Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Welcome to Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny over at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." Today we are studying the letter "T" as in TREES.

In Texas we are in the middle of a drought. I know that's probably hard for the folks along the east coast to believe, but in Texas it is dry! We've also had record high temperatures. I guess in the last 25 days or so we've had one day where it didn't go over 100, and that's because we actually got a little badly needed rain that day. We've had temperatures as high as 109 and then when you factor in the humidity it feels even hotter.

It's really started stressing the water supplies. We're fortunate in that our town has voluntary water restrictions. We can water every other day during certain hours. Some of the surrounding towns have very strict water restrictions.

All of this is hurting lawns, shrubs, and TREES. I water as much as I can, but it's never enough. Over the years I've been trying to grow a forest in the backyard with seedling that were given away on Arbor Day. Some of the smaller ones are a few years old and they're suffering the most. Can you see the little one in the center of the picture? It's only a couple of feet high and it's losing leaves. I guess it's competing for water with the big Live Oak in the background.

And one of my little Pine TREES is starting to droop...

Our last water bill was $400!

I don't have St. Augustine grass back there because of the shade. It's just monkey grass that I let grow all over the yard along with the weeds. Monkey grass is normally used as an edging around the base of TREES and along flower beds and grows kind of tall. I leave it tall around TREES and beds and then mow it short every place else. Right now the yard needs mowing, but I'm waiting for the temperature to go below 100 before I mow. I have someone that mows the front, but I do the back myself. For the most part I've managed to keep the grass and shrubs green.

Anyone that's every flown into Houston will tell you how green it is when you look down from the plane, but it's not as green this year. In parks and natural areas large trees are dying. I try and give my large trees a deep watering every once in a while by leaving the hose run slowly under the tree for a couple of hours.

All over the area TREES are dying. I went to a local park today and took some pictures.

There are areas a lot worse, but it was over 100 and I didn't want to stay outside too long taking pictures. I've noticed a lot of pine TREES dying, but I read in the paper that when they're stressed from the drought the pine bark beetles move right in.

The good news is that the temperatures are expected to drop towards the end of the week...all the way down into the 90's! Brrrrrr. They also say it may even rain. I sure hope so because I'm tired of watering. I also want to get outside and do something. I'd love to take a nice long walk. I find myself avoiding going places because of the heat. I've been putting off regular grocery shopping and running into the store for one or two items at a time. I just don't feel like lugging a lot home in this weather.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's for a list of this week's participants and for information on how you can join in the fun!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I'm always glad when a hurricane doesn't come this way and then I feel a little guilty for wishing it on someone else. Actually, I wish this crazy weather would leave everyone alone.

Last year it seemed like most of the tropical storms/hurricanes headed off into the Atlantic. I'm wondering if this is some new weather trend. Time will tell. It's usually in September and October that the storms start popping up one after the other.

It looks like a lot of flooding along the east coast, but things weren't as bad as originally predicted. Thank goodness. Sadly, there was loss of life, but I guess it could have been so much worse.

Right now there are many people without electricity. I know the electric companies are very good about helping each other out. After Ike an electric company from Mt. Airy, NC came and got our lights turned back on within two weeks. Last week crews from here left in a caravan for the Washington, DC area. Hopefully, electricity will be restored along the east coast quickly.

I was concerned for the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. It is densely populated with roads that were never meant to handle the traffic that they do on a normal day. All things considered it appears evacuations went fairly well.

I remember trying to evacuate the Houston area for Rita. In 19 hours we traveled 45 miles and finally turned around and went home. This was right after Katrina and everyone was still on edge. City and county officials were on the air telling everyone to get out. Then the hurricane took a turn and we didn't even get a drop of rain. Fortunately, lessons were learned and now they tell only the people in mandatory evacuation areas to get out. The rest are told to shelter in place so the ones that need to get out can move away from the coast. The Houston area has a lot less people than New York and New Jersey, so I was concerned about how things would go for the folks up there.

As you can tell from this picture we had no traffic when we turned around and went back home. We were home in 25 minutes! The moral of the story...never tell an entire metropolitan area to evacuate.

My husband says he'll never evacuate again. I never say never, but probably won't either. We are in a mandatory evacuation area for a four or five, but our home has never flooded although a lot in our neighborhood have in the past. Our block and one other have never flooded in thirty years, but we're at the highest point.

