A Flash from the Past

In my purging/organizing frenzy, I’ve run across a disc that holds most (if not all) of my blog posts from Xanga, when it was still a thing. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to import them here, so I’m going to go through and copy/paste entries that might entertain you. This one is especially poignant for reasons that don’t need to be explained — a simple reminder to keep praying for all those in the Caribbean, that they will recover and come back stronger than ever.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

The green-eyed monster has me by the tail . . .

Cane Bay

This is where my sister-in-law is right now.  And where I am not.  While the average Jill might be a little green with envy, a tiny bit jealous . . . I am CONSUMED.

This is St. Croix, U.S.V.I., and St. Croix is where I spent 15 of the most glorious months of my life when I was a teenager.  In fact, this picture that I copied for your viewing pleasure happens to be of Cane Bay, where I made my certification dive when I was 15.  Yours truly swam out to sea and dove a deliciously scary 80 feet down the Cane Bay Wall (which continues to drop a toe-curling 3,200 feet before hitting bottom — think phosphorous glowing fishies a’ la “Finding Nemo”).  I saw the most amazing creatures, collected the most beautiful shells, made the most wonderful memories.

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Colony Cove, formerly The Barrier Reef

While it has been 24 years since we returned to Texas, I am positive this is the condominium we lived in the first three months we were there.  The name has changed — it was called “The Barrier Reef” when we lived there, but the view is the same, the design of the condo is the same, I’m certain this is it.  In another photo on the website, I identified the condominiums next door as Mill Harbor, hence my confidence.  I learned to snorkel off this beach before advancing to my scuba adventures.  The reef we explored was full of sea life and named “The Barrier Reef” because it resembled (on a much smaller scale) the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.I remember wandering through the 300+ year old streets of Christiansted and shopping in store fronts that were built by Danish settlers in the 1600’s.  My best friend, Cindy, and I would roam the shops and then grab a sandwich at Reed’s Deli followed by a trip to Steele’s Smokes and Sweets.  Did you know that the aroma of flavored tobacco mingling with the sweet scent of chocolate is intoxicating?  We bypassed the smokes (although the antique lady’s pipe with a pink coral bowl and long ebony stem made smoking a pipe seem almost elegant), indulging in the chocolates that were to die for.

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The Cruzan Rum Distillery

I don’t know why, but many of my memories are tied to scent:

Each morning, our school bus drove past the Cruzan Rum distillery.  Even now, at the age of 40, when I smell rum, I think of Good Hope School and the school bus . . . weird, I know.

 

 

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The Good Hope School

It was an awesome school — a private school built on beachfront land donated by Laurance Rockefeller.  We had a rotating schedule, which was geared toward making sure that we were wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at least one day a week for each subject.  (So, if you had Math, English, and Science on Monday, you’d have English, Science, and Math on Tuesday, and Science, Math, and English on Wednesday, etc., etc., etc.)  I had one open period in my schedule and I often spent it in the art classroom pretending to be talented or sitting on a rock down on the beach until my next class started.

I met probably the most intelligent and interesting educator of my life while a student there.  Richard Collings was my European history prof and even now, I occasionally correspond with him.  An amazing man, he was born in England and travelled all over Europe and other parts of the world.  He was able to teach history with so much more depth and make it so much more interesting because he’d actually been all the places he was telling us about.  While he managed to keep us on track lesson plan-wise, he still allowed us time to discuss issues that were important, confusing, or interesting to us.  One topic that came up repeatedly was the hostage crisis in ’79 – ’80, when Americans were held prisoner for months on end in Iran.  We were 9th graders, and for the first time in our lives, we realized that sometimes things happen that our parents might not be able to protect us from, or even themselves.

In my mind’s eye, it seems almost like yesterday when we left.  Three days after my sixteenth birthday, we boarded a plane and came back to Texas.  It was really difficult for me, because I’d made some very close friends in the brief time I lived there.  I wrote some heart-wrenching poetry (thank you, teenage angst) and slowly but surely readjusted to life in the “real” world.

Someday, I hope to return.  I’d like to take my husband with me and share “my” island with him.  If I’m feeling particularly generous, I might take my daughter, too . . . but it would be an awesome “just the two of us” trip.  Jami might have to stay with her MoMo. 


