Thursday, August 31, 2017


I don't mean these posts to be depressing and I hope you all don't take it like that. We just want to create a record of this unfolding disaster. 

The rains have stopped which is great news.

However, they are still rescuing people.

Another 30 or so claims today at work.

Tens of thousands of homes all across the city have been inundated. Apartments. Gas stations. Shopping centers. Grocery stores. Malls. Schools.  Hotels. Hospitals. Nursing homes. Office buildings. Police stations. Fire stations. Our downtown theater district. Restaurants.

Rich, poor, middle class, working class, retired, young, old, all people, this storm has spared no one in its devastation and loss. 

Rich, poor, middle class, working class, retired, young, old, all people, this storm has brought these same people together to help each other through this crisis and that warms our hearts.

There is flooding still to come in the areas they have evacuated so there will be thousands more homes that will flood in the coming days as water from the reservoirs is released to prevent failure. It is now flooding miles more of neighborhoods

The death toll, sadly, continues to climb with the latest including a family of six escaping their home and a police officer going in to work to help during the flood, both caught in high water, during the dark of night, in their vehicles.  The water receded and they found them.  We fear that will repeated often.

A chemical plant has been evacuated in a 2 mile radius because chemicals have been compromised that are literally in imminent danger of exploding.

Thankfully, in a bit of good news personally, the river near the farm has crested, we didn't flood, and the water around it is receding. 
Much relief with that news.

And then there's this...

Blue skies after Harvey
A beautiful sight indeed!

And no rain in the forecast, sunny and clear for a week at least.  Hope shines brightly once again!

Sleep beckons yet again...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Still rained yesterday but much more sporadic, further rainfall estimates now lowered, today should be better. 

Went to work in a building that had elevators out of service, plumbing was not working and no air conditioning. But duty calls!

At our office alone we took about 60 claims in one day, there will be more as people get to a phone.

Thousands still being rescued, more homes flooding as bayous and streams continue to rise.

We watched our local networks who are going 24/7 with coverage, it's just hard not to watch, and we shed a few tears on occasion. 

Our baseball stadium is housing jail inmates due to flooding at the downtown facility.

Our convention center was holding 5,000 evacuees but that swelled to 10,000 yesterday afternoon.

Our basketball arena began handling the overflow.

Our football stadium was added as a new refugee center late last night.

Our soccer stadium has now become the staging area for all donations.

A citywide curfew was put into place by our mayor: 
Midnight - 5:00am effective immediately.
 After rescues are completed, it will be changed to 10:00pm - 5:00am indefinitely.

Stores are reopening but many supply trucks cannot get through our flooded highways so most grocery stores are out of items such as bread, produce, meat and other perishables.  There are special truck convoys coming in today to restock. Currently a lot of stores have lines around the building and police/security only let in groups at a time. 

Scattered ATM's are down around town, stores can't take credit cards, so it's cash only at many places.

A water treatment plant has been shut down and a boil order is in place for those residents (not us).

Airports still closed, longest period since 9/11.

River near the farm is expected to crest this morning and it is completely cut off from all roads except one.

Did not volunteer, just too tired, but we did take over two contractor size bags of supplies, clothes, toiletries, etc.

The apocalyptic documentary continues.

And now, sleep beckons... 

Thank you ALL for the comments and emails of support for our city it is appreciated more than you know.  I'll catch up answering soon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Yesterday was still so bad with rain, the boss told us to stay home and not risk it.

They are still letting water out of reservoirs to prevent collapse but they now say they will flow over the top and flood even more homes.

Thousands more people still trapped and are being rescued into the darkness of night.

We had another 8"-12" of rain across the town.

A small sinkhole opened in a parking lot near the apartment.

The power went out for a bit (the first time).

There was an explosion at a building downtown 
(gas leak).

And, sadly, there is now a voluntary evacuation within a mile of the farm. 2nd Family has decided to stay, as the property is the highest in the area.

We're nervous about that.

Volunteering is rewarding but tiring...and government bureaucracy is a nightmare.

It was a long day.  

We feel like we're in a doomsday documentary.

Much needed sleep came early.

And today is back to work for me.

