Monday, August 30, 2010

SECOND TIME AROUND TUESDAY - Bronzed Shoe Collection Additions

I haven't participated in 2nd Time Around Tuesday at A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Words for a while, but recently acquired a couple of additions to my bronzed baby shoe collection that I showed you previously.

A year or so ago I passed on a pair of bronzed cowboy boots and had regretted it ever since.  When I saw some again in a local antique mall I grabbed them even though I paid more than I would have liked.  Actually, they were the exact same price as the ones I let slip away.  So all is well that ends well. :)  (I wish my picture was better, but you get the idea.)

Then when I saw the pair below I had to have them.  There's something about the combination of baby shoes and an ash tray that says vintage.

I often tell people the story about my youngest son's birth in 1976.  I was in labor and my husband was sitting there smoking a cigarette when the Obstetrician came in with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and asked my husband for a light.  Times have certainly changed!

Now head over to Diane's blog for a list of this week's participants so you can see their Second Time Around items.


I'm participating again this week in Angela's Tuesday Show and Tail.  For information on how you can participate and a list of this week's participants head over to her blog West Virginia Treasures.

This week I thought I'd tell you about our dog Sophie.  She is a ten year old Miniature Schnauzer, but we've only had her for four years.  After our dog Shelby died we were devastated.  We had gotten Shelby from the Houston Humane Society and knew we wanted another rescue dog.  I went on Pet Finder and saw Sophie.  She was being fostered by a Veterinarian's wife about 45 minutes from here.  We went down to take a look and met the sweetest dog.  We adopted her on the spot and she ran out and jumped right in our car.  She sat on my lap the whole way home.

Her original owner's weren't able to keep her because of the cost.  She ended up needing two surgeries which were done before we adopted her.  She's now on a special diet.  I believe they really loved her because there's no way she would have been such a sweet dog unless she received lots of love.

Living with cats has left her a little confused.  She thinks she's a cat and loves to have them take turns grooming her.

The ferals have decided to start stalking her in the backyard.  This is Sophie with Atticus.  I know the picture is a little dark, but we have a lot of shade.
There's a close up of Sophie on my sidebar, but I thought this one was kind of cute.  Sophie and the ferals have one thing in common...they all like to watch squirrels!

Update:  We caught another feral last week and now Jem has had his big boy operation.  With a little luck we might catch Atticus this week and then they'll all have been fixed.

I caught them sleeping in one of their favorite spots.
I no longer park the car in the garage.  It's their garage now.

Now head over to Angela's blog for a list of blogs featuring pets and/or wildlife this week.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Reid spent the good part of three days down at MD Anderson this week having all the fun tests and scans.  Friday was his appointment with the Oncologist.  This was his first time back since completing chemo and radiation.

The news was good, but with a disclaimer.  His PET scan didn't light up which means it didn't detect cancer cells.  That's very good news.  However, the CT scan showed that the mass in his chest did not shrink and in fact "might" have increased in size.  That's the disclaimer part.

The Oncologist said he was still very pleased and felt that because of the size of Reid's mass originally it will take a long time to shrink.  He didn't seem to think the word "might" was that critical.  He said that they'll just keep an eye on it and Reid has to return in three months or sooner if he has any symptoms.  He said with the negative PET scan it was too soon to worry. 

Reid was hoping that the chemo port would finally be removed, but the Oncologist wants to leave it in for at least three more months.  That means once a month he has to go down and have it flushed which is what he really doesn't like.  When they flush the port he gets a metallic taste in his mouth which triggers a memory of feeling sick during chemo.

Next week he has an appointment with the Radiologist, so we'll hear what she has to say too.

Our concern is that MD Anderson picked him up under their financial aid program for one year and the year is up in November.  We don't know what will happen after that date.  He can reapply, but there are no guarantees.  Reid doesn't have insurance and we don't feel like we'll be able to find any for him with a preexisting condition.  We're still waiting to hear about his SSI appeal.  He can no longer do physical work, so he's looking into school.  He'll probably be taking one or two classes until he builds up more stamina.

