Friday, October 31, 2008

Recovery After Ike

I want to take a moment to give you a little bit of an update on the area since Ike. It has been 7 weeks since the hurricane hit and things are not even close to being "back to normal".

I'd like to start with my drive to work in the morning. First is the causeway onto Galveston Island. There is a sign on the way in that says there will be some lane changes starting this Monday. If that means they are opening up the new side of the bridge, then they have a busy weekend ahead of them. Those lanes are still filled with boats! I counted them and I think there are close to 20 still sitting on the road. I don't foresee them opening that up until the obstacles have been removed.

I noticed a few weeks ago that there is a barge sitting in the middle of a field right next to a group of homes. It appears that none of the homes were directly affected by the giant boat that is now their neighbor. The entire road to my work on the island is lined with fences covered in trash and trash piles of crap that has been removed from the warehouses. Oh and there is the septic tank that mowed down a fence and is now resting dangerously close to the road.

Every day when I get close to work, there is a group of people (mostly guys, but there are some women) wearing Tyvek suits walking down the road. They park their vehicles and then are lead en mass to whichever building they are gutting for the day. When I first came back to work I watched a similar group, if not the same group, pull four truck loads of flooring, drywall and ceiling tiles out of the building across the street. And that was just one day!

Downtown Galveston, dubbed The Strand, is still filled with a mixture of dirt, sand and trash. Everyday the streets are lined with construction trucks and vans that are working to get the businesses back into shape for reopening. One of the restaurants, Rudy and Paco's, is working very, very hard and they don't expect to open up until New Year's day.

The bar my sister works at is still closed and probably will be for a while. Even if they were up and running, there is still a curfew that goes from 12 to 5am. Those are not conducive to proper bar hopping hours, as the bars in Galveston don't close until 2am. In the meantime, her and her boyfriend Robert are finding construction jobs here and there to keep them above water. I know they are having a tough time at the moment.

I heard that the FEMA trailers have finally started to come in, but anyone who lived on the island will have their trailer in a neighboring town. There just isn't any room for trailers. Up until October 26th, people from the Section 8 housing were living in what was named Galveston's Tent City in the middle of a neighborhood. A resident of Tent City was shot by a local homeowner, which probably pushed the need to close it down. Several of the Section 8 housing projects have been closed and condemned. No word on whether they will be repaired and reopened.

I have many, many friends who's homes were severely damaged by the storm. As of right now, it seems like everyone in Galveston is at the point where they have drywall back up, but that's it. Working with insurance is a slow and tedious process. Plus, construction businesses are so busy at the moment that it is hard to reserve someone to do the work. Chris and Alexa still do not have their house back and it looks like it will be weeks before they do.

Something else that is interesting is that the abandoned homes and properties stick out like sore thumbs. There is a house down the street from where I live that still has a yard filled with palm frond and branch debris. It doesn't look like anyone has been there to clean up since the hurricane. On the island there are many homes with yards just like that one.

I am grateful that Travis and I live in an area with minimal flooding. And for the fact that we both have good jobs that pay us well. For me it's a good job that will pay even during times like these when we can't work. I'm thankful for friends who will help us in a time of need and the ability to help friends who are in need. It may not be in the media, but southeast Texas is still rebuilding after Ike.
I added MORE photos to my Ike album on Flickr because I didn't realized they weren't online yet. They are mostly pictures of Galveston (at the end of the album).

PS - Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 Hairs in 10 Days

Well folks, it's happening. I'm getting greys. White is more descriptive. Sparkle-in-the-sun white. Ugh. It all started this past February when I decided to die my hair brown. I got tired of keeping up with highlights and the cold months seemed like a good time for dark hair. If only I knew. Once my natural roots started growing in, I noticed a hair sparkling in the light of my bathroom. When I leaned forward to check it out, I realized it was a white hair!!

I decided right then that it was time to go back to highlights since it would be harder to notice the new white hairs. I guess I'll be blond from here on out. My natural roots are growing out again right now so I've started to notice the "greys" again. I have found 10 WHITE HAIRS IN 10 DAYS!! It is happening at a much faster rate now. Oh, and I'm totally plucking them.

I should consider myself blessed because my mother says she started getting grey hair when she was 16 and had a full head of grey by 18. I've outpaced her by a decade. What more could I ask for? I'm just bummed that I HAVE to color my hair now. Whereas before it was because I WANTED to.

Looks like I'll be funding my salon nicely for now on...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back to Work

Brrr! It was 60 degrees in my house when I got up this morning! Talk about making it difficult to get out of bed. When it came time to get dressed, I grabbed all my clothes and got back into bed to warm them up before putting them on. It reminded me of when I lived at home with my dad in Illinois. We lived in an old Victorian (which some idiot painted pink - yuck) home with no central heating or air, just space heaters. I always picked out my outfit the night before and set the clothes next to my bed so they would be within arms reach in the morning. I remember some days it was so cold in my bedroom (because the heater wasn't turned up high enough) that I could see my breath. INSIDE the house.

