The Latest

Last year my girls were all on the app Marco Polo, where you can videotape messages to each other but you don’t have to all be present at the same time as you would on a phone call. You can watch the videos whenever you want and record your own message back. I enjoyed it last year but it didn’t seem to last long before they all lost interest. I was kinda sad they quit doing it. 😦 One recent morning I woke up around 6 (early for me), tried to go back to sleep and suddenly around 6:30 my phone started going off over and over. I picked it up and all three of them were sending video after video. Marco Polo is back! So I laid in bed and went through the messages, considering trying to get back to sleep when Sarah sent a video that said, “Mom, we can tell you’re watching so you might as well say hi!” LOL I responded then and we all chatted a bit more. At that point, I decided I was not going back to sleep so I got up and did a few things around the house. I checked the temp and it wasn’t that hot yet so I thought I would walk to the lake and back. It was a pretty morning and there were not too many people out so that was nice for social distancing. I stepped into a field of flowers to take some pix and then later walked down to the water’s edge for some more. Little did I realize that I managed to pick up some chiggers and I am still dealing with the itchiness!

This is as good a day as any to do a little update on the virus and the state of the world. Texas, of course, opened up businesses before we had even seen a decrease in cases so now it’s going wild and spreading like crazy.  The governor, who has been opposed to many restrictions and has been fighting with our county officials who want to be stricter, has finally admitted that things are not as great as he would have liked and made some businesses close back up (bars in particular). Dallas Co. had 572 new cases today.  We’ve had 20,737 total cases in Dallas Co and 353 deaths. The county has us at the highest alert level “stay home, stay safe.”  Of course people are defying that and defying any notion that wearing a mask helps protect themselves and others. Mask wearing has become a political issue and a flashpoint with people threatening each other and getting into shouting matches and fights over whether to wear a mask or not. It’s all so ridiculous.  On the other front, Black Lives Matter marches continued daily and nightly in Dallas. My friend Margie has been going to most of them and keeping us posted via photos and statements on social media. I’m glad to see such a high level of engagement and hope change is coming.

It looks like the rest of the summer will consist of more quarantining and social distancing. If we thought we were going to be able to see family and friends from more than a distance, I think we were wrong. At this point we don’t even know what the new school year will look like.  My niece Brooke in WY has postponed her July wedding till next summer. Many of us have cancelled vacations. It’s a whole new and isolated world.

Meanwhile the Trump administration continues to be inept, unconcerned, inactive, focused on all the wrong things…I don’t like to be a hateful person but I have a lot of hate in my heart for Trump, Pence, McConnell, Graham, and all their minions. If you are reading this 20 years from now, look them all up because I don’t have the energy to spell it out. 🙂

Our days are pretty routine. Rich is making loaves of sourdough bread, which we are enjoying. He also used up the rest of the zucchini from our farm box in some zucchini bread. Yum. We have foregone most of the yard work now that it is so hot but I did plant some flowers in pots today. We actually got in our pool and got a little exercise since it’s too hot to walk very far any more. It’s a shame that we don’t use the pool more so maybe we will start making that a habit. I am knitting a couple of projects, though I keep tearing them out and starting over. LOL

Read:  The Book of Longings, All that You Leave Behind, and Daisy Jones & The Six.  All good but especially loved the last one.

Watched: “Contagion” (oddly prescient and it was kinda spooky to watch) and “Eurovision Song Contest,” Will Ferrell’s latest offering, which was goofy fun and made for a nice night of mindless entertainment. Started the “Perry Mason” series but not sure if I will stick with it. It’s a prequel and he’s a private eye before he became the Raymond Burr attorney character some of us grew up with. Kinda dark. Contemplating whether we want to pay for Disney Plus so we can see “Hamilton” in a few days.

Listened to: New Bob Dylan (not overly impressed even though one reviewer said it was his best in years…) and old Neil Young that he finally released after years of being in his vault (better than Dylan, but I always was a Neil girl), Black Pumas (excellent), Gary Clark Jr (extra excellent).

