The Rat Race

So now that August and I are part of the rat race, the lessons from Our Town, the rules by which I have tried hard to live by, most of my adult life, are more important than ever. It's important to stay present and be mindful of how we spend our time. I try to make the most of every moment we have together, however, that can easily become an anxiety driven chore of watching the clock. August and I were fortunate enough to not be clock watchers for 5.5 years.  Now that we race against time, we are both grumpy, melancholic, miss each other and not adjusting well.

While she draws pictures of the two of us wearing sad faces and sporting sad hearts, I am at work trying to keep a stiff upper lip. The work I do is very good at consuming all the space in my head. I hug a small stone August gave to me one morning with the instructions to hold it tight when I think of her. I use my lunch hour to plan how we will spend the day once we are able to grab it and pull it out of the hands of status quo... Never have I wanted us to be off the grid than I do now. The fantasy of a tiny house and living off a garden, selling eggs, vegetables and wool for money and just spending our days doing the things that could almost guarantee regret-free lives. Is there such a thing?

I went to college, five hours away from all the people I loved and cried for months about it. That's who I am. I can't say I wish I had studied more, that I learned a lot, that I even accomplished much. After my Granpo died I did wonder of all the things I could have learned had I been able to stay home and visit him daily like I did before I left for college. He was so active until he turned 88 and was working his small 1.5 acres until then. He took with him the wisdom and know-how I wish I had today, to be able to successfully keep a homestead.

On my way to work I do wonder: What are we all doing? What have we all gotten ourselves into? Nothing will change the system of putting what is unimportant before what is important. There are books, articles, so much is said of how to focus on what is important in life. However, they are short-sighted. As long as we give 8 hours or more to a job and send our children to schools to learn to whittle away 8 hours a day, the meaning and happiness of life will elude us.

In being unemployed there was much stress, however, I was able to push away the constant worry of no pay check and focus on my child's words: "...at least we can be together, Mommy." And together we were and she learned to read, do math, learn about her world but mostly play. We played with clay and dolls and made puppets and acted out stories we read... Play is invaluable for young and old. It stimulates creativity, relaxes the mind so good thoughts find their way in. It keeps you young.

She tells me her class has no toys and they don't play much. So when we finally get home I say let's play! And I remember the feeling of getting home from school and into my play clothes. I plan our meals so I can just throw healthy and wholesome ingredients into a pot or two and just go play with my most favorite person in the world until the dinner is ready. I am trying hard to put the rush into the tasks of cleaning and prepping and slowing down with what is really important.

While at the job, when I have things in a certain place, I send my mental messages to August with the hopes that she catches some of them. Thoughts travel faster than light. I throw some thoughts into our future too, one where the focus is on what we value and think is important. Hopefully this new life of ours can run smoother and smoother with each week.

What do you do to bring balance into your life?

Del Rio

























Robert Frank passed through Del Rio, possibly spending at least one night at The Roswell Hotel in the center of town. Passing the declining structure, daily, is a chore. In fact, driving though downtown Del Rio is very difficult. The buildings speak to me of their past and I see a future for the place that will never be because I don't have the funding to carry out my vision and while some share my vision, they are not any better off in making it happen.

I have always felt Del Rio, TX has a very unique energy, a creative energy, and when I am there so many ideas come to me. It is currently the home to a few artist and has been home to so many creative personalities over the decades. The homes and buildings that remain tell the story of a once affluent oasis, not an oil boom town but a hard working little city that prospered off the land by way of sheep and wool. It has an interesting and ingenious little irrigation system through the town. It's border location and ties with Mexico, along with Laughlin AFB have maintained the town through economic hardship.

I would love to be able to buy Del Rio wool and mohair yarn and textiles made from the sheep there. I would love Del Rio or Val Verde county goat milk, goat cheeses, ice cream and butters...For those seeking a small town to begin their artisan craft turned business, look no further than this place. Ranches are for sale, it's on the way to Marfa, TX by way of Highway 90.

Since I was in high school I have seen Del Rio as a diamond in the rough. I feel it has called upon many over the years who were unable to get the word out. The demographics are changing and as cities become less affordable I have always wanted to see the small towns become little satellite cities containing all the necessary amenities: good medical care, good schools, community centers and good grocery stores. I have often wondered, what if Del Rio was the completely unexpected site of a tiny Trader Joe's, what could happen? What if Cosco were to take a risk on a town like Del Rio, what could happen?

It's neighboring town, 45 minutes to an hour away is the other border town of  Eagle Pass, and the two places couldn't be more different. It is comparing Pottersville to Bedford Falls...one has a casino or two that is advertised up to four and five driving hours away on billboards, while the other just spent a rare fortune on expanding the county library. Del Rio has a community garden and two active cultural art centers, hosts three parades a year and has a market in the town square once a month.

As larger cities price people out, what are needed more than ever are pioneers. Those who are willing to leave all the retail and community comforts of a city and create a smaller and more affordable way of living, in a small town, hours away. In Del Rio, I see a tipping point, it is in a vulnerable position.
I think of the talent that is in the town, three hours away from opportunity and hidden behind the miles that stretch along Highway 90. Keep driving and when you get to Del Rio, see what I see and  hopefully you can make something happen there again.

I've never moved in autumn

























October, under pecan trees and above gravel driveways, the polka dotted shirt my mother had on was long sleeved, Halloween was approaching, my little neighbor friends talking about costumes as they  started to walk home with their mother.

I remember when my mother's blue and green scarf went flying off her head and out the car window, as we passed over the bridge. I saw it float high above the water, the sun was fiercely setting into the lake and blinded me before we drove out of the scene.

I keep feeling the morning sun at the window in my grandmother's bedroom. The smell of freshly washed clothes and how the floor felt beneath my feet.

My grandfather, at the kitchen table, two weeks before he passed, telling August how he wanted to buy her a baby chick and how he smiled and it was the same smile I saw when I was her age.