Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's Cooommmmiinnnggg..

The evacuation has begun in ernest. Gustav is expected to hit land with winds of at least 140 mph.

"Authorities in Hardin, Orange and Jefferson counties Saturday were making arrangements for residents with no transportation and other special needs, such as medical disabilities, to leave the area.
Jill Frillou, a spokeswoman for Orange County, said a voluntary evacuation in place for the general population could become a mandatory order as early as Sunday morning."

from: Associated Press, found on the website for the ABC affiliate here in Houston.

Edited addition:

'Pup and I live in NW Harris County. We're far from the danger zone, and, while we'll make sure we have batteries and such, our greatest danger would be a power loss because of some high rains to the East of us.

Give thoughts for the people of coastal Louisiana, and of High Island, Texas. They're heeding the warnings, for the most part and leaving all but the most precious of their belongings behind. I hope they are able to come home again.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Then, and Now

Just about 3 years ago, a huge storm was bearing down on just about the same part of the Gulf Coast that is targeted now.

Three years ago, some people left, many took precautions but planned to "ride it out", and others... didn't even pay attention to what was going on.

Lest you think I'm kidding...I know several people who, until I mentioned the hurricane today, didn't know one was coming. They'd not been watching the news. I hope I got them to pay attention today.

Last time, the cities had "hurricane plans", but they weren't really serious about things. It looked good on paper.

This year, New Orleans has a mandatory evacuation, with buses, trains and airplanes lifting out special needs residents and those with no other transportation. The announcement was made that, should anyone wish to stay behind, there would be NO help available. None. It's either leave, or fend for yourself. (It's a rather Darwinian selection process there, isn't it?) This time, the residents are NOT leaving their pets behind. There is room on the bus for all members of the family.

There is at least one town in Texas that is evacuating and people are being told that even 911 will be turned off, as EVERYONE is evacuating.

Houston and Houstonians are preparing to receive about 45,000 Louisianan residents. Last time, with not much prior notice, Houston took in about 250,000 people in one weekend. Things are better organized this year, I hope.

We might get some rain from Gustav, as it's supposed to take a southerly hook and then stall for a while over some part of Texas. You never know though. We're still more than two days to landfall, at the earliest, and things can change awfully fast.

Oh, and there's another storm out there, it looked, for a time, as if were just going to follow Gustav in, like a pesky little sister tagging along after a bigger brother. But, instead, it looks like Florida might get a little more rain--which, it does. not. need. just now.

Happy Labor Day, y'all.

Things That Make Me Happy

A blood orange from my own tree, It will ripen, eventually. Best of all, there's two of them!
(yah, I know, a big harvest, but it IS a small tree.)

Jasmine in bloom, so many petals, such beautiful leaves,

and Cherry Parfait roses, finally happy enough to bloom properly this summer, small things make me happy.

Speaking of small things, Moss Rose, a tiny plant, only 2 inches long and tall, with 5 blooms, growing in an unplanned place.

Variegated bougainvillea,

which, after freezing down last winter, sent up shoots that are variegated and shoots that have reverted back to solid green.

Guess which shoots are blooming.
You are so smart. You really
Oh, and the damage on the bracts are from leaf cutting bees. The dang things seem to LOVE flowers.

A small, but tall and valiant Angelonica towers over other vegetation, reaching for the sun. It's actually a perennial for me, tho I do try to protect the roots with enough mulch so that they'll grow back.

And, of course, Esperanza. Hope always makes me happy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kitty Issues...

Poor Lady Spitfire, Butch (the big couch potato we've inherited from 'Pup's dad) is still tormenting the cat. She isn't worried about Chucky the Wonderpup, as he'll chase her when she wants to run, but won't do anything if she doesn't WANT to run. Butch, she's not so sure of... he growls.

We've said "NO", "BAD DOG", whenever we see him tormenting her, but sometimes she doesn't even get enough privacy to ... uhmm... attend to her... well, potty needs. I mean. Think about it. There you are, you've scratched a nice little depression... lined up and have started your ... meditation... and WHAM! This HUGE growly DOG interrupts.

She has not been a happy cat. She likes it when we lock the dogs outside during the day when we go out for a while. She will occasionally go sit next to Butch's food bowl, which he can see through the sliding glass door when he's outside. This does not make for a happy Butch.

Still, I think Lady SpitFire needs a new litter box. Not a litter pan, out in the open. I think we need something that encloses the box and lets her have a little privacy. Not to mention, another place to hide when Butch decides that "chase the kitty" is the game he wants to play.

It's enough to give a poor kitty...well ISSUES!!


