It’s been nine months since our home flooded and I am just now finding time to post an update. We are now about 85% complete in our rebuild and it has been a journey! I have learned skills like drywall repair and tile removal that I hope to never use again. Before the flood I was an avid reader and never very fond of audio-books. I preferred a real book in my hands or the convenience of my Kindle.
Audio-books seemed like a cheat to me. How could I savor the written word while listening? But with long days of repair work in my future I was unable to find the time to read. I was becoming more depressed by not just the loss of the use of our home and the loss of many possessions but more by the severe changes to my lifestyle. By the end of a day working in the house, I was too tired to read even a page. I missed book club meetings and the enjoyment of discussing the latest read among friends. So I decided to try listening to audio-books while I worked. It was a sanity saving decision. I was able to pour through so many books during my work hours. I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I managed to tape, float and texture the drywall in my bedrooms and closets while finishing Stephen King’s The Stand, which had been on my TBR list for far too long. I found the perfect way to multi-task and knock out several long titles I had been putting off reading due to the length. After The Stand, I listened to East of Eden, Anna Karenina, The Secret History and Gone With the Wind. Total I have completed 13 audio-books since September.
There were a few drawbacks to audio-books like not being able to bookmark passages for rereading. Going back and re-listening was just not the same. And I found I could not enjoy nonfiction in the audio format. I tried listening to Leonardo DaVinci but couldn’t seem to follow along. So it is still on my TBR list.
I am happy to say I am now finding time to read real books with written words. I still keep an audio-book loaded and ready to go when I am working but life is getting back to normal. Book club meetings have resumed! Two weeks ago I purchased the first of several bookcases I will need to replace the built-ins that we had to tear out.
I am not ashamed to share that I cried tears of joy and sadness as I unpacked boxes of the books that survived the three foot of water. It was like seeing old friends. I lost so many children’s books kept on the lower shelves within my grandson’s reach. I’ve already started replacing them and look forward to adding many more to his little library at Nana’s house.
Last post I was sitting on a Texas beach in Galveston pondering ways to simplify my life. How to rid my life of unnecessary things. And within no time Hurricane/ Tropical Storm Harvey took nearly every belonging away.
The nation knows Harvey blasted on shore in Rockport and then stopped in Houston causing catastrophic flooding but this demon of a storm wasn’t satisfied. After flooding Houston it moved East and decided to spend a few days dumping what seems to be half the Gulf of Mexico on SETX. I live in the small town of Vidor in an area we call The Golden Triangle. I’m heartbroken by the devastation to not only my home but thousands more in our little corner of Texas. Yesterday we held our breath as water creeped up our yard. We somehow felt that a tree falling against our house that morning was a good omen because it only broke a window. We were diligent homeowners. We went out in the pouring rain to get sandbags. We sandbagged all the doors. We cleared gutters as the rain fell and fell. We naively felt we would be ok.
We discussed how water might creep in a little so we added more sandbags and then sat down to dinner as a family. As we ate the rain intensified non stop. It was just a short time later we noticed the first swirls of water. After a quick look around we saw water coming in under all the exterior walls. (I’m still mystified how water penetrates concrete and brick.) I couldn’t believe how fast it rose. We immediately knew we had to go. As fast as it was rising we feared our window of escape was closing. Everyone threw together a bag of clothes. We grabbed juice, milk and food for our two year old grandson and piled in my husbands work truck. It was The only vehicle now high enough to clear the quick rising water. As usual I was the last out of the house. I shut off all the breakers and locked the door. As I stepped over the sandbags I was horrified to see I was knee deep in recently inch deep water. Me, my husband, daughter, son, grandson and grandsons mother along with our chihuahua left our possessions behind. We had the most important stuff-FAMILY. After taking one route after another to find them flooded we managed to get safely to my mother in laws house across town. I was beyond grateful to be safe and dry but was unable to sleep as I listened to the deluge of rain, wind and thunder carry on all night. By morning I knew to expect the worse. I was heartbroken as one friend after another posted pictures on social media of their flooded homes. Later that morning my husband managed a ride with a friend in a bigger truck to check on our home. It was as bad as I’d imagined all night. Four foot of water in our home. All my neighbors too. As he sent me photos I went numb. I have refused to cry. It will change nothing. We have what is important. As I lay here in the same warm dry bed I am so terribly sad but so grateful we got out in time. So many still tonight are being rescued by boat. My husband earlier went out just as dark was falling to pick up a cousin and their family. The rescue boats got them to higher ground. My husband drove them to a friends house. How terrified they must have been. I doubt sleep will come easy for any of us tonight.
One of my favorite books is the Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. Until I read this book, I’d known nothing of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh. After finishing the book, I longed to know more about this remarkable woman. I added her small book of essays Gift From the Sea to my TBR list. While browsing a used bookstore last week I was happy to find a copy and snatched it right up. It is the first item I toss into my beach bag a few days back when the opportunity arose for an impromptu trip to Galveston, TX with my daughter.
I feel a bit reprimanded as I read the first sentence.
“The Beach is not a place to work, to read, write or think.”