Monday, August 28, 2017


"This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced"
                             - National Weather Service statement 8/27/2017

The quote at the top was from the NWS yesterday afternoon. When even they don't know what to expect, we're in for some uncertain times ahead.  This is like being in the middle of an end of the world disaster movie.  The next few days will be chaotic, both professionally and personally...  

WORK: I will be one of the only people able to make it in to the office (peril of living close to work, ha) and of course, insurance customer service, well, you can imagine what THAT will be like this week. 2nd Man's office is closed due to high water and power issues so he will be working from home this week.  Today, as I set this to post, we are having another round of extremely heavy rain and the mayor just told everyone to stay home and do not get out onto the roads.  So I'm off at least one day this week.

AFTER WORK: 2nd Man and I have decided to volunteer at the George R. Brown convention center to help out with people who have been evacuated.  We watched Coast Guard and Army helicopters ferrying rescued people back and forth. They have turned it into a shelter and need help serving food, passing out supplies, etc. We'll wait for the heavy rains to stop and then we'll head over there.

We are so blessed to be OK in this horrific event and we are also blessed to have two homes.  It's only right that we give back to our community and help those who have nothing left.  

As for us, we had some scary times yesterday, two tornado warnings (of about 30 Sunday alone) that showed radar indicated rotation heading directly toward us. We grabbed the cats, pillows and blankets and went to the hallway laundry room in the apartment away from the windows. They both passed over without touching down but the sky was scary looking for a bit each time. As for the flooding, we can't see it from the building because we're on the high end of downtown, we have had to rely on the local news media and online info to see where it's flooding. There are also curfews in areas to keep traffic off the roads. Both airports closed.  All schools closed.  Evacuating some hospitals.  And now they are releasing water from two massive reservoirs that are in danger of failing. If they failed, the resulting flood would impact hundreds of thousands more people in the area.

 2nd Family is fine, waterlogged and mentally and physically worn out from all the weather and tornado warnings for the area out there.  Here is a picture of their front yard.  There has been about 14" of rain but it comes and goes so this is the extent of the flooding out there, so far anyway.  Fingers crossed.  

In Houston, we've had about 25" so far.  In about one day.  We are expecting about 25" more.

Yes, that would be 50" of rain...
I will keep you updated this week but it might be quick and/or sporadic at times, no time for farm stuff right now (will catch up on comments as time permits) 

Keep Houston in your thoughts, this is a disaster unfolding in the 4th largest city in the US affecting millions of people. 

No one really knows how this will all end...

Sunday, August 27, 2017


How do you come up with a word to describe something like what is happening?

When they say 30" of rain, you kind of think in the back of your mind "yeah, sure, there can't be that much rain" and maybe even if there was that much you still think "it wouldn't all come at once".

Last night, or I guess earlier this morning, we finally got to bed about 2am. Please know before you continue reading, we are safe, the pets are safe, even the cars are safe. The farm, well, we're hoping it's safe. Haven't been able to reach 2nd Family this morning but the radar shows there have been some breaks out there unlike Houston where it has just rained for almost 12 hours nonstop.  

Of course, as I type this now this morning, there is another tornado warning, once again including the area where the farm is.  

We spent hours watching the local news where we have had, as one news anchor said, "an apocalyptic amount of rain". The most common word being tossed around is "catastrophic" or "devastating".  

We're up now at 8am, watching the news as dawn is breaking on perhaps what will become the greatest disaster ever to hit our city.

I went to our city website where they have an interactive flood monitoring system and I screen captured this showing the official rainfall amounts across Harris County. Click to enlarge. Have you ever seen rain like this?  This is since LAST NIGHT.

Quite honestly, I've lived here 40 years, 2nd Man was born here, and other than a tropical storm named Allison way back in 2001 that also dumped an epic amount of rain (but nothing like this now), this is unlike anything we have EVER seen. They are rescuing people from rooftops, evacuating entire apartment complexes where water is going up to the second floor, cars underwater all over the city, roads flooded everywhere, the 911 system is so overloaded that people are asking for rescue via Twitter and Facebook.  Even one of our international airports has had to shut down due to flooded runways.  

Truly, we have never seen anything like this.

And it's going to keep raining most of the day today.  

And possibly for days more.

