in which Queenie makes a stand, or ponders whether or not to trade her stand for a new dream.


A Season of Loss and Abundance – Couldn’t be more Yin Yang if it tried.

The initial part of this posting started weeks ago. Then I got submerged in art shows and work on the house, and then got sidetracked with one thing and three others. It doesn’t do much good to put my heart out and then let what I want (and need) to say get lost in the flotsam of Life as it Happens. So I’m backing up and putting out there anyway, and then I’ll catch up again. Since I’m Queenie, I can dang well do what I want to, right?


I am trying to get a handle on the vastness between the extremes of experience going on these days. Not just in my little world, but in the world at the large it is. EXTREME seems to be the word of the day, and we are in the throes of the Great Dichotomy. I’ve pondered before on the concept of dichotomy, and the gravitas of the living in the middle of it, all of us, is something that can be distracting, if not downright depressing and paralysing, if you have the inclination for such things. I used to live at the corner of Stunned and Paralyzed, and I don’t recommend the neighborhood. At least Stunned and its sister streets – Hopeless, Depressed, Royally POed and their kin – are through streets….you can get out of there. But Paralyzed is a dead end, and they don’t even pick up your trash.

I drove into town a while back to have a delayed birthday lunch/celebration with two of my dearest friends, and it was all I could do to keep from crying on the way there. On the one hand I am awash in the copious, dumbstriking gifts of love and support I have been receiving – some monetary help from “friends” I have never met and likely never will – along with more from heart-close souls and then more from fringe folks I know only from Facebook or musical connections. Wow. And then to be gifted with time shared with such priceless sister friends who mean so much. And to be driving in a dependable car that runs, with air conditioning in the saturated air, and good music on the radio, and life being really OK despite some lumps and bumps. Oh so good.

But then there lingers the leavening of sadness and compassion for those who just so recently lost so many things – friends, mothers, fathers, children, houses, sacred stuff – whether it was from a flood out of nowhere or yet another off the loop whacko with a gun – and the continued assault on our Mother Earth without which, may I just say, we will be dust on the moon once we blow away into the Universe – well it’s a lot on a tender mind.

The microcosm of the Great Out There exists at the Slippery Slope, or maybe even in a row house on the wrong side of town. Our local wrong side of town is being bought up and gentrified, and parts of that world are just disappearing into etherpiles of Progress. Just like the Back 40. It’s the old pebble in the pond syndrome – the ripples go a long way, and for some they are tsunamis. Sometimes nothing remains but the bones of what was, and sometimes not even that.

We have our lake back. I did not believe it would happen. No way. No how. But back it is, and at a decent level – not just a little bit of it, but plenty. There’s been lots of Plenty, to the point where there’s been too much. We gratefully take the water, but the water came at a price. The other side of the hills got washed away in the famous flash floods of these parts, and they gave no quarter. Seems we need to mourn every time we let ourselves enjoy the waters. Survivors’ Guilt maybe.

We are living in a rain forest. Even as of this writing, more rain, though just passing fancies. Everything’s blooming, even new volunteers of orange and gold lantana on the other side of the back fence, the color I’ve ALWAYS wanted over here instead of the profusion of pink and pale yellow. I aim to procure some of it, or at least the seeds. More bold color I say. I never was a pastel kind of girl, except for some shades of pink, and I have absolutely no explanation for that.

So we regale in the wetness and the saturation of green everywhere, but the imbalance of it all comes with that price again. We mourn our peafowl. It started early this year with Magic. I still want to believe old age and the hard winter got him. He had a good run. But weeks ago the rest started disappearing. Occasionally a pile of feathers, but the last ones seemed more like alien abductions. Here one day, not appearing ever again after that. Henny Penny, the grand dame of hens, was injured after the hailstorm, and we are assured it was not a storm related injury. One eye was swollen shut and her mouth was not right. She lost weight, but survived we don’t know how. Eventually her eye opened, but it was pretty obvious she was blind, but the bill/neck injury was much improved. She started eating well again, and began roosting in the South Acre, in a tree that I knew was way too exposed. A week or so ago I checked her roost on Thursday night….on Friday morning she was gone. Only a few soft feathers beneath the tree.

I feel I know what it is – Great Horned Owls. I read up on it. One peacock person had lost fifteen of his birds to a nest of GHO in one spring season. They stealth-fly in, grab them by the neck close to the head, and strangle them. Explains everything. The lady who lived down by the highway who had peafowl when we moved here told us one of her hens had been snatched up by a big owl, so there you have it. All are gone now but T-Bird, our last adult male. He hollered out when I was hammering something earlier today, (they don’t like loud or unexpected noises), but it wasn’t his usual screech of objection, but a mournful squawk. Damn near heartbreaking. He’s lonesome. And so it is. And nothing to be done about it.

On another hand, the house is coming along, but snails are faster.


It is now NOW. The rainforest is gone, replaced by 108 degree temperatures and the luscious grasses have turned into crunchy memories of themselves. If I thought the Season of Too Much and Not Enough would dwindle away into some new normal, I was mistaken. The harshness continues. I attempt to catch up if only to remain confidants with Truth and Intent, and keep my writing chops oiled, or whatever it is you do with chops.

I have spent much time in the rehabbing of the house. It has gone on for over three months now, dealing with the roofing folks who employ the workers who occasionally show up. The main guy started out good enough, tackling the tough job of replacing the battered and spent wood on the dormers three stories up. But the madness of having one guy going back and forth up and down the stairs all day long in the heat, (what should have been at the very least a two man job), was as frustrating for him as us. But he was the one who refused to seek helpers, seeing as he was so picky and no one could do it as well as he. Too bad he didn’t feel as committed to keeping his teeth, and his mouth looked as pitiful as our falling down gate, and there was a cigarette hanging out of it 90% of the time. As he came to know us better he spent more of his time regaling us, (mostly me, since I was out working, too), with stories of his youth, and then his view of politics which of course is the polar opposite of mine. My fantasy of perhaps finding the elusive “Honey Do” man to carry on with projects I just can’t manage evaporated with the rain. He cut the cable line because it was in his way, and later the wires to the garage lights because he deemed them unsafe, and the darkness in there still pervades. The electrician recommended to us stood us up twice since there’s so much work in the area that nobody needs poor little us to put money in their hands. Life in a Boom Town. Whee.

