Friday, October 30, 2009

The Galveston Blizzard

Sandra's recent comments:

I am sad to hear that the mermaid is so far away from the warm waters of the Caribbean that she loves so much. Will she be gone long enogh to grow legs and get used to the cold? Is she planning to return home to her jewel of an island in the azure blue sea any time soon?

I have a hard time imagining this mermaid in winter clothing.

Yes, Sandra, when mermaids stray too long from the warm waters, they temporarily grow legs and blend in a tad better (though mermaids truly always remain eccentric, nonetheless).

And, No, Sandra, I don't think I will ever get used to the c-c-c-c-cold!

Years back, I finished up a crew stint on a cruise liner that home ported in Galvenston, Texas. Because of my position as Chief Purser, I was one of the last to disembark the bankrupt ship.

Incredibly, this blizzard blew into Galveston Texas the day I was to leave for the airport!

According to, from 1971-2000, a span of nearly 3 decades, the average temperature for December is a low of 51.8°F and a high of 64.3°F. So this blizzard was certainly unexpected and caught the island by surprise.

Before flying back to my own homeport of the Virgin Islands, I spent a lonely Christmas eve in a toasty hotel, sorting through my sea bag. When I was checking out, the next morning, the maid was astonished that I left more behind than I took with me. Part of the pile of abandoned belongings were assorted winter clothes, all cleaned, pressed, and neatly folded. We were the same size, and she must have asked me 3 times in a row if she could really have this bounty. As I headed down the carpeted hallway, she said something to tune of "I really do believe in Santa Claus now! I really do!"

One of the perks of being a senior officer on a ship, is that the stewards see to it that your clothes are always clean, pressed and impeccable, whether it's your uniform, street clothes or pajamas.

Which on a side note, I was slender then, and owned some sexy underwear *ahem* in the form of frilly thongs for *special* occasions. (And I'll leave THAT up to your own imagination!) I also had the typical tidy whities cotton undies for wearing under our dress white uniforms.

When I arrived to work on the ship, about 5 months before they were forced into bankruptcy, I merely tossed all my undies into a drawer haphazardly. (I know, none of you have EVER done that to your undies!)

My particular steward was extremely thorough, as I quickly found out. On my first day as I toured the ship and caught up on mountains of work in my then beleagured office, he apparently pressed and reorganized all my clothing.

That evening, I was so exhausted from my first day of work, that I peeled off my uniform and fell fast asleep. The next morning, I got up and opened up my drawers to lay out my undies before showering.

I must have turned five or six shades of beet red. All my underwear was perfectly ironed and professionally folded, carefully sorted, and neatly stacked with the exception of my frilly thongs. They were ironed into perfection and laid out in a drawer of their own, with the same care that Winton jewelers lays out a small selection of zillion dollar necklaces for Elizabeth Taylor to peruse.

My closet was transformed, all my clothes were steam ironed and hung carefully with exact precision.

*Note* I've now seriously digressed from the orignial story (funny how that happens!)

So on this Christmas day, I was leaving behind assorted clothing, perfectly pressed and professionally folded (my steward had insisted on packing up my clothes before he tearfully departed the ship). The loving care he had exerted upon my clothes during my brief stay, made them seemingly appear to all be new, which many of the winter clothes were less than 2 months old anyhow.

(And NO, I did NOT leave behind any underwears!)

The cruise line had their own driver for hauling crew around. He came to pick me up and incredibly there was a blizzard outside. I was dressed for the warm weather of the Virgin Islands and my teeth loudly chattered as he turned the heat up to full force.

When finally I could speak without my teeth noisily crackling from the cold, I announced out loud "I am NEVER working this far NORTH ever again!"

And, well Sandra, I've pretty much kept my word ever since!

YES, I will be returning to my jewel of an isle some time in the future.

I have a hard time imagining myself in winter clothing too, but where I am now, it is 40 F degrees in the morning and I've been forced into warmer clothing.

I'm on a budget and picky about clothes, so shopping for winter clothes has been time consuming. Yeah, a mermaid looks strange in winter clothes...

But hey, tomorrow is Halloween and I don't have to dress up at all. I just show up as a mermaid (with chattering teeth!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Use your head for some thing else besides a hat rack!

I am not used to the cold. Of course I am sitting outside typing in 50 degree weather.

