Friday, September 26, 2008

As Normal as Can Be, For Now

At this time last week we were waiting for the hurricane. Today I am looking forward to watching some football this weekend. Alabama and Texas are both doing well and I have yet to see either of them play. I know Bama has a nationally televised game and I think(hope) Texas will be on the tube somewhere. The Texans are worrisome. I keep having flashbacks to David Carr who was the quarterback before Matt Shaub. Too many sacks, interceptions. Come on guys!

The Astros are unlikely to make the playoffs. Part of me wants them to go ahead and lose so we can get it all over. Another part of me feels like hanging on by fingernails due to the fact that if the Mets win and the 'Stros lose; it is over. Let's not beat the dead horse. I'm going to miss Brad Ausmus catching next year. He will be a good pitching coach or manager some day.

I went to WalMart this morning and saw a sign on the door which said that they now have generators for $487 plus tax. I thought this was a little funny, like closing the barn door after the horse is gone. But, in truth there are still some 400,000 Reliant customers who have no power, still.

FEMA apparently is saying that they sent too much ice here, so they are just going to let most of it melt because it costs too much to keep it frozen. Excuse me, but there are still people who have no way to keep food cold! Take it to Galveston! If the brilliant folks at FEMA think no-one needs it, they are wrong. But they have decided to send all the trucks back. Makes sense, right? Uh, well maybe not. But this is a federal agency.

Back to life in the big city. That is if we can see it for all the debris piled up at so many homes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Almost Back to Normal

Things continue to improve here. I just wish there were more improvements for those who still are in pain. There are still many, many people who need help. They no longer have homes and need help to rebuild not only their personal homes but their communities. Every time I look a video of Galveston and other areas severely impacted by Ike I cringe at the thought of how much money and how long it will take to recover. I am impressed with Mayor Bill White and county judge Ed Emmitt as well as our congress-people and Gov. Rick Perry who are fighting hard to cut through the red tape to get things done.

Here we have had power since Sunday, but the cable has been a problem. Off and on, poor quality,etc. I discovered the other day that Comcast was, in effect, babysitting the amplifier across the street. Funny thing is they would do this from 6:30 am until 10:30pm. A service van sat there running the equipment by generator. At 10:30 they shut it down and left. That meant the cable went off.

Yesterday morning I watched six trucks sit along the street as the workers tried to figure out what do do. They dug a hole, they checked the equipment, they scratched their heads. Around 3:30 in the afternoon I heard the workers checking out the electric lines and the cable lines behind our building. One of them was checking something when suddenly I saw a flash of light and a "BANG"! Then the cable went off. At least it wasn't the electricity. Then they had to move more trucks into the area behind the building to replace what ever blew. Grrr. I could hear "NCIS" but not see it. Whatever they did to finally get the cable operational worked, but now there is a large orange and black cable placed along the ground behind all the buildings. Hum... At least now the cable is working and has not gone off again. I also found out that Comcast will pro-rate next month' s for us. That is nice, on the other hand they are the only utility who bills into the future. This months bill is for services through Sept. 29th. Go figure.

Now I wonder what the yard guys are going to do when they come to mow here. Ha,ha, somebody is going to have to get all those pine tree needles and small branches up as well as all those pine cones which are littering the yard. We have already piled up all the big branches at the curb. I hope the yard guys bring a rake. Yeah, right!! Any body want to play drop kick the pine cones?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Things I Thought About Recently

When we were facing Ike's onslaught and the aftermath I was forced to think of different things of varying degrees of importance. Partly due to worry about what was to happen and how we would fare in the days following. Now that things in our area are being in return to "normal", I have been remembering tidbits of my days around Ike.

I felt confident we had enough supplies, plenty of water and snack foods. We went to the store the Thursday before Ike just to pick up a few thing. Other shoppers had a glazed look in their eyes. Fear, concern?

In the middle of the storm I suddenly worried about my car's convertible top. I expected to see it in shreds. When it was safe to go out, I saw that it was fine. Whew...

Later, without power I thought what to do... no tv. Radio was my lifeline to sanity. On the other hand, after a couple of days I began to feel that I had heard all the playlists on each station. News radio was not much better. I read during the day. I finished "Marley and Me" which I had started some time ago. Now what. During a few bored moments I grabbed a handful of M&M's fully intending to mindlessly eat them. Well, I looked at them in the little container and thought how many of each color are there? Nothing else to do, right? So I divided them into colors and counted. Brown-16,Blue-10,yellow-8,Green-16,Orange-9, Red-17.

