Katey and the Great Texas Whiteout

My Daughter Katey During the Great Texas Whiteout

Katey and the Great Texas Whiteout

Florida was home.

Katey had not played in the snow

since leaving Russia.

Katey moved this year.

Texas snowfall surprised her…

First snow since age four!

Whiteout in Texas…

power off, roads hazardous.

Katey shoveled snow.

Historic blizzards…tragic.

Playing in snow…Katey’s joy!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Photos by Ellen and Katey


Texas is experiencing unheard-of back-to-back blizzards and below-zero temperatures. This may be one of many examples of extreme weather events due to global warming. Increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes and wildfires, craters forming in Russia’s Tundra, and melting polar ice are some other possible examples.

Texas is not well-prepared for blizzards. Items such as Snowplows and snow tires are in short supply. The low temperatures are overtaxing the power grid and causing power outages. Some people’s water pipes have burst. A few areas have orders to boil water. Many people are stuck at home with a dwindling supply of food and without heat. I am grateful that my daughters and their household have experienced only a very brief power outage.

My Daughters, Katey and Ellen
Rez Plays with Katey’s Snow Angel
Don’t Do It, Ellen!
Yay. Snow!

Lounging Around

Photo by olia-danlevi from Pexels

Lounging Around

Stretched out on green grass,

finding pictures in the clouds

and four-leaf clovers.

Supine in the snow,

arms and legs stretching outward.

Sculpting snow angels.

Photo by Vlad from Pexels

Sprawling on the rug,

playing with a new puppy.

Wiggles and wet kisses.

Lounging on the beach…

eating ice cream, feeding gulls,

talking, holding hands.

Photo by tima-moroshi from Pexels

Sleeping warm in bed,

snuggled under the covers,

alarm set for six.

Lolling on the couch,

old movies, buttered popcorn.

Relaxation mode.

Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels

Soaking in the tub,

warm bubble bath, soft music.

Children fast asleep.

Bedded in a tent,

cricket songs and coyotes.

Camping with the kids.

Photo by patrick-hendry from Unsplash

Dozing in a hammock,

taking an overdue nap.

Smell of fresh-cut grass.

Loafing on the chaise,

watching grandchildren playing.

Iced tea with lemon.

Photo by Barbara Webb from Pexels

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Pajama Days

Photo by Gail Adams Arnold from Unsplash

Pajama Days

Cozy pajamas,

no neckties and no high heels…

My laptop and me.

Photo by Anastasia Sharev from Pexels

Comfy in loungewear,

feet up, hair down, my music…

Me and my laptop.

Photo by Ketut Subiyant from Pexels

Rocking baggy sweats,

snacktime on the balcony…

My smartphone and me.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso from Unsplash

Working, learning remotely,

blogging, creativity.

Photo by Tima Miroshn from Pexels

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


As the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, families who have been working and learning remotely may be returning to school and to the workplace. Though most are eager to return to normalcy, many will have moments of nostalgia over “pajama days.” Fido will miss them.

Photo by X1RQ3b from Unsplash

Christmas Eve at Our House

Christmas Eve at Our House

Cozy Christmas Eve,

phone visits with family,

walks in the sunshine.

Red Virginia Creeper provides Seasonal Color for our Back Yard
Woods View from Christmas Eve Walk
Table Set for Christmas Eve, Centerpiece Created with Foliage from our Yard

Rustic centerpiece,

classic steak, baked potato,

just the two of us.

Our Christmas Tree Plays “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

Yuletide carols play.

“We wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Stockings are hung with care.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur, Photo by Katey Batavia

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur

In October, from Russia, Katey and Joe,

came to Florida twenty-five years ago.

Friends and relatives sent gifts of welcome.

Hanukkah and Christmas gifts filled our home!

That January, when Katey turned five,

we agreed that a book was the best gift to give.

On Katey’s birthday, when Papa came home,

the birthday plans all came undone!

When Papa came in, Katey was overjoyed.

Between Papa’s feet was a Barney toy.

From the wheelchair, Barney saw his new place.

A gigantic grin spread over Papa’s face.

Katey kissed Barney’s purple cheek,

and the talking dinosaur began to speak.

In his goofy voice, Barney said, “I love you.”

It was unmistakable, Katey loved him too!

We lost Papa six years later in January,

weeks before Katey’s eleventh birthday.

Barney lived with Katey for twenty-three years.

His demise last year left Katey in tears.

This year, I found on Amazon,

Katey’s Christmas present, a Barney clone!

Barney now lives in Texas, where he’ll say,

“I love you,” to Katey every day.

