Saturday, March 3, 2012

“This Is Texas”

Mountain Laurel out front

         The air conditioner hummed, churning out cool air since the outside thermometer climbed. As usual, Texas teased everyone with an early taste of spring. Our weather casters gleefully warned, though, that one more blast of cold air will surge from the north, plunging our temperatures once again.

Rose out back
         During the night, this rush of artic breath exhaled, and Texas shivered. All of the blossoms on the trees screamed, the buds of my roses yowled at the biting wind, the birds retreated to huddle in nests, and the squirrels in our backyard despaired because they threw out the tuffs of cushion padding they’d collected all winter.
         I sit smugly at my monitor, fully confident that this final flirt with freeze will usher in spring. Every March, around my parents’ wedding anniversary, winter invades our home one more time. With the fury of a thwarted two-year-old, winds will howl. Sometimes we’ve had rain and ice with this final tantrum. Sometimes hail the size of golf balls hammer our roofs and dent our cars. Sometimes snow flurries whirl and swirl, leaving the ground dusted in white.
         I respect this final ferocious fit of winter.   

Clover peeking through the new woven fence

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, March 2, 2012

“Waiting for Results”

         “This is the doctor’s office. Your mammogram came back abnormal. We need you to schedule two more tests, a spot compression and an ultrasound.”
         With these words I add to my growing layers of stress. My worrisome molar with a possible new crown now fades to insignificant. Like most women, getting any kind of call for further tests means anxiety driven days and sleepless nights. I’ve done this drill on several occasions. Right before David and I got married, I had a pap smear come back with a “code” that required a second test. Everything turned out normal, but I had a tense couple of weeks while I waited to reschedule an appointment and get the results. I had a mammogram come back years ago with a “thickening” in one area that needed another look, so I’ve actually experienced this particular call back before. Still . . .   

         When I contacted the place where I go for my mammograms, the office had already scheduled an appointment for me on the fifteenth of this month. The kind receptionist said, “Of course, we can fit you in earlier if you’d like. That’s no problem at all.”
         Clutching the calendar in my hand, I realized that Mom has an appointment with her nephrologist on the fifteenth, I have the first phase of my root canal on the fifth, so the next date open is next Tuesday. I must make it five days in worrisome limbo just to get the tests done.
         The optimist in me cocks her head and states plainly, “Everything’s fine” because I’ve done this before. She begins the litany that it’s another thickening, just something different that needs to be checked more closely. Right now, her voice rings loudly and true since it’s only been minutes since that phone call.
         By this afternoon, doubt will nibble at my optimism. She’ll start slowly and imperceptibly to where I won’t notice the little nips she’ll take from my confidence. By nightfall, she’ll gobble up my hope and leave me restless and fearful. Doubt gathers strength in darkness. When the house falls into the silence of slumber, she’ll begin to whisper, “Maybe there’s something really wrong.”
         I will talk and write my way through this stress. I will process everything I think and feel with words. I’ll clutch my journal to my side like a life saver. Whenever I need to reassure myself, I’ll jot down words my optimist says. I’ll reread her reassurances as I cope with these next few days. I’ll write my blog, too, because sharing this means I’m not alone. I’ll talk to David, to Paul, to my mother (probably over and over again). I’ll call my sister as she’s gone through biopsies on two occasions with benign results.
         Within all of these words, I’ll find a way of focusing on hope and discouraging dread. I’ll say, “Stay in today” and not project into all of the unknown “what ifs” that doubt whispers into my ear.          

