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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Political Musings

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holb_c13468820150827120100Are you kidding me, people of America? Is this field of presidential candidates the best we can do? I’m reluctant to jump into the fray, but it is time to SPEAK UP! In fact, it’s time for all of us who have half a brain to do so. First, what is up with the family dynasties? What genius decided we needed another Bush or another Clinton in the White House? Even the beloved mother of Jeb thinks we’ve had enough Bushes. And Hillary? At first I thought the email thing was just a minor distraction, but, clearly it isn’t and, frankly, I don’t want to hear her excuses or her pretenses about her lack of computer knowledge. “Swipe it? You mean with a cloth or something?” Come on, Hil, the prez needs to be smarter than that – we American citizens are. Oh, and watching Hillary and Jeb speak gets me as enthused as watching a re-run of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Does anyone feel like rushing out for a bumper sticker yet? The best part of another Bush/Clinton run is the fodder they’ll provide for Saturday Night Live.

I know Hillary and Jeb aren’t our only options; there are also the dynamic Bernie Sanders and Lindsey Graham. Oh, and fifteen other Republican dynamos, including the pride of Texas, Rick Perry. I know, I’m ignoring the elephant in the room, the star of Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump, who leads all candidates for president by a landslide. Honestly? A billionaire with a bad comb-over who invited a female audience member to come on stage and touch it? A seeming racist who has insulted Mexican Americans time after time by calling illegal immigrants “drug addicts” and “murderers”, and who yelled at a Hispanic reporter to “Go back to Univision,” meaning Mexico. And how ’bout his feud with Megyn Kelly of Fox, whom he claimed “had blood coming our of her wherever,” meaning vagina, then called her “a bimbo.” That’s the kind of man I want negotiating with Putin and Kim Jong-un, not to mention Angela Merkel. Make it stop!

How in the world did this happen? I’ll tell you how it happened. Our national leaders – all of them, Republican and Democrat – have acted so selfishly, with such meanness and intent to cause division, that our nation is a hot mess. Political correctness is the rule of the day and anyone who offers an opinion will be met with derision and labeled a racist, a socialist, a communist, and too many others to name. Americans like Donald Trump because he speaks his mind and doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. I guess you can do that when you are so rich you don’t depend on anyone else’s money to help get you elected. Money talks and B.S. walks…except when you have more money than anyone else on the planet. I get that people are tired of double-speak and political correctness and they appreciate the frankness of Trump. But really, when will he go away? People aren’t honestly going to vote for him for President of the United States, are they?

So, what is the solution? Let’s find a candidate who has the good of the country in mind, the ability to speak his/her mind and to reach across the aisle and work with people without spewing vitriol, who will follow the Constitution and surround him/herself with smart advisors, who is charming, good-looking, a dynamic speaker, witty, not beholden to super-PACs, but not so perfect that SNL writers can’t find something to make fun of. Hmmm, that is a tall order. Maybe it was just easier to ask a Bush and a Clinton. Come on, Mr. or Ms. Perfect Candidate. We know you’re out there…somewhere?

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School Supplies

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IMG_3886  Mid-August has rolled around too soon, as usual. Time for back to school and the hottest temperatures of the year in South Texas. I heard some young moms recently encourage each other to “enjoy this last week before the craziness ends.” I can only remember what it was like to have a full, loud house for three months of the summer, as my kids are now grown. But I do remember it often seemed very crazy with three girls going in different directions to camps, tennis lessons, swim team, driver’s ed, and friends’ houses for sleepovers. Eventually, though, the dog days of summer arrived, the long days seemed to drag, and mass boredom ensued, prompting my efforts to help. Why don’t you go outside and play? Why don’t you ride your bike to a friend’s house? Oh yeah, it’s too hot. Even the charm of the swimming pool wore off as the water temperature rose and my potted plants wilted. Luckily, as if to break the monotony, the school supply list was posted. Despite my daughters’ dread of the looming first day of school, they all got very excited about a trip to Target to explore aisle upon aisle of cool binders and multi-colored notebooks, some covered with psychedelic images of kittens and puppies or the latest pop culture icon. I could only imagine their thrill at seeing Justin Bieber or the cast of High School Musical every time they pulled out their Social Studies spirals. Oh, and the array of brightly colored mechanical pencils, cases in which to place them, and those big pink erasers! Then there was the selection of backpacks. I don’t remember spending a fortune on Care Bear or Barney backpacks, but as the girls grew up, backpack shopping got serious; Patagonia and L.L. Bean serious.  Clothes shopping wasn’t such a big deal though, since they went to Catholic school. There was just the annual review of the State of the Uniform, at which time out-grown clothes were typically passed down the line to the younger sis while the older one was dragged to the uniform store for a new white blouse and plaid skirt. Most every year we had to shop for the requisite black shoes, which were always difficult to locate in August. Finally, after all the shopping and backpack stuffing, it was time to rush through the summer reading assignments and mentally brace ourselves for the start of the school year and its accompanying cherished traditions. Back-to-School Picnic, Meet-the-Teacher Night, Sign-Up-for-PTO-Job-or-Feel-Guilty, Spend-a-Full-Day-Penciling-Dates-in-Your-Calendar. The number of early dismissal days was astounding.

