The guys finished trimming out the shipping containers today. There were a few clouds in the sky, which helped.
Vlassic and Lee approved.
I, too, painted. Kathleen set up a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Foundation today, sponsored by our personal assistance service, Hearts, Homes, and Hands. For a donation (small) participants got to paint either a seashell or a dolphin.
This was the kind of stuff we’d hoped to do before the pandemic. There was a great mix of clients, caregivers and their families in attendance. All the paintings were fun and individualistic. I enjoyed doing mine, with all those techniques I learned painting my weird turtles.
Kathleen says we’re going to do more of these in the future. I love to have fun for a good cause. I’m proud of the team at HHH. Our new admin, Toni, is doing great. I’m enjoying being the silent partner and cheering our company on. It’s three years old now. Time flies when a virus attacks.
I spent most of today working like crazy, which helped me not think about some family health scares. When not working, I crocheted. I think Drew understands that it was just too hot on this summer solstice to work together. I’ll try to get up early to work with him!
Today our Master Naturalist group got to do something I’d been wanting to do since I moved here, which was visit the Gault Site, a really significant place only an hour away from Cameron. I’m so glad we got this arranged, and that it didn’t rain us out today.
I just about didn’t get there, since I almost forgot to feed Granny, then couldn’t load my map software, so I had no idea how to get there. Next, I read the transcript of my voicemail from my friend Pamela, and it said the trip was off (in reality that is not what she said). So I went home, re-listened to the message, and loaded the OTHER map software and made it to the place only a minute late.
The Gault Site is private property, so you have to arrange for a visit. But the cool part is that the executive director of the Gault School of Archeological Research, Clark Wernecke, gave the tour. He is one of the best tour guides I ever heard, full of information, humor, and fun. I’m sure he’s done the spiel dozens and dozens of times, but he is so enthusiastic that you’d never know it. I sure learned a lot from him.
The site is between Florence and Salado, in a beautiful area that borders a lot of limestone quarries. That’s the key. The area is perfectly sited for human occupation, and apparently has been for at least 16,000 years. That’s right. They found evidence of people living here before the Clovis age, which was previously thought to be the earliest humans lived in the Americas. Wrong!
So, yes, this is a very important place. It is full, and I mean full, of tools and weapons made from chert, of which flint is one type. It’s the rocks that were all over my old neighborhood in Brushy Creek. They are a kind of natural glass, and wow, are they hard and can be very sharp! The scientists know exactly how each piece they found was used, because they do all sorts of sophisticated tests on them. What looks like a little shard to me could be a part of something interesting, or more likely, things they carved off when making tools, like adl-adls, scraping tools, axes, digging tools and cutting tools.
They area has big mounds in it, called middens, that are where people cooked in rock ovens, threw away trash, etc. That’s where lots and lots of implements were found, as well.
And there is a site of a mammoth kill, which there are only four of in this continent. Dr. Wernecke explained that people didn’t actually go around chasing mammoths. They caught less dangerous and easier things, and ate them for the most part (deer, the horses that used to live here, rabbits, turtles, fish and such). He kept reminding us that people back then were just like us, and would choose what was easier and less dangerous when they could. That made sense.
One more fascinating find at the Gault Site was the first evidence of a “building” – a rock foundation in the shape of a rectangle. They knew people used it, because they found different kinds of debris on each side.
I was disappointed to realize that they are no longer digging for artifacts here and have filled in all the places where they dug. But, they have four million or so things to look at, and that will take a long, long time to analyze as it is. Some of our chapter members got to see the site when it was active, and I envy them! But, I’m glad they put things back to their original state, mostly.
Also while we were there, we enjoyed hiking through the beautiful woodland valley. You could see how ancient peoples would have enjoyed it, even through the changes it’s gone through. They even found evidence of where the little creek used to go ages ago, which means it’s been there a long time!
There are all kinds of trees, including many kinds of oaks, such as the delicious bur oak, whose acorns could feed people. There were also walnuts, bois d’Arc, cedar elms, and more. I saw lots of butterflies, especially Queen butterflies and honey bees on the frostweed that’s blooming right now.
