Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"H" as in Hurricane Harvey for ABC Wednesday

I'm a little late for ABC Wednesday and almost didn't make it.  Living in Houston I thought "H" as in Hurricane Harvey was quite appropriate.  We haven't had cable so I didn't have Internet or TV.  Then today we got cable service back and an hour later the electricity went out again.  Earlier it had been out for 24 hours.  I'm hoping to get this up before anything goes out again.

Our home did not flood and I'm so grateful.  I am well aware that thousands and thousands of people weren't as fortunate.

I have never seen so much rain in my life!  I believe it was Saturday that I stayed up until 2:00 AM watching the water rise in front of the house.  Finally, the electricity went off and I went to bed.  It wasn't like I could do anything to stop the water anyway and it was already up to the front porch.  I took this picture with my phone as it was rising.  It was taken from the front porch and it's not very clear, but you'll get the idea.  That's a road not a lake.
We do not live that close to a creek or bayou so if we flooded it would be because the water couldn't drain off fast enough.  Houston is very flat and there is a lot of concrete which makes it bad any time there's a heavy rain...and this was no ordinary heavy rain.

When I came downstairs in the morning the floor was dry and the water had receded.  The heavy rain had let up for a while and we were spared. 

Without Internet and TV we were kind of isolated and didn't know too much about what the storm was doing.  My cell phone wasn't much help.  The Internet was very slow loading...if at all.  I did listen to the radio from time to time, but it's not quite the same.

My friend texted me some pictures of her home.  She's on the other side of Houston and about 35-40 miles from here.  She had three feet of water in her home and had to move upstairs.

This is her backyard.  Believe it or not there's a swimming pool under all that water.
I think she'll need a new car.
This is the view from her upstairs window.
I think with so many homes and buildings flooded it will take years for Houston to recover.  Many, many people have been rescued by boat.  Authorities asked for help and the public responded.  As I type this they are still pulling people from flooded homes.  I'm afraid the death toll will rise as the water goes down.

Today my son and I drove a few miles to the town where we used to live Friendswood, Texas.  The road was blocked by flood waters and we were forced to turn around.  I think it will be a while before the road is passable.  We saw a lot of abandoned cars that I assume are ruined.  I didn't think to take a picture of the cars because I was shocked at the scene.
We did go out on Monday when the rain let up and found an open grocery store.  We stood on line to get in and then were told that they had no refrigerated or frozen things because they had lost power for 9 hours and had to toss everything.
We drove around and found another grocery store that was open and stood on line again.  They limit how many can go in the store at one time.
Some shelves were bare, but we got what we needed.
And then we got on one of two lines.  Our line started in the back of the store by the dairy case.
We went all the way to the other side of the store and then towards the front.
It was actually very well organized.  When we got up by the registers there was someone who directed us where to go.  From the back of the store to the register it only took an hour.  Considering the number of people that was pretty good.

While we were shopping the heavy rains returned.  I was concerned that the road might flood, but we made it home!
We had all the necessities that we needed and decided we weren't going out again until the sun came out.
Today the sun came out and we went to Walmart for a prescription and stood in line again. I guess the stores all use the same crowd control system and it actually works quite well.
I guess this will be the new normal for a while.

I find myself shaking my head in disbelief all the time, but Harvey really did happen.  I think it took most people by surprise.  This storm developed so quickly.  I sure hope there won't be another hurricane this season, but hurricane season runs through November 1st.

Please keep Houston and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy in your prayers.

To visit other ABC Wednesday posts click here.  As long as the cable and electricity stays on I'll try and visit other "H" posts this week.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."G" as in Grace

 Welcome to ABC Wednesday.  This week we are up to the letter "G" as in grace.

One of the definitions for grace is a short prayer or thankful phrase before or after eating.  In English reciting such a prayer is sometimes referred to as "saying grace."
I've always enjoyed the work of artist Norman Rockwell.  The above is one of my favorites.  It was  painted in 1951 for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post's November 24, 1951 issue.  It's called "Saying Grace."

This is a picture of our cat Grace.  She lived to be about 21 years old.
She literally arrived on our doorstep the night before Thanksgiving in 1993.  I had the front porch decorated with a life size scarecrow sitting on a bale of hay.  Grace was only a kitten and she apparently decided the scarecrow's lap looked comfortable and curled up and went to sleep.  My son's friend came to the front door and found her.  He brought her inside and we fed her.

