It’s pretty quiet around our house after our very busy summer. Too hot to walk so I started doing laps in the pool again. Not as interesting and no pix to share! Thanks for the fun cards and letters, Linda, Martin & Alex, Susan, Donna, and Paul. I joined a nonfiction book club and these are the most recent books, both very interesting! Made a photo book of our awesome Chicago trip. And some of my pandemic knitting. 😊 Plus some thoughts.

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.


Recent Fun Stuff

In the mailbox: a card from my volunteer work (where I haven’t yet returned), one from friends in CA, my first book from the gift my girls gave me for Mother’s Day, books I ordered from Powell’s in Portland awhile back and just arrived, survey from the Trump campaign. LOL I take a perverse pleasure in writing my opinions all over these surveys and sending them back. Supporting the struggling USPS, right? Also my friend Bettina came by for a socially distanced visit on my porch. We volunteer together at Center of Hope and she is still working…braver than I!  She messaged me to say there were a bunch of kids’ books there and no one to take them as they are not having clients in the building right now. She asked if I wanted to take them to a laundromat as I have done before. I said “sure!” and we had such a nice visit. I have really missed seeing people in person!

Bonnie texted a few nights ago and asked if we had ever played the card game “Garbage.” I had never heard of it so she sent me an instructional video to watch and asked if we wanted to play with her kids via Zoom. Of course, how could we pass up that opportunity?! We watched the video and it was super easy. We set up the Zoom call, they played with their decks of cards and we played with ours, but played it as one big game. We had a ball and got to chat with the kids while playing. I was so happy Bonnie thought of it and invited us. It takes awhile to play so we stopped after about an hour and will continue another night–looking forward to that!

Rain, Bamboo and Wasps

I haven’t walked in a couple of days because we had a big rain storm Saturday and we spent a lot of Sunday trimming the VERY overgrown bamboo along our backyard fence. As we were gathering up the cuttings, I felt a sharp sting in my back and saw a wasp flying away. I haven’t had a bee or wasp sting in many years and it sure did hurt! At that point, I told Rich I was finished for the afternoon.  🙂

Also Sunday I had a Zoom call with my monthly knitting group–it was fun to catch up with everyone and see what they’re working on. I, of course, am still on my same simple scarf but I am making progress.

We received some cards in the mail, which I always enjoy. Talked with my mom on Sunday, as is our habit. Checked in with the kids at various times. Watched “Joker” which we had never seen, and found it quite disturbing but I have to say as a social worker I could certainly empathize with the character’s back story.  “Slumdog Millionnaire” is another movie we’d never seen so we watched that as well. It was not what I expected having only seen a brief trailer with the cast dancing in the street…totally misleading. haha Liked it, too, and it reminded me of a book I read called Behind the Beautiful Forevers about families living in terrible poverty in the landfills of India. What a world we live in where children are so disposable (in many countries, including our own).


Beck had an early birthday party because he was going to be performing in his latest play on his actual birthday. Who knew that gaming trucks were a thing? Not me. But this truck pulled up to his house with a trailer behind it and all the kids got onboard to play video games for an hour an a half. Perfect party for this boy and his friends! Then we had pizza and cupcakes and a called it a success!

My niece Kristinn came to town for her job with the EPA. We picked her up from the airport and had a great vegetarian/Indian lunch at Cosmic Cafe, then came back to our house to hang out. Sarah came by for a little visit but Miles and Jack were both sick so she couldn’t stay too long.  Kristinn treated Rich and me to dinner at El Vecino, our favorite little Mexican place right near our house, and then we took her to her hotel for the night. Had a great time talking about all kinds of topics and catching up on family news.  She had a meeting the next day and then headed home so it was a quick trip. So glad we got to see her!

I took Beck out for a treat after school one day.  It was super cold and windy but we decided we wanted Andy’s frozen custard anyway! We sat in the car and ate while chatting about life’s most interesting questions.  He’s a sweet kid!

My Buy Nothing group hosted a book gifting event at our independent bookstore around the corner, Lucky Dog Books.  We had a lot of fun meeting our neighbors in person, having some cookies made by one of our members and lemonade made by Rich, and getting to know each other better.  Plus we all got to take some books home.

Then off to see Beck perform in “Willie Wonka.”  It was really cute and all did a great job, including our talented Oompa Loompa!