This place was magical and awe inspiring. To think that humans have lived in this area for so long is really humbling. If you ever get offered a chance to visit this important archeological site, please do. I’m not able to share all the fascinating facts we learned…there are just too many. But wow, it’s only an hour from my house that they found evidence of human settlement so long ago. Wow.
First, thanks to all of you who sent me kind words yesterday as I talked about how my friend Terry’s passing made me feel. She was one of the people I talked about in my post Welcoming Death and Treasuring Lives, which I also published in our Friends of La Leche League newsletter, Continuum, in the most recent edition (that issue is just for subscribers, but back issues are available at the link, if you want to see what the newsletter is like).
I know Terry’s legacy will live on, through her art, books she wrote and illustrated, the students she helped educate, and the many memories all of her friends have of her, like when her surrogate, Flat Terry, went all around the world visiting friends and giving them paper hugs. She was so creative, so very human, and a great friend. Was she perfect? No. Who is? We are all glad to have known her. I’m honestly not up to writing a long tribute, because I’m just so sad. But, here’s a nice tribute my friend Nancy Sherwood wrote.
Sadly, my online friend Stephanie Jordan, who was the other person I talked about living her life to the fullest, passed away yesterday. I’m just so impressed with how well she continued to enjoy every day, no matter how sick she got, and how wonderfully she prepared her children for life after she was gone. I’m so glad they got a lot of time to spend together and make memories. Again, rather than summarize her journey, I’ll let you read what Nancy S. said in her blog. I’m glad she was able to keep herself together and share these memories!
While people were commenting on my post from yesterday, another friend let me know of an LLL Leader’s passing, a woman named Beth O’Donnell. I didn’t know Beth (though I may have met her at one of those conferences where I met so many women), but when I read her lovely obituary, I realized how much in common I had with her and what great contributions she’d made to the world. She was a teacher of the Our Whole Lives curriculum that my children studied at our Unitarian Universalist church, so I know Beth helped babies, mothers, children and future children. Wow. But it was also just nice to read about her interests and travels. It’s like I got to know her a little.
I feel privileged that one of my volunteer “jobs” is to maintain the web pages for We Remember, which honors La Leche League Leaders (and others who have contributed to that organization) who have passed away. Their names are also inscribed in a book, which is taken to ceremonies – this year there will be a virtual ceremony at an online conference. I read every one of the obituaries that are shared, and I’m really happy how many of them include little tidbits that make the person I’m paying tribute to come alive again in my mind. I’m really grateful to the family members who pause in their grief to share the lives of the people they loved, so others can carry their memories as well.
I’m not sure why, but reading about these wonderful volunteers always inspires me. Go ahead, take a look! You can even post a memorial to someone who mentored you, share news of an LLL Leader’s passing, or make a contribution to Friends of LLL’s work in their name (you will see that I’ve done it a few times lately).
And speaking of people who volunteer their time…yesterday, I also found out that one of our Master Naturalist mentors, an amazing human being named Alston Thoms had passed away in June, and we hadn’t heard about it (I did touch on this yesterday, but I want to say more). If you read his memorial page, you’ll see what a real treasure the world lost when his life ended. I learned so much about the Native Americans who lived in this part of Texas from him, and I always hungered to learn more. His teachings will live on through the work of his graduate students and the many Master Naturalists he generously taught through the years.
Here’s what I said about him in my blog from early in my Master Naturalist career:
We also had a very interesting speaker, Prof. Alston Thoms, an anthropologist from Texas A&M. He is an expert on Native American history, and focused the talk for us on what people ate in past centuries in this area. It was lots of roots and berries, cooked in earth ovens (which he does yearly for his grad students). The most “duh” moment came when he asked what the most common food source would have been. It took a while to realize that of course, it was the white-tailed deer. It’s been in the area as long as humans have, and always on the list for what’s for dinner!
So, please. If someone you care about is no longer with us, share your memories. They can mean a lot, even to people who didn’t know them, and the little things, their quirks, their stories, their adventures…they can mean more than you know to someone else.
Times are getting more exciting here in little Cameron, Texas, and it’s not just because Anita will move here soon. Lots of new businesses and jobs have been coming in, and the upcoming relocation of some of the County offices to the old hospital will be freeing up some cool places for investors to come in and start new businesses. We all have our favorite “dream shops” we want to see, but which buildings are right for what?
