Aunt Omar's Hospital

Aunt Omar's Hospital
Aunt Omar's Hospital, Texas

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grandma's Irises

 Eleven years ago when we bought our little Taylor hillside, I planted the iris rhizomes I had brought from Texas.  They had been carefully culled from my grandma's little place in Young County, toted up to Taylor County, and finally hauled to Taylor, Mississippi.  Like almost everything else, I was totally unprepared for living in a suddenly wet all the time environment after a life time in dry northwest Texas.
 About 3 years after I planted, and nary a bloom had been seen, I went out one morning to take out the trash and there was a riot of yellow irises blooming by the trash bins--where I had carelessly tossed the rhizomes I decided were too far gone to plant.  They had lain on top of the ground in an elevated area by the driveway.  After that surprise, it has been a long spell of nothing.  I kept thinking the rhizomes were too deep and probably drowning in all the soggy soil here where it sucks your foot into the spongey ground as you walk.  I never got around to doing anything about it.

 While home a couple of weeks ago, Sis and I were talking about Grandma's irises, and I bemoaned that none of them had bloomed save the ones by the trash bins one year.  Yesterday morning, I went out to stretch a little from having spent all morning on the computer grading and prepping.  A little flash of yellow caught my eye and I walked down the hill.
There she stood--the first time since arriving to this hillside 11 years ago, two yellow-as-sunshine blooms, with a third waiting to show out.  A gift I was not expecting--the best kind.

Friday, April 10, 2015

When in April the sweet showers fall...

I flew down to Texas last weekend because I couldn't go spring break.  Mom's list of "things to do" had gotten longer in the intervening days.  Good Friday was hot and sunny.  A cold snap turned the weekend into a raining, drizzling, chilly mess.  No one in Texas would dare complain about rain, so I made the best of it sloshing through mud in Rio's lot.
On Mom's to do list was to rearrange her mantel.  She had seen a picture in a magazine and wanted hers arranged like that and had picked out the pictures, and my job was to find the rest of the items that would make it look similar to the magazine photo.  It was kind of fun, digging through her cabinets, drawers, chests, and scoping out all the rooms to find things to make it balance.  She likes it, and Sis and I agreed it was waaaaaaaaaay better than before with her 1990s' "home decor" that we have been slowly trying to tone down and simplify.
 Sis and I had to stop for a few groceries after she picked me up at the airport, and I had picked up a bouquet of roses for Mom.  While out getting groceries Saturday, I picked up an Easter flower arrangement for Dad's room.  He does not get out of bed on the weekend any more.  Sis always decorates for the season and any reason she can come up with.  She said it keeps them engaged and they like it.  I brought them in and said I could not let my sister out-do me on all the rabbits, and Dad laughed at that.  It is true, she has rabbits on the place mats, rabbits on the buffet, rabbits on the potholders hanging by the stove, rabbits on the hand towels..... But, I think she is right about engagement-- Dad commented every day and then some about his pretty flowers, and how many more had opened up during the night.
 She hasn't had time to put out spring flowers, so I picked up a couple while at the store to help get started in the transition.  I got one re-potted, but then it started raining so I couldn't put it on the deck, and ran out of potting soil--I was not well-prepared, was I?
 I have no idea what these little red and purple flowers are called, and I don't recall ever having seen them before, but I was enamored of them, so into the basket they went.  Horse feed and treats for Rio was the early morning Saturday chore as the feed store closes at noon.  I love going into the local feed store!  You just back up to the dock, get out and tell them what you want, and then go inside and tell them what you got and pay for it.  A feed store smells like no other place, and their chocolate lab is always right there by the counter, looking as beautiful as ever.  I always tell him cousin Kate says hello.
Dad was in a super good mood all weekend, and Mom was in a bit of an upswing as well, so it was one of the best visits in a while.  Mom is in the process of going through her photos to make a photo collage (one of the things on her list for a long time now) so we spent a lot of time looking through them and picking out which ones to put where.  That of course always entails talking about what you were doing at that particular time the photograph was taken.  It is literally like watching your life pass before your eyes.