Well, it wasn't that bad this morning, but it was still a shock. It's been so nice to have the air and heat off with the windows open that it was like pulling teeth to get myself to close the windows last night. And then again this morning when I tried to convince Travis to let me set the heat at 65 degrees. I don't want my poor animals to freeze while I'm gone!!

Yesterday was my first "real" day back to work. I came to work a week ago, but it was only to clean up the lab, and then I had last week off again. But now I'm back to normal hours. Our lab got approved to begin research, but it will be weeks before we can have all our projects back up and running. Just in time for the holidays. Ugh.

I went for a walk with Callaway yesterday after work. I forgot how horrible that is. He's never been very good on a leash and I know that's our fault for not walking him more regularly. He gets side tracked easily and wants to go smell EVERYTHING. Then, whenever we pass a yard with a dog in it he gets all worked up and I get yanked around as a result. To top things off, a gang of mini-dogs showed up to harass Callaway. At first I held him in close trying to make him behave and I tried to shoo off the ankle biters. But when they didn't go, I let the leash out so Callaway could chase them back a little. Lol! It only chased them off for a minute before they would come right back for more.

THEN! There was a yellow lab loose in the street two blocks away. You have got to be kidding me. That stress-relieving walk went right out the window! I know that labs are not generally aggressive dogs, but I didn't feel like testing the waters. So I turned around and back tracked a little to avoid the possible confrontation. That meant I had that much more time to walk with the mini-dog gang before we got out of their territory. Gah!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not Much To Tell

I have absolutely nothing exciting to report today. Friday I went up to Chris and Alexa's to help assemble some of their new Ikea cabinets. There are so many that I barely feel like I made a dent! After two hours of working, I went with Alexa to pick up Blair from daycare. I've never been before and I'm listed as an emergency contact, so it was nice to see where the place was and how things work. It always cracks me up seeing all those babies together. Crazy kids.

Travis and I kept the evening easy since we were so busy all week. Saturday morning, Travis' alarm went off like normal and he left for work. About 20 minutes later he was pulling back into the driveway. I assumed he had forgotten something and would probably run in and out in a hurry, so when I didn't hear the door open for several minutes I wondered if I had imagined his truck coming back. Finally, he came in and back to the bedroom. He had the day off!

First thing on his list? Go back to bed. I am in the middle of reading the Twilight series and am completely addicted to it. Even though I was happy to have Travis for TWO WHOLE DAYS this week, I was thankful to have a little more time with my reading. I seriously think I have a problem. I have to force myself to put the book down so I don't spend my entire day just reading. I am on the third book and the forth is in the mail from Seriously - right now I want to stop typing and go read that book. Must wait...

We spent the rest of the day running errands... grocery shopping, a stop at Petco, a few moments at the bookstore. I still need to put everything in the checkbook. Ugh. I had plans to go up to a friend's house that I don't see very often for a little get together, girls only. Travis went as Quagmire to a bar in Houston for a Halloween costume party with Sara and JR.

Speaking of Halloween, check out a few of the Halloween costumes my friends are using for their kids this year.

Logan, the Golfer
Complete with knickers.

Wednesday, the Monkey

Sunday, I did nothing except go out for Vietnamese food for lunch and then read my day away. Travis made himself useful around our house and our friends'. He put the the gutter downspouts that were still knocked off from Ike and he took care of some paint cans that needed to be properly disposed of. Then he went over to Chris and Shannon's house to help Chris hang new cabinets. Everyone is getting new cabinets! I really want some to put around our stove, but that will have to fall somewhere after rewiring the house and putting tile in the kitchen and bathrooms. NEVER ENDING.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Thursday night, Travis and I went to a Weezer concert with Jenna and Seth. They bought us the tickets months ago as a combined birthday gift for the two of us. The opening bands were Tokyo Police Club and Angels and Airwaves. Travis had to work late, so we missed Tokyo Police Club.

The band was fun to watch - the lead singer was a goof ball! Loved it. At the end of the show, they had a bunch of local people get up on the stage to play a couple Weezer songs. The local radio station The Buzz pulled together the group of muscians. They had a banjo, tuba (which had a mini solo of a Mario underground song = awesome), flute, sax, the list goes on. The funniest song they played was Beverly Hills and they got the crowd, males vs females, to do the vocals. It was a lot of fun actually. Check out all the locals:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lots 'O' Meat

Wednesday night we went out with Ariel and Robert to celebrate the actual day of her birth. She wanted to go some place new and somewhere we could dress up for. We came up with this place closer to Houston that has a huge salad bar and serves 20 different kinds of meat. Ariel and I stuck with the salad bar (which also had ribs, fish and more) while the boys opted for MEAT. I've never seen so much in my life!

