Sunday, May 29, 2011

MEMORIAL DAY - 2011

Today would be amiss if I did not pay tribute to the brave men and women who have fallen in defense of our country!  I have walked in Arlington National Cemetery  and other National Cemeteries; I cannot count the many crosses and monuments with military designations. And I believe I would be amiss if I did not recognize the fact the fallen  military personnel's family deserve recognition for the loss of a loved one, a sacrifice, in and of itself.

Being married to a  military retiree, I know a tad about the life of these men and women. These men and women are family to each other--in some ways more than blood. 

Have you ever had a job where you absolutely were not allowed to question orders, and certainly not your mission? Ever heard the word, insubordination?  Yet they fought, and numbers beyond my comprehension have died, so you and I have the freedom to do those very acts. Don't like you commander-in chief or even you immediate officer one step above you? Tough! You still do as he says and do your job, whatever it is.

Yes, they vote, yet ballots are not sent to those serving overseas in a timely manner, so their vote often is not received for counting by the deadlines  and not counted. What a shame!

They are defending our freedom to have a say in our government, and yet it appears unimportant to see they have ballots in a timely manner. This is a state by state deficiency and not all states are guilty.

These men and women deserve our respect every day, not just some holiday, be it Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, and should you encounter one of them, thank them for their service.



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I am posted a slide show I made with Picasa, my first. I ran out of time or I would have spruced it up a tad more, added some music, changed the color of the font, etc. Since I am working on an older computer, my usual editing programs are not on this so I had to wing it.

These pictures are primarily of Bull Shoals Dam and the massive releases of water headed toward the lower Mississippi River, and unfortunately lower Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, none of which need more water.

I also heard the Missouri River is beginning to receive massive amounts of water from record snow amounts at its source. The Missouri River merges with the Mississippi above Arkansas.
If this slide show fails here it is on FACEBOOK and plays, as I have tried it. I am somewhat disappointed with PICASA as the photos appear blurred with full screen, but so do the captions which makes me think it is the resolution Picasa makes them or the program itself.  I did not photograph the captions!!!

video

Thursday, May 26, 2011

ADDENDUM TO WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE - TODAY'S POST


Bull Shoal Dam during the 2008 flooding
This photo was taken much earlier in the spring
than this year's flooding. I can ell by the leaves,
or lack thereof, of the trees and shrubs.
(photo by myself)

At 10 p.m. last night the 17 spillway gates of Bull Shoals Lake Dam were opened to 2.25 feet , setting yet another record. The release rate now is equivalent to about 20 generators.

The Corp of Engineers is trying to equalize the level of water flowing in, to the level of water being released. I call it the ole I/O (input vs. output) theory, an acronym used in many circles, medical, digital, electrical, etc.

The local newspaper link advises all persons in the path of the White River from Bull Shoals Dam to the Mississippi River, be aware and protect themselves from the dangers of swift flowing, rising water.

Water, Water Everywhere

"Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."
-- Rime of the Ancient Mariner- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The boards are somewhat shrinking , but there is such a thing as water rot, where the boards become useless because of continual soaking water usually followed by termites.


As far as drinking water, all nature should be water-logged. Drinking water however is a premium when entire communities are devastated by nature. 


However, on a more serious note, the unusually severe Spring, allegedly caused by La Nina, a warming of the south Pacific Ocean, has imposed misery, heartache, devastation and death on 100s, in statistics not seen since 1974 according some weather experts.


Despite the dire forecasts, the tornado activity in my neck of the woods has been nothing compared to Joplin MO, or Birmingham AL. Franklin County and a small city of Denning, near Little Rock weres supposedly wiped off the map last night, but compared to the larger disasters, like Birmingham and Joplin, it has received little publicity. Yet that small city of approximately 200 have the same level of individual misery, devastation and heartache as the big cities.


I was in Little Rock about three weeks ago. Conway, about 40 miles east of LR had a tornado passed near its city limits, hopped over I-40 and landed near Vilonia, another small AR city, causing death and destruction. I wrote of the LR being under a warning for a few hours; a tornado did damage around the airport.

