A Local Surviver’s Perspective of Harvey

This was sent to me by one of our Rockport residents. I felt it warranted being passed on.

AS PER MY DAUGHTER!! So by now, everyone knows that a horrific hurricane hit the Coastal Bend almost two weeks ago. Yes, it was horrific. Yes, it destroyed houses. Yes, it put some people out of a job. And yes, it sucks! All that is true. But I like to look on the bright side of it: Yes, my family was safe. Yes, my friends and aqaintences families were safe. Yes, we had a safe place to stay. Yes, we’ve continued to see how great America is through this whole situation! There have been so many people from so many states and agencies, that have come down to the coast just to help those in need. I have personally seen first hand how many good-hearted people there are in this country. I work at the county jail so you really lose sight and hope for humanity at times. This experience has definitely restored my faith in humanity. There have been so many donations sent to the jail that we’ve had to distribute them to other volunteer organizations. I’ve seen the National Guard, DPS, too many other law enforcement agencies to name, AEP, Asplund (or however you spell it), TX Dot, charity groups, volunteer fire departments, churches, people who are giving away hot meals, and people who just want to help, working countless hours to restore our town to the way it was. It’s been a very humbling and awesome experience. Not excited I had to go through the storm, but grateful that God got a hold of people’s hearts and sent them down here. My family has been blessed beyond reason. My husband’s family has helped us out so much that we can never repay them. We have a trailer to stay in and a pop up that my parents are staying in. We found out that our house is going to be a total. I say, who cares?! Now we can build a brand new house the way we want it! My husband gets a brand new metal garage! I’d like to say to all the people out there who are pitying themselves: YOU LIVED! I think that’s the most important thing. To end this long message, I’d like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that has helped during this time of tragedy. I think God used this hurricane to make us stronger than ever! We’ve all come together as human beings to restore what is a temporary setback. I myself, have never been as proud to be an American as I am right now!

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TEXANS – Just Different

Most people don’t “GET” being a Texan–this guy is starting to.

By Robert Dean:
“I’m not a Texan. I don’t adore the Lone Star State. I’m a transplant who’s lived in Austin for the last four years. I can’t name the state fish, I don’t understand the thing with mums at Homecoming, and I think chicken fried steak sucks. I don’t care about Friday Night Lights.
But I married into a Texas family. A Texas family with crazy deep roots. My wife is a direct descendant from the Texas Revolution. Through my marriage, I get a front row seat to all things that filter through the Texas lens. I’ve learned a lot about bluebonnets and Whataburger. I know the difference between casual allegiance with Texas colleges, what it really means to be a Longhorn, and the difference between good salsa and crap that came out of a jar.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned as an outsider looking in, it’s that there’s a sense of purpose to these people like I’ve never seen. A central passion runs through Texans unlike any other American identity. Pride percolates here. It’s something people who aren’t from Texas just can’t grasp. We may have a docile sense of civic pride for our hometowns, but nothing like this state demands of its residents.
The Texas flag flies as high as the American flag, while the state Capitol is just a smidge taller than the U.S. Capitol, because – Texas. There are Texas flags on everything. And folks all over this huge collection of miles expect a reverential obsession from those who choose to take up this address, if only for a while.
That sense of purpose and absolute unwillingness to bend in their pride is why Texas will only become stronger in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Before Texas, I spent seven years in New Orleans, a place that knows about heartbreak and flooding. To love New Orleans is to love the city. But a New Orleanian ain’t much of a Louisianan, despite them being hand in hand. They’re two different cultures. But here, even if you’re from the Panhandle or live along the Gulf of Mexico, you still adore this state and will bond together under that flag, that symbol
Typically, cities talk smack on one another, and the outlying country towns don’t want anything to do with the big cities and their completely different personalities. There are liberals and conservatives, cowboys and city slickers, white folks, brown folks, black folks and every shade in between wearing cowboy boots. This place has many stories, many sides to the dice.
Harvey took many lives. It dumped acres of water onto the streets of Houston, decimated Rockport, and flooded Galveston and cities and towns across southeast Texas. But Texas will lick its wounds. Texas will come back bigger and better, and brighter and with more Texas-ness than you can imagine. Texans cannot allow for their diamonds to go unpolished. The thought of a place in Texas where local culture dies just doesn’t feel right. There are no places where the roads are unfinished, or the buildings lie in ruins – that would go against everything these people have known their whole lives: This land is precious and it is our birthright.
…….. H-E-B and Buc-ee’s, two Texas brand giants, came to the rescue, offering shelter, food, showers, and support. Mattress Mack, a Houston mattress maven, opened his warehouses so folks could get a good night’s rest. The people here know a love that moves deeper than their sense of pride – it’s a calling of purpose.
You cannot count Texas out. There’s no other state in our union that could handle this hurricane. New York has taken its lumps. New Orleans knows what loss feels like, but this is a monster named Harvey that we’ve never seen before. Who better to challenge Harvey head-on than Texas? They’ll do it wearing an Astros cap and with a twisted smile, daring that water to take a piece of the land they love so much.”