My friend brought home a sweat suit on sale for $3. It's miles too big for me, but I have a string holding up the pants and when my hands are cold, the sleeves are plenty long to pull down over my hands. Of course this hampers typing, something I am terrible at anyhow. Having my "N" be sticky and refuse to print much of the time, is also frustrating.

I am quickly discovering how many words, minus their "N" turn into new words, so my spell heckler glides right over them.

I type on a shaky portable table, what we used to call TV trays in the 60's. I use my feet to hold the uncertain table in place. I think TV trays were invented sometime after TV's became ubiquitous inmost all American homes. The idea was you could make these new-fangled frozen dinners, which were also called TV-Dinners, serve them on your TV-trays and the family could all eat in front of the TV.

Many of the TV-trays were actually metal, shaped like a tray, with a lip around the edge, thus you could pop it onto the flimsy folding legs. The TV-trays could then be folded up and stored away between uses.

Growing up, we always sat at our dining table every day for breakfast, 7 days a week and ditto for evening dinner. Tardiness was not allowed and neither were excuses. We said grace and all began eating at the same time. My mother cooked one meal for all and no one was allowed any deviation from the served meal. We had to eat what was on our plates and not dare to grumble about it. We went out to eat ONCE a month, on communion Sunday, after church, and it was considered a huge treat. The only time I recall eating in front of the TV was if we were terribly sick and home from school. If we could struggle out of bed, in our pajamas, robe and slippers and creep into the den, we were allowed to make our sick bed on the sofa, which converted to a twin bed anyhow.

The black and white TV, which had a rounded screen, only got one station clearly and two others kind of fuzzy. You could set the volume and it STAYED at that volume, even if you shifted channels and even when the commercials came on. You had to get up and walk across the room to change channels or to change the volume, which we rarely needed to change since it stayed at the preset volume. What ever happened to THOSE days?
Now you have TV's that control the volume for you, the commercials are super loud, if you change channels, the next channel might be substantially louder or softer. It seems playing with the volume buttons now requires more work than changing the channels. For some silly reason today's TV's show you a visual aid when changing the volume up or down (is that in case you are deaf?)

Back in the dark ages, we used metal V-shaped antennas to tune in the stations and they were called rabbit ears. Sometimes we adorned them with bits of aluminum or tin foil, to attempt better reception. The well to do folks had big fancy antennas on their roofs that were typically rectangles with perpendicular bits of metal to pick up reception. My family was never that well off to afford such a luxury.

In the summer, the ONE fan we owned was carefully removed from the attic and placed in a window. It was expected to cool the whole house and we weren't allowed to complain about the heat one bit. If the sun was out, the TV was off and that was pretty much a strict house rule. Mama thought children should be out playing in the sunshine, not cooped up inside staring at the idiot box.

Thus, we knew all our neighbors, their names, how many and what type of pets they had, and all the names of their pets. Dogs were allowed to roam freely, but typically followed "their children" around. Your dog better be well behaved or you would hear about it from the neighbors. We taught our dog numerous tricks and he learned a great trick on his own. It's a shame we didn't have video cameras then, as filming him would have been such fun. The trick he taught himself was to say "hare-woe" when ever we came home, as he bowed down to greet us. It was his way of saying "hello" and we were extremely proud to own such an intelligent dog.

Besides the usual tricks, he learned to lay on his back with all four feet in the air and close his eyes, hang his long pink tongue out the side of his mouth, and play dead on command. We would say "Doggy's dead! Doggy's dead! Poor wittle doggy!" Throughout all this he was lay motionless, being completely dead like. Next we would pretend to cry about our poor wittle doggy being dead and he would immediately leap to his feet and greet us. We would joyfully recite "He's alive! He's alive!" As children, we often said things twice. Later in life, I met a man who was often drunk, who said things three times. Having a conversation with him was a case of deja vu as he repeated himself three times, sometimes four, if he lost count in his inebriated conversation.

In spite of the fact that our TV only got three channels, our mother carefully monitored what we were allowed to watch and when. Typically our homework had to be done before we could go anywhere near the TV and we might be assigned a list of chores before turning it on anyhow. We weren't even allowed to turn it on to see what was playing. We had to check the newspaper TV listings and consult with our mom about a proposed show we might want to watch and she would decide if we could watch it or not.