And then, before you knew it, we were heading back to the airport and I was home right in time for pine pollen season.  Life is so sweet.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tenth year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

 The National Association of Social Workers, Mississippi Chapter, met in Biloxi this past week.  I stopped by what is now known as the IP, but which we dubbed "FEMA Hilton" in 2005 when we were headquartered there during recovery work following Hurricane Katrina.
 It was one of the Gulf coast hotels that that was still usable post-Katrina, so unlike many of our colleagues working recovery, we were not housed in tents and eating out of Mess Tents, but it still had its hardships.  
That first night when I parked in the garage and tried to figure out how to make my way over to the hotel and registration, I was never so frustrated in my life...but then, a couple of days working recovery and I could no longer say that--many frustrating experiences would follow, so I can only imagine the level of angst felt by those who had experienced it and were living with the aftermath, not able to return home.
I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes, looking at the remnants of piers, slips, bridges along this section of the bay.  I wondered about the identity of the person who perhaps had drank a memorial post and left the beer bottle as a silent toast to the survival, and the work still to be done.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Break: Not What it Used to Be

Mississippi has been just downright dreary for a week.  Raining, has been raining, will be raining, never going to stop raining kind of dreary.  Curl up in a fetal position dreary.  Not able to get to Texas dreary.  Cold seeping into your metal joints and producing an ache unlike any other kind of dreary.  Mud sucking at your boots dreary.
I finally, after a week of it, managed to get myself up and dressed and to the grocery store.  We were well beyond "the cupboards are bare" kind of need.  There's a little game we play around here called "I'm on strike."  It goes something like this:
I vow to myself that I am not washing dishes, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, or washing towels until someone else does.  The dishes stack up on the counter.  There are no clean glasses, cups, plates, bowls, silverware.  The hamper is full and overflowing with towels.  There are no clean towels.  The mud is so thick where dogs have tracked it in from the swamp that is the back yard, that were I an artist and capable of that level of creativity, I could sculpt.  And then, I get tired of it.  And, I clean the kitchen and wash the towels.  The floor has more grit than I do.
So, after a week of eating take out or oatmeal, I wanted real food.  That required purchasing real food, and having clean dishes.  Granted, I thought about breaking out my secret stash of paper plates, known only to me, and there is always a handful of plastic utensil packets from take out, but truly, when I reach the point I want real food, I also prefer to eat it on a ceramic plate using a stainless steel utensil.

So, there you have it: the strike in the kitchen is over again, settled by the usual capitulation of the worker.  The original plan was that I was leaving for Texas, and the guys would be forced to eventually load the dishwasher and wash the towels prior to my return...then, I didn't leave.
Last evening--you know, the one that now lasts an extra long time thanks to the time change--I sat on the porch watching the birds flocking to the feeder and watching the cats watching the birds.  Even though they can't reach the birds, thanks to how and where I place the feeders, it does not stop the cats from patiently sitting in position, poised with the instinct cats have to stalk their next meal, even when a full bowl of cat chow is in the usual place.
There is probably a lesson in that.  Every once in a while, though, we get tired of the lessons, don't we?  We just want someone else to wash the dishes and the towels.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows...

Sunshine yesterday and this morning is making quick work of our snow.  Meanwhile, back in Texas, it had just started yesterday, and still going this morning.
Rio sent me a good morning hello.  Undaunted by a little snow, he ventured out of his barn and had his breakfast while Sis chopped the ice off his water.
 Last night, I had been working on Rio portraits to make the second photo collage for Dad's room.  Rand suggested I make a second one to go with the one I made for his Christmas and put it in his room so he can still see Rio on those times he does not feel like getting out of bed.  Sounded like a good plan to me.
Like this morning, when it is cold and snowy!  One of Dad's favorite things is when he wakes up and Sis sits in the chair by his bed and has morning coffee with him.  Before, Dad and I used to sit out on the deck in the mornings and drink coffee.  Sometimes one might not think of that at the time, but when I look back now, I treasure those opportunities and that we made time for them. 

There are double windows to the left of his bed, and they were watching it snow.  He said it was a resting day.  I on the other hand, have to get in to work today.  Though I have managed to get quite a lot done during the snow days this week, it is time to show up in the office.  At least the sun is shining.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

And so the wintry mix has begun...

 I was scheduled to give clinical comprehensive exams today--a grueling 2 day long affair for me and the students.  In the vein of looking at silver linings, all the hours and hours I spent writing the exam were good, because it is done...but in the face of all the other priority tasks looming in the next few weeks, you hate to have spent days on something without an immediate payoff.  Pretty sure travel would be hazardous, students were pre-warned we would likely have to cancel, and that regardless, they should not attempt travel if weather was dangerous in their areas.  We needn't have wondered--the entire region is under winter storm advisory.  It is always one of those bitter-sweet outcomes--true, I don't have to be at work today as in physically in the building, but so much of my work involves writing and research and use of the computer and use of Internet that it is hard to make a case for not doing anything just because I am sitting here rather than sitting there.  That's when being a cat comes in handy--Son House really is not concerned with where he has to be and what he has to do, other than try to avoid the large spots of snow and ice.
 I had begun to wonder when the snow and sleet would start, but mid-morning, it kicked it fast and heavy.  It has been intermittent since, letting up for a bit and then coming back. 
The cardinals are are as intermittent as the ice and snow...and my accomplishments when I stand at the window and watch them.  Time to get back to work--this manuscript won't write itself.