That question is what led to my fun day yesterday. A few people who are members of the Cameron Chamber of Commerce got together, and let by the fearless Melanie, trekked all over the downtown area to look through the buildings that would soon be available and “re-imagine” them. Looking through historic buildings and offices is my idea of fun, which is why I volunteered to tag along and was so grateful for the opportunity to help out in a small way.
We looked at buildings that are still being used, buildings that were full of mold, buildings in great shape, and ones that required some imagination. We all had clipboards to write down our ideas.
I was enthralled by how many county records are in the old buildings.
I liked that some old buildings have cool windows up high with views, which makes me envision loft living. Other places would make great bars, bookstores, restaurants, gaming places (one even used to be a roller rink…could it be again?).
My favorite things, I guess, were seeing how many dang old jails there are in this town. The one we looked at yesterday was really big, and I had NO idea it was there. Ooh, scary.
Old jails make excellent, secure storage.
This jail adds to the ancient hoosegow, old jail museum, jail in the old police station (where someone lives now), PLUS the actual County Jail that is in use. My big idea was to have a “Jails of Cameron” tour, with little jails painted on the sidewalk to lead you from one to another, each with something interesting to see or do. That didn’t go over terribly well.
The jail could be turned into a restaurant, where you eat in cells and people serve you through the little door…right? Sounds romantic to me.
Other people had real ideas, so it will be fun to see what comes of all this! At least I know they aren’t building a subdivision next to my house or anything, because I made Lee buy all that land. I was a visionary, I guess.
PS: It sure was fun to do something with people like this. We couldn’t have a few months ago!
It’s still raining today. There were brief respites, but we’ve had at least an inch. Whew. The good news is we have a lot of mushrooms to enjoy.
I tried to go check out what was going on at the fence project. But it started raining real hard, so we went off to see a horse that we may board over here to keep Apache company. It’s all alone, and belongs to some folks who live near our office.
He needs a Coggins test and stuff, but if he came here, his owner says we can ride him. That would be fun. At least he’s small, and he’s named after my dad. This isn’t a done deal, but a possibility. In any case, I got to meet a friendly horse.
It then rained more. But, not before I went out to take some pictures of the Black-eyed Susans. I lucked out and Penney joined me. I got some lovely photos of her looking romantic.
She sure blends in well with scenery.
Being with the dogs makes you notice so many things! I didn’t even get mad at Vlassic when he jumped up and got my entire outfit muddy.
But even muddy weather has its good points. There’s always beautiful nature to enjoy. Like, why were there so many mud daubers on sunflower leaves? And why is Mr. Toad living in this trough?
All in all, it’s good to be back in the swing of things. I got work done and caught up with my Master Naturalist blogging. It’s volunteer week at work, so it was authorized. What fun! I’ll try to get more fascinating tomorrow. I’m still wiped out.
My brain is not working, that’s my problem. Somehow, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a pretty deep hole of depression, low self esteem, or hyper-protectiveness to where anything I try to do that even remotely resembles work is a huge hurdle. Anything that has drama, misunderstandings, unkind behavior and the like makes me want to flee, and it’s spilled over into my volunteer work the most. It’s hurting my head to write this, but I’m going to, anyway. Someone has to say something, and perhaps if it’s me, I’ll feel better and more like keeping on.
What’s happened is that one of my “triggers” has been triggered. It bugs me, because I’ve worked really hard to get past it, but I’m getting the idea that I didn’t get past it; rather I buried it. I’ve talked about my issues with La Leche League before, but I’m going to briefly re-hash a bit to explain why I’ve been so messed up for the past month or two.
First, I love the friends I made in LLL. Love them to pieces. They are some amazing people. But, the organization itself keeps repeating its mistakes, as if no one learns from history (which is probably true). In a majority-women organization with a strong, focused mission, many people get “power” for the first time. And it really screws up some people’s senses of right and wrong, and for some reason empowers them to bring new things into the mission (like natural childbirth, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc.)
Today’s topic is something I’ve been mulling over for a long time, and I think I finally have come up with a way to present my thoughts coherently. I think it explains why I have close to zero tolerance for bullying in volunteer organizations and presents an alternative way to make valid points and open people’s minds to new and different ideas.
