Sunday, September 28, 2008

Monday Bunday: Gifts Galore

On Saturday, the UPS man brought Cadbury a package, addressed to him and his family. The box appeared to be full of treats:

First, of course, we had to read the note:

Then came the unpacking:

Orchard Grass! Our favorite!


A fun new toy:

And sticks for chewing:

Pixel got some tasty gifts, too:

And there were even treats for humans:

Best of all, of course, was the fun of the box itself:

Thanks, Glenna, Pink, and Elvis! You’re great pals!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Update: Good News, Bad News

We have mixed news on the storm repair front. The good news is that the crews are finally at work restoring power to the rest of my neighborhood. The broken pole has been replaced and although I won't know until dark how many of my neighbors got their power on today, at least work is being done and that's great news. Also, the neighbors at the end of our street have power again and our friend's neon kitty is lighting up her window again. Once everyone has lights and we have a few streetlights, things will start to feel more normal and I won't be so nervous coming home from campus after dark.

Yes, after dark. We still have no internet. I had high hopes when I saw the pole repair crews today, since I think our cable outage is somehow tied into the whole no-power, no-lines thing. But Dan saw a Comcast truck today-- the first one we've seen since the storm. They told Dan they were doing an assessment. WTF? Two weeks and lots of phone calls and they're just now assessing? They told they Dan didn't know yet when we'd have service, but they told our next-door neighbor it would be one to two weeks. WTF again? I really wish these clowns would get their stories straight and give us answers we can plan around.

In the meantime, it's hard to live in my usual way, since I'm used to being online a lot, puttering on office projects, emailing friends, looking for new recipes, doing research for my writing, submitting stories, visiting friends' blogs, and reading news. I can do all of those things at the office, obviously, and I'm very fortunate that it's just a short walk away. But it's also not convenient or even safe sometimes, and after awhile it just gets old.

Today was long run day and I stayed home again because I wasn't sure if Memorial Park had lights yet and I've read that the bayous still stink. Running around campus seemed the better option and I did 17.5 miles. I'm still not at my old distances, but the weather was nice and I felt pretty good, so I'm happy.

And finally, Cadbury got another package in the mail! I forgot my jump drive at home and I'm not going to go back and get it tonight, so everyone will have to wait until tomorrow to see what his friends Glenna, Pink, and Elvis sent him! Thanks, friends!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Share

Last night I tried this recipe for Polenta Spinach Pie. It's basically a cornbread crust pizza and I added fresh garlic, didn't use anything remotely like two cups of sauce, and I used both mozarella and parmesan on top. Dan and I were both very pleased with the results. It's easy, quick, tasty, and would probably be delicious with any toppings, if one weren't crazy about spinach.

We still don't have internet service at home and I'm torn on the subject of whether or not to spring for a land line for backup. We wouldn't use it very often and I would only consider it worth the initial expense if Comcast were going to be out for another week or more. But Comcast can't say how long before we have service again. It could be a day, a week, or a month. No one at the customer service level has any clue. It's frustrating.

I'm beginning to suspect that the problem with our cable is related to the fact that most of our neighborhood remains without power. This morning I saw that the street at the far opposite side of the neighborhood has power but they, like we, have back yards that abut university property. Everyone in the middle is dark and other than the tree-cutters, no crews have come to work at restoring service. And in spite of the Houston Chronicle's assertion that not all power restoration requires actual trucks, you've seen the pictures of the smashed pole, broken box and sagging cables. We do, in fact, need trucks. And workers. And equipment. Lots of it.

If our internet is related somehow to the power problem, we could be waiting awhile, since I don't think our neighbors are scheduled for electric service restoration until the weekend, and that's if workers actually show up and start doing something and no additional problems are found.

I'm going to check if my studio gets any wireless bleedover from the university. I doubt it, because I don't think the university's wireless service extends to the back of the parking lot and therefore to my fence, but one never knows and it's worth checking.

In the meantime, it's getting easier to write and do other projects. It was hard at first because I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. It gets easier, though, and I have to keep reminding myself that we've been much luckier than our neighbors and I need to grateful. Time will pass and someday this will all be an amusing memory.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Bunday: The Art of the Nap

Getting sleepy...


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Update

Still no internet at home, but I tried to make this as close to an ordinary day as possible. I had to do my long run on campus, which meant starting after the sun was up. This made it hard to go as long as I wanted because I ran out of time before I needed to be home getting ready for us to go have lunch. I ended up only doing fourteen miles, but I'll consider that a success for now. Memorial Park was out of the question since it still doesn't have lights, so running circles there posed no benefit over running circles at home. The bayous all stink, so anything involving bayou trails wasn't a good option, either.

