Tag: Hurricane Ike

Miss Wini

Posted by – April 6, 2009

The day after I came out to Texas, I was sent to Magnolia to work in a center.  My manager was a woman named Winifred Foley.  She preferred to be called “Wini”.  She was a very sweet lady.  I sat next to her for a few weeks and she loved to talk to me so, as you can imagine, I came to know her rather quickly.  She had a great sense of humor.  When we moved to the center in Houston, she sat across the room from us so we didn’t talk much but I would occasionally go over to chat with her.

One Thursday morning we came in and found she had mistakenly taken 3 times the dosage of her blood pressure meds. (Pharmacy mix-up) She had put in a call to her doctor but heard nothing so Judy took her to the hospital.  The doctor said the meds bottomed out her blood pressure, then after it started wearing off, it skyrocketed.  She ended up in ICU. Her blood pressure was extremely high and kept fluctuation but never lowered or stabilized.  She was in ICU for a week before they were able to move her to a regular room.

That Friday Judy and I visited her.  She was swollen and bruised.  She had taken a fall and also suffered a heart attack while in ICU.  After the visit we headed over to collect her things and check her out of her hotel. The following day we took her rental car to Ellington so someone could shuttle it back to Austin.

Two days later she was released from the hospital and we picked her up and took her to the airport for her flight home. Before going to her room we decided to get her something from the gift shop.  Just a small “We’re thinking about you” gift doll.  When we got to her room we collected her things and headed out.  Her poor feet were swollen to two or three times the size of her shoes so they squeezed some socks on her feet so they’d (at least) be covered.  Off to the airport.

The airline gave Judy and I security passes so we could go with her to the gate so, after she bought a book and some Twizzlers for the trip, we headed for the gate.  (The only other thing she insisted on taking with her was the doll we had gotten her.)  At the gate I noticed her ticket had her mid to back of the plane so I asked the gate agent to switch her seat.  No problemo.  When the plane was ready to board we said our “see ya laters” and the gate agent took her down to the plane. 

We spoke to Miss Wini a few weeks after she got home and she was doing much better.  She said she was looking forward to Judy and I coming to visit whenever we both were released from work.  The last time Judy spoke with her was in mid February. Still sounded good.  But…

During a quick “gathering” at work on March 19th Judy and I were reminiscing about Miss Wini and had the wind knocked out of us when someone said that Miss Wini had passed away in the early morning hours of February 28th.  Apparently she died due to kidney failure.  Shocker!   But it doesn’t stop there…

The day after we found out, Judy and I were having lunch and had been talking about Miss Wini.  Judy’s cell phone rang and after checking to see who was calling, she looked up at me with a strange look on her face.  Then she turned her cell phone around so I could see who was calling.  The name on the screen…  “Miss Wini”.   The call was actually from Judy’s son-in-law who was working in her motorcycle shop in Houston.  I was a bit skeptical of the whole thing until it happened again.  Then Judy showed me that the shop number in her cell phone actually said SHOP.  She also told me that it didn’t happen every time she got a call from her son-in-law.  Only those two times when we were both together.  Too much of a coincidence.  I think someone is trying to tell us something!

When I came back home from Texas I flew to my mother’s house and we drove up to mine.  I was taken aback when I opened my refrigerator to find a package from Miss Wini.  (Mom said it came at Christmas.)  Not sure what to make of it all.  I do know I’m happy to have met Miss Wini, even for that short time.  Thank you Miss Wini and may you RIP. ~

Moving On…

Posted by – March 26, 2009

Well, I don’t really write that much to begin with but right now it’s been all about finishing up paperwork, making reservations, and getting home.  That’s right, I’m finally leaving Austin and going home for some much needed R&R.

I’m flying into West Palm to visit with my moms for a few days and then we’ll drive up to my house.  I’m excited.  But with everything going on I haven’t posted a few things I’ve intended to post.  I’ll be spending the majority of the day tomorrow in airports and airplanes so I’m hoping somewhere in there I’ll be able to get something posted here.

Until then, thank you Austin.  If I had to leave Florida I could see myself living here.  Until next time….