Various servers walk around with skewers of rotisserie cooked meat and they give every table this little peg. One side is green and one side is red. As long as you continue wanting to be served, you leave the green side up and the guys with skewers come by your table and slice you off a piece. They had everything from shrimp to steak to pork to duck to frog to alligator. I tried a piece of the alligator, but didn't have to guts to even WATCH them eat the frog legs. Ew. Travis said it tasted like lake water. WHY would I want to try that?!

There was this cute old man playing the piano all night and when it came time for the server to bring out Ariel's birthday cake, the pianist played the traditional tune of Happy Birthday. So funny! I think my sister had a great evening and loved her gifts from us, our dad and our brother. The main present was a camera, so I told her I expect to see lots of photos of everything she does.

Her computer monitor was in storage during the hurricane and it was ruined in the ensuing flooding. The rest of the computer is fine, so as soon as she gets a new monitor she should be able to get everything online!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

9.5 months ago...

David and Stephanie recently visited David's brother and sister-in-law Jenn in New Mexico. While they were there, Wednesday had a great photo shoot with Jenn (owner of Jenn Phillips Photography). I love the clothes they put this child in!

9.5 months old

**Happy Birthday Brenda!!!**

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Ariel!

Today is Ariel's birthday and to celebrate, she threw a get-together at this place called Main Event. It's basically an adult version of Chucky Cheese. Ariel got a bunch of nice presents from her friends, you can see her excitement in this first photo. =D While she opened presents we ate junk food and played some pool.

Two of her friends had a hat embroidered with her nickname "Earl" on the side. SUCH A GOOD IDEA.

After presents, we all bowled for a while. At which time we passed around one of her hats for a photo shoot.

Ariel said Travis looks very Justin Timberlake-esque in this pic.

After a game and a half, everyone wanted to play laser tag. Ariel and I wanted to spend a little time in the arcade, so we hit up a few machines while everyone else worked up a sweat shooting each other. We also did that little photo booth thing that takes four photos. We got some great pictures. Then when Travis was done running around in a dark room, we hit up the machine too. Then we went AGAIN with Ariel too. Lol! We had a great night, which was evident by the late hour that we went to bed. Or early depending on how you look at it. I got to be the DD, which is funny because Travis is the one who had to work today. I even got in a nap the next day!

The only thing we missed was the glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Next time I guess!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Mommy and Daddy

Happy new family!

Chrissie, Jordan and the new addition of Audrey

Baby and Doggy

Chris and Alexa finally received part of the insurance reimbursement for the damage done to their home. Therefore, they are ready to start shopping for furniture! The first item on their list is a couch for the living room. It has been very hard for them to live with a baby when they can't set him down on anything. Their entire house is covered in dust and dirt from the demolition, except for the master bedroom/bath and the study. But even the study is off limits because it is full of the furniture that did survive. Their hope is to get the living room finished first so they have a comfy place to relax in the evening.

Saturday, Alexa and I went perusing for couches. She wants to have the stores narrowed down to places with furniture she likes so when she goes with Chris it won't take up as much of their time. She found a couple couches that were alright, but the one she likes the most she found online. We tried to go to the store that sells that couch, but they are still closed due to storm damage. We also found a great place with discount flooring, where they may get a rug to throw on top of their new finished cement.

They still cannot live in their house because the fumes are so strong from the lacquer finishing coat on their floor. In the meantime they've been staying at their neighbor's house. Travis and I stopped by their house Sunday to check out the floors. It's really cool and not what I expected it to look like. It almost looks like tiles.

After shopping, Alexa and Blair came over for a couple hours while they awaited the arrival of Chris' flight into Houston. Blair is doing this new thing where he props himself up like he's going to crawl. So far it's been nothing but reverse, so I'm sure he's ready to move forward. For some reason he seems even smaller with his little toosh pushed up in the air. Lol!

Travis hung out for a few minutes before hopping into the shower after work.

Callaway seemed a little jealous of the attention Travis was giving Blair. Usually the first thing Travis does after work is play with Callaway for 10 minutes. Look at all the baby hands and doggy feet:

The boys hung out by the table while Alexa and I did a little more couch searching on the web. Blair is pretty good at wedging himself into stuff, after going in reverse.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monster Machinery

The monster crane came through our neighborhood the other day. It amazes me at how efficient these people are getting. Last time the debris pick up came through, they took branches only. This time they were taking everything, fences and all. Everyone now has a dead spot of grass in the front lawn. Ours is about the size fo a mattress. =( Looks like they gave up on the wussy Bobcat cranes and went for the big one. This sucker even has brace-feet below the guy in the red part.

