May Round-Up, Part 1

Well, I have fallen down on the job once again!  I have to finish May before I get started on June!

Two of my co-volunteers at White Rock Center of Hope went with me to a panel discussion on poverty in Dallas. We met first to have dinner together, which was lovely, and then on to the event.  It was quite interesting, though I am not sure any real answers were presented. I know it’s a tough topic and there’s no magic solution but I sure wish we could figure out a way to make life easier for the folks living on the edge in Dallas and elsewhere.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading about housing lately and it’s such a huge problem here.  Even one of the panelists, a woman who is fairly new to working for the city, stated that people making $100,000 a year have a hard time finding housing in Dallas.  Now what does that say for those living on much, much less?

Garden update: doing great this year so far!  We have blossoms on our cantaloupe and eggplant, hurray! AND first potatoes are harvested! AND we’ve managed to win the battle of the bugs and varmints to this point, but I might be jinxing myself just by saying so.

Beck is now taking piano lessons at a local school of music.  We attended his recital and it was great to see lots of students playing lots of instruments, even some pretty young kids playing and singing in bands.  My faves (besides my grandson’s performance of “Ode to Joy,” of course) were the young girls playing guitar and bass and fronting bands as singers.  Yes!  The teachers got up and jammed with the students, too, and it sure looked like they love what they do.

Mother’s Day was very nice.  Sarah and Elle took me for a pedicure, then we all had lunch together at their house in between Elle’s soccer games.  I talked with Bonnie and Susan and my mom, and Rich took me out to dinner (even though I am not his mother).  Later in the month Bonnie came to town and gave me some cute vases for my shelf and a drawing of all 8 grandkids from all of my girls.

Sarah and I were invited back to Seek the Peace where we had dinner with some of the same beautiful refugee girls we met at Christmas time, hung out with them and chatted, and learned how to make a flower arrangement.  All of the girls made arrangements to take to their moms  or a significant person in their lives.  I am really impressed with the work being done by Seek the Peace and its Project Shine which works with adolescent girls.

My friend Susan came through on the way to her mom’s and spent one night with us.  We had a nice time chatting and laughing about various topics and indignities of life.  Bonus: she brought a mama kitty and her two sweet babies with her.  Too cute!




Garden update and other fun

I really do love all of the events that a big city offers!  Last week we got to see David Sedaris and I haven’t laughed out loud so much in a really long time.  He was hilarious and we thoroughly enjoyed him reading some of his works and talking about his life. I also bought his latest book, which is a compilation of his diaries from 1977 to 2002.  He stayed after to sign books and we waited for awhile but there were so many people in front of us that we decided to go on home since I had an early morning the next day.


Then a couple of days ago, we went to see the poet Naomi Shihab Nye. She was equally engaging, read some of her poetry and prose, talked a bit, and answered questions from the audience.  About 15 years ago I took a creative writing class at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and she came to speak to our class, did a public reading, and then had dinner with us after.  She was very kind and friendly and it was great to hear her thoughts and insights.  I was glad to see her again and to find that she is still a compassionate and thoughtful person.


We have been hauling water at the garden as there is a leak in the water line and the city has turned it off while repairs are made. Hopefully it will be back on by Friday, they say. It’s been pretty hot the last several days so we don’t want our plants to get too dried out!  They are coming along well and I noticed today that we have blossoms on our cantaloupe plant and eggplant plant (is that redundant?)  We have quite a few potatoes and will harvest them soon.  The tomato plants are loaded with tomatoes!

Is my husband becoming a Texan?  He made catfish and hush puppies the other night!


Friends, Family, and Rock ‘n Roll

Our good friends A. and B. came to visit from Alabama for a few days last week. They don’t like their info on the internet so I am honoring their wishes by not posting any photos.  I love to document everything so it is hard for me not to do it! LOL But since they were disinterested, I didn’t even take any pix. So there! We had a great time talking, laughing, trying to solve all the world’s problems, and eating a lot of Rich’s good cooking. A. went with me to my volunteer work and was a big help since she is also a former social worker and kinda knew what to do to assist in the process.  She also won over all the “little old ladies” with her sweet southern charm. They were wishing she lived here so she could come back on a regular basis.

