I bought this sterling spider brooch at an estate sale, thinking it might be fun to wear for Halloween:

This brooch is huge, about 3-1/2″ long:

The spider brings to mind the childhood song “The Eensy Weensy Spider.”  As the song goes:

The eensy weensy spider went up the water spout

Down came the rain and washed the spider out

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain

And the eensy weensy spider went up the spout again

Only the version that is playing over and over in my head goes “down came the rain and washed the city out.”  Two words — Hurricane Harvey.

Living in Houston for more than three decades, I know the scenario too well.  It starts slowly, rumblings on the nightly news about possible storm activity in the Atlantic.  Easy to shrug off at this point.  Then highway signs light up warning of storm activity in the Gulf:

As the storm intensifies and goes from possibility to certainty, the talk turns to categories, wind speed, landfall, storm surge.  Pictures of the storm dominate the news and social media:

Panic starts to set in, mild at first, intensifying along with the storm.  Bottled water and bread fly off supermarket shelves.  A nervous giddiness pervades as people queue up at grocery stores, liquor stores, and pharmacies, stocking up on supplies.

The line waiting for the liquor store to open the day before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston

Fill up the gas tank, get cash, make sure you’ve got batteries, flashlights, and candles on hand.  Let your friends and family know your plans — hunkering down or evacuating.  And then the waiting starts.  Waiting for the storm to make landfall.  The knot in my stomach tightens.

Jasper waiting and watching the rain

I’ve lived through a lot of storms in Houston — Hurricane Alicia (August 18, 1983), Tropical Storm Allison (June 9, 2001), Hurricane Ike (September 13, 2008).  Disastrous flooding caused by unnamed weather events —  Memorial Day Flood (May 25-26, 2015), Tax Day Flood (April 17-18, 2016).  Each one deadly, devastating, costly.  But Hurricane Harvey was unlike anything anyone had ever experienced here before.

Take a look at the rainfall totals over the four days that Hurricane Harvey hovered over Houston:

Look closer.  51 inches at one point.  The number none of us will ever forget.

The hurricane was so intense, so deadly, that the National Weather Service created a new warning to accompany it — FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY FOR CATASTROPHIC LIFE THREATENING FLOODING.

Our house did not flood.  Thankfully, miraculously.  But as the images began to appear on the news, our hearts sank.  This widely-circulated photo is one of the first that really drove home for us the gravity of the situation for Houston:

Much has been written about the acts of heroism, selflessness, generosity, and compassion undertaken on behalf of those affected by the floods, by people from all over the country, the world.  Disaster relief doesn’t begin to cover it.  Treacherous water rescues; preparation and distribution of hundreds of thousands of meals to victims, first responders, and volunteers; massive fundraising efforts; thousands of strangers going to flooded neighborhoods to tear out sheetrock and wood flooring, salvage what can be saved, and muck rake; truckloads of cleaning supplies, bedding, clothes, hygiene items, etc. distributed to those in need.  The road to recovery will be long, but no one will have to travel it alone.

There were attempts at humor by some.  When we asked our friend who flooded if he could use help, he replied with:

Then there was this “Yard of the Month” sign:

I couldn’t help but smile at some of the creatures crawling out of the bayous:

Imagine returning to your flood-ravaged home to begin cleaning up, and finding this in your dining room:

Back at the nervous giddiness stage, I thought it would be fun to make Harvey Wallbangers while riding out the storm.  Wrong.  I lost my sense of humor when the rain started.  But I did buy everything to make them — vodka, Galliano, and orange juice (yep, I was in that line at the liquor store):

The 70s called and wants it drink back

Inspired by the spider who saw the city get washed out, and rather than sit and stare at a bottle of Galliano for the next decade, I made a few Harvey Wallbanger cakes to hand out to friends.  I admit to really liking this cake, despite its use of cake mix and instant pudding.  It’s easy, moist, and tasty.

Recipe type: Cake
  • 15.25-ounce box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup Galliano liqueur
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 3-ounce package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • For glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vodka
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Place cake mix, oil, eggs, Galliano, vodka, pudding mix, and orange juice in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool. Invert and unmold the cake from onto a cake platter.
  3. Prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar, orange juice, Galliano, and vodka together in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more orange juice a few drops at a time. If glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar a teaspoon at a time. Drizzle glaze over cake and let set at room temperature.


Came out perfect!

Glazed and ready to serve

Moist and delicious