COLD HUMMER


Last week a slight cool front came in for us – in the low sixties.  I still had a couple of hummingbird feeders up for stragglers that might be hanging around.  I saw one perched on a feeder for quite some time and mentioned it to Husband.  He went out to check it out and took some photos with the hummer still perched and fluffed out.

He was able to get  very close but the visitor never moved.  Usually, they don’t stay put for very long as anyone has tried to photograph them would agree.

He finally went up and picked it up.  It put up no resistance so he brought it into the house and warmed it between his hands.

 

It was a ruby-throated hummingbird and you can see a hint of red.  When they flash it in flight, it is a beautiful iridescent red displayed on their throat area.

It has opened its eyes but still made no movement – unusual for a hummer.   Yet we were afraid it might suddenly take off flying in the house.

I found a small cardboard box, took it outside in the back yard and placed a fluffy towel inside.  Husband brought the tiny bird out and placed it in the box while it glared back at him as if to say, “Were am I?”  Husband now took the camera again and took a photo of it in the box.  With that final flash of the camera, our friend regained his senses and quickly flew out of the box and high into a neighbor’s dense tree.

The next day I saw a ruby-throated come to the one feeder I had left out.  (The other one was becoming cloudy and that is not good for them.)   In the several days since we have only seen one lone hummer visit the feeder.  Was it our cold hummer?  Maybe, maybe not, but I hope we have helped it on his way south and were good hosts to all of them.

The quote below was enclosed in a birthday card to me from Son a couple of weeks ago.  It was timely in many ways.

“Legends say that hummingbird float free of time, carrying our hope for love, joy and celebration.  The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

REMEMBERING MY SISTER


Some of you may remember my post that mentioned my sister and her husband losing their home in a fire outside of Freer  the day before Hurricane Harvey hit.  They were able to rebuild and move into their new home in time to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in December.  Sadly,  the effects of Alzheimer’s had already reduced the quality of her life.  Last week she died peacefully at home at the age of 87.

With my son standing beside me I was able to deliver these words of remembrance at her service.

SISTERS: MARIE, BARBARA AND ME

I hate losing one of my big sisters, Marie.  She was thirteen years older so she was like a second mother to me.  My other sister, Barbara, is nine years older.  I wanted to grow up to be just like my big sisters.  They both helped with me when I was little.  When Marie and Clifton got married, I would often stay with them as my mother had some health problems.  She always seemed to be in the kitchen cooking something.  If unexpected guests arrived, she would waltz into the kitchen and whip out a meal from scratch.

As our age gap narrowed, we became adult friends.  She shared her recipes – buttermilk pie, Christmas cookies and casseroles.  And she taught me how to cook deer meat a dozen different ways.  Yet could never teach me how to crochet – my fingers could just not handle a crochet needle and thread.  But she could crochet anything!

For the past several years the three of us could not always get together very often, but when we did, before we left we would join hands and make a circle.  We laughed like kids again.  I am not sure who started this, but I think it was Barbara.  If only two of us were together, we would still join hands and enlist anyone standing nearby – a niece, a nephew, a husband – to join and complete the circle.

Last Sunday Barbara and I went to Freer to see Marie.  As we left we took her frail hands and made our circle.  She opened her eyes.  We wanted to think she understood, but it didn’t matter…we were making our last circle.

I will miss my big sister, Big Daughter, as our father called her.  She had a full life.  She loved Freer, she loved living on the ranch that our grandparents started, she loved her family and most of all she loved Clifton for almost 71 years.

Rest in peace, my sister.

Her a link to her obituary is below.

https://www.holmgreenmortuaryinc.com/services.asp?page=odetail&id=3293&fbclid=IwAR2Pt64cMmojGOApGeUTqWk7lF4bqfrusQyy2iLuSb1oisILbPVdcW7h_K8

 

GEORGE ORWELL’S WORDS


Through wordsmith.org I subscribe to A Word a Day for daily emails with a new word each day with a theme.  Examples are words  that are eponyms or words that sound dirty but aren’t.  A few weeks ago it was words from George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four(published in 1949),  that have become part of our language.   I recall reading  his dark novel in high school and thinking how very far into the future the year 1984 was, why, I’d be an old woman of 40 years.  Today we are 34 years beyond that doomed year,  and I have become a crone.  Below is a photo of my worn copy of the book; I think Daughter used it when it was required reading for a class.

Here are five of Orwell’s words featured and defined for that week:

NEWSPEAK:  Deliberately ambiguous or euphemistic language used for propaganda.

UNPERSON:  A person regarded as nonexistent.

BIG BROTHER:  An authoritarian person, organization, government, etc., that monitors or controls people.

DOUBLETHINK:   An acceptance of two contradictory ideas at the same time.

OLDSPEAK:   Normal English usage, as opposed to propagandist, euphemistic, or obfuscatory language.

My old paperback copy has this afterword by Erich Fromm and begins with this paragraph.