We stopped by to see Sarah, Miles and kids since our visitors knew Sarah as a child and wanted to meet the rest of her family.  We went out to eat one night, did a little bit of driving around, and went to the 6th Floor Museum at the Texas Schoolbook Depository to see the JFK exhibit.  Though we have lived in Dallas two years now (as of today, I think!), we had not been to see it yet.  It was very interesting and a lot more detailed than I expected.  Also a bit timely since the remaining records from the assassination will be released soon.  Rich and I are old enough to remember Kennedy being shot so all of the historical info and memorabilia in the museum brought back a lot of memories of that time.  I was attending 4th grade at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Georgia and for some reason I’ve forgotten, we were all in the cafeteria watching the film “The Last of the Mohicans.”  The principal, a nun, came in at the end of the movie and announced to us that the President had been shot dead.  We had to stay late at school, get down on our knees, and pray a full rosary for him.  I don’t know that I understood the impact of the death of a president at that point, but I was not happy about having to say the rosary before being allowed to go home.  That’s the mind of a 10 year old, I suppose.  I do remember watching Kennedy’s funeral on TV and seeing his little son saluting him as the horse-drawn carriage went by.  I think maybe it hit me more then, that someone’s daddy had died, more than the fact that the US had lost a president.

After our friends left, I picked up all the kids from school one day and we stopped to get treats.  Later that evening, we went to the book fair at their school, where they all picked out some books and I bought a few to add to my collection in what is becoming “the kids’ room” at our house.  Saturday we watched Elle’s volleyball match, in which she scored the winning point in the second game.  It’s been fun to watch her team of 9 year olds as they grow and improve in their skills.

Yesterday Rich and I went to see a local production of “Hair.”  It was at a small theater and set up in the round with the band occupying the middle space and the actors spread out around the venue and moving through the audience quite a bit.  It was fun to see it up close and was quite an intimate experience (at the end, one actor sang “Let the Sun Shine In” while staring directly into Rich’s eyes…which Rich found quite uncomfortable!) At certain points, audience members were also brought out to participate in various scenes.  The production was based on the original show so it had quite a few differences from the movie that most people have seen; definitely had a grittier tone about the Vietnam War and the happenings on the street.  Afterwards, there was a short interaction between audience members and the cast–interestingly, the young actors agreed that they could relate to the times in 1968 because the times today seem quite similar.

We could only take photos prior to the show so these were taken as the cast got ready to perform.  There was also lots of cool knitting/crocheting around many of the trees outside on the grounds.

Tonight we have tickets to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the Majestic Theater.  Looking forward to that, too!


Teen Time, Cousin Time, Soccer, Camp, Concert, Oh My!

Aidan’s mom asked him on the phone one night if he was bored and he said no.  She asked how long he wanted to stay and he said “another week.” After another week and a day, we drove half way to meet Susan last Saturday.  We had a great visit and the house seems a little empty without Aidan now! He was a typical teenager: staying up too late at night and sleeping in most mornings (unless we made him get up for an activity), eating a lot, wanting to lie around on the couch with his phone in hand, and not talking much.  🙂  Still, he’s really agreeable and pleasant and would do anything we asked, including math and reading and cleaning up after himself (most of the time).  We tried to come up with something fun to do each day, though it’s been so hot outside that some things were just out of the question.  He swam in our pool, we went to see “Wonder Woman,” we played a round of miniature golf in the beating sun and enjoyed ourselves, though we were a sweaty mess by the end.  We played lots of games at home including a never ending game of Rack-o in which we are keeping on ongoing score, and Rich taught Aidan how to play backgammon. We watched several movies on TV.  The guys went kayaking at White Rock Lake while I was at my volunteer work, and they went to see “The Mummy,” which I declined to attend. 🙂  I “made” Aidan take a walk with me around the neighborhood a few nights after it cooled off and we visited the nearby neighborhood garden with chickens. We went out to eat a couple of times and made his favorite meals at home, stopped off for frozen yogurt and snacks while out running around. We had some talks and laughs and made some memories. Can’t ask for more than that. Love this kid!