Then I looked at the football game tickets which were for the Texans game the Sunday after Ike. Hum...what will the NFL do? Play the game in another (neutral) city? A fans revolt might happen if they did that. Let's face it we are still mad at MLB and Bud Selig for moving the Astros games to a "neutral" site. Milwaukee, for Cubs fans, is a "homefield advantage! No we are not going to play our football game in Atlanta,either. Since Reliant Stadium was damaged the decision was finally made to play the game in November on a day which would have been a bye week for both teams. At least the stadium will be fixed by then so it will be a home game!

One good thing we did have on hand was crank flashlights. A nice invention. Jimmy had bought some at Home Depot months ago just because they were on sale. Crank it up and you have Light, yea! Well worth the money at twice the price.

Power companies are still people are begining to complain. We have power; my neighbor down the street does not. 4 million customers (over 2 million with one company alone) is a lot to do.

I wondered what had happened on my soaps. Yikes, when the cable came on, what happened to, just name a character... Finally I could look at the "outside world" sort of. That is when the cable was on. It went off a couple of times over the weekend. Yesterday a Comcast truck was "baby-sitting" an amplifier across the street. It stayed there all day and kept the tv on. That is until they left at 10:30 pm. Huh? This morning I saw a total of 6 trucks parked across the street while the cable guys tried to figure out what to do. My fingers are still crossed.

When I went out this morning I noticed the traffic light up the street was finally working. Yipee! Four way stops are dicey at best.

Well, now that the traffic lights around our neighborhood are working, I feel better. Moving forward.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One Long Night, One Longer Week

Thursday the 12th all the local tv stations began broadcasting 24 hour a day Ike news. We watched the weather and all the work being done as Ike approached. There was still a question of exactly where he would go. Friday morning at 5:00am we all watched as the sea started to sneak over the banks in Galveston. News people and locals all said that was unusual. Jimmy and I were ready. We had food a water. We moved things around outside to hopefully keep them from becoming projectiles. Late Friday afternoon I noticed the winds began to kicking up a little. Nothing out of the ordinary, yet. By 10:00 pm, winds began to stiffen and rise to about 40-50 mph. Still things were calm. We had planned to sleep(sleep?) downstairs in case the roof was damaged. As the night wore on we listened as the winds became increasingly stronger and louder. We continued to watch tv. Jimmy kept playing poker on-line. Around midnight the dogs began to realize something was not right. Daisy started to quiver. About 1:00 am we lost the cable. The wind and rain had become loud and intense. We tried to follow the tv on-line until about 3:00 am saturday. Then the power was knocked out. Without the roar of the storm it would have been eerily quiet.

We sat in total darkness as Ike stormed through. There was a little light on the outside of the firehouse thanks to their generator system which immediately kicked in. Except for the raging storm, it was completely silent. I really wanted to go outside and watch, but I had heard that opening a door would make windows blow out. I don't know how true that it, but I resisted the urge. I heard a loud thud outside the front window as a small tree which had died long ago, trimmed but never removed, finally gave up and fell to the ground harmlessly. We waited, and waited. After what seemed like an eternity, the skys lightened and it was daylight. We ventured out to see the damage. The back yard area was flooded, but no more so than we have seen during an average hard rain. The drainage ditches on either side of the road we flowing briskly. Our side never escaped the bank. The other side though, overflowed and nearly covered the parking lot where a lot of RV's, boats, trucks and other vehicles are stored. I had fully expected them to have been tossed or overturned. Other than a lot of pine tree limbs down, it was ok. As I walked to our parking lot I discovered that the only apparent damage was to the chimney of the unit in front of us. It had been knocked over into the chimney next to it. A big, gapping hole was in the roof of the front unit. It also happens to the the unit where "Mr. Personality" anda his wife live. Sadly, there was a good bit of water damage to the second bedroom. They are expecting a baby Oct. 8th and this was to be the baby's room.

Most of the neighborhood had little damage other than tree limbs and pine needles and cones everywhere including the street. A couple of houses had huge, old trees which split in half. Only one house had a tree fall into the home. So now what? No power... but people came outside and begain to help each other clean up the mess.

Thus began a long, long week without power. No tv, no computer. We only entertainment was via radio. After Monday Jimmy was able to go back to work. Most of the businesses in our area work without power too. So battery powered radio was all we had. I kept changing channels for variety. After a while I realized that I had heard just about all the playlists, so I switched to a news station. Well, there is only so much information available on radio. During the day I ocassionally read or drove around in search of ice. It was a good thing I had filled my car with gas before Ike. Two good things, we never lost water and our water heater is gas so we could still take hot showers. Some people like Amanda and Pat had no power or water.

