Experiencing the seasons

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We’re past the middle of October and fall is in full swing; the wait is over.   Pumpkins on the porch, football teams are winning and loosing, and we’ve had that first “cool” front that brings a deep blue sky and cooler days. I always enjoy watching the seasons change and find myself anticipating each one.

I’ve always thought the seasons are much like life in that the seasons of nature and the seasons of inner or spiritual growth that we experience are very similar. Let’s take a look:

When our spirits are in the season of winter there is a quietness much like the stillness of a cold winter day. Or, perhaps the spirit has been laid bare much like the trees that are leafless. This is when we find ourselves drawing within and contemplating our true self, the inner self.

The season of spring begins slowly in our hearts as we emerge from the cold of winter. Our hearts quickly open and fill rapidly with new understanding and maybe a sense of a new direction to follow.  Remember that first is the bud, then the bloom and then the full, open flower in this season.

The long days of summer filled with activities that stretch late into lingering sunsets are much like the pleasant days when your spirit is content and moving from one day to the next with a sense of direction.  The growth of spring has given a sense of purpose to life that has blossomed.

The colors of fall come as the summer foliage begins to look a little tired. Fall is associated with the harvest season and so it is with the spirit.  The long shadows in the afternoon offer an invitation to reflect on the season of growth and where our spirit will move next on the journey.

Right on time

Week before last I headed east for my annual trip to the excellent dog show in Jackson, Mississippi.  After a long day of driving I had been thinking that I was going to get to Jackson much later than I had planned.  Actually, I was right on time to see a lovely sunset over the Mississippi River in Vicksburg.  And, for a bonus, a river barge being pushed down the river slid by while I was making pictures.  I wasn’t late at all!

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Eleanor’s Faith

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Both President Trump and Texas Governor Gregg Abbott have declared September 3, 2017 as a Day of Prayer following the destruction of the Texas Gulf Coast and Houston area after Hurricane Harvey last week.  There has been much praying already for these areas and I am hopeful that this Day of Prayer will remind people how important it is to pray.

Eleanor Roosevelt was not only the First Lady during a difficult time for our nation, but she was also a powerful humanitarian and lobbied for human rights until the time of her death. She and President Roosevelt believed in doing everything they could to help others who were less fortunate. She was also a woman of faith. In his book Eleanor and Franklin Joseph P. Lash writes the following about her:

Fundamentally Eleanor was neither stateswoman, politician, nor feminist.  She was a woman with a deep sense of spiritual mission.  Like Saint Theresa, she not only “had a powerful intellect of the practical order” but was a woman of extravagant tenderness and piety.  There was always some prayer in her purse to recall her to her Christian vocation.  Christ’s story was a drama that re-enacted itself repeatedly in her thoughts and feelings.  Amid the worldliness, the pomp, and the power of Washington she managed to hold vivid and intimate communion with Christ with a child’s innocence and simplicity.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16b NIV

Harvey, where are you going?

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retrieived from the National Hurricane Center website 25 August 2017

This is not a post that I intended to do, it’s just happening.  We’re waiting on Hurricane Harvey to arrive, but we’re not sure where he’s going.  I don’ think he is either! With each update the path seems to change.  Regardless, South Texas is ready and we are waiting.

I just had a flashback to tracking hurricanes on a paper chart during the late 1980’s and through the 1990’s.  I always used a pencil that could be erased, although I left the marks for Hurricane Andrew as I had tensely charted it knowing that hubby could be in it’s path.  It would change it’s path and become a Category 5 hurricanne bringing terrible destruction.  I would wait for each update with paper chart and pencil ready.  My source was either the local news or the Weather Channel.  Long before the NHC and NWS were always a click away.

I had another flashback to 1969 when we were visiting my grandparents north of Jackson, Mississippi that August. I was a young teenager and oblivious to any tropical storm in the Gulf; I was just loving my time with my grandparents. When my mother suddenly went into packing mode and announced that I needed to get my things together I was puzzled as to why we were heading home.  The response was that Daddy had been watching a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico and thought it best for us to head home.  It was a good decision because had we waited we would have been riding out Hurricane Camille, also a Category 5 hurricane.

September 1961:  we had just returned from overseas, drove cross country in our little Volkswagen Beetle arriving in San Antonio Texas to settle into our new home.  We were greeted by Hurricane Carla, a Category 3 storm.  I can still remember the relentless rain and trying to get in and out of the car.

Final memory, only I don’t remember this one.  My mother and her small daughter rode out Hurricane Audrey in Alexandria Louisiana; my father had been tapped to fly out an airplane to a safer base.  Save the plane, please.  My mother accepted it as part of being a military wife and having grown up experiencing hurricanes. She reminded me of having done this when Hurricane Katrina was approaching and told me the wild story of driving to the store in the pre-hurricane rains to get milk and ice. When Daddy was able to get back to the base they evacuated for 2 weeks only to come home to several inches of water in their house. Yes, they rode out Katrina!

So Harvey, where are you and what are you going to bring? Today I watch on the internet to find out where hurricanes are, I see live pictures on television and the web cams. Accurate forecasting keeps me informed even if the storm seems to wander. Times have changed, but hurricanes still bring their destruction and are not to be ignored.

The Pit – and beyond

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The saga of The Pit continues.  While this may bore some I feel compelled to share this little adventure simply because I like stories and I like sharing them through words. And, if you’ve ever been through this you will appreciate this little tale.  Through it all I find a great sense of calm and some humor, too.

