Thursday, May 23, 2013

Silver Linings

Seems like every day is filled with sorrow and pain across our country, really... around the world. The news is filled with tragedy and tears and it makes it hard to concentrate on what is real and here and now, what needs to be priority and what can go in the back of your mind.  I have had a hard time watching the news, with the bombing in Boston, the Plant fire in Lyondell, the plant explosion in West, The devastating tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma, and crazy weather in the Northeast, and the brutal killing of the soldier in London, ju st to name a very few of the events of the past MONTH. And not long before that, there were the two Christians that were beheaded in New Jersey of all places.
It is sometimes hard to just let go of the things around you and be what you need to be. I have family (yes, they are not immediate family, but I love them the same) scattered around the country, but for the most part, we seem to be in this little region (really big region) of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. For the most part, Texas and Oklahoma. The oilfields keep the economy going or not going, and we are all thankful for that, but it is more than work, it is the beauty of the place. So, maybe it is hard to see the beauty of the desert of Western Texas, but it is here. My brother went on a trip and I asked him if he liked it... he said no, there were too many trees, and he felt claustrophobic. I understand that. When I travel, especially in England, where hedgerows are very common, I feel kind of claustrophobic. I can't get my bearings, and I just get lost on the backroads, zigging and zagging around fields with very little to give you a hint where you are. Only the short breaks in the hedgerow where tractors come and go, give you an indication to where you might be... other than that, if there is a tree or a hill maybe.
Here, we have the wide open spaces where you can see for 10-20 miles, depending on the level of the ground, and wide open skies, usually with not a cloud in them, or those puffy clouds that are traveling fast.  I like the dry afternoons, the humid mornings with salty air,  the 300+ days of sunshine, warm temperatures, and the occasional cold spell that brings snow... it is nice to live here. That is if you can stand the dust storms that deposit neighboring counties at your doorstep, in your house, and in your lungs and eyes, makes it kind of hard to wear contacts... The occasional range fires that consume thousands of acres and anything in their path, the blistering heat of the Summer, and the freezing wind in the Winter. My grandmother used to say that there is nothing between here and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence... and some years I believe she was right.  But it is home.

The blistering heat is bearable with air conditioning, the cold with central heat, the dust storms you get used to, and air filters are wonderful. The water situation isn't so great right now. We have been in a drought for a long, long time. The water has never been that great anyway, brackish and I would suppose lethal if consumed on a regular basis, you can't water your yards with the water that comes from most of the lakes around here without it being filtered... but we have an aquifer that has the best water in the land. It is being sucked dry, though and with so many new people in the area from all over the country, it will be no time before it runs dry. So if you can get around the nasty water, or lack thereof... you can live here no problem. Green yards though are not the norm.

I guess it boils down to the people where you live, not so much the land? ah, I don't know, the land pretty much sticks on you... but the people, they are what holds your heart. We saw with the incident in West, Texas (not to be confused with West Texas,  West is not in West Texas... it is in the central part) people poured out their heart for the whole town of West, and then to Granbury and Cleburn when the tornadoes struck, followed on the heels of those disasters, the outbreak of tornadoes in Oklahoma... and even though there is that Red River Rivalry, the compassion is for our cousins across the river. People lending a hand, sending what they can, donating money to help, and it makes you proud. I am proud that we stand together no matter what. When there is a birth, death, tornado, flood, whatever it is, people come and help out their neighbor... even if that neighbor is 750 miles or more away (El Paso to Brownsville is actually 830 miles). And we do show up, we cook meals, we watch kids, we do send help, we do take care of our own. Maybe it is that rugged self reliance, that rebel kind of feeling that most people have that live here... that distance from the government that we have, and part of the reason that Texas was their own Republic at one time. It doesn't matter what color your skin is, it is that feeling in your heart. The resilience that we all share, through good times and bad, we know we can pull ourselves up and we know our neighbors will be there to help us, and us for them. We know not to rely on the government for anything, and if they help, it will be nice, but not expected.

I guess it helps that I feel strongly about Oklahoma because even though I am a Texan by birth, I lived in Tulsa for a few years when I was young, and that my father was born in a little town near Prague, right down the road from Jim Thorpe, a few years later, of course, but it was still pretty famous around that area I guess. Strong people lived there, my grandparents included. I still have cousins in that general area, though the family land has been sold long ago. It is a beautiful area, with the river running lazily along, like time could stand still and sometimes I'm sure it does.  My father loved that land, he loved the whole area and the whole state. My mother protested when we moved up to Tulsa... she had always lived in Texas and wasn't about to live off among those Okies, depending on how mad at Dad she was she might call it the boonies, but I happen to know she grew up in the Panhandle of Texas, in Mobitee and Pampa, so she didn't have a leg to stand on.
So I guess it boils down to family, friends, neighbors, the land and I think maybe to freedom, why we love where we live, or where we are from, not much thought is put into possessions if your house is blown away and you still have your family intact. I have never heard anyone on TV say after they lost a house, anything other than, We can rebuild, we are just thankful that we are all safe.  And so it goes in little towns and big cities, all across this area, they will rebuild, some maybe with a new storm shelter, but whether they have one or not, they probably know which neighbor has one, and they all huddle together, time and time again. I know, because i have shared someone else's cellar, and  I have shared my own. Somehow that in itself brings you together a little closer.

I expected to post a few pictures today, I've been working on a few clay pieces and fumbled around and spilled part of a pot of silver pigment powder (Wow! say that three times fast) all over the work table, thought the mess and the pieces I was working on were worthy of pictures,  but it seems to be one of those days that I don't really want to. This funk that I have been in is direct result of watching too much news and not concentrating on what is really important to me... my family. Oh, yes I have been thinking about my family, my cousins and second cousins and Uncle, brother, nieces and all, but it is my immediate family that needs me. I can say a prayer for my extended family, I can send them notes to let them know I am thinking of them, and I can be reached if there is need, but really, the immediate things I can do for my mother, son, daughter, grandson... those are the ones that matter the most. I need to remember that and let the rest fall where it may. I need to remember that I can't be there for everyone, and they don't need me to be. My son needs me to be here, present, with him, doing what moms do. It;s hard to change, but I am going to try. I have spent most of my whole life being here for others, being here for any of the family or friends, but it boils down to being here for my son right now, to take care of myself and heal myself, to care for the precious life that my husband left me, and to be the daughter that my mother needs right now...

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