Funny story: Our neighbor was using his lawn mower to tow large pieces of tree trunk from his back yard out to the curb. Smart idea. Still funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Roni Lips

JR and Sara came over Friday evening with Logan. We had beer, pizza and played a little Liverpool Rummy. Since everyone but me had to work that evening or the next day, we ended up cutting the game short.

Logan didn't quite seem sure about pepperoni.

It kind of reminds me of that thing you can do with Pringles to make duck lips...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bamboo Deliciousness

Travis and I have been wanting a new duvet cover for our bed for months now. We have a queen size bed, therefore we bought all queen size linens. Obviously. I don't know if it is because of the thick pillow top on the mattress or what, but the comforter never seems to cover us completely on the sides. So, when it came time to buy a new comforter for our bed (we put the old one on our "new" bed in the guest bed, courtesy of Chris and Alexa - thank you!) we got a king size. Since duvet covers are so expensive, we decided to forego purchasing one for the moment.

Last weekend we finally had enough extra money to make such a purchase. We shopped around at several stores and were unable to find one that we really loved. We ended up going home empty handed to see what we could find on the internet. We found one we like (not loved) at Bed Bath and Beyond for $180. I have a 20% off coupon, but it would still be a little too pricey for something we didn't love.

When we were searching, Travis recalled that our friends David and Stephanie bought their couches at and only had $4 for shipping and handling. Couches for godsakes! Half the reason I do not make very many purchases off the internet is because of the shipping costs. But $4 isn't bad! So we went to and found a duvet that we LOVED and since it was so cheap we decided to by new sheets too! In the end, we had all that with shipping costs for only $130!!! I am totally buying everything from that website now. EVERYTHING. If I find a t-shirt I like at the store, I'm going to wait to see if they have it on Overstock before I buy it. Seriously, it's that good of a deal.

We ordered everything last Sunday and we already received everything. It's on the bed and we slept on it for the first time last night. No drafts or anything! What do you think?

Thanks for the recommendation, Dave and Stephie!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Extended "Vacation"

Looks like I get next week off from work! Yea! We are still limited on what we can do since everything is not up and running yet. And since I am still getting "Adverse Weather Leave", my boss said to take next week off. I came into work Tuesday and have been in everyday to clean up the lab. There is a layer of black film on everything, so I've been wearing a mask, gown and gloves. Who knows what Ike brought to Galveston?!

When I get back the week after next I have to inventory our fridge. We are not sure if all the reagents are safe to use, so we will test them. Thing is, we know the back up generators were out, but we don't know for exactly how long. If the temperature warmed up too much in the fridge, then the reagents won't work properly. If that is the case, then I will have the inventory done and we will be able to reorder everything quickly and efficiently.

Random aside: My new dentist office is next to a Ben and Jerry's ice cream parlor. I really like this dentist and the hygenists, but the urge to go check out the flavor "Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz" after my appointment was almost too much to avoid.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Russia & Africa

I know this website may be hard to maneuver, so if you aren't up for it then skip this one. A friend from work, Sveta, writes a blog. She is grad student from Russia and used write her blog in Russian. She recently switched over to English, partly I think so her new American friends could read it and party because she wants to practice her English. She is very interested in photography, so she puts up some pretty great photos. Right now she is focusing on retelling her recent trip to Russia - with lots of photographs. So be it:

Also - here is Rachel's sister's blog. She is on a two year sabbatical to Africa with the Peace Corps. Travis and I were rolling laughing last night reading her blog. She documents her adventure here:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Welcome Audrey!

Congratulations Chrissie and Jordan on your bundle of joy!
Now presenting Audrey Claire, born October 14, 2008.
6 lbs, 10 oz, 18.5 in

I know it's blurry (camera phone pic), but check out that hair! Sweet baby...

[FYI - Chrissie and Jordan are friends from Illinois. I have been best friends with Chrissie since I was about 7 years old, so I almost feel like an aunt!]

Wednesday's 1st Halloween

Guess what Wednesday is going to be for Halloween.

LOL! David always calls her monkey, so it is only fitting that she be dressed as one for trick or treating. TOO CUTE.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

9 Years of Dating

Travis and I have this thing where we still celebrate our "dating" anniversary. I didn't realize we would still be celebrating it after we set a new milestone with our marriage June 10, 2006. That seemed like the new logical celebration date. Travis surprised me on October 12th of that year when we met for dinner after work at Ocean Grill (what later became Hooter's in Galveston and is now no longer standing thanks to Ike). I didn't realize what day it was so I was utterly confused as to why we would be going out for dinner on a week night. That is, up until we clinked our beers together and Travis said "Happy Anniversary".

I was mortified that I had forgotten the date that we had celebrated for 6 years prior. Isn't that the sort of thing the wife is supposed to remember? Well, I guess some things are reversed in our relationship. Mostly because my memory is horrible. I always joke that Travis IS my memory. If I ever need to recall something, I just go to him for a reminder. I don't know why my memory is so bad. I tried Ginko Biloba, but that didn't help. I wonder if it's genes or possibly the fact that I have hypoglycemia which can cause memory loss. Not sure, but it is definitely irritating. Travis can never leave me based on this fact alone. I wouldn't even know who I am if we separated!