No words...

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Don't want to worry everyone. 

We made it through the night.  Not much wind to worry about in town other than flooded roads.  The farm however has had some gusts in the area to 65mph. We never lost power but did lose cable/internet for a bit which is why the late posting.

This is after landfall, early this morning.  I put an arrow to the general area of the farm. Very heavy rain and storms out there.

This animated GIF shows what they call the training effect. Look at the upper left where the Hurricane is. The Houston area is under that "band" that just keeps dumping rain on us.  Even though the storm moves a bit, because these bands rotate constantly,  they just keep pulling moisture up from the Gulf and dumping all of it on us. It will clear up for a bit and then become a torrential downpour. 

Here is the latest rainfall forecast.  

We are in the white and light pink area, so 24 inches of rain or more over the next few days, in addition to what has already fallen.  Potentially 40" in areas.  Several of our bayous are at bank level and in danger of flooding many areas of Houston.  The good thing, if there is one, is that the rain stops for a bit which will hopefully let the bayous do their job and flow water back out into the Gulf. 

2nd Family tells us we have had in excess of 5" of rain at the farm and some tree limbs down, but houses seem to be OK at this point. There have been so many tornado warnings at this point, we've lost count.  As I type this in fact, my phone alert just reported another tornado warning!

Our area dodged the worst part that is impacting Rockport, TX and cities around it right now (terrible catastrophe is being reported), but now they are talking about us having devastating flooding here over the next few days the likes of which have never been seen in our city. 

That is one prediction they can be wrong about.

It's going to be a long two or three days...

Friday, August 25, 2017


Here he is... 

This was last night.  

Quite has an eerie beauty, in a scary sort of way of course.  

Cat 2 storm as of this posting.  

Now forecast to be a Cat 3, possibly Cat 4 at landfall.  It's supposed to go in around Corpus Christie which is about 180 miles from here but the storm is 200 miles across. For those who asked, we are indeed on what is called "the dirty side".  See that second blob above the eye?  That's all heading straight for us.  

They are talking about FEET of rain now, instead of inches. There are some forecasts of 36 inches of rain....or three feet!  So far, unless there are some wobbles in the last hours (which does happen more often than not), we will not have the Cat 3 winds. 

We are supposed to experience tropical storm force winds for sure but some models we've seen show the hurricane force winds getting much closer to us. The one above for example. We're on the edge of where the red/orange meet and as we read that, there will be 60mph to 80mph winds in the area. 

It's great how far technology has come in both prediction and understanding, but it's still not set in stone.  Already they are saying that once it makes landfall, sometime tomorrow morning, it will hold in place, back out into the Gulf and then slide up the coast our direction and make landfall again (along with continual rain over the next few days).  

Lastly, some of you asked what job I do.  I'm not out IN the storm, thankfully, our boss is wonderful and lets us go home and/or stay home while it's dangerous. But then when it's over, I'm in the insurance business (not claims, thankfully) on the customer service side and we'll be busy, very busy, answering questions, turning in claims, explaining how policies work and what to do next step by step.

Hope we haven't bored you with these posts.  We figure for those in areas that don't deal with hurricanes, it might be interesting.  

Isn't Nature both amazing and scary?!

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Well, here we go!

We interrupt "Inspiration Thursday" for this update:

There is a Tropical Storm (potential Category 1 hurricane) heading our general direction.

This is one of the perils of living along the Gulf coast, you never know when these things will pop up, but at least we do have notice and can prepare.  This is the forecast path, you can see that even though it will "probably" make landfall to the Southwest of us, it's forecast to loop around and head right toward us.

We are good here in town, building is safe, windows are hurricane proof to 150+mph winds. We are also on the downtown electrical grid so the first priority in a widespread power failure is to get downtown back up and running. Our building also has a generator to supply temporary power so that’s good.  Lastly, no worries of flooding for us since we're several stories up and our cars are parked several floors up in the parking garage. 

As for the farm, not much we can do out there. The plants will get lots of water, hopefully not wash away, and of course the grass will grow like crazy making next weekend’s mowing insane I’m sure. Sigh. 

