Texas: The European Tour

Did you know that Texas has a plethora of cities named after European cities?  I have known about Paris, Texas since I was a young girl.  I’ve toured most of Europe since we lived in Germany most of my childhood.  We spent many a holiday visiting the UK, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, and more.  As a young adult, I traveled to Greece.

Now that we’re living in Texas, a lot has changed.  We’ve aged and don’t really feel the urge to travel great distances like we once did.  But on a whim, I took the kids on a road trip to Paris, Texas during Spring break a few years ago.  It was fun.  They have an Eiffel Tower there….but with a gigantic cowboy hat on the top of it.  Next to that, there is a veterans memorial dedicated to all of the veterans from that area as far back as the mid-1800’s.

After that trip, I decided that we’re going to check out every European city within our great state of Texas.  The next place we visited was Dublin, Texas.  It’s hands down our favorite so far.  We got to tour the Ben Hogan Museum there.  It was great.  Ben Hogan was such an amazing contributor to the game of golf.  He deserves his own little museum.  We also toured the Dr. Pepper Museum while we were there.  That place is so cool.  They’ve got DP stuff that goes back over 100 years.  We also had some sandwiches at the little sandwich shop that runs the DP museum and purchased a case of sodas bottled by the Dublin soda factory that still runs today.  I’d like to go back there one day when the antique shops are open.

We had a very sweaty trip to Athens, Texas.  Unfortunately for us, we got a late start on a Sunday, and by the time we arrived almost the whole town was closed.  We did go on a self-guided tour of the Arboretum there and it was extremely pleasant, albeit hotter than a $12 stereo.  The best part was a huge gazebo with a massive fan in the ceiling (it wasn’t on) and a stage.  No one was around, so I stood on that stage and sang my fool head off.  The acoustics were awesome.

This past Spring break, we attempted to see the sites of Rhome.  (No, that’s  not a typo.  It’s just a Texan spelling of Rome, I guess.)  The tiny little veterans memorial there was nice.  But that’s pretty much all it had to offer.  We got a little spooked by the muscle car full of rednecks that kept driving up and down the road while we were at the memorial.  The occupants kept staring at us like we were Martians.  Probably they’d never seen such good-looking people before.  Of course, it may have been the hijabs the girls and I were wearing.  Anyway, we decided 15 minutes was long enough and piled back in the van and went home.

Today, we decided to try a city whose twin used to be behind the Iron Curtain:  WARSAW.  Warsaw’s history is pretty sparse.  It was established back in 1847 and had a post office until 1858.  I think the largest population it had was 65 back in the 1990s, until recently when there was a huge population growth and now the town numbers 300.  They have a community center now.  And. Nothing. Else.  The trip was a 114-mile U-turn in someone’s driveway.  It’s a couple-hundred horse town….but no stop lights.  We didn’t even get out of the car.  We just drove back home and made ice cream sundaes and watched the rain fall for a while.  But that’s okay.  It was one more town checked off our list and family time of sandwiches in the car, one stop at a gas station to pee, and another story of “family togetherness torture” for the kids to complain about to their therapists when they’re older.

 

 

Our Summer Vacation to Athens

So, this week has been a major ass-kicker for me…mostly in a good way. Sunday we took advantage of the fact that my son and daughter both quit their summer jobs and that my husband finally replaced the compressor in the van giving us air-conditioning. YAY. So we finally got on the road about 2 pm and headed off to Athens. (That’s Athens, Texas, y’all.)
Of course, due to the late start and having to deal with a major autistic meltdown with a pit stop at Dairy Queen to calm nerves all around, we managed to get to this po-dunk town after everything that we wanted to see had closed. So we headed back to the main drag and pulled into the East Texas Arboretum and did a little hiking in 104 degree heat. It was an impressive patch of woods with lots of lovely gardens and fountains and a one-room school house and a bat house. We spent a whopping hour there before piling back into the van and driving home. I think the highlights for me were the photos of my kids and husband playing “slow-mo Ninja” in the gazebo and the fact that I didn’t have to cook. (We bought pizza that night.) My husband was excited about the fact that I had enough fuel points to only have to pay 86 cents per gallon when we filled up the van.

We’ve traveled quite a bit all over the US, Europe, Middle East and North Africa. But since moving to the US and making our home in Texas, we’ve decided to spend some time seeing all of the major European cities within Texas state lines. We have now gone to Paris, Dublin, and Athens. Not bad for day trips, huh?

