Scarlott Letters

Just some stuff I find funny…

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Sometimes winning is a VSCO Hydro Flask, whatever the hell that is…

My 10 year old grand daughter Preslee called me yesterday afternoon with a “Guess what day it is question?” This usually only happens on Hump Day, as I guess that joke never gets old to a 10 year old, but since it was not Wednesday and not a holiday, I was scrambling to search my brain for what I had forgotten. She didn’t leave me dangling out there too long, as bursting with excitement she told me it was the end of the first six weeks at school. She had made it. She had lived up to our bargain. I wanted to weep.

Before I get started I want you to know I cleared this with my daughter Whitney, after all, it’s really Preslee and her story to tell. I let her read it first and she gave me her blessing.

Preslee has always been bright, articulate, funny, vivacious, empathetic and with the vocabulary of an adult, but, and that’s a big but, she can also be hell to be around and the polar opposite of those things if she is in one of her “moods.” When her meltdowns started to deviate past what you would consider normal childhood behavior, her parents got her help and she was eventually diagnosed with anxiety, ADD, ODD and Big Personality (whatever that means). Her Mom has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and works as a diagnostician for a regional education service center. She has extensive knowledge and resources in dealing with kids that have these kinds of problems and Preslee’s problems were never ignored or treated like “oh, she’ll outgrow it.” Whitney has had Preslee in counseling since she was five, five, let that sink in. She has been in counseling half of her life because she’s been so miserable. Can you imagine, as a parent, what it must feel like to know your baby wishes she’d never been born, that as a five, six, seven year old she could feel that hopeless, that all she wants is to be like a normal kid? As a grandparent, it was heartbreaking. Whitney must have found it almost unbearable, but she is a strong woman and continually looked for ways to relieve not only Preslee’s distress, but the entire family’s, because if you think something like this doesn’t disrupt the entire family, you’d be wrong.

Finally, as a last resort, as bouts of behavior became worse, Preslee was put on anti-depressents and ADHD medications. Her therapist suggested it and her pediatrician wrote the prescriptions. Over the next several years, she went through several different protocols, better for the first few weeks and then gradually getting worse and more frequent than before.

Reading this you might think things were a living hell, and in some ways they were, but 90% of the time Preslee was her happy, bubbly, exuberant self. She would keep you in stitches and was fun to be around…but she was a bit like a ticking bomb and you never knew what was going to set her off. The more people, noise, distractions, the more likely a combustion. I’m sure overstimulation and her ADHD had something to do with it. For instance, she spends a week with Joe and me each summer and she is perfect. We’ve never had a minutes problem with her but it’s just the three of us and it’s generally calm and quiet around here. What I’m trying to say is much of the time she is a delightful child and fun to be around, but when she has a spell it can be heartbreakingly bad, because in those moments she absolutely believes no one loves her and we would be better off without her. It tears your heart out to hear her.

By 4th grade last year, her behavior had escalated to the point she was acting out in school. She was probably in the Principal’s office once or twice a week, not to mention her grades were suffering. Things were spiraling out of control. Finally, after encouragement from me, my Mother and her sister who is a pharmacist, and because she had tried everything else, Whitney found a very good child psychiatrist in Ft. Worth that specializes in medications. Preslee’s pediatrician is very good but out of his area when it comes to something like this. In a town the size of Wichita Falls you only have so many options. The new doctor discovered that even though they had tried Preslee on several different drugs, they were all the same class of drugs, and as it turns out, even though they made the ADHD better, they made the anxiety much worse. What we thought was deterioration of behavior was the type of drugs she was on! She was put on a different class of drug and it was like a totally different child almost over night. Well, maybe not quite that fast but the change was quickly evident. That’s not to say that she still doesn’t occasionally have a meltdown, but they are much less frequent and don’t last nearly as long and contain less drama. They also seem to be triggered by overstimulation of some type.

I could weep with happiness…and sadness at four years of misery that sweet girl, and her stressed out mother and family have had to endure over something that could have largely been avoided if we had just known. Four years of a child feeling worthless and unloved and a mother feeling helpless in the face of her child’s pain, working tirelessly to find anything and everything to help change her perspective, to convince her otherwise. Four years of an entire family caught in the grips of this “thing” that effects them all. Yes, I weep for happiness that we have turned a corner and I weep with sadness at what was suffered for so long because we didn’t realize that much of her downward spiral was medication related.

If you have a child or know of a child that has a similar diagnosis and seems to get better in one area but worse in another, don’t hesitate to at least check on the medication they are taking. Find someone that specializes in children and those types of medications. Pediatricians are dedicated doctors and we couldn’t do without them, but they are not always up to date or well versed in the kind of drugs needed for ADHD and anxiety in children. If they are not getting better, keep trying.