Now this was three weeks ago. Every creek, stream, river and lake was overflowing. The rice fields near Conway are lakes. The crop is gone. Did you know that Arkansas provides nearlyrd 50% of all the rice sold in the USA? Not this year. And I heard the cotton crop is down the Mississippi River, too.

I say this to warn those bloggers who live downstream from any tributary that may drain into the White River as it winds from Bull Shoals Dam (BSD) to the Mississippi River, MORE WATER IS HEADED your way. All 17 gates of BSD have been opened for the 3 or 4th time in my 31 years living in the City of Bull Shoals.

Bull Shoals Dam with
17 spillway gates open
Straight Out of the Camera
by NitWit1
(Normally I would crop
left side a tad.)
These gates are opened at, or exceeding 1.5', a record opening. And that is not nearly WIDE open! Listen to the ROAR of this much water in  the video below. Persons living below the dam hear it day and night.


Lake Sequoyah Dam (AR) is the first of several dams that empty into a chain of lakes, which release water in succession to Bull Shoals Lake, the largest lake with capacity to handle cumulative releases. The other lakes are Beaver Lake (AR), Table Rock Lake (MO), Lake Taneycomo (MO).

This week Beaver and Table Rock and Taneycomo Lakes had all their gates open, the water of which ultimately ending in Bull Shoals Lake reservoir. Flood pool was nearing quickly and more rain expected. The US Army Corp of Engineers, knowing the flooding downstream, held off as long as possible. At first, only 5 gates were opened, but the water kept rising....and rising.

Of course this water ultimately creates misery not only all the way to the Mississippi River, but then to the Gulf Coast where Louisiana and Alabama have had more than their share of weather-related misery for several years.

videoBefore you think areas around these lakes are safe from their own misery...think again. There are recreational and service industries built around these lakes. High water has decimated this industry for two of the last three years. Many have been on the verge of bankruptcy. Almost all are for sale, even if a sign is not on the property. The smaller communities built around these lakes have lost businesses related to tourism and retirement. Bull Shoals looks somewhat like a ghost town and we are not the worst. High water is dangerous to tourists who do not know the navigation hazards.

One area I visited today has a whole recreation area under water like canopy concrete picnic tables. A week ago the top of the canopies were still out of the water---not today. Image a bass boat at any speed, running over these canopies and tables! Goodbye lower unit of expensive motor, but more disastrous, a capsized bass boat!

This is just a small area in a small state. Consider and multiply the economic losses in Oklahoma, Texas (which also has a drought with wildfire, too), Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, North Carolina, just to name a few.

Talk about a double dip depression! And you can't blame Mother Nature's capriciousness on any President, neither Obama nor Bush. We somehow must regain our national pride of helping and empathizing with each other like I remember my parents and many, many others had in the WWII years.

I never heard them gripe about rationing and what they did not have: instead they bought war bonds which was no more than loaning money to the government to pay for a war. And the government paid them back every penny. I can only imagine the ruckus that would arise today, if we were asked to buy war bonds, economic bonds, national debt bonds, or our major food products were rationed. From the number on the scales, I should have sugar, one of the WWII commodities, rationed  permanently, like one cup per year!

Remember victory gardens and sharing produce?

We must care for and love one another; and a few prayers won't hurt, either!

Which brings this epic monologue nearly to conclusion. Here is another of my favorite verses from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

"He who loveth best, prayeth best; 
All things great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us;
He made and loveth all."
--Rime of the Ancient Mariner -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

[PHOTOS/VIDEOS by myself-first video attempt with CanonAS1000IS -may not play-it is supposedly with the sound of the roaring water out of  17 gates]

[May 31 and June14 I will be having cataract surgery. Last week and this week have been engaged in checking drug interactions, etc. When you are elderly and have multiple ailments with multiple medications, nothing is simple. But I have been cleared to do what is needed to be done. Now, IF I can just get the 5 different eye drops in as prescribed, it will be a small miracle; two are for glaucoma, 3 for the surgery.]