The light went out of Worker Guy’s eyes when the rattlesnakes started showing up. He says he killed one under the Loafing Shed the first day he was here, and didn’t tell me because I am so pro animal life, tender and all. Then when he FINALLY started cleaning off the trash pile that had marred our front yard for almost two months….well, there was a big boy, or girl, staring at him from under the first layer or two. Snakes have followed the influx of rats and mice who have fled their own Armageddon in the wake of Progress in the Back 40. Worker Guy is a real Man’s Man, no saving such a savage beast when you can kill it, so decapitation was in order. Not so much fun anymore out here.

After that I think it became his purpose to torture me. When he ran out of blue painters tape to mask off the trim on the new doors, (hereby known as the Doors From Hell), he proceeded to use masking tape. Yep, you heard right, masking tape….which BAKED ON in the intense afternoon sun after he refused to continue painting the doors and it became MY job….suffice it to say I have cursed him since. Took me days to get that tape off. I am STILL trying to remove the paint on the small trim pieces which did NOT bond even after a primer coat. That’s another long story which comes out in a whine, and I fear I shall lose my audience. I have since gotten the proper paint, all the way from California, since no one in Austin had it. And thanks for getting us the cheapest door available and then not telling me it could not be painted with regular paint and primer.

There’s the story of how I almost killed the QM’s cat, who had for some reason decided to climb into the engine of the van. (My fault because of all the chaos in the garage where she lived.) Short version: she lived; she’s blind in one eye; she’s learning to be an indoor cat.

In the midst of this I had an art show scheduled in New Mexico. Tragedy has jumped in with both feet out there. My good and special friend was in a horse wreck the week before I was due to come. The details are sketchy, there is blame enough to go around, but nothing to be nailed down, and the end result is a coma which is now four weeks in duration, and no good end in sight. I fear I’ve lost her, even if she lives. It’s that bad.

The sorry trip was punctuated with car trouble, and some local yokel in the high plains who had nothing better to do than run us off the road on a two laner when he pulled out in front of us without the slightest look. The ditch was forgiving; I somehow did what defensive driving was required, and we lived. The art show was lousy, and I lost money – first time ever out there.

When I got home, our long time good friend and mechanic died. It shouldn’t have happened. It did. I still have to take the van in to be repaired, but I’m having a hard time doing it. That’s the way it’s been going.

I’ve not been crying, being the Strong Wonder Woman I preach about being, but at times it gets the better of me. I made a call to the ramrod of the roofing company, trying to get this wreck of a project back on track, and found myself dissolved in tears on the phone. Poor guy. But contrary to what Tom Hanks will tell you about baseball, there IS crying in home repair. In short order the guys who never managed to show up to finish the roof appeared in a couple days time, and then guy himself manifested on Saturday to lay the tile in the garage/becoming studio space to cover up the pitiful job they did where they added the front wall. Still he managed to mix up the order of the tile I had so painstakingly laid out for him – a no brainer – just to prove to me I have no control in the workings of the universe.

I called off my last show of summer, and though I threw away several hundred dollars, I found out that I still made the right call since the report of the show was worse than anything I could’ve imagined. And it was 108 degrees out there. Instead I spent the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning dealing with yet another rattlesnake which decided to occupy our front porch right outside the door where I was just about to place my foot. It was a fraction of a moment thing, a swish noise barely detectable and a mere flash of black and white tail. I knew what it was, but the Queen Mum would never have seen it. Of course I could find no one to even return a call before 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, so a 911 call was made and a deputy showed up promptly to dispatch the poor snake, who was just trying to make a living.

That is just about it. I still dissolve into tears if I let myself think about what’s happening, or not happening. I am steering away from a political rant that would reflect my feelings on the absurdity of the situation we as citizens find ourselves in these days….that’s for the other blog and I need to keep my blood pressure down.

I am supposed to be peppering these words with entertaining pictures of progress and positive change. Seems I just needed to vent to get caught up. I vow to get back on the wagon and try to make you (and myself) laugh through the tears. I don’t know why we take life so seriously – but – what else to do? There are/were my dear friends who have lost their ability to laugh and love, and we grieve that loss. Are they laughing at our folly from somewhere that it doesn’t matter anymore? Is there bliss where they are? I hope so, and I hope we all get there. And laugh. I am so weary of the tears that keep sneaking up on me. Even if they got the roof finished.

This piece is akin to a term paper that I’m turning in late and just hoping for a passing grade. Had to be done. I aspire to return to my ponderings and witty self, and hope that the temperatures cool the hella hell down. Stay tuned. Pictures shall return. So shall grace and humor. But damn. Enough already.


Win Some, Lose Some, Lose Some More

Once upon a time I was castigated, off and on, for naming this place the Slippery Slope Ranch. There were such happy dreams attached at the time, and I was oblivious to any negative aspects of such a moniker. It was, after all, to be a business adventure included amidst the personal aspects of it all. I found humor in it, making the best and a laugh out of whatever antics would be occurring, because in the end you just have to laugh. Maybe after the end you’re reaching for a smile.

Even the prospects of advertising were halfway accomplished, for the newsfolk got ever more fond of the term slippery slope, and it seemed everyone and everything and especially the country and politicians were on one. Every time it was mentioned, I felt like we got a free plug. “Oh hey – wasn’t that the name of the ranch or something of those neat artist people?” Yeah, that.

Things changed, as they are wont to do, and while I named my active singular business after something that had been a part of me for so very many years, (3 Hearts), I have stubbornly clung to the Slippery Slope Ranch….in perhaps far too many ways. It is aptly named, perfectly named. Maybe as someone once said, it is what it is because it can’t get past and over its own name and such a negative connotation. Maybe so. How long do I try to attain, regain, footing on an impossible surface? And yet, I used to have a little framed piece over my desk area that said “Insist on the Impossible.” I’m beginning to think that’s a trick affirmation. It seems to work out in chick movies, but I’m not so sure it has anything to do with real life….whatever that is. The first line of said art even more boldly states: Be a realist. Ha. I am opposed to mixed messages, and have already taken multiple remedial courses in receiving and likely giving them. I suppose it wants to mean that we starstruck creatures are to be inspired to buck the current of our present universe and set off boldly for another of our different creation. Perhaps this is the point at which we find ourselves starstuck in the undertow of a very uncooperative universe, and who’s laughing now.