The next day my husband went around the neighborhood asking if anyone had lost a kitten.  He was told that she belonged to some people on the next street, but they had gone away for Thanksgiving.  So, we kept her until they returned.  Only they didn't want her.  She had been hanging around their yard for a while and they had fed her, but really weren't interested in keeping her.  They said we could have her if we wanted...and the rest is history.

We decided to name her Grace because grace always comes before Thanksgiving Dinner.  She turned out to be one of the sweetest cats we've ever adopted.  She was never old until a week or so before she died.  Even as a senior citizen she would occasionally still play with a cat toy.  Because she was so old I had almost convinced myself that she would go on forever, but sadly we lost her on April 9, 2014.  I always said that Grace chose us.

To visit other ABC Wednesday posts click here.  Thanks for visiting...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Speaking Out Against Hate

I was suppose to put up a post for ABC Wednesday this week, but with all that has been going on I just couldn't bring myself to write a light hearted post.  I hope to rejoin ABC Wednesday next week.

Yesterday morning I put on my "Virginia Is For Lovers" t-shirt.  It was not just by chance.  Yesterday was the memorial service for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA.  At one time Virginia was my home and it was my way of remembering the sad event of this past Saturday if I could ever forget.

For as long as I can remember we have never been without racism and hate in this country, but in recent times it was usually dormant. Hate minded people mostly confined their comments to the privacy of their own homes, in their own circle of like minded friends, and of course on the Internet. Every so often hatred would reel it's ugly head in an incident that couldn't be ignored.  Living in Texas one incident that always stands out in my mind was the 1998 dragging death of a black man by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas.  He was dragged behind a pick up truck for three miles along an asphalt road.  He was alive and conscious for most of that horrific time.  I have never understood this degree of hate.  Hating someone just because of their skin color?  If you would like to learn more click here.

After the tragedy in Charlottesville President Trump showed his true colors when he was unable to outright denounce the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who showed up with one thing on their minds...violence and hatred. Many have come out and criticized his stand, but in my opinion they often haven't gone far enough.  Of course, the David Dukes of the world have praised and complimented him.  We better be prepared for more violence.  The haters now feel even more empowered.

After hearing from critics the President changed tactics and tried to imply that the tragedy in Charlottesville was all about Confederate statues.  Well, only in America do ancestors of slaves have to attend high schools with names like Robert E. Lee High and play in parks with statues of people  that fought to continue to treat their ancestors no better than animals. Yes, these statues are part of our history.  For now lets take the statues down and have meaningful dialogue about how to handle our painful past.  It's time.

I am old enough to remember the Civil Rights movement.  I was fortunate enough to have parents that would point out the injustices, violence, and hate.  From a very young age I knew that it was wrong.  If you are too young or don't remember please listen to Congressman John Lewis' "Note To Self" from the CBS Morning News.  If it doesn't bring tears to your eyes you might want to ask yourself why.
To further understand you might want to plan a visit to one of the Civil Rights Museums with your children and grandchildren.  We must try and stop this kind of hate from being passed on from one generation to the next.

I can no longer just look the other way.  I feel the need to speak out.  We are all God's children.  We need to pray for this President before his lack of impulse control, temper, hate, and fragile ego lead us down a path where we don't need to go.  This is a very sad time in America.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."E" as in Mt. Etna

Welcome once again to ABC Wednesday and the letter "E" as in Mt. Etna.

Getting to the top of Mt. Etna was one of the things on the Bucket List that I did for the letter B.  Let me explain.

From December 1968 until May 1971 we lived in Sicily.  My husband was in the US Navy at the time.  One weekend a day trip was planned to the top of Mt. Etna.  Mt. Etna is Europe's largest active volcano.  A bunch of us from the base took a bus to the ski lodge on Mt. Etna.  It was June and we all wore light weight clothes.  We had been told to wear long pants and to bring a jacket in case we needed it.  I remember one lady had even worn sandals.  That was a big mistake!  When we got off the bus at the ski lodge it wasn't summer was cold.  Fortunately, we were able to rent winter coats at the lodge.  Here we are before we got our rental coats.
 We were loaded onto smaller vehicles (probably 4 wheel drive) for the next part of the trip up the mountain.  All of a sudden they stopped and we were told we'd have to climb the rest of the way.  It was freezing cold and there was an ice storm.  I've never been so cold in my life.