So, back to our story, at the beginning of the 5th grade school year Preslee and I struck a bargain, a bargain I would never have been in danger of paying off last year, if she didn’t get sent to the Principal’s office once during the first six weeks, I would buy her whatever pair of Vans she wanted. Apparently, Van tennis shoes were the big thing…six weeks ago. Not only did she not get sent to the Principal’s office, the only “mark” she got in class was for forgetting her library book one day. I am so freaking proud of that girl! And the great thing is you could tell by her voice during the call that started this blog she was proud of herself. Our beautiful, brave girl sailed through the first six weeks without a hitch. Alas, Vans have gone by the wayside in the last six weeks. Did I mind getting getting her a “disco hydro blast” instead, she asked. At least that’s what I heard. 

Me: A what?
Preslee: You’ve heard of the disco girls, right?
Me: Heard of them? Hell, I was one. 
Whitney: Mom, not disco, VSCO. They are popular right now, wear scrunchies…      
Me: So did disco girls.

We didn’t make much progress from there, but I did Google it and I won’t bore you with the details because it will be something else next month. Enjoy your 15 minutes VSCO Girls. Anyway, what she wants is a special $45 VSCO Hydro Flask insulated water bottled that she is going to put stickers all over so that you might as well have bought a $10 bottle and no one would have known the difference. I don’t care. She earned every bit of that bottle and I’ve never enjoyed buying anything as much.



I need a helicopter…or more underwear

Before the Wards and we left on our trip to Tortola, I had several people tell me they couldn’t wait to see the blog. The thing is, I lost my “wanna” somewhere along the way. Put another way, like the old Jo Dee Messina song, “my give a damn’s busted.” It’s been nice to not spend each evening fretting about and writing and rewriting a blog post. That, plus the fact that Eddie and the Dave’s (they really should form a band) aren’t on this trip and they usually provide most of my material. Tres is doing his best to take up the slack but even he, as good as he is, can’t do the work of six men, men who are willing to start the day with an 8am Bloody Mary. However, the week is still young so hope springs eternal. 

Getting to the West end of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands from Midland or Wichita Falls is no small feat. In fact, it’s a grueling all-day affair and involves planes, ferries and automobiles. It took over an hour for about 50 people to clear customs in Roadtown. I’ve gotten through customs in Miami with 3000 people in less time. Julia, bless her heart, and I mean that in the best way, not the Southern “well bless her heart” way, is stuck with the driving again and that is not an easy thing. I’m sure it is made more difficult by someone yelling “shit, Shit, SHIT!” with ever increasing volume from the backseat every 30 seconds. The road to our house is up a mountain, not paved, and we traveled it for the first time in the dark…in a Kia. We first missed the turnoff because it didn’t look like a road and even when we found the road, my mind was saying “this CANNOT be it.” It was.

But, the house, Blackbeard’s Hideaway on Steel Point, is beautiful and the view is spectacular. We were supposed to come here back in October of 2017 because three out of four of us were turning sixty. Category 5 Hurricane Irma took care of that in September. The Virgin Islands took a direct hit and the devastation was immense. Boats and docks were either sunk or thrown onshore or literally on top of buildings. The infrastructure was decimated, even roads were washed away. Businesses, buildings, homes, both large and small, were demolished. Nothing escaped Irma. Things were so bad that prisoners were released from jail because they didn’t know if the structures would make it…and almost everyone turned themselves back in within a week because they couldn’t find food or water. We have a good view of Frenchman’s Lookout, which our group visited in 2010 and again in 2015. It’s the only repeat destination we’ve had on our island trips and was magnificent. You can see pictures of it if you look in my blog archives. It is in ruins now and will not be rebuilt unless someone buys it. It is sad to see. 

Tortola is rebounding, but slowly. Even rebuilding seems to be on island time. The West end seems to be behind other parts of the island, but they are working on the boardwalk at Sopher’s Hole and many of the homes have been repaired. There are four houses, all owned by the same person, on Steel Point and all but one have been repaired, however, the third one was just finished two weeks ago, 21 months after the storm. The Soggy Dollar has brought Jost Van Dyke back better than before, of course, all they needed was about a dozen sheets of plywood to rebuild the bar. Nevertheless, it was good to see a thriving scene at our favorite place.

Yesterday we drove over to Cane Garden Bay, which doesn’t look very far on the map, but is about thirty switchbacks, a hundred “oh shits” and a half a dozen Lord’s Prayers away. That’s how I measure distance here. I don’t know how Julia does it. After the third 90 degree incline switchback, and I’m talking up not left or right, I would have thrown that little Kia in park, hoped the brakes held, and said “I’m done.” At the scene of the crash, they wouldn’t know if I wet myself before or after we fell off the mountain. Luckily for everyone involved I doubt I’m ever asked to drive on these treacherous roads since most people don’t want to ride with me on the flat plains of Texas.