My whole point here is that we celebrated our 9th Dating Anniversary this past Sunday. It was perfect because that is Travis' only day off during the week right now. Nine years ago, on Sunday, Travis was asking me out in front of my Advanced Biology class when I was a senior in high school. He was a Sophomore, so yes, I robbed the cradle. It didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time though. Funny.

To celebrate the occasion, we went out to Olive Garden. That is where we always used to go for our anniversary when we lived in Illinois. It's strange to think how far we've come since then. We have a move across country, college and marriage all under our belt. I look forward to whatever the next step in life brings us.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Happy Little Man

Alexa and Blair needed a break from the chaos they call home, so they came down Friday night for dinner. Alexa made bruschetta, which was absolutely awesome, to complement the steak and ravioli pasta I made in the crock pot. I need to start utilizing the crock pot more often. I bought a Slow Cooker cookbook over a year ago, so I totally have plenty of recipe possibilities. Hmmm...

Blair seemed content to crawl around (or push himself around backwards, rather) and play with his toys on the floor in view of us in the kitchen. Poor little booger left my house with a goose egg on his head. Courtesy of me. The first time he bumped his head, it wasn't that bad. He wedged himself under the table and bumped his head on the leg when he turned to look at us. That didn't really seem to faze him. The second time was all me. I didn't know that he can't sit up completely by himself yet, so I did just that and walked away to go talk to Alexa. Five minutes later *BONK*. He had tipped over and knocked his head in almost the exact same spot he had hit earlier.

I'm totally wrapping every surface of my home in bubble wrap whenever we have a child.

Cutie patootie (pre-goose egg)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Good and The Bad

First, the good. My chiropractor called me yesterday!!! Woohoo! I was a week overdue when I was supposed to have my appointment on September 12th - the day before the hurricane hit. We are now going on four weeks since that missed appointment. MY HEAD IS KILLING ME! It was bad off and on starting the week after the storm. Now it is almost a constant pain. First my neck hurts. Then I stretch, twist and turn my neck without realizing it until I have a full blown headache. And that will only go away with sleep (before starting the process all over again the next afternoon). Tylenol helps, but doesn't totally get rid of it.

Hence, the three exclamation points after the good news. I drove by the clinic a couple weeks ago and it doesn't look good. They are gutting it right now. I looked up chiropractors that I could go see, but I've been postponing it because the idea of starting all over again kills me. I would have to go to a new doctor that I don't know if I can trust. Then he'll probably take x-rays and I'll have to explain everything all over again. I like my chiropractor. I know that what he does works and I don't want to switch. Thankfully, he's available three days a week at another clinic in a nearby town until the one in Galveston is back up and running (hopefully in December). I made an appointment for next Thursday. It does seem far away, but I've gone five weeks already. What's another one?

Now, the bad. My Shannon and her husband Chris are moving to the Fort Worth area. =( =( =( Their business has all but crashed since the hurricane and they can no longer afford to stay. They have rented out their house and are looking for a house to rent in Fort Worth. Chris is from there, so they will know some people already. It just sucks. I went over to their house today to help paint in preparation for the new renters, but we ended up just taping off the trim and packing some boxes. Mostly, it was a chance to catch up on everything that has happened in our lives lately.

I am always surprised at how much crap that happens to Chris and Shannon. It never stops and they are good people that don't deserve that. Shannon started off the morning by explaining to me how when she got in last night her house was filled with diarrhea because their Rottweiler had gotten into the trash. Then there was no toilet paper when she needed to pee after her three hour road trip. The list of catastrophes goes on. I just hope that they find something good in this move. They definitely could use some positive in their lives. I will miss them. I foresee weekend trips in our future.

Friday, October 10, 2008

To Do List

The insurance adjuster came yesterday. Not much to say except that we probably don't have enough damage to our home to even reach our deductible. I'm thinking that's a good thing compared to what a lot of other people are having to deal with. I feel a little better knowing that our roof is in decent shape. The adjuster said there are a few shingles missing, but nothing Travis can't take care of. Just add it to our list of things to do!
  1. Replace shingles
  2. Rewire other half of the house (adding more light fixtures and plugs in the process)
  3. Put tile in the bathrooms and kitchen

Why can't we just be rich?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Galveston Dump

I drove into Galveston yesterday to meet three girls from work for lunch. It was nice to catch up with all of them in person and spend some time on the water. The beaches have been empty since the storm. It's probably a cross between everyone being busy cleaning up with no free time and the risk you run going in the ocean with all the runoff from Galveston after the storm.

