Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dealing with Harvey my unwelcome intruder

I moved to Texas from Tennessee...

I  have been living in my home for 30+ years..I spent roughly 2/3 of that time being barely aware of the hurricane seasons that came and went.. I never felt the need to stockpile bottled water and canned foods..I didn't keep a power generator at my fingertips...

To my knowledge, everybody around me lived in a similar fashion..

Fast forward to Hurricane Rita, 2005..

As part of a mandatory evacuation process, I had to head north on our evacuation route, out of town.....With a few million other people..The most horrific traffic jam in history..

I lived out of / drove my car for 40 continuous hours...

The music of Coldplay kept me energized while the miles slowly crept beneath my tires....

During this trip, I had nowhere to hide.. Nowhere private to sleep or pee..

Gasoline was not available for those first two-three hundred miles of our route..I couldn't safely make it back home without having a brake job done on my car..

Nevertheless, my doggies and I made it thru this surreal experience with our lives and sanity intact..

We have had many quiet years since....

Until Harvey came into the picture..


Harvey was born as a trough of disturbed weather that was most likely headed to Mexico...

As he began to blossom, Harvey decided that he wanted to head my way..

Once Harvey made landfall near RockPort Texas he stalled...August 25-26, 2017...We in the coastal community of La Porte Texas found ourselves on the dirty side of the storm.. Harvey spent 4-5 days dropping torrential rain on Houston and many other parts of Texas..In excess of 50-65 inches in spots..

By the time Harvey's torrential rains faded to showers, many lives were forever changed..In Houston..Not to mention ( or forget ) some 50 other cities east and west of us, up and down the entire Texas/West Louisiana coastline..

I have close friends and relatives who suffered immensely during Harvey's intrusion into our lives..

I am in the process of spreading the word of what happened to these friends....Below is a list, that will be growing as time passes, of people in need of financial help... Named, are the people who have already given me their mailing addresses, along with consent to spread the word about them..

My hope is that they will receive a substantial amount of relief money from us to help them rebuild their lives..

One such friend is a nurse who lost everything to the flood waters of Harvey, while she was working to help others..

As of today, it is only Mary who has provided me with her consent and her info.. Those who would like to donate money to Mary, please make check or money order payable to

Mary Baily Casper

send to:


Mary Baily Casper
Po box 841618 

Pearland TX 77584
______________


Needless to say, there were countless strangers who came together..They shared their compassion, strength, knowledge, resources with each other

With each high water rescue that took place, the heroism was dramatic..

There were many quiet acts of heroism as well..

In the affected areas, nurses and other health care personnel braved the dangerous roads to make it to their respective hospitals..They spent days in lockdown, with little food other than cold soup and crackers to eat..

I evacuated ( as per voluntary evacuation orders ) on Friday August 25th..

I am thankful that we swiftly found a dog friendly hotel to evacuate to..Without having to drive halfway across the country..

The unknown can be maddening.. I won't know what kind of damage I will have to deal with until I have eyes on my house.. For all I know, an alligator family has taken over my yard, lol..

With that said, as I write this, I am safe and dry..My two sons( and their families) are also safe and dry at their respective homes, nobody sustained property damage...

At this hotel in Lufkin, I am able to go to sleep at night without flood danger pounding on my roof or creeping in at my front door..

I sheltered at this hotel for a week...Until the major interstates leading back home were safe to drive....

In those pre-dawn hours of my days spent here at the hotel, I was jolted awake by the blare of flash flood / tornado warnings erupting from my phone ....These alarms always triggered me to turn on the news...I felt a new wave of panic and despair with each new story of additional communities being evacuated, people being rescued by boat..

The rains were most unrelenting in the darkness of night, for several nights..

I am grateful to God for sparing me the direct/physical impacts of Harvey..

Last night, I was the recipient of a very touching act of kindness..My insurance agent (and friend) texted me, offering me the use of her empty house, in the event I need a place to stay..

Once I begin to weave my way back home, I will shoot and upload more pictures of Harvey's aftermath..I am anxious to see my friends and family face to face...I can't wait to give them big hugs and to help them in any way I can..

Seen in these top three photos are snippets of my life in the hours - days before Harvey hit..

We  had a partial eclipse the Monday before Harvey hit...I shot this scene Aug 21, 2017 at 13:16


Sunrise 24 hours before Harvey's rains moved into our area..


Enjoying my last morning of nice weather, before Harvey hits....
For sure, I miss bits and pieces of my everyday life..I miss meeting up with my besties for coffee, walks on the beach..I miss patio time with my Simon..

