A Rare Event for Lake Texoma

I just had to do a quick post about events at Denison Dam/Lake Texoma today.

Lake Texoma (a great recreational lake which also produces hydroelectric power) sits on the border of Texas and Oklahoma and is formed by Denison Dam on the Red River. Today, a rare event occurred…

Before I left to go to Australia back in April, Lake Texoma was at a reasonably low level – a below average 613ft (we have had drought conditions in Texoma for a while). Whilst I was away there has been quite a lot of rain, so much so that the dam breached its spillway today for just the 4th time since it was completed in 1944.

The Floodgates at Denison Dam

The Floodgates at Denison Dam – May 23, 2015

Yesterday we went to have a look at the floodgates of Denison Dam (Lake Texoma), the water was raging, but the dam hadn’t spilled over yet.

The Dry Spillway at Denison Dam - May23, 2015

The Dry Spillway at Denison Dam – May 23, 2015

Today we went back to take a look at the water flowing over the spillway. The water level reached approximately 640ft at 4am this morning and made it’s way over the dam wall.

The Spillway in full flow at Denison Dam - May 24, 2015

The Spillway in full flow at Denison Dam – May 24, 2015

A great sight to see – so much so, there were hundreds of people there to observe this rare event, clogging the roads and car parks around the dam (it took us about 3/4hr to get over the dam wall, have a look and then get back again – ordinarily, this might take 10 minutes).

Also good to see was the Red River, which is now a full-flowing river from bank to bank, rather than the meandering patchy streams it resembled not too long ago.

The local TV news has been reporting on it for the past week. This is what they reported.

Memorial Day – what’s it all about?

This weekend is a long weekend in the USA with Monday being Memorial Day. This seems to be a significant holiday here – another day for Americans to demonstrate their pride in their country and pride and gratitude for those who serve, fight and die for it. There are plenty of American flags about and lots of American paraphernalia to entice consumers. So, I thought I would find out what it’s all about.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, “the most solemn of American holidays”, is a day of remembrance for those who have died whilst serving in the military for the USA. It was originally called Decoration Day and was borne out of the desire to honour the dead of the Civil War (1861-1865).

General John Logan first declared that Decoration Day would be held on 30th May 1868 (not being the anniversary of any battle in particular) where people could place flowers on, or otherwise adorn the graves of fallen soldiers.

All northern states recognised the holiday by 1890, but the south refused until after WWII when the day changed from honouring those who died in the civil war, to those who had died in any war. In 1968 Congress passed an act that would see Memorial Day celebrated on the last Monday in May, allowing for a 3 day weekend. Memorial day is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May (although several of the southern states still have an additional day for honouring the Confederate dead).

The Memorial Day weekend generally also signifies the beginning of summer in the USA.

I guess an equivalent holiday would be ANZAC Day in Australia.

ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC day commemorates the anniversary of the landing of the ANZAC forces on the Gallipoli peninsula (in order to capture the Dardanelles) in 1915 during WWI (the first major military conflict that the ANZACs fought in).

Lone Pine - Gallipoli

Lone Pine – Gallipoli

It was first celebrated in 1916 however, the first organised dawn service is generally regarded as being held in 1928 where two minutes silence was observed and wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in Sydney. The tradition continues and now includes the honouring all Australian service men and women who have been killed in any military operation which Australia has been involved in, with commemorative services taking place at dawn (the time of the original Gallipoli landing) and includes the laying of wreaths, playing of the Last Post and a period of silence. The day also includes marches (involving past service men and women) and the playing of two-up.

More information about ANZAC Day can be found at the Australian War Memorial web site.

A visit to Newcastle Museum

Newcastle Museum Entrance

Newcastle Museum Entrance

Before I left Texas I visited the Sherman Museum, and since I was in Newcastle city, with some free time, I decided to re-visit the Newcastle Museum; so here is some information about the museum of my Australian hometown:

Originally established in 1988 as a bicentennial project the Newcastle Museum was initially housed in the former Castlemaine Brewery in Hunter Street and remained in that location in Newcastle West until 2008, when it closed so that it could relocate. In 2011 the museum re-opened at its current position (and incidentally, the original preferred site), occupying 3 National Trust buildings at the Honeysuckle Railway Workshops in Newcastle (namely: the Locomotive Boiler Shop, the New Erecting Shop and the Blacksmith and Wheel Shop). The museum is located just one street back from the harbour front and is close to some excellent harbour-side dining.