So here I am, plugged smack in the middle of the Slippery Slope Ranch, where we insist on the impossible. (Or give little credence to reality.) How close we get to the impossible is a weighty concern lately, as things have gotten very slippery indeed. I don’t want to consider that I am stuck instead of struck by whirlwinds of various consequence, even if it takes one helluva load of perseverance, (Stubbornness? Not necessarily a good trait), hard work, and a chipper attitude and that stiff upper lip thing. Perhaps this is a job for some stoic Englishman with a cute accent. Perhaps I should look for one to hire…. who’ll work more than reasonably or trade for art. My days of providing (and enjoying) benefits for the various fellows who came here and joined in the fixing and then went for different versions of the same reason are long gone. I still think myself quite capable of being entertaining, but these are the days of cash for service, not perks and a cheese sandwich and a dream thrown in. But I’m noticing I’m not laughing as much as I used to. Or singing. Why am I not singing?

I am in a large tub of Overwhelm, and maybe it does feel slippery, like lard. Lard is an ugly word with horrible associations. Lard ass is one of them, and that should suffice. These days feel like one step forward, with the obligatory two steps back, or perhaps a slide back into the lard bucket. Leaves are coming back – lots of things are coming back, and I’ll have pictures for that – but for the rest the price is high.

We’ve suddenly gone from seven peafowl to merely two…that’s not counting Magic, a casualty of age and a cold winter, or at least that’s the story we can live with. The storm brought hardship and death. One of the Sister Hens went missing, and I found her pile of feathers. Then Henny Penny showed up injured and blind in one eye which was hugely swollen. We still don’t know if it was an attack on her nest or the hail knocked her hard, but she’s compromised. What adds to the misery and the mystery is that the rest have disappeared in short order. I found another small mess of feathers, likely one of the Sibling Sisters, but also gone are Junior, the other Sister Sib, and the other Sister Hen. No more bodies or feathers – just gone. Left to holler to practically no one is TBird, and Henny Penny, and I’m not sure she’s going to make it. Something’s wrong in her throat, she’s half blind, and tonight she roosted in a vulnerable place in the south acre, totally exposed to the weather and whatever predators might be out there. (We are suspecting Great Horned owls might explain the others, but who knows.) I’m half expecting to find a pile of feathers under the tree in the morning.

And down the road, the eartheaters are having an orgy. They’ve set to an entire hill close to the road, and as they’ve done in further away places in the Back 40, they are scraping off every living thing and taking the rest of our hearts with them. There was one natural pool down there, invisible from the road before they cut down the trees and brush by the fences, and it was the last watering hole for the critters. Tonight it lies stripped bare and naked, exposed, and soon to die if not already. These developers are indifferent and soulless, and their tin god is money.

That is more of the overriding current of what I’m hearing on too much news these days. Again, oil spills and dead sealife. And it’s not even again, it is STILL. There’s another fire on another rig in the Gulf, but not getting much press. And BP was just granted permission to drill even deeper into the same Gulf of Mexico that they effectively killed in 2010. Gee, they JUST determined that all the dead dolphins that have been washing up have diseases related to exposure to toxic petroleum which is destroying their bodies. Well Shazzam. Oh and don’t forget that suddenly Shell has been granted drilling in the Arctic. And don’t let me forget that Texas, (my Texas, bullshit), has just passed a law where even city sovereignty and elections by the people banning fracking in THEIR cities and properties is just null and void, move along now, your vote means nothing. Nothing. And this from the side of the “government” that promotes freedom, smallerness, and liberty and wave your flag and thump your bible, and welcome to eminent domain, appearing soon in a acre owned by you. How’s that working for y’all now? If it hasn’t yet, it will. (Probably while you’re distracted defending your guns, and I haven’t seen anyone coming for them yet, unless maybe you’ve been involved in a shootout, and well, this isn’t supposed to be a Queenie Rant, so I’ll shut up now.) And as if by magic, news just appears that Open Carry has passed, and is on the way to our good governor. I guess the lord will help us now, just like always. Now I’ll shut up.

So despite the fact that the leaves are returning and we’re getting a new roof and repairs and I’m taking some directions toward forward “progress” for this place, (you know how I feel about Progress… it’s a word I have to use carefully or snidely), it seems when I get a head of steam up for upliftment and feelbetterness, WHAM…..stuff. And down the slippery slope I go. I suppose I should be grateful there’s not going to be a Walmart behind me, or a car dealership, but I’m not sure what’s coming our way anymore. And I hate the forced panacea of “not so bad” when you have to think of something worse that it could be so you’ll feel better about what is. Balls.

I give up. This is a rant. And a whine. I haven’t quite cried, but after all, a friend’s mother and brother just survived a tornado that tossed them around and into the hospital still alive if busted up, but left their place in matchsticks. How can I complain? But obviously I’m doing something other than being thankful for how much worse it could’ve been. And yet, I AM grateful for all that I have, believe me.

Since I am on the dead grass side of the fence, I shall post only one picture, which seems to define the Yin and Yang, the good and bad and ugly all at once. I’ll leave the Coming Back images for the next visit. Here then, the way the week started….another downed tree on the South Acre. We had some high winds in the night about a week ago. When I went out for a saunter in the morning, suddenly I saw it. Down. The biggest of the red oaks in their circle, already two fallen, and now the big guy…just coming back from the storm. Another job for the chainsaw I haven’t gotten yet.

Red Oak Down

But here’s the rub. Days later, the little new leaves are still there. They, and the rest of the tree, are not dying….yet. I checked and there is some amount of the tree still connected to the roots where it broke. Enough, evidently, to manage to sustain it in the damp and cool weather we are having. What hot and dry will do to it when it comes I don’t know, but for now, it lives. I’m not sure what to do about it. It’s in the way – it’s covered some chairs and things, and even moving them won’t be easy. (Not much is easy with my repair jobs, and the lard tub is always close.) I have other rats to attend to at the moment, so it can just live horizontal as long as it can.

And I do have rats! The armageddon in the Back 40 has driven them to all our properties around here. We have mice and rats where we never did. I’m catching glimpses of them darting back under the burn pile(s), so it’s going to be an interesting burn when I get around to that – much poking before picking up – which should be SOON since it’s damp and cool and raining and perfect for it. Ye gods, what to do first, and second, and third…..and the list is so long, and I’m not nearly as nubile (or mobile) as I used to be…..40 years ago. Or strong. I can only hope I’m smarter.

Scarlett had Tara. I’ve got the Slope. I guess I’ll go do something constructive and then think about it all in the morning. Or maybe I’ll just go to bed and ruminate horizontally, like that tree. What now? What later? What…….what……what. Why. When. How.

Peace, Y’all.