A lot has changed since I wrote this — our girl is grown and finishing college. My mom passed away two years ago. As much as my mom was a homebody, I think she enjoyed our adventure as much or more than we did. She settled in to life on the island really well, learning to drive on the left side of the road quickly and was not hesitant to get out there and explore, even while my dad was at work — taking care of us, running errands, participating in the HOVIC women’s service league. She bought cookbooks to learn how to fix the crazy things Dad brought home from his snorkeling and diving adventures — I can still see her standing over the stove, frying conch fritters and letting my sister and I make “creatures of the deep” with the leftover batter. Sometimes I think she adapted to life there better than any of us. I know if she were here now, she would be praying for the islanders, too.


I have borrowed photos from a variety of sources discovered through Google Search for the purposes of this blog post. As best I can tell, they are not copyrighted.

Future Perfect

For the word nerds out there, there’s no explanation needed, but for the math geeks, future perfect tense refers to something that will have been completed at some point in the future.

I will have lived a lifetime when I take my last breath.

There’s really nothing profound about that statement, since a life can span any length of time at all, and every lifetime ends with a last breath. The question is, how will I fill up the time that comes before that last breath? How will I squeeze every bit of joy from the time God gives me on this earth, not wasting a bit of it, however long that is?

Recently I became aware of a new YouTube channel called The Journal Worthy Day. Created by Ben and Brittney Nelson, the channel is their effort to encourage us all to live “journal worthy” days. Along with their four adorable munchkins, they are striving to make sure each day is memorable — whether it’s something as adventurous as traveling to Rome, Italy, or playing in the backyard on a beautiful spring day. Their videos are enjoyable and inspiring, and I’m looking forward to the next one!

I’m not very video savvy, so you probably won’t see me starting a YouTube channel any time soon. However, I do enjoy words and photographs, and I’m wondering how many journals, scrapbooks, and blog posts I can create of “journal worthy” experiences? People often refer to “bucket lists” of things they want to do while on this earth. Often these things are crazy adventurous, like climbing Mount Everest, or free diving for pearls in the Sea of Japan. These things are certainly journal worthy, but a little adventurous for me. So here are some “journal worthy” things in no certain order that I would like to accomplish on my journey to the “future perfect” —

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First image from a series I captured of a lunar eclipse in 2014.
  • travel to West Texas to photograph the moon and stars at night
  • create a scrapbook, or maybe a blog, composed of photographs of the knick knacks I’ve collected over the years, along with the stories behind them — I’ll then pass the knick knacks along to someone else to enjoy
  • become more involved in a church fellowship, once we find our new church home
  • drive up Highway 288 to photograph the Eclectic Menagerie along the left side of the road just before reaching the 610 Loop
  • finish the lap quilt I started for my sister probably more than a decade ago
  • tackle a crazy two week long, 3,700 mile road trip with my husband this summer
  • try new things with my camera and share the results
  • go on a photowalk in downtown Houston
  • finish my novel, blogging about the experience as I go
  • see the major Frank Lloyd Wright homes:

I expect that’s a decent list to start with. And certainly journal worthy. 

What will you do that’s journal worthy?

Spinning Wheels & Film Reels

Do you ever have a day when your best intentions to accomplish great and mighty things are all for naught?

Sure you do.

Today was that day for me. I’ve been fighting allergies for a few days now, not sleeping well, and waiting for the Flonase I picked up to actually make a noticeable difference. I must have been tired last night because I did not wake up until 9:45 am. Thankfully, my daughter’s dog did not make a mess in her kennel before I let her outside! (We are responsible for the “grand-dog” while she is at college during the week.)

I planned on working on a project, but then I got a couple of business calls, one of whom was a potential client. I’d prepared four quotes for her (she is having a difficult time figuring out what she wants to order), but there were a couple of other possibilities she wanted pricing for. So I prepared three more quotes, and now I guess we will wait and see. By the time I got finished with that, it was pretty late in the afternoon, and the project I’d hoped to work on hadn’t been touched for all practical purposes. So I’m going to see if I can get a little done while I wait for laundry to finish.

