Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Roughing It in Paradise

On the heels of last week’s 12-inch snowstorm came another yesterday. This snow, wet and heavy, weighed down the branches of every tree.

One old locust lost a large limb, neatly dropping the main part into the crotch of a big hackberry, but strewing a tangle of branches across our driveway.

I started preparing a hearty breakfast to fortify Dennis against tree-removal labor to come. Just as I finished shaping a batch of biscuits, the electricity flickered and went out. I switched the biscuits to a large skillet and baked them on top of the wood stove. They had to be turned to brown on both sides, so they turned out more like English muffins, but they tasted fine with eggs boiled on the wood stove.

Dennis wore his headlamp to the basement and brought up the old percolator. We heated a kettle of water for dishwashing and made coffee. The gadget on the left is an Ecofan. It is powered by the heat of the stove and helps distribute heat farther into the back part of the house.

A neighbor came with his chain saw to help Dennis clear the driveway. He came back later on his tractor to plow a path through our long driveway. Things were looking up.

Later I made a pot of soup on the wood stove and invited Laurie and Greg, who didn’t have electricity either, to join us for a hot supper by lamplight. I had planned to bake corn cakes on the wood stove to go with the soup and cole slaw, but just before our guests arrived, the electricity came back on, so I made cornbread in the electric oven.

This experience makes us realize even more our extreme dependency on electricity. I'm glad we heat with wood, which keeps the house from freezing and allows primitive cooking. I'm glad we have good neighbors, headlamps, oil lamps, candles and a good supply of firewood. But how I would love to have a wind turbine in the pasture!

Do you realize how vulnerable we all are?

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Long Road Home

It was a long road home. We left behind our view of the East Bay,

Crossed the causeway from Galveston to Houston,

Survived the Houston traffic, and headed for Burleson and evening.

We took refuge with Bob and Chas, who are raising orphan triplet kids. The larger two drink from bottle holders.

The tiny one, just half as big as her siblings, has the privilege of being hand-fed.

Early the next morning we got onto I35 and traversed the labyrinth of Fort Worth,

passed through the red, red dirt of Oklahoma,

whizzed by the snowy Flint Hills north of Wichita,

left I35 when we saw the welcome sign for U.S. 59,

turned off Highway 59 onto country roads,

pulled into our driveway, which a neighbor had plowed, and found, to our delight, that Laurie and Greg had shoveled a path to our front door.

It’s mighty good to be home, a place like no other.

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Galveston Lemonade

When Hurricane Ike’s storm surge engulfed Galveston Island many of the city’s stately old live oak trees were uprooted. Later, exposure to the salty water killed many others. Some of the dead trees were simply cut down and hauled away, but a few homeowners decided that, having been given lemons, they would make lemonade.

Several chain-saw artists were summoned to turn dead trees into sculptures. Today, Nancy and I took a driving tour to see the art.

The largest and most elaborate is on Sealy Street. It features various waterbirds such as herons and roseate spoonbills as well as frogs and butterflies. Here’s Nancy standing beside it.

The most whimsical sculpture is this pointer standing on hind legs with paws resting on the fence.

Today the dog was wearing a Texas A&M ball cap.

Nancy and I judged this sculpture of two herons to be the most beautiful.

The homeowners have posted a sign explaining that the inside of their house had four feet of water in the first-floor rooms. The sign explained that the artist created the herons in one afternoon using three sizes of chain saws and a chisel.

Thanks to the Galvestonians who, having weathered many storms, know how to make great lemonade and share it with passersby. 

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Friday, February 15, 2013

Birds, Books and Bread

My friend Pam sent a message saying that I seem happier at home than here in Galveston.  It’s true that I have been disappointed this winter. I had looked forward to walking the beach every clement day. Vigorous exercise in salty air is my main purpose in coming here. Sad to say, my body wasn’t up to it. My left ankle swelled and reddened with inflammation every time I took a beach walk. Finally, about two weeks ago, I quit trying.

Being in this lovely place but unable to fully enjoy it is difficult. I’ve been restless, feeling cooped up and mistrustful of my failing bones. Times like these are a test of character, I believe. What does one do when one’s expectations do not become reality? The Navajo principle of being in harmony with reality comes to mind.

Finding joy in the possible instead of longing for the impossible seems to be the solution. I watch the water birds in the bay and canals. I bake bread and have altered the recipe to fit into a loaf pan. I read books that take me away in time and place. Yesterday I went to Fair Isle, Scotland, an island very different from Galveston. I’m going back there today.

I’m biding my time, resting my foot, waiting to get home and see my foot specialist. In the meantime, it’s birds, books and bread for me.

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Gee Whiz!

A landline telephone is important to me because I don’t hear well on a cell phone. When the house phone here quit working, AT&T’s repair person gave me bad news: repairs would take a few days.

Much to my surprise, a backhoe and crew of four arrived the next morning to make repairs. As the backhoe set to work my suspicion that Galveston is made entirely of sand was confirmed.

I was astonished when the hole began to fill with water. To a drought-hardened Kansan, the notion that a water table could be so close to the surface was almost unbelievable.

Gee whiz!

The phone line was repaired before noon.

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Friday, February 8, 2013

Going in Circles

Some canal homeowners install fishing lights, green underwater bulbs that glow from the canal depths. I took this photo at 6:30 a.m.

As the day brightens, the lights fade away, but night brings the them to prominence.

I suppose the purpose of these rather eerie beacons is to attract fish so that people can catch them. Funny thing, though, I’ve never seen anyone fishing the canals at night. I’ve never seen anyone fishing the canals at all except my brother, who was unsuccessful in catching anything.

The lights, however, sometimes provide a show for a person watching from a deck nearby. Last night I stood entranced by a school of little fish swimming in endless circles around a fishing light. It was a display worthy of the Monterey Aquarium in California.

I’m going in circles, too, trying to find my center while counting the days until I can go home. In fact, I’m more there than here. I miss Dennis, Annie and the chickens. I miss my house, my grocery store, my routine.

Thanks to the fishing lights for a pleasant distraction from my longing. Thanks to the little fish who swim around them, going in circles just like me.

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gull Friends

Linda, Cheryl and I went to the beach to offer the gulls shrimp shells from last night’s supper. When we arrived, all seemed serene.

When Cheryl opened the shrimp shell bag, the scene instantly changed. A crowd of eager beaks gathered, vying for the best position.

Cheryl dispensed the shells a few at a time. The gulls waited hopefully for each dispensation.

One gull seemed suspicious of the photographer.

Ninety-five percent of the seashells have vanished from the beach and I haven’t seen a single crab this year. I miss the crabs and the signs of their furious digging in the sand, as shown in this old photo.

Just three years ago the crabs were plentiful. Now there are none.

Thank goodness my gull friends are still here.

Copyright 2013 by Shirley Domer