Katey Batavia and Barney, Photo by Katey Batavia

Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


My late husband, Drew, and I adopted Katey and Joe from Russia in October, 1995. We lived in Miami Beach, and Drew, AKA “Papa,” was a very devoted father until his death in January, 2003. Katey now lives near Dallas, Texas with her older sister Ellen, a cat, a dog, and two other roommates. The new Barney, the Purple Dinosaur, just joined the household.

How Do You Spell Merry Christmas?

Santa by Tima Miroshni from Pexels

How Do You Spell Merry Christmas?

(Acrostic)

Manger scenes telling the Christmas Story

Exchanging gifts with friends and family

Relatives and friends visiting

Remembering to hang your stocking

Yummy food in December

Christmas Pageants with lines to remember

Hanging mistletoe up high

Reindeer flying across the sky

Invitations to parties and balls

Singing Yuletide carols

Trees we decorate

Making cookies and cakes

Advent wreaths with candles

Santa and his elves

Christmas Eve, Photo by Vicki Yde from Unsplash

Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


The acrostic is an old fashioned staple of school and Sunday school programs. Each child holds up a letter and recites his “piece.” The letters often spell MOTHER for Mothers Day, HAPPY THANKSGIVING or MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Christmas Wreath, photo by Cheryl Batavia

Merry Christmas!

Eighth Night of Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah!, Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Eighth Night of Hanukkah

(My memories from the 1990s)

On the eighth night of Hanukkah,

We’re celebrating with Grandma and Grandpa.

Candles will shed soft light

on the faces of our family tonight.

Children light the menorah carefully.

Their father smiles approvingly…

A quiet moment lingers like a dream…

before latkes, applesauce, and sour cream.

Enjoyed by glowing candlelight,

Hanukkah gelt is a sweet delight.

Children eagerly await

opening present number eight.

Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

We sing,”Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel.”

Our pennies are on the table.

Spinning dreidels with Grandma, it’s clear,

“A great miracle happened here!”


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights that commemorates the rededication of the second temple. There was enough oil in the temple lamps to burn for only one night, but miraculously, it burned for eight nights. “A great miracle happened here!” is the message conveyed by the Hebrew letters on the dreidel. A dreidel is a top that is spun in a traditional gambling game. Our children and their grandma played for pennies.

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight nights. At sundown, the Hanukkah menorah is lit. One candle is lit on the first night. Another candle is added each night until, on the eighth night, all eight candles burn. Children receive a present on each night of Hanukkah.

A traditional Hanukkah food, latkes are grated potato pancakes fried in oil often served with applesauce and sour cream. The oil symbolizes the oil that burned for eight nights in the temple lamps. Hanukkah gelt is chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Our family also enjoyed chopped liver on matzos (similar to crackers) and matzo ball soup at Hanukkah.

Cactus-Tailed Cat

Cactus-Tailed Cat, Photo by Cheryl Batavia

Cactus-Tailed Cat

In nineteen thirty-six, in Sunday school,

someone said: Did you hear about Harvey?

You mean that guy who always acts the fool?

I heard that he has Hepatitis B!

Oh, wow! I didn’t know that he was sick!

They think he could die. We might lose a friend.

We’ll cheer Harvey up. Think of something quick!

A dozen roses would be nice to send.

The Sunday school class wanted to be kind…

Roses were too expensive, it was clear.

A cat with a cactus tail…What a find!

What a perfect gift to bring Harvey cheer!

Harvey, my Dad, was too stubborn to die!

Fifteen-year-old Harvey dodged tragedy!

That cactus-tailed cat was the reason why

they joined the Church…Harvey’s whole family!

Harvey became a Methodist preacher,

devoted to service for fifty years.

He was a story-teller and teacher;

he visited the sick and calmed their fears.

My Grandma gave me the cactus-tailed cat

that changed the family’s way of living.

The cat’s now a gift for my daughter that

honors her life of service and giving.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


This poem is based on a true family story as told to me by my grandmother and my father. The first three verses are an imagined conversation showing how the Sunday school class decided to send the cactus cat to my father in the hospital.

The cactus-tailed cat is ready to send to my daughter, Ellen, in Texas. Ellen is an ordained Baptist chaplain and is taking seminary classes. She has taught Recovery classes for several years and is an administrator for the program.. I am not sure what her future plans are.

Disclosure: The cat is posing for this photo with an improvised cucumber tail. She is looking forward to getting a new cactus tail when she arrives in Texas.

Grandma

Grandparents & grandchildren, Photo by Aletia2011, Adobe Stock

Grandma

Our Grandma, Frances Ellen Tustin,

had to babysit, so she left after two years of school.

