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Archive for the ‘Judy Beisler’ Category

I’ve finally recovered from the shock of actually being outdoors in Okemah, Ok. in 105 degree heat – with the wind chill factor, that was about 2000 degrees F! Surely, you say, being from Houston you should be used to that? And I say, “don’t call me Surely” – that joke just never gets old :-) and no, Houstonians, unlike mad dogs and Englishmen, don’t go out in the noonday sun. We rush from our air conditioned homes to our a/c cars to our a/c offices and rarely spend more than a few minutes in the sauna that is Houston from June through September.

Back to WoodyFest 2009. It was special for a couple of reasons – one, it was the 20th anniversary of the trip some of us took to Europe with Arlo Guthrie in his quest to avoid the hype and commercialism of the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. He called the trip Blunderman’s Adventure, because we were all subscribers to his newsletter, the Rolling Blunder Review. Those present for this mini-reunion were Judy B, Margaret B., Annie Guthrie, T-Shirt Cathy, and moi. We couldn’t find anything resembling the Matterhorn, so we improvised, with a lot of help from Shelley C., who wasn’t on the trip but wanted to be. We call it the Blundermatterhorn.

T-Shirt, Shirley, Margaret, Judy, Connie

T-Shirt, Shirley, Margaret, Judy, Connie

Did I say this was special for 2 reasons?, No, it was really 3 reasons.  While some of us were quietly sitting in the audience at John Flynn’s kiddie show:

Flynnettes at rest - Judy, Shirley, Connie, Nancy

Flynnettes at rest - Judy, Shirley, Connie, Nancy

Connie – it would be Connie, always the instigator, starting making arm motions to go with John’s song “Love takes a whole box of crayons.” Of course we had to join in, and John, either totally amazed by our skill and talent or so he could get us out of his line of sight, announced that the audience was about to witness the first performance of the Flynnettes, and next thing you know, there we were on stage!  We’ve been waiting by the phone for John or his booking agent, T-Shirt Cathy, to call and let us know when we’ll start touring with him, but so far, we’ve heard only the sound of silence. T-Shirt, we thought you were our friend!

Nancy, Connie, Judy, Shirley and John Flynn

Nancy, Connie, Judy, Shirley and John Flynn

Now for the third special thing that happened. Thanks to this blog, I was re-united with a relative who’d been lost from the family for a long time. Scott, my first cousin Marilyn’s son, had decided it was time to come home again, and he was searching for information about both his mother’s and father’s side of the family. He discovered my posts about my mother’s first husband, who died in WWII – his great uncle on his dad’s side, and found that we were related on his mother’s side, and he reached out to me. He also noticed I go to WoodyFest, 100 miles from his home in Oklahoma City, so we arranged to meet there.  Out in front of the Crystal Theater (at that time it was the Cry Theater, the other letters being burnt out) a beautiful young lady came up to me and I knew it was Scott’s wife Valerie. We hugged and cried and then Scott came over – 6’4 and the spitting image of his great-uncle Hulbert Robertson, and we hugged and cried some more and then we went into the Crystal to hear Rob McNurlin. I whispered  to Scott that my good friend Rob was a fine Christian clean-living fellow, and then Rob,  that dog, did a song about a chihuahua. Oh Rob …!

Rob McNurlin - he looks so innocent!

Rob McNurlin - he looks so innocent!

We stayed around to hear Annie Guthrie, who was a cute teenager on that Blunderful trip to Europe and has grown up into a lovely and talented mother of two. Then my new-found kin and I took off for lunch and some intense family bonding.

Shirley, Scott, Valerie and Woody

Shirley, Scott, Valerie and Woody

Valerie, Scott, Shirley Christmas in July

Valerie, Scott, Shirley Christmas in July

A good time was had by all. Valerie and Scott took care of me like I was a little old lady – in a good way. I kept trying to prove I wasn’t. All was well until we got to my motel. I got out of the car, started to step up on the curb, and fell flat on my face.  V & S rushed over, sure they’d killed me, and I brushed it off – “I meant to do that to show you how fast I could get up.”  Somehow I think they didn’t believe me. Val & Scott, it was a pleasure and an honor to spend time with you, and welcome back to the family, I love you both.

Finally the show was over and it was time to return to the Real World. As we headed for the cars, we ran into the fabulous David Amram, who hung out with Woody and Jack Kerouac and folks like that, and boy, can he tell some stories!  Here we are:

Judy, Shirley, David, Chuch and Connie

Judy, Shirley, David, Chuck and Connie

I remember a time when I couldn’t see why I’d ever need e-mail, and a couple of years ago when the library staff had to learn the new stuff the kids were doing, I scoffed at Twittering and Facebook and other toys that seemed like a waste of time. I’ve gotten over that feeling. Through my blog and Facebook, I’ve connected or reconnected with relatives, some I’ve never even met in person, old, old friends – hey David and Barbara, I’m talking about you :-) and made a lot of new friends.

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Watching Gustav

As I was getting ready for work this morning, the weatherperson on Channel 11 said “we’re watching Gustav.” The hurricane season is heating up, and every week or two we’re watching some tropical storm or other, hoping it will just fizzle out before it gets to us. We’ve been lucky since the memorable season of 2005, when Katrina and its aftereffects messed up New Orleans and sent Houston 250,000 new citizens, and her sister Rita a few weeks later sent our area into a tizzy. Will we be lucky this season? We’re watching Gustav, just as we watched Eduard a couple of weeks ago. I still have my hurricane supplies of batteries and bottled water, canned tuna and beans, from that non-event.