Fam in Athens

Supposed To vs Actually

We’re supposed to go on a road trip today. We’re supposed to be stuffing the entire overbooked with practical shit summer into one day of family fun not too far from home. My kids are supposed to be up and packing picnics, getting softball equipment, and bags of ice ready and into the back of the van (the same van that my husband just had repaired so that we could make this trip WITH air conditioning as opposed to the usual sweat-logged journeys of the past.) I’m supposed to be gassing up said van and using up all my “fuel points” to get the cheapest gas around and jumping up and down like an idiot that’s one a $50 scratch ticket. (Thank you, Kroger Plus card.)

What’s actually happening is my husband is in the backyard painting the cement slab he laid for the kids to play basketball on, I’m checking email (and now blogging quickly as my jeans are still in the dryer,) and all 5 teens are still asleep.

I vote we ditch the kids and show them pictures of all the fun we had while they slept once we get back.

 

99 is Fine

According to my internet weather app, it will only be a high of 99F today. You KNOW you live in North Texas when you actually get happy over this number. Yeah, I know it’s summer time and I should expect heat when we live in the devil’s armpit. But yesterday it was 96F at 10:30 IN THE MORNING!!!! The high heat of the day doesn’t hit here until about 4:00 pm. To say it was sweltering would be an understatement.

It’s been like that all week. I am usually outdoorsy as hell. But wow. Not this year. I’m just biding my time taking care of all the housework and attempting to map out all my errands at one time, always the last one in the morning stopping at one of those drive up windmill things and buying 10-20 pounds of ice to stick in the water cooler that has become a permanent fixture on the end of my kitchen table.

It could be worse. I know this. We could be in Houston.

My Body is a Traitor

Rotator cuff is screaming at me and has been since January that it is being overused. I tried taking it to the doctor and all she prescribed was NSAIDs and ordered an x-ray which didn’t show any bone issues. I took it back in April and said, “Hey, this thing is worse.” She sent me to physical therapy. I did the prescribed exercises for a week regularly. Then for two weeks irregularly. And then I got busy. And now my rotator cuff is threatening to just go on strike or worse.

The plantar fascia in my left foot has been quiet lately. I’m pretty sure that it and the diminished cartilage in my big toe have been waiting for a surprise attack once ole rotator cuff chills out. Stupid arthritis has been just gnawing on that cartilage all this time without any problems thanks to your brain only being able to recognize one severe pain at a time while drowning out the sounds of the others.

Through all of this, my eyes and skin continue to dry out regardless of the copious amounts of water that I drink daily. And you’d think with all this stinkin’ sweat that is pouring out of me day and night, regardless of clothing, air-conditioning, or temperature outside, that I’d obviously have some sort of moisture in my body. (Aside from the urine that escapes with every step, sneeze, cough, laugh, or wrong move.) Yeah, not so. Menopause is just life’s way of backing that dump truck over a woman following mowing her down the first time during menstruation and childbirth.

I always heard that aging is not for the faint of heart. I can attest to this. But as good as I’ve been to my body over the years, I find this treasonous blitz the last two years to be a huge betrayal. After all of the exercise and good foods and even those cheesecake treats I’ve given it, that it could just turn on me and cause me constant agony makes me sad. But what does one do? Aging is NOT for the faint of heart. And I guess it beats the alternative.

 

It’s Gotta Be the Heat

I’ve got at least four blog posts saved to draft. They all started out as good subjects to write about, but somewhere around the third paragraph each lost steam so I just chucked them into the draft folder.

I hate that. I know that I’m notorious for starting projects and not finishing them for a long time. It’s not that I’m non-committal. I’m always committed to what I am doing. I think that the issue is more that I tend to commit to several different projects at the same time and I can only divide my attention so many ways. Realizing that this is an easy fix, I still can’t stop myself from saying YES to so many interesting things to do. (Yes, that includes books. I’m reading two simultaneously-ish right now. One is a “how-to” and the other is a novel that sort of caught my eye at the library. I think both are overdue.)

The bottom line is that I AM a finisher. I will eventually complete all 4 of those other drafts in my folder. I will read both books…though admittedly the “how-to” will be the one I return without completing until I check it out again in a month or so when things “slow down.” The novel I’ll read in a waiting room while all 3 teens get dental check ups at the same time because I tend to make all their appointments on the same day if I can get away with it.

Why am I losing steam with the whole writing thing? I blame the heat. It’s hotter than a $12 stereo outside and I just don’t have the energy to think much past remembering to pick the kids up from Summer School. (Yes. I’m THAT mom forcing her kids to take accelerated Physics and Geometry so that they can have more electives options in their fall schedules. And yes, they hate me for it.)  I will probably even re-read the ten chapters of my novel that I started writing and then put away because I got pissed off at my characters for not gelling the way I wanted them to. (Of course I realize that it’s a mechanical issue: The nut loose behind the keyboard.)