Hanging On, Letting Go, and Coming Back

A piece of sound and sage advice that I’ve come across on more than one occasion, and then lived, is that Hanging On is much more damaging to the self and psyche than Letting Go. Usually this is referenced to affairs of the heart, but it also translates to many of life’s experiences. After the storm of hail, I find myself letting go of more and more. Some of it is just beat to holy hell so there’s not much left to hang on to anyway, but some things are needing time, patience, and healing. Then again, that also translates to those matters of the heart. So many exercises in surviving this thing called Life, or even in the end when you find you must face the final Letting Go, are boiled down to a similar thread.

Before the storm came, I was amazed to see a large flock of pelicans fly directly over the house. They regularly congregate up at Lake Buchanan, an hour or so away, and of course they are regular characters down at the coast. We’ve been here twenty-five years, and never have pelicans swirled over my house before, so many of them, so beautiful. There was no time to run for cameras or even alert my mother – they would’ve been gone by the time I returned – but being captivated by their Right Here, Right Now presence put me entirely in the moment. I was able to be entirely transfixed and wonderated, and I mean it, my jaw dropped open and I couldn’t quite close it. Such a AHHHHH moment, and your mouth must be open to inhale and exhale Ahhhhhhh and AWE. It was for moments like this that someone invented the word breathtaking. Also WOW.

So was that a sign? In Native American and Spiritual Mythology, it doesn’t get much more of a SIGN than that. I looked it up, (being more than a bit rusty in matters of Spirit and Meaning), and what I found was not surprising. Here’s one: The elegant pelican soars into our awareness with heavy messages of sacrifice, resurrection and nourishment. Other themes mentioned were Forgiveness, Cooperation, Release and Adaptability. Well, Shazzam. I believe the Hail Storm was the real life two by four applied to my forehead. Of course it was applied in some way to several thousand people and homes around here, so obviously there are a lot of us needing some lessons, always delivered with the opportunity for acceptance and growth. Oh joy. More opportunity. More character building, as if I needed more. Why thank you very much.

I have found gratitude in many things. We are still not out from under the debt from the excitement of the heater catching fire last year, and having to replace it from funds we didn’t have. (Credit cards are often our saviors, not necessary our best option, but sometimes the only one.) In that light, with yet another big deductible looming, friends organized one of those “crowd funding” sites. I uncomfortably accepted their help and the contributions of people who run the gamut of close friends to some I do not even know. In Facebook terminology they would be Friends of Friends. We are far from being as damaged as most of the planet, especially Nepal, (at this moment, and it will be another tragedy tomorrow and next week), and some of us will step up to help, however we can, and others of us will stumble on, trying to meet our own needs which may not be even close to being met. We all do what we can. Let me just say right here: THANK YOU. There will come some moments when I will reach out with as personal a reply as I can manage, but in the midst of weed pulling, insurance adjusting, a stray art show thrown in, repairs and various what nots of all descriptions, let me begin with this acknowledgement. It will ALL help us bring this place back. Better. After that, we’ll see what happens, but to this Now I am committed.

The other realms of Gratitude lie in what’s happening around here. It is all the perfect example of the title of this piece. Some things are Holding On for dear life, some are Letting Go, and dying, but the greater movement seems to be in Coming Back. This is what I want to record and experience. Without further adieu…..


We have a few red yuccas. They’ve never managed to amount to much, and while their cousins living elsewhere put up copious blooms, we generally see only one or two stalks with a bloom. We had a couple, and they were broken and smashed. But look – below where the upper stalk was damaged and broken off, the lower regions went and produced an oddball little bloom – there are two of them on separate stalks, both broken – and bloom they will! I am again amazed by the tenacity of life.

Red Yucca Bloom


The Paddle Cactus are a near loss. A plant person told us today they will get worse before they get better, and there just may not be any getting better. Clearing out cactus, oh my. I love them, but they are vicious beasts. Hail is not friend to Cactus.

Broken Cactus Pads


Yet, there is life and promise, and good timing. And some creatures are reveling in it. Behold the Yellow Rose of  Texas.

Yellow Cactus Bloom with company


There’s a big cholla across the street that’s blooming its little heart out. It was on a protected east side, under big trees, and it survived unscathed, like our crape myrtle. It’s a mass of fuschia blooms. No blooms for ours, but next to the battered and dead or dying limbs, there is new growth. Blooms might still happen, but I’ll take some new life for this moment, and be satisfied and grateful.

Cholla broken and new


Around the house the Lantana had been getting out of hand. It came up as a volunteer, and going into the Lantana brigade was becoming quite the thing to do. Seems the troops took a bit of a hit though, and I’m taking the opportunity, (that word again), to thin the ranks and clear some walkways. More of that Letting Go thing, and both of us are suffering a bit from the exercise. Only one brave little hero has emerged, and I don’t know if there will be much company. But here’s the scout, or the lone survivor of the battle. Looks danged healthy to me, although much of it doesn’t.



All over the property we had wildflowers galore – such a wonderful spring, color everywhere. Small white daisies, milkweed, (now that loss hurts, both me and the butterflies), and the blue eyed grass was just getting started. They are a perky little flower, tethered to a narrow stem and thin fronds at the base. There are just a few survivors. Could they be any more sweet?

Blue Eyed Grass


When we first moved here we had a solid field of Mexican Hats, which we have called Coneheads for some ridiculous reason. Now there are not so many of them, but still they make a small show. They were lucky in the draw, and were not yet up for destruction, and also under the protective cover of cedar trees when the storm hit. They are nothing but fun, and they make me think of the colors of Mexico, and my mind wanders to Boquillas. My mind wanders at will. And a few others.

Mexican Hat


But you know it’s the trees that have been the main focus of my grief. We still have not recovered physically or mentally from the wholesale loss of the big trees on the north side last year from the straight-line winds, mostly red oaks. We sit under or near a canopy of Live Oaks which are truly some of the treasures of Texas. Like so many other things these days, they are under great duress from oak wilt, drought, tree diseases the names of which I don’t even know… a long enough list. You’re not supposed to prune the oaks between February and June since the amputated limbs leave wounds that put the trees in peril from bugs of many sort, both crawling and flying and then the mysterious things that just get them. In the words of our best servants, (cough), I am not a scientist. Whatever the scary villain, this is their most vulnerable time. Well Mom Nature gave them a helluva haircut, open season or not. It looks much the dead of winter around here, except deader than usual because the Live Oaks have leaves all year long. This is not a black and white image. This is looking up into a cloudy sky, into what should be a mass of GREEN, not much sky showing. What leaves seen are more dead than alive, and brown. We have a ways to go here.