We keep moving forward one step at a time.  Reid keeps smiling.  His glass is always half full.

Meanwhile, Dad has been going downhill.  I got a call from his doctor on Friday, but got home too late to return the call.  I'll call him back on Monday.  However, last night a nurse from the nursing home called and said that my father is anemic and that iron had been ordered for him.  I recall that happening once before when he was still living in NJ.  Perhaps with iron he'll perk up a little.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alphabe Thursday Rainbow Summer School - BLUE

It's time again for Ms. Jenny's Alphabe Thursday Rainbow Summer School.  This week we are studying the color BLUE.  For a list of my classmates and links to their posts head over to Ms. Jenny's blog - Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."

BLUE is my favorite color, so you'd think this would be an easy one for me.  Nope.  I was really stumped.  Then a friend E-mailed this picture to me.   I believe it's been making the rounds of the Internet, but I felt it was quite appropriate for Rainbow Summer School and the color BLUE.  After all, the sky is quite BLUE and it's very unusual to find a pot of BLUE gold at the end of the rainbow.

Then I thought of my Grandpa (John P. Morris) and his love of blue.  I have many fond memories of Grandpa and how he used to literally paint the town blue (slight exaggeration) with Sunoco blue paint.  You see Grandpa proudly owned a Sun Oil Company gas station in Westwood, NJ.  That's Grandpa pumping gas in front of the little cinder block station that he built himself.  This was a Christmas card for his customers sent sometime in the late 40's or early 50s.

Sun Oil Company's colors were (and I think still are) blue and yellow.

I guess back then Grandpa had no trouble getting all the paint he needed and as a result he painted our garbage cans Sunoco BLUE, our bikes, and anything else he could think of that needed a fresh coat of paint.  I'm assuming he could have gotten yellow paint too, but he must have favored Sunoco BLUE.

I remember he had a Sunoco BLUE jeep that he kept at the station and sometimes he would give my sister and me rides.  That was always a lot of fun, but the jeep only had a driver's seat and a passenger's seat.  Grandpa kept his toolbox between the two seats and my seat was always the toolbox.  It was a little scary because there was no back like a real seat would have and I had to hang on for dear life so I wouldn't fall backwards when he started up.  Of course, this was the 1950's and there were no seat belts, high back seats, or any of the other many safety features that we have today.  Somehow I survived to tell the story. 

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog so you can visit all the other BLUE posts.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tuesday Show & Grace our senior cat

Today it's time for Angela's Tuesday Show & Tail over at her blog West Virginia Treasures.  For more information and a list of this week's participants head over to her blog.

I've decided to feature our senior cat Grace this week.  She's been with us for almost 16 years and is the sweetest cat.  She sleeps by my head every night and on occasion will hit me with her paw.  That's my signal to wake up and pet her for a few minutes.  I really don't mind because she's my best bud.

(I've actually written about Grace once before, but never for Tuesday Show & Tail.  You can read that older post here if you'd like.)

In 1994 I noticed a little kitten around the neighborhood following the kids home from the school bus.  I assumed she belonged to someone.  The night before Thanksgiving was a cold night (for us anyway).  The little kitten curled up in the lap of a scarecrow I had sitting on a bale of hay on the front porch.  One of my son's friends came to the door and brought her inside.

We weren't sure what to do, but decided to let her stay the night because of the cold.  The next day my husband walked around the neighborhood asking if she belonged to anyone.  He was told she belonged to some people on the next block, but they were away for Thanksgiving.  So, we kept her until they got back.  I was kind of annoyed that they left her to fend for herself, but when my husband went over there they told him that she was a stray that had been hanging around and they fed her once in a while.  They really didn't want her.  So, she officially joined our family and we named her Grace because Grace always comes before Thanksgiving dinner.
I hope she has a very long life because I can't imagine life without her.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Alphabe Thursday Rainbow Summer School - GREEN

Welcome once again to Alphabe Thursday Rainbow Summer School sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."  Today we are studying the color GREEN.