Monday, May 16, 2011

HAUNTING AND CLOCKS

Here is a link to an earlier post about the 'haunted clock,' which I have mentioned in two previous posts:The Haunted Clock.
My Parents' Sessions Clock
Photo courtesy of my Niece
who now owns it. Not haunted
to my knowledge.
Be sure to read the link as I tell you of other clocks in my life. We both loved old clocks. I earlier referred to a Sessions Mantle Clock in my family that sat on the fireplace mantle our home.

The mantel clock was black and was an anniversary gift of our parents early in their marriage. It counted hours and sounded once on the half hour. I was fascinated it needed two different keys to wound the spring mechanisms for the clock; and the sounding mechanism also was not very melodicl.

As my siblings and I became dating age, it became THE CLOCK that measured curfew which was 1o p.m., except Saturday night which was 11 p.m.

For a number of years after mother died it resided with us, and I tended to its winding .

Recently we returned it to my parents' first granddaughter; last I heard she said she never wound it as it would be too spooky to hear, since her grandpaents both were gone. My sister adamantly said she did not want it--too many times Mother was sitting looking at that clock, when she missed curfew.

Have you heard the saying "Pride goes before a fall?" Well it is a corruption of Holy Scripture, Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. I prefer a lesser known (to me) translation on the same link called God's Word (1995): Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall.
Similar Anniversary Clock
Internet Photo
On one of my parents' anniversary celebrations, I purchased what was called an anniversary clock, which had a glass dome and pendulum device. It was supposed to run an entire year. I was exceedingly proud of my selection, and perhaps a tad arrogant because I was in a position to purchase more expensive gifts than my siblings at this period in time.

I wound it up and it started its spinning of a pendulum-like device with four gold balls mounted on a cross like base. I left for parts unknown, i.e., I don't remember where I lived at this moment in time. Soon I heard the clock stopped long before a year passed. Since I, nor they, could find anyone who repaired them, it sat and gathered dust in their home until Mother died, a sad statement of my pride.

I took the anniversary clock to Arkansas but never found a repair person. It sat a long time and during a remodeling frenzy the dome was broken by a swing of a 2" x 4' board; later the pendulum wire broke while moving it.

There was a Cuckoo Clock I gave my parents one year. It ran very briefly. I'm glad. as I was living for a brief time in my parents' home. I probably would have taken my rifle and shot the those stupid birds. They are bad birds who steal other birds' nests for themselves, I've been told. [This was during a period of time I had a Savage Target Rifle and was pretty good target distance shooter in a local rifle club.]
Antique Gibraltar
Electric Clock
Then there was the wall Gibraltar Electric clock we siblings used to leave the house for our 2-block walk to elementary school, then called South Ward, after the school district division of the town. It was a sales premium given Dad by some salesman. I found it in disrepair with a frayed electric cord and rescued it.

I repainted the clock nth time to its original light green and later it became a blue with ivory trim. It hangs over our coffee bar today. I replaced the mechanism with another electric mechanism. The oval clear glass front cover is all that is missing. I think it broke in moving from Texas to Arkansas, or it may have accidentally fallen, when we had to reset the time.
Enamel Navy Blue Plate Clock
Designed by  Me

I also crafted a kitchen wall clock out of a dark Navy blue enamel white spackled plate. It matches the draw pulls and knobs plus two pieces of enamel white spackled cooking utensils. Our mothers used the large roasters for turkeys, and many camping utensils were made of similar materials.
Enamel Navy Blue  Knobs
On Our Kitchen Cabinets
Our Kitchen Cabinets with Navy
Blue Enamel Spackled Cookware
Finally, we have a lovely European antique clock given us by our military sponsors. When Navy personnel (perhaps other military branches, too) transfer to an overseas station, they are welcomed by a couple who help them adjust to living in a foreign land. 

European Antique
Wall Clock (gift)
Our couple became friends with us, and when they transferred back to US, they gave us this lovely gift of friendship. This clock hangs in our living room; it has a melodic tone and announces the hour and half-hour.

Since it has always been mounted much higher on a wall, than my 4'10" height and arms can conveniently reach to wind without climbing on stool or ladder), my husband tends to this dependable clock.