Color...a ways to go


But here is Joy. They are alive and fighting to Come Back. Amidst the dead is new growth, and oh how wonderful. The leaves are starting low and headed upwards in the trees. It will be a while yet before the topmost, most delicate and damaged farthest points from the roots get themselves together to come back. For now they must hang on. And Nature, after the painful trim, is now being most kind. From the death grip of the drought which has parched and punished us for years now, we have, after this storm, more than a week of cloudy, humid, rain from the sky, low temperature, tree nurturing weather that is the best we could have ordered special. Thank you.

New and old live oak leaves


For some of the Red Oaks, or Spanish Oaks, this reemergence is a showy affair. They are surely claiming their red. They fared better than the Live Oaks because their leaves are softer and gave more, but they are still well whacked overall, especially those standing alone. I haven’t yet been to visit my favorite red oak in the Back 40. I’ve been trying to wean myself of attachment since THEY are coming, and its fate is unknown. Now I’m hearing Stephen Stills and CSN telling me to “Love the One You’re With,” and of course I should. When I feed my trees the nitrogen I hear they need, I’ll think I’ll take a bit over the back fence, and visit my tree.

New and old red oak leaves


To see the extent of the damage on the tender limbs, imagine the flesh being knocked off your body. Ow. And from this, they, and we….heal, and carry on.

New leaves on broken limb LO


We have one loner mesquite tree on the place, close to the fence in the south side of the north acre. I rather like it. It’s a light and dreamy little tree, delicate and deadly at the same time. It can look downright tropical if we happen to get a decent amount of rain and there are more grasses at its base. It got likewise attacked, but is showing promise. Ants are checking it out, too, because maybe the new spurts are tender and juicy. Like I said, not a scientist. I like the bravery, (or “Help I’m stuck at the top”) of this, but whichever, this little guy is checking it all out.

Mesquite with ant


Change is most often messy. If not your physical surroundings, then sometimes your head suffers from discombobulation when Change rears its head, or you decide to invite him in for tea. Change here, in one arena, involves a lot of sweat, bending over, weeds and rash from same, junk and trash, and will eventually require moving large rocks. The chainsaw element is under serious consideration, though I’ve already been told, “You’ll cut your arm off!” Shades of Christmas Story and suddenly I am Ralphie.

Change begets Trash


A little garden art, if you will. Just rocks, (illegally scavenged from Utah), telephone pole circles, and green here and there. Interesting textures and shapes. I live for that stuff, you know.

Garden Rocks


And more Art from Nature. I have lots of wood sitting around this place. Sometimes it’s just absolutely beautiful. What do you see? Pop Rorschach test in wood. I might just have to print this.

Wood Art



The peafowl have mostly survived. I could devote an entire piece to bird behavior. Magic is gone. We lost one of the Sister Hens to an unknown end, (perhaps the storm), and singular sister has wandered around displaced and at odds with her Now. Sometimes she is alone, sometimes with the Three Sibs. Henny Penny, the senior hen, has been absent here for weeks, and is likely sitting on eggs across the street in the lowlands. At last sighting by our neighbor, (who oversaw the first successful hatching last year), she is beat up and bedraggled. Motherhood’s a bitch, especially in a hail storm. T-Bird, now the only adult male, continues his reign as King Turd from Shit Mountain, and in fact his name reflects exactly that. T-Bird stands for Turd Bird. Since it is still mating season he chases what is likely his own son, (still barely a teenager), mercilessly around in his best Big and Bad fashion to dissuade any notions of competition, and my mother has turned the hose on him to get his mind adjusted. He is still displaying and calling loudly. And he will most proudly tell you, in his best voice, that he is still damned here. And of course, that he is beautiful. Which he is.

TBird Squawk


And I am, too. Here, that is. Not quite so beautiful these days as anything resembling “cute” goes out the door after sweaty sessions of weed pulling, limb trimming, not to mention the dark hours of cleaning out the upper storage places of contents too vile to describe. I seem to be working on all those issues and opportunities brought by those pelicans, and I’ll do my best to make a happyish adventure out of it. I plan to chronicle it here. It’s what’s happening, and that’s all I know to write about. As mentioned to a friend earlier, if I deign to call myself a writer, I surely ought to be getting to it. Sometimes it comes with pictures.

Self Portrait


Peace y’all. May we all heal, however we have to. Coming Back. That. Yes.







The Trees

The crape myrtle tree survived….for a couple of wrong reasons, and some that have to do with chance, and luck, and that life and death thing.

Some many years ago a big cedar toppled over in an ice storm that was pretty hard hitting for these parts, not so different than this hailstorm. It was in the front yard on the West side, and it was a part of a big clump of shade, and fairly large for cedars around here. Cedars (technically junipers) are not popular trees in the Hill Country, accused of being water suckers, and they are and they do. Allergy sufferers are particularly vehement about cursing their very existence, and Cedar Fever strikes near terror in some. But when you have nothing else in a space, and shade is at a premium, those large cedars can be attractive and protective, maybe even if they are sucking you dry. Doesn’t sound too much different that a few versions of boyfriends I’ve had.

So we lost a big one, closest to the house, and it left an unpleasant hole. It and its pals had made a big circular stand of space and shade, and accommodated each other in branch positioning while they grew. They were a package deal. So when the big one went down, it looked bad. The remaining survivors looked gimpy and wrong – too bare in some places and going in the wrong directions in others. After a proper mourning period, and a bit of money freed up, I hired some friends to come out with their chain saw and remove the limbs in pieces, and help me clear the trunk, a substantial one, out of the hole. Cedars are tenacious when alive, and even more so in death. Lots of roots hung on and and were chopped and left in place, but the mother trunk, (or father trunk), finally surrendered, and was summarily relegated to a woodpile on the south side of the driveway with much grunting and a few wounds. There it still sits.

Sometime later after I’d worked to clear the hole as best I could, and removing as much caliche as possible, it was finally time to plant something in its place. (Caliche, for the unfamiliar, is what passes as dirt around here, and is akin to a yellowish, cementlike, sometimes conglomerate affair, and good for not much else than growing rocks. It doesn’t get much more respect than the cedars.) We’ve not much color around here, and crape myrtles are hardy trees that bloom all summer and withstand the withering heat well, so it was the tree of choice. I got it, I planted it, and still it grows. I had thought I was getting a deep purple, but it ended up blooming lavender. Well, at this point, I’ll take it. It’s happy!