We do what we can.

Our Indian restaurant was open today - yay! I had hoped to get some more destructo-pics on my first outing since the storm, but I didn't see as much damage as I expected. Everyone has been very busy cleaning up and the biggest evidence now of last week's storm is the cut trees and piles of branches in front of nearly every inner loop home, and the open windows marking who still doesn't have power.

I wonder what will happen to all that wood? I hope the cut up trees will be shipped north for people challenged by high fuel oil prices this winter. It would be a nice way to bring something good out of the disaster.

We were very lucky to get power restored when we did. As it turns out, we're on the same grid as part of the university and not where I showed the picture a few days ago of the damaged box and lines. The university was considered a priority and the area behind our back fence didn't have trees to damage the lines, so they brought it on much faster than the rest of our neighborhood, which is still dark. For those of us whose back yards abut the university, though, we're up and running.

Except for internet. I know I shouldn't complain when so many still don't even have lights but if Comcast could just give us a real estimate, that would be a big help. Instead we get canned answers about "crews working in your area." Right. Haven't seen a single one. Given that Comcast's call center is probably in India, I'm sure it's a reasonable answer to them, but Houston metro area is the size of a small country! "In your area" could mean anything.

But I have the university and for that I'm grateful. I have to be careful coming and going after dark, but I carry nothing of value with me and so far the only danger I've encountered is nearly being run down by some dorm rats playing a game that looked like a version of flag football where a stolen pylon was being used in place of a ball. I could've sworn I was safely out of bounds, but I was a dorm rat once myself and I can vouch for the fact that these late-night games have very flexible rules, all of them made up on the fly.

And speaking of being out after dark, it's after 9:00 and I need to think about wrapping things up here and going home. I have some "lessons learned" posts I'm working on and that I will copy and paste over the coming week, so be prepared for some prep lists and recommendations.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Eggs and Internet

It seems amazing that a week has already gone by since I woke up to find Dan parked in front of the TV watching the storm surge crashing over the Galveston seawall. Even though we were without power until Wednesday afternoon, we were incredibly fortunate to have cool weather and the resources of the university at our disposal. Things could have been much worse for us.

Our only two dilemmas now are lack of internet service at home and the state of the city in general. Dan tried to go run errands the other evening and came back saying it was still too crazy out there. From my co-workers I hear of long gas lines, long grocery lines, debris, detours, and traffic lights out everywhere.

This leaves us dependent on our existing food storage at home. It's not a really huge problem for me since I'm content to eat pretty much the same thing day in and day out. But I like to provide Dan with variety and it's starting to become problematic. Or rather, the lack of eggs is becoming problematic. I'm running low on cheese and butter, too, but without eggs I'm having to get creative to avoid serving some variation of rice and beans every day.

I should've stored powdered eggs and that's all there is to it. I used to have some but they tended to clump and were tricky to work with. I feel kind of stupid now for not keeping some on hand anyway. It's an important lesson learned. I also want to find out how to make yogurt without a starter. I think I can do this with acidophillus tablets but I'll have to do a little research first. Yogurt would be great to have as a substitute for sour cream, buttermilk, and cheese. I know how to make yogurt and I have powdered milk. Just nothing to use as a starter. Another lesson learned.

This is not a real crisis, though. We have other food. We have restaurants right here on campus. We can go to the store if we're willing to put in the time and deal with the hassle. But I'm using this experience to understand where my planning gaps are, and eggs and yogurt are big ones.

Last night I made a loaf of honey-wheat bread for sandwiches (we've got plenty of peanut butter) and a focaccia pizza using a focaccia mix I bought several months ago, and Bag Lady's wonderful pizza sauce. I topped it with the last of my mozzarella and some rehydrated onions, tomatoes, zucchini and spinach leaves. It was completely delicious and there's a lot left over. I also found a recipe for empanadas in one of my cookbooks, so I plan to give that a try using minced rehydrated jerky and onions, and with a side of rehydrated refried beans.

So no, we're not starving by any stretch of the imagination. But I never realized until now how much I really needed eggs! Or the internet. I miss being able to read blogs and news at home. I have to rush through things here at the office because I'm supposed to be working.

Like right now.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Power Restored!