The Oasis at Lake Travis

Posted by – March 12, 2009

On the way back from Marble Falls I passed by Lake Travis and decided to take a turn down Comanche Trail to visit the Oasis.  I heard from a few folks at work that this Oasis was a great place to go for lunch or dinner and had great views.  According to the literature, it’s been known as the Sunset Capital of Texas and the multi-level decks are 400 feet above Lake Travis.  They also have a gift shop where you can buy various Texas souvenirs.

I wanted to go down below the Oasis, get a closer view of the lake, and maybe take some pictures so I tried to find my way around the Oasis.  I ended up walking down the shoulder of the road running alongside the place.  (Too much traffic to walk in the road.)  As I got further down the hill the shoulder became narrower and I could see it was about to end.  I decided to turn around and head back since I also noticed there was no way to get down to the water and the views were blocked by gated homes and brush.

As I turned I heard a rustling behind me.  Now, at home if you hear a rustling, it’s usually a lizard so I didn’t think much about it… until I heard the rattle.  I didn’t move my feet but continued turning my head to see where it was coming from.  I caught sight of the rattler as it was making it’s way up under a rock.  I couldn’t have been more than two to two and a half feet from it but as luck would have it, it was apparently even more scerred of me.   Note to self:  Watch where you’re going and stay off the unbeaten path.  This is Texas. 

I went back to the Oasis and asked if there was a place nearby where I could take in the scenery.  “How much scenery?” the guy asked.  I answered by giving him my best look of confusion.  He explained that if I wanted I could hit the nudist park down the street.  I opted for the other park, Windy Point.  I followed the Comanche Trail a few miles until I came to the park. There were folks staying there in RVs, folks boating, barbecuing, scuba diving, and folks playing with their dogs.  And yet, with all that was going on, it was still very peaceful.  I chilled there for a while and then headed back to the car.

As I came back out to the highway that would take me back to my hotel, I recalled a church I passed on the way that had views of Lake Travis from it’s parking lot.  I wasn’t the only one to have that idea.  I took a few shots and FINALLY headed back to my hotel.  I didn’t see a whole lot but I couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful, relaxing day and more beautiful weather.  I hope to do that again before I leave Texas.

You can check out the few pictures I took here.

Marble Falls (sans the falls)

Posted by – March 10, 2009

The last few weeks we’ve gone back to working 7 days so I haven’t seen much more than the inside of my hotel room, work, and my eyelids.  Just before, we had a full weekend off and, while I slept the entire day that Saturday, I did get out of my room and take a leisurely Sunday drive through “Hill Country”.

I left my hotel about 10am and drove 45 minutes to Marble Falls (along the Colorado River).  The drive wasn’t bad at all.  Not my usual long, straight, flat highway road trip with nothing to look at but fields.  This one was full of curves, hills, lakes, (dried up) creek beds, pastures, ranches, and vineyards.  Before I knew it, I was there.  Unfortunately, since it was Sunday there wasn’t a whole lot going on.  (I knew I should have gone out on Saturday.)

When I got into town I headed to Main Street which is only about two or three blocks long.  It was a ghost town.  One thing I did notice, though, was the statuary around town.  Lots of it.  I found a map of Marble Falls on a sign post in the middle of Main Street.  On the way into town I passed a sign for Max Starke Dam.  According to the map, the town was named after the falls there.  Today the falls are under water but according to the information if the water level is low, you should see the falls.  Since the newscaster that morning said the water level here was about 5 feet below normal as a result of the draught, I thought I would surely see some falls so off I went.

The road to the dam winds back off the highway, over a bridge and around a power station.  There were a few “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs along the way but this sign (pictured right) really caught my eye and made me  think twice about continuing on.  Who would put a sign like this alongside the road to a tourist attraction (of sorts)?

The dam entrance is off limits to anyone but authorized personnel but just before there’s a dirt road on the right and a sign to fisherman that the area can be used as long as it’s kept clean.  That’s the road I took.  I’m not quite sure how (or where) fisherman are suppose to fish from here since it’s a couple hundred feet above the water.  I must be missing something.  I found a viewing area and got out to look around.  There was so much growth it was difficult to get a look at anything but I did manage to take a few shots. 

When I left there I headed back towards the hotel.  I read that there is a stone quarry at Granite Mountain in Marble Falls where they quarried “Texas Pink” granite to construct the Austin State Capital building.  I’m hoping I will get an up close and personal look at the Capital before I leave but for now, to be honest, the weather was perfect and I was enjoying the ride more than anything. 