The first thing that popped into my mind was the U.S. Army GREEN Berets.  I've always been awed by the stories I've heard about their vigorous training and rigid requirements.  During the VietNam War I became acquainted with the GREEN Berets through the song sung by SSgt. Barry Sadler.

I was pleased to find a video of SSgt. Sadler singing The Ballad Of The GREEN Berets on YouTube.

The GREEN Berets also known as the Special Forces (SF) are an elite unit of the U.S. Army.   According to Wikipedia they are tasked with six primary missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism.

Their official motto is De Oppresso Liber which is Latin for Liberate The Oppressed.

Back in 1953 Special Forces Major Herbert Brucker was behind the GREEN Beret designation which was then adopted by First Lieutenant Roger Pezelle for his Operational Detachment FA-32 unit.  The GREEN beret caught on rapidly and was worn by members of  the Special Forces when they were out in the field, but was not an authorized part of their uniform.

That all changed in 1961 when President Kennedy encouraged General William P. Yarborough the Commander of the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg to inform all of the Special Forces to wear their GREEN Berets to an event where he was speaking.  During the President's speech he made the GREEN Beret a "mark of distinction in the trying times ahead."  At that moment the GREEN Beret became a distinction of excellence among the Special Forces.

Every November 22nd, GREEN Berets travel to President Kennedy's graveside to pay tribute to the man who enabled this special group to earn the GREEN Beret distinction.

Over the years there have been many books written about the GREEN Berets and in 1968 John Wayne starred in the movie The GREEN Berets.
For more information on the GREEN Berets the website How Stuff Works has a very informative article on How The GREEN Berets Work which I found very interesting.

Head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's participants so you can visit their GREEN posts too!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What happened???

One day last week I was out in the backyard with the dog and noticed a large crack in the trunk of this tree.

I was weeding around the tree a day or two before and never noticed the crack, but it must have been there.  (Just ignore the's yard art.)  It goes from the bottom of the trunk and is about three or four feet long.  I took out a yardstick and stuck in in the crack.  It's 18 inches deep at the bottom and about an inch deep at the top of the crack.  Could it have been struck by lightening?  I don't see any scorching.

This is a big tree and I'd hate to lose it.  I sure hope no hurricanes come this way any time soon.

We got a price from someone to take it down, but I think I might call a tree surgeon to see if it can be saved.  We need all the shade we can get here!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Alphabe Thursday...YELLOW???

I apologize for this lame Alphabe Thursday Rainbow Summer School post.  Today we are studying the color yellow and I'm at a loss for ideas.  You might as well head over to Ms. Jenny's blog at Jenny Matlock..."off  on my tangent:" right now to see a list of my fellow students' blogs.  I'm sure their posts will be a lot more interesting and inspiring than mine.

My brain doesn't function well in the hot, relentless, yellow sun.  Add in the humidity and they say 95 degrees feels like 105.  If we're lucky we'll get a break sometime mid to late October.  Now I've lived on the east coast and I can tell you that it gets just as hot and humid there, but it doesn't last for months and months on end without a break.

* Update:  I stand corrected.  I just looked at the temperature on my sidebar and as I write this it is 94 degrees and feels like 114.

I put on my thinking cap and the first thing that came to mind was the Beatles' Yellow Submarine.  I was going to write this elaborate story about how I always wanted to live on a submarine...blah, blah, blah.  Then I was going to tell you that I imagined myself on a yellow submarine and post this You Tube video.  I know it's not the Beatles you see singing, but I kind of liked the little Lego people.  Besides, I already warned you that my brain has been effected by the hot, relentless, yellow sun.

I need to get away.  Perhaps I can plan a trip to Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Only 4,000 people live there and it can't possibly be as hot as here.

And then I couldn't think of anything else.  I warned you this post was going to be pretty bad.

Quick...get out of here!  Head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for some really interesting and inspiring yellow posts.

LOOK, LOOK, LOOK!  I just realized something.  My blog template is YELLOW.