And HE will always wind it as long as he lives. After all, we received it mainly because of his military service tour-of-duty assignment; therefore I sense it may have a prejudicial haunt waiting for me to touch it...NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!

[ All photos mine except black mantel clock  is courtesy of my oldest Niece who now possesses it; the anniversary clock which is a Internet photo. Apologies for flash burn, but unable to put in light tent as these clocks are all beyond my normal reach without a ladder or stool, which I am supposed to avoid.]

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

RANDOM MEMORIES OF BALTIMORE

I haven't mentioned much about Baltimore in my 2+ years of postings. Baltimore was our first stop in 42+ years of marriage. I have no photos immediately at hand.

On one of my treks from Norfolk VA to Baltimore, I finally found a rental in Ferndale, a suburb. It was a very old two story house with basement that had been converted into two "apartments." We rented the larger lower one; electricity and water/sewer were paid.

The upstairs renters varied and often were short term. They made lots of noise. The ceiling was thin; we knew when they were on the toilet or taking baths (together) from sounds inas the drain pipe from the upper floor as it descended, exposed through our kitchenette, right near our little dinette. Glad it was cast iron and never leaked! We heard some interesting conversations while dining. The drainpipe and thin ceiling were very good megaphones.

One couple was into drugs and had a lot of parties. (also a dog which was prohibited by our landlord). The drugs led to a raid and they were evicted. I understand the dog's eliminations were all within the apartment and further description is needless. The landlord had unimaginable expense in making the apartment livable again.

About a year later the city sewer backed up into our basement. The city owning the sewer plant had to evacuate all of us into motels and were responsible for cleaning up the mess. YUCK YUCK YUCK. My darkroom was in basement; I think we had sort of a den in basementwhich we did not use.

This was a very busy time of our "just married" lives. I had found employment with a pharmacy chain, READ's, as a relief pharmacist. I covered all of Baltimore.

I quickly learned it was a city, whose citizens were of varied ethnicity. There were blacks, whites, Polish and Jewish  to name a vary few. It was somewhat amusing, within the city, various ethnic groups seemed to segregate themselves into areas of the huge city.

The pharmacy chain seemed to have mainly Jewish ownership, administrators, supervisors, etc. A large number of pharmacists were Jewish of various sects. The Jewish supervisor and person in charge of hiring pharmacists, said he loved to have a few "Gentiles" come along as they worked the Jewish holidays. I obligingly and gladly worked their holidays, but strangely the same Jewish persons wanted off all the "Gentile" holidays, too.

I had to learn a bit of a new language, as Texanese was not spoken in Baltimore. A BUN and a ROLL were exactly opposite my definition of each.  A bag and a sack were different too. Nobody there knew what a gunny sack was.... A delightful older Jewish pharmacist worked along side me at one of the all-night stores. He educated me in the language of Baltimore, not to mention he thought I had an awful accent and drawl. I thought the same of his Yiddish.

My husband is not a sports addict at all, but liked baseball a bit. We went to several Baltimore Orioles games. The tickets were not too expensive, especially when compared to the Baltimore Colts who were at their pinnacle of success with Johnny Unitas.

We usually left  game early. If it were a close game, we sat in the car and listened to the finish. One midsummer night I noticed a long line forming around the stadium. There were make-shift tents and cook stoves for cofee and hot snacks. I asked a passerby why the line was forming, as it was past 10 p.m.

To my amazement, these die-hard fans were forming to buy season tickets for the Baltimore Colts. Some had been there more than one day! Obviously, I never attended a Colts game. [Nor my Dallas Cowboys, either, and guess I never will, as one ticket is terribly expensive.]

We were tourists when our schedules allowed--Like Gettysburg, Fort McHenry, Washington DC several times.  I loved the Smithsonian museums.

What amazed me was how many Baltimore citizens never visited Fort McHenry. My husband's ship was moored near Fort McHenry, inspiration for our national anthem.

We never made Pimlico, the second leg of the Triple Crown of Horse racing, but we attended some kind of buggy racing, and a lot of demolition derbies.

