Monday, August 31, 2015


Have you ever had a project where things seem to just not work?

Seriously, I am going nuts with this cans-tle project. It was intended to be an affordable and easy way to gather public attention for my historical fantasy e-series. I figured a castle made of soda cans... get people to donate their used soda cans, glue them together... Voila! Castle. Put it in my front yard, which is right on a business route, and draw some attention. Maybe get into the local newspaper or something. No Prob!

Not so easy. But I have to laugh a little. This is funny in a pathetic kind of way. (I know I am not really this pathetic!) Do you remember my recent post when the castle walls fell down and split apart? Well, I fixed them with the help of my daughter. We glued them together more securely and then I drove her down to school for the semester.

Cockeyed, not flat
When I got back, I stood the tower wall back up and discovered my securely glued walls were reattached together cockeyed. (Sigh.) I can't get them apart to re-glue them so I just stood them up again and smushed some things next to them to hold them up. (The castle must stand or the project is a bust.) I also posed the question of how to remedy the new problem to my dad and brother-in-law, the family engineers. (I have yet to hear their answers.)

Life went on for a few days as I recovered from my long drive to drop Anne off at school. Yesterday, the castle fell over again. Believe it or not, it fell right over the things I had put next to it to keep it standing. My roommate and I joked that enemy soldiers had attacked the castle and knocked down a tower wall. But the castle's defenders (meaning us) rallied and repaired the tower wall forthwith. It was quite exciting in our imaginations. In reality, I stood the walls back up, we popped out what dents we could from the cans, and I moved it next to a wall of the house where it would not be so easy for the wind to push it over. Then I put the things that had been holding it up where they would do the most good.

Today, I am feeling better and the weather is supposed to get to the high 70's (25.56 C), so I figured I would wash up some more cans while the weather is nice. But when I woke up and came downstairs, my roommate -announced, "We had another attack on the castle last night."

Good news: I can now align a portion of the cockeyed walls.

Bad news: Apparently, we are at war.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Hurricane Katrina: Ten Years Later."

This morning, when I turned on my computer and opened up my browser, I saw the headline "Hurricane Katrina: Ten Years Later." Instantly, the post I intended to write changed. Known to most as "The Big Easy" or the "crescent city," I think of New Orleans and I think, "Grandma's house."

My first reaction to the headline was, "Has it only been ten years?" So much has happened since then. Then memories flooded my mind of events from the days following the storm. After that, the storm's date filtered through my subconscious and I thought, "That SOB did marry me for money! He started looking to leave me almost right away after my great aunt left her millions to her caretaker." I did some quick mental calculations... September 2008 (the divorce he pushed on me was finalized)... November 2007 (I found him with the other woman in the back seat of our new car. Then, sometime between finding them together and mid-December, he accused me of marrying him for money, which is utterly ridiculous given the circumstances and a clear projection of one of their motives)... October 2006 (he changed jobs to the firm where he met her), and August 29, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina. Yep. The timeline fits. 

My great grandmother's house
Sigh. Oh, well. Nobody can change the past. My thoughts turned back to family events immediately following the disaster. My grandparents, thank goodness, were not around for the hurricane. If they had been, they would likely have stayed in their Kenner home for its duration. Grandma might even have left Grandpa there and decided to ride out the storm with her sister in their mother's house. (My great grandmother willed her house to Aunt Geri.) But both of my grandparents passed well before the storm hit, so that is not what happened.

Instead, Aunt Geri had a caretaker living with her. He was awful, if you ask me. She'd found him through a friend of hers after my grandmother passed. (Grandma lived with her sister after Grandpa died in 1997 and until her own demise in the later 1990's... Maybe 1998 or 99?) This man moved in with our aunt and did his caretaking job well enough (from all reports), but he was very resistant to allowing any of the family to visit with our aunt. He did let my dad see her, but Dad only flew down for a visit about twice a year and if Dad had not been allowed access, the three brothers together could have taken legal action. So it was in the caretaker's best interests to not deny my dad his biannual visits. Dad's two brothers, though, live right outside of New Orleans and I remember them complaining quite bitterly about being denied access to our aunt. 