“George Orwell’s 1984 is the expression of a mood, and it is a warning.  the mood it expresses is that of near despair about the future of man, and the warning is that unless the course of history changes, men all over the world will lose the most human qualities, will become soulless automatons, and will not even  be aware of it.”

Fortunately, the soulless world of Winston Smith (main character from the novel) has not become reality.  There have been dark days and some parallels can be drawn from that world and some events even leading up to 2018, but the course of history has surely changed.   Here are some of my humble observations.

Let’s start with the most commonly quoted word from 1984, Big Brother.  Some would think that we already have a Big Brother in the form of federal government imposing rules, regulations and laws and tracking us and  strongly distrust the government.  Internet and social media could be considered as Big Brother the way our smart phones track us as well as Facebook, Twitter, etc. that track our locations, likes, friends and shopping habits.  And what of television?  Can we escape that glowing eye from home or almost anyplace we go?  And security cameras seem to be everywhere.

Newspeak is often used by those who want to put a certain spin on a statement or situation.  Those in power appear to be the most skilled at newspeak.

The unperson could be those without a political voice whether by poverty, circumstances, gender, place of birth or sexual orientation.  The Black Lives Matter movement quickly comes to my mind.

Our current President of the United States of America appears to be skilled in doublethink as he often says one thing and then acts in a completely different way to support, oppose or propose a policy.  There ought to be an Orwellian word for the way he tweets.

Oldspeak was the language of truth and honesty.  Lies were not treated as the norm and truth was not labeled as fake news.

Where did the inspiration for this post come from?  Perhaps I just wanted to write one last 500-word essay on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and convince myself that a negative Utopia did not become a reality in 2018.  Or has it?

TEXAS NAVY 1836-1846


Texas was a republic for almost ten years before it joined the United States in 1845 as the 28nd state and a slave state.  As a new republic fighting Santa Anna as he advanced into Texas, a  Texas Navy was established to protect the coastline by keeping the lines of supply from New Orleans open and keep Mexican ships from delivering supplies to Santa Anna.  Those first four schooners, Invincible, Brutus, Liberty and Independence played an important part in the victory at San Jacinto but the navy’s role is not as well known as most of the glory went to the victories on land.

In March of this year a permanent exhibit honoring the Texas Navy opened on the USS Lexington Museum, a WW II aircraft carrier berthed at Corpus Christi. The ship serves as a naval aviation museum,  education facility and tourist attraction.   Recently I visited  after having lunch with Daughter who works on the Lexington.   The ship has five self-guided tours and offers guided tours for behind the scenes.  The Texas Navy exhibit is on the ” Lower Decks Tour”, tour number four.

NEON ENTRANCE TO EXHIBIT

Visitors are immediately drawn into the 1800s and a different kind of warfare and away from the WWII period.

WORKING SAILORS

These sailors seem to be welcoming you aboard; even the worn wooden flooring feels like the deck of a ship and much different from the metal and steel floors of a WWII ship.

Photos of these two story boards did not come out very well – Husband could have done better had he been along – but they do give information on the importance of the Texas Navy early on and later as it continued to protect the new republic.

BATTLE OF CAMPECHE 1843

NAVAL OFFICER

I don’t know what the white object is on the left.  Perhaps it was one of the rumored ghosts on the Lexington.  It was a weekday afternoon and not very crowded, so I often found myself alone to leisurely view the Texas exhibit and  WWII photos and documents also as I competed the Lower Decks Tour.  OK, it was probably  my finger that got in the way!

SHIP’S WHEEL

Take a turn at the ship’s wheel!

CANNONS AIMED AT MEXICAN SHIPS

Visitors can get the feel of being on a ship in the heat of battle with this replica of a warship; note the Mexican flag on the ship being fired upon.

NAVAL GEAR AND ARTIFACTS

There were several displays like this one.

TEXAS NAVY FLAG

This is the Texas Naval flag.  Texas Flag Park describes it this way:

Created by Charles Hawkins for the Texas Navy in April, 1836 the Lone Star and Stripes Flag was adopted and continued unchanged for the life of the Republic. It carried a single white star in the blue canton, and seven red stripes and six white stripes alternating in color. The stripes represented the original thirteen colonies of the U.S. The flag was deliberately designed to resemble the national flag of the U.S. When the flag hung limp, it could be mistaken for the American flag which gave the underdog Texan fleet the advantage of surprise, and it worked.

There is a small theater inside the exhibit, though I did not take a photo, with an excellent documentary,  How the Texas Navy Saved the Revolution, a Kahunas USA / Texas Navy Association historic documentary.  The film is available to all Texas teachers for free download at texasnavy.org under the “Teachers” button.

When Texas joined the Union the proud Texas Navy was absorbed into the United States Navy.  “Texas Navy 1836-1846” is an excellent addition to the WWII exhibits on the Lexington for anyone who is interested in Texas history.

 

 

 

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

********************************

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.