Robert Dean is a writer and journalist living in Austin.

Choices in Life

by Lovely G (found on internet)

A man of 92 years, short, very well-presented, and takes great care of his appearance, is moving into an old people’s home today. His wife of 70 years has recently died, and he is obliged to leave his home.

After waiting several hours in the retirement home lobby, he gently smiles as he is told that his room is ready. As he slowly walks to the elevator using his cane, the assistant describes his small room to him, including the curtain for the window.

‘I like it very much’, he says, with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old boy who has just been given a new puppy.

‘Mr. Todd, you haven’t even seen the room yet. Hang on a moment, we are almost there.’

‘That has nothing to do with it, he replies. ‘Happiness is something I choose in advance. Whether or not I like the room does not depend on the furniture, or the decor – rather it depends on how I decide to see it.

‘It is already decided in my mind that I like my room. It is a decision I take every morning when I wake up.

‘I can choose. I can spend my day in bed enumerating all the difficulties that I have with the parts of my body that no longer work very well, or I can get up and give thanks to heaven for those parts that are still in working order.

‘Every day is a gift, and as long as I can open my eyes, I will focus on the new day, and all the happy memories that I have built up over my life.

‘Every day is a gift, and as long as I can open my eyes, I will focus on the new day, and all the happy memories that I have built up over my life.

‘Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw in later life what you have deposited along the way. So the advice to you is to deposit all the happiness you can in your bank account of memories.

Remember these simple guidelines for Happiness:

Free your heart from hate.

Free your mind from worry.

Live simply.

Give more & Expect less.

FLY MORE KITES!!

The Wild Ride

This is just too funny a story not to pass along. It is not a kite story, but as the saying goes it involves breeze. “Knees in the breeze”, a term for riding morocycle, as a rider of a large cruiser bike, i can totally relate to the following……

Neighborhood Hazard (Or: Why the Cops Won’t Patrol Brice Street)

I never dreamed slowly cruising through a residential neighborhood could be so incredibly dangerous! Studies have shown that motorcycling requires more decisions per second, and more sheer data processing than nearly any other common activity or sport. The reactions and accurate decision making abilities needed have been likened to the reactions of fighter pilots! The consequences of bad decisions or poor situational awareness are pretty much the same for both groups too. Occasionally, as a rider I have caught myself starting to make bad or late decisions while riding. In flight training, my instructors called this being “behind the power curve”. It is a mark of experience that when this begins to happen, the rider recognizes the situation, and more importantly, does something about it. A short break, a meal, or even a gas stop can set things right again as it gives the brain a chance to catch up. Good, accurate, and timely decisions are essential when riding a motorcycle…at least if you want to remain among the living. In short, the brain needs to keep up with the machine.

I had been banging around the roads of east Texas and as I headed back into Dallas, found myself in very heavy, high-speed traffic on the freeways. Normally, this is not a problem, I commute in these conditions daily, but suddenly I was nearly run down by a cage that decided it needed my lane more than I did. This is not normally a big deal either, as it happens around here often, but usually I can accurately predict which drivers are not paying attention and avoid them before we are even close. This one I missed seeing until it was nearly too late, and as I took evasive action I nearly broadsided another car that I was not even aware was there! Two bad decisions and insufficient situational awareness…all within seconds. I was behind the power curve.

Time to get off the freeway. I hit the next exit, and as I was in an area I knew pretty well, headed through a few big residential neighborhoods as a new route home. As I turned onto the nearly empty streets I opened the visor on my full-face helmet to help get some air. I figured some slow riding through the quiet surface streets would give me time to relax, think, and regain that “edge” so frequently required when riding. Little did I suspect… As I passed an oncoming car, a brown furry missile shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop immediately in front of me. It was a squirrel, and must have been trying to run across the road when it encountered the car. I really was not going very fast, but there was no time to brake or avoid it—it was that close. I hate to run over animals…and I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel should pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the impact. Animal lovers, never fear. Squirrels can take care of themselves!

Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was standing on his hind legs and facing the oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his little beady eyes. His mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel for, “Banzai!” or maybe, “Die you gravy-sucking, heathen scum!” as the leap was spectacular and he flew over the windshield and impacted me squarely in the chest. Instantly he set upon me. If I did not know better I would have sworn he brought twenty of his little buddies along for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothes, he was a frenzy of activity. As I was dressed only in a light t-shirt, summer riding gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for concern. This furry little tornado was doing some damage!

Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and leather gloves puttering maybe 25mph down a quiet residential street…and in the fight of his life with a squirrel. And losing. I grabbed for him with my left hand and managed to snag his tail. With all my strength I flung the evil rodent off the left of the bike, almost running into the right curb as I recoiled from the throw. That should have done it. The matter should have ended right there. It really should have. The squirrel could have sailed into one of the pristinely kept yards and gone on about his business, and I could have headed home. No one would have been the wiser. But this was no ordinary squirrel. This was not even an ordinary pissed-off squirrel. This was an evil attack squirrel of death!

Somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his little hands, and with the force of the throw swung around and with a resounding thump and an amazing impact he landed square on my back and resumed his rather anti-social and extremely distracting activities. He also managed to take my left glove with him! The situation was not improved. Not improved at all. His attacks were continuing, and now I could not reach him. I was startled to say the least. The combination of the force of the throw, only having one hand (the throttle hand) on the handlebars, and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy twist through my right hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle of a Valkyrie can only have one result. Torque. This is what the Valkyrie is made for, and she is very, very good at it. The engine roared as the front wheel left the pavement. The squirrel screamed in anger. The Valkyrie screamed in ecstasy. I screamed in…well…I just plain screamed.

Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a slightly squirrel torn t-shirt, and only one leather glove roaring at maybe 70mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet residential street…on one wheel and with a demonic squirrel on his back. The man and the squirrel are both screaming bloody murder. With the sudden acceleration I was forced to put my other hand back on the handlebars and try to get control of the bike. This was leaving the mutant squirrel to his own devices, but I really did not want to crash into somebody’s tree, house, or parked car. Also, I had not yet figured out how to release the throttle…my brain was just simply overloaded. I did manage to mash the back brake, but it had little affect against the massive power of the big cruiser.

About this time the squirrel decided that I was not paying sufficient attention to this very serious battle (maybe he is a Scottish attack squirrel of death), and he came around my neck and got IN my full-face helmet with me. As the faceplate closed partway and he began hissing in my face I am quite sure my screaming changed tone and intensity. It seemed to have little affect on the squirrel however. The rpm’s on The Dragon maxed out (I was not concerned about shifting at the moment) and her front end started to drop.

Now picture the large man on the huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a very ragged torn t-shirt, and wearing one leather glove, roaring at probably 80mph, still on one wheel, with a large puffy squirrel’s tail sticking out his mostly closed full-face helmet. By now the screams are probably getting a little hoarse. Finally I got the upper hand…I managed to grab his tail again, pulled him out of my helmet, and slung him to the left as hard as I could. This time it worked…sort-of. Spectacularly sort-of, so to speak.

Picture the scene.

You are a cop. You and your partner have pulled off on a quiet residential street and parked with your windows down to do some paperwork. Suddenly a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a torn t-shirt flapping in the breeze, and wearing one leather glove, moving at probably 80mph on one wheel, and screaming bloody murder roars by and with all his strength throws a live squirrel grenade directly into your police car. I heard screams. They weren’t mine…

I managed to get the big motorcycle under directional control and dropped the front wheel to the ground. I then used maximum braking and skidded to a stop in a cloud of tire smoke at the stop sign at a busy cross street. I would have returned to fess up (and to get my glove back). I really would have. Really. But for two things. First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit concerned about me at the moment. One of them was on his back in the front yard of the house they had been parked in front of and was rapidly crabbing backwards away from the patrol car. The other was standing in the street and was training a riot shotgun on the police cruiser. So the cops were not interested in me. They often insist to “let the professionals handle it” anyway. That was one thing. The other? Well, I swear I could see the squirrel, standing in the back window of the patrol car among shredded and flying pieces of foam and upholstery, and shaking his little fist at me. I think he was shooting me the finger… That is one dangerous squirrel. And now he has a patrol car…

I took a deep breath, turned on my turn-signal, made an easy right turn, and sedately left the neighborhood. As for my easy and slow drive home? Screw it. Faced with a choice of 80mph cars and inattentive drivers, or the evil, demonic, attack squirrel of death…I’ll take my chances with the freeway. Every time.

And I’ll buy myself a new pair of gloves.

CUAgain, Daniel Meyer

Dang but it’s HOTTT!

