Friday, July 31, 2009

Agasga and Crickets

Agasga is the Cherokee name for rain. That's something we desperately need in South Texas. The first year we moved to Texas (2006) there was so much rain I teased that I was looking around for an Ark. It rained 56+ days in a row. The weather was perfect for breeding critters. We had an invasion of crickets. I mean hundreds, thousands, tons of them everywhere. It was most disgusting. There were everywhere--work, the bank and fast food restaurants. Crawling, creeping and crunching--it was almost enough to make a gal scream.


Flash forward to 2009, and we have heat and drought. We've had more than 37 days of 100 degree or higher heat. Now, I'm used to heat and drought. We had that back in California. I can handle it. It sucks, but I can handle it. At least, it's prettier here than where I used to live. It somehow makes it easier to handle.

I've come to learn in Texas is either feast or famine when it comes to the weather. Jerry and I are trying to become more "green." I bought a rain barrel and we are trying to capture all the rain we can to reuse on the plants. We are keeping the air conditioner at 80 degrees and have acclimated to it. My next step is to stick a bucket as I shower. Any water that winds up in it, goes outside in my plants. We are on Stage 2 on water restrictions. We can only turn on the sprinklers once a week, on a certain day for a certain time. That's it. If we go to Stage 3, we will only be able to water our plants once every two weeks. My yard and plants will die.

We need agasga here....I'm thinking of dancing naked in the back yard to tick off the rain gods. I'm thissss close. lol

Wednesday, July 29, 2009



I had a few experiences over my life where I had an overwhelming emotion and not in the normal context of life. Unexpectedly, I would get a huge flash of an emotion -- hate, fear, comfort. Was it a natural happening chemical reaction in my brain for some reason or was it a sliver in the fabric of communication from the dead?

There is no logic of why, in Virginia City, Nevada in the Mark Twain museum that I should feel that someone just threw a blanket of hate over me. I felt I was being suffocated with hate. For no apparent reason, other than me touching an Indian blanket that was a wedding gift. All I knew is that whatever had happened to that Indian princess who married a rich white businessman in San Francisco, she wasn't happy. I can't explain why I knew that. I just did. The feeling was so powerful that I actually stepped back a couple of feet and sat down on a nearby bench. It was incredibly disorienting.

I can't explain why I felt fearful when my husband and I walked down into the engine room on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. I felt fine as we did the walking tour, but as we took the steps down into the engine room, I felt my arms cross over in front of my body in a defensive motion. The room was bright as can be. There were no scary displays. It was just the engine room of what it would look like if the ship were operational.

But there I was, arms crossed, nails biting painfully in the palms of my hand. I felt an overwhelming emotion of fear. I was extremely uncomfortable down there and couldn't pinpoint one reason why. My husband was fine. He was all over the place exploring it. I just knew I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. I made myself stay down there so not to ruin my husband's fun of exploring, but it was physically painful to stay there. Why? I don't know.

I don't know why some things have happened to me over the years. As I grew up, I didn't know it was something to worry about. There are many episodes now, when looking back, that should have signaled to me I felt things that many people didn't.


One time, during a field trip in elementary school we went to a place called Bower's Mansion in Carson City, Nevada. Even then I loved history. As we entered the mansion, led by our teacher, we were given the typical teacher lecture about the history of the mansion and the people who had it built. A man named Sandy Bowers, who was a silver baron, and his wife Eilley Orum, lived a lavish lifestyle -- for awhile. They wound up going broke. I still remember as we entered into the mansion I stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked upwards. A feeling of discomfort came over me.

It was a bright, sunny day, but I felt chilled. I wasn't sure why, but I didn't want to go upstairs. I moved to the back of the line and did what I could not to go upstairs. I finally had to follow everyone else. It's funny, I went into my "mode" crossing my arms in front of my body and my finger nails digging into my palms. I guess I still do that. Anyway, I never saw anything, but I felt a large sadness. It was a really strong feeling. I knew that whoever lived there was very sad. I know that sounds goofy. Even I felt that was goofy. But that's what I felt. I don't know if I am explaining this correctly, so forgive me if I ramble, but this was bigger than normal feelings. Even at the age I was -- I think I was 8 or 9 years old, I knew it was something different.

