Why I’m Sad to See Winter Go

Disclaimer:  I live in Texas where these are our seasons: 1) almost summer,  2) hotter than H-E-double-hockey-sticks, 3) still summer, and 4) a little cooler than summer.  Keep your snowballs to yourself.  They would just melt before they hit me anyway.

Yes, I’m sad to say goodbye to Old Man Winter.  Spring is threatening everywhere with blooming daffodils, budding azaleas, and people wearing flipflops and shorts in 50-degree weather.  Why am I sad?  Let me count the ways.

1.  Snow.  I’m still waiting!  We haven’t even had a good ice storm this winter!  I’ve got grandchildren who’ve never even seen snowmen in person.  A few years ago we had snow in March.  It’s getting pretty far into March now, though, and no weather person has mentioned any ice storms coming in the near future.

2.  Allergies.  Here, allergy season goes into high gear in the spring.  The weather turns nice, the flowers start blooming, then, just as you start thinking about doing some yard work, that thick yellow stuff called pollen coats everything from vehicles to cows and sends you running back into the house for Kleenex and Chlorpheniramine.  Try sneezing and saying that at the same time.

3.  Boots.  I’ve managed to accumulate several pairs of boots over the years and I really like to wear them.  My toes and roadmaps of veins hide pretty well in boots.  I would even wear them in the summer if they also didn’t serve as ovens in hot weather.  Someone should invent tiny air conditioners for shoes.

4.  Winter clothes.  So much more attractive on older, heavier bodies than skimpy summer styles.  Who wants to see upper arms and legs over 50?  That’s why shrugs and capri pants were invented, people.  But sometimes it gets so hot you just gotta.  I know!  I’m right there with you!  Forget about swimsuits.  Unless you have to take grandkids.  Then what do you do?  You resort to suits with skirts and baggy coverups and hope you don’t have to get in the water, or at least deeper than your ankles.

5.  Blazing fires.  Not a good thing in summertime when the air already feels like you’re standing near a fire.  Great in the winter.  Who doesn’t love a roaring fire in the fireplace or firepit?  You get to wrap up in a blanket and sip on a warm beverage.  Nothing better.  In the summer just stare at the sun or its reflection on car windshields.  But not directly, of course.

That’s about it.  I’ll have to paint my toenails, break out the sandals and capri pants, put the boots and sweaters in storage, and resign myself to another six months of scorching heat.  That’s all right, I suppose.  I’ll try to squeeze in some yard work before the sun burns everything up.  Now where did I put the Flonase and tissue?  Achoo!

How do you feel about winter?



The Little White House on Willow Branch Road

My parents traded houses with my grandparents on my daddy’s side when I was four, which would be in 1963, so we moved from the big house to the little white house.  They decided to trade houses because the big house had more room, and then my two aunts and an uncle were still living at home.  The little white house was located about half a mile down the same road, Willow Branch Road, as the big house.

My most vivid memory of the little house is Christmas, and Mama and Daddy coming to the bedroom my brother and I shared to coax us out of bed to see what Santa brought us.  Can you imagine children having to be coaxed out of bed on Christmas morning?  I guess my brother and I were a bit timid.  It could have something to do with watching for Santa and his sleigh out the bedroom window.  Maybe we were afraid he would still be there and we were shy.
I remember only one of my Christmas gifts and it was a horse pillow for TV watching.  My brother and I each got one.

One other memory I have from living in the little white house was watching Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock with my parents.  They probably didn’t think I was watching, but those people with pig snouts scared me, and I also remember dolls that came to life.  That memory could explain why I freaked out when I discovered my husband years later watching Stephen King’s “It” while our toddler played in the same room!

My dad and baby sister at the little white house

One day Mama and us kids were outside, Mama sitting on the back step with my baby sister Sharon, and Allen and I playing in the backyard.  A red wasp landed in Mama’s hair and as she shook her head to get it out, it decided to take off after me!  Mama cried, “Run, April!”  So I ran.  But I didn’t run fast enough or far enough.  I stopped running and that red wasp popped me on the forehead over my left eyebrow and then on my hand when I brushed it away.  I still have the hole in my forehead from the stinger.  I’ve been afraid of wasps ever since.  Mama tried. . .   Wait, isn’t that a song?

Me helping with Sharon at the little white house
I don’t have many more memories of life in the little white house, but I do remember Mama chasing my brother around the house in a tight shift dress.  I don’t recall if they were playing or if he was in trouble!  (Probably the latter.)
On to the house by the football field  in Van. . .stay tuned!