Growing: a very few tomatoes in pots…think we waited too late and now it’s too hot.

 

Friends, Walks, and Politics

I had a socially distanced visit with my friends Bettina and Gabriele, who volunteer with me at White Rock Center of Hope. Bettina is still working but the other two of us are not. It was great to catch up with them after several months of just staying in touch by text and phone call.

It’s been really hot so we haven’t walked much lately. But one day it was coolish post rain  so we got out in the AM before it warmed up too much. There’s a little community garden nearby and Rich wanted to go check it out. We really miss having our garden plot.

The Black Lives Matter sign is new in our yard and it has garnered a little bit of attention. A neighbor that we don’t really know walked by one day and commented that she liked it. I told her I had one more if she wanted it. She said she did, so now there are two signs on our block. That makes me happy. Another day a delivery woman brought a package. She was African American and told me “thanks for the sign.” It made me uncomfortable that she was thanking me. I told her I was sorry for all that our society has made her endure. She thanked me again. Honestly, I want to be an anti racist and a good ally but I don’t want praise for it. It makes me feel like a fraud and like I am doing something for attention. Friday I was sitting on the porch reading a book when the city refuse guys came to get the trash. Again, they commented on the sign and thanked me. The driver was hanging out the passenger side window hollering at me. It brought me to tears. I stood there yelling back at them, “I am so sorry for our racist society!” I probably looked like a lunatic.

I’m still writing postcards to voters and went out hanging flyers on doors in my precinct to remind people to vote. We have a runoff election coming up in July. Rich and I ordered our absentee ballots and mine came in. Although vote by mail is up in the air in Texas pending court decisions, we are already able to mail in due to our age. Then I spent most of one day watching a City Council meeting via the internet. Recently I found out that an asphalt batch plant was proposed for my city council district, not too far from our house but in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. Of course. What else is new?! A group of citizens had organized in a very short period of time and someone added me to their Facebook group. I was super impressed that they were able to get 20+ speakers scheduled for the council meeting in no time. The meeting dragged on for hours and hours and “we” were the last agenda item. I’m sure this was by design also. Meanwhile I found out all kinds of other interesting things going on in our city that are too time consuming to recount here but maybe another day. Finally at 9 PM, our agenda item was addressed. Our speakers were given one minute each. To their credit, instead of everyone basically saying the same thing, they coordinated their efforts and each spoke to a different aspect of the neighborhood’s opposition. They were well prepared, passionate, articulate.  Very impressive!  A 9 year old boy stole the show when he spoke about his asthma and his fears for his fellow neighborhood children. One by one, the City Council members agreed and voted no, “with prejudice,” which I found out means that the asphalt company cannot request a similar zoning change for two years. It was quite a victory and so nice to see that you can apparently fight City Hall and win sometimes.

More June Shenanigans

Happy birthday to Rich on the 21st, which also happened to be Father’s Day this year.  A few years ago he wanted a banana cake but as his birthday approached we were on a weight loss regime and he decided he didn’t want it after all. This year he started talking about it again and was going to make it himself. Pretty sad, huh? I said I would be happy to make him a cake and I did. He was actually quite pleased with it.  🙂  We had a quiet day since we couldn’t go out to eat or do anything much. He heard from family and friends and seemed content to watch another year click by.105484633_10216912552902509_7095945994596150232_n

We picked up another box from Comeback Creek Farm and stopped by the Richardson Farmer’s Market on the way home. We have been enjoying all of the great produce.

One day I received a soft envelope in the mail from my friend Bonnie in VA. I couldn’t imagine what she was been sending me, but when I opened it up, it was a funny anti Trump mask. Perfect! I’ve been knitting and Rich made a sourdough starter so he’s been baking bread. And we’ve continued to have lots of good meals, of course.