This will be the first of several posts I'm going to do today. There is just so much STUFF to talk about, I'm not really sure where to begin. Should I do a Lipovox review? Seems unimportant somehow to the hurricane that will be affecting us by early in the coming week. Where will it hit? I don't know. Coming so close to the 3rd anniversary of Katrina's, and then Rita's hitting Louisiana and Texas...this storm is unsettling. People are playing it safe, going about their normal lives (how else?), but everyone's.... planning, considering, checking. I'm not even going to start to predict where the storm will hit, not until Sunday at the earliest. There is just too much distance to tell where the storm will make landfall.

Too early to tell, but not too early to start to worry.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is NOT Good News.

This is not some happy making news here. Hurricane Gustav looks to be headed into the gulf and with water temperatures being what they are (high 80's and into the 90's), it will have LOTS of potential energy to suck up and then dump on someone.

'Pup and I keep a hurricane kit.

Might need to clean out the master closet, as that is the biggest and safest area to shelter in. Gonna be fun with Spitty and Butch. See, they do NOT get along.

Still, it may not head towards here. And I do feel sorry for the vacationers in the Caribbean who will have their vacations cut short, or made rather more exciting than they wished it to be... (Humm a good reason for travel insurance, eh?)

At the Spring Fling, it was noted that there was a case of bottled water in the van. Well.. see... that's part of the hurricane kit. No good having the water where you can't get to it, and it does need to be rotated, used and replenished.

Time to keep watching the news.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Most Favorite Sign in the World...

Okay, it's my CURRENT most favorite sign in the world. It says: "Unleaded 1 (cent) lower than Chevron across the street".
I like this sign on so many, many levels. First of all, you should know that the Chevron is new, just opened and belongs to a corporation. The Shell, (the store with the sign) is a locally owned franchise, open and operating for 10 years in that location. The owner is rather determined NOT to be put out of business.
I applaud his stubbornness, though I wonder how he's managing to do it. Still, they aren't the only ones selling low ($3.17) today. We got the same price at a Race Trac, and have seen the price at some other Chevrons in the area as well.
So far, he's had lines at his pumps at any time I've been by there. Hopefully, as the station includes the convenience store and a Church's Chicken, the drivers have been buying other things along with the gas.

The kinds of vehicles there has been interesting too. There have been everything from motorcycles to moving trucks, motor homes to pickups, cars, sedans, name it.. it's been there.
Still, the Chevron has been busy as well, but, as it's larger--not AS busy.
I don't know who will end this war, or how, but it's an interesting lesson in capitalism.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Potty Signs

Something tells me that all is not happy at the potty stops here and there...
This was at the reunion...the teacher's restroom at my Alma mater:

Not a happy looking face!
And then there is this one, at a bathroom I visited, in a store, I believe.
Sometimes, you can't make things up...they just happen.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Going on the Road

I may have some traveling to do in the next 12 months or so, as one friend will be getting married,sometime in the late spring or early summer, and the Garden Bloggers may meet in Chicago next fall. Both trips are ones I am looking forward to, for different reasons. Both trips are going to be mixtures of new and familiar, known and unknown people and places.

Ironically, I have known my friend for about 5 years, but have never met her in person. I met her one late night/early morning between Christmas and New Year's, playing pool on Yahoo. I thought I was pretty good at pool...till I met Vi. She'd just had a baby, very prematurely, wasn't feeling very well...and she whupped my sorry ass at pool.

It was embarasskin', I tell ya, downright embarasskin'...

We've been through a lot online, more than you'd think.

The Chicago trip will not be to a place I've never been before, and I actually know someone who lives there (Hi Leslie!), I lived close to Chicago one cold winter (I hate snow!), and I will have met some of the gardeners who might attend the meet.

I'm going to have to save up for both trips. I've started a small change bank, where I'll empty my pockets every night, and hopefully can add a few dollars here and there as I can. Humm... I should probably promote my Cafe Press stuff too, and if you should notice some posts that refer to some odd things, like cheap hotels , or other links...well. Just know it's going to a good cause.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time Off

Hellooooo out there! Tap, tap, tap....anyone out there?

I've been home, not feeling up to anything but napping and reading blogs for the last 2 days. It's been raining here in Houston (YES!!!), and it's been nice to listen to the lovely sound of raindrops tap dancing their way down the leaves into the ground...which, I could swear, was groaning in relief.

The groaning may have been the whole city... some of whom were groaning with relief that they didn't have to water the yard, and some of whom were groaning, knowing they'd be mowing about 3 feet of lawn in a week, and others groaning, cause, well, when it rains, it floods in some parts of the city.

