Sunday, August 24, 2008

My kind of garden

I read quite a few blogs written by avid gardeners who grow vegetables to can or freeze and I am in awe of them. How lovely to be able to go outside and pick a fresh salad or berries from the bushes!! I am, unfortunately, not one of them.

Last summer I bought a 99 cent package of Mexican sunflower seeds. JMM scratched up an area in the flower bed, scattered the seeds, patted them down, and we both forgot about them. A month or so later we had 3 foot high sunflower plants with beautiful orange flowers with bright yellow centers. They bloom whether you water them or not. And best of all, the butterflies just love them. We have Monarchs, Gulf Fritallaries, and an unknown yellow & black butterflies on them all the time.

Speaking of the garden, the late summer hummingbirds are beginning to arrive. We have 4-6 of them; it's hard to count when they are zooming around so fast. All are Ruby Throated hummingbirds as far as I can tell. Amazing that something so tiny can travel so far in migration and be so beligerant when we take the feeders down to wash and refill them. They will actually dive at us and scold us when we come too near their feeders!!

"We are all in this world together - people , plants and animals - and we had better make the most of our opportunities. We are all here for some purpose: I believe that it is to live a good life, individually and collectively. That means for us humans to do as little harm as possible, to other humans, to animals and to the whole environment, and to do as much good as possible. To live simply, not elaborately; to consume the least possible, not the most possible. If you have any religion, let it be helpfulness, love and unity. We will then fulfill the purpose and take our part in the great plan. It is as simple as that."~Helen Nearing (1904-1995)

What I just cannot stand

Animal suffering or abuse. I can't even read about it. This morning's newspaper had an article about polar bears swimming farther and farther as the Artic ice melts. I couldn't read it. Friday night on the radio there was a segment about increased poaching of elephants for ivory because of increased demand from China. I couldn't listen to it. Humans seem determined to destroy the larger wild animals if not directly then by habitat destruction.

There seems to be little that I can do other than love and care for the creatures that come into my life here at OakMeadows--raccoons, frogs, hummingbirds, and of course, sweet cats. I can lessen the amount of meat that I eat and make sure it is not factory farmed. I can donate to the Humane Society and The Nature Conservancy. I can vote to elect people with strong environments ethics. If I didn't focus on what I can do, I would truly despair.

Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws ofsupply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy." - Wendell Berry

Monday, August 18, 2008


I have been watching the building of the new house next door with interest. It is fascinating to watch the sculpting of the fill dirt, the preparation and pouring of the foundation, and now the framing of the house. What is immediately apparent is that every last one of the workers is Hispanic. They are there shortly after sun-up and work until 5 or 6 pm. They are working in 95 degree heat with 90+% humidity. I don't know how they do it. Most of us would be in the ER with a heat stroke by noon. In all probability most of them are not here legally.

I remember the Texas Medical Center after Tropical Storm Allison ravaged us. Who cleaned up that horrible, stinking, toxic mess?? You got it--there were Hispanics lined up to be hired as day labor right on the corner of Fannin by the Neurosensory Building every morning at day break. And from what I read, Hispanics moved into New Orleans to work as day laborers in cleaning and re-building there after Hurricane Katrina. Recently, I read about the raid on the kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa where hundreds of Hispanics were working in the most disgusting conditions. (Needless to say, nothing happened to the owner of the plant but that is another post.)

OTOH, there are really bad people who come into this country illegally to profit from drugs and gangs who commit all kinds of horrible crimes. These people deserve the full force of our criminal prosecution. But I do think that the majority of the "illegal aliens" that conservative talk show hosts rant about just want a job and a place to live and some beer to drink on the weekend. I also think that we need to remember that unless we were brought here as African slaves, every last one of us have an ancestor who looked around where they were and said "This place sucks: I'm outta here." and left to come here. I know good and well that if I had been born in a dirt floor hut in Central America, I'd have come North or died trying.

Immigration is complicated and we need legislation so that we would know who is here. We also need the legislation that would protect those who choose to live and work here.

You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out he hates all the same people you do. Anne Lamott

Saturday, August 16, 2008


We are aggressively paying off our mortgage. We have been here at OakMeadows for 4 years and have paid extra principal payments all along. The house is the only debt that we have--the 2 vehicles are paid for and the credit card gets paid completely each month so we are able to focus on the mortgage. The plan is to be mortgage free by January, 2010. (But since when do plans go exactly the way you want them to...) We had 2 big expenses in August--We replaced our old dead television with a new 42" flat screen and we filled the propane tank for the year so we will have much less to pay extra with the September payment. I debated with myself about the television but since we have no reception and no cable out here, Netflix is our weekend entertainment and it is lovely to see movies on the larger screen. (I refuse to spend what it costs to go to theaters these days.)

I have always been a generally frugal person because I work too hard for my money to waste it and because I am just not a shopper. Shopping is an activity that has to be done occassionally--groceries weekly and clothing a couple of times a year, cars and appliances have to be replaced, etc. But shopping as a pastime just would never occur to me. My parents were of the Great Depression/World War II generation so I grew up with frugality is just normal. I never felt deprived--we had a good, paid for home, food, a paid for Chevy, and my mother was a super seamstress. There are people who are more frugal than I am; I can appreciate their activities but try to balance what I would save with how much time and energy it would cost me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


As much as I try to avoid and deny it, I have periodic bouts of depression. I am in one now. A big part of it is from dealing with CMT. CMT makes everything difficult. Imagine wearing a thick pair of stiff gloves all the time, every day; imagine not having muscle control from your knees down. It is exhausting just getting the daily chores done. But what I think is bringing on this round of depression is that I am realizing that it is never going to get better; I am always going to be tired and things are just going to get more difficult.

Because in my work every day I see so many people with diseases so much more debilitating--cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, ALS, I tend to trivialize my CMT and thank my lucky stars that I am dealing with CMT and not something much worse. But the fact is that I am struggling to keep living a relatively normal life with an abnormal body and it is not easy.

There are so many things I want to do that I simply do not have the energy to do. I am having to find the most efficient ways to do things to conserve what energy that I do have. On days that I work, I have a pretty good morning routine and I will just have to stick with it and not try to add other things in. On days that I don't work, I have to try to get all my shopping or cooking done before noon because I am finding that I pretty much collapse if I try to keep going.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tropical Storm on the way

It looks like Galveston will be getting Tropical Storm Eduard tonight or tomorrow. We certainly need the rain but since it will go in north and east of us, we may not get much. It is a minor storm now but may (or may not) intensify as it gets closer to the coast. Since we don't have television reception here at OakMeadow, we are spared the non-stop warnings and precautions. So much of what passes for news now is just sensationalization. I guess they have to say something to fill up all the hours of news time but I don't have to listen to it.

I've been through some doozies of hurricanes and have a very healthy respect for them. One of my earliest memories is being carried by a National Guardsman through the swirling water of Hurricane Audrey; then there was Hurricane Carla which put 3 feet of sea water into my parents house; then there was Hurricane Camille when I was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I deliberately chose not to live on the coast because of the possibility every year of being flooded by a hurricane. We are far enough inland that rising tides are not a concern; torrential rain, winds, and tornadoes are always possibilities. Life is not risk free; you limit your risk and go from there.

As I have said before, I am appalled that people have built houses right on the beach with nothing but a small sand dune between them and the Gulf. When a hurricane comes along, as it inevitably will, and destroys their house, all the reporters will be out sympathetically interviewing the people who have lost their homes. Well, duh, what do you expect when you build there???