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.

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The receipt

Teddy's mum and dad back in the 1940s

Teddy’s mum and dad back in the 1940s

After my last post I thought I would share two stories. A couple of weeks ago we had another incident on an Interstate just north of Houston, close to where we live. It’s another funny yet sad tale. In the middle of the night, police officers noticed an elderly lady driving a Buick (isn’t it always a Buick?) down the center lane of Interstate 45. She had no lights on and although the police tried to pull her over, she continued on her trek. If she had kept going she would have either caused a major accident or ended up in the Gulf of Mexico. They decided that the safest thing was to lay a strip to burst the tires which was successful but then she kept going on the wheel rims until finally she came to a stop.

When they got her out of the car, she was a disheveled older lady who probably had a dementia of some sort. She must have a guardian angel because no-one was injured and hopefully she now has the care she needs. This was on the main thoroughfare between Houston, Dallas and further north. Every month or so, we have what is now called a Silver Alert on the road signs, asking us to look out for an elderly driver who has run away from home. Guess what 90% of them drive – BUICKS!

We were so fortunate that Teddy’s mum who had Alzheimer’s disease had long since stopped driving and was not inclined to do so. That said, one of the neighbors found her ‘repairing’ the top of the garage (at the top of ladders), she ran away from the mall and generally caused havoc with her many disappearing tricks. Teddy’s Dad had not lost his faculties but he was too old to be driving but no-one could persuade him to stop. Both sides of the car were scraped along the side where he had misjudged the garage. Now that both have passed on, our grief is being mellowed with humorous memories. Teddy had been scanning old photos and found this receipt in his Dad’s driving licence. We both burst out laughing because it brought back Dad’s obsession with keeping receipts, putting them in strange places and in this case misspelling BRASSIERES. Only a man of 93 would refer to them in such a way.
bra receipt

Blackout

blackout clipart

I had a strange day on Sunday. As most of you know, my husband has been laid off, my mother in law just died so we had to make a sad transatlantic trip and now I have a strange cataract to be removed. It all just hit me last week and I became ill. I spent a few days in bed and then ‘suggested’ to my husband that he take a small road trip just for a break. Both of us needed a break from each other and the situation. Somehow I can only clear my head and get my equilibrium back in complete solitude.

He was eager to leave… Off he went to north Texas, taking photographs and then asked if he could stay another night. “Of course”, I said and then pondered about how bad I had been to make him stay away. Yeah guys – there is no understanding women (especially menopausal women who are unwell). The first day he left, I slowly got back into normal life, got out of bed and cleaned the house. The GP diagnosed some kind of allergy to an, as yet unknown, substance – my tummy is really itchy but no rash. I have been trying to cut out foods, as suggested, to no avail. The result has been that my cleavage is getting smaller – why does weight always come off the boobs first?

By the time he came home on Sunday, I was my normal sunny Bunny self and had worked out a realistic plan for our proposed new business. He frightened me when he returned because our garage door started opening at 8 am! He hadn’t been able to sleep so had just driven back at dawn. We went to the mall for a coffee later and became fairly excited about prospective new plans which may or may not work. We both felt optimistic (and still do).

In the evening I made dinner but I just had some vegetables. We opened a bottle of Trader Joe wine to celebrate his return and the future. Before I tell you what happened next, I should explain that I have a very low tolerance for most medication and am on a child’s dose of anti-depressant and 3 x a cat’s dosage of anti-anxiety medication. Additionally, I have a low tolerance to alcohol… Since we moved to the States I have got ‘blackout drunk’ about 5 times. It only takes a few glasses of wine and usually a tummy upset. I have a permanent gastric issue from contracted Giardia (an amoeba) in Egypt and it being undiagnosed for 5 years. Thank goodness I have an understanding husband who looks after me.

Anyway, we go to bed and apparently I started to slur my words but instead of blacking out, I first start crying, for half an hour, about how upset I am at some of his mum’s relatives for ignoring her for 4 years in a nursing home. He comforted me although he was dead tired and just wanted to go to sleep. Then I got frisky and offered sexual favors that would make a Thai lady boy blush. Let’s just say that the number 69 came up a few times. Finally, after my predation was rebuffed, I fell into a dead sleep. No throwing up.

When I woke up the next day, I had absolutely no memory of anything after we went to bed, not the crying nor the predation. I could not remember sending emails a short time before we had opened the bottle of wine either. I am just so grateful I didn’t blog later. There might have been some shocked readers. Possibly I was also anxious about my first visit to the eye surgeon on Monday (more of which later) but the funny ending is that now Teddy would quite like to ‘play’ with Bunny but Bunny can’t risk a UTI or the antibiotics before surgery on the 24th. A Happy Valentine’s Day for both of us, eh? 🙂

They killed the missionaries…

mission mountains

This is the beautiful mission church of San Jose del Cabo. In this shot you can just see the granitic hills in the background some of which form strange conical shapes. The estuary leading to the sea is to the right and south which gives it that beautiful light. It is a small town with a few very good art galleries in the center. Every Thursday evening there is a art walk with other vendors – the galleries offer drinks and snacks. The original mission church was falling down – it was built in the early 1700s so they rebuilt it in 1972 and made a beautiful job of it.

