kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Night Lights

Sam Houston High School's (Moss Bluff) football team had been 3-0. Until tonight. We played rival Barbe High School. They won 45-20. Honestly, it's amazing Big Sam scored any points at all. Barbe is a 5A school and ranked number 2 in the state. SHHS is a 4A and 10th in the state for its division. Both good teams. Fans packed the stands, even on the visitors' side. It was both funny and entertaining, that there seemed to be more competition between the two bands than between the football teams. Andrew had a blast.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Missing Autumn

I miss autumn. I've been hearing reports from my northern friends of cooler temperatures; rumors of fall foliage -- yellow, auburn, orange. Here in southwest Louisiana, flowers continue to bloom, mosquitos still bite, and temps soar near 90. Okay, today is rainy, so it's a bit cooler, high 70s. The weather folks talk of the upcoming "change in season," about "fall colors," but there's no vibrance. The landscape mostly remains green, with some brown and a little pale yellow thrown in.

I miss the pungent scent of decaying leaves and woodsmoke, the crispness in the air. I miss crunching giant maple leaves beneath my shoes, sipping tart apple cider from the northside farmers' market, and the pumpkin patch at Reilly's Farm.

Of course, in winter, I won't be missin' a thing.

When my in-laws moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona many years ago, I assumed she missed the beauty of autumn, as I am now. So every year, usually sometime in October, the boys and I would take a hike and gather the prettiest leaves we could find. We'd take them home and press them between the pages of big books like Webster's Dictionary, Gray's Anatomy, and an Edgar Allan Poe anthology. When sufficiently dried, we'd mail the leaves to her in a large manila envelope. She'd tell us she used the leaves to decorate her Thanksgiving table.

This is a photo of my mom's property in the Maryland panhandle. Taken on October 17th last year, the leaves are past their prime, but still pretty. This land has been in my family for generations. Mom has a cottage there where my sisters and I love to take our families. I miss it dearly.

Friday, September 18, 2009


My family and I are lucky enough to live only a few miles from Sam Houston Jones State Park. Bob and I hiked the blue trail this morning. Bob is off every other Friday, so today was "date day." Because it was early, we had the trail to ourselves, very peaceful and serene. Lots of flora and fauna. After lunch on the patio at McAllister's, we attended the opening of a photography exhibit at McNeese, "Faces and Places of India," and listened to a talk by the traveler/artist, Carrie Chrisco. Very interesting. The show runs through this fall at the McNeese library.

Lots of fun.

Does anyone know what those pretty purple berries are?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rest in Peace, Snowflake

Our cat, Snowflake, died this afternoon. She couldn't keep food down last night or this morning, and she looked terrible, so I took her back to the vet. What had happened was that, because she stopped eating due to the swelling and pain in her throat, her body went into what's called "fatty liver syndrome." The vet thought he could get her through it, but she didn't make it. It's sad. She was only five or six years old.

The vet clinic gave us this plaque with an impression of her paw print. Isn't that precious? It has her name and the date. I'd never before known a vet to do that when a pet dies. Of course, I haven't had that many pets die in my lifetime. First Minnie. Then Ivy. And now Snowy. Good cats, every one of them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ingomar United Methodist Prayer Quilt Ministry

One day, when Eric was in the ICU at Texas Children's, a volunteer brought a package wrapped in brown paper to his room. We helped Eric open it and pulled out a precious gift. A prayer quilt, sent by a dear friend, Diana. Her church, Ingomar United Methodist Church, in Pittsburgh, has a prayer quilt ministry. When someone is in need of prayer, a member of this church can request a quilt be made. The quilt is made by tying knots. I understand many people can be involved with the knotting process. As each knot is tied, a prayer is offered.

Eric was touched deeply by the quilt and the knowledge that so many people were out there praying for him. "It matches my bedroom," he wrote on his dry erase board. He kept the quilt on his bed throughout his hospitalization and when he felt cold, he asked for it to be spread over him. Covered in prayer.

