BOOKS AND BIBELOTS


BEDSIDE READING

Fascism, a Warning,  Madeleine Albright
A Restless Wave, John McCain
Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry
A Higher Loyalty, James Comey

WRITERS I HAVE DISCOVERED VIA THEIR BLOGS:
The Contract, John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano
Plover Landing, Marie Zhuikov
Dancing with the Sandman, L.T. Garvin
A Cry From the Deep, Diana Stevan
Wish You Were Here, Adventures in Cemetery Travel, Loren Rhoads

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From Wikipedia

From wikipedia

BIBELOTS OF THOUGHTS
About a week after the city of Portland announced Stage I of water restrictions based on the lake levels and where we get our water from, our rain gauge measured almost eleven inches in two days.  We did not get that much rain from Hurricane Harvey!  Perhaps we toasted Chac, the Rain God, one too many times.  My rain barrels and jugs are full but the effects of the rain won’t last long with the summer heat.

Husband ordered a portable solar generator, Goal Zero, and a couple of solar lights.  The generator will power a few things to keep us going  and it is not noisy like a gas generator.  We may have not another hurricane for several years, but we are prepared this time and it will help if we lose power in an electrical storm also.

“Courtesy is contagious.”  That statement (in red letters) was taped inside a cabinet door in our kitchen by my father as I was growing up.  Whether it was meant for his three daughters or my mother, I never knew nor questioned it.  Today it seems that discourtesy has become an epidemic in the United States.  It appears to have its source at the top with a president that began setting the tone as he campaigned.  Winning the highest office in the land did not change that attitude.

Surely we can disagree  strongly, passionately, loudly and truthfully; protest and speak out, yet
display respect and civility!

 

Let us be thankful this Independence Day 2018 for all that we have as Americans.  May we never take for granted the freedoms and rights that we have.

ODDS AND ENDS AND CHECKING IN


EXCUSE #1 FOR NOT POSTING:  I am volunteering again for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through United Way of the Coastal Bend.  Volunteers are trained and certified through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to prepare  tax returns for lower levels of income for free.  In past years I acted as a greeter/screener but did not do tax returns.  This year we have fewer volunteers so I have been doing returns (simple!) as needed.   I find that I enjoy it (not as hard as I thought it would be!) and feel that I am helping in the community.  We get questions about Hurricane Harvey damage but that is out of our scope. The site opened January 17 and will close April 17.  I am there Monday through Thursday, nine am to 1 pm.

SPRING EQUINOX:  In January we reluctantly had our veterinarian put our cat, Wiccan, down.  She was our last cat and would have been eighteen years old in May; we will not seek another cat.  Our other cats have been buried in the back yard, but we chose to have her cremated and saved her ashes to be scattered on a warm sunny day.  April 20 was the perfect day.  Near the back fence there was a small patch of dirt where the grass has not grown back yet and near where other cats are buried.  We toasted her with wine as she joined the other angel cats.  We will miss her.

VISIT TO HOUSTON:  On St. Patrick’s Day weekend Husband and I visited Son in Houston to celebrate their birthdays early.  We chose to have dinner at a restaurant called Tango and Malbec where Argentinian style food is featured.  We had been there before but this time we were delighted to find that we would be entertained by tango dancers during dinner.  They were excellent and each wore a bit of green.  I don’t know the style of tango but blogger A Frank Angle would surely have known; go to his blog but a video of a sultry Argentine tango.  We also visited the Rothko Chapel and the Cy Twombly Gallery.

READING AND WRITING: There does not seem to be enough time to read blogs, books, news and write.   Perhaps when tax season is over I will have time for all of them.  Cheers!

LOST PORTRAIT OF MY FATHER


ACRYLIC ON CANVAS BY CHERYL LYLES SMITH

Some of you may remember my writing about the loss of my sister’s and brother-in-law’s home by fire the morning before Hurricane Harvey hit.  My brother-in-law had called me to invite us out to stay with them if we did not want to ride out the storm here on the coast.  They lived eighty miles west of here on the family ranch and in the house that I grew up in.

