So, I haven’t paid much attention to the blogs and books this week, and am falling behind in posting reviews of stuff … no kidding, there are two books at the bottom of the pile that I have been waiting on my attention for months, and possibly a year in the case of one. But real life happens, and never in accordance with deadlines and plans. The sale of my California land went into escrow a week ago Friday. We’ve been auditioning window replacement experts and a HVAC installation company with and eye to using some of the funds to improve this house.

And Alice, my partner in the Tiny Publishing Bidness had surgery a couple of months ago for a cancerous mass on her lung, which was successfully removed … but it turns out that some of the cells have gone wandering looking for another organ to settle down in, and so in order to keep that from happening, some cycles of chemotherapy are in order. Which means that she does not feel really up to doing the work of the Tiny Bidness, not that I blame her in the least, and so the last couple of book projects have been left to me to manage. Which takes up that amount of time left to work on my own book, both the one which I have just finished – The Quivera Trail, for which I am now taking advance orders – and the two that I am just starting.

For the last couple of years, Blondie has been serving as a bi-weekly housekeeper, handy-person, regular driver and runner of errands for Alice, which works out well, because eventually Blondie will be my partner in the business. They really like each other, which is also good. Blondie also did the same house-keeping, general help and driver for another elderly neighbor, Mrs. Y., who moved in a house around the corner from ours some years ago. Mrs. Y. was confined to a scooter chair as the result of a number of chronic health problems, a widow with four married daughters about my age. We first met one of her daughters and her husband when they began fitting out the house for her to move into – the husband does cabinetry, carpentry and general renovation work. They lived in the neighborhood also. Mrs. Y.’s health was too precarious to live alone in her long-time family home out in Canyon Lake – so, she was moving into our little patch of suburbia where the two daughters who lived close by could keep an eye on her.

About a month or so after Mrs. Y. and her cat (eventually to be two cats, both of whom she loved very much) moved into the house, we saw her rolling out on her scooter chair to the community mailbox, and stopped to say hello. In conversation, she asked if we could refer her to a regular housekeeper – someone to come in once a month and do the heavy work that she couldn’t manage from her chair. One thing and another, Blondie agreed to come in once a month, and spend three-quarters of the day doing housekeeping. I swear, Blondie must be the only purely Anglo housekeeper in this part of Texas – but one way and another, she and Mrs. Y. also got to be rather fond of each other. The daughters threw a Mary Kay party at Mrs. Y’s house, and Blondie did some housekeeping and moving-into-new-house help for one of the daughters. Two of the daughters lived a fair distance away, and the two who did live close in have fairly demanding jobs – so, now and again Mrs. Y. called Blondie to take her to an appointment. Last month, it seemed there were a lot of appointments in a short time span – and the housekeeping day was cancelled because Mrs. Y. was hospitalized.

About mid-month, we saw the garage door opened, and some familiar cars in the driveway. One of the daughters and a cousin sadly told us that Mrs. Y. was home – but that there was nothing that could be done for her. She was too frail for any more treatments or surgery, and was in hospice care at her house. She wanted more than anything to come home and spend her last days there with the cats; her daughters, the niece and the visiting hospice-care nurses taking care of her. Blondie volunteered also, and spent much of late August taking a turn at looking after Mrs. Y. She was very frail, and took a turn for the worst almost at once, passing away barely a week later, in the wee hours of early morning. We went to the funeral service in a funeral chapel in Seguin yesterday. It was a pretty brief service, mercifully, and conducted by a minister who was a friend of the family, and a gospel alto singing “I’ll Fly Away” and “In the Sweet By and By.” Generally the Methodists and Baptists seem to have much more cheerful hymns than Lutherans – our funeral hymns tend to be stern and gloomy. It wasn’t a crowd which overwhelmed the chapel in any case – the extended family, and friends and Blondie and I. Open casket, too – but the funeral home had done very well by her; she looked quite natural; very much her once-relatively healthy self.

We followed in the cortege to the cemetery; about twenty-five cars and four motorcycles. One of the daughters belongs to a motor-cycle group, so three of her friends came along on their bikes, flanking the hearse. One curious thing I noticed, which I had never seen before – once outside Seguin, just about every car going the other way on the road pulled over onto the verge, until the cortege had passed. “It’s a country thing,” one of Mrs. Y’s daughters explained. The graveside service was even briefer; we stood at the back, in the shade of a young oak tree, with puffy cotton-wad clouds floating in a blue sky – the cemetery was a very serene and well-organized place, even if I am not quite sure if I approve of artificial flowers for the graves. Most of the monuments had them – flat stones with a metal vase set into the center. Another local custom, I think. Mr. Y. was also buried there; I think it was comforting for the daughters, knowing that they were together.
And that was my week. Yours?

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