She often thought of other things we could do, such as chores, or go outside to play, or play or game or read a book. She never liked to hear any of us say "We are bored" and if we did she quickly admonished us to "Go read a book!"

If we did some thing particularly foolish or stupid, she was also fond of saying "Use your head for some thing else besides a hat rack!"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.

Well the internet crashed , that figures. Right when I was surfing about something important too. Isn't that how it always happens.

Well, my N is sticky and that makes for hapless typing and editing. More frustration. Oh well. Life could be worse.

I've spent the last few weeks in great solitude. That is both good and bad for the soul. I've been grieving and frankly, nobody wants to be around someone sad, so it's best to just keep alone until it passes.

It's passing, but a chunk of my heart has been ripped away. I lost my cat, Lil Bear, literally lost him, he is presumed alive and running wild in fields and farms ad forests somewhere in upstate South Carolina. Very sad for me. He was my best buddy and a smart talented, loving cat. Not knowing his fate is heart wrenching. I can only imagine a fate worse, the parents of missing children and how their heart must ache to the very core of their tortured soul. It's the "not knowing" what has happened.

At least with death, while rarely ever pleasant, you KNOW what happened to someone you loved.

Kind hearted people try to offer me new cats, while I frantically search for my missing cat. I have spent loads of time, travel and money trying to track that little kitty down. I take on pets as permanent furry children that I am responsible for.

It tore my heart apart recently, to find homes for two of my cats and scale down to only one cat. That was weighing heavily upon my soul. Did I do the right thing? Will they be happy and loved? I showered my love on the remaining cat, and he was thoroughly bewildered at the sudden daily changes affecting our household.

I've kept my plans close to my vest pocket, as they are subject to change at my whim, and it's confounded my friends and my readers.

I'm currently camping out on a friend's sofa, grieving over my lost cat and trying not to freeze. I've had to add to my wardrobe, and buy more shoes. My wonderfully comfy leather sandals, handmade from the Caribbean, are just not warm enough for 40 degree weather.

I spend a lot of time outside, contemplating the shady backyard of the home I am at. My friend is often gone working or socializing, so I do the basic housekeeping, laundry and some cooking.

I bought an old cheap car to get around in. There is no local public transportation, and everything is spread out. My goodness, the grocery stores up here in the USA are HUGE!

As some of you know, I am recuperating and have to rest often. The first time out shopping, I became suddenly very weary and discovered there is no place to sit in or out of the store. Sad. Hard to get to know new people when everyone is rushing around.

The traffic! Oh my gosh. In the 22 years I was away from the USA with only about a half dozen brief visits in that time span, I didn't really stay on top of the USA cultural changes.

The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.

Quote from the character Brooks in "The Shawshank Redemption":

Brooks: [narrating] Dear fellas, I can't believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid but now they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. The parole board got me into this halfway house called "The Brewer". And a job bagging groceries at the Foodway. It's hard work and I try to keep up but my hands hurt most of the time. I don't think the store manager likes me very much. Sometimes after work I go to the park and feed the birds. I keep thinking Jake might just show up and say hello. But he never does. I hope wherever he is he's okay and makin' new friends. I have trouble sleepin' at night. I have bad dreams like I'm falling. I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a gun, an, an rob the Foodway so they'd send me home. I could shoot the manager while I was at it, sort of like a bonus. I guess I'm too old for that sort of nonsense anymore. I don't like it here. I'm tired of being afraid all the time. I've decided not to stay. I doubt they'll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me.
[carves "Brooks was here" into wood. Admires his work for a moment. Then kicks out the table beneath him and hangs himself]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Mermaid Lives!

Yes, it's true, the mermaid has gone on walkabout.

I'm freezing my tail off in South Carolina in the USA! Brrrrrrrrrr...

They say around me, "Oh, this is unusual weather for this time of year!"

Is that supposed to warm me up any?

So now I am wearing long sleeve shirts and long leggings under my Caribbean mermaid dresses. I've developed a whole new fashion style that amuses the locals. So many layers of clothes! Good heavens.









Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get Out: Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Overnight

Get Out: Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Overnight

posted: 20 October 2009
12:13 pm ET

The Orionid meteor shower is expected to put on a good show tonight into the predawn hours Wednesday, weather permitting.