The big question all week was when we would get power. At one point there were over 2 million people without power. Would you like to test your marriage? Just try living around each other for nearly nine days without power. Grrr...!! Add all of this to not being able to know what is going on in the rest of the world or seeing any pictures of what happened to Houston/Galveston and the rest of the areas struck by the hurricane. News junkie that I am, frustration was my constant companion. Our friend Jan called several times to tell us what she saw of CNN. Gradually power was being restored but all we had heard was that it might be two or more weeks till we got power, groan. Then Saturday evening I noticed that the Remax building and a small shopping area down the street had outside lights. But not us. Maybe soon? Then yesterday morning as we sat drinking a cup of luke-warm instant coffee we heard a "Bang". "Crap", I thought, "Did a transformer blow?" I walked outside to see if any of the transformers behind the buildings were on fire. Whew, no. But it was then I realized the power was back on! Yipee!

Finally, we began to plug back in things. No cable though. We got out the "rabbit ears" so we could watch local tv. It was only then we were able to see any of the damage. Later the cable came back on. Yea! Football! But in the fourth quarter of the Packers/Cowboys game, the cable went off. At least one cable truck has been across the street working on the neighborhood amplifier all night. Nothing yet. Back to the "ears".

Things are improving gradually. Thanks to all of you who have left your comments checking on me. I appreciate it so much.

There is so much more to tell. More to come...stay tuned.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Don't Like Ike

I am old enough to remember the saying "I like Ike" when Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for President. Well right now the tv stations here in Houston are having non-stop coverage of the looming hurricane Ike as he lurches closer and closer to the mid to upper coast of Texas. Some places near the coast have already evacuated or are evacuating now. It was decided earlier this week that the west end of Galveston would have to evacuate because it has no seawall to protect it. Now the Mayor has decided that the entire island of Galveston should evacuate. What is hard to watch on tv is the line of ambulances taking patients out of hospitals especially the neonatal patients who are going to be airlifted to central Texas. Unfortunately the ambulance crews are putting as many little patients as possible in each ambulance so they have no room for the parents of the babies. This is high anxiety for those parents. Buses are staged in several areas ready to take on passengers with special needs or no other transportation.

We are waiting to see what happens with our friend Jan. She is supposed to fly in Saturday morning. Of course right in the middle of the mess. We are supposed to pick her up at the airport. In the middle of 70-100 mile and hour winds and heavy rain! I am hoping her flight will be canceled or she can change it to a later flight. We are supposed to go to the Texans game Sunday. The game is scheduled for 3:00 pm. If she were able to change her flight, even to Sunday morning it would be better. She may be a friend who spent a lot of money on the game tickets but I would rather not risk driving our little convertible sports car in the middle of Ike. I feel a little evil, but I don't want to get out in it Saturday at all. Continental Airlines which is based in Houston has put out a press release saying that flights may be delayed or canceled because they can't get here.

And of course today, for the first time since we have had the Trans Am the "service engine soon" light came on and I think the a/c needs freon...naturally. I don't like Ike! It's going to be a long week-end.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Words That Irritate Me

Trivial as this may be I wish people would have better vocabularies. Have you ever noticed that we all tend to get into verbal habits. We say the same things over and over. We describe something as "amazing" or "awesome". Is every thing really amazing? I see some many interviews with people on tv who think whatever they did or sang or saw is just amazing or totally awesome. I am sure there are other words in the English language that describe the situation as easily as "amazing" or "awesome".

Then there are people who answer a question with "I mean...". What do they mean when they answer a question that way? The question may be about winning a ball game or a movie review. Sometimes it could be a serious question about a crime or a weather event like a tornado or flood. I mean why do they have to start the answer by saying "I mean".

Another phrase which, to me, is overused is "that's messed up". How is a situation messed up? A girl did something that was thought of as odd by someone else. "That's messed up" is used as a statement of opinion. Hum...

When I was growing up my parents tried to make sure that my vocabulary was well rounded. They encouraged me to read a lot. They thought reading would be a good way to increase my own vocabulary while reading a good story. I guess this is one reason I like Stephen King novels. He uses so many different words to describe the mystery, horror and terror. Who knew there were so many ways to describe an evil car or a crazy, rabid dog? I mean, it's totally awesome and amazing. I wish I could write good stories, but I can't and that's messed up. Jeez.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hives Are Not Just For Bees

Crazy Daisy was really off the wall during the holiday week-end. Of course she was excited to see Annie and the boys. She loves to chase Skylar and Michael. No, let me re-phrase that - they chase her. But in the middle of all of the fun, Daisy was not so happy.

