep?  I hate that vape thing!
I guess I'm not done "momming" this one.  I worry about how he is navigating adulthood but I know I just need to LET GO ALREADY.

Spencer is 27 going on 14 - he's pretty silly at the lunch table.  Especially if one of the other boys are sitting there.  He gives them the wisdom of his wise-cracking opinionated self.  I call him Caveman because of his beard, and especially when I think he needs a haircut (which I give him still because its free and I can...)

He's being good-natured about me taking his pic over and over, because I think he misses us a tiny bit and likes to come over to eat.  Someday he will find someone to share his free time with and although I will miss seeing him more often, my heart will be glad for him.  I think a lot of what we tried to impart to him over the years will make its way to the surface - its in there.  In particular I love that he has a strong work ethic and is really into what he does for a living as a mechanic.
So come over all you want for lunch, Spencer.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Not one bit

School started back up in Austin.  For the first year since 1995 I do not have a child going "back to school".   I'm not going to count Gray going to ACC since his classes don't start for another week.  And unless you include my getting him a toll tag, I haven't bought him anything but tuition...

Do I feel sad one tiny bit?  No.  I never thought that would be the case for me.  I mean, for 22 years I have been all about being the homeroom mom, the basketball mom, the band mom, the scout mom, the karate mom, and the homework mom.  It was my identity and I used to shed a tear when my kids hit milestones thinking how bittersweet it was that they grew up.  But now I'm ready to be something other than The Mom.  Or a different version at least.
I mean, I will always be that Gina.  But my role is so drastically different, that it might take me a while to learn it.  And probably I will still shed a tear now and again for milestones:  college graduations, marriages, grandchildren...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dream feelings

Very early yesterday I awoke from a bad dream, featuring Dylan.  Even after I had gotten up to potty, then returned to bed, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Which isn't really rare, when my kids make a cameo in one of my dreams.  Usually they disturb me.  This one certainly did.

We were walking along, he and I, and it was getting dark outside.  He seemed to be getting tireder and tireder, hanging on to me for support.  I asked him what was wrong and he said he hadn't been sleeping much.  At the same time, he was getting younger...
We were walking to the bank or someplace, and when we got there, he conducted his business at the counter with some woman while I waited.  I stepped up to the counter because I could hear them talking, and Dylan was curling himself up on the counter, as if to sleep.  I told him to get down, thinking, this really isn't appropriate that a grown person should be doing this!  The woman was carrying on with her business, barely noticing.  All the time Dylan was talking to her, but we finished up and left.  Flash forward a bit, and as we were walking away, he became a baby, maybe a year old or so.  It was apparent to me that he was very ill.  He was in a sort of box-like crib on the ground, struggling to breathe.  I was holding some suction tubing near him, trying to drain a serous fluid that was leaking out of him.  He also had an oxygen mask on, but I have no idea where it came from.  As I struggled to keep the fluid from engulfing him I thought to myself that I would continue to save him, even though I didn't know what I was really doing.  Then the dream ended.  Or nightmare, I guess.
I guess this is a pretty easy dream to interpret.  He's growing up, with adult pressures and responsibilities.  But he's still at home, so I can offer him support and advice. He had some kind of intestinal bug when he was about a year old that alarmed pediatrician.  No matter what I did, the diarrhea came every day for weeks, and it was a struggle for me as a working mom to balance that with two other kids and a full-time job.  So I worry about whether he will take care of himself. 
Dylan is a gentle soul of a person, and I worry that he is making very slow progress to leave home and strike out on his own.  At the same time, I know that everyone has their own path and it can be very challenging. 
Also, I worry about my kids in general as adults.  Did I hold their hands a little too long?  Was my mother right about loosening my grip? My gut feeling says no and I don't want them to feel like they are a burden to me.  But I feel like the time is coming pretty soon that Dylan will need to leave the nest and experience a little more hardship before Mark and I pull up stakes and move out to the country.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

It's not the city...

One of the many small projects I need to do at Highlands is figure out a way to store tools.  Currently they are in a 50 gallon drum, as a sort of over-sized kitchen utensils holder  (and I don't have a pic of that right now), but ideally, they should be hanging.  I want them easy to get to, easy to store, and NOT, I repeat, NOT a place where scorpions and giant spiders can build an empire.  Also, the gloves have to be sealed in a giant zip locs because apparently their cozy dark spaces are very attractive hiding places.  When we were recently up there erecting a pergola, it gave me the willies to have to pick up each glove and shake it out.  Because that small garden tools tote is the very place that a rather large scorpion was hanging out last time I used my gloves.  Like my husband said "It is the country, after all."  It's not like I'm afraid of every. little. thing. out there.  But I am so not a fan of creepy crawlies and things that sting or bite.  Nor snakes, of which there was a large snake skin wrapped around another 50 gallon drum located just a couple feet from Mabel's steps.  At least the snakes will likely slither away as fast as they can, but the scorpion will say "come at me" as it waves it's tiny pinchers at you.