We bought new cars, and wardrobes, and in general, settled into marriage, as much as possible.
This house is where I discovered a certain clock from Shelly's family was haunted which will have to be a separate story.
We had good neighbors with a spoiled old German Shepherd named Felicia, of which I have previously written. She had a 4 p.m. daily gravy train over about a 4 street area.

We made one or two trips to Texas, also.
Then the military change of station and new orders changed life again.

[Apologize for not finding pictures. I recently discarded all slides and prints.]

Thursday, May 05, 2011

EPILOGUE: PART 6 -GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME

Recently in a post entitled Fairy Tale, I referred to the fact that a series of posts with the topic of my marriage, was missing a final Part so today, I am going to try to retrieve some of the facts from my 42 years of marriage.

 This blog primarily concerns the trip to my husband's (H) home in Scranton SC, and meet some friends and members of his family, I had not previously met. Let me re-phrase that last part......a lot of friends and members. I'll explain in a bit.

Here are the previous post links:
When Type A Meet Type Z: Part 1 Get Me to the Church on Time
The Path to the Alter Is Not Straight: Part 2 Get Me to the Church on TimeOne Fiancé MIA! Part 3: Get Me to the Church on Time
From MIA TO AWOL! ONE FIANCÉ! Part 4: Get Me to the Church on Time
Dueling Chairs - Part V: Get Me to the Church on Time
Despite the tribulations discussed in the links above, in retrospect, a great number of the seemingly unbelievable events were products involved both our very different  cultures mixed with the military culture. Some of which still arise today, except the military element is gone.

He was from a deep south family, who grew up with limited income; I was from a lower middle class religious family with one breadwinner who wisely and frugally managed to provide his three children and wife with a comfortable lifestyle.

He escaped via a military career, even though monetary income was not what it is today, benefits were certainly better than he ever had. I also participate in his benefits today via primarily the medical benefits, but also monetarily.

With my family's support, and I, with some part-time work, had a college degree in a profitable field and quite independent thereafter. H benefited from my additional income during my working career cut about 5 years short by a bout with cancers.

We both married at ages 34(H) and 33(me). The fact we both were accustomed to singularity may have been both a plus and sometimes a minus in our marriage. Pluses may have been maturity--we had sowed our oats a long time before, and minuses include some unwarranted independence and inconsiderate decisions.

SC Wedding Shower - Mt.Gilead Free Will
Baptist Church-Scranton, SC
L-R Husband, Myself, Unidentified Lady
 We often laugh when we encounter some of our differences, especially cultural and cuisines. We have great fun with a last name of Coward, and both have essentially female first names. Currently we literally are the only COWARDs in our county. There are Cowarts but no CowarDs.

After the wedding we spend several days in my hometown, packing my possessions in a U-Haul trailer. There was no furniture, but it was amazing how much filled that trailer, including wedding gifts.

We also had to wait for a repair shop to fix a small fender bender to my car, which happened near the end of one of the trips to Dallas hunting him down.

There was to be NO honeymoon. I often joke my privilege to accompany him and live in a foreign country, Morocco, was my 2.25 year honeymoon. It was a somewhat life-changing period of time for me. He, of course, literally cruised around the world.

Leaving all that was familiar was somewhat traumatic and our trip to South Carolina was tense at times. I had met his parents and one brother earlier, when I flew into Charleston. His mother had cancer, and was in a hospital, not expected to live. However, she rallied as she had many times over a 5-year period.

When we arrived from the long trek across the South from Texas, his mother had a hot meal prepared, of Shelly's favorite foods. I was quickly informed, and remember her words to this day: " Carol, this is Shelly's favorite foods, and you need to learn to cook them." I dutifully observed and politely ate them.

WHAT WERE THESE FOODS? Brown Speckled Butter Beans, a type of Lima bean, not to be confused with BROWN Butter beans, served with huge mounds of rice.

Both are available as dried beans in South Carolina and nearby states, but difficult to find elsewhere.  Both beans change color when cooked, The plain brown Lima turns very dark brown; the speckled bean changes to a grayish brown color and speckles basically disappear.