We have no livestock or animals to worry about so that's good and 2nd Family will keep an eye on things for us.  As they told us last night, rain they can handle, tornadoes, not so much. Tropical systems are notorious for spinning off small tornadoes. It has to do with the rotation of the storm, so we are hoping for none of that. If it remains a tropical storm, the winds are strong but not more than we sometimes get with a thunderstorm. If it gets up there close to or at a Cat 1 hurricane, then we will have 70+mph winds and that can definitely blow things around. 

See this chart? 

This is the rainfall estimate (as of yesterday). We are in the red area. That’s the 10”-15” estimate.  Some places are saying 20” of rain!  This will be spread over a few days but even still, that’s a dangerous amount of rainfall. Hoping that everything moves through quickly and drains away just as quickly.

The big unknown is that these storms are  notoriously unpredictable.  If it wobbles to the West, it's further away from us and maybe the heavy rain moves down the coast.  If it wobbles to the East it will be right on top of us and we'll get the rain AND worst winds AND the storm surge along the coast.

There he is. Tropical Storm Harvey. LOTS of rain and stormy weather.  Needless to say, barring some crazy unforeseen weather miscalculation that pushes it elsewhere, we will not be at the farm this weekend. We’ll just watch the weather unfold from the windows in our perch safely above downtown.

I"ll catch up with comments this weekend when we are housebound.  I have been busy with work (remember, insurance biz, this is our time, ha) so keep commenting, we appreciate it!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Even on the farm in the blazing heat of Summer, we have some color.  It's hit and miss, but it's there.

Lantana carnival
The happy multicolored lantana...

Yellow marigolds
The bright yellow of these marigolds...

The deep red of the pentas...

Orange marigold
More marigolds this time in orange...

Texas Lilac
And this purple of the Texas lilac (vitex)...

Now we just need to multiply all this by tenfold, ha. We do have more lantana planted in the flowerbeds and a few pentas, and of course several vitex scattered around, but we need more, lots more. Next year might have to be the "year of color" at the farm.  

For now, we'll take what we can get!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Here are the photos we captured yesterday.  

No, they don't come close to the breathtaking pictures from the areas that had totality, but it's fun to share what we had here in this spot in Texas.

Houston Eclipse 2017
2nd Man took this picture from his work.

They used binoculars (that's why there are two), holding them up toward the sky and letting the sunlight come through onto the ground below.

Sort of like the cardboard box pinhole method.  

Houston Eclipse
Then I did this at my office. I snapped a few pictures by sticking my phone out over the railing, face up, and putting it in selfie mode.  I snapped the pictures then came back in to look at them.  The sun was pretty in all of them but then I noticed the little white spot in all the photos...

...and zoomed in.

Turns out my phone ended up reflecting the sun/moon eclipse onto the ceiling of the walkway and I sort of got a reverse version of the pinhole effect. 
Pretty cool!

Houston had 66.7% of the sun blocked out.  It was like an overcast day but the shadows were in the wrong places.  That part was very eerie.  For example, I walked out to the sidewalk that is always in sunshine and it was in the shade. Then just looking around, things seemed "different". Amazing how we get used to things we don't realize we've paid attention to and recorded to memory. I can't even fathom how people reacted hundreds or thousands of years ago when these celestial events occurred. 

Very neat to witness indeed...  

So this ends the 2017 Eclipse-mania around the country and now we prepare for...

Eclipse-mania 2024!

This time it moves across Texas, not far from the farm!  We may just have to make the short drive when it happens and experience totality.  
God willing all is still good in 7 years! 

I'll leave you with this quote we saw online...

Eclipse 2017 is a great reminder that all darkness is only temporary...

Monday, August 21, 2017


Not sure if a photo can show the heat but it was hot on Saturday.

How hot?

This is when I left.  2pm.  97 degrees.  Feels like 111.  We reached an official high of 101 and the feels like made it to 118.  

August...the month of doing as little as possible.

So with that motive in mind, I edged but skipped mowing for this week...

I watered everything deeply, including the flowerbeds and fruit trees...

Raised bed
I cleaned out a raised bed in the garden.

