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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Monday, September 29, 2008

TX 0908 6

Although we are home now, I wanted to finish the narration of the trip and this post brings us to that point.

The day was still Monday, Sept 22nd, and we were in the shopping center located in Pearland, TX. The area is not a mall but a retro area that somewhat mimics the downtown shopping of years ago, with shops on both sides of the street and down the side streets. Many of the shops were still under construction but it will be almost like a small town when they are completed – with condos on the floors over the shops and a hotel in one section.

Toward the end of our shopping adventure the young ones and I went to a toyshop in which they were allowed to play with toys in certain areas. OD and the Spice were finishing their last shop and later met us at the toy store to go to Red Robin Restaurant for supper. After this we made the 30-40 minute trip back to OD’s home and this old guy sat for a spell, weary of meandering on merciless concrete sidewalks and hard floors.

Tuesday dawned – our last full day in Texas – and the day started with the ladies having to make a trip out to the grocery, GM5 and I stayed to hold down the home front. Later in the day I finished up the main projects I wanted to get done – replacing three light fixtures – and then did a couple of minor ones not on the list. With the exception of FSIL – still on a business trip – we all had supper together and crashed for the night.

We arose on Wednesday Sept 24th – our return home day – to finish the packing started the night before. We were all ready by the time OD returned from taking GM2 to school so we loaded up and headed for the Houston-Hobby airport. The trip took a little longer than usual because as we were coming into Houston most of the traffic signals were still not working due to power outages.

We arrived at the airport, unloaded, said our sad goodbyes and went to check our bags. This was a breeze and even the annoying security checkpoint was not bad. We went to our gate and waited for our departure time to come into reality. Loading and departure of the plane was on time and we arrived in Atlanta without serious incident. We had a half hour wait after we found our gate to depart for Augusta.

Our flight to Augusta was on a turbo-prop “puddle jumper” and somewhat noisy. We hit a few pockets of rough air and seemed to be on an amusement park ride but we made the trip safely. We deplaned and headed for the baggage claim – and our bags were there! That part always makes me happy. YD was coming to get us but was delayed by school traffic – it didn’t matter, we were almost home!!

She came shortly and took us home. It had been a grand adventure but these two old folks were glad to sleep in our bed that night. God was good to us all through the whole trip and I am thankful. ec

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TX 0908 5

Sunday arrived and as always it was a day of worship despite the fact that the electrical power to OD and FSIL’s church had been knocked out by Ike and had not been restored as yet. They had received word that only one morning service would take place, so we readied ourselves and attended. To our surprise the church was almost totally full and much gratitude was expressed to God for His protection and care during the storm.

It was a time of singing, reading of scripture, prayer and information about opportunities for helping their neighbors with cleanup and the distributing of food and such – the type things churches should be doing. The service was a flashback to my youth when churches did not have air-conditioning and many in the audience had hand fans in an effort to keep themselves cool – back then the fans were advertisements for funeral parlors.

We went back to their home, had lunch and then had family stuff the rest of the day. Whether a family is close or not, it’s possible to improve relationships with time together – if that is what is desired by all parties. The day passed and it soon became time to crash for the night – it somewhat crashed on me that we only had just a short time left to be with them before we went back to our own stomping grounds.

With the passage of what seemed like a few moments it became Monday morning – Sept 22nd – and with a bit of effort, I arose, broke the fast and got the day cranked – at a low speed. OD had to make a trip to the doc with GM5 for a terrible cough he has had for a few days. The doc found no infections and prescribed a cough med to settle down the hacking of the little one.

After they returned, OD and I went to Lowe’s for a part to repair the sink drain and to get the meds for GM5. We were able to get the part but the meds were not on hand at the places we went. When we got back I started on drain repairs and OD called around and finally found an independent drug store that had the meds prescribed for GM5. She retrieved the meds, happy to find another source for med needs.

After repairing the sink drain I replaced a light fixture in the den area. Keep in mind that the projects I do to help out are at my request and are a satisfying part of the trip. The lady folks had already determined that the afternoon was to be a shopping time for all and had further determined that I should accompany them. This was not necessarily the best part of the trip for me but it did enable me to be with the family.