Since it was essentially planted in an existing space that was part of a trio, by proper planting methods it was too close to them, and another close by live oak. But caliche being what it is, there was no damn way I was digging another hole. In it went, and it took it two years to bloom, but bloom it did. And it sits out there now all leafed out and ready to herald Spring and rebirth, and prepare itself to bloom.

Then came the hailstorm. Now the surrounding live oaks are but sticks in the sky. They are an evergreen – they have leaves all year long, until Spring truly gets here. Then they sport cute little tassels that amount to blooms, and those send out, on a good year, a prolific amount of yellow pollen that coats everything around – cars, furniture, decks, plants, and folks’ lungs, setting off another round of allergies for some. (Austin has often been called the allergy capital of the country, and an allergist’s dream.) After that come the new leaves, and they push off their branches last years leaves which have now dried and turned yellow brown. This was a good year, with a lot of yellow dust, and an exceptional canopy of new leaves as a result of enough rain to nurture the land, and make for incredible wildflowers – another banner year for bluebonnets – and around here people go giddy for bluebonnets. Our aquifers are still depleted from the ongoing drought and the lake is 50 feet down, but we were off to a record breaking season for pretty blooming things.

After the hail….decimation. The live oak canopies – gone. There are some remains of leaves on the lower east sides of them, but not so much. The cedars fared better, having a softer branch and needle structure. My cactus gardens? Hamburger. Even and especially the new ones from last year which had just taken up warm weather residence on the Porchdeck after being coaxed through a cold winter in the sunroom. Some were blooming already. They are smashed and dashed, some dead or others well past any recovery. Wildflowers have been essentially wiped out, unless they had conveniently bloomed on the protected east side of anything. A few remain, peeping out, as if to say “WTF?” and seeing that all their kin are vanished as though abducted by aliens.


A horizon line not seen for years now revealed again through the naked branches.

Skyline again


Cedar survival compared to the live oaks.

Live Oaks vs Cedars


Before…nothing but leaves. Now, twigs and sky.

Twigs against the sky


And the crape myrtle? Why quite fine, thank you very much. A few smallish assaults, but because – and here’s the thing – it was planted rather incorrectly, too close to those other trees, which ended up shielding it from oblivion. It stands there, new spring green and waving in the breeze, ready for what’s next. Those bad boy cedars were the heroes, and saved little myrtle darling, just like in the movies.

Crape Myrtle


Maybe a lot of things survived the storm because they were where they weren’t supposed to be. Or maybe the peahen we lost didn’t because she wasn’t. Who knows? Perhaps we just bloom where we’re planted, and hope for the best. Sometimes you get gentle female rain, and sometimes you get pummeled by the hard, frozen, angry version – I guess the menopausal variety – though my female friends will tell you that usually menopause and frozen will not appear in the same sentence.

So the crape myrtle originally got short shrift because it was planted more wrong than right, but look who survived. If I had gotten around to clearing the rest of the deadfall from the huge windstorm that leveled the big trees on the North side last year, and had planted more crape myrtles as was my plan, they’d be hammered now. Life is so often a crapshoot, no matter how well we think we plan. Freak accidents, a driver over the line coming right for us, a whopper of a hail and windstorm from which there is no hiding….we just do the best we can, and see what’s left when we open our eyes.

Friends are helping immeasurably. Insurance estimates are coming in. Life goes on at the Slope, even as we hear time ran out in Nepal. How do we worry about our little lives here when tragedy hits so hard everywhere else. But as the counselors will tell us, these are our little lives, the only ones we have at the moment, and we are still left reeling from some of our own misadventures or flights of Fate. We do the best we can.

We thank you for the thoughts, and the help, and we’ll come back better, and hope for the best for the live oaks and other casualties. A friend posted today: Look at things as if it were the first time, or the last time. We never know. Good idea.

Tick tock.


Change, and moving on, even if it’s staying here

Life goes on. Unless it doesn’t. And that’s another blog. Things happen, and they break. People break. And then we die if we do, or we repair what needs attention and go on. There is no time for wallowing when healing is what we need, and it comes in many forms.

We had a storm. A big one. The long and short of it is we got rent, bent, shattered and scattered. It’s daunting, but we have insurance, (which of course is never enough when you’re just scooting by to begin with), and we’re still recovering from the last round of things going awry when the heater caught fire last fall and the last assault from the winds that took out so many of our trees. Those deductibles are imposing beasts when the specter of covering them puts you further in debt. The list is always long at The Slope, and it just got longer, but we are unharmed, (except for the one peahen we lost), and the damages are things and stuff, not us. Perhaps Queenie will work up to a rant about Extreme Weather, but ranting takes too much energy right now, and my efforts are best directed elsewhere.

In the midst of what has happened, (and every day, to be sure), I am blessed, with friends. I often wonder what I have done to deserve the gift of such worthy and remarkable humans who seem to love me, in spite of my own weaknesses and foible ridden character. They have come together to help us, and help is coming. My gratitude knows no bounds and my heart is full. In such times when darkness could come calling even with sunrise, I am at peace, and renewed in spirit and intention to make things better. My place is here – the time is now – and it is begun.

Rather than regale with stories of cleanup, (that will come later), I choose to start – again – with a small story of life going on, after the storm.

North side oak SSR

There is a smallish live oak tree in front of the Potting Shed on the south acre that has never come to much. It’s always been stunted, and parts of it keep breaking off, but like many things around here it keeps hanging on. I have bells adorning it, and some artful decorations, but its best resume has been in providing nesting holes for the birds for several years now. The Tithooties are particularly fond of holes in old, precarious trees, (there’s an entry earlier that details another such story), and this year is no exception. I had noticed before the storm that there was indeed activity in the tree, and the Tithooties were seen entering and leaving the holes, and peeps were beginning to emerge from within. (And for the record, they are actually Tufted Titmouse, or Titmice, but here we fondly call them Tithooties.)

In the wake of the storm my attention was so many places, and until things had settled a bit and I began to sit outside again in the mornings with my coffee to commune, I had let them escape my attention. When I did think of them again, I feared for them. The tree, like everything else around here, was pummeled. Glass globes hanging from the branches were broken and in shards below. Artpieces were equally mangled and lying below. And what leaves were there protecting and shading them were long gone.

