Thursday, September 14, 2017

Making Hurricane Irma's Acquaintance

(Image from Internet)

The strongest recorded hurricane on the entire planet...the first time that nearly the entire state of Florida was effected by a hurricane (due to its size...roughly 400 miles wide or three to four times as wide as the Florida Peninsula)...Irma sure did make my 56th birthday memorable. Irma jinked west then north instead of hugging Florida's east coast as everyone thought it would at first.

Thanks to Irma I couldn't even celebrate my birthday on my birthday (Sept. 9th). A couple of days prior to my birthday, The Colonel and I had been prepping our home, as well as the homes of Yam and my In-Laws for the arrival of the hurricane. We cleaned furniture and plants off of porches. We lengthened downspouts and sandbagged them in place.

We put my car into the garage as well as some of the plants and furniture.

The Colonel and I then began filling containers with water at home.

Many people run to the stores and fight the panicking crowds to buy water. The beauty of a hurricane (ha) is that you have days to prepare for it and/or flee from, you do not have to buy your water just fill containers (and your bathtub) while you await the storm. We just kept filling containers....

The day before my birthday (Yam had half a day off from work to prep for the hurricane), The Colonel, Yam (Spud sent a card and gift from Jacksonville) and I went over to my In-Laws so that I could open presents and cards. I got everything on my wish list plus a few surprises. I had wanted to go to a certain pizza parlor in town for my "birthday" lunch but it was closed and boarded up but another pizza joint in town was still open so we went there. After lunch and a visit, we parted ways to finish last minute hurricane preparations. That mid afternoon Yam texted saying in town was given a recommended evacuation order. We told her and The Colonel's parents to hold tight until the next morning to see if the evacuation order changed. It did. At nearly 8 a.m. a mandatory evacuation order was given in town.

Yam and her cat Henry arrived at our house around 9:45 a.m. The Colonel and Yam went to collect my In-Laws an hour later. We were all too busy to remember it was my birthday (thank goodness we celebrated it the day before). At 9:15 p.m. the rain started but it was not heavy. There was light to medium rain all through the night with limited wind gusts.

The yard was beginning to fill with water.

On Sunday, September 10th (the height of hurricane season), stronger rain was coming and a big gust of wind occurred around 11 a.m. Shortly after the gust we saw that one of our banana trees had broken and fallen over.

Throughout the day the wind and rains increased. Our power flickered at 5:05 p.m. and the Internet as well as the television were bumped off. The power would flicker off and on most of the day as well as losing Internet and television. With the threat of loss of power, we microwaved items in the freezer for meals, in hopes of not having any waste. We only had two items left when the power finally went out for good at 8:07 p.m. 

Hurricane Irma was roughly 35 miles southeast from us before the power went out. We figure the eye of the hurricane was about 13 miles east of our house around 9 p.m. With no power (read that as no more television), the In-Laws turned in early. Yam, The Colonel and I stayed up a until we heard the wind gusts and rain lessen around 10:30 p.m. I forgot to tell you that water was seeping in through our side door and the dryer vent throughout the raging storm. I used several towels to block off and soak up the invasive water. When the towels became sopping wet I replaced them and wrung the wet ones (by flashlight). Oh my poor arthritic hands and wrists. The Colonel helped too.

The rain and wind dropped off by 6 a.m. the next morning. We were still without power, but The Colonel cooked eggs and hash on our kitchen's gas stove. He had boiled water for our coffee too. It was an impressive breakfast considering the lack of normalcy we were experiencing. 

By the light of day we could see how much water was now in our yard. We had gotten a lot of rain dumped on us.

 The brown strip you see near the top of the photos is the road in front of our house,it is under water.

Once the sun came out the water began to recede. We had our yard back within a couple of days (it is still very soggy but at least we can see grass again). I could almost hear the water receding as I hung up my very damp towels. The Colonel strung up a temporary clothesline for me on the porch.

Hurricane Irma was a Category 2 (96-110 mph winds) when it was in our area. It had grown weaker and faster when it finally reached us. We also were on the west side of the hurricane which is the less powerful side. We were very fortunate. Our power came back on the day after the storm passed at 11:12 a.m. There are a few in town who still have no power as I write this. Yam and the In-Laws' power came on around the same time ours did and we took them back to their homes at 12:20 p.m. Everyone was ready to get back to their homes and routines. 