I rationalize I am reading for pleasure so after a slight stumble, I carry on. I only make it through the first two essays before being enticed by my daughter to do some shell collecting. As I was walk along the shore, I remember something I heard Ann Bogel say several times in her podcast What Should I Read Next. She shares a saying she has heard that sometimes a book comes to you at just the right moment in your life. I believe this to be true as read this book. The second essay, Channelled Whelk, compares the beautiful minimalist shell home of a whelk to the simplicity she seeks in her life. I am fully open to this idea in my own life. I have a strong desire to shed myself of many of the physical things I have collected through my almost fifty years of life, twenty-seven year marriage and the remnants of belongings left behind by my three grown children.
“…certain environments, certain modes of life, certain rules of conduct are more conducive to inner and outer harmony than others. There are, in fact, certain roads that one may follow. Simplification of life is one of them.”
As I near fifty, my goals for life are changing. I identify with the following passage whole-heartedly.
“The shape of my life is, of course, determined by many other things; my background and childhood, my mind and its education, my conscience and its pressures, my heart and its desires. I want to give and take from my children and husband, to share with friends and community, to carry on my obligations to man and to the world, as a woman, as an artist, as a citizen.
But I want first of all – in fact, as and end to theses other desires – to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can.”
The timeless nature of her words and thoughts is profound. Lindbergh wrote this book in 1955 and was a highly accomplished aviator and navigator as well as mother an wife. Despite the first sentence, I enjoy the time I had to read her thoughts and contemplate them while spending some me time at the beach.
My favorite bi-weekly activity is Library Day. Today I stopped by two libraries to browse the New Nonfiction section. I will admit that I read most fiction books on my Kindle. I check the eBooks out from the library on my Overdrive iPhone app. My TBR fiction list is long, long, long. But for nonfiction I have a harder time finding what I want to read. So browsing the new nonfiction shelves is always like a gold mine of interesting books. I was pleased to pick up the The Primal Kitchen Cookbook by Mark Sisson. There are some great looking recipes and I may just be buying this one because it’s just so darn beautiful. If I designed a cookbook this is how I would do it. I’ve almost completely cut added sugar from my diet with the exception of the occasional piece of dark chocolate so I’m looking forward to learning more through reading The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. I’m not one to ever get taken up by self-help books but I do believe they are worthwhile if you find one thing within their pages that will enlighten you and maybe make a difference in one small aspect of you life so I am interested to read The Joy Planby Kaia Roman. Who doesn’t need more joy in their life? And finally with all the nation’s current racial tensions I want to read Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. The praises on the back cover from Toni Morrison and Stephen King prompted me to add this to my stack. Now I need to go get to reading!
A result of the healthy changes I’ve made in my life is my obsession with LaCroix sparkling waters. Yesterday I visited several different stores to add as many possible flavors to my week. I have limited my alcohol consumption to weekends so during the week I crave something nice and refreshing at the end of a hot Texas day. I’ve discovered pouring a sparkly LaCroix into a beautiful long stemmed wine glass brings a certain bubbly pleasure to my afternoon. It pairs perfectly with fresh navel oranges or Texas blueberries. I reserve the wine and chocolate for a small weekend treat.
The two oldest of my three children have grown to love museums as much as their mom. I’m sure this is a result of the many visits we made as they were growing up. My oldest son Tom (we call him TJ, but he’s outgrown the nickname) is an artist and we often take trips together to view art exhibitions. A few weekends back, we shared a mother-son date day at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX . We planned that day to view the Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest exhibit along with the Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism exhibit.
If your in the Houston area anytime soon I would urge you to make a visit. The photo above was taken by my son in the Pixel Forest. You walk into a darkened space lit by thousands of strands of glass forms hanging from above. You are free to roam about as the LED lights slowly change colors. Surrounding the area are movie images on the walls of alternating natural scenes with magical music playing softly in the background. There are pillows and carpeted areas provided so you can comfortably lay back and enjoy the atmosphere from a different perspective. I felt as if I was immersed in a sea of glass jellyfish and amoeba like creatures.
Today I have been playing around with my site and deciding what features I would like to add and how to go about it. I have added a Word Book page to my menu that is simply a list of words I have encountered during my reading time of which I did not know the definition . Reading is my number one hobby. Considering the time I spend reading, I have made it a goal to enhance my reading experience by being more selective when choosing my next book, highlighting and looking up definitions to unfamiliar words and writing honest reviews once I have finished reading a book. Knowing I will be reviewing the book prompts me to pay attention to details and nuances. I give myself several days to mull over the book before writing the review. Always an added bonus is knowing I learned something. By noting my newly discovered vocabulary words I can quickly browse back through them and keep them fresh in my mind. What use is learning wonderful new words if they quickly slip to the back of my memory? At nearly 50, this is a frustrating fact of life! I’m excited to see how long my list will be by the time the big Five-Oh arrives.
Welcome to my blog. I’m Kristie from SE Texas. I’ve been struggling these last two months to come to terms with the fact that turning 50 is a matter of months away, not years. I feel the need now to have a record of my life. I have recently tried bullet journaling. While I adore the look and creativity I see in other people’s journals I often find it frustrating and time consuming. So my intention with this blog is to use it as a way to journal about the ordinary and sometimes extraordinary moments of my life.