This annual meteor shower is created when Earth passes through trails of comet debris left in space long ago by Halley's Comet. The "shooting stars" develop when bits typically no larger than a pea , and mostly sand-grain-sized, vaporize in Earth's upper atmosphere.

"Flakes of comet dust hitting the atmosphere should give us dozens of meteors per hour," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

People in cities and suburbs will see far fewer meteors, because all but the brightest of them will be overpowered by light pollution. The best view will be from rural areas (the moon will not be a factor, so dark skies will make for ideal viewing).

When and how to watch

The best time to watch will be between 1 a.m. and dawn local time Wednesday morning, regardless of your location. That's when the patch of Earth you are standing on is barreling headlong into space on Earth's orbital track, and meteors get scooped up like bugs on a windshield.

Peak activity, when Earth wades into the densest part of the debris, is expected around 6 a.m. ET (3 a.m. PT).

Some meteors could show up late tonight, too. Late-night viewing typically offers fewer meteors, however, because your patch of Earth is positioned akin to the back window of the speeding car.

The Orionids have been strong in recent years.

"Since 2006, the Orionids have been one of the best showers of the year, with counts of 60 or more meteors per hour," Cooke said.

Some of those counts come in flurries, so skywatchers should find a comfortable spot with as wide a view of the sky as possible. Lie back and allow 15 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, then give the show at least a half hour to play out through spurts and lulls. Meteors could appear anywhere in the sky, though traced back they will appear to emanate from the constellation Orion.

Telescopes and binoculars are of no use, because meteors move too quickly. Extra warm clothing is a must, and a blanket and pillow or lounge chair allows comfortable positioning so you can look up for long stretches.

Reliable event

Predicting meteor showers is tricky because the debris comes from multiple streams.

Each time comet Halley passes around the sun on its elongated orbit – every 76 years – it lays down a fresh track of debris for Earth to plow through in subsequent years. Those tracks spread out and mingle over time, and we pass the tracks each October during our 365-day, nearly circular trek around the sun.

Japanese researchers Mikiya Sato and Jun-ichi Watanabe say activity in recent years is related to debris put in place from 1266 BC to 911 BC, and this could be another good year, according to NASA.

Even if that prediction does not hold, the Orionids will almost surely put on a decent show. Prior to 2006 and going back many years, the Orionids have produced a reliable 15 to 20 meteors per hour at the peak, for skywatchers with dark skies.

As a bonus, this time of year you can expect an additional five to 10 sporadic meteors per hour – those not related to the shower.

Jokes for all

First the husband jokes...

My husband sat down on the couch next to me as I was flipping channels. He asked, "What's on TV?"

I said, "Dust."
My husband was hinting about what he wanted for our upcoming anniversary.
He said, "I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds."

So I bought him a nice new shiny bathroom scale.
When I got home last night, my husband demanded that I take him someplace expensive...

so, I took him to a gas station...

Now the wife jokes...

After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's license to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later.

The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair.. She said, 'That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me and she processed my Social Security application.

When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office.
She said, 'you should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too.'
My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table.
My wife asked, 'Do you know her?'
'Yes,' I sighed, 'She's my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn't been sober since.'
'My God!' says my wife, 'who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?'

And the un-politically correct joke...
I rear-ended a car this morning. So, there we were alongside the road and slowly the other driver got out of his car. You know how sometimes you just get soooo stressed and little things just seem funny? Yeah, well I couldn't believe it... he was a DWARF!!!

He stormed over to my car, looked up at me, and shouted, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!'

So, I looked down at him and said, 'Well, then which one are you?'

Friday, October 16, 2009



Computers were used to precisely plot planting of the four differently
colored rice varieties that bring these images to life in Japan's rice

Rice Paddies grown ito artwork in Japan
Rice Paddies grown ito artwork in Japan
Rice Paddies grown ito artwork in Japan
Rice Paddies grown ito artwork in Japan
Rice Paddies grown ito artwork in Japan
Rice Paddies grown ito artwork in Japan

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Sometimes tragedy strikes when you least expect it. Have you ever had your heart ripped right out of your soul?

I am very sad and have taken a break from writing. Just a short one.

I've also not been on the phone much at all and declining calls, letting voice mail take the messages. I am just very sad and looking for my mojo, trying to find my groove again.

I will find my voice and pen soon.

I hope.

Angels are on the way.