I'm wondering what the insurance companies will do. Here they refused to insure against hurricanes after they had so many claims from Katrina and Rita. You pay your premiums for years and then when they have finally have claims they pull out. Doesn't seem fair, but that's how it works.

On Saturday we tied the record for the hottest day since they started keeping records. It was 109 degrees in Houston. In the last 25 days or so we've only had one day where it didn't reach 100 and it rained that day. Thank goodness! The drought is really taking a toll on the trees and shrubs. I've put out an extra water dish for the wild creatures and every morning it's bone dry. I'll be glad when winter comes and it finally cools off here. We have two seasons...a long summer and a little bit of winter.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Good news...

I'm on my blogging break, but I just received some exciting news and had to post. Today, the FDA gave accelerated approval for Seattle Genetic's ADCESTRIS for the treatment of Hodgkin's Lymphoma in patients that relapse after an autologous stem cell transplant.

Right now Reid is participating in their clinical trial, but for people that aren't in a trial and relapse this will give them access to the drug too. Over the years there hasn't been a lot of research done since Hodgkin's is a rare cancer with a normally high cure rate. It's when people relapse that the options are limited and this is a cancer that effects mostly young people. It's my understanding that this is the first new drug since the 1970's that's been approved for Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Thank you Seattle Genetics.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Alphabe Thursday..."P" as in Penmanship

It's time again for Alphabe-Thursday sponsored my Ms. Jenny at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent." Today's assignment is the letter "P" as in PENMANSHIP.

Is PENMANSHIP becoming a lost art? So many things are going by the wayside with computers. Even the post office is in trouble because mail volume is going down due to E-mail. How often to we drop someone a handwritten note?

I was reading about vintage autograph books that Cheryl over at My Sister's Cottage had and it prompted me to go looking for my grandmother's autograph book. Back in the 1980's I became interested in genealogy and worked on it for quite a while. My mother would find pictures and other memorabilia that she thought might help me in my quest to learn more and I guess I somehow became the official family historian. One of the things she sent me was my grandmother's autograph book. I've recently become interested in genealogy again and I'm slowly but surely entering all that 1980's information into Family Tree Maker and hope to eventually jump onto to try and learn more. All of my research was done before I had Internet access. Meanwhile, I'm also digging out my mother's old notes and the little treasures she sent me.

You can click on the pictures below to enlarge them...

Here's my grandmother's old autograph book and some examples of PENMANSHIP. Sadly, as I was scanning some of the pages the cover fell off. I'm afraid that was inevitable considering the years. The first autographs were written in 1905. I have no idea what the April dates on the left hand page mean. I think Willie Volz might have been her cousin. Perhaps those are the dates her cousin and Uncle John died? Maybe I'll discover something when I dig into the family roots again. I think the book might have been a gift from her Momma?

Here's another page from June 15, 1905.

And the page on the right is from my autograph book and written by my sister in 1954. Obviously, that poem had already been around for a long time. Do children still have autograph books today? If so, they might be still writing this poem.

I found this page from my grandmother's book interesting. In the poem she talks about dipping her pen in the ink. I'm afraid that's something that's long in the past now.

And this was written by my grandmother's cousin. I did know that one of her father's sisters was married to a man named Grode and this must have been their daughter.

I was also surprised by some of the artwork people took the time to include with their autographs. (In the first picture that's a real four leaf clover that my grandmother had between the pages of her book.)

I also came across a newspaper clipping my mother had sent me. It was from my grandparents wedding on January 1, 1919. (You'll have to click on the article in order to enlarge and read it.) The article talks about the PRETTY wedding.

And here's their PRETTY wedding.

I think I'm going to take a vacation from posting on Blogger for a couple of weeks. I'm having trouble putting pictures in posts since Blogger made the changes to Blogger In Draft and I went back to the previous version. For some reason my pictures will no longer appear in the post where I put the cursor. When I upload them they appear at the very top of the post and then I try and drag them or I have to go into the html version and copy and paste where I want them to go. It's also messing up the spacing and although I fix it I find that when I publish it's still sometimes wacky. It's taking way too much time to put up a simple post with pictures, so I'm taking a break in hopes that things will magically improve while I'm gone. I had intended to show more pages from my old autograph book, but decided to save it for another time when things might be working better.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog and visit some more Alphabe-Thursday posts!