The yard man mowed the yard Friday evening. At first I was happy and thought so would be Lady and Daisy. Lady was. After all the grass was over my ankles, so just imagine how high it was on her. The weeds which is most of the yard were even higher. Daisy has gotten to the point where she will not even go around the back of the building. Don't laugh, but there have actually been times when I carried her to the edge so she could walk over to the ground at the fire station to do her business. Daisy all but refuses to do her business in the grass anymore. She would rather walk all the way down the neighborhood street and do it there. We have been having some arguments about this because she is easily distracted due to people driving off to work or school buses or even the neighbors outside. Don't even ask how you argue with a dog.

Saturday Daisy started acting funny. She was either bouncing from chair to chair or running up the stairs. At first I didn't give it much thought. Plus she was constantly scratching. Poor baby. She usually scratches a lot in the summer. I frequently have to give her Benadryl so that she can sleep. Suddenly early in the evening, I was horrified to see that she was literally covered with huge bumps almost everywhere. Her back, belly and head were covered. Even her head and face had them. This was the worse case of hives she had ever had. I don't know if it was the grass, creatures in the grass, or all the excitement, but I came within minutes of taking her to the emergency vet. She was miserable. I quickly gave her Benadryl, hoping it would kick in quickly. I grabbed her and ran upstairs to put her in a soothing cool bath which calmed her a lot. She kept looking at me pleading for me to make it stop.

Finally the medicine started to act and she calmed down a little. I continued to watch her hives. Gradually they decreased in size and intensity. It took nearly two days for the hives to completely go away. Now she has recovered and is back to normal. This is Daisy and normal is a relative term. However we are now back to the tug of war. Down the street or near the parking lot, which would you pick? We are again in a battle of wills. I refuse to walk all the way down the street at 10:00 at night and she refuses to squat any where near anything green. At this point I am hoping first, for some rain to wash the grass and weeds and second, for fall so that the growing season will end thus making all the stuff die off. Come on Fall! Only then will we have some peace. Only then will I have the upper hand in convincing her that the ground is safe.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Labor Day Sped Right By

Labor Day has come and gone. Somewhere I think I lost three days. I tried to catch up on the house cleaning Thursday and Friday before Annie, Jason and the boys got in. Up and down stairs, who needs exercise? Of course giving the dogs baths is always a challenge. Lady is not really a problem since she is old and rarely leaves the chair, so she is easy to catch. Daisy has to be bathed by sneak attack so I grab her first. So everything was ready. Gustav was still churning.

Annie and Jason decided to wait until Saturday so they could visit with Jason's cousin in San Antonio as he was graduating from Air Force boot camp. While there Skylar learned how to salute.
Later he showed me what he learned...too cute! Annie was a little worried about coming to Houston since we were not sure what Gustav's plans were. She did not want to get stuck in a lot of traffic. After a lot on arm twisting, I mean discussion, they did make it here late Saturday night.

Pat had told Annie that he wanted to take the boys fishing. They had never been fishing or to a beach. It was assumed that they would go Sunday to Texas City where Pat usually goes. Little did Annie know, but Pat had planned a surprise for her. Her twin brother had gotten in touch two of Annie's friends whom she had not seen in a long time. Instead of going to the usual place they went to Galveston. The boys got to ride the ferry for the first time. Then they had a little party on the beach in Galveston. Tents on the beach? Well, that started out as the plan. Let's see Annie, Jason, Skylar, and Michael on the beach. Plus Annie's two friends as well as Pat and Amanda and Greg and Abby. Quite a party on the beach, it must have been fun. But in the back of all their minds was Gustav. Late in the night it started raining, so rather than take any chances they packed up and left the beach.

Later Sunday Annie was on a hunt for Astros gear. She wanted to find some ball caps and shirts. We went to a flea market where she found a lot of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell stuff. Those were two of her favorite players, especially Biggio. She hopes to decorate part of her house with Astros stuff. She did find a bunch of stuff at the flea market but not the caps she wanted, but she did find some later at a local store. Meanwhile we still watched the sky...

Monday they worried about what route to take home since I-10 would be swamped with people trying to get away from Gustav. As we watched the weather reports Gustav apparently did not choose to visit Texas. But there was a lot of traffic around east Texas. We waited for Amanda so we could go to lunch before Annie and Jason left to go home. Amanda came over in Pat's car which used to be her car, but that is another story. Any body want to ride in a car that whistles at girls? No, how about la cu ca racha? Just think of that. As we left the resturant Amanda decided to play the whistle and the Mexican song to the delight of a guy standing outside. He had to think we were nuts. He broke into laughter. Me, I tried to hide in the back seat. But it was funny.

Three day holiday weekends don't last long. Well at least we had no problem with Gustav here. But there is a new trio of storms out there waiting to visit. Hannah may visit Florida or the Carolinas. Ike and Josephine have not made their travel plans yet. We shall see.