We went through the rest of the house, but I didn't feel anything as strong as I did on the second floor. We got to go outside and see the grounds and some of my classmates were laughing and talking about a family cemetery in the back of the house and we were dared who was brave enough to go and check it out. Well, the thing about me is I would do something if I thought others were too scared to do it. (although nothing too stupid or dangerous. LOL) As I went up to the cemetery, with the others following me, I felt a strong emotion again. I was uneasy standing there, but not completely afraid. There were trees around and it was sorta spooky for a bright, spring day. But I just knew something else was around there. Something was watching us. Was it just kids being kids and playing mental games standing at a cemetery? I don't know. Maybe.

But I think I connected with some strong emotions those people must have felt. I was glad when we finally left. I think I have always kept myself closed over the years to being too receptive because I am truly afraid of what might happen if I open myself up. I don't think I really want to work on this thing of mine, if I really do have anything at all. I don't know when it's going to happen and I have absolutely no control over it all. It's strong, but mild if that makes any sense. It sneaks up on me and smacks with its rawness of powerful emotion. The strength of emotions is sort of like someone throwing ice water on you out of the blue.

It does make life interesting at times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Deer and other critters

If someone were to ask me what was the wildlife you have seen most since you've moved to Texas I'd have to answer--deer. I've never lived at a place where wild animals walk around freely. In California, we had kit foxes that darted through the fields, but they were few and far between. In San Antonio, it's the deer. On two sides of our house we have what they call "greenbelt." It's wild land that won't ever be developed. Sort of like having a small forest around you. This is where the deer live.

They walk wherever they want...sometimes not the best place for them. Some have been hit while crossing the busy streets. That's always sad. To the left of our place, we've seen a herd of six to seven deer. From my son's window we see them nibbling at the plants and calming walking around.

Texas is also the first place where I've seen deer food for sale in the stores. Just like buying bird seed, you can buy deer food. During my walks in the greenbelt I see dry looking niblets of corn that people put out for the deer.

There are many times Jerry and I are driving home after dark and as we drive by a certain road I always warn him to be careful. Deer feel they own the land--I've seen them calmly munching someone's lawn in the dark of night. They saunter around sassy and bold.

Since we have a fence around the back of our yard I'm not bothered by the deer. I've seen everything from young ones to older ones with a rack of horns. Just beautiful, you just hope they don't get hit by a car.

So far, we haven't seen snakes, but our first year here we saw some of the biggest bugs I've ever seen. I kid you not, centipedes the sizes of a ruler. I still get the shivers with that one. I had praying mantis on my wall by my front door that was six inches long. I won't even go into the nest of daddy long legs that resided above my front door for a short while.

Now, we mainly have to lizards that like to live in the ferns on the front porch. I've named them Sherman and Sheba. They dart around when I'm watering the plants.

I can handle the deer and the lizards--you all can have the centipedes. lol


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Biking in Texas


Jerry and I have taken up bike riding. We both want to get in shape and it's time. He's picked it up faster than I have. He has a couple of weeks on me as he bought his bike first. He's lost eight pounds and feels stronger. Me, I got whizzy dizzy today and had to stop for awhile. But, that was after a one hour bike ride in almost triple digit heat.

Bike riding in Texas does have its benefits. We bike at a place called McAllister Park in San Antonio. It has 25 miles of trails with part of them paved and part of them not. Trees abound and it's delicious to be biking when it's 103 and a canopy of trees to protect you from the heat. We also see wild deer while riding and squirrels scampering across the path. The place today was full of walkers, runners, bike riders and people out having a great time.


