Sunday, November 5, 2017

Where Does This End?

Stressed?  Look at the kitten. LOOK AT HER!!!!
Among all the wonderful, magnificent aspects of Texas that are admirable, our sense of community is tops.  We are generally friendly and like a good party.  We love our sports, our barbecues, and our communities. A community becomes a tribe.  A clan.  A family.

And a great many of us, Texan or not, count our churches as part of that community.  In small towns, especially, a church becomes the heart of a community.  People come together in prayer, in fellowship, in sickness and in health. Young adults fall in love at church picnics, become a family, and they show up on Sundays with their children in tow.  Small towns have many faults, but their sense of community is not one of them. Which is why the news today, of a white man shooting up a small town church 30 miles southeast of me is so shocking.  The fact that the shooter apparently came from New Braunfels, a place I worked for twenty years, hits me in the gut.

A church is supposed to be a place of safety, of sanctuary.  Historically, people in Europe sought refuge in cathedrals, requesting sanctuary from persecution.  It was considered a grave sin to violate sanctuary, once given.  These days, we don't have the same concerns, but a church is still viewed as a place of refuge.  Safety.  Those who need help, who have nowhere else to go, find themselves at the doors of churches, seeking comfort.  And they usually get it.  Now that sense of peace, that sense of safety, is gone. All those people, raised in their faith to believe that their Lord would protect them from all evil, are feeling very afraid right now. If you can't find sanctuary in your church, your sense of community suffers. The heart is gone, replaced by what?

Where does this all end?  When do the NRA fanatics put aside their frenzied fight over their bastardization of the Second Amendment?  When do the "Liberal snowflakes" stop looking down on those who don't share their opinions?  Why are we even fighting about common sense gun control?  Why is this so difficult?  We are better than this.  We should all be able to be adults, come to the table and figure out what to do.

I wish that I could say that Texas was at the forefront of gun control legislation.  I wish that I could say the Lone Star state was committed to the safety of its citizens, and willing to listen to ideas and possible solutions.  I may not have any answers, but surely someone does.   But tomorrow, after all the empty platitudes about prayers being offered up for Sutherland Springs?  It will be business as usual, with the finger pointing and the blame being flung about. Nothing will happen to stop this from happening again, and again, and again.

Where does this all end?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It's Mum Season

Fall in Central Texas is really, really...not that different from the other three seasons. Most of the trees don't change colors, but the daily temperatures fall from "Melt Everything" down to a balmy "Reasonably Warm".  If you did not have access to a calendar it would be December, and you wouldn't even know it.  But there are some things that definitely delineate the fall season in the Lone Star State from any other time of year.  While driving to work this morning, I realized that it’s Mum season. 
No Mums? No Worries!

Yep. Mum season.

At high schools throughout the state, millions of highly decorated mums show up on the chests and sleeves of middle and high school students. A few colleges, too.  Since I did not attend high school in the Lone Star state, I can only stare with bemusement.  It’s a big deal on the social calendar in Texas.

It is also a big deal for florists, crafty moms, and the local economy.  The weeks before the big Homecoming game, little roadside booths seem to rise up out of the ground like weeds, filled with brightly colored silk flowers and ribbons, in a variety of styles.

Cash only, of course.

Just about every single girl comes to school wearing at least one mum. If they don't have a boyfriend, their parents chip in for one, so their daughter won't be a social pariah.  The more popular girls may have their entire front covered with flowers, ribbons displaying school colors, tiny bells and other glorious fanfare. How on earth some of these girls can stand upright is a mystery.  Even the boys participate, wearing smaller versions on their arms with pride.  Mums are worn all day the Friday before the Homecoming game.  Then worn to the games.  Some wear their mums to the Homecoming dance, because their parents had a fit about the cost.  Some go really fancy and wear an entirely different mum to the dance. 

And after the day, the game, the dance?

The flowers die, and the ribbons get put away in the back of the closet or hung from the bedroom mirror.  It's time to put away childish things, and focus on life, not frivolity. 

Back to the grindstone.

At least until the next Mum Season.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Proceed With Candy

When I am working very hard on a report, or trying to focus on a specific task at work, I stress eat. Mindless eating, really. I find myself munching away without any concern about actually being hungry.  I usually bring healthy snacks with me to work these days.  Pretzels, fruit, cheese are tucked into my lunchbox so I can blindly stuff my face with something that won't cause me to gain 10,000 pounds. 

And those are wonderful, brain craves chocolate.  Glorious, delicious, perfect chocolate.  I don't blindly swallow such wonderful items, however. That would be just wrong.  Such decadence must be enjoyed.  I put a piece in my mouth, and allow it to melt. I savor the taste, basking in the flavors. Then I get back to work, my minor irritations soothed. 

My chocolate eating could rightfully be considered mindful.  Mindfulness is the thing these days.  Be present in the moment, and all that. My moments with chocolate, however brief they may be, are mini-stress breaks, taken throughout my day to help protect my sanity.  I explained all this very carefully to my family doctor just the other day.

"I understand your point," my doctor said.  "However, your blood sugar is too high.  You need to cut back."

"No."  I crossed my arms in front of me, and stuck out my bottom lip.  I was not cutting out chocolate.  I was very firm on that.

"What about dark chocolate?" my doctor knows how stubborn I can be, after all these years.  Give the man credit for attempting to compromise.   After a little more cajoling, I agreed to make an effort toward lowering my blood sugar.  I would switch to dark chocolate, which does not have as much sugar as milk chocolate. 

"Can I finish the current bag first?" I asked hopefully.  I had just purchased said bag, and was being practical.  My doctor looked skeptical, but he just sighed heavily.  I took that as a yes. 

Now my chocolate breaks will be even more mindful, and maybe a bit mournful.  But still...chocolate!