Okay, a bunch of places in the city.

Okay... more than a bunch and mostly whole neighborhood areas and streets. (Never buy a house in any area named Friendswood... it means you are going to be real used to meeting your neighbors in flat bottomed boats.)

Fact is, the streets are built on the premise that they will flood. This is our version of a combination method of flood control and drainage system. Not many below ground sewers here, where you can hit the water table less than 10 feet below ground level. No, no basements either. (I'd never seen a basement until we moved to Illinois for a year during my senior year of high school.)

I think I'm feeling better now, and may be able to want to go outside and see what has survived my neglect, tomorrow. Right now, I'm at work. And that, maybe, is why I've been kinda tired.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gardening Olympics

Well, as usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short...okay, well, maybe only an hour or so too late...

Idaho Gardener has come up with an interesting way to get us all involved with the olympics this summer, with a Garden Olympics contest. I'm not sure she'll allow my entry, but here they are anyway...


A Gold Medal Rose bud... captured just the other day.

My pretty water lily.



Hey, it's big. It needed two pictures. Pardon the tattered manicure...sigh.

I hope the rules will be bent just a smidgen?


'Pup and I don't exactly have a full social schedule. Neither of us have ever been part of a group of friends that routinely threw parties...or at least, were a part of a group of friends who routinely included us in their party plans. Invitations are rare things in our lives.

Oddly enough, though invitations like Christmas, New Year's, Fourth of July or even Halloween invitations have always been scarce, it doesn't mean we wouldn't like to get them, now and again. And, lest you say, "But, Nancy, don't you need to give out invitations to expect to get some?", well... we have. Have you ever prepared for a party, and no one came?

We have, and no matter how tasty the party food, somehow, eating enough for 6 just doesn't taste as good all by yourself.

Shopping on the Cheap

It's that time of the year at 'Pup's job, where they present the next year's insurance options. They're recommending one option for everyone....that just doesn't cut it for us. So, we'll be opting for the more expensive plan, one that will cover more of our expenses.

One other insurance we need to look hard at is our car insurance. It is looking more and more as though we're going to have to replace our van earlier than we wanted, because more and more little things are going wrong and adding up to big wrongs. We're going to HAVE to wait a year though. Our long term recovery plan just won't allow a new van. Yes, it's going to have to be a van, or some other vehicle that can carry my scooter.

Right now, we carry all our insurance, house, car and life in one company. Doing that has made it cheaper than it could be...still, we will probably be looking at online auto insurance quotes to see if the way we're doing it now is still the best way.

One more year. One more year and we hope to be out of debt.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day: The Colors of a Garden

It's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day for August! On the 15th of every month, May Dreams Gardens sponsors a World Wide picture of how every one's gardens are growing. This has been a wonderful thing to participate in, as it gives me a chance to learn, find new blogs and to catch a glimpse of gardens I'd never be able to visit in person. It's a virtual Garden Tour!!

I'm all about color this month. These are the plants that have survived me not being able to go out to weed because of the heat, and now, because of some bronchitis. They are tough.

So, let us start with a Patriotic Salute:

Red, (Mr. Lincoln is blooming)

White, (JFK is blooming too, yesterday was its best day, but it still smells very sweet.

and Blue. A Morning Glory flower from the vines that may end up swallowing up my house if I don't get outside soon.

And then, my lovely Belinda, who has taken to blooming on interior canes as well as the top. The roses do look rather cool and refreshing there, don't they? It would be a grand place for a fairy to take a nap.

The Hibiscus have enjoyed the recent rainfall, (Edouard gave me about 2 1/2 inches .. oh for another 2 or 3!!).

This year, I planted a flower I'd never grown before. They are 4 O'Clocks... but I never seem to be able to catch them blooming. I mean, it's obvious that they have BEEN blooming...just never in my site. Perhaps this evening.

Hey, LOOK!! The water lily bloomed in time for bloom day!!

And now, on to the front yard:

Always begin with Hope, presenting: Esperanza. She's producing a LOT of seed just now. Anyone need some? I heartily recommend this plant. It's tough, blooms from Spring to Early Winter and the bees, butterflies and humming birds love it. It can self sow, but it is easily controlled. In the winter, if it freezes, I just cut back the dead branches near Spring-time, and it grows again. It tolerates pruning and shaping (not that I do it), I've seen some of the plants trained and pruned to one main trunk, with a fan of branches at the top.

And then, there's the fire bush behind it, a hummingbird favorite.