[I have posted about these beans previously and some of the cuisine listed in this post. Using search of my labels should find the posts.]

I was introduced to other interesting cuisine, chicken purleau , fish stew and mackerel or salmon scrambled with eggs and served over grits. I did not then realize the cuisine was closely related to the Gullah culture which resides along the coasts of  South Carolina, Georgia and upper Florida.

It took awhile, but I can minimally cook the beans, chicken purleau and salmon/grits, but not fish stew which is a specialty of one of  H's former brother-in-laws. In my later years my health problems caused me to reduce the unhealthy ingredients, primarily fat and salt; hence, the result is the food is not as tasty to H.

Not did I ever realize rice, which is a major staple in the cuisine, came in huge cloth sacks of 25 and 50 lbs. We ate rice and grits in Texas, but I never saw more than a 1-2 lb. box in our home or grocery stores.

H's brother worked at Winn Dixie and other area grocery chains. It was interesting to tour the stores and see items I had no idea existed. I had the same experience in Baltimore.

Gift Table, Mt. Gilead Free Will
Baptist Church, Scranton, SC
 Friends and family had a lovely wedding shower for us at Mt. Gilead Free Will Baptist Church with 21 guests and the newly-weds. Looking at photos in my wedding album, it was wonderful shower, but I appear in a state of shock--not sure if it started with the wedding, or meeting so many strangers at one time. [I had a shower before the wedding in my hometown, but I knew everyone.]

There were many and wonderful gifts, including some homemade quilts from H's mother. She proudly told me H had helped "quilt" one.

We kept the quilts, many years only using and wearing out one,  but in recent years we have returned items closely connected to our families, to the next generation. This quilt went to a nephew of Shelly's as a wedding gift, I think. A "haunted" kitchen mantel clock was given to a niece. The "haunting" is another post, unless I have already mentioned it.

H's father was a hoot and a great storyteller. He shared many tales with me...reminding me somewhat of my later found half-brother--not sure there was much truth in them, but then I am a Texan: exaggeration of fact is ingrained.

H's sister and brother, their spouses and children were about all I remembered in names. His mother had a birth and foster family, all of which were mixed among the people I met. I don't know who wrote her obituary, but it was a long one. 

This motel where we landed and stayed.
All these years I have not noticed
this photo and companion photo(below)
were printed backwards. Notice
license plate, U-Haul, motel signs. 
After a few days in and around Scranton, SC, H reported to duty in Norfolk, and we settled temporarily in a small motel with kitchenette. His ship was to become a naval reserve trainer in Baltimore. The drive from Scranton to Norfolk started in rain but quickly changed to snow in VA.


First temporaray "home" - glad I had a coat
handy as most clothes were in U-Haul!
[Also printed backwards]

During this transition period which lasted about a month, I spent time trekking to Baltimore, reciprocating my pharmacy license and hunting a place to live with appliances. We also purchased what was then called a newlywed household of furniture, which consisted of economical bedroom set, sofa, and small dinette set.

Obviously, entertainment was whatever existed on area military bases. I, a virtual non-drinker went with him to the Acey Duecy club for non-comissioned personnel. I understand the name is a variation of backgammon often played by military personnel. I never made that connection!
Entertainment was music, dancing and drinking. I wasn't much of a dancer, nor was he.

I made a bad decision to try to keep up with him drink for drink. Although I occasionally had a glass of wine or beer in my college days, I really craved neither; food has always been my adiction of choice.

Soon I had a row of untouched drinks before me, and I was drunk as a hoot owl. We finally left; I certainly don't remember how many drinks behind I was. Then we went to Giant Foods, an all night grocery store, and I tried to illegally buy some more beer. H laughs to this day about that as the store's night guard had to tell me I had to put it back. I guess he could have thrown in the slammer.

It was the worst night I ever spent. I slept on the floor to keep the room from spinning. But a good deal of the time I spent in the bathroom, sick. It virtually ended my drinking 'career' as H realized he needed to refrain from alcohol himself, he has been sober 40+ years! Living with me, that is remarkable.