This wasn't really mountain climbing like you see them do on Mt. Everest.  No ropes or anything.  It was more like climbing up a steep hill.  Some months before man had walked on the moon for the very first time and up there Mt. Etna kind of reminded me of the moon.  No vegetation and black lava dust on the ground.

Our group was really not prepared.  Although Mt. Etna's elevation is only 10,991 feet a couple of people had to stop to catch their breath.  (These are old slides that were scanned.)
Here is our group of friends...
At the time I was about 6 months pregnant.  I kept slipping and falling on the icy ground (everyone was falling) and the weather was worse the higher we went.  I knew if something happened I'd have to get off the mountain, back to the base, and on a plane to Naples where the Naval Hospital was located.  I decided it wasn't worth the risk.  Reluctantly, I had a guide help me back down to the vehicle where I waited for everyone else.  I knew at the time I would regret not making it to the very top, but also knew in my heart I was doing the right thing.

My husband later told me that if I had just climbed for five more minutes I would have been at the top.  He told me that they held their hands over the top and could feel the warmth.  Here's a slide that he took at the top of Mt. Etna.
They didn't stay up there very long.  Soon they joined me in the vehicle and we rode back down to the ski lodge for lunch.  That's me on the right with the bottle of brandy.  Believe me...we all needed it!  (Back then no one said anything about not drinking during pregnancy.)
I had a healthy baby boy that October, but I've always regretted not making it to the very top.  I always thought that someday we might go back to Sicily, but my husband died and I've gotten older so making that trip is kind of doubtful now.  It's on my Bucket List, but really more of a dream.

As long as we lived there I would watch Mt. Etna smoking.  Here's the view from our apartment in Catania...
and when we moved onto the base the view from our street...
You can't really see the smoke in these old slides, but it always seemed to be smoking.  There were small eruptions while we lived in Sicily.

Last March a group of tourists were up on top of Mt. Etna when it suddenly erupted throwing hot lava into the air.  People had to run for their lives and some were injured.
Now I'm wondering if they even allow people to go to the very top any more.

Thanks for visiting.  For more ABC Wednesday posts click here.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

ABC Wednesday..."D" as in Crazy Doll Lady??

Welcome to ABC Wednesday and "D" as in Crazy Doll Lady???

Yes, I know I asked you last week if I was perhaps a Crazy Cat Lady.  Now I'd like to know if I'm a Crazy Doll Lady too?  Anyone that's ever stumbled upon my blog know that doll collecting and "playing" is another passion of mine.

I mostly collect the dolls I grew up playing with in the 1950's...the Vogue Company Dolls that were originally made in Medford, MA.  This is my childhood Vogue Ginny doll.  She's the only one that survived my childhood and she's a 1954 painted lash walker.  She's wearing one of the outfits from my childhood too.  She originally had a flip style hairdo which I cut as a child.  I was able to find a replacement wig on eBay and now she has braids.
There are all kinds of collectors.  Many collect what's called the "mint in box" dolls and they can run anywhere from the hundreds to the thousands.  That's not me.  I don't want a doll that has to stay in a box and sit on a shelf.  I'm glad that there are collectors that preserve these dolls, but I want to "play" with my dolls and not be afraid to touch them.

I buy what a friend calls "the previously loved" dolls.  Over the years I've learned to restring them...
and wash and set their hair.
I also collect other Vogue Dolls and some of their friends.  I have quite a few reproduction Vogue Company Dolls that were made up until 2011 or so.

What I really enjoy is setting them up in scenes.  It's fun finding or creating all the accessories for the scenes.  I recently worked on a couple of school scenes.
Recently I was asked how many dolls I owned.  I had never counted and assumed around 100.  I started counting and stopped at 260.  I'm now assuming I have around 300 dolls.  I was a little shocked and probably won't be buying many more.  I do try and keep my dolls set up permanently in scenes or on shelves.  I'm fortunate to have a room just for my dolls.

If you do a google search for "doll hoarding" you'll find this...
I do think there's a fine line between collecting something and hoarding it.  I like to think I haven't crossed that line yet.  This is probably true of most hobbies whether it's baseball cards, comics, etc.

Besides, my love of dolls goes back many years.  I started at a very young age.
That love grew throughout my childhood.
I'm 71 now.  What do you think?  Have I crossed the line yet?

Thanks for visiting.  Please go to ABC Wednesday to visit more alphabet posts.