But I always complete the stuff I start. I will get to all of it…except for the friggin’ yard sale that I will never have because of the HEAT and my inability to just SIT in it for hours. *sigh* I may have to stop collecting yard sale crap in my room or the “room organization” venture that I started may be the second thing that I don’t complete.

Again, I blame the heat.

 

What a SLUG!

*photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

This is me as it relates to my keeping up with my blog since I’ve been back in the U.S.  And I don’t mean to be all “Oh, I’m so, so terribly busy with all my busyness and stuff,” as though other SAHM’s aren’t just as busy or possibly busier than I am.  I’m not that self-absorbed.

But honestly, this has been the roughest adjustment period after a move….EVER. Randa is still not out of her mandatory “we moved again”depression and it’s been 2 months. 
Remember the expression, “It’s Africa hot?” Well, damn if Texas isn’t Africa-hotter. I haven’t the energy to get out of bed in the morning…which, less face it, is forced energy anyway having 5 teenagers all at the same time.  But good grief, you can just feel your sweat glands breathing heavily and telling your brain in the morning, “Aw, come on! We’re exhausted already! Leave us be.”
We’re also fasting from dawn until sunset for the month of Ramadan right now. Yes, it is earlier than last year.  It’s actually about 10 days earlier EVERY year as the Islamic calendar (Hijri calendar) is lunar-based as opposed to the Gregorian calendar (you know, the “regular one.”) And while not eating really isn’t that big a deal for us, and after the first day or two, neither is the getting started without that morning caffeine boost.  But going without water until 8:30 at night in 104 degree F heat is definitely a challenge. And it really does take a lot out of you.  So there’s that….
AND trying to figure out how to enroll kids into what schools and with no documentation because the Egyptian Ministry of Education refused to release their transcripts to me because I’m not their father has been frustrating to say the least.  I may actually have this figured out now that I’ve made 9,006 telephone calls, sent 439 emails, and put 417 additional miles on my husband’s Honda driving around scouting out schools in our area that aren’t classified as “bad.”
I am excited about our new house and would really like to get started fixing things that need fixing and gardening and decorating and putting a big chunk of those awesome “For the Home” and “DIY projects” items that I’ve squirreled away on Pinterest to good use.  But damn….it’s Africa Hotter and who in the hell has the time? Once these kids get back in school (God willing, I’m able to enroll them,) I’m going to do at least one hour of gardening per day, one Pinterest project per week, and one chapter per day on my novel that is currently collecting dust in the back burners of this laptop. 
Rest assured. You, my whopping 3 fans, have not been forgotten.

Yukon on My Mind

steamy….
   sweaty…..
       sultry…but not in a sexy, New Orleans late September kind of way….

stinky….
   funky….
      damp…that’s the dirty laundry piled up on the floor in front of my washer…

empty….
   dusty……
      dry….that’s the  inside of my roll-on deodorant bottle

this is the summer from Hell.  I have showered more times per day than an automatic car wash runs when giving away free washes with every tank of gas purchased.  my permanent hair dye washed out after two weeks due to frequent washing. i look at pictures of Alaska, polar bears, popsicles, ice cubes and toboggans just to cool off. the kids broke one of the fans. i offered to exchange the guilty party for a new fan but the guy thought i was joking and held out his hand for the 110 pounds that a new fan will cost me. my hilarious youngest son cut out the picture of the fan from the box and gave it to me. he said this fan will still provide air even in a power outage. who knew that a finger poke to the forehead could make someone cry?

i look at the 10-day forecast and it’s as though the guy just made photo copies of the same forecast back in late May and then took a 3-month vacation. 0% chance of rain, 0% chance of rain,  0% chance of rain.

maybe we should move out of Africa and into Alaska.