That's me in the distance biking away. We are trying to do at least an hour ride every weekend here. During the week we are riding around our house every other day. Neither one of us wants to burn out or hurt ourselves. It's actually quite fun to ride. I have to be completely honest and say the hills about kill me. I swear, those long, winding inclines make me want to puke. But I am trying to stick with it.

We were watching part of the Tour de France and I have no flipping idea how they do it. Between watching bits and pieces of that event and part of a triathalon held in Hawaii, I've come to the conclusion I'm soooo out of shape. There was a 72 year old woman who not only competed in the triathalon, but finished it. I'd been toast in the swimming. I can't swim worth squat. Never could. But they inspire me. It gives me hope that if I focus, I can do anything.

Of course, I tried to tell that to my body today when I finally had to stop riding. I had a meager breakfast and after an hour of riding I started getting light headed and seeing spots in front of my eyes. Enough. lol It doesn't mean I am going to stop riding. In fact, I'm going to put in a couple of miles tomorrow after work. But I've learned I have to have food on my stomach and some sugar in me.

I'm not sore, as much as tired tonight. It's a good tired. I never thought I'd get back to loving being on bike, but I am.

Am I going through my second childhood?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Sickness, In Health

One of my creative ramblings.

In Sickness, In Health
by Robin Bailey

January 21, 1992

My dearest Journal.

God, what a cold thing to write to--a journal. I don't like the sound of it. I think maybe I will call it by a person's name. Yes, I think I like that much better. I know. I will think of it as if I am writing a letter to my bestest friend. That is, if I had one. What shall I call her? Elizabeth? No. That sounds so formal and stiff. I don't like it. I know! I will call my journal Sarah. I've always loved that name.

My dearest Sarah,
It's been so long since we've talked last. I've almost forgotten what you look like.

I hate my own name. Ann. Have you ever heard of anything so plain and boring? It's not anything that's like the real me. The real me. No one truly knows the real me, except for Edward. Ah. Edward. Not Eddie, or Ed or any other name for him. It is always Edward.

January 22, 1992

Dear Sarah,
I must tell you about the wonderful vacation we are having. Edward and I are at one of our favorite resorts. It's up in the mountains. Today, we had breakfast together and he went off for a hike while I sit here relaxing. I love days like the one we are having. The view from the resort's porch is quite breathtaking. Sarah, I know you'd love it if you were here. The sky is so clear and the air has the smell of pine cones. I can see the lake from where I sit--the water is so blue it makes your eyes hurt.

The real me. I've always been an adventurious-type of person. I can't even count on both hands all the journeys I've taken to far-off lands. Of course, many of those trips have been between the covers of great and wonderful books. Edward loves my books almost as much as I do. I know one day we're going to take a cruise around the world in 80 days. We will. Edward and me. He's even pinky-promised me. So you know he means it.

March 14,1992

Dear Sarah,
We plan on staying here on an extended vacation, my dearest Sarah. Edward has worked day and night for the past sixteen years so his business would be successful. And it is! We sacrificed for so long and now we are reaping the benefits. God, it is so beautiful here.

Edward works so much. Day and night. Night and day. We go days without seeing each other. But I know my dearest Edward thinks of me. He often tells me so. They say confession is good for the soul. I think I am going to use my journal to confess a few of the mistakes I've made lately. It can't be used against me. And no one will know. I plan on ripping this up as soon as I'm done. But I know I will feel better to write everything down. And I do feel better already.

March 29, 1992

Dear Sarah,
Oh, Sarah. Edward fed me grapes last night. We had such a wonderful evening. We sat underneath the star-filled night sky on our blanket and snuggled, laughed and completely enjoyed ourselves. Many people here say we act like newlyweds. They find it hard to believe that we've been married for 17 years. But we do love each other so. Edward said I was the only woman for him.

