Snow Day

I interrupt the blog catch-up to report that Texas is having quite a winter snowpocalypse. Apparently our state is not on the national electricity grid, having chosen to “go it alone” as we are wont to do. Unfortunately, we have also failed to take precautions for major events like the current very low temps and out of character weather. I read that, in its wisdom, the state government opted out of having backup plans for problems like this, thinking that a large scale outage in 2011 was a “once in 100 years” event and we wouldn’t have to worry about it again. Well, at least not the “we” who are living.

At first we were told there would be “rolling blackouts” to preserve the grid from being overloaded. It was estimated that people’s electricity would be out for 15 to 45 minutes at a time, no big deal. This was yesterday and some homes have been without electricity for over 24 hours now, some for partial days, some for sporadic periods. Others have no electricity AND no water. Somehow, we are among the fortunate who still have both. We have cranked down the thermostat to do our part in conservation and have taken the usual cold weather precautions. Thankfully we don’t have to be anywhere and can just hunker down at home. My couch and my warmest blankets and socks have been my best friends. I’ve been knitting and Rich made soup. We’re trying to keep up with family and friends in various parts of TX and beyond.

I am worried about those who have no home or whose homes are so cold they are having trouble managing. The city has opened “warming stations,” but you can only go for awhile to warm up and charge your devices, no overnight stays. The homeless shelters are full. Plus the roads are bad and we’re advised not to get out. No good choices for people who are suffering; once again all of the inequities of society are revealed.

I feel like I make everything political but to me everything does have a political element to it. Why should TX be allowed to opt out of the federal electricity grid? Weren’t our officials recently threatening (once again) to secede, but now they want emergency help from DC? Why do we not have better infrastructure and emergency preparedness locally, statewide, nationally? Why are some people always at more risk than others?

In a year full of somewhat avoidable difficulties, here’s another that could have been mitigated if we could be a bit more forward looking. Why is that always too much to ask?

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Katy Trail

I have heard of the Katy Trail since moving to Dallas but had no idea where it was located, nor anything about it. Come to find out, it’s not a trail through the woods, as one might expect, but a nice walking path that stretches from the SMU area to downtown Dallas. It’s called the Katy Trail because it was once the southern branch of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad line, shortened to K-T and then Katy. The greenbelt and walking trail were established in 2000 for the use of walkers, runners, and bicyclists. It was fairly busy the day we went, but everyone was good about keeping distance. We didn’t walk the full trail but got in a few miles and enjoyed the exercise.

Nourishment

Even before the pandemic, we mostly ate at home–who wouldn’t when married to a chef? πŸ™‚ Since the virus hit, we have not eaten inside a restaurant at all, have eaten on an outside patio two or three times, and have picked up take-out maybe a handful of times. I am comforted almost daily by a home cooked meal. Here’s a sampling.

Neighborhood Walks

*Walk home from the lake was only partly ruined by a guy yelling “white power” at us through his truck window as he sped by. I had many questions. Did he think we were old white people so we would agree? Did he mistake us for brown people and think he was intimidating us? Was he just a general asshole? Is he empowered by the attack on the Capitol or was he always a jerk? I was pretty shocked and involuntarily yelled “WHAT???” back at him but, of course, he just kept going.

January Birthdays

My youngest daughter Susan turned 38 on the 11th. I am often a little surprised when I stop and think about my daughters’ ages! Susan will always seem like my “baby,” even though she’s a perfectly capable and functioning adult. πŸ™‚ She has been busy this year, working full time at the nursing home as a CNA while taking prerequisites at the community college to apply for LVN school, not to mention raising two teenagers, being a wife, and managing a household. I have to give her lots of credit for all the hard work she puts in. She’s friendly, funny, dedicated, and a kind and caring worker with her “old folks.” We sure do love her!

AND my mom turned 90! In any other year, we would have thrown her a big bash in New Jersey and invited everyone she knows. But….Covid. My first thought was to have a big Zoom party but it soon became obvious that it would be next to impossible to get everyone together at the same time. Then I remembered my niece Kristinn had made a little video for my sister one year so I messaged her about it. She said it was through a website called Tribute and it was pretty easy to do. I looked into it and it seemed manageable so I contacted tons of people who know Mom–family, extended family, in laws, friends, neighbors, former coworkers, etc. I gave people about 3 weeks to log onto the website and make a short video for Mom. Really, all people had to do was record themselves saying “happy birthday” or they could record a longer message if they wanted to do so. Then once they were all done, I would edit them together and make one big video.

OMG, I have told Rich if I ever have another “GREAT IDEA,” please tell me NOT TO DO IT!! This whole experience was so very frustrating and I have to say also disappointing in some ways. I have learned a lot. Number one, people are lazy. Number two, people don’t read instructions. I had several who thought they were supposed to mail photos to me, or just make a video on their phones and send it, or whatever. Number three, people are procrastinators. I know this well because I am one, too. But still. Number four, you cannot take people’s word for what they will do and when. Number 5, you expect too much from people. Most will not take the time to do anything other than the minimum (with some notable exceptions, thank you).

Number six, persist anyway and you will get it done. LOL Originally I was just asking for videos. Because people misunderstood about photos, some sent me pix so I did some more research and realized I could add photos from my end. SO then, of course, I created WAY more work for myself because I always want to be FAIR and we have a huge family (just for fun: Mom has 4 kids, their spouses, 16 grandkids and some spouses, 33 great grandkids, not to mention extended family–I have 31 first cousins). I then started digging through my photos to make sure I could have a representative sample. Thankfully, I have a LOT of photos. I contacted a few of my nieces and nephews to ask them to send me one photo of themselves or their families. By completion, we had 61 videos and a ton of photos ranging from one of Mom’s elementary school classmates who’s about the same age, to her youngest great granddaughter. The whole presentation lasted 47 minutes. LOL I went from being afraid only a few people would participate to having way more than I ever expected. The best part was that I managed to keep it a secret from Mom and she she loved it when she received it on her birthday. Her happiness made all of the frustrations well worth it, though I am not sure I will ever attempt something like this again. haha

Anyway, that is a big sidetrack from wishing Mom a happy 90th. She is the one that we all aspire to be like–kind, funny, friendly, active, interested in everything, still finding new things to learn and do. She’s been stymied by the pandemic but still manages to keep busy and engaged. She has her sister nearby and old friends she keeps up with, her Red Hats group, her dominoes group, my brother’s family, her neighbors, her personal trainer, and all kinds of activities she looks forward to getting back into. She’s supposed to get her first vaccine soon and I know she is looking forward to being more active (though I have to say she has not been as careful as I would like). Happy Birthday, Mom!