Reid and I are going to Austin tomorrow for a few days.  I might not be able to get much computer time until Monday when we get home.  I'll visit as many blogs as possible whenever I get a chance.  Thank you for reading this far!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A New Adventure for Tuesday Show and Tail

Our feral mother and kittens have gotten pretty adventurous.  Can you find Jem and Atticus up in the tree?  They've started trying to follow the squirrels.  Hint...Jem is in the "Y" of the tree and Atticus is on the lower branch that goes over the garage roof.  (Click on pictures to enlarge.)  This was early one morning last week.

Their sister Scout watches from a safe distance.

Mom is never far away.  This is Cali watching from the driveway.

We've had to temporarily pause our Trap, Neuter and Release program.  Cali and Scout have both been fixed, but Scout raised such a stink crying and carrying on when we put her back in the garage that none of the others would go in the garage for a while.  Since we like to put the trap in the garage and out of the hot sun we decided to wait a little while before we try catching the boys.  I think next week we'll try again.

I'm linking this to Tuesday's Show and Tail over at West Virginia Treasures.  I had originally intended to post about all the cats I've had in my life since childhood in order, but I haven't had time to go through old photos and scan them, so this week I'm sharing the newest members of the family with you.  Head over to Angela's blog for a list of this week's participants.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Places to go before I die...

Sounds morbid...huh?  Not really.  I was thinking of the book A Thousand Places To See Before You Die.  I've never read the book, but that's OK.  I already know where I want to go.  I've got only two places on my list.  There's no Paris and no Hawaii.  Here's my list.

The first place I want to visit is The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.  I have always loved Norman Rockwell's work since I was a child.  My Dad used to ride the train home from work and he would pick up the Saturday Evening Post to read on the train.  I remember picking up the magazine and studying the latest Rockwell painting on the cover.  I was fascinated by the story the painting would tell and all the wonderful detail Rockwell would include.

Years ago the Boy Scouts displayed some of the Rockwell pieces they own at the Museum of Natural Science in Houston.  I saw a small article in the paper and went down one morning.  Much to my surprise, I was the only person there.  It was just the security guard and me for a while and I had all the time in the world to walk around and study the paintings.  I told the guard the story about the Saturday Evening Post and how I had always loved Rockwell.  I was having a little trouble seeing the paintings.  I was too far away to use my reading glasses and too close to see clearly without them.  There was one of those velvet ropes keeping people from getting too close.  The guard saw I was having trouble and let me go under the rope and right up to the paintings!  He said, "I know I probably shouldn't be doing this, but there's no one else so go ahead."  I could have touched them, but of course I knew better.  It was a thrill of a lifetime for me.  I would sure love to see more of his work up close and personal.

I even have the Village of Stockbridge in my home with a tiny Normal Rockwell.  That's him crossing the street with the newspaper under his arm.

I picture myself crossing this street someday.

The second place I want to visit probably isn't on your list.  For the last fifteen years or so I have wanted to visit the Machias Blueberry Festival in Machias, ME.  The festival is held in August each year.  I love blueberries and getting out of hot and humid Texas and visiting cool (hopefully) Maine is very appealing to me.

I discovered the festival by accident.  Around fifteen years ago I was sitting in a movie theater in Houston watching the previews when a promo for the Machias Blueberry Festival popped up on the screen.  It didn't even say where Machias was located, but I knew it couldn't be in Texas because our blueberry season is over in June when it becomes way too hot for blueberries to grow.

The promo intrigued me.  It looked like so much fun, so when I got home I googled Machias Blueberry Festival and learned it was in Maine.  Since the promo never even mentioned the state of Maine I'm assuming it was meant to be distributed there only and was accidentally sent to our theater in Houston.

Every August I look at the website and dream of being there someday.  The town of Machias sounds like a place I'd enjoy visiting.  It's small...only a little over 2,500 people in the 2000 census and surrounded by early American history.

That's my list.  What's on your list?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Alphabe-Thursday Summer School...The Color Orange

Welcome once again to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."  For Summer School we are studying the colors of the rainbow and today's color is orange.