66

It was quiet for my birthday this year with no one around but Rich and me. He made French toast with a peach compote for breakfast and then I was not anywhere near hungry for lunch! It was so good.  A few weeks ago he was watching a cooking show and it highlighted an olive oil pound cake with fresh strawberries so I commented that it would probably be good with peaches, too. He decided to make that for my bday, along with homemade pizza which I had requested. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I could have had a fancy dinner of my preference but I was just craving pizza. He got off easy, well, relatively easy since he had to make his own dough, too. 🙂  I had lots of phone calls, texts, emails, and messages on Facebook which made it a very nice, lazy day of sitting around chatting with people on various platforms. 🙂

Some days I am frustrated, sad, disappointed and resentful about the state of the world, missing the kids, wanting to see friends, being stuck in the house, wondering how long all of this isolation will last. I feel like I don’t have all that many days left ahead of me and I want to be able to travel, to go to activities and events, to visit the kids, to get back to “the usual.”  Then I think “the usual” is gone and we just have to get used to living differently. So I am trying to be grateful for 66 years and hoping for more ahead so that we can still do some things we enjoy.

Our grandson Luke is my birthday buddy and I love that! He turned 8 this year, which seems pretty hard to believe. I had to double check! He is a funny kid, full of stories and jokes, loves to sing and dance and perform, builds all the Legos and Magna Tiles you can imagine; he’s a great reader and tore it up on the soccer field this year; he loves his family and friends and animals and has the kindest, most caring heart. We love him so much and wish we could see him. Happy Birthday, Luke!

June Catch Up

We got our first box from Comeback Creek Farm and have been enjoying most of the fruits and veggies. I say “most” because turnips were included and I had a hard time choking them down even though Rich sautéed them in a very nice sauce. I have had turnip greens before and liked them, including the small pieces of turnips mixed in. But straight up turnips I suppose are not my thing.

Rich has been making use of all the peaches we got from the peach truck.

Sarah called one day and said Miles had a meeting in Dallas and she was coming with him. Could she come see us? Of course I was thrilled! She came to the door and knocked and just stood there, not knowing if we wanted her to come inside. Poor girl. I told her to come in and that we just wouldn’t get too close to one another.  It was the first time we’ve had anyone in the house since mid March and it seemed a little weird. Rich fixed us a nice lunch and we ate “socially distanced” at the longer dining room table where we could spread out and not be in each other’s faces. She had asked me for some old family photos so she can make copies and hang them in her hallway so we had fun looking through old pix.  Miles came to pick her up and was not sure if he should come in the house either. It is certainly a brand new world, isn’t it???  We chatted with him for a few minutes and then he helped Rich open our outdoor umbrella which is super hard for one person to do.  I was really happy to see the kids and it made me feel like maybe life will get back to normal eventually.  I finally finished knitting a scarf I’d been working on for awhile–I belong to a knitting group and we donate them to organizations working with people who are experiencing homelessness. We bought some hanging baskets and plants to put in pots to brighten up our front porch (along with Kali relaxing). And I’ve been enjoying all the mail we’ve been getting!

We haven’t been walking as much because it’s already so hot in the AM but did manage to go a few times around our own neighborhood. It seems like such a hassle and uses a lot of time to drive elsewhere to find something different to see.

 

 