Portulaca blooms in the side bed, where the dessicated remains of my poor squash plants lay, reprovingly. I must get this bed cleaned up.

I have not seen very many bees this year. Usually, the Mexican heather is humming with them. This is the first time I've ever seen this kind of bee. It moved fast, almost frantically as it nectared. Is it a bee look-a-like?

The Honey Dijon rose is hanging in there.

And that PINK florescent rose is doing well. It gets shaded during the hottest parts of the day, and that seems to help. I wonder if that's one of the secrets of growing roses in Houston--- give them shade in the hot afternoon...

The Maid d'Orleans jasmine is blooming and it's spreading wayward branches that pop out and from under the dangdest places.

My poor garden bed. It's blooming, in spite of my lack of care.

God bless'm.

Oh, and may God bless you, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Price War Update

Well, since Tuesday's Excitement, I've passed by the Warring Establishments on my way to work. 'Pup had to have a routine blood draw this morning, so he drove me to work (doing our part to save gas! and our money!). We debated getting gas at the Shell again (we were on that side of the road), but there were still lines. No, the price wasn't $2.08 (that was how low it eventually went), but it was still about 20 to 30 cents cheaper than the average, at $3. 33 per gallon.

Reason enough to stop.

But we didn't.

We went on, not wanting to wait in a line four deep for gas. We just didn't have the time. Then, we saw a Kroger's Grocery Store about a mile down the road, on Eldridge Parkway between Hwy 529 and West Little York. Gas price: $3.35 a gallon.

And no lines.

We stopped and got the van filled. Ahhh.... it was sweet.

The gas war is spreading.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday 'Pup!

Today is my dear hubby, 'Pup's birthday. Thirteen is his lucky number.

I met him for his birthday dinner 9 years ago today and we married less than a year later.

Why yes, we did meet online first.

Love ya' 'Pup!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gas War!!!

I was heading home tonight, when I noticed a helicopter that seemed to be hovering over the intersection of Eldridge and Hwy 539. In addition, my usually clear-ish route home seemed to be at a standstill.

I called 'Pup to ask him if there was anything on TV to explain what the heck was going on. I was expecting to hear him say either no (and it would probably be a car accident) or yes, that it was a car accident.

It wasn't a car accident. It was a Price War!
Needless to say, people were rather eager to take advantage of the situation.

This was the new Chevron station that opened up today and started the whole thing. The gas was a penny cheaper there, but I was in the wrong lane.

Why yes, of COURSE I was in on it.

I was already practically there, after all.

And this price didn't hurt any, either.

They even called the Sheriffs out to keep order.

I waited and waited... but at last, it was my turn to pump.

Oh, and just for a quick reference and comparison, this is how much gas was just about a mile down the street:

I ended up saving about 10 dollars in all. It was worth a wait.

It's down to $2.12 and still dropping.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Swingin' in the Garden

I have been wanting a swing bench or hammock chair for the passway under the large structure in the middle of my back yard.  The structure is a relic of the time 'Pup had an above ground pool.  It provided a way to get in and out of the pool.  It was built by a former room mate of 'Pup's.  I call this room mate the Crazy Cajun.  He never built anything that wasn't meant to stay where it was for a very long, long, time.

Our running joke is that, should a hurricane ever hit us, we might want to tie the house to that structure for safety...

Anyway.  I think I've found the chairs I'd like (if only I could afford them),at this web site .  It has an eclectic selection of items.  They make me smile.

New Televisions

'Pup and I went to shop today.  While we were out, we stopped and looked for an uninterruptable power supply.  The one we had bit the dust (quite loudly btw) and now we need to get some better surge protection for the desktop.  The lap top's on a good surge protector and can be shut down with the battery power.

We didn't find what we wanted, but oh.. my.  We were tempted by some of the HD TVs.  Our television in the bedroom is acting flakey.  Well, it's going to have to continue to act flakey, but it's nice to look.

What strikes me is the number of configurations the flat screen televisions can come in.  There are ways to hang them on the wall, and with  sound bars, it's even possible to have surround sound.  It's going to be nice when we can afford to replace the old tvs with some new ones.  Until then, we'll get by with the old ones and the little boxes the government is subsidising.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Just Because

Just some random pictures, nooks and crannies in the garden.

Rain is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Raindrops Like Diamonds

The "official" rain gauge in my back yard said about 2 1/2 inches, but the amount of water standing in some pots says that it was probably about 3... but I could be wrong.

At any rate, with water as precious as diamonds,
the drops have embellished the plants.

The end of the day, and a dove flies home.