Monday, September 29, 2008

So Sad....

I could be talking about the post-Ike clean-up and recovery but I'm really talking about the end of baseball season.

Oh sure, it's playoff time and I'll be watching it but the Astros finished 3rd and there are no prizes for that.
Adding to our misery was the fact that Brad Ausmus played his final game in an Astros uniform. He was one of my favorite players (and hottest) and will be missed.

I also went to Galveston on Saturday. Piper has had an ear infection for a while but her vet was located in Galveston. I didn't know how they fared until I called on Friday and they were open and seeing patients!
They are precariously close to the seawall but they were high enough to only get water in the basement.
I took Piper in Saturday morning and we got to witness the carnage ourselves on the way there.
Straight up Broadway, there were piles and piles of debris all along the road. Business and homes...none were spared. Everyone had to scoop out what was left of their first floor and leave it on the side of the road.

What was most shocking to me was the causeway. We all saw the pictures of the boats that washed up onto the road but seeing it first hand was something entirely different.
These giant yachts, sailboats and fishing boats were carried by the surge onto the causeway! It was unbelievable. I was so shocked on the way there, that I didn't have my camera out, ready to take pics. On the way back, the traffic was too heavy for me to get a decent shot. This was the best I could do:

I hit the Strand district, which has always been a favorite of mine. Up until just a few weeks before Ike, I spent my weekends scouring antiques stores in that area.

This is where the Balinese Room use to be:

Click here to see what it used to look like.

And here.

Galveston is rebuilding, though. People were working hard on Saturday and slowly but surely life is coming back to the Island. It's not's just slightly crippled.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ike II

When the worst part of the storm was over, I was dying to go outside and survey the damage. However, I couldn't open my front door because the wind was still gusting and blowing rain right into my apartment each time I tried to open the door.
So, we sat in the sticky humidity with cool, wet wash cloths over our faces.
It was over for us but Houston was still getting hit and the only reason I knew things were bad in Galveston was that reporters had ridden out the storm on the island and they reported things like The Balinese Room was gone and I actually heard them on the radio, being evacuated to lower floors at the San Luis Hotel.

After some time passed and I could open my front door without flooding my living room, I ventured outside to see what it looked like outside.
The first thing I saw was a City worker in a front-end loader clearing fallen branches and debris from the street. The worst of the storm had been over less than an hour and they were already out clearing things out. Amazing.
We were lucky at the apartments, there were tons of branches down and one tree was uprooted in the back but it fell away from the building.

My mother began to obsess about her house. Did it survive?

I told her to wait a while; wait until we know the streets are safe to drive. But she couldn't wait. She was almost in tears wondering.

I walked outside to check down the roads, maybe they were clear enough to drive. That's when I saw my apartment manager pull into the parking lot.
I asked her where she came from. She had been staying at her son's house which is near my mother's neighborhood and she declared the streets clear so I ran upstairs and told my mother to pack her shit and stop blubbering. I was taking her home.

This was our chance to see our town for the first time after Ike came through and it was pretty shocking.
Signs, fences, trees and stoplights littered the sides of the roads.
There didn't seem to be a fence standing in town and the stoplight poles were bent backwards in some places.

Her house was standing. She lost part of her rain gutters and a tree that my dad had planted years ago. Her house totally stood up to that big storm and we knew how lucky we were.


There are so many (SO MANY) people who lost everything and many more lost their lives (although officials are keeping the true death toll a secret).
My family are truly the lucky ones and somehow this terrible storm brought us closer together.
Sister #1 and #3 weren't speaking before this happened. The night of the storm #1 called #3 and told her that if she died tonight, she didn't want to die knowing #3 hated her so she apologized. #3 said she could NEVER hate her and things were going to be ok.
My niece and I weren't speaking either (same reason my sisters weren't speaking) but this situation totally erased all of that.
Suddenly, we all needed each other and we all came together.

I was the first person with power so I opened my tiny apartment to everyone. They came to soak up the air conditioning and watch the horrible pictures on the news. In the mornings, I made coffee and breakfast for everyone.
When the first donut shop opened on Monday, we bought 2 dozen donuts and fed everyone.

I shoved as much food from everyone as I could in my small refrigerator and freezer and what didn't fit, I took to Sister #2's house (she had power). She had evacuated and hadn't come back yet, but luckily I had a key.

Those are the stories that we're getting out of this hurricane business. Families and neighbors coming together and helping one another. When you have no power, damaged property and an uncertain future, that's pretty much all you have: one another.