To check out the few pictures I took click here

What a Difference a Month Makes!

Posted by – February 12, 2009

There must have been something really wrong with the water (or something) in Houston.  Over the last few weeks I’ve felt so much better.  No more headaches, no more feeling ill, no more breaking out, no more rashes, no more cracklin skin, and when I do my laundry my clothes come out soft and smell clean instead of standing up in the corner smelling like sewage.  As far as work, the only stress I have is what I put on myself.  All is good here in Austin!  Well, with the exception of the crazy weather and frozen car….

I’ve met a lot of nice people and run into names and faces I’ve met before.  There’s a camaraderie here (at least where I’m working) that definitely wasn’t in the workplace in Houston and sadly not in the Florida office either.   I guess that could be attributed to those older (seasoned) employees who know how these things are suppose to work unlike those newbie types who seem to always be jockeying (or throwing each other under the bus) for position.

Superbowl Sunday my immediate supervisor called my room to invite me down to have a little fun with her and some of the other ladies.  The hotel put together a party for the game including a ton of food and ice cold “adult beverages”.  There were about a dozen people downstairs partaking in the freebies and watching the game.  (Far fewer than the hotel expected.)  I ended up playing the dice game Farkle with the ladies until they finally retired at 8pm.  LOL!  I must admit I had fun. 

At dinner I usually run into a few folks from work but after the meal and a little conversation, it’s back to the cave to prepare for work the next morning.  Not much more.  My job now requires me to sit with my face in the computer 10 hours per day so making myself sit here to write anything has been impossible.   Beginning next week we’ll have Saturdays off also so that would allow me to rest up the eyes and make it more possible, however, as it stands right now, we will likely be sent home at the end of this month.  (Subject to change at any time.)

The JSC

Posted by – January 19, 2009

One Sunday, during my mother’s visit here, we took a drive over to the Johnson Space Center.  A cold front came through the night before so we bundled ourselves up with multiple layers of clothing to keep warm and headed down the highway.

We arrived around 1pm, got our tickets and made our way inside.  There was a security guard outside the door checking bags (sort of) and the ticket takers & turnstiles were just inside the door.  We decided to take the tram tours as soon as we got there so we’d be out in the cold during the “warmest” part of the day.  Before entering the tram line they took each group’s/family’s picture to then try to sell you a package later.  Once through the tram line we were subject to another security check.  What a joke!  There was a metal table next to the line where you deposited your bags, coats, and anything out of your pockets.  Then they had you step through a metal detector where you were free to pick up your belongings and head for the tram seat queues.  That’s got to be the craziest security check I’ve ever seen.  No one checks the items that have been deposited onto the table which means if you DID have something you shouldn’t, you could simply deposit it and pick it back up after going through the metal detector.

Anywho, the tram ride took us around the complex (buidings and parking lots) finally making a stop at the building where the Mission Control Rooms were located.  One room had a viewing area with a glass barrier and, according to our tour guide, was set up so families of workers and astronauts could come visit during missions.  After a little info and some Q&A we headed back to the tram and our next stop.
After a short (but frigid) ride, we stopped at the Saturn V building which houses the rocket with it’s parts separated so you can see how it’s put together.  There’s also quite a bit of info up on the wall along side the rocket which some may find quite interesting.  After about 15 minutes we were all shuffled back outside to catch the tram back to the visitor’s center.

Too cold for another tram tour so we opted to stay in the visitor’s center and check out what else they had to offer.  (Somewhere in there we also grabbed a bite to eat at the food court.)  There were a few things we decided not to do.  The simulator ride was one.  My back was already angry with me.  I could see no good reason to make it worse.  We did check out the shuttle, the display of space suits (from past to present plus), and the 2 Imax movies (To Be An Astronaut and Inside the Space Station).

Overall, it was just okay.  I’d say the only things we really enjoyed were the Mission Control Room and the Imax movies.  I didn’t take many photos but what I did take can be seen here in my albums.  *Note:  If you can avoid it, don’t go on a Sunday.  According to our tour guide, the Mission Control personnel are off on Sundays otherwise we may have able to see some at work when we visited the room.

Seems as though, in my humble opinion, that this is a much more enjoyable experience (and maybe even geared more) for kids. 
If you’ve been, what did you think?

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