But this morning, there they were. I watched from beside the fire ring to get a feel for things, and things were good. There is one hole on the north side, where the parents enter, and as I was taking pictures I kept missing the parents’ exit. I moved my chair closer and behind when I discovered that there is another hole on the southwest side. Nice system they have. They enter with food on the north side, feed, and then exit stage right from the other hole behind.

When I was so much closer, the parents weren’t too thrilled with my presence, sounded alarms, and gave me the stink eye. But after a while I was another bump on the chair log, and they came and went with little concern.

Tithootie Rebirth SSR full


Tithootie Closeup SSR

I am happy to report that both parents are feeding, well and fairly rapidly. The cheeps are loud and robust, and it seems all have survived and are going strong. I’m betting fledging isn’t too far away. They are fine. So are we.

There are of course all sorts of obvious allegories here, no need to list them. We, like the Tithooties, are soldiering on, and finding solace in what has survived. We bury our dead, and nurture the living. We gather ourselves, live in gratitude, and keep on keeping on. I made my peace with not roadtripping for awhile, and find joy in watching the birds and listening to their song, and accomplishing some tasks that would have waited much longer if I were out joy riding. We are not here for long, and the madness of the outside world keeps picking at our sanity levels. But here by the fire ring, under the Sky Circle, watching the clouds and listening to birdsong, life is good. Right here. Right now. Aho.

Thank you. For everything. Turn turn turn.


Such Sadness on a Sunny Day

Wren Birds 2



I am awash with sadness lately, floating along with grief supplied in many quarters – friends suddenly lost, a life taken in drunken madness in one of my favorite places, more news of planetary destruction in the name of greed, and yesterday even a baby giraffe shot, killed, and fed to the lions with children as witness, because the zoo deemed him of no value. I’m seeing it all slip away, and my protesting, petition signing, marching down the main street beating my drum  – none of it has made an iota of difference. We still went to senseless war, we still use our precious water, dwindling daily, to frack the land to extract the devil’s blood, poisoning it all in the process. Those power wielding corporations, (defined as people, so that they may count as human choice), run ramshackle over the land with no penalty or penance. If charged, even convicted, their punishment is laughable – simple light scrapings of their profit margins, equal to what I can never make in so many lifetimes that it astounds me, but nothing much astounds me anymore, really. My pessimistic self, against my Pollyanna nature, is the one showing up lately. I am sad. I want to run away, begin again, but wonder where there is to run.

I wrote a piece a few years ago describing a day here at the Slope, but did not offer it at the time because it was too sad, with no redeeming qualities or feel good moments. Since then there have been a few happy endings here, but that little tale was one of the negative ones. I find the words even truer now, because the march of Progress has brought the eartheaters even closer to me, and very little is left of the land behind me that used to offer solace, peaceful walks and the chance to sing out loud or meditate under a tree. There are maybe two scant years left now before it comes right to my back fence. I am heartbroken at the prospect, and it’s being done with such wholesale slaughter of trees and habitat that to even trespass to what’s left of the unscalped hills brings little consolation.

So I offer, in sadness, my little story of years ago, hoping only that in relating it we try to grasp what we are losing. I fear, honestly fear, (and I hate FEAR about the most of all things and want nothing to do with it, much less capitulate to it), that we are past the tipping point of sustainable life on our precious planet. Our lives may not end as quickly as those in this story, but when you consider what we have wrought on this beautiful blue ball hanging in space – in such a blink of an eye as our Industrial Revolution has been in the immense span of time that our planet has existed – it will be much the same for us as a species, along with all the rest of it. We are contributing to an Extinction Event, as surely as a massive asteroid might bring to us in another scenario. We are but a couple of generations away from obliteration, or life on a very unpleasant edge, and where does it matter, really, where I run to hide, or live, and try to be just happy and content and make a difference, in a GOOD way. I do not have children, and I cannot imagine the grief I would further endure if I considered their future, or my grandchildren’s. It seems not so many of us want to ponder it, so we simply do not, and go about our merry little lives, distracted by entertainment possibilities and maybe politics if we think to go that deeply. Even then, it doesn’t seem to make a difference, so Lalalalalala we go, and I do, too. Until I can’t anymore. And then I seem to write sad stories. And wonder if Hope still breathes.



June 18, 2009 – Disaster in Small Places

This morning, when I went out to check on the wren birds, I found Disaster. The wrens are my favorite birds out here – fairly tiny, tenacious, and with pound for pound, or should I say ounce for ounce, the fullest and most joyful song of life and celebration I’ve ever heard. Just hearing them trill makes me smile. Yesterday I noticed that they’d built a nest in the top of the steer skull that sits on a large-ish stump by the loafing shed, sort of an icon to the South Acre. I immediately thought that this was the second most dangerous nest I’d seen them construct this year, having already saved them from the too close to the ground location that they found inside the transformer box down by the driveway. I managed to construct a bamboo curtain around that mistake, deflecting the cats that had begun to sit below the box, waiting for fledge day. One success anyway.

But this time, it wasn’t to be. There were four of them in the skull cap yesterday, poking their little heads out when mom and pop came with the bounty, and one of them was out of the nest twice in its exuberance. I had gathered up one of the babies from where it had fallen to the ground and delivered it back to the nest hole, and then later, there it, or another, was again out and precariously nestled in a crook of the stump. But then it, too, went down, and I had to chase it to again gather it up and put it back in the nest. Still later I went out to check on them, and found the parents chasing the Scrub Jays, and I figured they had attacked the nest, Jays being not the nicest and kindest birds on the planet. I know Nature has its way, but these are “my” babies, too. I thought two were already gone, but then found that they were way back in the skull hole, safe still.

But not so this morning. I knew when I went out there that it was too quiet. I looked in the hole – empty. Then I noticed the shreds of nest all around the entrance, and pieces hung on the stump, and large clumps of it on the ground. Gone, all gone, everything and every one. Raccoons, I know it. I’m sick of the raccoons, and the squirrels, who have made it their purpose this year to rain terror on the house and the birds and my garden, and threaten to take over the place like mafia goons. I’m about ready to tackle squirrel stew, though I know I’m unable to kill anything with eyes and a face, except maybe fire ants and flies. I even give the scorpions leeway, and let them go on after I’ve relocated them away from the house. I’ve also relocated two rattlesnakes from the front yard. And now I guess it’s time to begin another effort with the squirrels, even if they’re gorged from my mother’s tender care and too many peanuts, delivered regularly. They’ve been so well fed that they might not have a clue as to how to survive in the real world. But some lesson with the raccoons – even though they are so well fed, it’s never enough. They had to have the wren babies, too, and that’s just wrong, though I know, it’s just Nature, doing its thing. Fie anyway.