A Lamentation for Black Lives

I have had a very hard time making myself sit down and write since the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a cold hearted white cop. A white cop who left his hand in his pocket and stared into the phone camera held by a 17 year old girl who did not turn away.  If not for her courage, we would be unaware and going about our days. To see a grown man feel that he still has to call the cop “sir” as he is killing him, to see a grown man cry out for his mama as the breath is squeezed out of him, to know that he knew in those last moments that his life counted for nothing in the United States of America–I don’t know what to say except “enough.”  And it wasn’t just George Floyd. It was Breonna Taylor, shot 8 times in her bed because the cops broke into her apartment on a no-knock warrant. The wrong apartment. Looking for a man who had already been arrested. Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend thought their home was being invaded (which it was). He was a licensed gun carrier.  He was scared and still had the wherewithal to fire only a cautionary shot into a cop’s leg. He probably could have killed the cop but he didn’t.  And yet these cops shot his girlfriend 8 times as she slept. She was an EMT helping people in medical distress. Dead for no reason except her black skin. And her boyfriend arrested for shooting the cop. The cop who did not identify himself and broke into their home. (Thankfully he has been released by now but the cops have still not been charged). Shall we discuss Ahmaud Arbery, jogging in a neighborhood not far from his own, chased down by white men in a truck, cornered, killed?  For no reason except he was black? Here in Dallas, Botham Jean, a young professional black man was shot “by mistake” in his own apartment by a white cop who somehow thought she was entering her own home and HE was the intruder. His college degree did not save him, nor his beautiful voice singing in the church choir. Shall we go back over the years to 12 year old Tamir Rice, playing with a toy gun? Has any 12 year old white boy ever been killed by the police for playing with a toy gun? Please point me to the police report if so.  How about Trayvon Martin, shot for wearing a hoodie and carrying skittles while black. Not by a cop, but by a security guard wanna be. Shall we go all the way back to Emmett Till? Shall we go all the way back to the first slave ships arriving in an American port?

This is a racist country, pure and simple. We cannot deny it, even though some will try.  If I am tired of it, imagine how Black people feel. If you can. Because I don’t think we really can. But we can try. And we can ask. And we can do better, can’t we?

I am both encouraged and discouraged right now. Encouraged by action in the street and calls for change, young people taking the helm and maybe doing what our generations failed to do. I am hopeful. Discouraged because we have a man in the White House who is so racist, so divisive, so corrupt, so downright evil that he will do his best to stand in the way of progress. Encouraged because there is an election coming. Discouraged because I think he will do all he can to subvert the election. Not just him, but all his minions who protect him and do nothing to correct his basest instincts.

I feel like I want to write down a summary of all that has happened in the last two weeks, just so I will have the history here on the page. But it’s too much.

I’ve been really wanting to attend a protest in Dallas–they have been happening every day and every night since George Floyd had his life brutally taken on May 25.  The virus is still with us, and in fact, increasing daily in Dallas and in Texas. I am a little worried about crowds, even with a mask. I have also jokingly said (and maybe I shouldn’t be joking) that the cops in Dallas have been somewhat aggressive, tear gassed protesters the first couple of nights, and I am a little afraid if I had to break into a run, I might stumble and break a hip. That would not be good. But, yeah, white privilege that I can make that decision and stay home. Many people feel they have no choice any more. They are willing to take the chance of getting a deadly virus because they can’t be silent about police brutality and systemic racism any more. They are willing to take their chances in front of the police and in front of the virus. Rich and I tried to go to a small protest in our own area one day last week. Unfortunately when we showed up, there was no one there except the police. We waited a bit and no one came. I am not sure if they just got a really late start or what. One of my friends has gone out every night. I admire her! She tells me the virus is real, be safe, there are other ways to be an ally. I am trying to do my part from home. Is it enough?

(And I’m so proud of my daughter Bonnie and her three kids who attended a rally in Amarillo, TX. Next generation activists!)

Artists have been decorating the boarded up windows downtown. Rich and I went to see them the other day. They are beautifully heartbreaking. We met a talented artist named Jesus who was painting the remembrance of Botham Jean. I keep thinking of a U2 tune that says “how long, how long, how long must we sing this song?”

Black Lives Matter.

Big Day Out

I have hardly left my house since mid-March when the virus began to spread through Dallas and we were told to stay home. Rich does the grocery shopping and other than taking walks or driving to places to walk, I have maintained my distance. Well, we did go see the kids in Tyler twice, too. 🙂

Saturday we had several errands to run. We had ordered a box of peaches from “The Peach Truck” which comes in from Georgia once a year. They were delicious last year so we were excited to get them again! We drove over to a hardware store parking lot not far from our house, waited in our socially distanced line with masks on, and picked up our box. The young man in the picture below asked if we had had their peaches before. I said yes, we loved them last year! He pointed at us and said, “You know what we call these people??!! Re-peach offenders!” Everyone laughed and it was pretty cute.