The Colonel and I waited to go to the grocery until yesterday (three days post hurricane. We had canned foods still but wanted fresh meat and veggies). Some of the shelves were sparse but we saw many stock boys working. There are still lines at gas stations but each day they become less congested. Now comes the part of debris cleanup. We do not have much yard debris at our house. Yam and the In-Laws' yards were full of downed limbs and palm fronds. It appeared that in town got more wind and outside of town, where we live, got more rain.

I do not wish to have another birthday experience like this one any time soon or better yet, ever again...but when your birthday falls around the height of hurricane season and you live in Southwest Florida...  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quilling: The Art of Paper Filigree

Quilling is the art of rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper (1/8" thick) and arranging them to form designs. It is thought to date back to the 15th century. At that time the paper was rolled on bird quills; thus, the name quilling.

Quilling was first used by the Italian and French nuns in creating exquisite designs to decorate religious artifacts and the walls of churches. As the art form spread to new parts of the world, it was fashionable for the ladies of the 17th and 18th centuries to create beautiful and delicate edgings on folding screens, firescreens, mirrors, boxes and pieces of furniture, with quillwork.

The hatpin eventually replaced the quill and today there are quilling tools available.

Yesterday, one of the ladies in my DAR chapter held a quilling class in her home. Carol had all of the supplies laid out before us on her dinning room table. There were ten of us taking the class.

First, Carol had us learn and make the basic quilling shapes. Once we made them, we glued them to a card that gave the name for each shape. It would be our guide to making future projects.

We used a quilling tool during class. It is a small, metal wand that has one slotted end. The end of the paper strip goes into the slot and then you roll the paper onto the wand's slotted end. The amount of tension that you roll the paper with determines what kind of end product you want...more tension equals a tighter roll.

Once we had all of our practice rolls and scrolls completed it was time to start on a picture. Carol had a pattern of two flowers for us to work with. She had drawn the flowers on paper and then put that paper over a small Styrofoam block and then covered it all with wax paper. The wax paper would help to keep the quilled paper from sticking to the pattern on the block.

Carol had many pretty colors of paper strips to choose from. I chose purple and red. I measured, rolled and glued my quillwork together on the block. I used straight pins to hold the quillwork together. Once it dried, I gently pulled the pretty flowers off of the block and glued them to a piece of card stock. This is what my first attempt at quilling looks like.


When I came home, I felt that my artwork still needed something to finish it. I had some empty space that needed filling just above the flowers.

In the little kit that Carol sent home with us was a pattern and some paper strips for making a bee...perfect!

(Now bear with is hard to snap a picture one-handed and quill one-handed at the same time).

I traced the bee onto the paper, put the paper onto the foam block and covered it with wax paper.

I read the instructions, measured and cut the strips (4" or 6") and began rolling. Once rolled, I glued the end piece of the paper roll. I then pinned the bee's head onto the foam block.

Next came the body of the bee. That would be a loose roll that would be pinched to create a teardrop shape. I glued the body to the head and kept it in place with a pin.

Finally, the wings. They were made just like the body but with gold colored paper.

When the glued bee pieces dried, I gently lifted them off of the wax paper and glued the finished bee to my quilled flower picture. Not bad for a first attempt at quilling.

Thank You Carol!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Beaufort (BEW-Fort), SC Not To Be Confused With Beaufort (BOH-Fort), NC

Day one of our Charleston, South Carolina trip (July 6-14, 2017) had us on the road heading north around 3 p.m. We had a late start because we had to help the county's historical center with a summer program for school kids. But when we finished with that we officially started our trip.

We stopped by Spud's apartment for a short visit (about an hour) and chatted with Spud and his girlfriend. We also dropped of some furniture that Spud wanted from home. Too bad we could not have stayed longer but we had to get to our hotel in Kingsland, Georgia.

We woke early the next morning and headed north again, as we had to make it to Beaufort, South Carolina in time to join the walking tour we signed up for earlier.

When we arrived in Beaufort we found the place we were to meet our tour guide. We waited under a shady tree for our guide to arrive. We did not have to wait long and as it turned out we were going to have a private tour. A woman was supposed to join us but she never showed up.

Our guide was a named Victoria. She was a college girl (we were expecting an old man because of the website). She was happy to have us along and was pleased that we could keep up with her (guess she is used to old farts who cannot keep up the pace during the two-hour tour).

Before the walking part of the tour began, Victoria gave us a brief history of Beaufort, South Carolina. It was chartered in 1711. It is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, second to Charleston. It is noted for its scenic location, maintaining its historic character by the preservation of its antebellum buildings and the military installations nearby.