When I went home for lunch our power was back up. Yay! We still don't have internet because Dan couldn't get the router working before he had to go back to the office but at least the worst is over. I took a late lunch and began doing cleanup and most of my life can resume its normal patterns now. I sure hope Dan can get the router up tonight but if our electricity stays up, I'm happy for now.

What a relief to have air conditioning again!

Signs of Progress

The tree cutters are in our area today, removing the trees from the power lines. Yay! It's a step in the right direction. I just hope once the trees are removed it will be a simple task to get the power restored.

For everyone who keeps asking, we haven't used the soda can stove and now that we have access to our neighbor's house with a gas stove, we won't be doing any more camp cooking. Here is a website that talks about the soda can stove, though: Best Camp Stove Ever

Please be patient with me. I have no electricity or internet at home. It takes a long time to do basic tasks and I'm expected to be at work every day now, too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Pics

The storm hideout in the closet. You can just see Cadbury's ear in the carrier. I had to have a kleenex box in the closet with me because the closet was dusty and I kept sneezing. You can also see I have pillows and a stash of books. When the FM radio stations all went out I read aloud to Dan for awhile until we decided to quit waiting for FM to come back on and found a good AM station instead.

Fearless hurricane bunny!

Dan, checking the doppler on his Blackberry to see if the storm would EVER end. The reason the pic is so bright is because of the camera flash. It was actually very dark in the house and we were doing everything by the light of electric lanterns and glow sticks.

Pixel, high and dry on the fireplace mantel.

The view from our porch the morning after.

The tree that fell in our yard. No little sapling!

The view looking up the street from our house.

Someone who didn't fare as well with their tree.

This one looks bad but it's only cosmetic damage.

This street had three more trees of this size blocking the road, but none fell onto the houses.

Remember my bayou? This is soon after the storm had passed. In the lower left corner you can see the debris where the bayou left its banks, flooding my my neighborhood's streets but thankfully not our houses.

This part of MacGregor Road, about half a mile from my house, was still flooded even after my neighborhood was clear.

By evening the bayou had gone down considerably and the evening light was an odd yellowish color.

Cadbury back in his room, glad to be out of the carrier but puzzled as to why everything is so dark and stuffy.

Pixel, checking out the mosquito netting over the door.

Our neighbor's new trampoline, courtesy of Ike.

Honey, anyone? This explains why our tree fell-- it was a bee tree!

Look closely. The top of the tower is bent over. The satellite is supposed to face the other way.

Farther up my street, toward the bayou.

Someone else who got lucky with the direction their tree fell.

If you look carefully, you can see that some clever person used a fallen branch to prop up a tree that was pulling down a power line. Good thinking, since if the line doesn't break we'll get power back on sooner.

This tree fell in front of my office building.

College of Architecture, with most of the roof of one wing lying on the ground. Same thing happened on the other side of the building. I find it ironic that the College of Architecture was the only one to lose its roof.

Trees and light posts down outside the Computing Center.

Trees uprooted in the picnic area in front of the Computing Center.

Sign on tree says No Parking. Good advice.

Sagging power line at the entrance to my neighborhood.

Why I'm skeptical that we'll have power again anytime real soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Connected! Sort of.

I've got wireless connectivity in my office, which means even though my desktop computer is unable to log me on, I can bring in my laptop. Yay!

I'm glad everyone was pleased with my breakfast. It's a big psychological boost to be able to have a nice meal when a lot of other things are out of order. I'm hoping we can have bowtie pasta with pesto and pinenuts tonight, but we'll see how that goes. Heating water with sterno is slow and we don't feel completely comfortable using the soda can stove when it's windy out. The soda can stove really would be the better way to do it, though.

This evening I threw out everything left in the freezer that could go bad. It wasn't much-- just a few emergency frozen dinners that we keep on hand to pop in the microwave if we run out of "real" food during the week. I moved the remaining ice into the fridge, so we've got one more day before we'll have to bring all our food to my office fridge. By then we're supposed to come back to work anyway so they can't stop me.

Yes, the bastards want us back TUESDAY. Can you believe it? I'll be very surprised if they can find enough students, staff and faculty to make a quorum around here. I talked to my boss earlier today during one of the few times our cell phones were working, and she said no way could she return on Tuesday because she had too much to do. She said some of our co-workers were still in the cities they evacuated to, so they won't likely come to work Tuesday. It ought to be interesting.