FSIL had to leave on a business trip as we were leaving for our shopping. GM2 is still out of school due to the hurricane and resultant power outages – she is due to start back on the morrow – Tuesday. While they were shopping I mostly held down the benches along the sidewalk, at least until we got to Macy’s. They were in the clothes sections and I wandered off to house wares.

Checking out pots and pans, blenders, mixers, crock pots and such has a limited amount of interest to me and finally a salesclerk directed me to the comfortable seating area in the men’s department that just happened to contain a large TV as well. Another man was already there and we conversed at great length and although we were from different backgrounds, we found much in common concerning families and relationships.

Real wealth is measured in relationships and not material “stuff” – God first, then family and others. ec

Sunday, September 21, 2008

TX 0908 4

Thursday, September 18th came into being in the normal ways with things slowly getting back to somewhat normal. About midday OD and I took off to make efforts at restocking their fridge – the Spice stayed with the young ones – FSIL had to go back to work. Many areas in the city still do not have power but the roadways are mostly clear of debris. We had heard that Kroger had power and we went to get what we could.

That was one crowded place but they did have re-stocked produce, dairy and limited frozen food departments. We were able to get the essentials and most of everything else on her list. While we were grocery shopping the Spice was scrubbing out the fridge to receive the new supply of perishable food products. The schools and most businesses are closed due to lack of power. Only 25% of the area and 14% of the city had power today.

We were able to get some ground beef and OD cooked up some lasagna for supper, the first home-cooked meal we have had since before Sept 10th. While we didn’t go hungry, home cooking is just better – the lasagna was yummy. Friday dawned and FSIL had to work again – about mid-day OD and I went back out to Lowe’s to get some supplies and hardware to complete needed fix-it projects around their house.

We got back home and I completed a couple of projects when it became time to make a banana pudding for supper. OD had prepared meat to grill and we had oriental burgers for the evening meal. I finished the pudding and put it in the oven to brown the meringue about the time the burgers were grilled. After the topping was brown we went out on the screened in porch to eat our burgers and salad.

We then had the pudding for dessert and it certainly was the best one that I have ever made – at least on that day. Even after at least two of us had second helpings, there was enough to have some for breakfast – hopefully I will be able to sleep with that wonderful prospect on my mind all night.

Saturday dawned into the pages of recorded history whilst I slept and subtlety greeted me upon my awakening. After breaking the fast and clearing the cobwebs FSIL and I went out to repair their damaged fence gate. We got it repaired as best we could without going into major operations and came back into the house since the weather was hot and humid – and also very sweaty, OK, the people were the sweaty ones.

FSIL and I then replaced three light fixtures and were doing well with our chores until the Georgia – Arizona football game came on and most all ceased but that – we did get the fixtures installed though. It was a good day of the family being together. God invented the family and I’m glad He did. ec

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TX 0908 3

9-17-08: Since Sunday the weather has been beautiful, with clear skies and a somewhat moderated temp in the Dallas area. We decided that we had enough of Dallas and FSIL and I packed up his truck with all the larger luggage and stuff and headed south toward their home territory. The further south we got, the more damage was evident along the highway. Mainly signs were blown down, limbs broken and some whole trees uprooted.

We passed one apartment complex in which a large tree had fallen and crushed one side of a building. All this made us a bit apprehensive as to the condition of the home place. When we pulled into the driveway no damage was evident other than many small limbs scattered over the yard. The first thing we checked was the roof for damage but we didn’t even see a loose shingle. The power was back on and all the appliances were working.

The first thing to be done was to clean out the freezer and fridge – the garbage man was passing by so we hurried and got all the freezer stuff and gave to them. We then cleaned up the front yard and piled the limbs at the curb. FSIL was then going to mow the yards but had no gas, so we cleaned out the fridge and he took it to a pickup point and got gas for the truck and mower. Fortunately he found a station with no lines.

As we came down from Dallas we started noticing that past a certain point the gas stations were either closed or had long lines – one queue was even wrapped around a large parking lot. Our theory on this was that many of those in the lines were evacuees and folks around Houston and by the time we got down as far as Lake Jackson – their town – most all the traffic was local folks with very few just passing through.