To me, it seemed FEMA and the Salvation Army were here almost immediately. The media, though, started hammering away at Chertoff and other officials, asking why it took 24 hours to get from Austin to Houston. It's a good question but I have a question for those who didn't evacuate and didn't lose their homes.
Why didn't you have bottled water and supplies?
We never had to stand in line for anything because we were prepared. We all had full tanks and several days worth of water and food.
I can understand if your home was wiped away but there were miles and miles of cars in line for free food, ice and water.

I can't stop thinking about the cities of Galveston, Crystal Beach and Bolivar. These are places that have always been near and dear to my heart. I learned to drive on Galveston Island in a green Camaro. I took countless rides on the ferry from the Island to Bolivar. Years ago, my friends Julie, Jeff, Brad and I got a wild hair and drove through Bolivar one night looking for something we weren't sure existed. For some reason we kept driving and ended up in Winnie at 4 am.
We had no plan and nowhere we had to be; we just drove down the coast, never once imagining that one day it would all be gone.
I'm sure that's how the people who lived on Bolivar felt. Sure, it's a possibility when you live in the Gulf Coast but who really imagines it?

I wish I could say I was done with the Texas Gulf but this is where my family lives. It might take more than big bad Ike to run me off.

There used to be buildings and structures that lined the Texas City Dike. Now there is nothing

This amazed me....all the boats that washed up on the causeway to Galveston Island.

pics ruthlessly stolen from Galveston Co. Daily News

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes...

ok it's not so dramatic...but I am back.

Most homes around town don't have power yet but I work in a different town and the damage wasn't quite so severe.
We have power and internet and I expect to be inundated with FEMA applicants.

Most of my family are still living without power but they all have generators now.
My mother is still staying with me and we are all so much more fortunate than many others.
Although, my mom had to have her dog, Casey put down two days ago. He had been diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago, but seemed to be doing ok. We thought he had more time but the stress of the hurricane, having to live in my apartment for a few days and the heat when we were without power took it's toll on him. It's a tough thing to deal with in the midst of all of this.

I'm sure you've all seen the pictures of the devastation on the news. I can't even tell you how it breaks my heart. These are places that I've known all my life. These are places where I've visited as early as last week.
I just can't believe they are gone. Whole towns: gone.

Right now officials are saying there are only a handful of deaths. This information is wrong and misleading.
I have heard with my own ears from search and rescue officers that the inter coastal waterway is littered with bodies.
There were people who either didn't evacuate or tried to get out too late. Where are those people now?
The government isn't saying. They denied the media access to these communities for so long. They will have to fess up sooner or later and then explain why they hid this information from us.

I'm ok, though. Thanks for all of your thoughts and messages. It was the scariest thing I've ever been through and I won't do it again.
I will admit right here and now that I was wrong for not leaving and I will get the fuck out of here by the time the next storm leaves the coast of Africa!

I will tell the whole story soon but I just don't have the time or energy right now.

Surviving Ike

Thursday, September 11, 2008:
This was the 7th anniversary of the worst attack on American soil. It’s a day that no one will ever forget but those of us in our area couldn’t really acknowledge this day because we were preparing for Hurricane Ike.
We kept watching the hurricane online and on TV. No one was certain of the strength at landfall or exactly WHERE this thing would land.
We felt certain it would be a Category 2 and some even said it would weaken to a 1 by the time it made landfall.
They kept mentioning the storm surge. I can’t really remember hearing so much about a storm surge before.
My city is completely surrounded by a levee that’s between 15 and 20 feet above sea level. We felt safe and even our city officials felt safe. They were making automated phone calls to the citizens declaring that they weren’t recommending evacuations.
It always makes me a little nervous waiting for a hurricane but I felt pretty confident we would be spared.
I took all the precautions at work to keep my computers safe and left early to take care of things at home.

Friday, September 12, 2008:
The city made another automated phone call and instead of saying they didn’t recommend evacuations, they said, “It looks like we will take a direct hit. Follow your family plan.” What the FUCK does that mean?

I knew I’d make sure that my mother and I were together during this storm but the question was where. Her house is pretty sturdy and has held up against several hurricanes in the past but she is not even a mile from the levee and I worried about storm surge.
I’m on the second floor so I wasn’t worried about rising water but I was worried about wind.
I talked it over with one of my sisters and we decided it would be best to ride out the storm at my mother’s house.

I packed up my pictures and other breakables, wrapped them in plastic and put them in a central location. If my place collapsed, maybe I could find them all in the rubble.
I took what I couldn’t live without (including my cat and dogs) and made it to my mom’s house by noon.