When I was a new mother, my lawyer and one of my mentors, Roberta Bishop Johnson, encouraged me to attend meetings of the mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group, La Leche League (and if talking about breastfeeding gets you all giggly, you can try to remember you’re a mammal and make an effort to be mature). I didn’t know any other new mothers, since I was older than most of my friends and the first to reproduce.
So, I bravely went into the home of a stranger and sat down on the couch next to a woman who seemed nice. And I listened. At these meetings, only one of the people was speaking for the organization, an accredited La Leche League Leader. But, when people asked questions, all the other mothers were very welcome to chime in and share their experiences with their own babies. One thing that got repeated often in these meetings was to please share information, not give advice. Not even the Leader told women what they should do. The mothers were considered smart enough to make their own decisions based on their experiences and to use the experiences of others to help them. That led to the second thing I heard a lot, which was to take what works for you and leave the rest.
By getting to know all these different mothers with all their different babies it became very obvious that the best answer for one of us would not work at all for another one, and that was OK! We had lots of areas where we differed. There was cloth versus plastic diapers. There was jarred baby food versus “whole foods” only. There was the “family bed” versus having a crib for babies. There were vaccinators and non-vaccinators. Some mothers weaned promptly at one year (or earlier), while others kept a-goin’ until the child didn’t want to anymore.
The thing is, those of us who learned the LLL philosophy (which is a list of ways to be a good parent) mostly got the point that there’s more than one right way to parent AND that for some folks, ways other than ours make more sense to them. If a mother asked for help, we gave it and helped her work out a solution that made HER happy, not us.
I eventually became a Leader and learned a lot from the women I was friends with then. It was a lot of fun and such a great way to give to my community. But, when they started begging Leaders to become administrators (there was quite a hierarchy back then), my Leader, Sharon, took me aside and warned me that things weren’t always so warm and fuzzy at the State, National, and International levels. Oh, how I wish I’d listened to Sharon.
But, no, I like leading things, and because I’d made a little website for our group (before there were images on the world wide web) my mentor, Roberta, begged me to help them get on the fledgling Internet, so I went to a conference in Chicago, met the Executive Director, and suddenly I was the webmaster and co-owner of the first email list for Leaders, where we got to meet fellow mothers from all over.
Time marched on, and I had a lot of fun and met most of the people who read my blog. But, it turned out Sharon had a point. Once I started going to meetings and conferences outside my little bubble, and once I started reading the email lists, I began to see how La Leche League got its reputation as a bunch of breastfeeding…shall we say…”tyrants” (because I prefer not to use pejorative word word other people used). You could tell that there were members who we called “More League Than League” who looked down on you if your choices happened to come on the less radical attachment parenting side of things. Woe unto the parent who used a stroller and not a sling to carry babies (even outside conferences, where strollers were hazardous). You get the drift, I’m sure.
A lot of the time I spent as an administrator, web person, and eventually as a director in the organization was trying to keep portraying La Leche League (LLL) as an organization open to all who were interested in breastfeeding and parenting, not just a few people of a certain demographic (that would be white, Catholic, home birthing, stay-at-home mothers). It was never true that this group was even a majority, but it’s the reputation that came out. And the reputation that we told people to do this and that, and such. This all got to be quite exhausting, especially when we were wanting to help mothers succeed by their own standards and meet them where they were, not make them into other people!
There were, indeed, people in the organization with agendas that were at best peripheral to the core purpose of supporting breastfeeding in the communities where we lived. The diapers, the slings, the boycotts, the sleeping arrangements…subtly pressuring people to make certain choices or they weren’t “cool” led to a lot of sadness. I always thought either they should come out and say they’re an organization for a small group of people with certain beliefs and principles, rather than claiming to be for everyone, but alienating people whose cultures and ways of life preferred to do things differently.
Indeed, as the years went by, it came to pass that things got weirder and weirder at the higher levels, and we came under a lot of pressure, no I’ll say bullying, to only organize in certain ways, and only meet in certain ways, and…after a couple of years of trying to keep my team going through all this, I ended up being asked to leave. If your job, whether paid or volunteer, isn’t fulfilling and rewarding, it’s time to find a new job. And when my closest friends started in on me…it was time to go.