Awful though he was, this caretaker insisted Aunt Geri follow the advice of officials and leave her home during the storm. His determination saved their lives. Take a look at the flood map.

Katrina Flooding

Now look where my great-grandmother's house is.
My great-grandmother's house

Her house was under water.

My mom, of course, was the hub of all the news so I accessed her for updates. Aunt Geri and her caretaker were safe and in a hotel near the Superdome, along with the mayor and other important people. My uncle, the doctor, was required to stay and help but he had sent his family to safety in central Mississippi before the storm. I think he wound up just living in the hospital for a while. My other uncle, the engineer, had some of his wife's family and several co-workers staying in his home. There was no city power in his area (north of the river) for several days but he had a generator so was fine.

The big concern was my great aunt because she was elderly, frail and in a bad location and communications were outbound only and spotty. Then all the communications with her stopped. Her caretaker would not answer the phone. The last time anyone (which means Mom, since my parents' number was the only one he would answer) talked to him, he had mentioned something about leaving the hotel to head elsewhere. Then he and my aunt just disappeared. I am not sure where they went, but it was a few weeks before they resurfaced. When they did, they could not return to my aunt's house because of the damage. So they moved in with "a friend," but we were not told who and we were not told where the friend lived. So nobody could check in on my aunt to see how she was doing.

At the time, my family (husband, 2 children and myself) was living in central Texas. My son, 19 years old, heard that there was good paying reconstruction work in the outskirts of New Orleans and decided with a friend of his to go in search of it. I offered to drive them down so I could try to see my aunt. I always visited her when I went to New Orleans and I hadn't seen her for a number of years because it was such a long drive for us, so I figured her caretaker would let me visit for a few minutes. He refused.

I did drive by her house, though. The whole area was a mess. I was so glad my dad was not there to see the street he grew up on. Even weeks later, it was heartbreaking. All I remember now was that there were cars pulled up onto the boulevard median, brush and debris was everywhere (a big pile sat in front of my aunt's house), and all the houses had large, painted circles drawn on their sides with two numbers and a slash in them. My uncle later told me the numbers were "how many residents" over "how many dead found." (I'm glad I didn't know that before I went.)

Because Aunt Geri's caretaker would not let me see her and I complained to my mother about it (my mom even coached me on what to say to try to get him to let me visit), my dad took action. He arranged a flight for himself to go for a visit. My aunt was dead and buried (without notice to our family) before he got there.

We do know that Aunt Geri survived the flood, though. Between my visit and her funeral, my uncle the doctor got to see her in the hospital for a few minutes after the amputation of her legs. (She was a career dancer.) Unfortunately, he was unable to find out where she was living and she disappeared again when her caretaker took her. She died in a "friend's" house, only a few miles away from the generational family home where she resided for over half a century.

Ten years ago today, my family was together and my great aunt was alive. Is ten years all it's been? That seems so long ago. Doesn't it?

Do you remember Hurricane Katrina? What are some of your memories?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Beginning to Look Castle-y

So far so good. After many, many hours' work, my cans begin to form shape. Here you see the first four walls (628 cans) standing side by side on my front porch. My "sculpture" is just starting to look like it is thinking about looking like something intentional.


I had just finished this post when I heard a loud crash from my porch. It was one of my castle wall-pairs (picture at right), falling over and breaking in half. Sigh. I now have repair work to do (again). I guess the partial castle will not be drawing attention from my porch today, after all.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Broken Wall

With my daughter's help, we now have four (out of thirteen) tower walls complete. Two have turrets and two do not. The plan is to glue two sets of two walls together and set them on the front porch, next to each other and appearing all as one unit, to begin drawing attention. When I move the sets of walls off of the porch and into my yard, I will finish sticking them all together into a single unit. It is a good plan and I think I should be able to get the sets of walls off the porch with just the help of one other person (either my roommate or a neighbor).