We watched the news, NOAA’s website and answered numerous phone calls. All they talked about was the storm surge and we watched on the news as even as early as 1pm, the surge was coming in.
This made me nervous. The storm was 12 hours away and things were flooding….and it wasn’t raining. This isn’t good.

I made the executive decision to move us all to my second story apartment around 2pm.

So, I packed my things and dogs (and cat) in my car; my mother’s things (and dogs) in her car and we convoyed back to my apartment.
My mother is almost 70 and the stairs are so hard for her so I sent her upstairs and I made the numerous trips up and down the stairs bringing our things in.
By this time it was pretty windy and it had begun to rain.
I got us settled in and we waited….the two of us….and 5 dogs and my cat.

We watched the news the rest of the afternoon, both of us nervous.
Our phones rang incessantly. My sisters called both of us a million times and my friends were texting and calling to check on me.

The wind steadily picked up as the night went on, shaking my bedroom window which faces the north. It was taking the brunt of the wind.

As the sun set, we grew more and more nervous, wishing this damn storm would just hurry and get here.

Around 9pm, it started to really rain and that north wind drove it straight into my window. It started to leak so I got thick towels and shoved them in the window sill.

An hour later, the two towels were drenched so I got two more but less than 30 minutes later they were dripping water onto the carpet.
I took those towels away and grabbed an old blanket to use instead.
I got that shoved into the window sill and turned away to ask my mother, who was sitting on the bed, what I should do.
At that very moment everything exploded. It sounded like the loudest shotgun blast.
The window had blown out. Large sheets of glass flew at me and hit me. Thankfully, I had already pulled my nightstand away from the window so all I had to do was move it out further.
I suddenly found myself in business mode. I instructed my mom to get the dogs out of the bedroom and into the living room and close the door.
I remembered that I had two extra boards in my closet that were actually shelves to my entertainment center that I never installed.
I grabbed the biggest one and put it in front of the window and just held it there to keep more glass, wind and rain from coming in.
The problem was that the board was too small and I had no way to nail it in. So, I just stood there holding it against the slamming wind, wondering to myself, “What the hell do I do now?”
I yelled to my mom that I needed help and suddenly the world went dark.
We lost power.

“NO!!!” I heard myself screaming. This was the worst possible timing.

I grabbed our flashlights which thankfully, I had placed nearby.
I had my mother hold the board while I figured out what to put over the window.
As I was thinking, I shoved the bed over to the other side of the room. Who knew I had that much strength?
Mom is the one that came up with the genius idea. “Do you have an extra comforter we can nail around the window?”
Yes! I grabbed an old twin size comforter that I had from my college twin bed days. It was super thick.
I loved that damn comforter but I wasn’t thinking about that. I was in survival mode!
Believe it or not, I knew exactly where I kept my hammer and nails too!
I grabbed those quickly and as my mother held that board against the window, barely holding on because of the incredible wind gusts, I nailed that comforter around the window.
The wind was blowing so hard that it would bow the blanket out and pull some of the nails out.
I was standing there replacing the nails when I happen to look over at my bed. I have a huge wooden headboard that isn’t attached, it’s just cute.
I pulled it out and laid it up against the window and comforter. It held.
I kept towels under for the dripping rain and I moved everything away from the window and all of our essentials into the living room.
I had to prop our luggage against the bedroom door to keep it from bursting open due to the wind.

So, there we sat, suddenly feeling VERY vulnerable. I never expected that window to break, even though everyone else in the world boarded their windows.
I guess our apartment maintenance never expected it either.
We sat there, in my living room, with candles blazing; wondering what was going to happen next. We were cramped because everything from my patio was shoved in my dining room and my dining room table was piled with all the things I didn’t want ruined from my bedroom.
Five dogs and two humans in an already crowded apartment is not much fun, plus, it was beginning to get hot.
I turned on the battery powered radio and we listened to the accounts of people on Crystal Beach trapped on their roofs or families tied together with ropes, fighting the surging waters. I didn’t feel so sorry for myself then.

The wind picked up and with each powerful gust, the entire apartment building would shake and sway.
Luckily, because my patio is facing the courtyard, buffeted by other buildings and a 6-foot privacy fence, it was like a normal day on the patio. It was two different worlds; one crazy hurricane fiasco in the bedroom, and a somewhat dark and rainy day out on my patio.

I’m not much of a praying person. I sometimes feel like I’m not even worthy of it. Why would God answer MY prayers?
But I prayed that night. I prayed for my neighbors in the apartment who stayed like me. I prayed for my mother who didn’t deserve to go through this. I prayed for my dogs that depended on us to keep them safe.
I just prayed.