    

Funky Errands

Here is a journaled out version of what I did this morning. I’m telling you, I am exhausted just re-reading it. And I have a serious impulse to take another shower. But for any of you who don’t believe that I’m as busy as I am, here’s proof:

‎0800 Egypt Local Time (ELT) – Answered phone (wake up call from neighbor)
0830 ELT- Finally got my arse out of bed, showered, made coffee, got dressed and left.
0930 ELT- Arrived at school and picked up Mohamed’s administrative records.
1000 ELT- Went to the high school to find out he’s 4 points shy of being able to register there and unless the grade curve drops in the next couple of weeks, he’ll have to go to trade school. This is not good.
1030 ELT- Arrived at bank, got number, found an empty seat right under the air conditioner vent. Very glad I brought my book.
1045 ELT- Smelly, disgusting guy takes empty seat next to me and proceeds to clear his throat and cough a lot. Begin to wonder if he has tuberculosis or just smoked too much hash last night.
1049 ELT- Smelly, coughing dude REMOVES HIS SHOES AND OH DEAR LORD WHY DID I LOOK? He hasn’t cut his toenails in 6 years apparently. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
1055 ELT- Smelly, coughing brain surgeon wants to know how the number thing works…specifically, “How do the tellers know what number I have in my hand?” (Uhm, because you hand them the fucking ticket after the computerized number board announces that they’re serving your number.)
1059 ELT- Wondering how Mubarak was so successful with his evil plan to make the majority of Egyptians morons.
1115 ELT- Smelly, coughing, toenails dude is now aggravating some young man to his right. Thank God. He’ll now be coughing somewhere other than on my shoulder.
1138 ELT- Number 117 is called. I’m number 118 so I get up and run to the open space between the only two teller windows open waiting for my numer to be called.
1145 ELT- EFF-word. Apparently, numbers don’t mean shit around here. 6 customers who’ve already been at the teller windows have been called back by name. What gives people? Whatever. At least the gnarly toed dude is hacking his lungs on me.
1150 ELT- Still waiting. What is that smell? OMG. It’s me. I was sweating so bad outside that my sweat under all these layers of clothes (that are still soaked from while I was outside) all smell like Fritos. Wondering if the smelly, guy was really smelly or if it was just me smelling me.
1155 ELT- Really self-conscious now. OMG. Did I really forget to put deodorant on?
1202 ELT- NOW SERVING 118…..Oh, thank God.
1204 ELT- Exit bank and go directly to buy garbage bags, ground beef and cookies.
1217 ELT- Start pulling clothes off as soon as the front door slams shut. Shower. Dress. PUT DEODORANT ON….twice.

1300 ELT- NAP




Heat and Discouragement


I shouldn’t complain about the heat. I feel like an a-hole. You know like that lyric in Denis Leary’s song? “I walk around in the summertime saying, “How about that heat?” And it’s not like I’m a firefighter up in Colorado Springs or something. (Lord, please bring them rain.) And I’m not a Bedouin living in a tent in the middle of the Sahara or something. So I don’t have air-conditioning. We do have ceiling fans and if worse comes to worst, we can always walk down to the beach (if the damn tourists will move over and leave some space on the sand) and enjoy the breeze and the cool water. So what if it’s 86 degrees F with a relative humidity of 66% making it feel as though is is 106! It could be worse. (Not that I’m asking for proof of that, Lord.) In Dhaka, Bangladesh right now it’s 84 degrees F but their relative humidity is at 87%. If the relative humidity is 100% is it raining? Indeed.

So, I’ve been researching publishers and editors online and WOW. There is so much to learn. I am not certain if I want to self-publish. I know you get more profit-wise but I don’t know that I’m that much of a control freak and really…who has the time? I get sick of my own self-promotion just spreading around my links back to this blog. I love the attention but honestly, if I have to beg for it, People. It’s just so anticlimactic.

A very, dear friend of mine (you’re all dear friends but this one I’ve been friends with since 1987) read all the chapters of my novel that I’ve written so far and she said that it’s kinda of memoir-ish and that the character I wanted as my main character…next to myself…is sort of hanging out there. So that was disappointing. BUT,
still encouraging. I can fix all of that later if I can just sit down and pound out my story. I’m starting to sleep an awful lot lately. I could be getting sick. But I think it’s just the heat. So if I can just tie a cotton scarf on my head to keep the sweat out of my eyes and sit down and type my heart out, I can go back and edit the crap out of it and tie it all together later, right?

My mom once told me that the devil’s favorite tool is not lust or envy or any of the glamorous sounding sins. It is discouragement. Because when we are discouraged we tend to doubt ourselves and then we give up. Giving up prevents us from being the most or best that we can be. And I thought about that yesterday. I thought about it a lot. And I know that I’m sabotaging myself by allowing the heat and lack of time (really, lack of MAKING time) and whatever other excuse I can think up, to prevent me from completing this work.
(Honestly, that could all be said for me failing miserably at this dieting thing, too. But that’s another bridge to jump from later.) So, I’m going to do this. I’m going to write. And for once in my life, I’m going to COMPLETE this task before starting another. (Pinterest, your lovely DIY projects will have to be put on hold.)

I AM a writer. I will write.