By the time the ladies and young ones arrived all the yards had been cleaned up and mowed, the freezer and fridge were cleaned out of the stinky food and the table and lawn furniture were back in the screened-in porch. We then got all the stuff out of their van – pictures and such as well as luggage. A little later we picked up pizza for supper since most restaurants were closed and a limited amount of grocery stores were open.

We closed the day out very grateful for the protection of God for us and their property. A couple of shrubs were laid on the ground but we pulled them back up and staked them in place. Minor damage to their fence gate is repairable and will be fixed by the weekend. The evidence is in; God is good, all the time. TBC ec

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TX 0908 2

Wed PM, Sept 10th. We – OD, GM5, the Spice and I – were in their fully packed-out van headed north. We kept in touch with FSIL and GM2 by cell phone; they later caught up with us and we followed them on to our destination in the Dallas area. He had a GPS device in his truck and it guided us straight to our place of abode for the next unknown length of time – TowneHouse Suites by Marriott in Irving, TX – a suburb of Dallas.

We got checked into two separate rooms across the hall from each other and later went out for a bite to eat. We were keeping a constant check on the weather and the closer the storm came, the nearer it was to the center of the town in which OD and crew reside. We finally crashed for the night, happy to have a good bed in which to sleep. Next morning we went down for the limited hot breakfast that was included in the price.

They had a waffle iron that made a sort of Belgium waffle in the shape of the state of Texas. After watching several waffles being made I tried it myself and it turned out fairly well with one problem. The waffle was perfect except for the fact that a corner of it was missing – the corner that represented the area in which Houston was located – the area the storm was supposed to hit. OD’s town was also in the missing piece.

Was this an ominous portent of events to come? Maybe it was a ‘battered’ warning from the waffle iron? Or was it simply a half-baked prophecy? No photos were made, I just smiled, shared this oddity with a few and ate the slightly incomplete waffle with relish – actually with strawberries – and it was quite good. Sometimes a bit of light-heartedness helps in times of real concern.

The days seemed to go quickly by with various trips around the area – for necessary shopping and to various restaurants. The worst thing to me and most likely to them was the uncertainty of what they would find when they returned home – concerning structural and/or water damage to their home.

We met several families that were evacuees and each morning at breakfast we would speak of their status, especially after the hurricane made land fall. Several of them were from Beaumont, TX and it seems that the town was hit pretty badly. They were thinking that it would probably be several weeks before they could go back to their homes because of electrical outages but some of them left this morning – Tuesday, September 16.

It seems that they lived in the same electrical grid as the mayor, superintendent of schools, etc. They were still concerned about water damage in their homes but they wanted to get started with the clean-up. FSIL got word that from all evidence their house was in good shape when viewed from the road. We got further word today that the power in their neighborhood came on as well. We are leaving for their home tomorrow.

FSIL and I are leaving early in the morning - Sept 17th - with a fully loaded truck to try to get back and start whatever cleanup there might be, with the lady folks and young ones to start out a little later. We are hoping for the best but will have to face whatever is there. Still in all, God is good, all the time. TBC ec

Monday, September 15, 2008

TX 0908

For several months the Spice and I had been looking forward to a trip to Texas to see OD and family. We had our flight reservations for some time and were hoping for a snag-free trip. Since we have been making these treks several objects of trepidation and/or irritation have emerged. One is whether or not we will have a plane waiting for us to depart for Atlanta – this because we had one previous flight cancelled.

Another was if all of our luggage would arrive in Houston, TX on the same flight with us – because one trip they didn’t. Then there was the irritation of delayed or changed flights – all of these so far have been the leg of the trip between Augusta and Atlanta. The delayed flight thing almost happened to us but we checked in on line and discovered the schedule change. After this close call the trip was as they said it would be.

If these minor/semi-major items were the only issues involved in this trip, it would have been a breeze – but then hurricane Ike raised his ugly head. The closer the date for our departure came, the more this storm loomed toward Texas. But we decided that even though we may have to evacuate with them we would go. Even up to the eve of the trip OD was in doubt as to whether they would have to head for parts of Texas further north.