In addition, there are mice that poop on every flat surface, every type of spider you can imagine, wasps, deer, coyotes, squirrels, something else that leaves scat in front of the barn, owls and wild turkeys.  Plus, I am sure there are other creatures that I just haven't discovered yet...
Someone recently told me they thought I would hate it out there.  But it didn't have anything to do with things like scorpions or snakes.  They assumed I would be bored out my mind with no theaters, no restaurants, no neighbors, and no exciting nightlife.  But those aren't important things to me now, so I don't know why that's going to be a big deal later.  And, come to think of it, we WILL have neighbors and we DO own vehicles that can take us a short drive down the road to anything we will need.  What it won't be is crowded and loud with major traffic snarls, expensive with higher than average cost of living, and big-city unfriendly.  That person also told me that a septic system is going to be a pain, but having working potties is a non-negotiable condition for me.
I can learn to live with with all of that.
It is the country, after all. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The swing

Years ago I told Hubby I wanted an iron bench for a window nook just outside of our dining room in our new house.  He was so proud to show me that he had purchased one - come out and see.  To my disappointment I saw - a swing.  Not what I wanted, but he had gone to the effort and bought it, because I had asked him to.  {Lesson learned: if you have something very specific you want, don't go sending someone else to find it for you.  Do the work to find it yourself!}  I put a couple of pretty toss pillows on it, surrounded it with a couple of large potted plants, and called it done.

That swing stayed put for several years.  It was pretty in it's little spot by the house.  It was a pain in the patoot to move, and the kids had to be told several times not to try to "swing" in it it like you do on the ones at the playground.  But we didn't sit in it much anyway.  That is, until I asked him to take it up to Highlands.  He perched it on the top of the hill, looking out towards the lake, just in front of a firepit, and we sit in it every time we visit.  
And I think, "maybe this is exactly what I wanted, after all".

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Living for the weekends

I find that anymore lately I am living for the weekends.

I remember doing that, years ago, but in a much, much different way.  The last time I had a Monday through Friday job was in 1992.  I was working as a customer service rep at a mortgage company.  One of the top 5 worst jobs I have ever had.  I was away from my children all week, barely making enough to justify the daycare, eating ramen noodles with frozen peas for lunch, and cooking God-knows-what in the evenings after I picked up the kids from daycare. I had exactly 5 outfits to wear, so I had to clean and press them each Sunday, along with everyone else's laundry.  I was exhausted all of the time - Spencer was 3, Chloe 1 - and all of my weekend off was spent trying to catch up - on everything - cooking, cleaning, shopping, wife-ing and mothering.  I'm 100% sure it was as hard on Hubby as it was on me.  We were in our 30's but pretty clueless about many things.  And we were dirt-ass poor with family far, far away.  We might as well have been alone on Hell's Island.

Nowadays, the weekends will find Hubby and I hopping into the truck on Sundays and heading out for a day of Mexican breakfast, followed by putseying around Highlands, enjoying a bottle of wine, some sun, and maybe a nap. Dreaming up plans for what we want to do out there in the future, and not worrying about money, kids, laundry, or anything else Monday through Friday related. 
The bad ole days are gone.  Not that God has promised sunny skies from now on...but I am relishing the weekend now, while I live it. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Falling down

Warning:  gore galore.

I fell on the sidewalk outside of the Erwin Center after graduation.  I was navigating through crowds in blazing sun.  I guess I lost my footing - I have no idea how it happened.  But I didn't faint, certainly, and I wasn't dizzy or anything.  It just happened.

I even walked plenty after it happened - around to the where the school buses were parked to take carpoolers back to north Austin.  On the bus riding home I told Scout it hurt really bad, and I took a picture to show him.  I don't think all of my peeps realized I fell.  Oooh nice, skin hanging by a thread.

The next morning I didn't think it looked too bad - save for the skin still there, which Hubby insisted I trim off.  It hurt, but I carried on with my weekend.  We went to a winery and hung out at Highlands.  I was doctoring it best I could.  

Hang on - it seems to be progressing to worse.

 At one point it looked like it was dehiscing.  And oh my goodness, it hurt so bad.  I had to either wear shorts or keep it under soft gauze.  Having anything touch it sent me over the edge. 

I thought it was getting infected, too, so I made an appointment to see my doc about five days in.  She said, no looks like it's trying to heal.

A couple of days after that, above.  Still hurts so bad.  I think I probably have a big bruise under there, too.  She advised me to take Aleve, which hurts my stomach.  So, mainly I am not.

Eight days later, it still hurts, and is super itchy which can only mean that the skin is healing, much like a healing sunburn.  I never had beautiful legs, so I'm not pining for perfect skin.  I just wish it hadn't happened.  In any case, it didn't hamper the happy of the occasion, and I have soldiered on...
But, damn.