There was a time when I loved hurricane season. My dad was in the Navy, and hurricanes were just part of our lives, from Key West to Charleston to Norfolk.  My siblings and I always thought it was a fine adventure, a time when Mother cooked up most of the food in the refrigerator, packed the freezer with ice, and got out the kerosene lamps.  Our  most exciting  storm  knocked a tree into our roof.  My grandparents were visiting, and I was sure they  were  having a great adventure too.  Our grownups must have been  excellent at hiding their fears, because the kids were never scared.

My dad retired and we moved to hurricane-less Dallas.  I grew up, went to college in high and dry Lubbock, and married. My husband was in the Army, and my first son was born at Ft. Eustis, near the Chesapeake Bay, during Hurricane Christine.  I watched it from my hospital window, not afraid, but not as excited as I was in my youthful innocence.  Damage was done, and people’s lives were disrupted.

I’ve been in Houston since 1974, and weathered many hurricanes and tropical storms. The worst damage we’ve had came from a mere tropical storm, Allison.  She hung around and dumped vast quantities of rain over the city.  The medical center was hit hard, and valuable lessons were learned.  One big one – don’t put your emergency generators in the basement!

The freeways were under water, 18-wheelers floating like toys in a bathtub.  Wasn’t that a storm!  Then came Katrina. Houstonians watched our neighbors suffer, and rallied to their aid, filling the Astrodome – which was nice and dry, cool, and clean, but still not home – and other shelters, filling warehouses with clothes and supplies.  Lessons were learned then too – if you’re in a danger zone, get out if you can.  Also, you can’t depend on your government to help you … We were barely done with Katrina when Rita reared her ugly and dangerous head.  She was a monster, quickly becoming a category 5, and heading straight for the Texas coast, vulnerable Galveston Island, and Houston, 50 miles inland.  What we didn’t learn from the other storms is – don’t panic, use some common sense.  If you’re in the city, 50 miles inland, as I said, let the folks on the island and immediate coast get out of harm’s way before you take to the very few highways and byways north or west.

I was watching Rita’s progress, starting Monday.  On Tuesday, non-essential staff  members were  released from work to prepare for the Big One.  I started  packing essentials, planning to go to my parents’ home in Dallas on Thursday.  By Wednesday, the roads were already jammed, and I was re-thinking that plan.  My parents were worried, but I said I’d rather wait until the roads cleared some.  They never did. You say it on tv, people sitting for hours in 100 degree heat, no water or food, no restrooms, no gas.  People got sick, and some died.  I let my friends & family know I would be sitting this one out.  My friend Judy in Connecticut said “can’t you take the train?” I had to laugh – we don’t do trains down south.

I was busy, busy busy the next couple of days, trying to figure out what was most precious so I could protect it.  Photos, mementos, my first edition signed copies of Kinky Friedman’s books … I figured the roof might come off, so I carried things downstairs. Then I considered the likely flooding, and carried it back upstairs. Then I thought, what the hell, I’ll put what I can on the stairs, put Kinky in a plastic water-tight container, and hope for the best.

As Rita drew nearer, she was downgraded to a 4. I talked to my dad, said we’d been through lots of storms like that safely, hadn’t we, and he said yes we had.  I sat up most of the night, watching the tree outside my window swaying in the wind, and by morning it was all over.

Now we’re watching Gustav. I think Kinky is still in that tote, but I better check.

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As part of the library’s plan to teach us old librarians new tricks, I had to sign up for a MySpace account. I thought I was a bit too old for that, but I discovered many of my friends have accounts, so maybe I’ll keep it going. Some of the best friends I’ve ever had became my friends because of Arlo Guthrie. You have a lot to answer for, buddy! My first MySpace friend after Tom & my library was Judy, whom I’ve spoken of before. We’ve known each other since that fateful European trip in Aug. 1989. That’s where we became known as Blunderites, friends of AG, who named his newsletter The Rolling Blunder Review. Other great friends on that trip – Sherry Hochman, her mom Joyce, and the finest Jewish grandmother I ever had, Pauline Singer. Thanks for sharing her, Sherry. I also met T-Shirt Kathy, Flo, uh, oh, Old Timer’s strikes – Annie G., the Smith brothers, Deb Smith … it’ll come back to me eventually. After a few years, I picked up some other Blunderites along the road, and they are my mysp. friends now too – Connie & Chuck, Shelley & Jay, Kitty West, Rob McNurlin. Ken Boult, where are you? I got to know Abe and Lisa Guthrie, I’ve met Cathy G., and I spent some wonderful quality time with Annie & little Sarah Lee in Florida one winter. Now I’ve met Sarah’s Johnny Irion & their precious Olivia. Oh yeah, and Jackie G., who endeared herself to me when I first met her, and she asked what tribe of Indian I was. I always wanted to look like my Native American ancestors, but very few people ever thought I did.

I started going up to western Mass. to Arlo’s Church Concerts in the fall, and picked up a few more Blunderite friends. Here’s some of them:

Guthrie Center tailgate Oct. 2006

Another new technology I’ve embraced is even more fun, for me – LibraryThing – I’ve been adding all my favorite authors as fast as I can – Bill Crider, Lillian Stewart Carl, Gillian Roberts, Jasper Fforde, Colin Cotterill … and there are many more to go http://www.librarything.com/profile/shwetzel


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Shirley W., Rob McNurlin, Judy BeislerMy first picturesI will now attempt to upload some of my photos

This is me, Rob McNurlin, and Judy Beisler in 2006, and Arlo Guthrie in concert

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