Perks of Big City Life

It’s still a little bit of a culture shock living in a city like Dallas after 12 years on a very remote Alaska island with no traffic lights.  Yes, I have lived in other medium sized cities over the years but this is the largest I’ve ever called home.  It’s weird having to plan how long it will take to get somewhere, or still having to use my GPS because I have no idea where all the different parts of the city are located.  On the other hand, I love, love, love having access to so many cultural events and interesting experiences.  This past week, we got to hear Margaret Atwood interviewed about her new book The Testaments (follow up to The Handmaid’s Tale) on one of just a few stops on her book tour. She was so interesting, smart, clever and funny.  I was in awe of her and have already devoured the book, which does not disappoint if you are wondering what the future holds for Gilead.

Yesterday we managed to somehow get front row seats for $20 each to see the Dallas production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s earlier musical work “In the Heights.”  The cast was fabulous with lots of high energy singing and dancing, some really funny parts thrown in, and a lovely story that ended in a hopeful way.  We couldn’t take pix during the show, of course, but some of the actors came out afterwards and chatted/answered questions for a few minutes so I took a couple of photos then.  Having seen “Hamilton,” it was apparent that some of the themes of Miranda’s work are woven through both shows and some of the music seemed to tie the two productions together.  I’m so glad we got to see all of these wonderful performers of Latinx and Black heritage getting the recognition they’re due.

Movie, Library, Book Store, Swim

As promised, Ally and I picked Elle up a little after 11 AM and set out for the movie theater to see “Despicable Me 3.”  The girls enjoyed it and I think I might have dozed off a couple of times. LOL

After the movie we drove to the library to get some books.  This brought up many happy memories of my own times spent in libraries as a kid. When we lived on an Air Force base in Germany, our family regularly went to the library after church every Sunday to check out our books for the week.  I can remember walking up and down the rows in the kids’ section, seeing so many titles or cover art that caught my eye and having a hard time narrowing it down to decide which ones to check out.  I can still picture myself with a huge stack of books in my arms and my mom telling me to “put some back for next time!”

My mom loved to read and we inherited old Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books from my grandparents; we read books of poetry and fairy tales, biographies and story books; my mom had us recite poems to her and write our own stories.  The headboard on my parents’ bed contained a bookcase,  full of interesting volumes that I was not yet old enough to browse (except for The Lives of the Saints, which I did get to read cover to cover).  I would sometimes nap or rest in their bed, staring at all of the titles and wondering what the books were about.  Funny, I can still remember some of them, this many years later:  Profiles in Courage, PT109 (They were Catholics and thus JFK fans), one called Below the Salt, (I always wondered what that meant…now I know), and some James Bond novels.  🙂 We also had a huge set of encyclopedia, which I loved looking through and was grateful to have when I was older and had to write reports for school.  But going to the library and finding something new and different was always such a joy.

When my own girls were young, we often went to the downtown library to find books to bring home, even though we had more books than we knew what to do with.  I loved passing that tradition along to them and they all loved books when they were little, being read to before they could read and then reading on their own. We were also premium members of the Overdue Club.  I am not sure why we could never seem to return our books on time but we were always in arrears.  🙂   Once they started school and began using the library there, alas, our trips to the public library slowed down quite a bit.

Needless to say, I feel that libraries are so important for all of us but especially for people who cannot afford to buy books of their own.  These days libraries also provide computer services and classes and free lunches for kids and after school activities and more. I even read about librarians in Philadelphia who are trained to administer Narcan because so many people are overdosing on opioids on their grounds or even inside the library itself. Now that is probably something they never imagined they’d have to do when they were studying library science.  And here in Dallas, people who are homeless are welcomed into the central library instead of being treated as a nuisance. As a former social worker,  I was happy to see that some libraries are now employing social workers to assist patrons who may need services beyond the library’s offerings.  Libraries have been on the forefront of meeting the challenges of a changing society.  I hope they will always be with us.

Back to our day!

We found a couple of books that Ally wanted and looked around the library a bit.  Both girls were searching for a graphic novel which was not available so we decided to stop in at Half Price Books.  Unfortunately, they did not have the particular book that Elle was looking for, either, so our next stop was Barnes and Noble, which (of course) has everything imaginable and both girls were allowed to find one book for Gigi to buy.  By then we were all parched so we got smoothies and iced tea from the Starbucks inside.

Back to our house afterwards, where the girls swam for an hour till Sarah came to get Elle.   These cousins are so cute and I enjoyed listening to them talk about the books they are reading, school starting back up, friends, things they like to do.  What a fun day we had!