A few weeks ago, another brown paper-wrapped package showed up on our front porch. Lori and Todd, friends who also attend Ingomar United Methodist, had also requested a quilt for Eric. It's a large church, and I don't believe these friends, whom I know from different circles, know each other. Imagine Eric's joy and surprise when he received another prayer quilt, this one personalized with soccer balls and musical notes! Both quilts are folded at the bottom of his bed. Come wintertime, he'll snuggle beneath them. Covered in prayer.

Eric is doing well. Still recovering. But just to look at him, he looks like any other kid finding his way through freshman year. Prayers are still welcome. I worry about flu season. Eric has already received the regular flu vaccine, and will get the H1N1 Swine flu vaccine as soon as it comes out.

We have no idea who all tied knots in these quilts. But we do know that prayer has meant everything to us these past eight months, especially the three months he was hospitalized. We thank you all. We thank all the friends, family, and readers out there who kept Eric close to their hearts, never losing hope.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Snowy Update

Snowflake came home from the animal hospital today. Again. We brought her home last Thursday, and she went downhill again from there. She wouldn't eat or drink. Bob took her back to the vet Saturday morning. Upon examination, he found another hole in her neck, and this time, the vet discovered what caused it when he probed and pulled out a larva. Yes, a worm, a maggot, also called a bot fly or cuterebra. The first one, who must have long-since morphed into a fly and flew away, had burrowed all the way through her neck to the base of her tongue, causing swelling and infection, and that's why she's been wheezing and hasn't been able to eat. Is anyone besides me totally grossed out? Supposedly, these creepy critters can burrow into humans also, if a human comes into contact with them. Now Snowy has a feeding tube inserted in her neck and into her esophagus. We have to feed her through it three times a day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Arts in Lake Charles

I love the arts scene here in Lake Charles. For a small town, there are oodles of art galleries, frequent arts festivals, and much support of everything artistic, including music, theater, artsy art, even writing. Area businesses prominently and proudly display and sell the works of local artists. One of our favorite places in town is Old City Hall, a historic building that's essentially a museum. They host fascinating traveling art shows. The boys were off school today, so we went to Old City Hall to see the current exhibit, The New Reality: The Frontier of Realism in the 21st Century. Here, in side by side paintings, you see contemporary works of art compared to masters' classics. The boys and I enjoyed comparing similarities, contrasting differences. We delighted in the whimsical, and were awed by the amazing talent. Some examples had us scratching our heads to understand the connection. If you live in or near Lake Charles, I highly recommend you see this show.

Afterwards, we ate lunch at one of my new favorite places in town, Stellar Beans. Great coffee, excellent soup, sandwiches, and salads. Nice atmosphere and free WiFi. I only got this one shot of the boys. Once they realized what I was doing, if I tried to take their picture, Eric held up the newspaper and Andrew held up a pillow. Teenagers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


After spending two nights with the vet, our cat Snowflake came home today. She's seems to be feeling better, but has to go back to see Dr. Emerson on Monday for a checkup and to get a drain removed from the infected wound on her neck. We don't know how that wound got there, but Domino, our other cat, has been looking rather guilty lately. Supposedly, Snowy also has some kind of infection/abscess/wound at the base of her tongue that prevented her from eating and drinking. The doctor doesn't even know for sure what it was. This photo was sometime this past summer.

Andrew and Eric are both on the Quiz Bowl team at school. Today's post after-school Quiz Bowl meeting Sonic snack . . . popcorn chicken and a grape lemonade.

Go Steelers!

Monday, September 7, 2009


What do you do when you’re by yourself? I’m not talking about the time when hubby’s at work and the kids are in school. I mean three days. All to myself.

The family and I had planned for weeks to drive to Sherman, TX and visit Bob’s sister and mom this weekend. And wouldn’t you know, two days before the trip, our cat Snowflake gets sick. Someone had to stay home and keep an eye on her, give her an antibiotic twice a day. I volunteered.

Solitude. I used to thrive on it. I used to love being by myself. And we writers, who doesn’t relish the thought of three days of peace and quiet? But my family couldn’t have been to Beaumont before I paused and wondered, Now what do I do? Have I lost the art of entertaining myself?

