Friday, March 30, 2007

A Week in the Lone Star State

Back from Texas... Gran is going into a nursing home, not what anyone wanted for her, but she is too much of a handful for home care.

Thankfully, the major part of the family who did travel over had the opportunity to say goodbye, so we have closure before it is too late, I guess. She is ready to go - in fact we had a scare on Monday but she rallied quickly. Her body is still hanging on, and her mouth is back on turbo. Still, she told me wonderful things, I held her hands and kissed her face. That will be my last memory of her I think. Granny smiling up at me from the bed, calling me her pretty little Baby (as I always will be no matter what age), telling me all her lovely prayers for me, and the softness of her skin when I kissed her face.


I am currently having a moment where I can't believe I once lived there. In Texas!

Whilst I was there, I ate seafood galore, queso with salsa and chili and corn chips (made with love by my cousin Charlene), chicken fried steak with mashed potato and white gravy (twice)...but no real Tex Mex or IHOP pancakes.

We went shopping at the Vietnamese and Indian markets and had our fill of exotic fruits and tasty produce. And need I mention the awesome clothes shopping?*

I also bonded with cousins I hadn't spent that much time with before, and others who were sort of too young until recently. It was also great being with aunts and uncles I have always loved.
We cousins enjoyed a big meal together, and a few days later everyone who wanted (14 of us) got together for a seafood feast.

On the way back to London on Thursday evening, we flew out ahead of some destructive storm systems sweeping in from Oklahoma and there was a lot of turbulence. It is tornado season there. But we left behind temps in the low 20s C (low 70s F) and came to 9 C (upper 40s F) so I have felt cold all day with the grey dampness, tiredness, jet lag, and ill-timed hunger. I think I slept for less than an hour on the unusually long 9 hour flight. However, I did watch The Devil Wears Prada and then borrowed the book from my aunt when we got to her place.


I am no fan of cricket but I do keep hearing about the cricket matches being played in Georgetown, Guyana, the [somewhat faded] "Garden City of the Caribbean". So I went to the BBC Venue Guide for the England team tour of the West Indies. Three paragraphs in the middle were written in exactly this order:

Despite its beauty, don't be fooled into lowering your security precautions whilst you're in the city.

Never walk the streets of the city at night and always avoid the Tiger Bay area just west of Main Street and Albouystown south of the centre.

One thing you definitely should do in the city is join what appears to be most of Georgetown and take an early evening stroll on the seawall as the sun sets.

Do you detect a contradiction here?


Some pics from the past week:

Cousins Dinner - The Grill at The Galleria, Dallas

Clockwise L to R: Evadney and her longtime partner Stan (both personal trainers; they have kids). Nick (grew up in the UK and moved to Tx over 10 years ago, and now sounds halfway like a Texan). Charlene (Evadney's younger sister, very Texan though born in Boston). Elizabeth (one of my British cousins and my godmother). Me. Amber (on her last year of high school and wants to be a kinesiologist). Rachel (wife of Charlene and Evadney's brother Eddie, who is not there - he went out with the uncles). Sabrina (a bank manager at the WTC in the first bombing, worked nearby on 9/11, and now lives safely in Florida).

1994 Lamborghini Diablo:

Charlene's neighbour is an exotic car dealer who borrows the other half of her garage to store his latest acquisitions. Every couple of days there is a new surprise. This one is purple and we girl cousins got the keys and played around with it. He allows her drive them, but she wouldn't dare.

Liv (Nearly At) the Wheel:

I got in and could barely reach the pedals or the wheel. It was awkward fun getting the door open, though.

Gran's daughters stayed in her apartment; Elizabeth, being a director and all, got to stay in her own luxurious hotel room with adjustable air beds; I stayed with Charlene, though Liz said I could have stayed with her the whole time.

Charlene works for a financial software company, has a big new SUV, parked at her own two bedroom/two bathroom home in a quiet neighbourhood. She redecorated the place herself in really cozy velvets and suedes in warm neutrals with wood and wrought iron furniture in a sort of Spanish/ranch/prairie style. She has endless rooms and doors and storage closets, a deck built for entertaining with a bar, refrigerator, benches, jacuzzi, gazebo...very cute. It would have felt average to us coming from our place in The Woodlands, but after living in London, it looked like luxury. We never really liked the town they all live in, and yet after landing and finding myself appalled at the mess of everything in England on the drive from the airport, I found myself reevaluating my entire reasoning for continuing the struggle here...

Coincidentally, in the car this morning we were listening to the stories of other expats who, returning to England from Tanzania, Australia or the US, are never really settled in either place as they go back and forth over the years. I know what they mean. It almost makes you want to give up both and try another place, as if three makes a balance.

P.S. If you want to know how so many relatives ended up in Tx, I would be glad to share the story.

* Great brands for less than half the price you would pay in Europe.


Anonymous said...

So how did you all end up in Texas?

I am not the one to usually drool over a car but that's a cool car!!!

I am sorry that we didn't even a chance to see each other or talk while you were only 5hrs away from here.


Ricercar said...

nice snaps. glad you got to spend time with your gran. and meet family too. family is important at times like these, even though with time blood seems at times to be growing thinner :)

The Moody Minstrel said...

And to think it's neither red nor electric blue...but a combination of BOTH!!!!!

It sounds like you were able to enjoy yourself more than a bit after all even despite the circumstances.

Yes, m'lady, I'm eager to hear THE STORY (Amaj9 chord).

Katja said...

What on earth is a kinesiologist?

And yes, I'd love to hear the story of how so many of you ended up in Tx ...

AmitL said...

That was quite touching,Olivia...the 'goodbye'opportunity to your Granny was like a heaven-send,I guess.Texas seems like quite an exotic country(Most of what I know about it,is through the Westerns of yore)And,Nice Snaps.:)

pink jellybaby said...

oh oh oh i want that car!!! it's lovely!

good to have you back xx

amillionpieces said...

Glad your Gran has improved some and you all got to see her again, Liv. I have to say, I did think of you when they mentioned Guyana on Friday! :) I'm sure you know more than they do though, much as I love the TMS team they will gas and witter endlessly on anything. (I think that is possibly what I love about them, actually!)

Olivia said...

Vanessa - ok, that will be my next blog (keeping in mind I stil have to do the art history one).

I am surprised at you liking that car, Vee!

I miss you, and you're not even on Skype tonight, boo :(


Ricercar - (sort of given up on Prerona as I get used to this one.)

Interestingly, as we grow older, our family's blood is growing thicker. I guess as the cousins mature, we are forming a better network.


Minstrel - you like poiple?

I am rubbish at these chords, as when I was learning piano my music theory was terrible. I only cared to sight read...

Does that appall you, o great music teacher?


Katja - ok...a kinesiologist...something to do with the body and its movement. This is as far as Greek takes me, now on to Google: it is a branch of physiology that studies the mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement. I guess it has many applications.


Amit - haha! I lived there for 15 years and never met a real cowboy. I only knew one guy at university with hats, boots and a big buckle...I almost think the food there is more varied and of course costs much less than here in London. Houston is even more cosmopolitan and has world class entertainment and culture.


Jellybaby - You wouldn't reach the pedals either, I guarantee! Nice colour, eh?


Pete - Huh? TMS team?
Are they Guyanese? It is hilarious to hear a group of them talking, I must say! :D

gazza27 said...

That car is................words fail me?