It seemed like the storm went on for HOURS. My sisters kept calling and checking on us and vice versa.
Everyone seemed to be ok but we knew from listening to the news that the back part of the storm was going to be worse. The eye was coming and with it, a little calm….this is where they get the saying “The calm before the storm”, I guess.
I was praying for the eye, though. I didn’t know how long my bedroom was going to hold up. I knew the wind would come from the other direction after the eye.

It seemed like around 2 or 2:30 am, the winds died down.
The silence was deafening.
I ventured outside with my flashlight and so did several other neighbors. We saw tons of tree limbs down but no serious damage.
It was so utterly still outside; I couldn’t believe that there was just a horrible storm a few minutes ago and that another horrible storm would begin again soon.
It was peaceful…serene really.

I suppose the eye passed right over us because I had plenty of time to take each dog out and come back in and nap.
I actually dozed off!
Some say the eye lasted an hour and a half and some say 2 hours. I don’t know…I was asleep.

When the second half of the storm came through, it was pretty bad. I know people say the wind whistles but this wind roared like a monster. I could picture the wind as some kind of wild creature with giant sharp teeth, dripping with saliva.
The building shook and rattled and thumped.
I prayed for two things for the next two hours:
1. That the roof would stay on
2. That the patio glass would stay intact
If those two things would happen, we would be ok.

A few radio stations stayed on. I have NO idea which station I was listening to because it was so dark I couldn’t see the numbers but it was like a voice in the dark.
This man kept talking to me and taking phone calls from other people like us, stuck in the storm. Waiting.
I could see the sky outside my patio doors. Every minute or two, the sky would light up green. On the radio, they described that as transformers exploding.
After the brilliant flash of green, a deep mournful, groaning sound would follow. I kept watching this spectacle, feeling like the world was ending.

I was SO exhausted. It was 3am, then 4am, then 5 and I had been awake for 24 hrs. Between the fear and the radio, I couldn’t really sleep but I found myself dozing off and dreaming about what they were talking about on the radio.
Then a huge gust of wind would shake the apartment and I’d wake up and begin my prayer mantra all over again.
I could hear objects flying around in the courtyard and I begged God not to let something big fly into my patio fence and I cursed the idiots who left patio furniture out.

The DJ said the sun would rise at 6:45am. I kept looking at my cell phone: two hours til dawn then one and a half hours til dawn, etc.
I prayed for dawn because then it would be over.

About 6 am, I begged my mother to play cards with me….just to do SOMETHING to take my mind off of the sound of the wind.

We gathered the candles and flashlights and played Blackjack because that was the only thing I could remember how to play. My mind just wouldn’t reach back and find the rules to rummy or spades.
We actually laughed a lot and I felt so much better.
By the time sunrise reached us, the wind had died down and we would only suffer the occasional big gust. It was raining but not very hard.

I felt relieved. We made it. I just wondered what waited for us outside and what the next few days would be like.

Monday, September 15, 2008

She Lives

I don't know when she'll have internets, but De left me a voice mail and she's all right.

posted by Adam

Friday, September 12, 2008


The local media are wetting themselves. They are so fucking happy they have a hard time looking concerned.
But they find it really easy to tell us all we're going die.

Normally calm people find themselves in a panic after watching the news.
I finally grabbed the remote and changed it to the Food Network. Paula Deen doesn't think we're going to die. She wants us to make goulash and caramel cake!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guess What

I'm baaack.

De gave me the keys to her place in case Ike fucks her (in the bad way). Let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope the only fucking in her future involves a nice man.

posted by Adam

So we wait...

So, I guess we're ready for Ike.
The local media are whipping us all into a mad frenzy. It's like channel after channel of orgasms and hard-ons.
A friend told me that one meteorologist talked about this hurricane like a normal hetero would talk about a naked woman. He had to look closer to make sure he wasn't accidentally watching porn. (Don't you hate it when you accidentally watch porn?)

Having said all of that, I guess they feel like they have to scare us out of complacency and the new buzz term, "hurricane fatigue".
A lot of us who left for Hurricane Rita three years ago, just can't seem to do it again.
The thought of going through all of that again makes me want to burst into tears and I'm not the only one.
All of my sisters and their families are staying.
I'm going to ride the storm out at my mother's house 1. so she won't be alone and 2. because I think I'll be safer in her sturdy house than my questionable apartment.
All of her neighbors are staying too so we won't be in the neighborhood alone.