Today we are not doing a thing except relaxing and enjoying the house and maybe a little snorkeling…ok, Tres is doing the snorkeling, we will be doing the relaxing.

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Chalk Sound or Bust

We had to be out of the house by 11:00 because another group was arriving at 3:00. It’s a popular place and I can see why. That left us with five hours to kill so we headed to Chalk Sound…again. And this time we found it! Of course, we had a new navigator so our odds went up astronomically (sorry Cheryl). It’s every bit as beautiful as I remember.

Julia found us a great restaurant, right on Chalk Sound, for lunch, Las Brisas, which turned out to be my favorite meal of the trip (coconut crusted snapper tacos). It would have been perfect except for the gale force winds whipping around the outdoor awning we were under.

We still got to the airport three hours early and there must have been a gajillion people leaving about the same time…and no air conditioning in the terminal. And Dallas customs was the biggest bunch of FUBAR I’ve seen in a while. Trying to get home is always the worst part of the trip. Luckily, we all made it through.

Thanks again to Julia for her hard work in making not only this trip happen but the previous seven. You rock! I love our whole group and feel blessed to be a part of it. Everyone brings their own special part to the group. Our trip was awesome, but no matter where I travel, I am always happy to get back to Texas, where I belong. Until next time…

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Byline by Keith…not.

Remember that extremely big pink pot of seafood that Dave ordered last night? Remember how I said we should have ordered one pot for the whole table? Well, I take that back. We hadn’t been back an hour before Dave got sick as a dog and stayed that way all night long and a good part of today. Gina was dosing him with so much stuff…Pepcid, Tums, meclizine, Benedryl, melatonin and who knows what else…I was almost as worried about the over medication as the food poisoning. Something must have worked because he finally emerged from his room about 2:30 and it looked like he was going to make it, so we’ve got that going for us.

Other than Dave being sick, it was totally laid back at the house so I don’t have much to report unless you want to hear about a walk on the beach and hanging out at the pool again. But, dear reader, you are in for a treat as I have a roving reporter, Keith, covering activities at Club Med. He, Tres and Cheryl discovered you could get a day pass for $79 and that included two boat trips out to snorkel and all the food and drink you could handle. I promised him a byline if he would report back, so I will leave the rest of the blog to him.

Keith reports: a big fat nothing. Keith kinda sucks as a roving reporter. Don’t quit your day job, Dude. Of course, with free drinks I don’t know what I expected. Here’s what I heard when they returned: drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…trapeze, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…snorkeling, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…Cheryl losing them for two hours, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah…cute girls mistaking them for tycoons, blah, blah, blah…drink tractor, blah, blah, blah. Keith did come up with a new slogan for Club Med and they really should jump on it: Enough twenty somethings to keep it interesting, enough 70 somethings to keep it real.Damn photo bomb...

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Highway to Hell (aka Be Careful What You Wish For )

It’s been hard to write a blog the last couple of days because we’ve been so laid back that it’s been hard to find something interesting to write about. We remedied that today. We dropped Tres and Joe at Sharkbites so that Tres could get another cup of “the best coffee in the world,” which he claims to have drunk there on our last trip to Turks and Caicos five years ago. We took the other three guys to the golf course for a round and the girls headed for Chaulk Sound.

Our first mistake was allowing Cheryl to navigate after “two” drinks. Did you know that if you refill your first drink it still counts as only having one drink? There are a lot of people who will be delighted to hear this news. By that standard, I’m still on my first drink. Anyway, we ended up going in the wrong direction, until we stopped and asked a utility worker if we were going the right way and he looked at us like we were crazy and pointed in the opposite direction. Not wanting to take just one local person’s word for it, we continued on in the wrong direction for several miles, until we hit water and were forced to turn around.

Once we were going the right direction, Cheryl decided that we should take the scenic route…and boy was it scenic. Upon reflection, the end of the paved road should have been our first clue that maybe we should turn around and go the less scenic route. Common sense did not win out and we ended up going cross country in a ten passenger van, expecting to pop a tire any moment. The road was so rough Cheryl was worried about losing her “headlight covers.” We had a swamp to one side and burned out bullet ridden cars on the other. I started composing a goodbye note to the kids just in case we didn’t make it out alive, which looked more likely by the minute. It was that kind of neighborhood.