In Houston there is something called The Orange Show.  Years ago, my husband and I decided to pay a visit to The Orange Show only to find that it was closed.  We never made it back and when I realized I needed something for today's post I decided we should pay another visit to The Orange Show.  We just made it.  We went last Saturday only to discover that they were closing on Sunday for the month of August for renovations.

You're probably wondering why there would be a tourist attraction in Houston about orange.  I'll give you a brief background.  In 1952 a man named Jeff McKissack moved to Houston from Georgia.  He worked as a mailman and bought a small home on Munger Street.  Two years later he bought the empty lot across the street and began building a nursery while he continued delivering mail.  After a short while he decided operating a nursery was more bother than it was worth and took out a permit to build a beauty salon instead.  Before he got that going he decided beauty salons were becoming a thing of the past and women would probably no longer be using them, so he abandoned that idea too.

Jeff always believed in the health benefits of oranges.  His parents had grown them and he had even worked for a while delivering oranges.  He believed that in order to have a long life it was necessary to eat an orange each day, not smoke or drink, and to exercise.  He decided to have a show dedicated to oranges on the lot across the street.  He began in the 1950's and spent hours working on his show which is made almost entirely of found objects that he collected his entire life.  Many of the items he found along his mail route.  The Orange Show opened to the public in 1979.

This is the entrance to The Orange Show.  The rocks were brought back to Houston from Arkansas.  (We don't have any rock in the soil here.)  Click on photos to enlarge and use your browser back button to return to this page.

And this is what you see when you first enter.  The U.S. map  toward the left indicates where oranges are grown in this country.

You see a lot of unusual things.

Jeff envisioned having "stages" with shows.  In fact, he thought his Orange Show was going to be a bigger Houston attraction than the Astrodome.  This is one of the "stages" and it's supposed to be a pond.  That big orange thing is a steamboat and the pond is symbolic of the Chattahoochee River.  The sides are labeled with the four major steamboat stops...Columbus, GA, Eufaula, AL, Fort Gaines, GA, and Apalachicola, FL.  Jeff sure had an imagination.  Do you see the seats overlooking the "stage" in the lower front of the picture and the upper left?  They're tractor seats.  I have no idea where Jeff found so many tractor seats.

Here's a close up of his steamboat.

Here's another view of his "stage" and you can see all the seats surrounding it...both bench type seating and tractor seats.

They still use the "stage" today for shows.  I found this one from a couple of years ago on YouTube.

He made a lot of signs and used small tiles for the lettering.  He was actually ahead of his time with the No Smoking signs.

He wasn't kidding when he said Watch Your Step.  Some of the staircases he built were a little treacherous.

Of course, this place was going to be more popular than the Astrodome, so it required two stages for shows.  This is the smaller stage.  I noticed a lot of rebar (I think that's what it's called) throughout The Orange Show in addition to wagon wheels and the tractor seats.  I can only imagine how long it must have taken him to drag all this stuff home.

This show is in a residential neighborhood.  Houston has never been big on zoning.  That's the house
next door in the background.

Here's another sign dedicated to his love of oranges and belief in their health benefits.

Some more of his designs...

Another one of his signs that you see when exiting.

Don't be fooled by any misspellings.  Jeff graduated from Mercer University in Macon, GA and was working on his Master's Degree at Columbia when he dropped out after a disagreement with a professor.

Jeff died eight months after he opened his Orange Show to the public.  The crowds he had expected never materialized.  He believed that 8 out of every 10 Americans would come to The Orange Show making it more popular than the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, or Astroworld. 

He never married, but his Orange Show is now preserved by the non-profit Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.  Since his death more than half a million people have visited his show.  The Orange Show sponsors the Art Car Parade each year in Houston.  Here's a short YouTube video of one of the 2010 entries.  It's an excellent example of what you can expect at the Art Car Parade.  I think Jeff would have been very pleased.

To visit my classmates and see other posts about the color orange stop by Jenny's blog for a list of participants.  I might have to miss school next week because there's a good chance I'm going to Austin to visit my son for a few days.  I'll be back shortly.

I'd like to publicly thank my husband for accompanying me to The Orange Show and making this post possible.