Meanwhile, Elle’s team won the championship in the soccer tournament in Illinois, so that was pretty exciting!  Over the course of many games, her team scored 30 goals and she had 10 of them.  Sarah said this tournament really increased Elle’s confidence and she played strong.  They also had a lot of fun vacationing in the Chicago area.  They got home while Aidan was still here so he got to have some cousin time; he might have been thankful to have some younger people to hang out with after all those days with grandparents. 🙂

And Emery went off to camp for the first time! She was excited to go and suddenly seems awfully grown up at age 7!  Things have really changed with camp–now you can look on a website to see photos and can send your camper emails.  We sent a couple of messages but never heard back so we assumed that was a good sign that she was having fun. Sure enough, Bonnie said she loved it!

Sister was glad to have Emery home again!

Aidan spent his last night at Sarah’s with his cousins as Rich and I had longstanding tickets to see Boz Scaggs at the casino just over the border in Oklahoma. We had fun at the concert–kind of an early birthday present for Rich who has always liked Boz and his music. Once again we found ourselves with all the other “old people” at a casino concert–seems so odd! Thankfully Boz put on a good show, still sounded strong, and there were apparently a lot of fans there who knew all of his songs and were most appreciative of the performance.  Michael McDonald was the opening act, originally the singer for the Doobie Brothers, and he also sounded great (plus he still has a full head of white hair, which annoyed Rich a bit). We drove back and got home around midnight, then picked Aidan up the next morning to take him to meet his mama. We were sorry to see our boy go,  but I think he’s coming back again this summer either with his sister or at a different time.  We will have a couple of weeks off before they or their Amarillo cousins come to town.

Aidan’s Here

School’s out and Ally has gone to stay with Corey’s grandmother in Brady, TX.  Aidan stayed home because he had a motocross race last week and when we were there in Clyde recently he told us, “I am going to come to Dallas before I go to Brady.”  I asked, “Are your parents aware of this?”  “No!” he said.  I told him he might want to discuss it!  He is 14 now and Ally is 10 so I think their age difference is big enough that they don’t really enjoy the same things any more and don’t really like to hang out together all that much. I think he wanted to come by himself rather than both of them coming together. So we told  Susan and Corey that was fine with us and they could either come separately this year or both come together at some point, whatever works out.  Everything was fairly vague and I said just to let us know if and when he was coming alone.

Meanwhile Sarah and Miles and all three kids were going to Detroit and Chicago for a vacation and a soccer tournament for Elle.  Although we enjoy all of the time we have with the grandkids here in Dallas, we were thinking it would be nice to have a little downtime while they were gone!  🙂 So, of course, Susan called to say that Aidan wanted to come last Friday, which was the exact day Sarah and family were leaving.  So much for downtime, right?!  I know we could have said no or postponed his visit,  but when a 14 year old wants to come spend time with the grandparents, you don’t really pass that up.  I know those days will come to an end when he will have more important and more fun things to do than to hang out with the old folks. So we said yes, of course, come on!

We met Susan and Corey halfway to pick Aidan up on Friday.  We ran into a lot of hard, driving rain on the way but still made it in good time, got Aidan, and headed back to Dallas.  On the way home, the weather took a turn for the worse, we had a ton of traffic, wrecks on the highway, delays, problem after problem and it took us four hours to drive 91 miles!  OMG, what a day! We were tired by the time we got to the house.

We’ve been having fun and keeping Aidan occupied.  There was a free family day at a samurai exhibit on Saturday, which we all enjoyed. We’ve been to the garden a few times, he and Rich went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, we’ve watched movies at home, played Rack-o and Mexican Train, got in the pool, gone out for frozen yogurt, been to the store several times, and today we went shopping for and set up an apartment for a refugee family arriving from Afghanistan.  I signed all of us up for the library’s summer reading program so he is reading 20 minutes a day and we also got him on the Kahn Academy website so he is working on his math skills there.  We keep looking for more things to do and have a few ideas in mind, plus Saturday is one of our required work days in the community garden so we will drag him along with us.  🙂

He’s really a good kid and very pleasant every day.  I know he did not want to get up early this morning and do the apartment set up but he got out of bed as soon as I woke him and did not complain at all.  I appreciate that! We’re not sure how long he is staying but we will enjoy the time we have!