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So here it is the first of August, well tomorrow is, and the summer pattern is being normal.    July is the month of mid nineties, and it was true to form this year, we’ve been just about 90-94 degrees for several weeks, and the humidity seldom below 60% makes it just plain “icky”.    For those of us lucky to live close to the bay waters the coolish [??] breezes generally wash ashore and help dispel the intensity of the humid conditions.    These conditions are those same reasons many kite freaks [like me] are located on or near beaches and coastlines.    16807151_1482767985080657_7972068432846799732_n

But then comes around the “doldrums days” of August / September, when the winds “lay down”.  This is partly due to the fact that the water has warmed so much that the temperature differential no longer drives the convection as strongly.   So now we sit here sweltering in our own juices, winds are non-existent [1-4 mph] and our faces drop sweat off our chins and noses, our backs have rivulets running down the spine, eventually we get pretty much “soaked” all over if spending any time at all out of doors.   FB_IMG_1495832045690

Kites are sitting mournfully by the garage door, waiting anxiously for that evening gust so their owners can run out and get some “air time”.     This is a prime time to stay in the air conditioning and do kite repairs, modifications, and new builds in expectation of cooler weather coming in a few weeks.   Sewing machine is getting a much needed cleaning and lubed up, fabric “piles” are getting sorted, sized, and boxed for easier access.  The problem for me is, my workshop is industrial building with no air conditioning…..fans moving hot air is about as good as it gets until late in the day or at night.  DSCN1788

 

So here we sit, waiting for that cool breeze……….

Maybe we can test fly that new piece we’ve been working at finishing……..

 

A Journey, Remembrances

As some may know, my son Eric Joseph Martin passed away on June 26, 2017. This was a major shock as he was not known to be ill in any way. Melissa, his soul mate of 18 years, was of course stricken. I was notified by an officer from our local PD at the request of Mel and the Maricopa County S.O.

His friends and Mel put together a Celebration of Life in Chandler, AZ and the Martin side of the family also held a celebration in Michigan. Nici and I made plans for a trip out to be with Melissa and his friends in AZ as she had time from her company, I have not returned to any full time work since my injury, and we had time to make a road trip out of it. Natasha had just delivered my fifth grandbaby on Tuesday so obviously was not going on any trips just yet.

Nici rented us a car [[to save putting excessive miles on her new one] and came to Rockport to gather me up, along with my briefcase of old school film cameras. She wanted to learn more “old school” photography from an old school 35mm camera. We planned a side trip for on the way back that included some of the most photographed places in the country.

sunset Boerne TX

Sunset west of San Antonio

Hitting the road in the late afternoon, we headed west through the long state of Texas, via San Antonio. About sunset we were just West of S.A. in the town of Boerne. [burn-ee]. We didn’t even slow down, snapped a couple sunset pics through the windscreen, and kept “picking them up and laying them down”. Driving all nite found us ready for breakfast at the Denny’s in El Paso, TX and a quick trip to Walmart for fresh 35mm film, then on the road for a sunrise just outside Las Cruses, NM as we headed to White Sands National Monument.

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Southwestern style buildings

Nici really wanted to experience this park, and I had never seen it either, so we agreed the “side trip” would be worth the delay. White sands are formed by wind and sun from the selenite crystals evaporated from the waters of Lake Lucero, a “playa” desert lake. To quote the Park Service handout– “Like a mirage, dazzling white sand dunes shimmer in the tucked-away Tularossa basin in southern New Mexico. They shift and settle over the Chihuahuan Desert, covering 275 square miles– the largest gysum dunefield in the world. White Sands National Monument preserves more than half of this oasis, its shallow water supply, and its plants and animals living there” The winds keep the sands in a drifting dunes area in the valley better known for the missile and nuclear bomb testing than the benign sand formations. We took a good number of photos and proceeded westward towards Arizona.

White SandsNM (2)

White Sands

Nici did her research, as usual, and found us a nice BnB in Chandler to stay for the two nights in the Valley, we arrived in time to nap a bit and then explore the East Valley area in search of a dining experience. The place we picked from Yelp reviews was called Grubstack, and it was located in downtown Gilbert, AZ. The area has been turned into a “foodie destination” with dozens of places all in one or two blocks with centralized parking and a considerable “party atmosphere”, folks out and about til late. [waiting until it cools off to venture outside]. A very nice meal and we were more than ready to get some much needed rest.