One of the family friends had a floral shop in Lake City, SC. She regaled, to me one interesting tale of  H's many escapades in the surrounding countryside. As I remember, he was home on leave, drinking, had a wreck, knocking out all the lights in Lake City, and putting a huge hole in the mayor's hedge row. That gape in the hedgerow remained until the hedge row was completed removed.

I must interject that we both found that there is a bias, particularly in the military against non-drinkers because all celebratory functions, including promotions, drinking is almost mandatory.

Also, wives who work with salaries exceeding their husbands, as well as non-drinking, spiritual attitudes are considered detriments to their husband's career.

The drinking bias exists in some civilian work environments, such as upper echelons of management or a lot of male environments, including the local volunteer fire department in our earlier years living in the Ozarks.

I , nor H, are prohibitionists, and general non-judgemental of those who choose to drink socially and know their limits. I only wish the same social drinkers were less critical of our choice to refrain socially, or privately.

Finally, we moved to Baltimore where we lived for about three years before the transfer of duty station to Morocco.

We went to his home every weekend he, or I did not work. His mother's cancerous condition was worsening and she died almost two months to the day we were married.

My husband was her favorite child; even his brother and sister admitted it. The short time I knew her I know I would have had a wonderful mother-in-law. She had written me several letters before we were married, which I think I still have along with my husband's letters.

Again I met a multitude of family and friends, all at one time. It reminded me of going to a once in a life-time family reunion, most of whom you never knew before that event.

Unlike many couples, I looked forward to having a mother/father-in-law. At least, I had a father-in-law, but he died also, about 3 years later, when we were living in Morocco.

Although this is a somewhat sad ending to the epilogue. Meeting his family, I'm sure would parallel his meeting mine, in many respects.

However, I was not bitten by a Chihuahua, which was H's introduction to my parents. The little piece of nothing bit him on the shins as we enter the back porch of my home.
The back porch was the Chihuahua's domain as it was where she slept and ate.

41 yr. OLD Photos taken by family(3); myself (1) U-Haul & husband.

Monday, May 02, 2011

THE SIRENS


Between Harrison and Marshall on US Hwy 65
headed to Little Rock. Note clouds hanging
over mountain range peaks.
Have you looked up the definition of sirens lately? Believe me, I was shocked to see my idea of a siren is way down to 3b: a device often electrically operated for producing a penetrating warning sound <an ambulance siren> <an air-raid siren -. It must be an AGE related shock.

US Hwy 65 between Harrison
near a little
town, Botkinburg.
 We traveled 150 +/- miles to Little Rock for an appointment with a specialist in electrophysiology cardiology April 26. As usual we travel the day before and stay in our preferred motel chain, La Quinta Inns, for two nights, returning the third day. This necessitates boarding our beloved Luckie at her non-favorite spa, All Creatures Veterinary Hospital, the kennels of which include veterinarian supervision. The kennel attendants love her; she is always at the run door wanting petting and attention.


Monday, April 25th and 26th were both days the wave of serious storms crossed Arkansas. It was raining as we left home and traveled to the vet hospital. It continued to Harrison but we had a dry, dreary drive as far as Clinton, then it commenced the rain again. We stopped at my husband's favorite buffet in Conway, Ryan's, for lunch. None of the rain was stormy, just rain, at times, heavy.


We arrived at our destination in light rain around 2:30 p.m. and checked in. We had packed treats, so we only ate out once a day. But as the afternoon and evening progressed,there were interludes of some sun, which increased both temperature and humidity, all bad news by us who have lived through tornado seasons.


We followed this 'home on wheels' bus
and pickup out of Clinton headed north
several miles on Wednesday after
 breakfast at Huddle House.
This area is near Marshall. 
 The constant weather stations were alerting parts of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri of severe thunderstorms, as well as a wide area of of slight risk. Little Rock was slap-dab in the middle of the red area on the map.


I kept peeping out the window at the clouds. Being from Texas, I had seen all sorts of tornado clouds.  Besides the color and sometimes rotation of clouds, an ominous period of NO or very slight wind precedes the event of severe thunderstorms which may contain tornado possibilities.

By the way, I have seen WHITE tornadoes besides the black funnel and wall clouds.