The above portrait of my father was painted by their daughter (my niece) who died of cancer at age 57 in 2012.  The  painting was done from a small photo of him in exactly the same pose taken probably in the late 1950s.  It hung in the entrance to her parents’ home.  A few years ago when we were visiting I had Husband take a photo of it because it was very special to me.  Now I am so grateful that he did as the painting was destroyed in the fire along with everything in the house.  Perhaps I should explain the painting for those of you not familiar with the practice of burning prickly pear cactus.

In the painting my father is filling up his pear burner with butane from the tank in the pick-up.  He would then strap it across his shoulder and go out into the pasture where there was plenty of prickly pear cactus.  As he turned it on fire would come out of the end of it and he would burn or singe the thorns off the cactus.  With the large thorns gone the cattle would eagerly eat the cactus as a good source of protein and contained water.  During times of drought when there might be little for the cattle to eat and feeding hay might be too expensive for a rancher, this method would help to get through the lean times.  Burning pear was most common in the fall and winter, but I have seen my father burn pear into the spring and fall if it was a really dry year.

Today times have changed and few people burn prickly pear.  The pear burner was invented in 1914 by John Bunyan Blackwell.  A photo of one can be seen at the Bullock Museum website.

As a footnote, my sister and brother-in-law built a new house on the same spot as the one that burned and were able to move in just before Christmas.  Husband and I went out Christmas Eve to see it and to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.  I had prints made from the photo Husband took as gifts for family members.  Life goes on.

       Here is a close-up of prickly pear cactus so you can see the sharp thorns.

 

Here is a cluster of them together with the red fruit or tuna.

SNOW ON THE COAST!


About three and a half months ago we had  Hurricane Harvey.  Today we had snow on the coast as did much of South Texas!  The last time it snowed was on Christmas Eve of 2004.  Early this morning neighbors were out again (as after Harvey but this time welcoming the change in weather) reveling in the magical wonderland that our neighborhood had become.  We were bundled up in coats, hats and gloves that had been stored away and seldom used.  The past couple of weeks have been very warm and air conditioners were still running and shorts were still being worn.  Kids and adults were trying to make snowmen but with meager results as most had little snow-making experience.

For those for whom snow is a normal occurrence, feel free to skip this post:  spoiler ahead, it is mostly of snow!  But perhaps I can be forgiven as it may not snow for another thirteen years.  Husband gets the credit for them.

EARLY MORNING BEFORE DAYLIGHT VIEW ACROSS THE STREET FROM OUR HOUSE

OUR HOUSE

PARK NEXT DOOR TO US

HUSBAND ON OUR DRIVEWAY WITH NEIGHBOR’S BOAT IN THE BACKGROUND

CRONE WITH COFFEE

NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE WITH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ON

OUR BACK YARD

TREE LIMB IN BACKYARD HEAVY WITH SNOW

SAME TREE IN THE BACKYARD THAT LOST SO MANY LIMBS DURING HURRICANE HARVEY

HUSBAND AND CRONE AT THE PARK

By noon the sun came out beautifully and the snow began to melt, but for a time our coast was a magical place and children created memories of the year it snowed.  Cheers!

FRIDAY FOTO: POPEYE THE SAILOR MAN


On a recent overnight trip Husband and I stopped in Crystal City, Texas to check out a historical site (future post) and found Popeye the Sailor Man.  The city claims to be the “Spinach Capital of the World,” so it seems appropriate for statue of Popeye and a Spinach Festival that started the day after we were there.  The festival featured music, a beauty pageant, carnival,  a spinach cook-off and for the first time ever, a spinach-eating contest.   Contestants had to eat cans of spinach; I assume they did not have to open them Popeye-style.  It was 52 degrees that day so it was cold for us in November. The next day it was warmer.