On the day we planned to glue the first two sets of walls, I was up early. (I am usually up early during the summer months because the sun is out.) So I spent a few hours poking ventilation holes in some of the cans. (By "some," I mean roughly 300.) I must have worn myself out doing that because all my fingers turned into thumbs when it was time to attach the walls to each other.

Here you see a photo of my daughter running a bead of adhesive along one wall of cans. This is the wall that we successfully got to stick to another. As for the other set of walls? What a mess! I couldn't get them to stick together perfectly and wound up breaking a wall in half. -- I bed nobody knew I was strong enough to break a wall in half!

I quit for the day when I broke a wall in half but should have my first two sets of walls standing side by side tomorrow. That is, if they will stand together without toppling over. (Fingers crossed!) I guess we will just have to see what happens.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Shortest Strike Ever

I think it was the shortest strike in history. Here is what happened...

When I drove down to pick my daughter up from the university, this year, she informed me that she was not going to be very useful over the summer because she intended to take two summer classes. They were online classes, so she would be home, but she would need to study for them. Also, she added, she had a few summer projects of her own that she wanted to work on.

Not a problem. I am all for studying to pass classes. I also have an appreciation for summer projects. I have several of my own. So, all summer long, I was very considerate and left her alone except for about an hour a day when we ate and watched TV together. There were a few things I asked her help with, but I really kept them to a minimum.

What did Anne do with all her time? She did study a little, but most of her time was spent playing online RPGs. Finally, the end of the summer semester came and she wound up failing both of her classes. Okay. Still not a problem for me. She is an adult. She will deal with her shortage of credits however she deems best. I was just excited that her classes were finally over so that I could get some help with my castle-building project and a few other tasks that require a second set of hands (example, clipping the dog's toenails).

Then it happened. She refused to help. So I quit. Anne said, "You can't just quit like that." I said, "Yes, I can." Then I posted to Facebook that I quit and tagged both her and my son. (He was in instant agreement with me.)

When Anne came downstairs to ask what was for dinner that night, I said, "I don't know. I quit. I ate chips and salsa for dinner." She rolled her eyes and began a pot of rice for herself (which I also shared). While she was starting it, I meandered into the kitchen and asked who would be driving her back to school since I had quit so would not be doing it.

That is about when I got read the riot act and she told me that she would never be coming home again after she left for Fall semester this year. (She is a senior this year and anticipates being hired right out of school at the end of the year.) She then stomped upstairs to her bedroom.

The next morning, I went out for lunch then to the grocery to pick up a TV dinner for myself. On strike more than really having quit, I was determined to forego cooking until my demands were met. When I got home, Anne was awake and upstairs in her bedroom and playing online. I went to my bedroom for a short rest, she heard and she came for a visit.

"Is there something you want me to do today?" She asked.

Like I said, it was a very short strike. It lasted for one dinner before "management" caved to the demands of the worker.

Minor Mishap

Well, we had good intentions. We were going to wash donated root beer cans, yesterday, to get enough clean ones finish our first rootbeer wall. But when I went out to buy a couple of buckets, I got distracted by other errands and wound up coming home without them. So we began a wall out of other cans. We were going along just fine until I reached for a can, grabbed it the wrong way and cut my index finger.

I was not really hurt but we did have to stop can-struction for the day because of the blood. (Finger cuts are very bleed-y.) So we only got 1/3 of a wall done. Hopefully, today will go better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

2nd Tower Wall Complete

As of Monday, my daughter has been helping me with cans for about an hour or two each day. Together, we developed a system whereby we put together a tower wall (156 cans) in just two sessions!

Of course, the tower is not even close to ready to begin erecting outside and I moved it inside so that our workspace would be clear. But here is a picture of what I/we have accomplished so far.

Today, we will work on cleaning some donated rootbeer cans in preparation for tomorrow's construction. I think it will take two or three more walls before it begins to look like the beginnings of a castle.