Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the next step

Several of my readers have expressed a desire to see a project through and since I have been meaning to do that myself for some time to post on my website, I’m going to try to document this job all the way through.  Hopefully I won’t forget to take the pictures.  That’s usually what happens.  My first post on this job, 4 panels 30” x 56” was ‘working on paper’ and I posted the picture of the design as presented at 1 inch to 1 foot scale.  These panels for the chapel in an Oklahoma heart hospital will be installed in a false wall and lit from behind.

so continuing...

Still working on paper, after the design is approved, I enlarge it to between 1/4th - 1/3rd full size.  I do this on my own printer/copier, piecing together the sections and then tracing the enlargement on another piece of paper.  This is when I draw in most of the detail.  When I am done with that, I take it to a reprographics place and have it enlarged to full size.  Right now I am waiting on the correct dimensions and spacing to proceed.  The problem with working with the art consultant is that I get all my info from him and he can be very busy.  I remind him every time I talk to him that the longer it takes them to get me the information I need, the longer it takes to get me started and it will still take the same amount of time to produce.  I know the project has a November due date but last week he did not know when in November and they hadn’t started building the wall yet.  He’s supposed to be checking on that now and getting back to me.  The good thing about working with the art consultant is that he does all that work including selling the job.

When I was doing these drawings, my purpose was to make the squiggly lines from the small sketch look more like leaf shapes.  I wanted to keep a loose feel to it and as I was drawing in the more defined shapes, I was pondering where this will ultimately go and the people who were going to be gazing at it.  The leaf shapes quickly morphed into light floaty forms, as if the prayers were being formed and drifting up to the Almighty.  Almost like leaves, almost like birds or seed pods taking wing and rising.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I dreamed about my mother last night.  I think I have only dreamed about her one other time since she died six years ago.  At least that I remember.

I didn’t like my mother much.  Not at first though.  At first I loved her, wanted her love, like any other kid wants their mother to love them.  Not that she didn’t love me.  She did as much as she was capable of but that wasn’t enough for me.  I was a needy child.  Somewhere in my teens, I shifted my speech from Mom to the more formal Mother.  And she stayed Mother til she died.

When I, ultimately the middle child, was born, she refused to let the nurse bring her newborn into the room.  It couldn’t possibly be her child because I had dark hair (my mother was blonde).  The distraught nurse had to call my father, a pathologist there at the hospital, to come and assure his wife that I was, indeed, their daughter.  My mother used to tell this story as if it was a joke.  She thought it was funny.

My mother was herself a child of late life.  Her father spoiled her rotten to the resentment of her two older (by a decade) sisters and the dismay of her mother and then he died when she was 15.  My father pretty much picked up where her father left off.

She doted on my younger brother, the only boy, the baby and the heir of the family name; he became the preferred child.  On my older, blonde, pretty sister fell the expectations and attention of the first born.  I think in retrospect, the middle was the best place as I probably had more leeway and less criticism although there was plenty of that.  In the end, the first born and the male heir left, both eventually moving out of state.  

My mother was a born actress.  Her life was the play.  She had several roles that she played and later in my life I could see her shift from one to the next to get what she wanted or to fulfill whatever expectations had been placed on her by society or some of her own crazy fantasies.  We were part of her role as ‘doctor’s wife’.  She liked the idea of children but she didn’t really care for the day to day reality of children.  She was a selfish and self centered woman.  Imperious is usually the word I use to describe her.

The irony is that when she began to fail several years after my father died, the only child she could call for, or rather demand of, aid was me, the one who was probably the most emotionally distant.  She was stuck with the ‘mean one’.  It was a trying time for both of us because she refused to cooperate and move closer in and make it easier for me while her condition required me to be there often and we lived over an hour away.  Eventually she moved out of state to live with my brother who put her in a family home because she really needed someone there 24/7.  Our mother suffered from TIAs and the resultant dementia.

When she finally died I was unexpectedly affected.  I cried where my two siblings did not.  At least not around me.  It took me awhile to understand where this grief came from.  I wasn’t mourning my mother so much as the loss of the possibility of having the kind of mother I wanted.  

In my dream, which was actually just a small part of a much longer dream, she hugged me, a tight and long hug.  One from which, after a moment, I was trying to disentangle myself while she clung, and finally I stepped back.  I woke shortly after that as if that whole scene was shock enough to rouse me.  You see, my mother did not like to be touched.  She shooed her children away from her when they snuggled up on the couch.  She didn’t like hugs or physical expressions of emotion even as she needed to be the center of attention.  And as an old woman she hated having someone hold her arm to steady her.  She could be quite ugly about it.

So I’m wondering what that was about.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

the changeling

We’ve been planning to buy a new sofa since we bought the country house.  Well, maybe not ever since we bought the country house, but at least since I started looking around and pointing at things and saying...that’s staying; that’s staying; nope, not taking that.  The love seat was on the top of the list.  It is so old, has broken springs and a tear in the back where they poked through.  Um, maybe I shouldn’t be revealing how tacky we are.

We also thought, as long as we were at it, we’d get another recliner.  I got it in my mind that I wanted a leather sofa and/or recliner.  I’d been to people’s homes that had leather furniture and it was always so dreamy to sit in.  Unfortunately I have leather tastes on a polyester budget.  We did actually find several leather sofas that we could afford but either the cushions were hard or the seat was so high my feet didn’t touch the ground.  Call me silly, but I want my feet to touch the ground when I sit on a sofa.

Last December we had a little extra money.  What that means is that we got paid for a job and hadn’t paid any of our bills yet, so we decided to go sofa shopping.  We like to support the businesses in the country but we quickly determined that we couldn’t afford anything we liked at the furniture store here in Wharton (pop. under 10,000) so we drove to El Campo (pop. about 20,000) which is about 20 miles down the road.  Sofa shopping with me means sitting on every sofa we like the looks of to determine comfort.  Some are too high, some are too deep, some are too hard, some, the cushions are shaped weird.  We winnowed it down to a couple of sofas, one of which was a sage green micro-fiber double recliner but weren’t ready to commit ourselves.  After all, we had just started looking and planned to head toward Houston the next day to look some more.  Only we didn’t and our window of opportunity slammed shut with the plummeting economy.

Nine months later I’m ready to start unpacking some of our stuff but I don’t want to until I know where the furniture is going to go and that means getting the sofa.  So last week we went to a pretty cool quality resale shop and looked to see what they had.  They had a couple of nice leather sofas which we still could not afford so yesterday we went back to El Campo and tried out all the sofas and lo and behold, there was the same sage green micro-fiber double recliner that we had considered last year and it was $100 less.  We took this for a sign and bought it.  They put it in the truck and off we went.

I hate buying big ticket items.  I always suffer buyer’s remorse because the grass is always greener...right?  I always get over it, I remind myself of all the things I like about it, I get used to the new thing but it takes me awhile to convince myself that this was right.  And that’s because, it takes me a long time to make up my mind.  I want to see and consider every possible alternative first which is fine if there is a finite number of choices.  But with things like houses and sofas, there is always something new being offered a few months later.  Not Husband.  He is more of an impulse buyer...I like it, let’s get it...and he never again thinks about how much it cost.

So we get the sofa home.  I actually prefer a more tailored look but this one was just so comfortable and apparently, comfort is higher on my list than looks.  

This is the color it was in the store.

This is the color it is in our house.

This is not the same color.  

“It’s the curse”, he says.

“It’s not the curse!” I exclaim.  

Although, after all these years, I’m beginning to think he may be right.

Friday, September 25, 2009

site seeing

The day of the equinox, a front blew in bringing rain and cooler temperatures.  From one day to the next the temperature dropped from a high in the 90s to a low in the 60s.  It’s been unseasonably cool all week.  Quite welcome after the summer of triple digits and no rain but I’m really hoping this doesn’t mean an early and prolonged winter.

The first thing we do when we get home, after unloading the truck, is to walk the yard and see what there is to see.  I am always amazed to see how fast things change.

The red roses out front put on a growth spurt while we were in town this week.

This pink rose put on a few flowers and I swear it didn’t even have any buds on it when we left last Monday.

This shrub, of which there are 5 scattered about the yard, burst out in these pink fringy flowers while we were gone.

We have a cluster of half a dozen or so bell pepper plants in the garden that volunteered this spring from kitchen scraps I buried in the garden last winter.  These volunteers, from store bought peppers, grew and only occasionally bloomed but did not produce a single bell pepper all summer.  They are now covered with flowers and setting fruit.

The most unsettling discovery, or I should say realization, was this poison ivy tree.  

I know we have it growing in the field behind us and in the wild place at the back corner of the property but I couldn’t understand why I had it sprouting up in the front part of the yard all spring and into early summer.  Now I know.  Poison ivy and I are not friends.  This is actually a small crepe myrtle tree that has been overwhelmed with poison ivy.  I never really paid it much attention because it is in the easement of my neighbor’s yard, but for some reason I noticed it last weekend.  The only way to get rid of it, I’m afraid, is to cut the whole thing down but then what to do with it?  It can’t be burned.

The lighter colored limb is a branch of the crepe myrtle.  All the dark brown twisties are the entwined vines of the poison ivy.

The vines/roots have taken over the trunk of the crepe myrtle.

The berries that have been producing the new plants in my yard.

I hate using poisons but I might spray some Roundup on the roots/vines, with my neighbor’s permission, of course.

(It's not the curse!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

to the seventh generation

There was an interesting program on genetics on Nova last night.  When they started the human genome project, to map the DNA of human beings, the scientists thought we would have the most genes of any living creature.  Turns out we’re not that complex.  We don’t even have as many genes as some plants.  Scientists also thought that once they had the genetic code, that the mystery would be revealed.  Turns out we’re not that simple.  Why was it that two people who share the exact same genetic code, as identical twins do, can develop so differently.  Why one is normal and the other is autistic, why is one healthy and the other gets a terrible disease, why is one happy and productive and the other suffers from debilitating depression?

They have discovered now that some of our individual DNA, collectively our genome, come with chemical markers, the epigenome.  These markers turn genes off and on so that even in identical twins who have the exact same genome, their markers can be different.  And they accumulate as a person ages, or rather, the effect of these markers accumulates through aging causing greater and greater differences.  We all have them but they became apparent in the study of identical twins.

These epigenomes are inherited of course, but they are also environmentally created and attach themselves to the genome.  For instance, exposure to chemicals, pesticides and insecticides.  Didn’t we all, as children in the 50s, run through the clouds of insecticide that the city sprayed at night, because we were told it was harmless to humans?  Harmless to us perhaps but certainly not to our descendants.  

Other environmental factors come into play as well like feast or famine.  It was determined in one study that if your grandfather suffered through famine when he was about 10 years old it had a beneficial effect on the lifespan of his grandchildren.  If he had plenty during that age then his grandchildren were more likely to develop a life threatening disease and lived for a shorter time.  Similarly, if your grandmother suffered feast or famine while she was still in the womb, it had an effect on the health and life span of her grandchildren.

Our food supply became more and more adulterated in the 50s and 60s with the addition of chemicals, colors, preservatives and refining and it correlated with the rise of cancer, diabetes and allergies.  Our parents didn’t suffer nor did we of my generation for the most part but now look 3 and 4 generations later with the accumulation of these chemical markers on our genome, these ailments are rampant.

The hope, of course, is that we can use this new knowledge to mitigate some of the effects of the pollution of our environment and food supply on our genome but in the meantime, maybe that old biblical curse isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

8. doing our homework

I have a busy week ahead of me this week.  My brain is focused on the art work and etching I need to do and the models I am constructing for the next set of cast pieces and I need to update my web site.  Now that fall is here and I am working again I ‘m looking back at the long slow summer and wondering how I could have let all that time slip by.  I know that I was resting, some much needed rest obviously, after the last several years of non-stop intensity.  I couldn’t have worked if I had wanted to.  I worried at first that I would be losing my forward momentum, all that I had achieved during the past 5 or 6 years towards getting noticed by the collectors but I’m thinking now that the crash in the economy coincided with my personal crash and perhaps that’s a good thing.  The world of glass art has not moved on without me.  It is resting too.  

Anyway, time to get to work this morning so here is another chapter in my ‘becoming’ story.  If you are new here and want to read from the beginning how I became a glass artist, go here and be sure and read from the bottom up.  All the entries except one are short.


During these years (mid 70s to early 80s) we worked on our technique.  We scoured the libraries for books about glass engraving, etching or casting.  Our vision was to do Lalique and Stueben quality on an architectural scale.  They were our role models, what we looked to.   At that time there was no instruction in what we wanted to do.  We just stumbled our way along trying different things til we found something that worked well.  We started trying out stage blasting and eventually figured out carving techniques.  We glued lace to the glass and then blasted over it.  We learned how to glue chip, not an easy feat in this climate.

We did art shows.   We made contacts with the stained glass people.  We set about to put together a portfolio and started doing cold calls and presentations to interior designers and architects.  We tried to raise the visibility of glass art for your home and we started getting some really good commissions.

By the time we quit the Renaissance Festival, we were cultivating some very good relationships with some interior designers but mostly with architects or architectural firms with in house interior designers.  This worked well for us in one way but it also proved to be an error in judgment later.  We were getting a lot of corporate commissions but only the occasional residential commission and the residential work was what we had initially started out to do.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

things the rain brought...

besides some much needed relief.

a lovely sunset

these red lilies, miniature amaryllis I think

a mushroom

blue bonnet seedlings

another mushroom

this weird thing, it never got any bigger and is a solid mass...a fungus?

the fire ants which had gone underground during the hot dry summer have resurfaced

and lots of these bad boys

Saturday, September 19, 2009

it's all about me(me)

Several weeks ago Madame DeFarge of Bateau de Banane, bestowed upon me the Premier Meme Award wherein I am to list 7 quirky things about me as evidenced in my blog.  I am always thrilled and delighted whenever one of our fellow bloggers out there finds, I mean, finds me entertaining.  I’m supposed to pass this on to 7 other, I mean deserving blogs but the sad truth is, I’m not very good at doing that.  I like to play but I have a hard time singling out just a few of the wonderful blogs I read.  I wouldn’t want to, I mean hurt anyone’s feelings who was not selected. My standard fall back is I’m awarding this to any and all who want to play.

so here’s my seven quirks:

1.  I think chickens are entertaining.  Well, maybe not chickens per se, rather, I think my sister’s experiences with chickens are entertaining. (click on the ‘chickens’ label)

2.  I collect dead insects...pretty, interesting dead insects.  I’ve been planning to post pics so this is a future blog quirk.

3.  I’m tenacious (as evidenced by the fact that I will still post even when I don’t have anything funny or even remotely interesting to say) although there are some people out there who would prefer to call me ‘stubborn as a mule’.

4.  I am a self-employed choice!  If that’s not quirky, I don’t know what is.  (You can experience the self inflicted hair pulling and ass kicking by clicking on the ‘art’ label.)

5.  I have no problem whatsoever expressing my opinion as those of you on the receiving end of my comments are well aware.

6.  I’m not nearly as quick on my feet as I am on a keyboard so if you ever meet me in person you will probably be wondering who this dull-witted woman is.

7.  I live in two worlds, the city and the country, hence the continual ping pong of the nature of my posts.

That last one was hard to come up with although I’m sure there are many of my readers who could list several more of my (less attractive) quirks without even thinking.  If you are new to me, and want to know even more about my infinitely fascinating personality you can read about the jobs I have had or the ten things you don’t know about me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

working on paper

We finally received a deposit from the art consultant for the panels for the Oklahoma heart hospital chapel.  We also have a small residential job; a wine room door and two cabinet doors in the same room.  This is the first time all year we have had more than one job at a time.  Only one job at a time and then have waited up to 6 weeks before the next one came along.  

The glass for the residential job is being delivered tomorrow which is why we are still in the city.  I’ve got the full size art for the door done but there was a misunderstanding on the size of the cabinet glass so I still have to do that one. We’ll start fabrication next week. 

The panels for the heart hospital chapel will be installed in a false wall and be lit from behind.  Right now I’m doing the intermediate size drawings, the ones where I clean it up and add in the detail, somewhere between 1/4th to 1/3rd full size.  I’m having to make all these squiggley lines into clusters and shapes that look more like actual leaves.  This part always makes me restless.  I do a lot of wandering around (or wandering through blogland) between sessions at the drawing table.

I have another project I am working on as well for a lady that I traded some services for.  I have to be careful that I don’t keep putting it aside.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

beware of neighbor


just so there’s NO English and Spanish

I mentioned in a previous post that my neighbor was dying.  Tom, the youngest of 3, moved in with his parents to help his mother when his elderly father was on the down side and later, his mom when she broke her hip.  She’s very old now and has a day caregiver besides her son who had health problems of his own which he did die of.  He passed away in early August.  

His mom lives across the street and down one.  She and her husband were there before we moved in 30 some odd years ago.  When we moved in, she was raising her two grandchildren because her daughter had a multitude of reasons why she couldn’t do it but joblessness, homelessness or drug use was not on the list.  Her daughter, Big Mary (because Big Mary’s daughter is also named Mary), would come to visit her children but left the raising and day to day stuff to her mom.    

Big Mary is a PE teacher in the Houston school district.  She’s a fire plug of a woman, maybe a third taller than she is wide.  And scary.  Strikes fear into the hearts of all those hapless students, I’m sure.  Now that Tom has passed away, Mary has moved in to look after her mother in the evenings.  Her older brother who has been as scarce as hen’s teeth all these years has also started showing up now and then to spell Mary.  They can’t wait to get their hands on that property.  Tom kept them at bay but now that he is gone, they are over there hauling stuff off like the old lady is already dead.  In fact they would have already sold the house out from under her but they can’t find the deed.  It’s stashed away in a secret hiding place that their father built because he didn’t trust them.  And for good reason.  The last time the EMTs took Mrs. Lusher to the hospital, Big Mary and her brother were over there looking for the hidey hole and the deed.  They couldn’t find it.  Tom knew where it was and her grandson knows, but he ain’t telling.

Sometime during our trip to Denver over Labor Day weekend, Big Mary went off the deep end.  Big Mary totes a gun and has always been on the paranoid side, is distrustful of blacks and mexicans (I thought that was more polite than using the ‘R’ word).  When we got back, she had cut to the ground all the shrubbery in front of the house, including two beautiful heritage rose bushes which her mother loved, because it cleared up the front of the house, no place for lurkers to hide.  She also put up 7 signs, in English and Spanish that warn people off...beware of dog, no trespassing, looters will be shot.  I notice that the big ‘no trespassing’ sign on the front door is gone now though.  Not only that, she has put a spotlight on the front of the house, as if the street light across the street and the one 50’ to the left and the one 50’ to the right didn’t make it bright enough at night.  Her dog, by the way, is a small miniature terrier of some kind.  Not exactly fearsome.  I’d be more afraid of Big Mary.  Maybe the signs should say ‘Beware Of Me’.

it’s much brighter than it shows in the picture

Twenty years or so ago, this might have been a real concern.  Twenty or so years ago we actually had a guy with a watchtower around the corner who sat up all night with his gun keeping his eye on the goings on, but this neighborhood has been undergoing gentrification for the last 10 years and most the minorities have been edged out along with the drug dealers and other undesirables and Jeffery moved on to another neighborhood that needed him more than ours.  I guess Big Mary thinks that the parade of white yuppies and dinks walking their dogs up and down the street on their way to the park every morning and evening are going to mug her in her sleep and steal whatever valuables she thinks her mother has.  I find this rather ironic since Big Mary and her big brother are the only ones making off with the goods.

In fact, we’d all think this was really funny if she wasn’t so damn scary.

Monday, September 14, 2009

hurricane ike

Our neighbor’s house behind us.  1 of 2 trees (both oaks) that fell on their house.

Yesterday, one year ago, Hurricane Ike, one of the 10 largest storms, measured by the span of it’s hurricane strength winds, blasted through just east of Houston wiping the small town of Crystal Beach on the coast off the face of the earth.  

I was keeping concerned friends on a bulletin board apprised of it's progress.  This account is rather long (I started to cut some of it out but changed my mind) but I decided to go ahead and post the whole thing rather than break it up into several posts.  You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

Across the street...large cedar fell on their porch roof.

Tues Sept 9 2008, 6:20 PM - We're keeping an eye on it especially since we are supposed to fly out on Monday for our workshop at Vitrum. And we have to take the cat to my sister out in the country over the weekend, right when it is supposed to hit. So far they are predicting landfall for southwest of us but several of the models show it landing closer to Galveston. They are predicting pretty heavy rains and wind starting Friday. We'll be on the dirty side no matter where though. Let's hope it doesn't get too big number-wise although it is a huge storm, will fill the gulf.

Wed Sept 10 2008, 5:14 PM - Well, now it's headed right for Wharton where the country house is. We were going down on Friday to take the cat to my sister's while we are gone. I guess we'll go down tomorrow instead and buckle everything down, turn off the gas and water.

Wed Sept 10 2008, 5:54 PM - It's a cat 2 now. Wharton is about 50 miles inland. There is a voluntary evacuation order for Wharton county and the schools are closed there tomorrow and Friday. It's moving slow, always bad because it gives it time to strengthen, but it also gives it time to change direction. It may still go more southwest or even make a hard turn north and hit Houston. The weather forecasters talk a lot and project a lot but they really don't know until the last day or so. Should know by Friday. 

When Rita blew through here three years ago it came ashore about 100 miles NE. It was a cat 4 I think when it hit and we got gusts of 60 mph here in our neighborhood. Not much rain either as we were on the easy side. But this one, we are much closer (we'll ride it out here in Houston) and on the 'dirty' side (that means heavy rain).

Thurs Sept 11 2008, 7:41 AM - This morning they are projecting it to come ashore a little further north at Freeport which is about 65 miles straight south of Houston. It'll hit moving NW which will put the path right between Wharton and Houston. Wharton is about 55 miles SW of us. They also have several computer models that put it hitting Galveston which is about 50 miles SSE of Houston. If it comes in at Galveston, the eye will probably pass over us. All the coastal communities are under evacuation orders. They are expecting it to land before dawn Saturday. 

Damn, this sure puts a kink in my plans for the rest of the week. I was planning on getting a lot of work done before we leave for Maryland. No working in the shop on Saturday.

Thurs Sept 11 2008, 1:44 PM - Gad, it's a madhouse out there. Long ass lines at the grocery stores (lots of shelves already empty) and gas stations. Traffic on the surface roads is a nightmare. I got all my business done out there by 1:30. Well, we're housebound now til it's over.

Thurs Sept 11 2008, 3:28 PM - The projection is inching towards Galveston Island. It may get a direct hit and so us right after. Landfall is usually the worst and it's got 50 miles to temper it before it gets here. Pictures on the TV show that Galveston has already lost all it beaches to the beginnings of the storm surge and on the west end where there is no seawall, houses already have water under them. 

The glimmer of good news is that it is still only a 2 and with other factors, there's a chance that it might not get any bigger, a small chance now but they did mention it. Still want everyone to prepare for a 3 at the minimum. 

Well, this is a strong old house. It's been through storms for 100 years. Falling trees and limbs are what I worry about. I wonder about the new construction that's been going on around here for the last 10 years. Not exactly built to last, if you know what I mean.

Thurs Sept 11 2008, 5:35 PM - I just came in from the shop (finally getting a little work done today) and so haven't seen the latest but Marc says it's weakening, perhaps barely a 2 and moving a little faster but I could be wrong about that. 

There was a slight chance when it was way out in the gulf that it 'could' become a 4 under the right conditions and some of those forecasters just scream like they are in a horror movie. 

It's been a beautiful day. Still have large patches of blue but you can see the nature of the clouds has changed, becoming storm clouds.

Down the block...1 of 3 large trunks of their maple fell.  they lost all the trees in their back yard.

Fri Sept 12 2008, 7:13 AM - Morning update...It's still a 2 but they are still saying it could strengthen to a 3 right before landfall. Still coming in at Galveston but now they say it will make landfall about 1 AM. 

The water is up to the top of the seawall in Galveston already and the only road out to the west end is under water. There is a fishing pier off the seawall and the T-bar at the end is already gone. 

Ironically, we still have a mostly clear sky and a light breeze.

Fri Sept 12 2008, 12:13 PM - Overcast now and the wind is picking up.

Fri Sept 12 2008, 1:59 PM - Boliver peninsula (across from the east end of Galveston Island) is underwater now and at the west end, it's 4' deep. On the other side of San Luis Pass, in Freeport, they've already had two houses get washed away. 

And the storm isn't even here yet. Galveston is going to be washed clean. They're predicting a 20’ - 25' storm surge. 

I'm glad I'm in the Heights and a high spot in the Heights as well.

Fri Sept 12 2008, 3:06 PM - We thought we might scoot down to Wharton today, but the low pressure to the west seems to be drawing the storm that way so we are sitting tight here in Houston.

Fri Sept 12 2008, 4:32 PM - We're starting to get gusts 30 - 40 mph. The trees were thrashing around out there pretty good. Still no rain yet.

Fri Sept 12 2008, 5:45 PM - We're gonna get hit hard by the back end, no way out of that. The rain just hasn't gotten here yet. They're saying we should expect up to 10" of rain over two days. 

I was standing out in the front watching the sycamore thrash in the wind. Already getting kinda scary. It's still gusty but they are more frequent now. 

I just wish it wasn't coming in in the middle of the night.

Down the block, this large oak lifted up their concrete apron and porch.  It fell the rest of the way about two weeks later.

about 4 weeks later:

The city is starting to look normal again although there are still some piles of tree debris and now and then you see a fallen tree that hasn't been dealt with yet  Also, almost every tree left has small dead branches still up in the canopy.  There are still blue tarps on roofs nearly everywhere you look.  We fared well.  The storm blew in Friday night in the wee hours.  It started waking us up about 1:00 AM with the sound of the wind like a freight train, the trees thrashing and the occasional thump as something hit the ground or someone's house.  All through the night, whenever I would hear that sound, I would get up and look out all the windows to see what I could see.  Not much though.  We finally got up about 2:30 AM and turned on the news.  The lights started flickering about 3:30 and we finally lost power.  There was a little lull as the center passed over and then the thrashing started up again just as bad or worse than before.  We have a pecan on the other side of the driveway across from the bedroom window and I watched those limbs sway through an impossible arc of degrees.  It made it through without the loss of any major limbs though.  We were mostly worried about the 70 foot tall sycamore across the street from us but couldn't see what was happening to it because of the other trees in the yard.  By 6:00 AM, the worst was over.  Didn't get much rain but it was still raining lightly with some pretty good gusts until about 10 AM.  I walked around the block with our grandkids to see the damage.  The sweet gum on the corner of the shop lost about a third of it's branches with one fairly big one landing on the roof of the shop and the roof of our neighbor's garage.  No damage to the shop though.  Several medium size branches were down in the space between the back of the shop and the fence.  One small branch was leaning against a window of the house but nothing fell on the car or the truck.  The driveway and yard was completely littered with small branches of all kinds.  The neighbor behind us had a tree that broke in half with the crown landing on the roof of his next door neighbor.  That same house had a big oak in their back yard that fell on top of their house as well doing considerable damage to their roof.  Across the street, the sycamore was still standing but had lost two 40 foot branches.  The cedar tree between them and the house next door fell on their neighbor's porch roof but didn't really damage much.  Further down the block, a large limb from a pear fell on their jeep and several houses down from that, a major trunk fell on the roof of the house and they later told me they also lost all the trees in their backyard, but those mostly fell into their neighbor's yard.  A tree across the street was leaning at a 45 degree angle which also lifted up their front porch.  The park at the end of the block lost two oaks, one of which fell on the baseball diamond backstop.  This was repeated all over the city.  We lost tens of thousands of trees.  95% of the city was without power and water.  Several of the pumping stations for water were down.  The next night there was a heavy rainstorm not associated with the hurricane that flooded the city because there was so much debris down that the storm drains couldn't drain.  The water went into people's houses and the roadways.  The bayous were all the way up and even breaching their banks in some cases.  We got about two inches in the shop.  The city got the pumping stations on line within a day or two but it took over three weeks for most of the electricity to be restored.  For two weeks, most of the traffic lights were down and traffic was horrendous.  We were fortunate in that our neighborhood got the power back on after 6 days.  

We did actually make our flight out the following Monday and so were gone during the worst days after the storm with no water and no electricity.  The airport had been closed all weekend and I think ours was the first flight out.  Our daughter and her family stayed out at the country house until services were restored and gas and groceries were available again.


The park at the end of the block...large oak cratered the back fence of the baseball diamond.

The general aftermath was pretty devastating.  It made landfall east of Houston and landed square on Crystal Beach, Boliver Peninsula.  Pretty much wiped Crystal Beach off the face of the earth.  The other coastal communities suffered badly as well.  It was barely a 3, maybe still classified as a 2, it was borderline.  The wind was pretty impressive, awesome even in the literal sense of the word, but most the damage came from the wind surge, the amount of water that this tremendous storm blew in.  It was so large that the satellite photo showed it filling the entire gulf of Mexico.  It caused floods as far north as Ohio and Illinois.  Galveston Island was pretty much under water, not completely but a good part.  The west end suffered damage but mostly to anything built on the ground.  Washed all that away but the main houses on stilts survived.  

Murdocks Souvenir Pier...gone.  The Balinese Room  pier...gone.  The Flagship pier still there but some damage.  The beach...gone, water up to the rocks and seawall.

The causeway was completely impassable, filled with parts of people’s houses, debris and boats.  Whole boats, big boats, sitting on the causeway.

Every service in Galveston was power, no water, no medical help, no stores open, fire dept out because the trucks couldn’t get anywhere even if there had been water.  And parts of Galveston burned unrestrained during the storm and after.  No one was let back in for a week or more.  It took longer than that to get to some areas so that they could assess the damage.  People were sneaking into closed off areas in their boats so word would trickle out.

My brother-in-law Ed lives in Kemah.  He woke up about 2 AM and stepped into about 1 foot of water.  He went out and got in his boat to ride the storm out and after the eye passed over and the worse, second half came through, he climbed into the anchor locker til it was over.

In the days right after the storm, everyone was sort of going about in a daze.  Animals, too were in distress.  There was a report about 3 days after the storm that there was a tiger loose on Boliver from some sort of nature center, and he’s hungry.  What a way to go...I survived Hurricane Ike to get eaten by a hungry tiger.

All the cattle in the affected area had no food since all the fields had been poisoned with salt water.  So about four or five days later, they had a cattle drive, with cowboys on horses and everything says Sarah, and they drove them down the highway.

The coastal marshes, feeding and breeding grounds, are also poisoned with salt water and the birds are having to move inland looking for food.  I saw a flock of ibises flying around on the south side of town yesterday.  Never seen them in Houston before.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Sometimes sleep evades me.  Sometimes I entice it to settle in but somewhere around 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning, I lose my grip on it.  Sometimes it bolts away like a dog that has slipped it’s leash.

Me, wide awake with eyes closed, “Oh the little bastard has run off again.  I wonder what time it is this time.”  I try to intuit the hour by the nature of the silence the way a snake tastes the air with it’s tongue.  

Sometimes it’s sneaky, letting me think that I can fall back under if I just concentrate on it and sometimes I can sweet talk it back after a half hour or so.  

Me, stretching, waking, opening one eye to see if it’s day yet.  Shit!  It’s still dark.  “Sleep, where are you, what are you doing?”

Sleep, hopping back and forth from foot to foot, “I got bored.  Your dreams are boring.”

Me, “My dreams are boring?  And be still, come closer where I can see you better.”

Sleep dances forward a step or two.

Me, patting the edge of the bed, “Sit here and I promise to have an exciting dream for you.”

Sleep, twirling in a little pirouette, “No, you’ll just go off freaking out about the test you have to take and didn’t study for and don’t know where the classroom is.”

Me, thinking Sleep is acting like a petulant child, “Well then, how about the one where the monster is chasing me?”

Sleep, with lip pouting out, “Too scary.”  

Me, getting tired of the game, “Come here sweetie, the bed is so comfy.  Come join me and we’ll go exploring the big house again or maybe we’ll find a new boyfriend.  You’d like that wouldn’t you?”

Sleep creeps a little closer thinking over these options.  The big house is always fun and she hasn’t had a new boyfriend in a while either.  “Well, OK, but only because I’m tired.”

I used to just lay there, tossing and turning thinking that if I’m not sleeping, at least I’m resting.  I don’t do that anymore.  Now I just get up.  I’d like to say that I do something productive during these dark hours of the new day but I don’t.  I gather up my pillows and make a little nest on the futon, if it’s winter I’ll fix a cup of tea, and then I just read until I feel sleep creeping back, apologetic for having run off, trying to get back in my good graces.  I don’t trust it though.  I know that if I get up and move back to the bedroom it will run off again like a bully that snatches the treat away just when you reach for it.  So that’s where Husband finds me in the morning when he gets up to start the coffee, asleep on the couch.

These nights of sleeplessness are offset by the nights when I do sleep.  Those nights I will sleep for 9 hours solid.  The other night I slept for 11 hours.  I always wanted to be one of those people who could get by on 5 hours of sleep a night.  However having my waking hours divided up into two sessions was not exactly what I was thinking of.

I’m not a worrier by nature but sometimes when I am feeling pressured, either from too much work or no work, I will have these bouts of insomnia.  Sometimes I can’t get to sleep because Husband is trying to bring the house down from the very vibrations of the snoring issuing out of his face.  Sometimes I have no idea why I can’t sleep.  But not last night.  Last night I know exactly why I woke up.  It was the 200 or so muscles that were screaming at me every time I moved or even thought about moving.  You see, yesterday I renewed my membership to the gym and went and worked out for the first time in about 6 weeks.