About 2am on our morning of departure (Sept 10) we learned that they would indeed have to evacuate but we decided to go anyway to be with them and maybe help them clean up after the storm. BIL took us to the airport – our flight from Augusta was on time and we landed in Atlanta without a hitch. We only had a short wait for the flight on to Houston and that too was safe and uneventful except for a few bumps due to rough air.

We had deplaned in Houston and were on our way to the restroom when Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel – and his cameraman – walked right by us. They had been on our flight but we had not seen them until all had deplaned – they were in first class. I had seen the tall guy with the large video camera but didn’t know who he was. We saw Cantore a couple of days later on their channel – he was broadcasting from Galveston Island.

We had called OD as soon as we landed and she was on the way to the airport. The Spice picked us up a bite to eat and we met in the luggage pickup area where I had retrieved our checked bags. We had just finished our snack when OD arrived to get us. We loaded our stuff in her van, departed and headed north to safer territory. GM5 was with her and FSIL and GM2 had packed and left later in their pickup truck – with their two dogs.

We knew when we left home that this visit would be quite an adventure and also knew that God is good – all the time. TBC ec

PS - As you may have guessed computer access has been spotty - we are still in a hotel with no promise of when we can return to their home. We did get word that their house was relatively uneffected as viewed from the street.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


As I look around this world is in one big mess.

The words formed in my mind – “You can change the world for the better”.

My mind seemed to whine back – How can I change the world when I have days that I can’t even get my own act together?

The words came back – “You already have everything you need to change the world”.

How can that be, I really don’t have that many talents or abilities?

“I am not looking for ability but availability – your availability to Me”.

How can You really use me, I’ve made so many mistakes and failed so many times?

“No matter the mistakes, the failures or the downfalls – what matters is that you get up and try again”.

How will I know what to do?

“Have you tried reading the Instructions?”

I have read the Instructions but I need someone close to talk to – to explain them so I can better understand.

“But I have already said in the Instructions that all you have to do is to come close to Me and I will come close to you”.

Yes Lord, thank You for that reminder. ec

Friday, September 05, 2008


For a couple of days this last week the Spice and I helped a single Mom move. In the process of this move I have shown several misjudgments in the areas of known scientific rules and principles. These had to do with the fact that no two physical objects can be in the same space at the same time.

In the most serious of the mishaps, the two objects in play were the top of the doorway of my van and my head – this happened several times during loading and unloading operations. In other incidences one object remained the same – my head – and the other object changed according to the space that the rest of my body was occupying.

One of these was the top of the closet doorframe while I was helping install a shelf. Another was the top of the window frame while I was installing blinds. Each of these left an “impression” on me and let me know that I could actually grow something on my head, even if it’s nothing but scabs and scars.
The water level of the pond is down again to the point that the islands of the stump have once again emerged. We have received a few rains during the summer; enough to help keep my garden going fairly well but not the long soaking precipitation sufficient to maintain proper pond levels.

Speaking of the garden, I picked a bag of the worst looking tomatoes of the season. They still taste good but there is a lot of waste in the trimming of cracks, spots and such. I also picked a half-dozen cucumbers – which is six more than I expected. At my first opportunity the rest of the squash are to be pulled up and I’m letting the rest of the okra go to seed for next year.
I had previously juiced the muscadines and stored the juice in the fridge downstairs - today was the day for the making of jelly. Working with only two stove burners, I sterilized the jars and put the juice on to boil – in the process adding sugar and pectin (Sure-Jell). Somehow I had a premonition that I was going to make a mess but just didn’t know how big it would be.

The container of juice and other ingredients was really too full so I was watching it carefully to keep it from boiling over. I turned to the sink for just a moment and this was the moment it picked to boil over – on the stove, in the burner and even some on the floor. I was not a happy camper but I got it all situated, turned the burner down and continued the process – cleaning up what I could at the time.

Anyway, I came out with seven pint jars of jelly and some leftover to put in the fridge for first eating. I got a taste of the jelly when I ate the foam I skimmed off and it tasted pretty good to me. I had made pickles years ago but this was my first successful jelly venture. I smiled when I heard the first couple of them pop to the sealed position – checking later, they had all sealed.

It may have been cheaper to buy jelly but where is the adventure and sense of accomplishment in that? This summer has been quite an adventure but I continue to realize that God alone is good! ec