It often takes a major disaster or loss to make us realize that our creature comforts / abilities aren't to be taken lightly or for granted..


My Simon feels very displaced during (and in the aftermath of ) Harvey..He misses his routine..

During one of our walks Simon and I stumbled upon a Lion's Club group having a barbecue..I learned that they had been barbecuing different meals every day since Saturday..To provide us (the Harvey refugees) 1-2 hot meals a day..
We took walks several times a day, despite the non stop rains..



Friday September 1st, we checked out of our hotel room and made our way home....Hwy 59 South from Lufkin to Houston was clear and looked as if nothing happened...Very surreal..

We arrived home to no AC..Musty smelling house... I found a few dead worms on the floor...
Water on the carpet where some weather stripping( at the back door) was broken..This was the extent of my damage..
I was also suspicious of a roof leak in my bedroom closet, but quickly ruled that out..

     As I begin to resume my normal life, I see and hear military helicopters fly over me every hour.....

     

                                 My neighbors across the street in the post Harvey aftermath


                             Even in a state of emergency there are moments of beauty.....    


"Storms make trees take deeper roots."

~Dolly Parton ~                            


Below are videos of rescues from the affected areas..I decided to heed the voluntary evacuation orders issued by the City of Laporte, for fear I would find myself and my Simon in a similar desperate situation..

SaveSave






A song by Coldplay..A tribute to Texas in the wake of this disaster....









Peak Atlantic hurricane season 2017, (August - September) has been an especially cruel one.... As Texas begins to breathe and recover from Hurricane Harvey, there are three more active storms that we who live on the Gulf Coast have to keep an eye on...




A couple of days later we see this graphic..It boggles my mind how active this Hurricane season is :-(



Sept 14, 2017...Jose turns north north east and decides to invite more friends to come in behind him..Grrrrrrrrrrr..The older I get, the more I want to move into a dwelling built for floods and hurricanes or else live well north of the Gulf Coast...Either choice is gonna involve a major life change :-/


Linking with :

tumbleweed contessa/what did you do this weekend?




I wish each and every one of you peace and light........


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Oscar



In memory of Oscar 2003-2017

My longtime best friend and companion..

Oscar came into my life shortly after Simon..Late summer of 2003...At the beginning of my empty nest years..

Simon and I quickly fell in love with this sweet natured cuddly weenie..Oscar and Simon became the best of buddies, two  peas in one pod..

My sweet pair of doggies enjoyed many years of secret puppy parties those days when I was away from home....

Oscar quickly acted as Simon's protector whenever the situation called for it...He had Simon's back each and every time Simon chased a critter across the backyard..

These doggies and I have been through some interesting times together.. Evacuations from deadly hurricanes...Taking in homeless friends.. My retirement from work..

Up until the very end of his life, Oscar enjoyed his favorite moments.....His meals... Playing with/ cuddling Simon...Patio time/couch time cuddling with me..Every night, at bedtime, Oscar pranced joyfully to our bedroom, with Simon and I in tow..

As much as it hurts losing this precious fur baby, I am honored and grateful that I was gifted 14 wonderful years (5,110 days) to love and care for him..His loyalty and unconditional love added an extra layer of joy to my life and made the difficult times in my life more bearable..

I will forever miss Oscar..So will Simon..Until we meet again in Heaven...



Oscar on Christmas Day 7 years ago..This ball remained his favorite for the rest of his life



Oscar was very vocal, he was good at letting us know what was going on inside and outside the house...
One of Oscar's favorite moments..He loved his meals and an occasional yummy treat...
Bedtime with me and Simon
Oscar's favorite place at the foot of my bed wrapped in my pajamas..He would burrow and nap in the comfort of these pajamas during the day whenever he was sleepy..This happened most often when I was away or very busy around the house.
Anticipating a yummy treat
These sweet babies often nuzzled each other before drifting off to sleep


Oscar as backup when Simon does squirrel chasing




Simon welcomes Oscar into his life with open arms..This picture was shot by me during Oscar's first week with us.






Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mosaics

My artist friend Michele Patrick, teaches mosaic classes several times a year...A few weeks ago I signed up for her Broken China Mosaic Class...

Our class was held on Friday May 26th, preceding the Memorial Day Weekend.. Our class was unusually small..Three students, and our instructor Michele.

We began the class by spray painting the serving trays we were about to mosaic...While our trays were drying we learned about the glues and paints commonly used to make mosaic art pieces..