Being the photographer that I claim to be, I had gone out yesterday and captured them, so I have images of mom and dad, and the little tousled tops of baby birds with their huge yellow rimmed beaks open to the heavens, waiting for sustenance. Now I’m sad to have their picture, for it only seems to record their last day on the planet, now headed for a destiny of coon poop, rather than being the bringers of joyful song which they were meant to be. Is there a lesson in that, somewhere? Do we all think ourselves to be bringers of song, or beauty, or whatever our gift is to be, only to have our supposed destinies smashed by whatever reality we encounter? Three gifted teachers lost their lives in an instant last year on a rainslicked portion of the “new” highway down the road. Days later, another accident, in the same place. Funny, we never had those problems on the old pavement, not until Progress raised its ugly head and we had to have new roads to sustain the development gone wild out here. Pretty high price to pay, I’d say, for “Progress.”

And now the baby wrens are gone, too, and for what? Not progress, just Nature’s way, but it seems wrong and too sad all the same. Shall I intervene again, and try to put up some man made birdhouses since the parents can’t seem to find a way to build safely? Is my difference on the planet to be made by saving wren birds gone wrong? I seem to be one for two these days – I suppose that counts for something. I had those babies in my hand yesterday, so fragile, so innocent. And I couldn’t save them.  Sometimes I wonder if I can even save myself. Or this little patch of land being surrounded by Progress. Next it will be the wild turkeys, and the foxes and the jackrabbits, and maybe even the hawks. All of us will need a new plan to survive the onslaught, but who will save us? Maybe we’re not save-able, or even worthy of saving. Maybe we’re just meant to be coon poop, or some other equally banal end. But what about my song? And my gifts? And what will I leave on the planet to mark my presence? And in a good way, and not as a monument to failure or blind ambition or greed. What will they, anyone, say about me, other than maybe, she saved one nest of wren birds in the summer of 2009.

A Walk to the Unlake

Those of you who know anything about what’s been going on in Texas these past few years know that we’re in the midst of what is becoming the greatest drought of record. You can scroll back a few stories here and see some pictures of it – from the Befores and Afters, to the wildfires that struck two years ago. It hasn’t gotten any better, really, despite some rains that have come our way. It’s hard to get the lake back up to acceptable levels when it’s 60 feet down. Sixty feet. Think about it. That’s a lot of water missing, and a lot of land exposed. Yet they keep granting development rights and some of those with water parks…. but that’s another rant.

There have been enough showers at the right times this year to bring us a good bluebonnet crop, and to keep us damp enough to grow some nice weeds. But swimming, kayaking, water communing…. nada. I believe I have slipped into some degree of depression with the lack of water communion. I am, after all, a card-carrying Pisces, and I need my fix. Three summers of no swimming in my sacred cove have about squelched my watery soul in that department.

To make it worse, what rains did come managed to bring soil and seeds down into the bottom of the deep cove that nurtures us Lake Rats, and an unholy mess has taken the place of the bare boned rock bottom of the mini canyon there. It’s now a scramble of bad weeds and muck, mostly cockleburs, which are the devil’s invention if ever there was one. Try getting them out of long haired, soft coated dog creatures. No fun for anyone.

There were big rains in Austin this weekend, enough to drown out the last day of the big music festival with 8 to 12 inch deluges in that part of town, and misery enough in other locales. Unfortunately most of the rain was downstream of the chain of Highland Lakes, so those of us waiting for the flood to refill the lakes are waiting still.

Still, I wondered what the 5 or 6 inches we got around here did to our cove, so we took a walk this afternoon, and there were surprises.

The swim dock still languishes cockeyed on land, but now surrounded by those weeds and muck. It’s a sad testament to what we’ve lost. If you’ll think when viewing these images that all things are supposed to be either floating 60 feet up, or under some 60 feet of water, you’ll get an idea of how pitiful it is around here.

Swim Dock copy


Sandy and I went on down the cove, me promising her that there would be some sort of water for her to immerse herself in. And yes, the waters flowing into Little Rough Hollow are clear and wonderful, and there is a promise of what might be, or maybe a memory of what was.

Incoming stream copy


And yes, heading down the cove we sight a swimming hole, and life is better, and there are waterfalls and wonder and the sound of running water.

Sandy over waterfall copy


Not enough for a frisbee toss, but it will have to do.

Sandy in waterhole copy


After a bit of splashing about, we went back up to the boat ramp and park, and were about to go on home. I’d been down to the end of the cove a couple of weeks before, and it was a mess of those cockleburs and nasty undergrowth, and I figured it was a good haven for snakes, and just another load of depression. But going back to the car, it hit me – – where was the main dock? Nowhere to be seen, that was where. Was there that much water? Really? I backtracked a bit back up the cove, and found a bit of a broken wood plank that I recognized as being from the dock. Sun of a gun, we’ve had an event here.

We took the higher ground path back down towards Big Water, and in due time, there was the story. Both our boat dock and the next one up the cove were crashed and crushed at the mouth of the cove. Two of the guys who live in the hood were down there doing an assessment, but what a mess. 

Dock one copy


Sandy went in for a closer inspection, but it looks bad. And it will take a total flood to get the dock floatable to be hauled back down the cove again, if it’s even repairable.

Dock 2 again copy


And sure enough, the guys told me they’d seen two snakes while they were down there. No fun to be had at the Unlake, that’s for sure. And likewise, Sandy collected too many cockleburs that had to be cut out when we got home.

West Texas keeps looking better and better. I could also post the video I took a couple of days ago, but enough is enough. The Eartheaters are going to town on the Back 40. I’ve lost count of the houses going up, while the trees keep going down. The grind grind and the beep beeps of the machines are now a six day a week proposition, from before sunrise till after dusk. They are kind enough to give us Sundays off for a modicum of peace and quiet. But only that. 

I don’t mean to sound so negative, but the spirit’s being sucked right out of me. I wonder if my decision is being made for me. But then, if the crazy people taking charge of the government decide to take it over that cliff for real, without Social Security we won’t be able to make the house payment, and maybe we’ll be under some bridge before too long. But surely, surely….. Hell’s bells, nothing’s sure anymore.  Except that someday, a hurricane or two will come our way, and our lake will fill again. Hope springs eternal, about so many things.