Tomorrow is an exciting day — my sister and I are going to a film viewing at my niece’s college, about three hours away. My niece loves movies. She doesn’t just love to watch them, though. She analyzes them, studies them, critiques them. (If you like to watch a movie without thinking about it too hard, she is not the movie buddy for you.) Anyway, Tara wants to make movies, and so she is attending college to do so. When I first heard about this dream, I kind of poo-pooed it (to myself, of course), because I didn’t realize how truly passionate she was about this dream. I’m really glad my sister is her mom, rather than me (although a lot of people have said my niece and I look more like mom/daughter than they do). My sister never doubted her kid’s dream and so she has gone the distance to make sure Tara has a chance of fulfilling that dream. Like I said, Tara’s lucky to have such a great mom, and she has really appreciated the opportunity she’s been blessed with.

She’s worked so hard in her classes that her advisor recommended upper level classes her sophomore year. She takes extra care when working at the film house (an old house used for filming class assignments), always making sure she leaves things better than they were when she arrived. Because of her diligence, she’s been granted additional responsibility and favor. Probably the most exciting thing to happen thus far is this: she is attending the Cannes Film Festival this year! Her college is taking six students, all of whom had to apply to and be chosen by a committee in California. She wrote essays, had her advisors review them before submitting them to California, and then she had to go through a telephone interview. And she was the first chosen of the group from her college, and has received scholarships that will cover half of her travel expenses!

The students will be working during the two weeks they are in France, as baristas and such, serving the movie industry professionals in attendance (directors, actors, etc.), and if I remember correctly, attend workshops. Work ends at 5:00 pm, though, and then they are able to enjoy the festival. They will earn college credit for this experience, plus memories to last a lifetime. I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see her dream become reality. She is working so hard, I have no doubts she will succeed.

But I digress with the back story. Tomorrow’s excitement is the film school equivalent of a piano recital. The documentary class students will be presenting their 15 minute films for viewing and we are going to cheer for my niece. I can’t wait to see her work!

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Me and my movie making niece. — Christmas 2015

THE Apartment

With a bit of a delay, thanks to an unexpected battle with pneumonia and some additional drama, the College Girl (formerly known as the Teen Girl) is finally settled into THE apartment at the University of Houston.

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Talking to The Tall One and Supervising the Parental Minions from the comfort of her bed.

In the days leading up to August 19th (also known as Move-In Day), we started making lists of things needed to set up housekeeping away from home. Since the College Girl is living in a college apartment, rather than a dorm, she needed furniture. After seeing the one bedroom “model” apartment, it was clear that we would have to be mindful of furniture size because she is sharing a bedroom with another college girl. We had an extra twin bed to send with her, but she needed a desk, so we went to the place where all in need of cheap, DIY, flat-boxed furniture go: IKEA.

Thanks to their website, we’d already done some reconnaissance and knew which desk would allow for the most storage and the smallest footprint at a reasonable price. She tried out some chairs and selected a desk chair conducive to sitting “criss-cross applesauce” that was on sale, hallelujah! We also picked up bedding (high thread count, but on sale FTW!), a table top ironing board, canisters for coffee beans, and a few other things.

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It was so hard to keep her from picking up a French press, knowing her aunt had gotten her a very nice one as a going to college gift!

When we got to the checkout, we were all chattering until the cashier mumbled the total. I swiped my debit card and then glanced at the total again:

$1,600.00

WHAT? I was pretty sure that we had NOT purchased enough cheap, DIY, flat-boxed furniture to achieve that lofty total. The young man started going through the list and discovered the plain jane, wire paper towel holder my husband had dropped in the cart — the paper towel holder with a $1.99 tag — had scanned for over $1,000. Corrections were made, I scanned my card again, and we were on our way.

The week before Move-In Day, the College Girl had one of her dearest friends fly down from upstate New York for a visit. We had a wonderful time (I love this girl and want her to move to Texas — Powerpoint promotions are being designed to convince her husband that Texas is their destiny)! The visit ended much too soon, and the College Girl and I took my new daughter to the airport to fly home.

A few miles from the airport, my girl became increasingly quiet and by the time we reached Pearland, she was feeling very poorly.

I felt her forehead and she was burning up. Because I’ve always let fevers do their thing (kill the bad guys) unless they get too high, I didn’t give her any Tylenol or Advil. By the time we got home, she was running between 101 and 102 temp. It was shocking because she had been blowing and going with her friend for five days without any sign of impending illness. When her temp went up to 102.3, I gave her some Tylenol to control it through the night, and we headed to the Altus Emergency Center the next morning since it was Sunday. They checked for flu and strep which were negative, said it was viral and to use Tylenol and Advil to control the fever and make her comfortable. So we did.