Tonight, I'll get to sleep in my own bed with the a/c cranking on high. I'll get to wear my satin pajamas and cuddle up with my dogs and my own blankets and pillows.
Tomorrow night, I'll be wide awake, experiencing hurricane winds and rain.
The night after that? Who knows?
We might get lucky....the city keeps making automated phone calls saying they are STILL not recommending evacuations. They must have faith in our levee and seawall.

I do too....I think.

Don't forget De's Twitter. When the power and internet goes down, I'll try to update by text...until that no longer works. It's been taking a while for a text to show up on it will ALMOST be live.

We will not forget

Even though I'm facing down this monster named Ike and my stomach is in a gazillion knots, I still remember that on this day, 7 years ago, my stomach was also in a gazillion knots because our country was in peril.

I had never felt that way before; it was new and I didn't like it.

So many people died and in ways that we maybe only imagine in our nightmares.

I don't think we will ever matter what future monsters lie in our way.

I don't want to see it

So that's why you're not getting one of my famous hurricane graphics.
It's just too scary.

It's too late to evacuate now and I don't even know where we would go.
We're just going to ride it out.

So, if I survive, I probably won't have internet or power for a while. But I do have a cell phone and a Twitter account.

If you'd like to follow along, I'll try to update the goings on via Twitter.

De's Twitter (sounds dirty)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ike just doesn't know when to quit

Just like a man!


I guess I'm going to wait it out. By the time we know for sure WHERE it's going to hit, it'll be too late to
I'll be live blogging the hurricane.

I have a Twitter account so I'll text the hurricane!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ike & I: We're drifting apart

I hope.


It's for the best's time we both moved on.

Happy Birthday, Dash!

Well, I'm not sure WHEN Dash was born but when I signed him up for a page on Dogster I had to put a birth date.
I figured if the shelter thought he was 18 months when I adopted him, his birthday would possibly be in September.
So, I randomly chose September 9 and September 9 it is!

But shhh....I haven't told him it's his birthday. It's a surprise.

Monday, September 8, 2008

We don't like Ike!

While Shank is probably still waiting for power to be restored, I don't have much time to mock him and his situation.
We have Ike giving us the evil eye.

I'm definitely not feeling so smug this time!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Mailbox Surprise 2.0

I had another surprise in my mailbox today.
The Red Violin from my Amazon Wishlist.
I don't know who you are but, again, I'd like to thank you properly!
What a thoughtful gesture and I can't wait to watch it.

I saw this movie only briefly a long time ago. It was late at night and I was falling asleep. I really wanted to see it to the end but it was 3 or 4 am and my body just rebelled. I look forward to staying up for the whole thing now!

Thanks again, Mysterious Stranger. I hope we can e-meet one day!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurricane Survival

Poor Shank. He's stuck inside Hanna's cone. I tell ya's not so much fun being stuck inside a cone.
There's all of this uncertainty. It will drive you crazy.
Shank asked if I had any survival tips. Well...the last time I experience a REAL hurricane was back in 1983. I was......young and her name was Alicia.
We did evacuate but we came back to unrecognizable neighborhoods. Our houses were still standing but there were trees and debris everywhere.
The power was out and would be out for nearly a week.
Oh and it was HOT. It was Africa hot and no power, which means: No Air Conditioner. The heat was so bad that we all took turns taking cold baths.
We started an extensive clean-up effort but we were overpowered by ants. There were ants EVERYWHERE. They clung to pine needles and tree limbs.
All you had to do was pick up one fallen branch and you were covered in ants.

It was like the old pioneer days out there. At night, when the sun went down, your day was over. I was a voracious reader even then and I loved to read in bed. Without electricity, I was forced to read by kerosene lamp.
Apparently, I wasn't a very bright child because I put my kerosene lamp on my bedside table, directly under my (now useless) electric lamp and quickly caught the lamp shade on fire.
There was a lot of screaming and excitement but luckily the fire was small and my parents put it out pretty fast.

I remember my mother and I standing in line for ice. Ice was a bigger commodity than water or toilet paper.
We would get word that a truck load of ice would be coming to the local convenience store so we would rush down there and get in line.
It was like communist Russia, standing in line for the most basic of necessities.

So, what am I trying to say to Shank?

1. If you leave, stay gone. Who wants to come home to a mess?
2. Who needs ice? Drink your liquor neat.
3. Reading books is dangerous. Don't do it.
4. If you're drunk enough, you won't care about the heat.
5. Don't bother cleaning up, you'll just hurt yourself.

There. That's all you need to know about surviving a hurricane.
Glad I could help.