She had learned to read! She used that skill

to educate herself and lived her life to the full.

At twelve, Grandma worked as a hotel maid.

Married at seventeen, she had two sons.

She and Grandpa worked hard to support

their family during the Great Depression.

Our grandparents moved a lot, flipping houses.

Grandma wallpapered, painted, and plastered.

The last house they renovated was her childhood

home, using all the skills they had mastered.

Photo by Brett Jordan from Unsplash

Grandma lived there for more than thirty years,

raising chickens, planting grapes and fruit trees.

She grew asparagus, strawberries, and flowers,

and cultivated her garden into her eightees.

Grandma decorated her home with hooked rugs,

handmade quilts, and afghans she crocheted.

Her grandchildren were always proud

to wear the beautiful clothes she made.

Photo by Mae Mu from Unsplash

Cooking in restaurants and caring for the sick…

Grandma had many jobs over the years.

She was a long-time Sunday school teacher

who had earned the respect of her peers.

We always ate well at Grandma’s house…

Everybody loved her black walnut cinnamon buns!

Grandma fed us chicken cacciatore and cookies.

We gathered eggs in the henhouse. That was fun!

Photo by Natasha Skov from Unsplash

In summer, Grandma gave strawberries

to friends and neighbors and made strawberry pies.

A huge bowl of strawberries waited for us at

Grandma’s. We couldn’t eat them all, but we tried!

The Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls Grandma made

were in demand at local gift shops.

The dolls she made for her great grandchildren

were always loved a lot!

Photo by Non Vay from Unsplash

Most of my generation wanted to be like Grandma.

Great granddaughters, and great nieces, too,

are named “Frances” or “Ellen” or “Tustin,”

a gentle reminder: Be known by the good works you do.

Reprinted from Life in Inspiring Places


Copyright© 2019 by Cheryl Batavia

The $5 Challenge

Photo by Joseph Greve from Unsplash

The $5 Challenge

I heard the stories as a child…

of Dad skipping school and running wild,

breaking the ice to go for a swim.

Skunky smell emanating from him…

sent home or banished to the hall.

Given his grades for playing basketball.

Joined the Navy by lying about his age,

used the GI Bill to go to college.

Photo by NeONBRAND from Unsplash

Dad wasn’t much help with study skills,

but he gave me an incentive of a five-dollar bill

for earning straight “A”s…a perfect report card.

In my sophomore year, I tried really hard!

Photo by Hello, I’m Nik from Unsplash

By dropping my hated typing class,

I thought I could get all “A”s at last!

But the honor roll with a “B” or two

just seemed to be the best I could do.

The quest became a pain in the neck,

and to this day, I still hunt and peck.

The next two years, until graduation,

I focused on directing my own education.

I abandoned chasing grades…No “busy work” for me!

There were books to be read as far as the eye could see!

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe from Unsplash

After that, I took art class seriously

and sketched my teacher in trigonometry.

Like my father before me, banished to the hall,

I read a book and didn’t mind at all.

I was multitasking in trigonometry…

Figuring that out, my teacher tolerated me!

Moved to the back of the room, not banished to the hall…

I sat drawing, learning, and having a ball!

Mt. Rushmore, Photo by Brandon Mowinkel from Unsplash

My history teacher was a boring jock!

Outline the chapter?…I think he was in shock

that my outline was heads and subheads. My grades slid,

but I got an education despite the rude things I did.

No “busy work,” copying sentences in grammar!

Zeros hurt my grades, but it didn’t matter…

I scored high on tests, so my grades were okay.

No offense, teachers…Just trying to find my way!

Photo by Anna1991anna from Unsplash

Married at eighteen, then job and family.

Night school part-time at twenty-six…I was ready!

At the beginning of each quarter, I always asked,

“What do I have to do to get an ‘A’ in your class?”

After all the drama, I finally had my four-point-oh…

Dad’s offer had expired…five dollars was a “no show!”

At forty, I graduated and consecutively

started teaching and earning my masters degree.

Elementary Classroom, Photo courtesy of CDC from Unsplash

Like my father before me, I say, “Don’t do as I do!”

Educating yourself is essential, but grades are important too!

Dad went back to school after I was grown.

He earned five doctorates…Who could have known?


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Word to the Wise

If you are a student, please don’t do as I did! Or as my father did, either! Find the balance between earning good grades and educating yourself about the things you want to know. Take it from someone who learned the hard way…Grades and following your interests are both important!

Remember to be kind to your teachers. Karma may get you if you are rude to them! As a teacher in inner city schools, I got back a little bit of what was coming to me. So, if you are ever tempted to give your teachers a hard time, remember my advice, and don’t go there!