I did keep what I learned, though. I’ve always found it much easier to change someone’s mind or teach them something new by offering a wide range of information and suggestions and trusting them to figure out what works best for them. I’m so grateful for that lesson. There was and still is so much good in LLL. Honestly, this is a loving critique.
Now, today, a whole lot of years have passed, but it makes me chuckle a bit to learn that there are still factions battling it out to be the “right” kind of organization. The causes have shifted from Nestle boycotts and “Ferberizing” to trying to cancel members who aren’t deemed sufficiently on board with chestfeeding and racial/cultural issues.
All of that just isn’t the helpful kind of support parents, members, administrators, and former members need. And confronting, bullying, canceling, and lobbying against people you have a problem with has never, as far as I can see, solved the underlying issue, which is education. You know, perhaps we WANT to listen, but just being called names and treated like we aren’t even worth engaging in dialog with won’t help us learn a darn thing.
I can only suggest that people with strong feelings to convey consider this information I’m sharing, just as one option. By listening to the viewpoints of others, seeing where they are coming from, finding areas of commonality, and sharing our experiences as if they are all worthy of respect, I’m pretty sure some of the newer versions of the people I left behind in 2006 might be more successful at attaining their goals. I think they want more people to be welcome and included in LLL. I think that is a worthy goal that may not require tearing down others to achieve.
Breastfeeding is a great thing, and I applaud everyone who wants to do it, in whatever way works for their culture, religious practice, or social group. Sometimes having lived as long as I and some of my long-time LLL friends have, you learn that a little bit of listening and respect go a long way. We don’t all have to do things the exact same way, and we all will learn from our mistakes and new experiences.
Please, let’s be gentle with each other. I’m simply not going to let myself be put down for being who I am, and I don’t think any of you, my friends, should, either. And I do NOT want to put down others who have perfectly legitimate complaints, issues, or ideas! We should all have a chance to grow and learn, even us old white fogies.
What the heck? This sure came as a surprise. I realized there was a little airshow coming up this weekend, and that Lee had volunteered to help out with the Chamber of Commerce table. I hadn’t considered helping, but I didn’t want him to go be social all alone, since he hadn’t done it in over a year. So, off we went to the Cameron airport this morning, to celebrate the recently renovated runways and such.
This was Cameron’s “soft opening” for events, too. There were vendors, including my friend, Pamela, plus Manley the king of jams, and even wine. They were all in an excellent open hangar, so we felt breezes and fine wearing our masks.
Lee and Melanie managed to sell a whole bunch of the Chamber of Commerce raffle tickets, so they felt quite successful. It was a lot of chatting for Lee, but he did well. Now he’s exhausted, though.
I mostly knitted and talked to my Master Naturalist friends. We got a little giddy when we realized we were all fully vaccinated and could actually stand near each other and talk. It was a small thing, but made us so happy. Sigh, maybe we can have real meetings again soon, if people keep being careful (like we were today).
Most of the action was outdoors, though, and it was so much fun to look at the 20-30 little planes that showed up. It was the most planes I ever saw at this little private airport. Lots of them were old and interesting, no doubt, and I’d explain more about them if I knew anything at all about private planes. I did ask our banker friend, Richard, who happens to be a private pilot (and has been a looooong time), so I knew that the one that did the tricks was a trainer plane from after WWII, and the cool green plane that blazed in from Georgetown was a Russian trainer.
One highlight of the day was cutting the ribbon to officially re-open the airport. All the local dignitaries were there, including the whole city council and mayor, plus the airport team, the engineer, and others. But the star of the show was Marion Travis, age 92. She was a pilot in her youth, and a true aviation pioneer. She is Cameron royalty (and a real hoot). She cut the ribbon.
There wasn’t much to the actual air show, since one of the trick planes had a mechanical problem, but the one that did fly had some tricks. It sure was fun watching that plane going upside down and making loops. I’m glad I was on the ground, though. I was told the pilot is a Southwest Airlines pilot for his day job.
I feel practically human, though really tired, after walking around looking at planes then walking around with Apache trying to figure out how he’s feeling (he was a bit weird yesterday, not cooperating and tossing his head a lot). But, hey, it was almost like a normal day from the olden times, other than all the masks people were wearing!