Only woman. I have to admit Edward was completely honest with me there. I was the only woman for him. The only problem was, I wasn't quite enough man for him. It's amazing how you can be married to someone for 17 years and never know his true feelings. Actually, Edward isn't gay, he is bisexual, as he explained to me. That was the day he told me he was finally leaving me for his lover. Bob.

What a boring name Bob is. His lover couldn't have an exotic name like Tomas or Sven. No, it was Bob. Not even Robert. But Bob. Bob was a man Edward had known for as long as we'd been married. Balding, paunchy, near-sighted Bob was an accountant. In fact, he was our accountant.

How dull it must be, crunching numbers all day. But this was the great love of Edward's life. he finally realized he'd rather live with Bob than be with me. It's not that he didn't love me, Edward proclaimed as he packed his bags. He just loved Bob more.

April 24, 1992

My dearest Sarah,
Edward and I made love last night as the stars twinkled above us. It was as delicious as lovemaking could be. Edward and I both saw a shooting star. We made a wish and even though I know you aren't supposed to share it outloud, we did. Edward and I share everything. We never keep secrets from each other. Edward said his wish was never to leave my side and to be the kind of husband that I deserved.

Oh Sarah, I started crying at that point. I hugged Edward and told him he already was the husband that I deserved. He is so perfect, so handsome, so devoted. I told him my wish was for that night to never end. I know we are always going to be as happy as we are tonight.

I wasn't mad when Edward left. I guess I should have been, but for some reason I wasn't. I sat there on my favorite oversized chair, my latest book clutched against my chest and wondered what I would do about dinner. Should I make a sandwich or go out and get something to eat.

I knew Edward would come back to me. I had complete faith that he was just going through a mid-life crisis. This was his way of sowing his wild oats or something. Edward loved me. He always did and always will. I know he will come back. Bob couldn't love him the way that I do. No one loves Edward as much as I do. I'd die for Edward. Bob wouldn't. For God's sake, Bob is an accountant! All he cares about are numbers. Edward would come to his senses. We have a life to share together--until the end of time. In sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer .. and the rest of the wedding vow mumbo-jumbo.

May 1, 1993

Dear Sarah,
Edward was so funny this morning. Before he left for his daily hike he ate a huge breakfast. I am amazed tht a man as trim and handsome as he, can eat so much and not gain an ounce. I eat one piece of chocolate and I instantly gain five pounds. I am a very lucky woman to be married to such a wonderful man. Edward brought me a single long-stemmed rose when he came to breakfast. He handed it to me and kissed me. He said the beauty of the rose barely matched my own beauty. Oh, how my heart fluttered. Edward is such a sweet-talker. It's a shame you two haven't met. I know you are busy with your life half-way around the world. One day we must get together so you can meet my knight-in-shining armor. I know you'd love him as much as I do. Maybe now that Edward has retired we can plan a trip to Cairo and visit you. Oh, wouldn't that be devine! I must talk to him about that as soon as he gets back.

Edward slammed the door in my face telling me that he wasn't coming back to me. He said if I didn't leave him and Bob alone he was going to call the cops. The police. Yeah, right. Edward woudn't do that. He loved me. He's just going through a phase. He wasn't happy with Bob. I could tell. His face was tired looking and definately looked unhappy when we talked. He'd be coming home soon. I knew he would.

July 4, 1994

Dear Sarah,
What a simply wonderful holiday Edward and I shared. The fireworks in the sky were almost as dazzling as the ones he and I shared from our beach cabana. yes, dear heart we are now in Tahiti. We have our own private beach. We've made love so many times I've lost count. There must be something in the tropical air! I've managed to achieve a little bit of a tan. You know how I usually burn and peel, but I think the sun down here is much better for my pale skin. Edward says I have quite a glow about me. What a fantastic man he is. I am so very lucky.

As I started to leave the ritzy apartment building Edward shared with his boring Bob I saw a familiar face. Bob was crossing the street and heading straight for me.

