Living lazy

Summer days, and the living is lazy. It seems I have done nothing but porch sit, sleep, eat, read, and do laundry. And I’m loving life (except for the laundry part).

Porch sitting is the best. Ronnie brews coffee and makes our toast, and we sit on the second floor porch of our 1875 Victorian home and watch the squirrels raid the bird feeder. After they get their fill, Cardinals and wrens take turns. We watch the cars and pickups taking people to work and kids to school, and talk about how it will be when I retire in December.

We are getting our RV ready for a trip to Alpine, TX, next month. We bought a car-caddy so we could take the Mini Cooper with us. We can ride to Marfa or travel over to Fort Stockton without taking our highway home with us.

We’ve been on short overnight trips in the RV, but this will be for an entire week, and we will be in the RV together instead of me following behind in my car. If we love it as much as we think we will, after I retire, we plan to trek around Texas to all 95 state parks. Although there is a man named Dale Blasingame who did it in a tad over 12 months (367 days), I think Ronnie and I will ramble at a slower pace.

I’m looking forward to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and Lost Maples State Park; they’ve been on my bucket list for at least a decade. And it will be nostalgic to vist Huntsville State Park and Garner State Park. I’m sure they’ve changed significantly since the 1960s.

There isn’t a porch attached to the RV, but there is a coffeepot and toaster inside and two camp chairs with our names on them. I’m gonna love being retired with this man.

Behind every story

Google makes me smile the way the company posts its logo with cultural themes. Today’s logo includes a pair of adult men’s dress shoes and a pair child’s red tennis shoes. Guess what today is?
The image reminds me of my daddy and the way I adored him. He was the best storyteller! I still remember two of them that starred me as the heroine.
In one of the stories, I dug my way to China with a spoon from the kitchen. In another, instead of having hazel eyes, I had a green eye and a red eye, which made me the town’s savior when the traffic lights went out and I was able to move traffic along with the wink of an eye–and then the other.
Silly stories to you perhaps, but when those tiny red tennis shoes fit my feet, I was stuck in the middle between two brothers, and it was rare to feel the warmth of the limelight. My daddy’s stories illustrated his faith in me. Through those stories, he let me know he believed that I would go places (China is still on my bucket list) and that I’d help my fellow travelers along the way.
My daddy was the creative one in the family. But his ideas would have flown off on butterfly wings, if not for my mother. She kept my daddy grounded, and she was his partner in building a successful career in educational media. They produced two award winning films. But more importantly, they produced three children who’ve been raised to jump at life’s chance to be everyday heroes.

Settling in a new hometown

Young people often can hardly wait to grow up and leave the small towns where they were raised. I was certainly one of those. My brothers and I yearned to get away from a community where everyone knew everyone else’s business. We raced to the city–for me it was Houston, for my brothers, it was Dallas–so we could kick up our heels in anonymity and then find a spouse–someone we hadn’t known since the first grade.

After living in Houston for 48 years, my sweetie and I moved to Navasota, population 7,049. Getting to know everyone is not as easy when you move into a community as an adult, especially if you don’t have kids in school. But we’re smart people, and we are finding our way.

Our first friend in town was Mitch White, proprietor of the Filling Station Restaurant and Cafe. Ronnie bartered his Fender guitar to Mitch in exchange for food service. We ate “free” for over a year. Mitch’s daughter was on the high school drill team, so we started attending games. Navasota’s Rattler Nation has won the state championship for the last two years.

After his daughter graduated from high school, Mitch closed his establishment and started a rock band. Occasionally we go to the Dizzy Llama to listen, but we’re not regulars… because… let’s be honest, we hardly resemble the hard party people we were in our youth. Smoke-filled bar rooms that smell of stale beer and tobacco have lost their appeal. But we like Mitch, and we enjoy his band, so we show up on occastion, listen to a set, and then scurry home in time for Saturday Night Live and Blue Bell ice cream.

Recently we joined the Two Rivers Historical Society, which is the smartest thing we’ve done so far. A couple of weeks ago Judge Eddie Harrison of Brenham gave a presentation on the Buffalo Soldiers. He is a direct descendent–his father was a Buffalo Solider–so we were privy to anechdotes not availabe in a textbook or on Wikipeida.

“Riders of the Orphan Train” is scheduled for Saturday, June 18, at St. Stanislaus Cathiolic Chruch parish hall in Anderson, TX, at 2 p.m. Not too many peple know much about the mass migrarion of 250,000 orphans and abandoned children who were taken out of New York City and given away at train stations across the west. About two dozen were taken in by farm families in Anderson and Plantersville in the early 1900s; many of their desendents still live around here. The stories of the orphans who came to Texas are compelling.

I hope you’ll drive out to Anderson–it’s smaller than Navasota but it is the county seat. Ronnie and I will be there. If you’ll come, you’ll enjoy a dramatic and powerful story– and we’ll introudce you to our neighbors.

After the floods, is a sweltering summer on its way?

Last weekend’s severe storms were devastating.

I watched in horror as the 24-hour news feed showed vehicles being submerged and swept away, of homes being swamped by rising water, of tornadoes tearing away roof tops and yes, of accounts of people being stranded and found drowned. In Brenham, a short 30 miles away, someone drowned in a motor home and a young father was swept away by the rising water from the Brazos River that capsized his pickup truck. Another family reported their house being knocked off its foundation by torrential flood waters.

According to news reports, the double-digit inch rains in Texas qualified as a 500-year flood event. Only trouble is, this is the second 500-year flood we’ve had in the last two months!

On May 22-23, during the last catastrophic flooding, I was in Houston. My place was dry and I had power, but the flooding marooned my son and me for 24 hours. People in apartments near one of the college’s centers were climbing on the rooftops to escape the rising water. When the storm was over, Houston and the region suffered $5 billion in damages.

Last weekend during the ravaging rains, I was in Navasota, and again, my house was dry and I had electricity, but there was a power outage around 10 p.m. at the state prison farm outside of town. A brawl broke out between 50 prisoners and correctional officers after inmates refused to return to their darkened cells when the emergency generator malfunctioned.  Three are recovering in the hospital.

Navasota reported 10 inches of rain and 60+mph wind gusts. Local officials set up Navasota Junior High as a shelter for folks, but livestock had to survive on their own since the animal shelter was full. Our three dogs found refuge in the house. A neighbor in the next block has goats… we still have not heard how they fared.

Ronnie was on his way home when his BMW flooded. Thank heaven, he didn’t get swept away from the creek that rose from its banks only five yards from where his car stalled. He walked home in water that rode as high as his knees. I’d say he walked home in the dark, but he counted at least a hundred lightening strikes across the sky during the ten block trek.

After the storm, a wrecker took the car to College Station where the dealership assessed damages. Unfortunately it’s a total loss. Still, it’s just a car. Ronnie is alive, and I am grateful.

More rain came through during this week, and I cancelled my weekly trip to Houston for fear I might get stuck there. If I’m going to be stranded, I want to be with my sweetie and my dogs.

Eventually all the rains of Spring will subside, and Summer will blaze like hell-on-heels. We may face destructive wildfires as we have during recent summer seasons. I hope not, but there is no way to predict… unless, of course, we believe the scientists who are warning of climate change caused by humanity’s misuse of the environment.

Can we stop raping our surroundings of its resources and reclaim the balance of nature? That’s a hard choice for Texas, a state that worships oil and gas production to the detriment of everything else. But I think we’ve been warned: Mother Nature is getting pissed.