The museum hosts several temporary exhibitions which change regularly (check the museum website for a list of current Special Exhibitions) and is home to 3 permanent exhibits.

  • Fire and Earth – in this exhibit, two of the main industries that have played a part in shaping the identity and culture of Newcastle are brought together in an interesting display: the coal industry and BHP steel making. Included in this display is the BHP Experience – a dramatic presentation using “very theatrical sound, lighting, vision and mechanical effects to create an absorbing, up close experience of a steel pour”. 1.

    Part of the Steelworks display

    Part of the BHP Experience

Newcastle was known as the “Steel City” because BHP played a huge part in the development of Newcastle. BHP existed in Newcastle from 1915 to 1999 and was probably the backbone of the city employing thousands of Novocastrians. In Newcastle, you either worked at BHP or knew someone who did (both my parents and my husband worked for BHP). However, BHP closed down its steel making operations in Newcastle in 1999 and although traumatic for many at the time, the city is arguably better for it now!


Supernova – a hands on science centre (great for the kids)

  • Arnott's Biscuits - A Famous Australian brand - founded in the Newcastle region

    Arnott’s Biscuits – A Famous Australian brand – founded in the Newcastle region

    A Newcastle Story – examines Newcastle’s history, from early aboriginal history, convict origins and its cultural development through war, immigration, sports, etc. There are displays depicting famous Novocastrians, our sporting feats, our lifestyle and also a display relating the devastating earthquake Newcastle suffered in 1989.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Entry to the museum is free. The museum also has an excellent café “Sprout Canteen”, open from 8:30am serving breakfast and lunch.

1. Newcastle Museum


The 2nd Sunday in May


Yellow Chrysanthemums

Yellow Chrysanthemums – a traditional Mother’s Day flower in Australia

The 2nd Sunday in May is  recognised in many countries as Mother’s Day. According to Wikipedia – “Mother’s Day is a modern celebration honouring one’s own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society”. But how did it come into being?

Mother’s Day as we know it didn’t begin until the 20th century. The first Mother’s Day was celebrated in America in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother; she wanted to honour her mother and began campaigning to have Mother’s Day recognised as a holiday in the USA from 1905 (the year her mother died). She succeeded in her campaign, but later became resentful and tried to rescind Mother’s Day as she saw how, by the 1920’s it had become commercialised, with Hallmark and other companies producing gift cards, etc and profiting from it. It was meant to be about sentiment, not profit. Mother’s Day was meant to honour and appreciate mothers through hand written letters expressing love and gratitude, not through gifts and pre-made cards.

Apparently Mothers Day was first celebrated in Australia in 1924. A certain Mrs. J Heydon claims she began the tradition of giving gifts to mothers when she began taking gifts to brighten the lives of the lonely mothers of the Newington State Home (in Sydney) in 1924.

In Australia, the chrysanthemum is traditionally given to mothers for Mother’s Day as the plant is in flower and in season during May (autumn in Australia) and ends in “mum” (the common affectionate abbreviation for “mother” in Australia).

Purple and White Chrysanthemums

Purple and White Chrysanthemums

To all the mothers – have a truly wonderful Mother’s Day, I hope you are all spoilt, but also take the time to remember just how fortunate you are too. It is a privilege to be a mother and not every woman gets to experience that, so count your blessings and enjoy your day!



It’s About Time!

It’s about time I found my mojo again and did a blog post! It’s time I stopped letting distractions lead me away from what I like to do (like this blog).

I have let distractions like living out of a suitcase for the past month, not having my own space or place, being away from my husband and even the disastrous weather we have had, get the better of me and prevent me from posting some blogs.

Now, its not like I’ve had nothing to write about, I have just let other things get on top of me, get me down and have used them as an excuse. Well, its time to get back on the horse, so to speak and get on with it.

Much has happened in the past month – I returned to my hometown (although, not to my own home), returned to work, got caught up in the disastrous storms and floods here in the Newcastle and Maitland areas of NSW (see some photos), ‘celebrated’ ANZAC day by attending a commemorative dawn service and have generally been re-familiarising myself with Newcastle and catching up with family and friends. It’s been a busy time, I can’t believe how busy I have been; I thought I would have so much more free time. But enough with the excuses –

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about” – Thank you to Sir Winston Churchill

I have now had 600 visitors to this site, so thanks to all for the support!  Please stay tuned; there will be more to come soon!