In early evening the TV began issuing warnings for Conway, 40 miles+/- from west Little Rock, where we were. The storm was tracking in a classic SW to NE trek for tornadoes.


Although this is a terrible photo,
see the deteriorating elements:
rain, fog and  car motion and a
camera nut thinking she can make
something out of it. This shot
is north of Clinton near Leslie
as we headed home. 
 When all of Little Rock was added to the mix I started watching the wind. Sure enough it began to pick up and the sirens began to whine, scream, and intensify in pitch and length. It seemed they would never end.
I had already determined I was going to camp in the handicapped equipped bathroom. It had no mirrors or much that could fly around....well maybe the toilet paper, towels and tiny bars of soap.


As the sirens wailed, I grabbed my Kindle and a pillow and skedaddled to the toilet. Why not the bathtub/shower? I have artificial knees. If I sat or lay down in the tub, it probably would take a crane to get me out. So I sat on the toilet with the pillow on my head, reading my Kindle. What was I reading? THE SHACK, which I had started a few days before. I finished it in my unconventional "tornado shelter" and started another.


Pardon My Window Wiper!
This is the long hill after Botkinburg
Where there is a runaway ramp.
It is barely visible-the brown
sand after the crooked
curve sign.
 How long did I sit on the 'throne?' Well, it seemed like two hours, but I doubt it. The tornado touched down around the Little Rock airport, well south of most of Little Rock. However, the Conway tornado missed Conway but tracked across I40 to a small town-Vilonia where there was at least one death, and threatened areas around Jacksonville where there is an Air Force Base.


And where was husband? Like many men (so I've been told) he was standing by the WINDOW watching the storm---just like my Dad used to do--family in the cellar, only breadwinner above ground watching the storm.


I highly recommend The Shack, and another short read, GIVE IT ALL TO HIM (Max Lucado). I have started a classic now, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, Jane Austen, which is free to Kindle owners.


And the purpose of our visit, THE APPOINTMENT, was anti-climatic. The appointment was made in February when it seemed the high-powered, somewhat dangerous drug was not very effective; also before my Advanced Nurse Practitioner decided to discontinue one medicine, a stomach proton pump drug called Nexium; instantly, the drug Tikosyn and also many other medicines, including two blood pressure drugs increased to near 100% in effectiveness.

Verdict: No procedure in immediate future. The Tikosyn is one of several drugs which block the errant electrical impulses which cause arrhythmias. All have dangerous side effects, but so does heart fibrillations: strokes, heart attacks, clotting, death. These drugs eventually become ineffective; the heart finds a way around them.


The downside is this specialist does not accept Medicare assignment. As I am aware of what that means, I will be searching for a similar specialist in the interim.

The storms were moving northeast. It
had stopped raining,so we took AR 235
20+/- miles north of Marshall, going
through the Bruno community to
Yellville. We're getting closer to
home, after I bailed Luckie
out of the spa. These  clouds
were a little more blue grey
than this shot photo shows.
The trip home was nearly a repeat of the journey to Little Rock, with an added of period dense fog mixed with rain between Clinton and Marshall. We saw the area along I40 where the Vilonia tornado crossed. There were a lot of snapped pines and other trees.

Photos in this blog were, of course, taken in a moving vehicle through rainwashed window. A few were totally unusable, but you will get the somber mood of our trek, except I was relieved by my temporary 'stay of execution'-no procedure in the immediate future, and more importantly we arrived home unscathed by weather or driving hazards.

Arriving home, we found all the major lakes in our area are at or above their maximum flood levels and gates are beginning to be open. Bull Shoals Lake is the last in a chain of five lakes in the White River Basin. When the upper four lakes reach flood levels, and each releases water through its flood gates, guess where it ends up? Unfortunately, when Bull Shoals begins to release water, areas all the way to the Mississippi River may be affected with high water and flooding.

No matter how dismal this trip may seem, it cannot ever surpass the suffering of the people of Tuscaloosa, AL. Pray and help if you can, either as a volunteer, or in donations. Every penny counts and every prayer is heard.