Hurricane Harvey – please go away

Everyone was rescued, even the cat

I imagine that most of you have seen this photo and your heart sinks. It is hard to imagine but it just gets worse with our reservoirs releasing water to protect their structural integrity.  I, and people around me, can’t help yet because so many roads are flooded and we don’t need to add to the rescue attempts. I got to the supermarket today, less than 5 minutes away, and started asking the staff how they had fared. Quite a few had water in their homes but none devastating. We laughed about how good Gorilla Duct Tape was and wished each other well. I am on the north of the city which is much less badly affected but areas near Lake Conroe have been evacuated and that is further north than us.

As I approached the supermarket, I could see a police car blocking the bridge over Spring Creek which is now a raging torrent bursting over its banks. Our creeks are mostly rivers but they can dwindle down to almost a trickle when there is a drought. You must all feel so frustrated looking at the TV and wondering what you can do. The Red Cross website is hard to access at the moment but your money would be so appreciated. I have survivor’s guilt, stuck in my house, unable to go to and volunteer. This morning I cleared my closets of everything that might be useful. I have towels, sheets, clothes, shoes and even a pet crate to donate.

Kim of Glover Gardens has an excellent series of posts about the hurricane and ways that you can help. As Kim pointed out, we don’t want you to travel here yet unless you are a specifically trained volunteer (Red Cross, for example) and they will start arriving at airports over the next week or so. There may be a need for volunteers in other parts of Texas where the evacuees will go after the immediate triage. Hope is in abundance with people like Mattress Mack, a local furniture magnate and benefactor. As soon as people were being evacuated, he opened the doors of his furniture stores for people to stay. Can you imagine that kind of generosity? Then there was the Cajun Navy and all the boat owners who came from all over Texas.

We have a wonderful phrase in Texas – “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as soon as I could”. That spirit will help us through this. Last night someone with a giant Caterpillar truck came to the rescue and people were helped up ladders into the truck. The news reporter asked the police officer who the volunteer driver was. The policeman said you can ask him but he doesn’t speak English! Actions mean so much more than words right now. Some of our medical facilities have had to evacuate and I felt so sorry for the patients and families. My heart goes out to psychiatric patients and those with dementia. I am struggling to keep my anxiety under control but ironically I am really good in a crisis. Teddy is still in Austin, on his third visit to the doctor. Now he has reacted very badly to some bug bites and sometimes he gets blood poisoning with the red lines going to his underarms. Really, Teddy???

I saved an armadillo today! As I came back from the supermarket, I noticed a disoriented armadillo crossing the road to our subdivision in daylight. I stopped the car and persuaded him to hurry up before he was squashed. Maybe he will be under my deck tonight, safe and sound? Now I have a dilemma. My dead mother made me promise never to give away the teddies we had bought her. Her childhood was teddy deprived but that’s another blog. We are all allergic (including the cat) to stuffed toys so I have had to put them in the attic. Despite my promise, I think I would like to donate some of them to a shelter where the children have lost everything. I am going to sleep on it and if you are reading this from heaven, Mum, send me a message in a dream.

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Hurricane Harvey update

Its bad, really bad. We live in a small city north of the main metropolis of Houston and although parts of our neighborhood are flooded we are on higher ground than most. Maybe you just think of a skyscraper city but in reality we are one of the largest cities in America with a population of 6 million people. Before people it was, and still is, a very large delta system on low lying land draining into the Gulf of Mexico. You could compare it to somewhere like Bangladesh but we have many more resources (and oil refineries).

You might wonder why we didn’t evacuate but this storm developed very quickly and you need to plan very carefully to change road systems. In any case, how do you evacuate 6 million people and where would we go? We learned some lessons from previous evacuations. More people will die on roads than if they stay at home, even if it is flooding. This is a catastrophic weather event and Rockport is devastated. Every waterway in the greater Houston area has flooded its banks.

Teddy is stuck in Utah because all flights have been cancelled. He is now planning to travel on Monday from Utah, to Denver, to Austin and then take a rental car. Right now he could not drive from Austin to our home as all routes are flooded. He is in panic mode because he feels frustrated being so far from home. I had to counsel him to calm down and think rationally. He was running out of medication that you cannot stop immediately without a risk of death so he phoned United Healthcare and that was sorted. Then I persuaded him that getting here is low on his priorities and all work meetings will be postponed. I picked up my cell phone just now and had to delete 6 messages (in the last hour) regarding flash floods, tornadoes and other issues in my immediate area.

This is my yard flooding


Rain, Rain, go away

The photographs show what it is like in my yard which is not in a flood zone during the heavy bands of the storm. One blessing is that it comes in waves which allows water to dissipate somewhat, ready for the next wave. It calmed down about an hour ago, so I put on my ancient rain boots (that I now know are leaking) and my rain poncho. Debris had floated down my French drain (dry creek) blocking the water flow like beavers’ dams, so I gathered it all up and went to visit some of my neighbors, especially the older ones. Although we are not in immediate danger, this is a really stressful situation. We worry about ourselves and even more so about all the people in danger. As soon as this leaves (and this will not finish for days), I intend to go back to volunteering. There will be many Red Cross and other volunteers/federal workers travelling through the airport with specific staging instructions.