I had a lovely moment when I went into the church to light a candle for my mum. Unlike most tourists I changed into some conservative clothes so as not to offend the locals. The tour book said that you might get some male attention if a solo female but nothing untoward should happen. I had the usual exorcist heads (swiveling inhumanly to get a better look at my ass) from drivers, when wearing shorts, but that happens in Houston too.

I was disappointed that you had to bring your own candle with you to light – I had noticed them for sale in the local shop but put money in the box and said a prayer anyway. As I exited the church, a yellow butterfly landed on my shoulder and my husband said, “That was your mum telling you not to worry about the candle”. I can feel tears welling up now as I think about that beautiful moment.

I suppose you still want to know about the missionaries? The mission party stuck their nose in the lives of the local native people who lived on the Baja peninsula and dared to tell them that they could only have one wife… They were a feisty tribe and promptly killed not one but two interfering priests. Quite right too – they were conquistadors looking for gold and riches. This amazing tile above the church commemorates the murder.

mission tile

Skeleton in the family closet

aunt gladys
The beautiful lady above is a great aunt on my father’s side.  I knew nothing about her until I found all my American cousins through Ancestry when I returned to live in the USA.  Some of our family knowledge is disappearing with each generation dying but I found an older relative through my third cousins who was able to tell me precise details.  My paternal great grandmother, for example, for a formidable lady with black eyes and hair (Native American genetics) and a stern demeanor.  She married in North Texas and finally settled in Tucumcari in New Mexico.  One very cold November I went to visit her and my great-grandfather’s grave.  It was the strangest feeling trying to connect with a gravestone and the place where they lived.

Most of my relatives now live in California and I went on a wonderful trip to see some brand new relatives.  It was hot and I was wearing shorts.  My cousin, Lily, who was in her 70s by then gasped when she saw me and said I had the legs of the anonymous beautiful lady above.  At that stage I hadn’t seen a photograph but I hoped it was a compliment and it was.  We started chatting about her and it became obvious that one side of the family knew a secret about her that the other side didn’t. “Wasn’t she a high class hooker”?, said one to the shocked silence of everyone else.  Then it all started coming together – why did she have a suite of rooms in a hotel when she could have lived in her parents home?

My response, to break the tension, was, “Well if it goes belly-up in oil, perhaps I will have a new career with these legs!”  Hilarity ensued, albeit with one of those looks from my husband…  Before I wrote this post I checked about defamation of the dead because it is all second hand news to me.  I decided not to name her as I noticed there were some other relatives on our family website who might not know about these allegations.  My cousin remembered that she retired to Beverley Hills, smoked incessantly and wore adorable little mohair sweaters.  My great aunt gave her one of her sweaters but it had to be washed endlessly and put out on the line to get the smell of smoke out of it.

I have thought about her often and wondered why anyone would choose to become a hooker, high class or otherwise.  She is certainly a looker and ended up being wealthy.  What I would give to talk to her!

My Katana is on the mantel…

DSCN1217

I aspire to be Michonne. When she first appeared with her Walker minions, I was blown away. It took subsequent series for us to see that she was a normal loving mother in pre-apocalypse days. How smart she was to figure out that if you masked yourself in the smell of the undead then you could wander among them unnoticed. Her tragedy made her both fierce and traumatized. When I finally discovered that her trapped walkers were her boyfriend and his buddy I was shocked. Did she do it out of love or pragmatism, or both?

When she saved Andrea, her true character started to slip out. Every episode I love her more as we see her compassion for children and society. (I don’t think she could kill even bunny psychopaths…) When she killed the Governor’s undead child she did it both to free her and break his spirit. At first I wondered if she was in love with Andrea but I realized like many of us, it was the desire not to be alone. As expats or immigrants it can be very lonely out there and we grasp at friendships no matter how unsuitable they are.

I was taken aback at how quickly she adapted to Alexandria and ‘society’. She was always so suspicious of the Governor and Woodbury that I sensed that she was correct about Alexandria. She ‘knew’ that most of the inhabitants were safe, if deeply flawed, and that her group needed to settle somewhere or they were going to turn feral like the people with W on their foreheads. Once bad things started happening again she bounced back to support both the original group and the new innocents.

When I started writing this I wondered about whether I would have minions, too. When you love deeply, you really don’t want to let go even when they have changed completely. My mother-in-law has latter stage Alzheimer’s and she really is the walking dead. Fortunately she has no teeth in anymore so can’t bite us… That said, I think I love her even more than I ever did with her sweet, smiling Alzheimer’s demeanor. So, that’s my connection to Michonne – I love very deeply and loyally. I am pretty kick-ass at self-defense too. Our Catholic school taught us self-defense because of all the bomb threats we got during the IRA crisis. My husband was an expert in Karate and probably because I look petite and delicate, when we first married he wanted to make sure I could look after myself. He grabbed me by the throat and without any hesitation I kicked him in the testicles. He went down like a brick groaning, “No, that’s not how you do it, aaagh”. We have no children – I wonder why??? Apologies for the blurry photographs – I am still hungover from mead at the Renaissance festival. More hilarious posts to come.

My future minions?

My future minions?