On Wild Flowers

Roadside patch of Bluebonnets in central Texas.
Roadside patch of Bluebonnets in central Texas.

The other day I was driving to work and noticed patches of beautiful pink wild flowers. One of the things I miss most about Texas is the spring time. That is when the wild flowers are in bloom. The mixture of Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes with the green grass is just absolutely beautiful.

Our first several years in Florida I didn’t see any wild flowers. When I would ask about wild flowers, the responses I got were less than informative. It seems in a state like Florida that is green year round were just about everything grows wild flowers are overlooked.

Texas is quite different. Things are green only for a short time each year.  Parts of the state receive little rain especially in the summer.  So, after a long summer and winter where everything is brown the Bluebonnets are a refreshing sight. Each spring time the wild flowers come out. They bloom everywhere in yards, pastures and along the roadside.

Back to my original thought of the wild flowers I saw along the roadside. It struck that wild flowers are God’s reminder to look for beauty in the simple, ordinary and often unexpected places. True they are not quite as impressive as the local botanical gardens but they are sill beautiful.

Allergies Aren’t Funny

Last night  one of the story lines on 30 Rock revolved around allergies.

***Spoiler Alert***

A couple of the characters suffered from food allergies.  The reactions of the other cast members exhibited extreme insensitive and ignorance about the seriousness of food allergies. First there was Liz Lemon’s (Tina Fey) declaring that allergies were not real and merely psychosomatic. Then Jenna (Jana Krackowski)  intentionally spiked Kenneth’s (Jack McBrayer) food with strawberries. Yes, she knew he was extremely allergic to strawberries. Her motivation was to see the cute EMT who responded to the earlier call again.  Of course her plan failed. Kenneth faked an allergic reaction to teach Jenna  a lesson. In the end, Jenna confesses to Kenneth. In an effort to be a good friend Kenneth intentionally ingests strawberries so she can call 911 again.

***End Alert***

Yes, I know they make fun of everything on 30 Rock. However last night’s episode  crossed the line.  As someone who suffers from several food and medicine allergies I am outraged by this story line.

Unfortunately, many today still believe as Liz Lemon that allergies are not real. Somehow they are just imagined or the delusions of a picky eater.  I have actually had people chew me out for checking to see if food was safe for me to eat. I’ve been told that it is rude and I should be grateful for the food. I even had one co-worker who was determined to break me of my pickiness by openly attempting to block my efforts to determine if the food was safe. When I would explain the situation the co-worker would reply that the acid in orange juice (one of the foods I’m allergic to) gave her an upset stomach too and that I should just take a tums.  I am allergic to two of my favorite foods and if it were that simple to get over the allergies I would. I’ve had another adult lie to me about ingredients in food because we were eating with people from a culture where it was rude to refuse food.  It seems to me that it would be less offensive to ask rather than die from an allergic reaction.

Another element I found offensive was how 30 Rock made light of the seriousness of allergies. Honestly, I don’t know anyone with allergies who would knowingly ingest allergens for some crazy scheme.   There is a  common misunderstanding that a “little bit” won’t hurt you. My response is no it can kill me.

Food allergies pose a serious health risk for many. While my allergy to strawberries has never been that serious my reaction to oranges and shellfish can be quite serious. I can have a reaction to shellfish without even having ingested it. All I have to do is be near where it is being cooked. Many simple things like eating out, buffets, a church dinner, remember which resturants garinsh plates with fruit or even getting an ice cream cone can lead to a potentially life threatening reaction.

Dual Citizenship

I am proud to announce that this weekend I was bestowed with a very special honor.  The Big Guy and I became honorary citizens of Walt Disney World. Yes, that’s right I am now have Walt Disney World Citizenship. You may be wondering how this rare award was bestowed. Well, the Big Guy and I were given the pins below when we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studio this past weekend.

Pin we recieved at Walt Disney World.
Pin we recieved at Walt Disney World.

Now, I’m not quite sure what priveleges are connected with Disney Citizenship. I do think that I should be able to move to WDW because after all it is the Happiest place in the world.  Serisouly, there were some problems when we tried to purchase a ticket for the Big Guy. The cast member who was helping us gave us the pins because of our patince. Yes, I was patinent. Actually, I was trying to figure out if there was a way I could exchange tech support for free tickets.  We did get several comments abou the pins throughout the day. It didn’t seem to get us any special privileges though. It is another pin to add to my collection tough.

Connecting Caring Communities

Connecting Caring Communities is a grassroots  community renewal organization in Abilene Texas. Established in 2005 CCC is an independent non-profit group. It was inspired by Shreveport-Bossier Community Renewal. Three strategies are form the core of the CCC model: Caring Team, Haven House and Friendship Houses.

Caring Teams seek to connect Abilene’s caring people. It seeks to build sense of community by focusing on the positive not just the sensational. The Caring Team is a community wide intuitive.

The Haven House stragtey targets all neighborhoods. In an age of instant communication with others world wide  we often fail to make connections with those who live next door. Haven Houses seek to turn neighborhoods from groups of strangers into connected communties. Haven House volunteer leaders host block parties, help neighbors find community resources, provide a listening ear or just be friend to their neighbors.

Friendship Houses target Abilene’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Coordinators and their families live  in houses in these communities. They seek to rebuild these neighborhoods from the by developing meaningful relationships, connecting neighbors with community resources, working with neighborhood leaders to improve the area and serving their neighbors. Currently, CCC staffs Friendship Houses in the College Heights and North Park neighborhoods.   As student tutored in both of these neighborhoods and helped sponsor an annual Christmas party. I  was struck by the need in this area. Many of my students needed more than just tutoring. They often lacked the basics like school supplies, food and other things many of us take for granted. Friendship Houses seek to provide longterm solutions for underlying problems not just treat the symptons.