I'm putting together a list of what worked, what didn't, and what I would like for next time (should there be one). I'll share that list with you in a day or two in case you live where emergency prep is something you do or should do. I have to say, though, that I've learned a lot over the years, researching my post-apocalyptic novels. I've been lucky with my situation, though. The weather hasn't been unbearable and a cool front is coming tomorrow. We've had water, even hot water (water heater is gas, unlike the stove). We've had the university resources at our disposal, although we're using them sparingly.

Anyway, Dan is off my computer now so that means I should log off as well. We're going to go home and see about dinner. If the pasta doesn't turn out maybe I'll make some of those black-eyed pea cakes. They don't fry well in my stainless steel skillet, but I do have an old teflon one somewhere. Using teflon once every five years or so won't kill me. Not if a hurricane can't.

More tomorrow. I have internet and I can say that. I'll also prep my pictures tonight and post them tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Post-Hurricane - Sunday

I'm on a friend's computer with internet access. Yay! This will have to be short, though, out of consideration.

The hurricane winds were pretty scary from about midnight through 8 am but our house is incredibly solid. The walls didn't even creak. We lost a few metal siding things from the gutters but that appears to be it. We acquired a new wind turbine which we found only a foot away from the cars. We don't know where it came from since no one in the near vicinity lost one. We have a neighbor with a new trampoline, blown into the yard from who knows where.

I've got some great pictures whenever I can get them uploaded.

Our neighborhood is full of downed trees and one street is completely blocked. Most of the rest of the neighborhood is passable though. The first thing everyone did was go outside even before the rain stopped and start moving the branches out of the roads so vehicles could pass. We saw the university cops go through today on patrol and that made me happy.

We finished clearing our yard and driveway of debris today so we look all civilized now except for the downed tree in the yard and the enormous debris pile. Everyone has a debris pile though. We also found that the reason our tree in front fell was that it was partly hollow and contained bees. I took a picture of the honeycomb so I hope the pic turns out.

There's a satellite tower behind our house where the dish blew over and the tower is now bent with the dish facing the opposite direction.

The campus has power and we had dinner in my office break room last night, cooking food from our freezer in the toaster oven. As we lose cool in our fridge we'll slowly take food over there to keep in the office fridge. No one is sending us away when we're on campus so as long as we don't look like we're moving in, we figure it's cool.

I cooked scrambled eggs with chipolte cheddar and gingerbread pancakes this morning over a sterno can. It was too windy to use my soda can stove but I'd like to try that out sometime too.

For light, we have solar yard lamps that we take outside in the day and bring indoors at night. We also have chemical glow sticks. It's all much safer than candles. We have nice LED lanterns, too.

We have no screens for the doors but we rigged up some mosquito netting. Should any mosquitoes get inside despite our efforts we can rig them over the bed at night.

Dan isn't mocking any of my hurricane supply efforts any more.

Still no word on when the university will reopen but it obviously won't be Monday. I think they should give us most or all of the week because of the massive cleanup people have to do and because people who evacuated aren't even back. We need to have enough faculty, staff and students to make a reopening worthwhile and this is a university with over 30,000 students and over 6,000 faculty and staff.

There's a cool front coming soon so this should be the worst day in terms of having no a/c. It's not so bad yet because there's a breeze and it's been overcast much of the day.

In sum, we're doing just fine.

Oh, and Cadbury was a trooper. I put him in his carrier and put him in the closet during the worst of the storm and he made no fuss even though he was cooped up in there for hours. The cat was a little weirded out by everything but the pets did really well.

Okay, I really should get off this guy's computer and let him get back to whatever he was doing. I'll post again whenever I can.
Cell service erratic here. Hard to update blog. Office has power but no internnet. At least we can cook and put things in office fridge. Tempting to move in but they might not like that. Going to. Make breakfast now.
Cell service erratic here. Hard to update blog. Office has power but no internnet. At least we can cook and put things in office fridge. Tempting to move in but they might not like that. Going to. Make breakfast now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Been out of the woods for about an hour. Very minor damage to house. Gusty wind and light rain now. Don't know when power will be restored. Not hot right now though. People already outside cleaning up.
Tree in yard and driveway is ours. Did not hear a thing in storm. Back yard flodded maybe studio too. So far still ok in house. Just ready forit to be over.
Sustained winds in sixties with gusts in nineties. But not as many scary gusts as before. If we can make it through next two hours without major damage we will be good. All fm radio stations gone since four am. Damn scary gust right now. Boring too. A lot of waiting. And want to sleep but staying up in case pets need me. No daylight yet but curious what is out there. We think a tree is uin driveway.
Lost radio station at four. Carport sounds bad. Water blowing in back door. Water in street. Worst should be over soon.
Power out. Lots more wind and things thumping outside

Friday, September 12, 2008


I just finished cleaning out the biggest of the hall closets in case we need to shelter in a small space with no windows. Dan will complain about the stuff on the shelves, I'm sure, worrying that it will fall. Whatever. He's sitting around watching TV so if he wants things done a certain way he can do them himself.