After lunch, I stopped by where Ariel and Travis are each working. First, I brought Travis and his work buddy some Gatorade. That proved to be a a task in itself. Many businesses still do not have functioning credit card machines. It took me a couple tries to find a store that would take my Visa (and I got some cash back to be prepared the next time). Travis was working at an apartment complex on the east end of the island and it had about five feet of water. All the AC units and breaker boxes were messed up and needed to be replaced.

Once I had gotten a tour of that place, I headed over to where Ariel was working in the middle of the island. That particular area got about nine feet of water. The house she is helping to gut is about 3 1/2 feet above the ground on pilings, so the inside got about five feet of water. They have to take out EVERYTHING: 4 layers of flooring, sheet rock, wood paneling, cabinets, appliances and all electrical. That neighborhood smelled like crap too. The mold and mildew is out of control. I feel for all the people who have to rebuild.

I also drove by the new garbage dump on the island. It's huge. They have an area sectioned off that they are filling with vehicles that have been towed. In this first photo you can see part of the tow lot, then the trash pile, then the Galveston Courthouse in the distance.

I don't know when or where this stuff is going to be moved, but it is going to be a long process.

Bad Neighborhood?

I seriously think I heard gunshots last night. I woke up to the sound of screaching tires around 1:30AM. It was constant screaching, like when people do that drifting crap, or maybe it was one long donut. It sounded like it was just down the street from our house. It freaked me out to the point that I couldn't go back to sleep because I was afraid they might come down our way and run into our house, killing us in our sleep. I know, paranoid, right?

I was drifting back to sleep about 10 minutes after the screaching tires stopped, when *POP* *POP* *POP* *POP*! It sounded like gunshots! Again, it freaked me out, but I didn't want to wake up Travis. I got up and looked out the window expecting to see some guy running through our yard with a helicopter spotlight on him. When that didn't happen, I got back in bed.

Then, not 20 seconds after the shots, a squad car and ambulance shoot off down our street with lights on and sirens blaring. There was another loud *POP* and I got worried enough at this point to wake Travis. He jumped out of bed in time to see the cop car drive by. We could hear more sirens in the distance. I was debating calling the cops, but then decided it sounded like they had everything under control.

I tried searching the web for anything that might confirm my belief that a gun was shot off just blocks from my house, but I couldn't find anything. It could be because it's too early, so I'll keep checking...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Please Stay, Chilly Weather

It rained yesterday for the first time since Ike hit. I could almost hear the people of Galveston and Harris county biting their nails as their roof tarps and new roofs were put to the test. That rain meant that my insurance adjuster had to postpone her visit until Thursday. That's not too bad though, since I don't have work to go back to yet and can deal with a change in appointment. I am tentatively set to go back October 20th, over a month after the hurricane.

The rain did bring in something exciting - cold weather! I guess it's more chilly, than cold, but I still love it. I opened the windows yesterday after I let Callaway outside and realized it was colder outside than it was in my air conditioned house. It is 67 degrees inside right now and I'm loving it. We usually keep the thermostat set around 76-78 degrees, so this is a delight. It is probably a short lived cool bout, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm sure that everyone in who is still without power is enjoying this.

After I opened my windows yesterday, I started cleaning the house. I also like being able to open the windows when I clean so all the cleaner fumes don't stay in the house. Again - LOVE IT. Anyhoo, after cleaning I headed down to Galveston to hang out with Ariel for the rest of the day. We went grocery shopping. Twice. Ariel and Robert invited Travis and I over for dinner that night and she needed to buy the food. When we got to the first grocery store she realized she had forgotten her list. We sat at the front of the store while she tried to remember everything and re-write it. She did pretty good and only forgot three items, which meant back to the grocery store for us. Neither of us had anywhere to go, so it wasn't a big deal. The second trip we just walked to the store across the street from her apartment and made sure to keep our eyes peeled for muggers.

The island is still in complete disarray. Many of the stoplights are still not working. There are still boats lining the interstate and sporadically across the island. There is more and more trash everyday as people work to gut their property. Ariel told me that they have started a new trash dump right when you first enter the island. I'm going to drive by today and see if I can get a photo. Here is a pic I took with my camera phone of the existing trash pile. It takes up a lot more space than my little phone could capture, but you get the idea. See the crane on top of the pile? It smells horrible all over Galveston.

Robert said that a 65-year old man that is working with him to gut a business in downtown Galveston got sick a couple days ago with some respiratory infection. It's probably related to the mold spores and who-knows-what-else in the air. That place really scares me right now.