Ooh, one more horse note. Apache has shed most of his winter coat over the last two days. It’s been most impressive brushing him out. Some bird will be able to make many nests from his fur. By the end of today, I suddenly realized I could see his patches on his skin again. I got down to his summer hair! He’s going to feel a LOT better now that it’s slowly warming up. More goodness to look forward to over the summer, I hope.
I started out my morning nature break trying to find pollinators and check for damaged flowering plants for a survey of pollinators and plants used by monarchs on iNaturalist. I was very happy to have found bees and a butterfly, and was watching the water flowing in the stream with the dogs.
Then, Lee showed up, wanting me to help get the dogs back up so he could feed them. I said, okay, but look how well the stream is flowing! He noted that the runoff from the pond did not seem to be flowing, but the place where it dumps into the stream WAS making nice little waterfall sounds. So, where was the water coming from?
Lee pointed out to a new puddle or marshy area that seems to have (no pun intended ) sprung up since the snow event happened. I’d been meaning to check on it, too.
The puddle was very full, not like all the other ones that have dried up. Then, lo and behold, I spotted a little hole. That little hole was full of clear water, and it was bubbling up! I finally found the source of one of our intermittent springs! I was pretty excited.
So, water is coming up from this hole (perhaps from the pond, who knows?), then flowing to the marshy puddle, then heading to join the pond runoff water, and on into the big hole that starts the stream.
Yay! Farther down, the water is running really fast, thanks to at least two other springs. We had heard that there have been springs all through that area, but most of them have not flowed since we got here, which was when the big drought of 2011-12 happened. I guess the aquifer has finally recovered! Wow!
Anyway, I was happy to find a Sulphur butterfly, a hairstreak and lots and lots of bees outside. They were pollinating the henbit and dandelions.
Also, one of the young willows in the small pond has started sprouting, plus I saw a bullfrog in that pond (and heard another one jump). I found one wolf spider and another insect that got away. That means some of them lived. This all makes me very happy.
I do hope to see turtles soon. I am worried about them. But, wow, so happy to have found a spring!
At some point next week, I will be an even older Baby Boomer! But I still don’t have to register for Medicare, so I declare I’m still middle aged. Why does this matter? Well, for the last few years, I’ve raised funds for a good cause rather than ask for gifts, so I thought I’d share it here, too.
I get questions ever year, so here’s why I do what I do. Maybe you can support an organization or group, too!
Why a Facebook fundraiser? I know some folks don’t like them, because FB no doubt makes interest on donations before they pay them out. But, they do pay every cent donated, and it’s easy to donate. Any reader who’d like to donate another way can go to the MTOL website and use their form or mails check. Please say it’s for my fundraiser, so they will know how to allocate the funds.
Why only once a year? I think people can feel bombarded by requests for money. I know I do sometimes. So, I tend to do my own donations privately, but I do give to birthday fundraisers for good causes and to honor people I care about. And once a year I choose a nonprofit to support. You’ll see that not all the donations are big, which comes as no surprise during these challenging times. It feels good to give to others sometimes, though.
Why Milam Touch of Love? The main reason is that I honor my commitments. When I was at my last MTOL Board meeting, I said I’d do another birthday fundraiser, so I am! The organization has done an incredible job rescuing puppies and sending them to places with plenty of adoption opportunities, spaying and neutering pets to help drive down unwanted births, and microchipping pets to make finding their owners easier. And the president of MTOL writes educational articles in the local paper each week. She’s amazing, and I want to support her hard work. She even got certified as an animal control officer, to better help the animals in our county.
I hope that all helps a bit. Since I’m not able to be an active member of MTOL anymore, it’s even more meaningful to me that I help this way. I always hoped that our mutual love for animals would keep the MTOL team diverse and mutually respectful, but that’s hard these days. Still, I encourage my friends and readers to put aside our differences and help those who can’t help themselves.
Things are hard right now. Believe me, trying to get a small business started during COVID has not been easy on my family’s finances. But, we still do our charitable giving, at a scale we can manage. I hope you do, too, and give to organizations like MTOL, who use you money to directly help others.
We all need to spread a touch of love in this world.