Looks like we're losing part of the roof over the carport. I told Dan we should move the vehicles to the university's new parking garage, but it's too late now. I just hope the carport holds. It's way early in the game for this to be happening.


We keep hearing thumps and transformers blowing. We still have power, but we think others down the street might not. Like hell I'm going out to check, though.

We're getting a little rain now, gusty and sporadic. If things get particularly nerve-wracking, we'll move ourselves and the critters into the hall and wait it out there, away from windows.

The worst is supposed to be in the early hours of the morning.

Lights just flickered.


Okay so far, although Dan is sabotaging my strategy to make the house cold before we lose power. I gave the man a sweater. He needs to leave the thermostat alone.

I can't find the C batteries for the portable TV and I didn't get more at the start of the season. Looks like we'll be on radio-only after we lose power. That and Blackberry, but we'll be trying to conserve the batteries on that until after the storm. We aren't going to be going out to the truck to recharge during a hurricane. (We have a detached garage, 1950s-style.)

Just heard a bump outside but it could've been anything.

Still no rain, but says sustained winds of 33 mph, gusts of 57. Sounds about right.

I might go heat up some dinner now. I'll be up all night.


Lights are already flickering. I had expected us to have power until around midnight, but things might go out sooner.

Just FYI. I still want to take a nap. Gotta turn the a/c down first, though. Get things nice and cold in here for after.

Bayou Surge Update

After her last post, your intrepid hurricane blogger went to the bayou to take a look. This is what she found:

This is considerably higher than earlier in the day when from the spot where this picture was taken, the water was so low as to be barely visible. There has been no rain yet in Houston. The rise in water is all due to surge fifty miles away in Galveston. The storm isn't scheduled to make landfall for several hours yet.

Luckily there is a bit more of a rise from behind the spot where the above picture was taken, and then your hurricane blogger's house is another half mile from there up a street with a slight upward slope. The lot is on a small rise and the house itself is an additional couple feet off the ground, as shown below. For non-Southerners, the little "windows" at ground level are a crawl space beneath the house. The floor is above the crawl space.

Hopefully all will be well. The local news has done another report about bayou flooding, suggesting that the problem will be around the ship channel, not in the areas that wind through the city. All reports from the hype-it-to-death local media and the dry, facts-only online sources have indicated that this area is safe. Neighbors who have lived here thirty years and longer concur.

Cadbury just did a full-body flop by the bookcase. This shall be interpreted for the time being as an indication that there is nothing to worry about and that it's time for a little nap since this promises to be a long night.

Storm Surge Update

They just said on TV that Brays Bayou "below" I-45 could flood from the surge. That didn't make geographical sense so I got online at NOAA where I read the same dispatch.


Okay. If they mean "due South," then my neighborhood and the entire southern part of the Inner Loop is at risk, so why don't they order us out? If they mean just the wedge of bayou that connects to Buffalo Bayou, the Ship Channel and the Turning Basin, that's East, folks. I've got a map that proves it. Got several, as a matter of fact.

It would make perfect sense for the part of the bayou that ties into the Ship Channel to be susceptible to surge. But where we are is several miles away and as noted previously, they've done a lot of work on the bayou in the past year. It should be okay, I would think.

So what does "below" mean? Think of a cross with I-45 as the up and down part. Brays Bayou is the part that goes across. There is no "below" I-45 on Brays unless they no longer teach maps the way I was taught in school, where "up" means north and "down" means south.


If I end up having to hack through my roof with an axe at 5 am, I'm gonna be pissed. Especially since I don't have an axe.

General Info for the Viewer at Home

Here are some information sources. My ability to give updates after a power outage will be limited.

Local alarmist fishwrap. Anything by Eric Berger the "Sci Guy" is pretty good. You'll get lots of local pictures, too: Houston Chronicle

Weather Underground tropical updates: Weather Underground

NOAA. Technical, but good. NOAA

If you have DirecTV, you can watch one of the local Houston TV stations on channel 361. It's typical alarmist news, but you can also watch the waves breaking over the Galveston seawall, which is fascinating and disturbing at the same time.