“These Songs are Still Relevant Today”

U2 is one of my all time favorite bands so when we heard they were touring for the 30th anniversary of their “Joshua Tree” album, of course I had to see about getting tickets.  My friend Karen and her daughter Kaci wanted to go, and my daughter Sarah as well.  Kaci is a huge fan and had never seen the band before so she and I decided we’d both go online at the opening of ticket sales and hope that one of us could get four tickets. As usual, tickets were immediately sold out.  I really have a hard time understanding how that can  happen but it seems to be my experience any time I am trying to get tickets to a well known act.  Finally Kaci was able to score four tickets in the nosebleed section, which irritated me to no end but at least we were able to get into the building, right?!  As the months went by, I would log in periodically and check to see if I could find anything better but I really couldn’t unless I wanted to pay an exorbitant price to a third party seller, plus fees, etc.  So we sucked it up and kept our crappy seats.  :O

As a side note, Susan and Corey had planned to come to town the same day for a Soundgarden concert at a different venue so we were going to meet up for dinner and then go our separate ways.  Sadly, singer Chris Cornell committed suicide the week before they were to be in Dallas.  I hated to hear that news.  Rich and I had just been listening to some Soundgarden and Audioslave tunes in the car driving to Clyde for Ally’s softball game.  As a mental  health professional I can certainly understand from a clinical point of view how a person can come to the place of feeling that life is no longer worth living.  But it’s still sad and I am sorry that individuals get to the point that it seems like the best option they have. He was a talented guy and a humanitarian and left behind two young daughters.  I know he will be missed.

Susan and Corey decided to go to Waxahachie instead to visit some friends but they first came by our house to spend most of the day.  We had a good visit, Rich fixed homemade pizza for lunch, Susan went with me to the store to buy some beach towels and stopped for groceries, we hung out awhile, and then all went over to Sarah and Miles’ so they could say hello.


Originally Karen and Kaci were going to come in to Dallas for dinner and then we were all going to ride to the concert together but we decided it was silly for them to drive through Arlington (where the concert was) only to turn around and go back; it was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and there was also a Rangers game going on so we were pretty worried about traffic. All of this led Sarah and me to catch an Uber over to Arlington to meet Karen and Kaci for dinner near the stadium before the concert.

Our Uber driver was an older woman who kept up a running commentary about places she’d lived, schools she’d attended, landmarks around town and so on as we drove through Dallas.  It took us over an hour with the traffic so it was a good thing we didn’t keep our original plan.  We had a fun dinner that took forever and left the restaurant with no time to spare. Parking at the venue was going to be $45 so we decided we’d leave Karen and Kaci’s vehicles in the lot at the restaurant and take an Uber the short distance to the concert.  Of course traffic was terrible and we didn’t arrive till 7:10 for a 7 o’clock show.  Luckily The Lumineers, the opening act, had not gone on yet.  I suppose due to the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in the UK, there was heightened security and we were all “wanded” at the door.  The security guard asked me if I had on a belt or anything metal because the wand was beeping. I said no, just my jeans, and lifted up my shirt as my daughter turned around with a puzzled look on her face.  🙂  We were soon waved in and found our seats in the highest rafters, at least with a good view of the two stages.  We were also facing a huge screen at the stadium so we thought we would be able to see the band there, but alas, they never used it and we were left to watch some little ants far, far away.