Ariel's apartment complex is working on rebuilding the first floor. There are refrigerators lining the parking lot that need to be carted off. At least her building has been gutted from the floor up to 4 feet (that's height of one sheet of drywall). Ariel was mad because she walked around her building and picked up all the trash only to have her downstairs neighbor throw every piece of trash that they had out the back patio, plus their washer and dryer. Another guy threw out his red velvet couch, without cushions. I know people are mad about what happened to them, but the least they could do is bring their trash out to the street. And in bags maybe? The island looks like crap as it is, can't they just do their part to help it along?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Super Callaway

Our very own super hero.

Travis calls Callaway a mean name, but it's still a cute video. I like discovering this function on my camera.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ike Video

I had forgotten that we took some video while we were staying in Houston during the hurrricane. Unfortunately, most of them were too large to upload on here (I'm not all that good with videos). I know you can't see much in the following video, but I find Travis' take on the storm mildly entertaining. Especially since he has probably imbibed a significant amount of booze. He even uses the word "doozy"...

I'm Baaaacckk!!

I know I've been posting a little more frequently lately, but looks like I'm back into full action. Travis finally made it to Best Buy to do some complaining in regards to the "warranty" we bought for our laptop. Thankfully, Chris R. went along to help push things in the right direction. $350 later, we have a new computer (with a bigger screen) with all our photos and music from the old computer backed up on it. Although it was pricey, I much prefer it over the original price of $600 that we thought we would have to pay for repairs. Hooray!!

I am going to go back about 23 days to put up a few more photos from the day after the hurricane (now that the photos were recovered from the smashed laptop). It continued to drizzle for the better half of the day. I think it finally stopped raining in the afternoon, but it was impossible to stay dry if you went outside because of all the flooding and the continued drip of rain water from the trees.

Before I was dressed and ready to go out and about, Travis and JR went out into the street to see how bad things looked. This is the view from Jacen's front porch.

My Nissan and Travis' Dodge Ram made it through the storm without a scratch. We did both have a lot of leaf debris stuck to the vehicles.

We went for a walk in Jacen's neighborhood and saw some crazy stuff. When this woman's tree blew over, it took the whole sod and dirt layer in that corner of her lawn.

Me and the giant pine tree that fell in the road in front of Jacen's house.

Travis and JR went over to a neighbor's house to help cut out as much of a tree as possible that had fallen into their driveway. Here is the before photo.

This is as close as I got to the after photo.

I have added even more photos to the Ike album at Flickr if you are interested in seeing more (they are in the middle of the whole album).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Galveston: West End

I drove down to Galveston today to bring Ariel and Robert some of their mail that has been delivered to our house. I chatted with Robert for a while to catch up on what they have been doing all week. Ariel was out with a friend going through their storage facility to see if anything was salvagable after the flooding. They both got jobs working with construction companies. There is a huge need for workers to gut and rebuild houses and businesses. It's kind of weird to hear about them working normal hours.

After I left there, I drove down to the west end of Galveston Island to check out a few houses that our friends built. That end of the island is pretty much at sea level and suffered a lot. They just opened it up to the public yesterday. They also changed the city curfew from 8pm to midnight. That's exciting because that means Ariel and Robert can come over for dinner now without having to rush home.

Anyways, the west end is a mess. I went down to the beach where Travis proposed to me and all the houses there are gone. All of our friends' houses are still there and look pretty good. What was strange was all the dune-like piles of sand lining the main road. It looks like Ike brought in a bunch of sand with the waves and flooding that had to be pushed aside by plows. There were huge piles everywhere. They other amazing thing I noticed was the gigantic pile of trash forming on the island. I guess they have a centralized location for all the trash that's constantly being picked up. It is HUGE. Taller than the telephone poles, for sure.

It seems like everything has to get worse before it can get better. It was bad after the storm. But now that everyone is gutting their houses and businesses, it looks much worse. I can't wait for it to get better.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Novel-length Update

I don't even know where to begin. It has been a long time since I have had access to the Internet to write a post and a LOT has happened in that time. I will attempt this, but I can guaranty it won't cover everything.

The trip back home from west Texas was an adventure in itself. The day before, I told everyone that I would drive first because I am most aware first thing in the morning. Around 2pm is when I start to drag. Because I said I would drive first, I didn't drink too much to avoid a hangover. Everyone else went in the opposite direction, hence the car full of cranky hungover people the next morning. Because we had so much to carry - 4 humans, 3 cats, 3 dogs and all our luggage - we had to pack the large stuff on the roof rack. We were fine during the first 30 minutes. Everyone was sleeping and I was going 4 miles over the speed limit to make good time. Our cat Bella was sitting directly behind me, filling her kennel with saliva and urine. She has behavioral problems, ergo urination. Because of the behavioral problems, we gave her a little Benadryl to calm her for the ride home. Unfortunately, that resulted in a ridiculous amount of drooling and foaming at the mouth. It made me gag a time or two.