Beaufort's scenic location was the backdrop for several movies such as: The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, Forrest Gump, Something to Talk About and G.I. Jane. The bridge in Beaufort was used in Forrest Gump and was supposed to be a bridge that goes over the Mississippi River.

Could this be Forrest Gump's shrimp boat?

There are still many antebellum buildings in Beaufort. Our guide told us the reason for this is something called the "Great Skedaddle".

On November 7, 1861, the Union Army occupied Beaufort. Two days prior, the wealthy citizens were in church and learned of the large Yankee fleet that was off Point Royal Sound and a mere 10 miles away. It was time to pack up and leave. They left in such a hurry that dinner plates, full of food were still on the tables. They packed whatever valuables they, jewelry, the family Bible...but they did not take their slaves (8-10 thousand were left behind). The Yankees did find one white man in Beaufort but he was dead drunk.

The Union Army used the antebellum houses in Beaufort as offices, quarters and hospitals.

This house belonged to Robert Barnwell Rhett. He is called the "Father of Secession". He held secessionist meetings in this house roughly a dozen years prior to South Carolina's secession.

Here are a few pictures of some of the other antebellum houses in Beaufort.

The house below is called the John Mark Verdier House (1804).  Verdier was a wealthy indigo and sea island cotton planter. On March 18, 1825, The Marquis de Lafayette was welcomed to Beaufort with a 13-gun salute and spoke to the star-struck crowd while standing on this house's upper balcony.

Image from the Internet

Lafayette toured the United States from July 1824 to September 1825. Everywhere he went he was welcomed like a rock star. Lafayette would next travel to Savannah, Georgia and speak from this balcony that was across from the house The Colonel and I stayed in while we visited Savannah in 2011.

While on our walking tour, we saw the grave, statue and house of Robert Smalls.

House of Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was born in Beaufort as a slave of Henry McKee in 1839. He worked a many jobs but one job would allow him to escape slavery. Robert was a boat pilot and as a result he was very knowledgeable about Charleston Harbor. He was one of the crew of slaves on the Confederate's gunboat called the CSS Planter. 

At 3 a.m. on May 13, 1862, Robert and seven other slave crew members were left on the Planter as the white soldiers went ashore for the night as was the custom. Now was the time to execute their long-planned escape to the Union Blockade ships.

23-year-old Robert put on Captain Relay's uniform and a straw hat that was similar to the Captain's. He picked up his family and the families of the other crew members. He then guided the boat past the five Confederate forts without incident, as he gave the correct signals at all of the checkpoints. He had been studying Captain Relay and imitated his actions. Robert sailed past Fort Sumter and surrendered the boat to the surprised Union soldiers.

Image from the Internet

He and the other crew members were awarded prize money in the amount of $1,500 (equivalent to over $35,000 today).

Once free, Robert Smalls served with the Union Army and Navy. His actions helped President Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army. After the Civil War, Robert purchased his former master's house when it was sold for taxes by the Union. Legend has it that his former master's widow, Jane Bond McKee was wandering the streets and not lucid. She came back to what she thought was still her home and Robert Smalls took her in and allowed her to move into her former room and live in the house until her death.

Robert Smalls hired a teacher for himself and learned to read and write in nine months. With his new skills he later became a business man, a Republican, a State Representative, a State Senator, and a U.S. Representative. WOW! Robert Smalls died in 1915

The museum I volunteer for featured the story of Robert Smalls during our exhibit on Black Espionage during the Civil War. I was intrigued by his story and to see his grave and the house he lived in was stirring.

"My race needs no special defense for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere all they need is an equal chance in the battle of life."

-Robert Smalls' statement to the South Carolina legislature, 1895

Our tour guide showed us a few more interesting stops along our tour's route.

An intricate and whimsical gate...

The hanging tree...

And a building with a small section of  exposed Colonial Tabby (a type of concrete made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells). No, I did not touch it...

All that walking made us hungry, so we parted ways with Victoria and had lunch at Hemingway's. I had the best Muffuletta sandwich ever there. We asked why the restaurant was called Hemingway's, knowing that said writer had never visited Beaufort and the waitress said the owner thinks that if he had visited this restaurant would be the kind of place he would frequent. The Colonel and I agreed. Hemingway's was a small, dark, basement restaurant with a small bar.

It was time to leave Beaufort behind us and make our way to Charleston. As soon as we got on the open road a terrible thunderstorm hit and stayed with us for the entire 1 1/2 hours it took to get to Charleston.