We chose our china dishes to be broken..To mosaic these serving trays, we each needed 3 or 4 small china plates...We found it best to break each dish separately.....To break the china  we;

1. put one dish in a 1 gallon plastic bag
2. zip locked  the plastic bag with the dish inside
3. placed the bag/dish on a firm surface
4. hit the bag/dish with a hammer until we had the dish broken to our satisfaction..
5.To shape our broken china, there were round glass cutters available..Which I made use of..I learned the hard way though, that it is essential to have eye protection on at all times while cutting glass..

By the time we had broken our dishes, our spray painted wooden trays were dry...

We went to work gluing our broken china pieces to our wooden serving trays...This was a time consuming process, similar to piecing a jigsaw puzzle together..Our class was a 4 hour class..The gluing portion of our work took anywhere from 2-3 hours..

We were provided a grout kit in our choice of grout color..With explicit instructions..To take home with our trays so that we could grout them in our spare time. Being able to grout these trays at our leisure, at home, was what made this class affordable in price and time..

For those students who couldn't/wouldn't grout their trays at home, Michele offered to do the grouting for them..It was up to these students to return to Michele's house later in the week to pick up their grouted trays....




Our trays with the broken china glued on....


My serving tray with the broken china in place...

This student, Beth, loves to shop for antiques and unique found objects...She operates a vendor booth in a Galveston antique/ resale shop...


 Another student created mosaic trays with us..The design she came up with was beautiful..I don't have a snapshot of it, but I loved the bold colors / simple design of her piece..This student, Araceli, is deeply into yoga and works as a psychiatrist in Clear Lake Texas.


My mosaic tray grouted and ready for the curing process.....



After this grouted area is fully cured, I may spray paint a light coat of varnish to the entire tray :-)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A blossoming addiction to love and kindness

I have met some wonderful pen pals via the LYA Postcard Swap :-)

Some of these pals have turned me on to other groups who exchange postcards and hand made greeting cards..

One such group is Love Notes

Another group is Global HE(ART) SWAP

So I've been pleasantly busy making greeting cards in addition to my postcards :-)

These are a few examples....










Some postcards I sent out


My recipients know they will get mail from people in our group within a certain time window, but they do not know ahead of time who they are swapping with..

I am grateful to have several communities of pen pals to interact with in addition to my friends and family!

June 20, 2017:


It has been almost a month since I mailed the above cards to their recipients.. I made many more greeting cards since than and have grown more creative in my stamping techniques..

So many beautiful surprises have landed in my mailbox in return :-)

Maintaining connections, whether they be in person, online or via snail mail is a good way to be kind to oneself..

The vintage camera is from Chandra Lynn in Alabama, the Volkswagen Van is from Jackie Wright in England

From Connie Fogle in SC






From Michelle Kocher in Wisconsin
Heart from Cheri Paxton and pigs from Fran Dunn
The sunshine is from Lisa Hamilton in Florida, and the coffee break is from Debra Davidson in Virginia Beach
From Susi Sandlier in Germany
Flowers from Chandra Lynn, First Aid Kit from Eileen Vivell in Germany and Rose from Marriana Dougherty in Arizona
From Christina Brooks in Arizona
Be kind card from Susan in SanFrancisco..The flowers from Fran Bunn
From Trang Kang in Dallas...Her sweet son's work is also included in this wonderful kindness bundle :-)



A lovely image of a wave crashing against the rocks from Christina Brooks



From Trang Kang in Dallas.The rose is drawn with one continuous line :-)







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Another group I recently joined was  The Gathering Place ......We are assigned partners to write to..We share with this partner by sending him or her  a written story about something memorable that happened in our lives..

This was one of the stories that I shared...


This summer will be an interesting season of kindness and love.....

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

A Mother has her heart forever with her children no matter how old they grow! To all mothers, Have a Happy Mother's Day ! 






Mother's Day this year was the day that my granddaughter Caroline got christened ..A beautiful event with an awesome celebration afterwards..It was fun catching up with family members I hadn't seen in months!






My granddaughter Caroline and I enjoying some snuggles :-)






I made this bracelet for Caroline..On the day of her christening, I gifted it to her parents (Ben and Melissa)  as a momento.. I hope that they will hand it down to Caroline someday..







Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Growth

"Growth is the only evidence of new life.."
~ John Henry Newman ~














I have been following this group of Mallards from the time I met them a month ago..I enjoy watching the changes these ducklings undergo as they grow up..I can't wait until they begin their flying lessons..

Click on link to read an article about Mallard ducks :-)

Mallard Ducks