On a final hilarious but poignant note, I noticed that one of the volunteer airboats had two men dressed in camouflage and a giant Confederate flag on the side. I suspect the flag was always there but as I said to my friend, they could be wearing full Nazi regalia and I would get on their boat!!! Houston has historically been a bonded, community oriented city no matter our ethnicity. The good Samaritans that you have seen are working incredibly hard in dangerous situations. Outside help cannot reach us so the authorities have asked anyone with a safe boat to help the rescue. So, if you really think that ANY MORE STATUES need to be removed and be protested about, please reconsider and put all your efforts into helping Texas recover from this. If you have nothing else to do, we will need people to raise money, actively volunteer, remove debris and rebuild. This is a time to think about what it means to be a community member and a proud American.

Random thoughts while waiting for Hurricane Harvey

Katniss, the feral cat

This isn’t my first hurricane rodeo but this one worries me. We are way beyond the tidal surge but millions of people are not. Our ground has been saturated with rain this year after a decade of drought and there is no room for the expected catastrophic rain event to go. Our house is on a gentle slope upwards from a containment pond but this year our street flooded up to the garages.

I filled up my hurricane box months ago with water and other essentials but when I went to the supermarket yesterday the water had disappeared. It is ironic that in the midst of so much water you might not have any. If the flood is too much the water treatment facilities break down. That’s why I have so much bleach… We have a new roof (the old one was leaking) so now it will be thoroughly tested. My garage door is leaking so I will get it resealed after it is all over.

There is a lovely generator sitting in my garage with no gas in it but my car is full of gas. Teddy is in Utah and likely stuck because the airport will close at some point. I can’t start the generator but there are plenty of strong men in this street. My email today to the neighbors stated that I have a generator with no gas which I will share but not my ONE chocolate bar! Hurricane Ike brought our neighbors together with a fun community vibe and we are still close.

Katniss (pictured above) is our feral kitty visitor. She disappears for weeks and then reappears like the drifter grifter she is. For the past few days I have been over feeding her like a goose for Christmas dinner. (We used to eat goose in Britain until America’s turkeys invaded). Right now we have the calm before the storm which has a sinister, quiet feel. The temperature has started to drop but it will come down dramatically during the Hurricane.

Harvey is such a happy name, isn’t it? I was communicating with my friend GP Cox, Pacific Paratrooper, who wrote a great post about Jimmy Stewart’s extreme PTSD after serving as a WWII bomber pilot. I saw Jimmy Stewart in London in 1974 when he was starring in the stage play of Harvey.

Well y’alls, we Texans will be grateful for your thoughts and prayers over the next few days. Our power might go out and I will have to write with a pen and paper. Whaaaaat! Just between you and me, I would go buy some gasoline as both the gulf and land oil fields will be affected by this. Perhaps this will bring us all together in a crisis instead of fighting over statues. Now I am going to summon my native ancestors with a ‘no more rain’ dance. 😁

Welcome home, Teddy!

New flannel sheets!

My husband used to travel much more frequently than he does now but he recently went to Austin for a conference.  By happenstance, the new flannel sheets had arrived; they not only look lovely but feel amazing.  Why flannel sheets in the subtropics, you ask?  Teddy was a Princess Prince in another life and I discovered decades ago that he could really feel a pea under 20 mattresses.  The bed has to be soft and comfortable, yet perfectly made.  My mum knew how to look after him with perfectly ironed sheets and underwear…

SO FLUFFY I COULD DIE!!!

In the back of my disturbed head, I have a secret fear that he will leave home and live in a hotel if I don’t provide a clean, freshly made bed on his return.  Teddy hates hotels so the fear is not based on truth but more of my own distaste of returning to an imperfect bed after staying in hotels (which I love).

Wine and soap

On the dresser you can see a bottle of Pinot Noir and some handmade soap that were my gift for his birthday.  Shortly after I moved to the USA, I started a new anti-depressant that made me ‘high’ and I was finally able to make soaps (a long held desire).  I am so good at it that friends asked me to sell them.  There were a couple of orders for baby shower favors which made me gasp with horror.  Not only did they know the sex of the baby but they had chosen a name!  In the UK we only gave gifts after the birth just in case the baby did not survive.  How do you know if she is going to be Apple or Peaches or Trixiebelle until you see her adorable little face? Eventually I had to come off the euphoric medication and realized I am allergic to the soap fragrances (even the best quality).  Now I just make them on special occasions and never use them myself as I have a prescription Sulphur wash.

So what is the point of this blog?  I love my husband so I make him comfortable and that is one of the secrets to a long marriage.  I make him soaps even though I get a headache and I can’t drink red wine but buy him his favorite.  That said, Teddy is currently in the wilds of Utah, Idaho or Montana – I don’t monitor his movements.  When he comes back, he will have another fresh bed but he is going on a diet because his shirts are tight…  Guess who is going to eat all the meat and booze that he can in Brokeback country???