Trash heavily littered both sides of the road, but on the bright side we might have found an icemaker to replace the broken one at the house. The last straw was a pair of abandoned platform high heel shoes among the trash that looked to be a very large size. Afraid that the body belonging to those size fifteens might be around there too, we turned around and skeedaddled…as much as you can skeedaddle going 5 miles per hour through potholes and over boulders.

As soon as we got back to pavement, Denise called Tres and told him we were on the way to Sharkbites and there had better be five pina coladas waiting when we got there. And there were. Also, Sharkbites was not where Tres got the best cup off coffee in the world. It might have been at a coffee shop around the corner…or it might not have even been on Turks and Caicos at all. Guess he’ll keep looking.

When the Dave, Eddie and Keith got back from golf, we headed for Da Conch Shack to celebrate making it through the day in one piece. To say the portions were large would be an understatement. Dave’s meal was, honest-to-God, served in a pink 5 1/2 quart Le Cruset dutch oven. We could have just ordered one of those for the whole table. It was all we could do to waddle back to the van afterwards. We never did make it to Chaulk Sound…at least not yet.

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We Ain’t Right

Today was massage day and that’s always a favorite with this group. Eight of us signed up and two masseuses with really strong thumbs showed up at 10:00. We set one up in the spare bedroom and the second was on the lower deck by the firepit. I chose the inside room because who wants to flash everyone on the beach, well, besides Tres? But that’s sort of a given. Everyone certainly had that dazed look of the relaxed when they were through.

Tres’ masseuse asked if there was a name for our group. It’s not the first time we’ve been asked. When I used to travel to the Sweet Potato Queen parade as part of a group, we would be in tiaras and hideous queen bee vests that we picked up at Cracker Barrel, and my friend Debi Weaver would always answer the inquiry with a story about us being a group of cloggers on our way to a competition. Pic12.jpgI’m not sure that this band of misfits could ever be mistaken for cloggers. So, if this bunch had a group name, what would it be? The Dirty Dozen would work most years but we’ve only got ten this year. The Hateful Eight + Two? Twister Ten? The conversation degenerated, as it always does, when Tres piped up that our group should simply be ”We Ain’t Right.” Ding, ding, ding. And we have a winner, and it will be appropriate no matter how many people attend.

We had good old Texas steak for dinner. It’s bought and frozen at home, wrapped up and added to someone’s luggage and always superior to what you can find on the island. We’re usually ready for some red meat by mid-week. After dinner we played a dice game called Hot Dice or Farkle. It was a fun way to end the evening even though half the participants didn’t know any more about the rules of the game at the end than they did at the beginning…and one of those people came from behind to win. We ain’t right.

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Delusions of Grandeur

This morning we took the ferry over to North Caicos and Middle Caicos. On the ride over I was reminded again how beautiful the water is here. It’s pretty from the house but it’s even better when you’re on it. The color can’t truly be captured in pictures. It’s almost otherworldly. Once on North Caicos our ten passenger van wouldn’t start, so we ended up with an eight-passenger Suburban and two people in the cargo hold. This crowd just rolls with the flow. Denise and Gina definitely took one for the team getting bounced around back there. It brought back memories of our first trip to Vigin Gorda when we had a 1990 Caravan for ten people.

The plan was to hit a few beach bars, have some lunch, walk some beaches and see the sights. That was the fun-filled day the brochure promised. We drove for what seemed forever without the benefit of road signs, shoulders or even scenery. Finally arriving at a beach bar on Middle Caicos we waited for about fifteen minutes while someone apparently went to wake up the bartender, who I believe might have also been the cook. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the establishment, and I use that term loosely, seemed to be out of half of the items on their menu. No lunch here. The killer view seemed to be about the only thing they had going for them. And the views we’re spectacular and very different than what you see on Providenciales. I hate to say it, or disparage two whole islands, but North and Middle Caicos turned out to be kind of a nothingburger. Maybe we just didn’t know the right places to go. After a vote, we decided to cut bait and try to catch the 1:30 ferry back to civilization. It was our last shot until 4:30 and we took it. I’d say the person that put together the brochure touting those two islands had delusions of grandeur. It might not have been our most successful excursion, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and the ferry ride alone was great reminder of what it’s like being out on this water and well worth the effort.

On the way home the subject of dinner came up. FYI, if Gina ever tells you she needs to make a quick stop at the grocery store “for like two things,” do not fall for it…she will come out 25 minutes later with $250 worth of stuff. Joe accompanied Gina and Denise inside and said that’s the most stressful thing he’s done since sitting for the CPA exam. To her credit, she seems to take whatever’s at hand and somehow turn it into a great meal.

The rest of the day was low key and relaxing and really that’s the perfect kind of day to have here on Turks.