Without a second thought I hid behind a huge ficus tree in the lobby. Bob entered the building and headed for the elevator. He never even saw me. But I saw him. He wasn't so hot to look at. I don't know what Edward saw in him. Bob's off-white pants were wrinkled. He wore an army green polo shirt that stuck to his back in the summer heat. His thinning salt and pepper hair hung down in strings from his sweaty, bald head.

I don't know what made me do it. I walked up to him and stabbed him in the back with my paring knife. You know, the knife Edward gave me last Christmas. Remember, he gave me silverware in a really beautiful pattern as my present.

Now one saw me do it. Bob slumped and I quickly removed my knife. The door opened and I pushed Bob into the empty elevator. He never even saw me. He landed face down onto the hard floor. The red stain was spreading across his back. It turned his green polo shirt a muddy color. I smiled as I put the knife in my pocket.

Edward would come home now. I wondered as I left the building if I would have time to stop by the grocery store and buy a couple of steaks. There's nothing Edward likes better than a rare steak, except maybe making love to me.

September 4, 1995

My dearest Sarah,
Time has seemed to stand still. Edward and I are sailing around the world in our sailboat. We have visited many islands and countries. We are having a great time. We spend our time eating, sleeping, and making love.

I can't remember the last time I even worried about being somewhere. We are so lazy nowadays. I sit around and sunbathe while Edward sails the boat. We fit together so well, my dear friend. We will reach your home one day.

The overweight nurse quietly pushed the medicine cart down the sterile hallway. There weren't that many noises this time of night. Most patients were peacefully sleeping the Darvon and Percodan-type of sleep one would expect in a mental hospital.

The nurse, known as Sarah, entered room 113 with a careful step. This particular patient has been convicted of killing a man. Nurse Sarah was always wary when entering this room. They didn't pay her enough to risk her own life with a crazy killer.

With a gentle shake, nurse Sarah woke up Mrs. Tilton. "Here you go hun, take your medicine and go back to sleep."

A sleepy-faced old woman accepted the pills and gratefully swallowed. Her head falling back to a soft pillow, a smile on her wrinkled face, a book clutched to her chest.

Nurse Sarah shook her head, and felt sorry for the crazy woman who always had her nose in a book and never quite connected with reality. She guessed that's what happened when you were locked up in a mental hospital for 15 years and never had any visitors.

©1995 Robin Bailey

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sweetened versus Unsweetened

Sweet Tea Pictures, Images and Photos

Some things aren't going to change just because I moved to San Antonio. One of them being I just don't dig drinking tea and I never have. Growing up with my four siblings and parents, I was the only one who hated it. I was the freak. In fact, I'm probably being sacrilegious by saying that I think tea sucks.

Tea is big here. They sell it in restaurants by the cup, pitcher and gallon. I kid you not. Now, my husband--he loves the tea. Me. Ugh. It is what it is...if I'm going to drink something with my meal it will be soda or booze. lol

What Texas offers that I haven't seen offered before (I hear it's a Southern thing) was the choice in restaurants of Sweetened Tea or Unsweetened Tea. In California, when you order tea it's always unsweetened and you add your own sweetener--whether it's sugar, or the fake stuff. The first time I got offered Sweet Tea I thought I'd try it out. For me, it's still an ughhhh. There is just no kick to it. I like my drinks to have a bite, a kick or a whoop ass.

My husband chooses his tea unsweetened. The sweetened tea is just too sweet for him. This is a man who has used the fake stuff for years. But now, he drinks the unsweet tea with nothing added. His taste buds have changed since he came here. I think that's a good thing for him to not use the fake stuff.

I've never seen the volume of tea drinkers as I have here in San Antonio. They are definately a different breed of people. Apparently, there is never a bad time to drink the stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if someone made ice cream out of the stuff. They love it here that much.

I think I will stick to the only ice tea I really enjoy to drink--a well made Long Island.