For two days we followed their advice, but every time the medicine wore off her temperature would go back up. On Tuesday night it went up to 104.3, scaring us pretty badly. The Tall One advised a cool bath in addition to the Tylenol/Advil regimen, and so after conferring with my sister, The Nurse, who agreed, we convinced the College Girl to put on her swimsuit and take a “swim” in the tub. She hated us for making her get in that cool water because it was so uncomfortable, but it brought her temperature down until we could see the real doctor the next morning.

Thank goodness we went — after blood work and chest x-rays, we learned she had pneumonia in half her right lung. The doctor prescribed TWO antibiotics, and within twenty-four hours she was running a normal temperature again without any Tylenol or Advil. She was exhausted, though, and not in any shape to take care of last-minute shopping or move to THE Apartment.

What in the world did we do before smartphones? While she rested at home, I ran errands to find the last few things she needed. I probably took at least a dozen or more photos of things, sending them to her in text messages: “Do you want the purple or the blue toothbrush holder?” “Is this shower curtain okay?” “Do you need a butter dish?” Thankfully I managed to get everything she needed before my phone battery died!

Because she was still feeling pretty rough on Move-In Day (August 19th), College Dad, the Tall One, and I took her furniture up to THE Apartment. I am SO GLAD she was not with us, because I would hate for what we found to be her first impression of her first apartment. We walked into THE Apartment and almost gagged. The previous resident had apparently had cats… and based on the smell, no litter box. It was just terrible. Considering the residents of this two bedroom apartment are paying a combined total of almost $2,000 monthly, there was no way we were going to allow our daughter (or these other young women) live in that filth. After filling out the condition sheet with “filthy,” “filthy,” “filthy,” “broken,” “broken,” “filthy” — I marched down to the laundry building to turn the sheet in and get the College Girl’s gate key. But I did not just hand the sheet in and take the key. When I walked up to the table and the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed student helping out asked if she could assist me, I said “Yes. You can send someone to THE Apartment to see the cesspool you expect these young women to live in.” She looked a little startled and then directed me to the woman sitting next to her, who apparently had some authority.

The condensed story is: by the next morning THE Apartment had a fresh coat of paint and they were in the process of installing new carpet. Before they put the carpet padding down, I sprayed the concrete slab with an enzyme to break down the cat pee that had soaked through the old padding. And throughout the day we stayed on their case about other things that needed to be addressed. I still have a couple of things I’m nagging them about (like the non-GFI rated outlet under the kitchen sink next to the pipe that was leaking before the College Dad fixed it with some tools he brought). But for the most part, THE Apartment is livable and the College Girl and her roommates have settled in and seem pretty happy.

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She makes this cheap, DIY, flat-boxed furniture look GOOD.

So why do I call it THE Apartment, rather than “her” apartment? Because as exciting as this adventure is, as anxious and excited as she has been to move on to this new part of life, every time she refers to THE Apartment at the University of Houston, she refuses to call it “home” or even “my apartment.” I told her it was okay to call it “home,” but she disagreed. And I have to say that meant a lot to this College Mommy’s heart — it’s good to know that she is enjoying her weekdays at the university, but she looks forward to coming home on the weekends. We’ll still have Sunday lunches with the Tall One and the Texan Who Claims to be from Oklahoma, we’ll still have Brew-n-Bake coffee dates, and when time and studies permit, we’ll marathon our favorite shows like Alias, Doctor WhoFriends, and Warehouse 13 while we do cross stitch and embroidery.

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The Tall One, the College Girl, and the Texan/Oklahoman

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My College Girl

No matter how  many things in life change, she’ll always be our girl. ❤

Hanging In There

This is really just a token post to say I am still around, I am still high and dry, and I will be posting something more interesting (and better written) soon. A quick run down of what’s up:

