Eyes To The Skies (And On The Ground)

“Don’t worry … about a t’ing. ‘Cause every little t’ing’s gonna be alright.” ~ Bob Marley

Hurricane’s a-Comin’

We’re now closely watching Hurricane Harvey headed our direction from the Gulf of Mexico — to the south of us, thankfully — and due to make landfall late Friday. With next week being the first week of school, and a teenager getting his permit to drive a car, and the solar eclipse, it kinda snuck up on us.

Here we go again.

Houston, Deep Purple
Image Credit: NOAA.org

The last hurricane to hit the Houston area was Hurricane Ike in 2008. A few years earlier, Tropical Storm Allison hovered over Houston and dumped inches and inches of rain not once but twice resulting in some of the worst flooding our city has ever seen. There were a couple in between where I evacuated with three young children to avoid disaster — which never came.

We remember all those weather events quite well.

Neighborhood Kids and Reliable US Post
Tropical Storm Allison 2001 (2nd Pass)
11″ of rain in a single hour.

Hurricane Ike 2008
The inside of our house …
on the outside on the curb.

Houstonians are no strangers to flooding, but our shopping habits for the pre-hurricane-hunker-down may be a little over the top. It was as if a zombie apocalypse was well underway at the neighborhood grocery this morning, and shopping carts were heaped high with bottled water, boxes of ramen noodles and cup-o-soup styros, cans of meat (chicken, tuna, spam, … yech!!), and propane tanks.

There were also lots of gallons of milk and raw cuts from the butcher along with bags of ice, because people are gonna be needin’ to keep all that meat and dairy from spoiling when the power goes out. For several days, perhaps.

Our power grid is already on the wimpy side, so my feeling is that that will be the worst of it for us.

We’re not ice lovers. So we stocked up on zucchini and summer squash, eggplant, and fresh heads of turnip greens and lettuce instead. These will feed not only us but the rabbits too and produce doesn’t necessarily need to be refrigerated. Dry legumes and grains are easily constituted with hot water; we have natural gas burners in the kitchen in addition to the favored induction (electric).

As for clean water, we will keep a few gallons in the kitchen and run tap (in the even of power loss) for drinking and cooking water only. When the electric water pump quits pumping, the water tank holds the pressure for several days, and toilets can be flushed with rainwater from the barrels outside instead of purified water.

I won’t be so bad. Kind of like camping.

The Sun Ate The Moon

Earlier in this same week we witnessed our first eclipse in Houston since 1979 when I was still in grade school — certainly the first for the kids. It was my brother who offered the life-hack of using a pair of binoculars to view the eclipse rather than the pinhole design we cobbled up with cardboard from the bin.

Syzygy.’ What a great Scrabble word. If only it had a plural or a seventh letter. Hm.

The big end of the lens absorbed light from the moon-covered sun and resulted in crisp image on the ground that was easy enough to snap a picture with the smartphone.

Houston Eclipse 2017
1:16p, 67% Coverage

Still mostly bright outside, maximum coverage.

My favorite part wasn’t so much looking at the single lens-created image on the ground but all weird-looking miniature eclipses all over the shaded tree areas, diffraction patterns. Pair that with the dimmer, even cooler feel on a cloudless day, and it was nothing short of an exhilarating experience for us all!

Mini Ground Eclipses

I had to turn the news off, because whenever crowds of people all around the country witnessed the eclipse in full glory, do you know what they did? They took their shades off. What do you think the protective lenses were for, people?

I certainly hope you were all smart enough not to do that. I also hope you didn’t sacrifice any virgins to appease the Gods and make the eclipse stop.

Texans — here’s a little diddy to help you through. Go ahead. Press play and do da dance with me. It really will be alright.

15 thoughts on “Eyes To The Skies (And On The Ground)

  1. A fellow blogger wrote: ‘We saw the total eclipse here in Wyoming and it is safe to take the glasses off during the two minutes or so of totality–otherwise there is not enough light left to see anything through the glasses! As soon as the first glimmer of the sun came back though, we put our glasses back on. The 360 degrees of sunrise/sunset colors on the horizon was amazing. We weren’t near any trees so missed the leaf eclipses. Looking forward to 2024!’

    …to which a reply and link was given:

    ‘Even when 99% of the Sun’s surface (the photosphere) is obscured during the partial phases of a solar eclipse, the remaining crescent Sun is still intense enough to cause a retinal burn, even though illumination levels are comparable to twilight.’

    https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety2.html

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  2. What I want to know: did you get your hurricane glasses in time? (Yes, of course that’s a joke, just in case someone doesn’t know…)

    I saw the tree-shadows in the early 80s, too, and was looking forward to seeing them again. You asked about my photo blog — I posted eclipse-with-birds there. I thought the birds were as great as the shadows. The titles of the white bluebell posts are “Clouds Below Sky” and “A Cooling Touch.”

    After seeing what Ike did to the Anahuac refuge, I’ve been wondering about how the Aransas Wildlife Refuge fared. I suppose the good news is that whooping cranes favor frogs and crawfish and such rather than grains, so their food sources may be fine. I am wondering how the migratory birds will fare. I suppose we just have to wait and see how widespread the damage will be.

    Poor Rockport — I have friends with an organic farm down there that really has taken off in a few years. I’m almost afraid to learn what’s happened to them. But they’re resilient. After the last big flood, they invited customers out to harvest veggies from kayaks.

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    1. Wow, Linda. Thanks for all that. We had several species roosted on our porch for the night. Hummers seem to prefer the low canopy of the ligustrum which no doubt doesn’t whip as much in high winds — which we had.

      Tornados touched down to the south of us; we were spared of any damage, trees or otherwise. Many rooves damaged. The 1a alert to take cover woke us up, but when we never heard the ‘freight train,’ simply drifted back to sleep. We are all upstairs. :/

      Now, just watching to see how high the Brazos gets, like May of last year and the year before.

      I too feel for Aransas NWR and wonder how hard hit Anahuac was. Brazos Bend SP is no doubt going to be under water again if the river hits the 52′ forecast.

      PS – of all the provisions, I forgot to stock up on beer. No hurricane glasses, but we completely get the joke!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hoping your fare well. I was in Houston during Alicia(?) (the 80s), I know your pain.

    Thanks for writing about the miniature eclipses. I had no knowledge of these. I went for a walk during the eclipse, seen these on the sidewalk and thought what a curious phenomenon. I knew nothing about them before hand. They were rather mesmerizing.

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    1. Alicia has special meaning for me, Peter. My best friend and I braved the floods to get her sister to the hospital during the worst of the rains; emergency vehicles wouldn’t dispatch. She delivered a healthy baby boy in the elevator on the way up to L&D. Didn’t name him Alicia!

      We’ll be fine and thanks so much for the well-wishes. Gonna be a wet, wet weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I wrote my comment yesterday, I had not watched news for a couple of days. I have since seen the prognostications for this hurricane. Scary! My thoughts are with all of you and your fellow Texans!
        Warmly,
        Tanja

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow!! That is amazing. Please take care and stay safe. Will be thinking of you in the path. We will get rain but not like you will.
    Beautiful photos. I was in Nashville so we saw the full coverage. It was very cool.

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