Before we knew it, an August arrived that was different from all the preceding ones; it was time to take our oldest to college. This involved a totally different set of school supplies, including bedding, towels and a laptop. The summer was one of high emotion, lots of excitement mixed with high anxiety, nervousness and fear, mixed with relief that she was going to college after all the SAT’s, applications and essays. August brought a pit-in-the-stomach feeling that a big change was on the horizon. Then, it was time for goodbyes and the stifling of tears all around.  We repeated that twice more and are now adapting to a much quieter nest.

As my youngest prepares to return to college for her junior year, there haven’t been many supplies to purchase. Just some funny Andy Warhol pencils, some llama sticky notes, and a new set of twin sheets. The pit in my stomach that grew every August is long gone, replaced by contentment that there are no more unknowns associated with the start of this new school year. In fact, next August will be the last time I’ll ever have to think about purchasing school supplies.

Plumeria: A Miracle Plant

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My father was a nature lover, which might surprise many who knew him as a hard-working attorney who practiced law for over sixty years. But after working all week in a windowless office in a century-old building, there was nothing he loved more than a weekend in his backyard where he tended to his pool and plants and diligently moved the sprinklers from one patch of St. Augustine to another. Over the years, he acquired a few blooming  plants that he potted, watered and fertilized with care, bright red hibiscus was always a favorite, but none delighted him more than his exotic plumeria, also called frangipani, that never ceased to amaze him, even to his dying day.

Since the mid-’90’s, this plant occupied a sunny spot near the patio where my parents would sit in summer evenings watching the purple martins return to their house in the corner of the yard while enjoying the frangipani’s fragrant blossoms. It seemed that no matter how relentless the South Texas heat beat down, burning the grass and withering plants and humans, the plumeria kept yielding its blossoms, much to Dad’s delight. Every year as fall gradually neared, usually by late September, Dad would shield his tropical prize from winter’s wind and cold by dragging it into the storeroom off the patio. All its leaves turned brown and crunchy, fell off and carpeted the storeroom floor leaving a sad-looking pot of limbs. Then, each spring, the ungainly potted plant would resume its spot by the pool, seemingly lifeless, its thick limbs starkly naked.  Dad would watch its progress daily, as green buds suddenly emerged from the edge of each limb, then grew into large waxy leaves, then more buds emerged from the center of each clump of leaves and, eventually, unfailingly, became magnificent blooms. And, every year, without fail, Dad would exclaim it a miracle. And we’d smile, wondering how he could find such delight in the same predictable annual occurrence.

After Dad’s health began to fail in the spring of 2013 and he became confused about most everything, my brother remembered the frangipani in the storeroom. He dragged it out onto its spot on the patio and Dad was pleased. His caretakers watered it and took him outside daily to view its remarkable progress. When we visited he’d ask if we’d noticed the frangipani and how it was blooming again. We’d smile and pat his hand. My brother dragged it back to the storeroom for the winter, then out again one final time in the spring of 2014, which would be the last season of Dad’s life. He found comfort in the plant’s predictable forward march until his death on June 7, three years ago tomorrow. His beloved frangipani was blooming that day. And today, that 20+ year old plant is on the patio in my backyard, beside my pool, about to bloom again. My family and I have excitedly watched its annual transformation, and will proclaim it a miracle when its beautiful blossoms reappear.

 

Girlfriends

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Summertime makes me more grateful than usual for my girlfriends, especially this summer when my three children are all over the map, but, mostly, not at home. I see friends during the summer that I don’t see at other times of the year. Friends from miles away who make an effort to stop by as they pass through San Antonio dropping kids off at camp in the hill country. A close friend who invites me to her mountain home in Colorado where we hike, bike and drink copious amounts of wine. An old friend from my ‘hood that I’ve lost touch with who, serendipitously, appears at her friend’s mountain home in Colorado and we all hike together. The joy of making new friends while attending the Lake Michigan wedding of a dear friend’s daughter who used to live down the street.  A casual supper with a close friend who lives around the corner who is moving hundreds of miles away in the fall to support her child who has a unique opportunity. A group of friends so close that we’ve met every month without fail for 26 years just to share supper. Another few who worked together in a law office long ago, and are now united in their quest for the perfect margarita and go looking for it every couple of months. Friends who went to high school together then moved away, reuniting and reliving those glory days of football, pep squad and drill team. Go Gobblers! I’ll miss these lazy summer days of renewed friendships. Then I remember there’s the old reliable, the neighbor who is always up for a road trip to Austin just for lunch, and my workout buddy who saves me thousands in therapy bills; the group of friends who play bunco together once a month, September to May, and those who celebrate each other’s birthdays throughout the year with lunch, cake, and adult beverages.

I would say I am blessed, but that’s so over-used…I’ll just say thank you dear friends, for helping me navigate my empty nest!

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