And you can check the weather forecast site of your choice to see conditions in my area. I'm in Zip Code 77004.

As a point of reference for news reports, I'm north of Hobby Airport and south of Downtown. Our neighborhood is on Bray's Bayou, which had a lot of work done on it in the last year. I just hope the engineers knew what the heck they were doing. This neighborhood didn't flood in Allison, which was a 500-year flood event, so we should be just fine even if we get more rain than forecasted.

Wind is picking up now and I'm going to bring in the last of the laundry. I also need to think of something to do with the remaining eggs in the fridge. I'll boil the very last ones this evening, since boiled eggs stay okay for awhile. But I wish I could think of another baking project. More cookies, maybe? As soon as I see the crews come through to restore power and cable, I'll want bribes to show how grateful I am for their service. Hm. Perhaps it will be cookies.

Cadbury, WeatherBun

How do I adjust this computer chair so I read the updates at Weather Underground?

Okay, I'll trust the humans to know what they're doing on this one. Just keep my hay dry, all right?


When I got up at 8:00 this morning Dan was watching the news, where they were showing the storm surge geysering over the Galveston seawall. The island was already flooding and even the non-alarmists on Weather Underground are saying that the 17-foot seawall will likely be topped and the island inundated.

It was disconcerting to see on video the familiar places flooding already and the spray over the seawall where I just was in June for that conference. The coastal community of Surfside is flooded too, with no roads visible, only the houses. The houses are on eight-foot stilts which won’t help with a 15-20 foot storm surge.

Many years ago my friend Kenny and his boyfriend rented a ginormous house in Surfside for the weekend, right on the beach. Kenny told me to come join them since they had invited a lot of people, bought huge amounts of food and alcohol and it was going to be one big party. I went and it wasn’t nearly the decadent, boozy sort of thing it probably sounds like. It was a cold cloudy weekend in April and we mostly stayed indoors watching movies. I walked on the beach a little. I sipped Bailey’s and scanned the dusky horizon through a brass telescope in an upstairs room. I found a blue shell among the beach grass near the deck where Kenny's friends grilled shrimp under tiki torches. In sum, it was a peaceful interlude in the chaos that was my 20s and I remember it fondly. The house, if it was still standing before this weekend, will likely be gone or irreparably damaged by Sunday.

That’s how things go on the coast.

We’re fine here. Dan and I gathered all our emergency equipment into one place this morning and then I went for a run on campus. There were still students there—dorm residents who had no place to go to. I could smell food cooking at one of the dorm cafeterias, so the students will be fine. Those dorms are built like bomb shelters. They look like them too, but that’s a topic for another time.

What I didn’t see on campus was squirrels. Yesterday I saw only one. I saw a few birds today, but only the hardy grackles who aren’t scared of anything. No mockingbirds, doves, sparrows, or any other kinds. I also didn’t see any feral cats. There are two that hang around the building where I work and they weren’t there yesterday. The animals know when something is up.

Right now it’s overcast and breezy out, but very pleasant. People are walking around the neighborhood visiting each other, letting their kids ride their bikes on the empty streets and doing last-minute pickup of stuff in their yards. A few people have boarded up but most have not. We have double-paned storm windows on our house and were advised by people who were here during Alicia that this should be sufficient.

What we’re getting is basically a Cat 2 hurricane in terms of wind and rain, with a Cat 5 surge. Since we’re 50 miles inland, the surge isn’t a concern. And my only worry regarding the wind is that I'd rather not be without power for very long. A few days of cooler weather are following the storm, so that will help, but it would still be no picnic.

Nothing to do but wait and see, though. We have lots of places we can go in the Austin and Dallas areas if we need to leave after the storm.

I’m doing laundry now and putting water into sports bottles and freezer bags to make ice that I’ll transfer to the fridge and to coolers if I need to. I did a lot of baking last night, although we've got plenty of camp food, too. I don't expect us to have any sanitation issues with the local water supply but we've got lots of bottled water as well as filters and tablets if we need them. I have glass bottles for pasteurizing water in the sun. Once the wind starts picking up this evening I’ll turn the a/c down as low as we can stand it to build up a nice cushion of cold. Then we’ll settle in and wait.

More later, as time permits. The worst part about all this is that the period when I'm likely to have the most time on my hands for blogging is when we'll be without power. Life is funny that way.

Hurricane Update

Not much to report as of tonight. The storm has not intensified, which is good. Predicted wind speeds in my area might not even merit moving the cars to a safer place than our carport. There's still an excellent chance that the storm will make the traditional last-minute bob to the east and it won't be much of an inland event at all.