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, March 1, 2012

“Our Children Kill Each Other”

tears well in our eyes   
indignation puffs us full   
of righteousness   
at children carrying weapons   
we cry in dismay   
at cold-hearted killers   
living desperate lives in disparate lands   
far from our safe homes   
children as soldiers with an arsenal of death   
not ours   
not our responsibility   

tears well in our eyes   
as we cling to the Second Amendment   
our right to arm our children   
with hatred   
camouflaged in mistrust      
we cultivate our subtext of fear   
creating cold-hearted killers   
within our own homes   
children as soldiers with an arsenal of death   
yet not ours   
nor our responsibility   

tears well in our eyes   
disbelief sucker punches us again   
as our children kill each other   
questions, finger pointing,  and the blame game resumes   
but nothing changes   
while the new order of horror   
nurtures cold-hearted killers   
within our own homes   
children as soldiers with an arsenal of death   
our responsibility     

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Heart of Stone"

The promise of forever died     
with a single call from you.     
Seems no matter how hard I tried,       
there was nothing I could do.     
Our clumsy steps fell out of sync     
before the dance had ended.     
I could only stare and blink     
when you felt so offended.     
I know my feelings grew too fast,    
that I scared you with my plans.     
You did not want our love to last,     
to get so quickly out of hand.     
I knew from the moment we met     
that you could destroy my heart.     
My determination was set—     
nothing would keep us apart.     
I counted on your affection     
being equal to my own.     
Now I know upon reflection     
that your heart is made of stone!   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"For the Camera"

The old photos reveal nothing     
      show no hint of the abuses     
           that darken your future     
      Gape-tooth smiles, youthful     
           mugging for the camera     
                don’t predict     

The childish arms that hugged     
      friend and family     
       hang skeletal     
                by your sides     
While your sunken eyes     
      and forced and frozen smiles     
                for the camera     

Pretending your world glows     
Making believe he’ll finally     
      notice you     
      love you     
           fit you into his small and selfish life     

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"My Husband Drives Me Batty!"

David with Pipistrel Meghan
Often, women claim that their husbands drive them batty, but in my case, the phrase takes on a new meaning. Little David loved bats from an early age. He took felt and fabric to construct his own “Teddy Bat”. He searched the school libraries for any books on bats, checking them out over and over again.

By the time I met David, his passion for Chiroptera meant our “dates” often consisted of sitting by a field off Bat Cave road to watch the lively flutter of bats as they left Bracken Cave. Not long after we married, David joined Bat Conservation International, Inc. ( and pulled me into the world of bats with him.

Western Bats Poster
by David Chapman
As an artist, David designed several posters for BCI and the National Parks service on bats in different regions of the United States. He used his skills for a BCI Christmas card, some stickers, and the Discover Bats educational package. He illustrated books on how to care for and rehabilitate captive bats, too.

Townsen's Long-eared Bat
by David Chapman

Eventually, David registered his name on a list to aid injured bats. It surprised no one when he ended up keeping two pipistrels that couldn’t be released. These two bats visited local schools for years as David conducted his personalized “bat talks” for the children. Caring for bats isn’t easy. The two we had needed to be hand fed. That meant we couldn’t leave town unless we could take them with us, or arranged to train another person to feed them. David taught my father how to feed and care for out bats as our back-up system. My parents would come up to San Antonio, feed bats, cats, and dogs when we left town for more than a day.

Visiting Evening Bat!
David’s zeal for bats introduced us to wonderfully dedicated scientists and volunteers. We met Merlin Tuttle, Amanda Lollar, and Barbara French. We volunteered long hours at Bracken Cave, cutting back weeds, laying trails, and doing grunt work. David Bamberger invited us along with other volunteers to Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve to witness the construction of The Chiroptorium (

Red Bat
by David Chapman

Over the years, I couldn’t help but absorb some of David’s bat knowledge and bat enthusiasm. Many times we’ve hopped into our car (Paul, too) to run a rescue on a downed or injured bat. Since I’ve retired, I’ve fielded many phone calls from panicked homeowners about a bat on their porch or under a ledge. When we go to the cabin, the bat houses are checked for inhabitants, and I’ve gotten quite good at snapping pictures of a flight at dusk. Our home, too, has more than just David’s bat art on the walls. We never visit a shop without our eyes searching for a little bat to add to David’s collection. Even friends and family members purchase unusual sculptures or carvings and send them to us.

My fondest memory, though, centers on the very first bat flight I witnessed at Bracken Cave, but I’ll save that story for another day!

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman