Monday, August 28, 2017

Harvey part 3

I wouldn't have thought that there were more tree branches medium and small that would drop after Friday night but we had more torrential rain last night (Saturday night) and it looks like the amount of debris has doubled or at least half again as much. Still no big limbs though so that's good. We got 3 1/2” last night but parts of Houston got 14” in just about 3 hours. All the bayous are out of their banks and it looks like the whole city is flooded to more or less degree. Having lived there for 64 of my 67 years, I've seen it flood many times and more flooding more frequently as the city has grown but this is the worst and most extensive. Unrestrained building and concrete coupled with the anti-regulation attitude around here has done Houston no favors. Houston spreads with no thought to the loss of the crucial wetlands that help drain and absorb the 5 or so main bayous and all the smaller branches.

Have I mentioned how glad I am I don't live in Houston anymore?

Monday - I wrote the above yesterday. Sometime last night it started raining again and was still raining this morning and has been raining the entire day with varying intensities. I checked the rain gauge after I got additional 2 1/2” from yesterday so that's 14” in the last 72 hours as of this morning. Now since it hasn't stopped raining since sometime last night all the low spots around the house have standing water. We're on pier and beam so the whole area has to flood before we are affected and the ditches are higher than the previous post's picture but still flowing.

We are probably experiencing our worst day because along with the constant rain, we are having high winds. We've had these gusts on and off but today it's pretty much sustained. We're mostly worried about the oak tree next to the house. It's an island surrounded pretty much by water.

A couple of hours later it is still raining but the wind has died down some, still getting gusts.

You want to see what 9 trillion gallons of water looks like?

Just one of the many in Houston...

OK, it can stop raining now.

And re my opening sentence? Hahahahahahahahaha. You should see it now.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Harvey part 2

Harvey did not, in the end, come directly to Wharton. Most of the day Friday it was headed in our general direction but then it started drifting to the west and south of us finally coming to shore Friday night around 7 PM between Corpus Christie and Rockport, about 80+ miles further down the coast from us. By the time it made landfall, it had strengthened to a class 4 storm. I've never been in a class 4 hurricane (actually, in retrospect, that's not true, Carla in 1961 was a class 4 hurricane). A category 4 hurricane has sustained wind speeds of 130 – 155 mph. Harvey attained sustained wind speeds of 130 mph an hour or so before making landfall. These are the winds that enclose the eye, making this the most dangerous part, to be in the path of the eye. As it spirals out, the winds lessen, sometimes throwing out tornadoes. Being in the path of the eye of a hurricane means being in the whole thing, as opposed to just getting the edges like we did/are with Harvey. When the eye passes over you, the rain stops, the wind stops, and it can even clear up a bit briefly. We always venture out during the eye to view what damage has been wrought so far. Then the breeze will begin to pick up and it's time to get back in shelter and hunker down and wait for the other half to pass.

These were my updates on FB Friday:

10 AM It's been raining lightly here with no wind while other areas are getting hard rain so I hear. filling containers with water to freeze in case we lose power later. supposed to come ashore late tonight or early tomorrow and then just sit on the coast, one foot in the water, one foot on land, throwing all that water north and west.

1:30 PM been raining lightly and still since we got up but now it is starting to get a little windy and just heard the first rumble of thunder.

2 PM getting a little windier now though still not raining hard.

3:15 PM looking out the window noticed the lowest branches of the oak intermingled with the power and cable lines to the house from the pole now that the wind is picking up and they are heavy with the rain. Mikey got up on the 14' ladder with the long handled nippers and cut them all down just now. a 20 yr. old grandson is handy to have around. so glad he is out here with us.

3:30 PM in between bands of weather. stopped raining and wind has died down some.

4 PM heavier rain and wind has picked up again coming from the NNE. last projection I saw put it making landfall between Corpus Christie and Port O'Conner sometime around 7 or 8 PM tonight as a category 3. that puts it further west and south of us. All around us is getting hammered with heavy rain but Wharton is in some kind of weird weather warp where storms split and go around us.

6 PM Harvey is now a category 4 and will make landfall in about an hour or two at Port Lavaca. this is even further away from us though we are getting some pretty heavy rain right now but not too much wind.

3 AM Saturday woke up to torrential rain

This morning it was still raining lightly, has rained off and on all day, light to moderate, a little breezy at times. Allen's rain gauge over by his shed said 6” this morning. Marc dumped it out. The field behind us was covered by standing water, 

the ditches out front doing their jobs, 

the low side yard is under water but that's usual with any hard or continuous rain. The Big Backyard is littered with branches small and large, leaves, and green pecans. I tried to get a picture but it just doesn't convey what the eye sees, a covering of tree debris.

one of the larger branches that fell

This pattern is supposed to continue through to Friday. This storm is supposed to loop around on itself and travel up the coast before heading inland again, one foot in the water and one foot on land, hence the high estimations of rainfall for the next week. And Tuesday, the Colorado River is expected to crest at 50' so only the low west end of town is preparing to flood.

Really coming down out there now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


So, that pissant tropical storm Harvey that formed in the Atlantic and then meandered around Cuba et al and up into the Gulf of Mexico finally decided it wanted to be a hurricane once it was headed in my direction. Thanks.

It has wavered back and forth between Corpus Christie, south and west of us and Matagorda, the beach I drive to when I want to go to the beach. It's basically a straight shot for about 60 miles from there to Wharton. Most of the day they have been predicting landfall for a little east of Corpus Christie. Last report I got from Marc it was headed for Matagorda, landfall predicted for Saturday. Great.

This will be our first hurricane in this house. Since it's been 9 years since the last hurricane in this area, Ike, we are due for one. We rode out three direct hits in the old city house but that house was over a hundred years old, built with first cut timber and full measurement boards, shiplap on both sides of all the walls, and that wood was so hard you couldn't drive a nail into it. Also we were fortunate not to ever have a tree fall on our house. So now, we are preparing, as much as we ever do, for a hurricane here.

Gas up the cars, bring in all the tall and gangly and small and medium pot plants or snug them up in a protected corner, 

take down all the wind chimes and bird houses, 

plus the three over at the shop

bring in all the totems and plate flowers, 

bring in the chairs and up end the patio table...basically anything that can be blown away or broken, stake a few things in the ground, get kitty litter for the cat. We don't bring in 'provisions'. Usually the biggest inconvenience is losing electricity and since we don't have a generator there's nothing we can do about that besides cross our fingers and deal with it if it happens. I did buy a 32 pack of bottled water just because it was so cheap and an extra loaf of bread.

Right now it's the calm before the storm, cooler than it has been and still, sky fairly clear yet.

edit:  Friday morning, as of now, it's aimed at Port O'Conner, about 30 miles down the coast from Matagorda, a category 2 storm that they expect to continue to strengthen until it makes landfall sometime tonight or early Saturday. Currently a gentle rain and no wind here.

edit:  At 4:30 it is raining lightly and breezy though earlier we had some heavy rain and higher winds. It comes in bands.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

birds, squirrels, and dog

I thought all of this year's cardinals had reached maturity but a young boy still getting his color has been visiting the tea cup. This isn't him but another handsome young fella. 

Right now I have regular song bird mix in it instead of just the sunflower seeds I usually put in there because the titmice and chickadees will fuss at me if I let it go empty. The other day a rare bluejay was checking it out. Occasionally one will perch in the tree beside it and give it a look but none has ever been brave enough to land on it. 

I finally cut off the dead branch that the squirrels would use to launch themselves at the tea cup. Doesn't stop them from getting on it, of course, but it does stop the tea cup from banging into the glass of the window, a little late since the glass is already heavily scratched where it hits, so now they have to approach from higher up, jump on the hanger and then climb or hang down. They torment Minnie who sits in my lap and growls at them. 

I hung a little bird house in the chinese fringe-flower tree that is right outside the window, the one the birds and squirrels use to approach the tea cup, and a young squirrel was very curious about just what that thing was. Because of where the birdhouse is hanging though, the squirrel couldn't get a good look at the front of it though it tried several branches and angles.

Monday, August 21, 2017

I guess I bragged about never getting sick one too many times

I know better than to invoke the gods. 

Last Friday morning I felt a tickle in my nose and a little scratchiness in my throat and that night it hammered me. Saturday was a misery, today better so I have high hopes for tomorrow. As long as I sit or lay still on the couch, I can breathe fairly well. As soon as I stand up and move around I'm totally congested. As if I have the energy to stand up and move around. I finished my book so it's been solitaire and internet and dozing and TV. I feel so much better, well enough to have to tackle the kitchen, the chore I have been ignoring for three days, where just about every surface is covered with dirty dishes. I'd take a picture but it's embarrassing. I also need to water the front yard and cut the grass in the Little Backyard. Right now I watching a wren groom itself, scratching and stretching and fluffing it's feathers sitting in the chinese fringe flower tree right outside my window. Yesterday, sitting here briefly, I was gazing out the window at the photinia about 30' away when a red shouldered hawk came out of nowhere, diving at a medium sized bird, probably a white wing dove, sitting in the photinia. The smaller bird took off with the hawk in hot pursuit swooping low over the Little Backyard and turtle tank, taking a hard left and continuing across the side of my absent neighbor's yard and out of sight. Both birds with the same motive, preservation of life.

I took pictures of the wren but it just looks like a blurry brown spot so instead here's a picture of the rangoon creeper blooming against the blue sky.

Friday, August 18, 2017

random glimpses of life around here

If I would check the okra every day, I'd be eating more of it than I toss in the compost pile. That long one in the picture is about 8". 

I wrote that a while back and since have got in the habit of picking every day. Usually I get about 6 a day, sometimes more, some days 10 or so.

the tallest plant is now taller than I am

I know where the bees that come to my yard go with their collected nectar and pollen. The side of my absent neighbor's house now supports a hive. I wonder how big it is inside the wall, how much honey. I'd call the beekeeper I buy my honey from for him to collect them but I like having the bees in my yard.

I'm picking up a gallon or more of green pecans a day. Big ones. I've picked up three 5 gallon size buckets' worth already. If this keeps up, between the squirrels and the no rain and the heat stress, we won't get any pecans this year. 

"You say that every year", Marc says. And he's right I do and every year I tell him that "yes, but this year is different". 

This would have been twins!

We did finally get a break in the heat and three good rains, too late for the pecans, but it did spur some growth for other things,

the next day they looked like this,

and these bloomed,

and these continue to bloom,

but now we are back to stifling heat with the south wind coming across the field behind us feeling like heat coming out of an oven, though this one, like the okra, likes the heat.

Buddha is overwhelmed.

And one more ray of hope...Bannon is gone!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

and now for something completely different...

Working at Miss Hattie's those three days of the 'estate sale' paid for, with a little left over, the things I walked out with. Mainly, this display cabinet (has glass shelves).

The first time I walked in that store and saw those two cases that one of the vendors was using, I asked if she was interested in selling one. No. Now, about 5 years later, I brought one home. The vendor is not going to seek another place and so she was willing to sell the cabinets. I also picked up this cute little birdhouse and this cast iron hook thingy which I'm going to hang my keys on.

And something for fellow blogger Mary Moon because every time I walked past it in the store it said her name. I'm not going to show you what it is until she gets it. And knowing me it will take me a week or more to get it boxed up and sent off.

Monday was our 41st anniversary which we just let slide this year. We have, after all, already spent a week in Hawaii this summer and there wasn't a single movie playing that either one of us wanted to see so now I'm trying to get back in my model making groove after this past week's interruption and distraction. Or maybe I'll work on making color samples for the drowned feathers. Something I have never done before. Oh, I have plenty of color samples that I have made but none made specifically for a project. Usually, I just wing it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I've been pretty much glued to FB and twitter, going to stay off for the rest of the day. I must say, I am heartened by all the pushback by citizens and politicians, excluding the racist-in-chief of course who was finally forced, 2 days later, to actually call out the KKK, white supremacists, and nazis by name and condemn them and what they stand for. You know that had to burn because he turned around and in almost the same breath said he was considering pardoning racist and white supremacist Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A&M University revoked the permit for the white supremacist rally scheduled there for next September 11 and I hope all the other universities where events like this are pending do the same. Our 1st amendment right to free speech only means that the government can't arrest you for what you say. It doesn't protect you from the consequences of the words you say; it doesn't give you the right to be heard in any venue of your choosing.

Still, it is going to get worse before it gets better. These people feel emboldened and Trump's first comment about the hate and violence 'from many sides' had these nazis feeling good and they felt they had his support and then threatened him by reminding him that they are the reason he got elected. They have heavily infiltrated the police departments all over this country, probably one explanation why the police in Charlottesville stood back and let the violence play out (the FBI has been investigating this infiltration and their inroads in the Army as well and while the Army has recourse to discharge them, the police forces do not).

I've read several comments by people though that are saying meeting these white supremacists with violence is not the answer, that violence begets violence and they reference Ghandi and Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Let me just say that the nazis would have shot Ghandi in the head the first time he refused to do what they said and that MLK was assassinated and I think comparing the militant white supremacists to just regular old racists is a false equivalency.

When the KKK, white supremacists, militia members, nazis come to a rally armed, long guns across their backs, pistols on their hips, pepper spray in their hands wearing body armor and helmets and holding shields, shouting racist slogans, peaceful protest is not on their minds, flowers and peace signs and sit-ins are not going to make them stop and think. They are not interested in dialog. The only thing they are interested in is making this country white and christian and they have no trouble doing it with violence. This needs to be nipped in the bud by the police (who in this case stood by) and the National Guard because unfortunately, the only thing these white supremacists respond to and respect is force. We know that because as the meme says, we literally had to fight a war over this, the whole world was involved.

Now I'm going to go stroll around in my garden.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

this is how it starts, the question is how will it end

I've been working at the antique store the last few days as the owner decided not to reopen since she had the new location in Rosenberg that was doing well and she has put the buildings up for sale and needs to clear out what she hasn't already moved to the other location so she was having an 'estate' sale there at the old Miss Hattie's. She expected a big crowd, which had my sister and I shaking our heads because...Wharton, so she hired my sister and Jim who also had worked there and me to help with the enormous crowds and sales. Long story short, we did have a slow steady stream of people for the 2 1/2 days but no crowds, big or otherwise, and just one extra person besides the owner and the other vendor would have been sufficient for the amount of sales, so while it didn't keep me particularly busy Friday and Saturday, it did keep me away from the news.

Saturday, during a quiet period, I started a post...

What is the matter with that man? Not satisfied with threatening N. Korea with fire and brimstone he has now turned his eye to Venezuela, threatening a military take-over there because 'the place is a mess', not that he even knew where Venezuela is. John Kelly has started bringing an atlas with him to meetings says one of the rogue WH twitter accounts. He is even verbally attacking and threatening the few Republican senators that are finally showing some sort of spine as well as some of his own appointees.

Never mind, I know what's the matter with him. He's an empty shell who is incapable of creating anything and so he destroys instead. Well, that's just one of the many things wrong with him. There is so much wrong with him that he is a joke, albeit a dangerous joke, not just here but abroad as well. There's an interesting article on Alternet about how Trump is perceived by leading European officials and it ain't pretty.

Number one is his obsession with Obama and his primary motivation seems to be undoing everything Obama did...“It’s his only real position,” a European diplomat told the site. “He will ask: ‘Did Obama approve this?’ And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: ‘We don’t.’ He won’t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama.” Which of course we know since nearly every executive action and directive has been aimed at undoing something Obama did regardless of how good for the people it is, the most recent two being rescinding the ability of residents of nursing homes to sue for mistreatment and ending the highly successful program aimed at ending teen pregnancy which has been reduced by 40% under the program...

That's as far as I got but I recommend reading the article.

Now here it is Sunday and I've spent yesterday evening and most of the day today reading about Saturday in total disgust of what happened. Nazis marching down the street with torches in their khakis and white polo shirts spewing racist and white supremacist garbage, every single one of them a privileged asshole who has never in their lives experienced any form oppression. Armed Nazis wearing helmets and holding shields gathering for a 'peaceful' rally around the statue of a fucking traitor to this country to which he pledged his fealty, gathering in defense of white supremacy, gathering in support of Trump, of getting their history back as if the history of this country wasn't created by and written by people just like them, armed groups gathering in camo and body armor who were there to protect the Nazis during their demonstration and violence while the police stood back and watched it all without trying to stop them, not until one of the Nazi terrorists ran his car into a crowd of anti-Nazi protestors killing one and injuring 19 others.

This happened here in America yesterday.

And what was Trump's response? Did he condemn Nazi ideology, did he refute their support of him? Hardly. He namby pambyed around saying we should be united and condemn all that hate stands for, blaming 'many sides' for the violence. It was so vague and non-specific that the nazi crowd is seeing it as a positive.

Well, the nazi terrorists, and make no mistake, there is no difference between alt-right, white supremacists, and nazis, no matter what they call themselves, were eventually run out of town and denounced in the most concrete terms by Virginia's governor and some republican politicians are doing the same, most surprising among them to me was Ted Cruz who called them what they are, nazi terrorists, and condemned them roundly. They'll be back though. There is another such rally planned for September 11 at A&M University in Texas. I think they're testing the waters, trying out their tactics for the civil war they want to start if Trump is removed from office and Trump will embrace them as his own personal loyal army. It's going to get ugly folks.

This nation harbors a heart of hate and oppression. We have been at war for nearly every year of our existence. We whites have enslaved and committed genocide. We have repressed and subjected. With our completely unfettered access to guns, more Americans have died at the hands of our own citizens than have died in all the wars we have fought combined...see sentence 2. I'm afraid we are becoming what we have always been. Still, I never thought we would inherit the soul of Nazi Germany.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

5 minutes of fame

Well, I may have just turned down the chance of a lifetime. We were contacted last week by a research director for the show How It's Made on the Discovery Channel about taping for a five minute segment on the show, that they would be in Houston the first week of October, and were interested in our glass work, initially the etched glass but I told him I'd rather it be the pate de verre. Did it have a lot of steps, he wanted to know. They like a lot of steps and we talked about the process and about how it would be filmed and that obviously we would have to have stuff prepared since it was a multi day process and they would only be filming one day, kind of like those cooking shows. He would send me another email with more details and requirements.

I started thinking about what I would, could do. It would have to be a small sculptural piece or bas-relief and to be thorough I would have to do the original model, preferably in different steps, say 3...beginning, halfway, finished... and then make a reproduction mold for all the waxes I'll need for the rest of the for making the mold, one in the mold for de-waxing, one with the wax melted out, one with the frit partially laid in, one with all the frit in to put in the kiln, one already fired in the mold to break apart, one already out of the mold and washed to demonstrate the cold work, and one completely finished. That makes 3 models (2 partial, 1 complete), 1 rubber mold, 8 waxes, and 8 plaster molds. That is a huge time investment for a five minute segment that will reap us nothing except 8 of the same thing if we completed them all, time when I could be working on new stuff. Not to mention having to clean and re-organize the shop.

The next email was cause for some hilarity around here...

1. exact product(s) to be featured on the show: pate de verre

     exact product, OK

2. full coordinates (incl. cell and email) of the on-site contact person (preferably a production manager) who would chaperone our camera crew when they arrive on site

     on-site production manager...yeah, ha ha

3. coordinates of a second on-site resource person, in case first one unavailable

     back up? would that be you or me

4. complete factory address, including zip code. If there is a second manufacturing facility, please provide that address as well and indicate the distance between the two

     by now we're laughing out loud...factory

5. start and finish times of production shift(s)

     production shifts, sniff, hahaha

The guy clearly has no idea who he was talking to.

So I thanked him kindly for his interest and politely declined to participate.

Monday, August 7, 2017

death, infertility, and this crumbling nation

Thanks for all the condolences. Allen was a good neighbor and we'd BS at times but we weren't really friends in that we didn't socialize together. I will miss seeing him around though but I'm sure the property will stay in the family.

Allen's sudden departure did give me a little kick in the butt. We finally made out wills for the first time ever back in 2009 but we just never got around to signing them which does no good at all so I've been all about getting them updated and this week they get signed and notarized. Dying intestate in Texas is a pain for those you leave behind. I know of two people whose spouses died without a will and the children from the previous marriage of the deceased spouse laid claim to half the property because they could rather than any legitimate claim. Of course, there are no children from previous marriages, but still, the state has no problem making claims of it's own.

So, life goes on. I wonder what the world will be like in another 20 years when my grandkids are on the verge of their 40s with children of their own, if that's even possible by then with male fertility taking a big hit. I read a very interesting article recently on the overpopulation of the planet that predicts that the human population will stop growing within the lifespan of people living today. The planet reached 7 billion people sometime last March but it took longer than it did to add the 6th billion, the first time that has ever happened. The trend has been for shorter and shorter intervals but that has now changed and the reason for that is fewer women having children and having fewer children when they do. Some of that is from decreasing male fertility and some from urbanization. Urban dwellers typically have fewer children or none at all. Already Western Europe is losing population, more people dying than being born, and could lose 1/4 of their population by the end of the century. Russia and China stand to lose half their population by the same time.

It takes 2.1 live births per woman to maintain population equilibrium, more for the population to grow. In Germany, the birthrate is 1.36; in Spain, 1.48; in Italy, 1.4. The United States has managed to grow mainly through immigration. Immigrants tend to have more children than native born but even that is falling and with Trump restricting immigration and even deporting parts of our population, the US no longer has a birth rate that will maintain our population levels. Even high birth rate countries like Mexico and India and Brazil have fallen to barely sustainable rates and birth rates are diminishing in Africa as well.

Some experts believe the world population will top out at 9 billion sometime around 2070. If these trends continue and the world birth rate stabilizes at 1.5, then the world population will halve by 2200 and will fall to 1 billion 100 years later. This is all assuming, of course, that the current trends continue and we don't self-annihilate in a nuclear war.

Fertility issues aside, I worry about the society my grandkids will be living in. Will this country continue the decline it seems intent on, taking us back socially to the pre-civil rights era of repression for all who aren't white and male, ignoring the knowledge of science and in general discouraging education of the population, turning their backs on the poor and disabled, closing our doors to immigration? Already farmers' crops are rotting in the fields because either migrant workers aren't being allowed in or they just aren't coming because of the hateful atmosphere Trump has engendered and all those job hungry Americans aren't so eager to do farm work.

It is possible that this nation will not recover from Trump since the Republican controlled Congress seems content to let him and his white supremacist buddies turn this country into a dictatorship, trampling on our first amendment rights and attacking the free press substituting his propaganda arm, Trump TV while the NRA foments armed rebellion if Trump gets removed from office.

Our constitution is only as strong as the people who believe in it and defend it and it looks like those in power who swore to defend it and uphold it have no real intention of doing so.