bill Judy wake

Erics pals

The “wake” was held at the local “Irish pub” that was Eric and Mel’s favorite hang out, the posters above were placed on easels in the room. Their friends were numerous and generous amounts of pot luck foods appeared as they came in on Saturday afternoon. Of course nobody mistook the “family resemblance” as they called it and expressed their regrets and condolences to “Eric’s Pops” and little sister. It was at times a bit hard to retain composure, especially when Melissa arrived and we reunited after over a decade. Eventually she and I “bore up” each other and mingled amongst the sizable crowd of well wishers. I am proud to say that Eric was known to be a honest and earnest man among his associates. That meant the world to me. Sean Ruetlinger, a long-time friend of the family flew in from Salt Lake City to be with us and we re-connected, went out for a bite together and then returned to the ongoing second shift of the Celebration. I was amused that it took 45 minutes for he and Nici to determine where we were to dine, as Sean is a trained chef, and Nici a definite “foodie”. We were not impressed with a wings shop, cant remember the name, but the dried out food was barely edible, and was cold. We returned to the pub for the “second shift” of friends, and a we bit of the foods. Finally fatigue took over and we said a tearful goodbye oto Melissa and Sean, returning to our B n B.

Sunday morning was a bit slow getting around, but we managed to get checked out on time and hit the highway to Sedona, AZ for the “photography expedition” part of our journey. Breakfast tacos at Del Rio in Cave Creek, then on to the land of the red rocks. Nici was hard pressed to keep moving, as the rock formations around Sedona are very appealing. The artsy, trendy, tourist town is one that merits a day long stay in and of itself, but we are on a short leash time wise and must push on up through the Oak Creek Canyon, into Flagstaff, west through Williams and north to the Grand Canyon.

sunset Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is of course an international travelers destination, and very crowded this time of year. The south rim area is 31 miles long and has certainly grown since my last visit back in late 1980’s!! Gone is the park of years gone by where we drove our own car out to the various overlook areas, you park and ride the shuttle bus services to various areas for viewing of the canyon, and the “marketplace” for shopping, entertainments, foods, interpretive presentations, the like. The shuttles were often, no long waits, but walking fairly long distances was more difficult as the day wore on for me, my legs are still not back to pre-injury condition. Nici took lots of photos, I took a few shots close by and waited patiently, visiting with other “tired Gramas and Grampas like me. Getting every frame she could, right down to the last wee bit of twilight, I finally got her to help me struggle the last 300 yard walk to the car, collapsing in the seat!! We then drove out of the park, due east into and across the Navaho reservation through open range where cattle, deer, and horses wandered on the roads until we arrived at Thunderbird Lodge in Chinle, AZ at the Canyon de Chelly National Park. It was 2 am local time! And we were exhausted!

We barely made check out time at 11am, but scooted out in time to enjoy some Navaho food for lunch at the lodge cafeteria. Nici thought it a bit bland, she had a “Navaho taco” which consists of a fry bread, topped with pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, and a wee bit of grated cheddar. I chose a red chili, hominy and mutton soup which included a fry bread side. The soup was not bland, but not “hot” with chili like I expected. The mutton was tender, but also a bit “blah” in flavor dept. Having taken our time to eat, we explored the trading post, admiring the numerous wool rugs, shawls, and wraps. Those that were hand woven by the locals were very pricey [$1100] compared to those “Made in USA” but with Chinese characters on another label tag?? Still about $275 average price for a “shawl”, some fantastic patterns were offered, in fact some looked like good basis for a southwestern “kokapelli” themed kite. We booked a guided “lorry” tour through the bottom of the canyon, and then drove out to the series of overlooks that rim the upper canyon, taking several pictures at each. Nici bought some painted slabs of flagstone from a local artist, three pieces for $10. The figure of Kokapelli was the theme of two of the stones.

Memorial Weekend

While most Americans are bustling about grilling, drinking, party making, and generally just “having a lark” there some who are seriously remembering what the day is all about.  

The following was sent to me by a friend, and I felt compelled to share it.

A large percentage of our country doesn’t know of, or care about Normandy.  A few weekends ago, British artist Jamie, accompanied by numerous volunteers, took to the beaches of Normandy with rakes and stencils in hand to etch 9,000 silhouettes into the sand, representing fallen soldiers.  Titled The Fallen 9000, the piece is meant as a stark visual reminder of those who died during the D-Day beach landings at Arromanches on June 6th, 1944 during WWII.  The original team consisted of 60 volunteers, but as word spread nearly 500 additional local residents arrived to help with the temporary installation that lasted only a few hours before being washed away by the tide. 
 9,000 Fallen Soldiers Etched into the Sand on Normandy Beach to Commemorate Peace Day. 

  What is surprising is that nothing about this was seen here in the U.S. 
Someone from overseas had a friend who sent it with a note of gratitude for what the U.S. started there. Please share with others who understand “freedom is not free — nor has it ever been”