The broken, root filled pipe has been replaced.  I won’t show a picture, but the pipe was crammed with roots. A final check of the pipe involved running a camera through the roof pipes which revealed another leak.  My first reaction was I’m not fixing it, I’ve already spent a fortune, I’ve got to go back to work to pay for it and I’m just not doing it. The technician told me that I probably had several years before it presented a problem; I had the thought that I would make sure I was “outta here” by then.

However, while drinking coffee on the deck this morning and contemplating the status of this project I had the wisdom filled thought that I should at least get an estimate on the repair.  As long as I have the pit dug it might a good idea to fix the other leak. So, while it will cost more money tomorrow the excavation crew is coming back to extend the tunnel 5-feet under my house.  Five feet of tunnel and a hurricane is heading right toward my house. Plumbing company assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.

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Meanwhile, inside the house things are going very well.  Molding wood floor, entry way tile, and lovely 1970’s bright yellow vinyl bathroom flooring has been removed.  The 5 fans who were guests in the hallway departed this morning, much to the cats’ delight. Poor Fat-Shadow was terrified and had not left my bedroom for 48 hours.  She’s still freaked out by the bare floors.

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It’s ugly, but still a relief to see some progress.  However, the restoration assessment manager has determined that all the wood floors will have to be removed as it is one continuous floor.  The bathroom will have to be completely redone as water had seeped into the baseboards and under the lovely vinyl.  While I look forward to having the project completed and a new modern bathroom will be enjoyed I do know what is involved.  So, into the pit and beyond.  This, too, shall pass.

 

The Pit – everyone wants one

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This is my front porch. No, it’s not common to have a 7-foot pit on your front porch.  Just when I thought life was crazy enough the HVAC drain pipe decided to start leaking.  In the house, under the unit, into the wood floor and beyond.  So now I’m dealing with plumbers, insurance claim prossesors, and a clean up contractor.  Lovely.

On the funny side I’ve had one family member suggest that I try to sell the pit as a burial plot and another one suggested that rather than fill it back in I fill it with water and let the dogs swim in it.  My son told me to enjoy the tunnel under the house.  You know, when things like this happen I just have to laugh.

Petunia & Betty & the mini dachshund

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In July of 1989 the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority achieved its goal of returning streetcar service to the city of Dallas, Texas when the streetcars began rolling down the tracks in the Uptown district.  All the cars are authentic streetcars and run 365 days a year with no fee to riders.  They can be chartered for private events too.

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Petunia

 

Petunia was part of an order of 25 cars from the J.G. Brill Company and was introducted into service in 1920 by the Dallas Railway Company.  While she featured many safety improvements her ride was bumpy and uncomfortable to riders.  She remained in service until 1947 and then was stripped of wheels, motor, and electrical wiring and converted into a residence.  Today, thankfully, she has been re-fitted with shock absorbers.

I rode Petunia in 2015 and was delighted with her details as well as the Uptown neighborhood.  At the end of the line the driver takes a break while the trolley is turned around via a large rotating wheel.  Petunia has doors and operating contrals at either end of the car. At that time the M-Line (as it is nicknamed) was pet friendly although I had a struggle getting the dog on and off as the steps were steep!

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Betty

Betty was built in 1926 by American Car Company for the Dallas Railway and Terminal Company and was still in service in 1956 when Dallas ended their trolley routes. She was then converted into a children’s playhouse. Upon her return to Dallas she was renovated and equipped with air-conditioning.

I rode her in July 2017 and was delighted with her interior and once again enjoyed the ride.  The afternoon was cool as rain showers were approaching and the windows on the trolley were open. As I stepped on I asked if dogs were permitted as there was no mention on their web site about still being dog friendly.  The operator said no, but told me to come on board that it was okay since he had a mini dachshund at home! I hopped on and Bree enjoyed her ride, even sniffing the air through an open window.

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What is a trolley and how does it operate? The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority web site offers this explanation:

A trolley car (or streetcar) is similar to a railroad passenger car. Like a train, a streetcar runs on a set of rails. Streetcar tracks are usually in or alongside city streets. An electric streetcar is sometimes referred to as a “trolley”, because it has a special pole that extends from the roof of the car to an electrified overhead wire, similar to a telephone or utility cable. The trolley pole collects power from this overhead cable and sends it to the motors located underneath the streetcar. The operator “drives” the streetcar with a controller.

The first street cars were introduced in 1828 and were pulled by horses or mules. The first electric powered streetcars began operating in 1888 in Richmond, Virginia and quickly caught on in other cities. Just to note that San Francisco’s famous streetcars are actually cable cars that are pulled along by a special cable located under the street in a slot between the rails; they have been operating continuously for over 100 years.

Dallas discontinued their streetcar service in 1956 after pressure from various groups. The 4 remaining streetcar lines were closed and Dallas opted for modern bus service.

Funding for the M-Line operational costs is provided through an agreement with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit as well as donations from other sources including public donations. To see a schedule click on the link above.

Clear water

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Last week I took a day trip to the Texas coast. I’ve been wanting to go forever and this was the time.  As it turned out it was the perfect time as the temperature was moderate, wind was gentle, the water was very warm and crystal clear.  It’s been over 30 years since I’ve seen the coast like this.  I wished that I had packed food in the cooler with the drinks and spent the day on the beach – under the umbrella. Mild disappointment that the restaurant I wanted to eat at was closed for several days, but the beach made up for that very quickly.

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What is it about the beach that is so soothing? And, why does the ocean fascinate me? I’m not an in-the-water person. Maybe it’s because the ocean reminds me of eternity with the way it appears to stretch forever. I don’t know and I won’t question it! It is the way it is.

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