L.I. TEA Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tacos in Texas

I thought I knew what tacos were before I moved to Texas. It meant food from Taco Bell, my favorite Mexican restaurant or the ones you made at home from the yellow box. But, I was so wrong. It wasn't until we moved to Texas that I learned what real tacos should taste like--and it's not "yo quiero Taco Bell."

Texas takes taco making and taco eating to a whole new level. The first thing I was introduced to was breakfast tacos. Okay, wipe out the image of Sonic's or McDonald's breakfast tacos right out of your mind. They take cardboard to a whole new level. Texas breakfast tacos are almost a religious experience.

The foundation of a Texas taco starts with homemade tortillas. That's right. Homemade. Fast food restaurants here make their tortillas from scratch. How do I know that? I see them plop out of the machine and right on the grill. Just as Krispey Kreme lets you see how their donuts are made, so do many Texas fast food restaurants. But even if you can't see them making it, it's easy to tell the difference between store bought and made from scratch. Taste a Texas flour tortilla and you'll never be the same again. Soft, substantial, light and tasty, these tortillas are good enough on their own to eat with a little bit of butter and nothing else.

The breakfast tacos here are filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, ham, refried beans, cheese, Carne Guisada or brisket. That's right. Brisket. I bet you used to think that Brisket was something just for lunch or dinner. Not so. Texas takes its barbecue quite seriously (that's for another blog lol) and it's even hit the breakfast menus.

And what's strange is that it's not strange to eat brisket for breakfast. In fact, it's might tasty and quite affordable. For under four bucks you get a couple of tacos and some caffeine and you are set for the day.Tacos are eaten from morning to night in Texas. Fillings include fish, shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian and everything else in between.

You get so spoiled here. Store bought tortillas will never be in your shopping basket once you've eaten the real stuff. I've even gone through the drive through at one of our local Mexican fast food restaurants and ordered flour tortillas to go (they sell them by the dozen here). I then went home and made my own enchiladas using their tortillas. Oh yeah, baby. Tacos in Texas--it's an experience you have to have first hand to truly understand.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Being Polite is Part of Being Texan

Texas Pride! Pictures, Images and Photos
I'm an adopted Texan. About two and a half years ago, my husband and I decided to sell our house, pack up all we own (and everything we still owe on) and move to San Antonio. We had no home, no family nearby and most importantly,--no job waiting for us. We moved cold turkey. Most would ask, "What the hell are you doing?" I know my husband asked me that more than once.

I just knew it was the right time to make a change. We both had ties to Texas in various ways. His grandmother was born in Texas. One of his great grandfathers is buried up in the panhandle. Three of my older siblings were born in El Paso when my Dad was in the service. So, we've heard stories about the state over the years. (We pictured Texas as being full of rattlesnakes, sagebrush and big skies, but that's another blog. lol)

What made us truly pack up and move was the price of housing. Only someone living in California can truly understand the value of a purchasing a new home with more than 3,100 square feet for a mere $200,000. It was a dream come true. Of course, to do this we had to move thousands of miles from everything we knew. We had to leave behind all family and friends and somehow find a job. But we did it.

And we bought that house, with escrow closing in only one week. If that wasn't destiny I don't know what to call it. We love the house, the neighborhood and yes, we both got jobs.

The first thing I noticed when we moved to Texas, (besides the affordable housing) was how polite everyone was--no matter where you were. Work, shopping, and even fast food restaurants--we heard a lot of "Yes, ma'am, " or "Thank you, sir." A smile almost always greets us wherever we go. At first, it was quite unnerving. I kept wondering what the person's secret agenda was--my Mama didn't raise me a fool. But, no agenda. Go figure? People are just polite here. I found myself picking up the habits. Especially at work, I would find myself responding to people, "Yes, ma'am." "No, sir." and I meant it. If I had done that back in California they would have thought I was from another planet.

The longer you live here, the more you get manners. Now, that's not saying there aren't idiots here, because they are still around. But, on the whole, most people will treat you mighty nice. You start to feel you are a better person because of it. Having manners actually feels nice.

I think I like it.