That would suit me fine.

By all accounts, though, this will be a major coastal surge event and tonight I'm wishing the best for those in the surge areas, hoping they, their loved ones, and their most irreplaceable belongings get safely north in the next 12-24 hours.

More sometime on Friday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Thoughts and Memories

As noted in a previous post, Dan and I decided to do our weekly grocery shopping on Wednesday, using the rationale that the weather will be bad Friday night and the roads could fill up with evacuees on Thursday. Since it was also Dan’s run night, I went with him and enjoyed an evening run at Memorial Park.

One of the interesting things about the last couple of days before a hurricane is the way people react. On the local newspaper’s online chats, every neuron-impaired fool in south Texas is freaking out, wanting to know if they should cancel their coastal duck hunting trip this weekend (might be a good idea, genius) to whether they should evacuate from exurban neighborhoods far to the north or even from as far away as San Antonio. I don’t know where these people come from, but they scare me.

Runners are a different bunch, though. As I made the loop at the park I heard snippets of conversation and it seemed everyone was talking about the hurricane, but with no particular sense of panic. These were people who were confident in their ability to correctly prepare and carry out a rational plan.

While I was running, I thought about Hurricane Alicia. I was sixteen, the school year had barely started, and I wasn’t much involved with my family’s preparations. Oddly, I have little memory of the actual storm, perhaps because not a whole lot really happens in a hurricane. You mostly sit in the dark and wait for it to be over.

I remember how dark the house was after my father nailed up the plywood. I remember the inconvenience of carrying a flashlight everywhere after the lights went out, and I remember how the house became warm and stuffy, although I have no recollection of it ever being particularly bad. It was just a nuisance. The noise affected me more than anything else. The wind howled for hours and sometimes we heard things crash against the house. Making things worse, my father neglected to remove the dryer vent and the wind made it moan and rattle like a caged animal for the duration of the storm. It was worse than the wind because it sounded like something snarling right outside the door, trying to get in.

At one point my father called me to the sliding glass patio door—the only glass he hadn’t had plywood to cover. As if it were yesterday, I can hear my father call my name. Then softly, he said, “Come here.” He pressed the flat of his palm against the door. I followed suit and scared myself half to death. The wind was bowing in the glass, making it bend in and out with every gust as if it were breathing. It wasn’t in danger of shattering—my father knows his stuff in that regard. But it sure felt dangerous to me, and I stayed away from the door after that.

During the silence of the eye, we all went outside for a few minutes. I looked around, thinking I would see a deceptive calm and blue skies like the books said to expect. Instead, it was cloudy with dark, ominous clouds moving in rapidly. I was glad to get back inside.

Later my father fired up the camp stove and made pancakes. And when the storm cleared, I lay on my parents’ bed for a long time chatting on the phone with my friends. Some never lost power, but most did for awhile like we did. We weren’t without power for long. Perhaps a day at most. I had teachers who didn’t get their electricity restored for weeks, though.

If we do get a hurricane this weekend, I hope the city’s repair crews are quicker than they were twenty-five years ago. September is still summer on the Gulf Coast and it's miserable without air conditioning.

Latest Developments on Ike

The prognosis on Hurricane Ike hitting our area remains unclear. In the latest model runs as of tonight, some models have Galveston getting a direct hit, some show Corpus Christi farther down the cost. The local fishwrap is speculating Freeport, which is just far enough south and west to put us on the “dirty” side of the storm with some very nasty weather.

Dan and I went ahead and did our grocery shopping tonight since it will be raining Friday and evacuations may be in full swing by Thursday night for areas that are most at risk. Already some areas within an hour’s drive of me have been given their evacuation orders. We’re not in an evacuation zone, though, even in a worst-case scenario. The overwhelming likelihood is that we’ll stay here.

If the university is going to close, we’ll know sometime tomorrow. If we get the brunt of this storm I’ll need some time to prep. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to buy anything else, but I do need to gather and organize everything so all my stuff will be right where I need it.

I’ll be testing different ways to update my blog, should we lose power over the weekend. I figure if I prepare for ever imaginable contingency, nothing will end up happening except a light, refreshing rain shower.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Visitor for Cadbury

Cadbury had a visit from an admirer today! Our friend/neighbor Wesley dropped by to talk shop with Dan about university techie stuff and since he and his wife have a bunny, he asked to meet Cadbury.