The Lumineers were good but the sound system at ATT Stadium was horrible and we couldn’t make out anything that was said between songs.  The music sounded kinda murky as well but it was fun to see them for the first time.  Finally around 9 PM, U2 took the stage.  Despite the bad seats, the not-the-best acoustics, and not being able to see anything close up, we had a wonderful time singing along on all of these great songs that, as Bono stated, are still relevant today with the current state of the world.  Maybe even more so than when they were first played 30 years ago. Like a Springsteen show, a U2 show is half spiritual experience, half rock and roll party.  There’s a message and a dash of activism and a bit of preaching going on, along with the music being played full-out, joyfully, alternately loud, raucous and quiet, introspective.  I could hear Sarah singing along next to me, telling me several times, “This is the soundtrack to my childhood!”  I remember having “The Joshua Tree” on a cassette tape which I played constantly in the car driving the kids from activity to activity when they were young. I’m sure they knew it by heart at the time!  Something about those memories along with hearing the songs in person had me crying throughout the night!  It was very emotional.  We were all in awe and were so glad we went.

Afterwards we had a bit of a comedy as we trekked to a nearby parking lot to try to get an Uber back to the restaurant.  There were a ton of people waiting to be picked up and we couldn’t get a ride.  Kaci talked with one driver who didn’t want to take us such a short distance and hung up on her.  They were having “surge” pricing since they were in high demand and only wanted to take people on long distance rides so they could make more money.  We then decided it wasn’t “that far” and we could walk back.  At first we were on the street with lots of other people and eventually the crowd thinned out till we were almost completely on our own, after midnight, in an unfamiliar place. Thankfully we had GPS.  :O  It took us about 20 minutes and by then we were hot and sweaty, I was rubbing a blister on my foot, and we were nice and tired, but we made it with no problem. Then we still had to fight the traffic back to Dallas, finally arriving home at 1 AM.  All in all, well worth it!!

Karen and Kaci spent the night and we had a nice visit the next day till Kaci headed to Houston for a visit and Karen went back home to Abilene.  No rest for Rich and me as we had to get our apartment ready for some short term renters spending Memorial Day weekend!

More May Happenings

The local grandkids gave me an insulated drinking glass with straw for Mother’s Day, “because you love your tea!”  They always tease me about carrying a glass of tea with me any time I come to their house, and they know it’s my drink of choice.  🙂  And to top it off, it says “Gigi.”  I love it.  Mother’s Day was pretty quiet; Elle had a soccer tournament so we kept the boys for part of the day.  My other daughters called and posted sweet notes on Facebook, and I talked with my mom.  Eventually these holidays start feeling a little forced and I run out of things to say or gifts to give, but I’m grateful for the three girls who made me a mother and the eight little darlings who make me a grandmother.  And I’m thankful for my mom who is still going strong at 86.  She’s the perfect example of someone who loves people, loves life, and loves learning new things. She’ll talk to anyone, and try (almost) anything once.    She’s interested in everything she reads about or hears about and the next thing you know, she’s signed up for a class or an activity so she can get in on it too. I get my “joiner” tendencies from her and I hope I will be as busy and involved when I am 80-something.   She’s open- minded, open-hearted, the keeper of family history, and full of funny stories. She’s a fabulous mom and the coolest grandmother ever to her many grandkids and great-grandkids.  My girls have all become wonderful mothers themselves and I love to see them with their kids.  It’s funny that sometimes I feel like I should still be their age–and where did this grandmotherly woman come from?  🙂

Ally has been playing softball and we had been wanting to watch but hadn’t been able to work it out till recently.  She had a great time last year and did a good job as her team’s catcher so she couldn’t wait for the season to start again. This year she moved up to the next age level and the competition is a LOT harder!  Oh, my goodness, those 10 year olds are already doing “fast-pitch” softball! I don’t think I could have hit one of those balls!  Great fun watching Ally and her friends!

Meanwhile, back in Dallas, it’s getting hot enough to swim, we’re continuing with baseball (Beck) and soccer (Elle), working in the garden, doing chores around the house, volunteering, and taking advantage of all the free things that the city of Dallas offers.  The other day Rich and I went to a Senior Safety Summit sponsored by the Police Department.  We only stayed for the morning session but who can beat free breakfast, free lunch, information from lots of agencies and programs, and some safety tips from the police?