I started off housecleaning like a dervish, whipping around the house with the vacuum, redding up the kitchen (that’s a Pittsburgh word), throwing in loads of laundry, changing the bed linens. Oh, and – this is huge – I took all Eric’s unused unneeded leftover medical equipment OUT of my back hall and piled it in the garage. No more shower chair half-blocking the path to the laundry room. No more cannulas, syringes, or feeding bags taking up room in the hall cupboard. I can’t tell you how cathartic, truly, it was to remove that stuff from my house. But I can’t just throw it away. Surely, someone can use it. If anyone knows of anyone who can use a long list of medical supplies, maybe a missionary who can send it to a third world country, please let me know. Cause already I’m ready to get the stuff out of my garage.

I called a friend who wasn’t home. Took a walk. Read the newspaper. Why make dinner? I snacked my way through the evening. Later, I lay on the couch and watched “Pretty Woman,” sipping beer and nibbling pretzels. I stayed up late.

Then slept in. I might have gone to church, but I had already told friends at church that the Dilmores would be out of town this weekend. Had I gone to church, I’d have had to explain about my sick cat. And I didn’t feel like talking about my sick cat. So I took a bike ride instead and worshipped God in His handmade sanctuary (as opposed to a manmade sanctuary). Which for me at times can be even more spiritual. I prayed and sang, appreciated the glorious morning, and generally communed.

After that, it was more of the same in the house, but this day, I tackled clutter and – no kidding -- the boys’ rooms. Any parent of teenagers can appreciate the magnitude of this feat. They won’t recognize the place when they get back.

And on the third day, I finally actually got a teeny bit of writing done.

So tell me. What do you do when you’re by yourself?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Seventeen Years

Went out last night to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Fun time, fabulous food at Mazen's. I like this photo, even though it's blurry. Looks like us, happy. Andrew was our photographer. Seems he had a hard time holding the camera still, but that's okay.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jury Duty

The day required much patience. And even more reading material. Jury duty. I hadn't been summoned in 20-25 years. I was called only once while living in Pittsburgh. And wasn't chosen as a juror. Today was the first time I was summoned here in Lake Charles. I didn't relish the thought of serving as a juror. I don't do well sitting for extended periods in confined places. And, like everyone, "I'm too busy." So I hoped I wouldn't be chosen. But I went with an open mind, knowing it's a duty as a US citizen to serve, and if I had been chosen, I was willing.

Especially in the morning, one can't help but feel like a bit of an automaton. File in, sit down, fill out a form, listen to directions, get in line, take a break, sit down, wait. Get in line, sit, sit, answer questions, sit. I'm so hungry! And cold, too. Darn A/C, despite my sweater. Lunch! Then more of the same after lunch, until -- keep your fingers crossed -- they excuse me, finally, late in the afternoon.

Actually, some of the day held my interest. I learned a lot of new things, about things I've never thought about before, being that I don't watch Law and Order or CSI. I thought I learned a new word . . . sounded like waldeer. But I can't find it in any dictionary, and I'm sure I'm spelling it wrong. Lawyer friends, help me out. What is the process of jury selection called? And I learned all about presumption of innocence, burden of proof, credibility, reliability, "reasonable doubt but not all possible doubt," etc.

One thing was very different from my experience in Pittsburgh. In Pgh, prospective jurors were questioned individually and privately by the attorneys. Here, potential jurors are brought up in groups to the jury box and questioned together in front of the whole room, over 50 people. A bit intimidating. But I answered all the questions as honestly as I could.

The case will likely be an interesting one. A criminal case, attempted murder and armed robbery. We were asked many questions, but the one that set me apart and likely got me the first X by my name; How do you feel about guns? Well, I steadfastly cling to a most unpopular opinion down here regarding guns. In this land of avid hunters and the tightly embraced "right to bear arms," I don't like them. I don't own one. I won't have one in my home. And I was very clear on that. I didn't know a soul in the room. So what did I care. We were asked, "Do you own a gun?" And I think I was one of only a couple folks in the whole room who doesn't. But what most likely got my name decidedly crossed off the list was when I asked a question in regards to "reliability." I asked, "Knowing that this crime occured in 2004, and knowing that much of the prosecution's evidence will be eye witnesses, how can we know that these witnesses accurately recall the details, five years later?" "Hmm," I imagined the attorneys thinking. "Nope, not her."

Now all I have to do is wait for my $25.00 check.