Cersei in Black (and white)

Thank you Liben!

Have you all been watching the magnificent costumes in Game of Thrones? Everyone is wearing black with winter having arrived. It is as hot as Hades in the subtropics so my title only refers to my Cersei hair color… Once again my hair has turned a magical new color that did not reflect the box but I quite like it. I have some lighter highlights in it and it gives my face some color. Liben is my friend who gifted me some wonderful new outfits that she no longer wears. The off white skirt pictured above still had the ticket on it and fits really well. I even have a bum for a change! My friend Cris gifted me the wonderful necklace, bracelet, earrings and ring set.

I think Cersei would love this jewelry – I certainly do.

Every time I wear this set, I have fond thoughts of both Cris and her mother, who owned the clip-on earrings and ring. The sheer black top is a Christmas gift from Cris, too – she gave me a gift card from a local boutique. How lucky I am to have such generous friends.

Black and White Old Navy dress in the sale worn with a light white jacket from Chico’s outlet. Funky studded sandals from JC Penney many seasons ago.

I don’t usually shop at Chico’s but their crazy sizing is wonderful. I am a size 0 in their vanity sizing… Unlike most places, we southern Texas folks put on summer weight because it is too dang hot to go outside and we can’t exercise. I have some pounds to lose so I finally bought an ‘undergarment'(keep reading to the end and don’t get excited).


This is a better shot of the little black and white dress – it cost just over $10 so I bought a spotted navy one and a pink/navy striped one.

Walgreen’s best!

I was browsing through Walgreen’s for toiletries when I spotted these summer dresses for $15. Teddy loves it so it has joined my collection. I am wearing a dragonfly necklace that I bought in Rice Village, a nice little shopping district in Houston close to Rice University.

Dragonfly necklace

Do you think they will send me some free ones now?

Finally you can see the delightful undergarment. Of course, I am not a large – I just need some breathing room in this humidity… I can’t stand Spandex and still have nightmares about my Nana’s flesh colored girdle that I had to help her get in (surely some Jesuits designed it)? This new ‘smoother’ is quite comfortable and holds things in right up to the rib cage. If I just did some exercise, like Helen Mirren, I would have a flat tummy and no wobbly bits. At least it gives Teddy something to grab onto!

Stately and elegant

Paseo de Montejo, Merida

As I walked along this elegant boulevard, the Paseo de Montejo, in Merida, I felt like I was back in Madrid.  I imagine the Spanish conquistadors also wanted to recreate a feel of home although I believe the design was influenced by French boulevards.

This pastel avenue of sculptures was located right next to Merida Cathedral and was a wonderfully cool and artistic respite from the unrelenting heat.  Most people were not tourists so it was joyful to see residents enjoy their beautiful city.

These wonderful windows caught my eye – such a tranquil Sunday feel to the day.  Below is a close up of the detail.

There seems to be different coats of arms above each window.  My absolute favorite was the colonnades of the Plaza Grande which was also the original center of the Maya city of Tiho.

 

Andres Quintana Roo

I liked this vivid statue in Merida but I mostly took the photograph to showcase the colorful buildings behind.  It was only when I zoomed in on the image that I realized that this was Andrès Quintana Roo for whom the state is named.  He was born in Merida in 1787 and died in Mexico City in 1851.  Not only did he draft the Mexican Declaration of Independence but he was a liberal forward thinking politician whose roles included Secretary of State.

He had a Romeo and Juliet romance with his wife Leona.  Her family were Royalists so they ran away to get married.  Andrès’ father was part of a group called the Sanjuanistas who fought against native slavery and oppressive taxes to the Catholic Church.  Go Sanjuanistas!!  We sometimes forget that the USA is not the only country who participated in slavery.  There are many African Americans in Texas who have my Scottish last name and I have no doubt that there will be many native Mexicans who are called Ortega, my maiden name.  For all I know some of my native DNA might be Maya or from the Mexican region although I doubt it.

We recently had a false rumor around Houston that a statue of Sam Houston was going to be removed because he was a slave owner.  Enough already!  We don’t need statues of dictators such as Hitler but even George Washington owned slaves because it was the unacceptable norm of the day.  My great-great grandfather was a Confederate medic but I doubt he had much choice about his fate.  He used the experience to become a renowned doctor in Arkansas.  History is rarely sunshine and butterflies but we learn something from our mistakes.  I have a long line of ancestors named Sam and/or Houston because he (Sam Houston) was admired so much my family who have native heritage.  My father’s middle name is Houston.  I was meant to be here…

Back to Quintana Roo –in this state you can clearly see native heritage in the faces of residents.  Less Spanish, more Maya.   On one side of Andres’ statue was the church of Santa Ana.  The yellow towers made the red brick stand out. Look at those flame trees!

Church of Santa Ana

In another neighborhood, I was taken by the contrast of this yellow column against the red umbrellas.  Yellow seems to be a favorite color in Merida – so sunny and vibrant!