Besides that, it wasn't a miserable ride. That is, until one of the roof rack ties came loose and 4 of our bags went tumbling onto the interstate. Naturally, when I looked in my rear view mirror I realized with horror that I was followed by three semi's. They all swerved to avoid the luggage and the resulting tilt of the trailers was terrifying. In the meantime, I screamed obscenities, swerved onto the shoulder and slammed on the brakes. All the sleeping humans in the car were quick to jump out and run down the interstate to our luggage. All the sleeping, hungover humans. I proceeded to go in reverse whenever a vehicle was not speeding by, giving myself a cramp in the calf. After narrowly avoiding being smashed by multiple vehicles, and with the help of a polite driver who stopped to help, we had all our luggage on the side of the road. I off-roaded the Murano onto the feeder so we could safely retie everything in place. Nothing but a few scrapes to our luggage, thank goodness. Travis and Robert tied those straps so tight the second time around that I had to throw away the bent up kitty litter box and we may never have a normal cooler again. But at least we made it home without another hitch.

When we got home that evening, 8 days after the storm, my home and neighborhood was still without power. We had several offers from friends to go stay with them in their electrically-enhanced homes, but it was SO GOOD TO BE HOME. We decided to stay for a couple more nights and then maybe rethink that. Luckily, the following afternoon our power was restored. After turning on the AC and starting a load of laundry, the power went off again. An hour later it came back on and has not faltered since. JR and Sara came back that night also. Sadly, our elderly neighbors across the street did not get power until the end of that week. They were living off the generator, so I can only imagine how expensive that had to be. Speaking of expensive, have you ever had to refill a refrigerator?

JR cleaned out our fridge and left just a box of baking soda and a beer with the phrase "hunker down bitch" taped to it. Thank goodness for friends to lighten a situation.

Travis went back to work at the plant the day after we got back. He quit the plant the second day after we got back and went to work for his old boss doing residential and commercial work. Basically, he was unhappy and felt unwanted at the plant. I understand his want to move, but it has still been a stressful change for us. He has been working about 60 hours a week doing demo type work in Galveston. I'm glad that he's been able to help (with pay) down there. I have a feeling though, that the reason he is home sick today is probably a combination of overworking and being exposed to who-knows-what down there. I know sanitation has been a problem down there, I just hope he hasn't brought anything strange into our home!

I am still not working. No idea on when that will change. Maybe we'll go back next week, maybe we'll go back the following week. It's all dependent on working fire alarms and AC. I will be glad to get back though. I do nothing with myself. I've cleaned the house twice and I started making beaded jewelry again. I've also been taking full advantage of our DVR. Speaking of, it seems that our power probably went off around 6:30pm on September 12th, according to some shows that were recording that night. =)

Ariel and Robert went back to to their apartment the Wednesday after we got back. We had gone down to see Galveston and decided to stop by the office at their apartment complex. Turns out, they had power, it just hadn't been turned on in each individual apartment yet. They were doing it as the tenants returned to prevent fires from shorts in the wiring and possible gas leaks. The still do not have clean water to drink, but Walmart has been supplying free ice and water to whomever is in need. Which is pretty much everyone on that island. It looks like it will be weeks before part of the bar Ariel works in is reopened and it will be months before the restaurant Robert works at opens back up. In the meantime, they are both doing what they can for money gutting houses and businesses. There is enough of that needed to last them for months.

For a week there, I referred to our house as The Hotel. Ariel and Robert stayed with us until their place was re-powered. The night before they left, a couple of their friends and their dog stayed the night. Then that Friday, we had a friend of ours and his dad stay the night. The random friends are people who evacuated further when they realized the area would be without power for days or weeks. In order to check out their apartments in Galveston, they needed a place to stay for the night. Instead of trying to drive here, check out their place then drive back all in one day, the opted for a night's stay at The Hotel.

From what I have heard from friends and family up north, I have been a little disappointed to find that the media coverage on the devastation from Ike has been nothing but crap. People are still without homes and sanitary living conditions and no one seems interested. I understand that the economy is in a crisis and the presidential elections are just around the corner, but my family has been anxious for information on our surroundings and the only place it can be found right now is on the web or by calling us. Our cell phone bill has already doubled from all our daytime conversations, so we have to be a little more aware of how much we are on our phones.

All I can say about the day to day is that it is LOUD. There is always some noise maker driving by - ambulances, police cars, helicopters, street sweepers and trucks picking up the debris that everyone has moved to the side of the street. And that's just at my house, miles from ground zero. I was thankful to see the street sweepers this morning though. There are large amounts of crushed leaves and saw dust from all the branches that have been cut into smaller pieces that lines all the streets. When I mowed the lawn on Tuesday of this week, I had non-stop sneezing fits from all the dust kicked up at the street. I am thankful that there was not much water damage to any of the houses around me. I've seen the piles of drywall, furniture and appliances outside of homes in less fortunate areas.

It's bad, but we're getting through it. (PS - I added a few more photos on Flickr.)