That was more than the least possible but I need to start getting ready for Fall garden planting.  So I did this one and one more.  Still have to clean out the giant basil plant bed but that will have to wait for the next time.  I got this straw removed and then turned the soil. Didn't get a picture of that though, not walking back to the garden after forgetting the camera WAS the least possible in that moment, ha 

Eggplant harvest
Here's what may be the final harvest of the Spring/Summer season.  There are also more jalapeños under all that purple, ha.  

And of course we would be remiss if we didn't mention that today is Eclipse day.  We are in an area where we will get a 66.7% totality with the decrease in sunlight peaking at 1:16pm. 

There is a cool LINK HERE that shows what you'll see and at what time based on your zip code. 


If you are in the direct path, come back and post a comment about what it was like. The next one is in 2024 and it will pass over Texas...

Hope your weekend was cooler and more productive!

Sunday, August 20, 2017


It's hot. 

Officially 101.  

Feels like 118.

I did the LEAST AMOUNT POSSIBLE YESTERDAY (more on the Monday weekend update).

Today we are staying in town inside with the A/C.  2nd Man spent the day yesterday making some homemade bread.  He made two loaves.  

We ate some last night with dinner and then this morning...

...he sliced it up and made some French Toast for breakfast.  

French Toast
It was good (with some special Pennsylvania maple syrup over the top).  Now we just stay inside and watch movies all day.  Dinner tonight will be a Shepherd's Pie.  I'm OK with that.  

Stay cool and eat well, that's what we always say.

Friday, August 18, 2017


Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock, where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found several cool items so far.

This was the latest find.  
OK, so it's a wine bottle, no big deal?

Well here it is next to a REGULAR size wine bottle!  Yep, this is what I believe they call a "Magnum" of wine (or maybe it's even bigger than a magnum?).

I routinely see wine bottles downstairs (if I ever need any for a project there are lots available) but this one was was just SO enormous, I couldn't pass it up. I'm not sure what we'll do with it but I'm sure I'll find something fun someday!  I don't want to think back and go "dang, I should have kept that bottle I saw that time". 

Without having to drink a magnum of wine of course...or maybe that's not a bad thing, ha.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Stock tank pond, image via
This is not anything we will do right away, but when we saw this, we were definitely intrigued.  Using a galvanized stock tank as a pond is a pretty cool idea. A great way to have a pond/water feature without all the digging, etc.  

We'll have to do some more research but we think this is a definite "keeper" for our "someday" list of things to do at the farm. Side note, must have some of those retro chairs, they SO remind me of my childhood Summers with my Grandparents...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Here's something we love, especially on "Taco Tuesday" ha.  

Pico de Gallo vegetables
We start with a large lime, some tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro and an onion. These were (the tomatoes and jalapeños and cilantro anyway) fresh from our garden at the time I took these pictures.

These are the ingredients in Salsa Fresca, or Pico de gallo as it's also called in Tex-Mex cuisine.

Browned ground beef
We brown a pound or so of ground beef and drain it.  Add a little salt and pepper and dash of cumin (all seasonings are optional, use what you like).

Charred vegetables
I missed the picture prior to this, but we toss these veggies into/on a hot pan/griddle to get a nice char on them. No oil, just a really hot pan. It definitely brings out the flavor.  You could roast it all in the oven too, whatever you prefer. Once this step is done, dice everything into smaller pieces. 

Add the charred, diced tomatoes to the seasoned meat and stir over medium low heat.

Then add the onions and continue stirring for a couple of minutes more or until they start to soften.

The next to the last step is to add the chopped jalapeños and stir, continuing to heat on medium low.

Ground beef with salsa
Finally, add the chopped up cilantro and stir.  To this mixture, we also squeezed the juice of one large lime.  This is an important step, it really brightens the overall flavors, so don't miss it. 

Pico de Gallo beef tacos
Spread the mixture onto a tortilla and you are done. This night, we used soft corn tortillas.  Of course you could use flour or even crunchy taco shells.  We like to change it up a bit each time.  These are topped with Queso Blanco cheese, also know as Mexican crumbling cheese. You can use any cheese you enjoy.

Salsa Fresca beef tacos
Fold them over and eat.  YUM!  They are so good.  You can add anything to this, guacamole, hot sauce, more cheese, whatever you want extra. We like them simple on occasion and this is definitely simple.