Teacher Tuesday: Cool Coolness

It is a rare thing indeed to sit outside on a west-facing porch on an early August evening in Texas without breaking a sweat.  I can’t believe I just enjoyed having Lucy the cat walk across my lap while I enjoyed a bowl of Goldenbrook Farms Praline Pecan ice cream outdoors in August!
But it happens.  No matter what the media feeds us about global warming, climate change, and extreme weather, I know from living the past 54 1/2 years in East Texas (Gasp!  Am I really that old?) that unseasonable weather is normal at times!  Especially in Texas.
One only has to consult past temperature and storm records to realize this.  Our local television weather report even includes record temperatures and rainfall as part of its daily almanac information.
For example, the temperature extreme records for Texas were set back in the 30’s!  It reached 120 degrees in Seymour (west of Wichita Falls) on August 12, 1936.  The low temperature was set in 1933 on February 8 in Seminole (West Texas) at -23!
The poor folks in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin sweated through temperatures of 114 on July 13, 1936!  That was before air conditioning, and people that far north don’t usually have a/c anyway!
(Check it out yourself at
And this was eighty years ago before climate change was the big headline.  
Young people talk about how it never gets really cold here.  I beg to differ.  I remember standing out by the road in a strong north wind wrapped up in mittens and a padded, hooded coat with a fur-lined hood shivering while waiting for the bus.  I remember walking the 100 yards or so from the bus to the band hall on school mornings with the wind cutting right through me.  I remember going to our county fair in September and freezing.
And very recently, our area experienced one of the hottest summers on record.  In 2011, Dallas broke its record with 70 consecutive days of 100-plus temperatures.  In fact, in 2011 Texas was the hottest state on record.
So, why the hubbub, Bub? (corny?)  I believe all the news coverage about global warming or climate change is due to several things, and yes, this is my opinion, but it is my blog, after all (haters need not respond).
First, since news has gone from one or two newscasts per day to 24-hour coverage, news programs have to say something, and when global warming became news because of a certain political figure, they grabbed it and ran with it.  
It then became a political ploy to gain power, opening the way for more regulation, more taxation, and more restrictions.  Let’s face it, climate crisis is big bucks for those who benefit from regulations and restrictions, because it means more tax revenue and people being forced to buy “greener” products and services.  Did anybody ask you if you wanted to change from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs?  Me, either.  But we all have had to go out and buy the new light bulbs, haven’t we?
 And don’t get caught dumping motor oil on the ground like we all used to do. It will cost you in hefty fines!  Take it somewhere where you will likely have to pay to have it disposed of properly.
Okay, off my soapbox now.  I think I’m going to go out and enjoy some more of this cool August weather.  What an unexpected blessing!

Teacher Tuesday: Texas state . . . rodent?

Yesterday I shared pictures of the beautiful Indian paintbrushes that blanket the field behind my house.  When I was walking back to the house after my chicken wire expedition that day, I stumbled upon (almost in!) this large hole.  
I was like, “What the?”  It was the diameter of a soccer ball, at least!  Lucy was wandering about so I called to her to come check it out.  Of course, she stopped a couple of times as she ambled over.  No big hurry, you understand, and certainly not TOO much interest.  But check it out she did, when she finally got to it.
She was braver than I was.  She stuck her whole head down in that hole.  I wouldn’t have ventured even a toe.  Too many snakes in my neck of the woods.  I keep a respectful distance from holes.
Hubby said it was an armadillo hole.  Mom filled it up with dirt the next day so she wouldn’t accidentally break an ankle on her daily walk around the field.  
Later that evening I found more evidence of the little varmint in our backyard.
Much like feral pigs, armadillos dig holes in the ground looking for grubs and insects.  These two-inch diameter holes were all over the place next to the shed.  Maybe that’s what Whitey was barking at the other night!
Weird-looking little creatures, aren’t they?  Covered in bony armor, they are vulnerable underneath, and have a defense mechanism that causes them to jump straight up when threatened.  It doesn’t work well when a vehicle rolls over them on the road.  Many an armadillo meets its maker on Texas highways.  
I guess it’s kind of cool to have the Texas state animal making itself at home on our property.  As long as it stays on the other side of the fence, we’re okay.

Meaningless Drivel Monday: Paintbrushes and bluebonnets

Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower and they deserve the honor, but there is another wildflower that beautifies the Texas countryside as well, and I don’t feel it gets the attention it deserves.  It is the Indian paintbrush, NOT to be confused with Indian blanket, which is a whole different flower.  
Contrary to what most people believe, including Texans, bluebonnets do NOT grow everywhere in Texas.  East Texas, with all its virtues and attributes,  was left out when God decided where to plant His beautiful bluebonnet. But He did give us just-as-pretty Indian paintbrush, and we are lucky enough to have a glorious patch of these right in our backyard!  (Actually, our back pasture, if you want to get technical.)
I knew they were back there, but I experienced them up close and personal the other day when I went down to the old chicken pen to cut some chicken wire for some projects. 
This shot was taken in front of the big brush pile that serves as our firewood source.  Most of it came from a huge oak tree my parents had cut down after it died.  I spent many an hour in that tree when I was growing up!

The paintbrushes spread across my parents’ and our neighboring pastures.  Our five-acre lots sit next to each other.  Good thing we get along well!  
Closer up you can see why these little beauties are called paintbrushes.  Their petals could very easily be used to paint with!  (Is that a preposition I ended that sentence with?)  Possibly the Native Americans (Indians) in this area used them with homemade paint before the settlers came.
So vivid.  When you see them growing alongside bluebonnets, the scene resembles the Texas flag!

You have to admit, those bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes are quite a sight to behold together.  It kind of makes you proud to be a Texan.  Or wish you were one.

And, hey, take all the pictures you want, but please don’t pick the flowers!