  • I’m grateful that the cooler head of my husband prevailed — if my less collected self had her way a few days ago, I would have been sleeping on an air mattress at my mother’s house in less than optimal conditions. The house is in renovation mode (nothing fancy, just repairing and replacing things that should have been repaired or replaced twenty years ago to prepare it for sale), so it’s virtually empty and not super comfortable. Because my husband is not a panicky kind of guy, I’ve waited out the Brazos River Flood of 2016 in the much more pleasant setting of my home sweet home. Thank you, Boo!
  • For the last few days, my most precious things have been packed in the back of my car. Not things of material value, but things that can’t be replaced: my wedding album, my daughter’s baby album, the cross stitch stocking that I’m determined to finish before Christmas (I’ve only been working on it for twenty years…)
  • The rest of my precious things (aka “photos”) have been moved to high shelves in my house.
  • I am ready to go at a moment’s notice if we get the alert that water is crossing the highway and headed our way. All I have to do is grab the chihuahua and drive. My girl will grab the cats and my guy will grab his golden retriever and we are OUT OF HERE.
  • I am hopeful that it will not come to that, though.
  • But I am heartbroken for all the people I know and love who have been displaced by the insane amount of water that has flooded the lands surrounding the Brazos River. Here is a drone video of some of the surrounding area: Jones Creek Flood – Marco Echartea, Videographer  We are on the opposite side of the highway from what is shown in the video, and are in pretty good shape right now. The fact that it rained for about 30 minutes earlier this afternoon does not make any of us happy, though.
  • I am thankful that so many people in the community are pulling together and helping each other out. God is good.
  • And I’m off to take care of some things. I’ll be back in touch soon.

Adventuring – College Style

I was on pins and needles the first part of the day. My college girl, my beautiful girl whom I love more than anyone (except maybe her daddy) informed me a couple of days ago,

“I’m going to visit Tara on Tuesday. I’ll be back on Thursday.”

She’s twenty now, she certainly doesn’t have to ask permission. But my heart did a little pitter-patter at her announcement, because her cousin lives three hours away and she would have to drive through Houston to get there. My college girl had never driven in Houston before today.

Her daddy told her yesterday to run her car by Firestone to get it checked out before she hit the road. So she set her alarm early enough to be there when they opened at 7:00 am. Good thing she did, because she needed two new tires. Everything else checked out fine, she ran back to the house to gather up her things, and then it was time for her to leave.

I hugged her really tight, told her to be careful, to get all her stuff situated before she hit the road — no playing with the radio or iPhone while the car is in motion.

She laughed and promised she would be careful. I hugged her again and when she started to pull away, I said, “I’m not done yet.” God has granted that college girl an abundance of patience with this mommy, because she hugged me back and then I was done. Out the door she went.

I sat down at the table, staring at my computer screen, trying to organize my thoughts and all I could think of was my BABY on the Houston freeways.

“Forgot my sleeping bag,” she laughed, dashing through the kitchen to the closet where such things are kept. Hooray! A chance for another hug, but then I realized how ridiculous I am. I kept myself firmly planted in the chair, despite the irresistible urge to hug her again.

And then she was gone.

An hour and a half later, the phone rang and it was my girl letting me know she’d made it to the gas/convenience store on the other side of Houston. We’d agreed it was a good midway point to stop, top off the tank, grab a snack. She sounded so bubbly, so excited to be navigating her solo road trip with success.

“Gotta’ get gasoline, Mommy. Then get back on the road.”

“Okay, Jami-girl. Call me when you get there.”

“I will.”

About the time I should have gotten a phone call, I got a Snapchat instead. A photo of my college girl and her college cousin, with huge grins on their faces, so I knew she made it just fine.

I just checked Snapchat again. Those crazy kids! To quote my college girl,

“In a sudden turn of events, we found ourselves in Louisiana!”


1985 — It’s a hot summer day in Huntsville. The a/c in our dorm on the third floor of White Hall is not working and we’re glistening — which is a pretty way of saying we’re sweaty. I look at Karen and she looks at me, and we both say, “We’ve got to get out of here!

Racing down to her car, we hop in and take off in no particular direction. We just drive. Somehow we end up on Highway 19 and at one point see a sign for Crockett, Texas. Neither of us has been there, so why not? We cross the Trinity River, not far from where it pours into Lake Livingston, and then continues southward toward the east Texas town where I was born. I’ve always been intrigued by proximity of things — it amuses me that I’m driving across a bridge across water that will flow within miles of the place where I was born twenty-one years before. In Trinity, I buy an IBC Root Beer, more for the old-timey looking bottle than for a irresistible desire for root beer. It tastes pretty good!

I don’t remember much more about that day, other than driving around Crockett, checking out the sights. But I do remember wind in our hair and loud, energizing music pouring from the car speakers. I remember feeling free and without obligation, even if just for the day. 


I totally get how my college girl ended up in Louisiana this evening.

Why not?