From there we had to stop at CVS for Rich to get some prescription eye drops because he is having laser surgery on his eyes Monday and Wednesday.  I sat in the car while he went into the pharmacy only to return saying that they didn’t have his order. The pharmacy tech looked online and apparently the doctor’s office had called it into a different CVS. The tech called that store and they said they hadn’t filled it because they were out. He looked online and gave Rich the number of a different CVS that looked like it had the medication so Rich came back to the car and called. No, they did not have it either. The tech at that store gave him two more to try. We located the closest one, on Lemmon Ave, and thankfully they had it.

Then we stopped at the farmer’s market, again socially distanced and masked…whew, it is such a hassle but we are trying to be careful! Rich decided to get some coffee from a local roaster and we picked up our favorite bread. From there, we dropped off the Get out the Vote postcards I’d finished, and went to Target to pick up a speaker we’d ordered. I had not been in Target or any other big store in months! It felt really weird to me to be there but it was not super busy, surprisingly, since Texas is basically “opened back up” and it was Saturday. We looked around a little bit just to see if we could see anything we wanted but we left otherwise empty-handed. Finally to the CVS on Lemmon to get Rich’s prescription. We were gone almost 3 hours and it felt like I had re-entered the world!

Came home and Rich made us some eggs to go with the fresh bread we toasted.  It was especially good because we had fasted the day before! The peaches are not quite ripe and  you’re supposed to take them out of the box and lay them out till for a couple of days. I remember last year–one day they were not quite ripe and the next day they were suddenly ready to eat! Rich asked me how many peaches I thought we had and I guessed 60. There are actually 78 of them! We will be eating a lot of peaches, making cobblers and jam, and freezing some for later. Yum.

Swiss Ave Historic District

On our most recent walk, we explored the Swiss Ave Historic District. I had been on part of the street once before, block walking for candidates, but Rich had not, and I hadn’t seen the whole area. According to its website, the district, “in Old East Dallas, is a diverse neighborhood containing the finest collection of Early 20th Century residential architecture in the entire Southwest. Established in 1905 by real-estate developer, Robert Munger, it was designated in 1973 as the first historic district in the City of Dallas. It is an official Dallas Landmark District and, in 1974, the entire District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”  One of the historical markers on the street notes that a “muddy country lane” was named Swiss Avenue by Swiss immigrant Henri Boll  in 1857. The street was extended and developed as a part of Munger Place in 1905 by cotton gin manufacturer Munger.  He required that each house had to be worth at least $10,000 and have two stories, but the residents were free to choose whatever architectural style they liked, leading to an interesting, eclectic mix of structures throughout the district.

Swiss Avenue itself is a wide street divided by a tree lined median, with beautiful lawns and huge houses on each side. We enjoyed strolling past and imagining what the insides of these beautiful historic homes looked like, who once lived there, who lives there now, and what stories could be told about the history of each place. When I was younger, I would have loved to have owned a beautiful old house like one of these. Of course I never could have afforded one so big but I do love the charm of old houses of any size. Now I just think I wouldn’t want to deal with the upkeep, though I suppose if you can afford one of these houses, you could afford to pay someone else a living wage to take care of things you didn’t want to mess with.  🙂

We didn’t realize how many streets were part of the historic district so we will have to return another day to see more.

A Little Spot in the Woods

A few nights ago, I took off on one of my walking routes around our neighborhood but I wandered along the woodsy side of a particular street instead of the sidewalk side.  I’d only been this way once or twice but had never noticed the benches near the woods. Upon closer inspection, I spotted various odd items hanging in the trees. I am curious about who might have placed them there!  It’s a residential area so there are houses right across the street and I imagine one of the neighbors is responsible.  A fun little find!