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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Family First, Pura Vida Next!

Margie's famous pickles

In case you missed my last post, I had to leave Costa Rica less than a month after our return from California, heading for Texas this time to help my mom through a health crisis. When I arrived just over two weeks ago, she was still quite ill, very weak and exhausted from fighting a harsh urinary tract infection for some time. Why had she not gone to the doctor sooner? You'd have to ask her. She has her reasons -- none of them very good, in my not-so-humble opinion. But fortunately within a few days after my arrival, she began to improve and after the first week or so was almost back to her old feisty self, heading off to her one-day-a-week job at the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and her half-day volunteer work at the same office, plus making a big batch of her "famous" pickles to give away. She remains an inspiration to me in her unflagging devotion to duty and in pushing through a lot of pain and discomfort to keep being active.

I also want to express my deepest gratitude to my stepsisters-in-law, Cathy and Theresa, who went out of their way to help mother in the weeks of her illness prior to my coming here. From mopping floors and washing dishes to making chicken soup and driving her to doctor appointments, they made sure that my mom was taken care of when she was unable to care for herself.

One of the major stresses Mother and I have faced involves her "poor white trashy" neighbors and the cats they have allowed to proliferate in the neighborhood. These people are really a disgrace to the community, with trash, plastic, toys, mattresses and other litter all over their yard. In contrast, Mother and the other people on the street keep their modest homes attractive and clean.  
Unsightly front yard...
Even worse back yard
In contrast, the Latina neighbor's house...
And Mother's nice historic home
But a worse problem with these neighbors is that their three unspayed females have had liter after liter of kittens this year, each generation maturing to make still more babies. And since these people don't handle them nor even seem to feed them, the animals turn feral very quickly and run wild through the area desperately searching for food and water. Since my mom has a tender heart for animals, especially cats, she tried to feed the first few kittens that showed up in her backyard but soon realized, as more and more came for food and took up residence under her house, there was no way she could manage 15 or 20 cats on her own.

Soon after I arrived I began trying to deal with the problem, eventually contacting the city's animal control and learning that if I trapped them in Mother's storeroom, the city would come pick them up. I also learned that the Humane Society is overrun with cats and in fact the woman there called the problem "a crisis in the city." So, as sad and hard as it was to do, a few days ago we managed to lure seven of the little fellows into the building and an animal control officer took them away. My poor mom has grieved over one of the older kittens, a beautiful golden male that she had somewhat befriended and after the fact, wished she had kept. Unfortunately, he was also one that had scratched a hole in her back door screen to get into her house and had jumped up and climbed in a open window as well, so the chances of his ever being a good pet were slim. Still, I feel very bad about having him taken away to be put to sleep. There's no easy answer for such irresponsible owners. The only solution is for people to spay and neuter their pets.
Concho River 
So now that life is more or less back to normal here, I have managed to get out for a little golf and for a walk down to the Concho River. The huge orange and red flowers on these large bushes in the park attracted dozens of honeybees, which I was thrilled to see, given their threatened existence in recent years from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). 

Despite the drought here in West Texas, these plants seem to be thriving. Being right next to the river may be part of the reason or perhaps the city waters this area adjacent to a charming garden and gazebo as a lure to tourists. In any event, the colorful flowers and active wildlife, lively squirrels and this rather unusual bird perched over the water, made for a pleasant hour-long stroll.

Now I look forward eagerly to Layne's arrival next week and to our return to Costa Rica at the end of the month. It's wonderful to be with my mom but Pura Vida calls! 

Don't forget Layne's book "Moral Turpitude" is available for only $2.99 at

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