Cadbury was thrilled to have a new fan. He ran around the room, sniffed Wesley's shoes and finally settled in for some good ear and nose rubs. Talk about a happy bun!

In other news, it's beginning to look like we may be in the clear with regard to Hurricane Ike. We'll know more within the next twenty-four hours.

Cadbury is not at all worried, as you can see here. He gets every day off, so whether the storm comes on a weekend or weekday is immaterial to him. Lucky guy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Bunday: Bad Reputation

All this talk about mouse cord chewing and bad decorating skills is giving me a bad reputation. It needs to stop. Now.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Wrap-up and Recipe Share

This has been a particularly productive weekend for me.

My Saturday run was very nice—we’ve had some cooler (by our standards) weather lately and for the first time since May, I ended a long run without being thoroughly soaked. Although it’s true that I learned to run in a Houston summer and can gauge my effort by how much sweat I wring out of my clothes, that doesn’t mean I don’t greet cooler weather with joy. But September is still summer for all intents and purposes, so the weather should be up to its old tricks by next weekend if Hurricane Ike doesn’t come here.

I have some new art project ideas so I went to Michael’s today to stock up on craft supplies. Although I wasn’t surprised by how high my total came to, it is interesting how quickly all those $3 and $4 items add up. It doesn’t help that I’m more likely to buy too much than too little, for fear I’ll get halfway into something and realize I don’t have what I need to continue. I’d rather spend $20 I didn’t need to than spend an hour or more of my time going back for that one thing I didn’t get. Sadly, there is every likelihood I’ll have to go back anyway since I'm new at this particular type of project and don't know what to anticipate, but that’s just how things go.

I’ll have more to say about my art project as time goes on. There might be a giveaway involved, if all goes well. For now, I'm still experimenting.

I tried a new recipe today and it’s a good one. Check out these Black-Eyed Pea Cakes. When I made them as directed I found them too wet to work into patties so I added extra breadcrumbs and some of Bag Lady’s dehydrated spinach. My next misadventure was trying to fry them, per the instructions. In spite of generous amounts of olive oil, they stuck to the pan, so I ended up baking these about 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Putting them on the broiler would’ve worked, too. I skipped the adobo sauce and instead I topped them with chipotle cheddar. The result was so delicious that Dan insisted on trying one, then ate the whole thing even though he had just finished a big lunch. He ate another one tonight and is pestering me for more. It looks like I’ll have no choice but to make more if I want to enjoy any myself!

I also made oatmeal cookies, Persian spiced rice and curry zucchini and broccoli. I have some leftovers from other meals in the fridge, so this ought to get me through the week and if not, it only takes five minutes to make a batch of couscous.

I have two new short stories up this weekend. Ordinary Miracles is part of the Will and Diana series, and The Beauty Queen is a Steal Tomorrow Extra. Check them out if you’ve got time.

And in bunny news, Cadbury did his first out-of-cage flop tonight under my chair by my feet. I wasn’t able to get a picture of it, so this picture of him under the computer chair will have to do.

I know he looks sweet but he's now in the corner trying to relocate the litterbox and chew fringe onto the sides. I have serious misgivings about his decorating ideas but there's no stopping him once he has a notion.

Have a good week, everyone!

Thursday, September 04, 2008


This is the face of a mouse-killer. Computer mouse, that is. Present tally: 2. That's a better mouse record than my cat.

The mask is a futile attempt to hide his identity. The overall cuteness is a silent plea for leniency. Or maybe just a reminder that I need to make some modifications around here so he can't go jumping onto my computer and my desk. I sometimes wonder if he's part billy goat.

He's definitely an insomniac. I sleep with earplugs, but Dan reports that all night long he hears Cadbury drinking from his water bottle, ringing the bell on his cage, jumping in and out of his litter box and chewing on things. I think Dan should get over it and get earplugs.

Nevertheless, I'm beginning to think Cadbury would be perfect for the job of real mouse-catcher. You see, the other night I caught Dan sneaking around the house at 2:00 am wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts and carrying a broom. At his heels was the cat in a clearly subsidiary role. I asked what the heck was going on and Dan informed me that he thought he heard a mouse. I, of course, heard nothing. Gotta love earplugs.

If we do have a mouse, I think we should put Cadbury on the job. And in the meantime, I guess it's a good thing we have a computer store on campus because I'm in need of a mouse of the computer variety.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Monday Bunday: Standing Tall

Sorry for the late Monday Bunday post.

Cadbury loves to stand on his hind legs, but it's a hard pose to get a picture of him in.