Friday, September 26, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are home, and mostly unpacked. It's a good feeling. Admiral went straight to the backyard and started barking at whatever it is he likes to bark at back there. I bet he is a little sad to not have the pool right there in the backyard.

Thanks for everyone's support and thoughts over the last couple of weeks. We never really thought it would be 2 weeks without power. There are still people in Houston without and rumors that some will be without until NOVEMBER! We are blesseed to have had a place to stay the past week (thanks to both our parents since I was in Jackson part of the time) and a home to come home to now.

This will be my last Ike post, thank goodness!

After Ike: Power Restored

As the end of Day 14 was approaching, I got a message from a friend that a friend of hers had power in our are. I checked the forums on the Chronicle's website and got confirmation. Ryan went by the house and all the sudden I got an Instant Message from him, meaning he was home and on our computer!


We plan to move back home tonight, after we catch up on our shows that are saved on his parents' DVR.

Pita Mozz!!!

People from Jackson, especially from Millsaps, have a really strong love for a place called Keifer's. It's right near campus and has two great patio's so it was a favorite for lunch and dinner on the weekends. Keifer's is one of those places that those of us who have moved away always crave. It's the one place we MUST go when we make it back to Jackson. The gyro's are good but I think what makes the place, other than the atmosphere, is the Feta Dressing. My favorite thing there is the Pita Mozzarella ("Pita Mozz") -- a pita, with fried cheese on the top, served with Feta Dressing.

While I was home this week, without Ryan, Mom, Dad and I went for dinner. After some talking with the waiter about how to bring Ryan some food home, we decided I would buy a 16oz cup of the dressing. The waiter wrapped the cup in several layers of plastic wrap. I packed it in a box with ice packs and bubble wrap and checked it on the plane for my trip home (Feta Dressing in quantities greater than 3oz are not allowed through security!).

I stopped by HEB and picked up some Pita Bread and Mozzarella cheese to give the Pita Mozz a try. I was not really sure how to make it so I just played around. This is what worked:

Pita Mozz

Pita Bread
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Feta Dressing

Heat non-stick pan over medium-high heat -- it did NOT work in a stainless pan, maybe with some cooking spray but I am still not sure the pan I used can be saved.

Place on pita bread in pan and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.Leave on this side until cheese starts to get soft and melt. I sort of pressed it all down with the spatula to make it stick together.

Flip pita so the cheese side is down. Let cook a couple of minutes, until the cheese gets a good brown crust on it. Quickly slide the spatula under and move to a plate, cheese side up. Serve with feta dressing.

I think our new normal will be bringing back a cup of Feta Dressing each time we go to Jackson, or my parents bringing it when we come. This will satisfy our cravings in the off months between trips home!

After Ike: Day 14

Just a quick post (I have a non-Ike related post coming) to say that its day 14 without power...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A/C, Lights, Cable, Internet and Temporary Fences (After Ike: Day 9)

We are in the 9th day since Ike hit.  As far as we know, there is still no power at our house.  Friday (19th) was supposed to be our day for getting electricity restored.  The 2pm Centerpoint Maps mysteriously moved our area from the Friday group to the "after Thursday" group.  This means they have no idea when our power will be restored, but it probably will be another week.  With this news, Ryan and I decided it was time to move in with his parents.

We had been putting the move off for a few reasons.  One, the lack of power was not unbearable as the weather has been really mild.  Two, we had hope that ours was the next in line to come on. Three, at least 8 feet of their fence fell during Ike so we would have to come up with something to do with Admiral.   
And Four, his parents cable was not restored so all we would "gain" was lights and A/C.  Both are nice but not were not worth the moving and fence trouble up until Friday.

Thursday night and Friday were hard for me.  I have tried to be really positive, as I am normally a "look at the bright side of things" kind of person.  I knew Ryan was really frustrated with the power situation so I was trying to keep my chin up.  Thursday night I just had knots in my stomach.  We had to throw out at least 10lbs of great fish Ryan caught in April as they finally started to melt and the fridge was leaking on the floor. I think the work of cleaning this up and the smell of fish, along with the frustration with the power situation just really started to sink in for me.  Friday was hard on me as well.  I couldn't keep focused at work and again started to get sick to my stomach.  I was starting to not be able to hold it together and finally had to leave work for the day.  

I know I should feel lucky.  We are lucky.  We have a house with absolutely no damage.  All of our family and friends are safe and healthy.  We are pretty sure our friend Ben's parents lost their beach house and their boat since Bolivar was basically destroyed.  A co-workers apartment had substantial damage and when she returned after the storm, all her belongings... EVERYTHING... was ruined.  We are very lucky.  Having no electricity is NOT a disaster, it's not the end of the world.  I could never compare my situation to those who have actually lost things, lost family members, lost their homes in storms like Ike, Gustav, Katrina. But, it is frustrating.  It changes our routine, it's hard, it's boring, it's stressful. 

So Friday night we decided it was time to move.  The cable and internet were then up and working at Ryan's parent's house.  We examined the fence and came up with a plan of action for a temporary fence.  Saturday morning we woke up (at home) and started gathering supplies from Ryan's job sites.  

We got the fence built just in time to watch Eric's game on the internet (Dartmouth vs Colgate).  Dartmouth lost but Eric had some awesome catches, one for a TD!

Saturday afternoon we went home and gathered our belongings and Admiral and headed out.  Ryan's parents are out of town till tomorrow so we have taken over the house until they get back.  I leave in the morning for Jackson and Starkville to do some recruiting for work.  It will be nice to get away, have some time to myself.  I love Ryan but we are tired of each other.  Long nights of puzzles and board games start to wear on you!  :)  I was worried to leave him home alone with the power situation but I feel better leaving him with his Mom and Dad... I know they will take good care of him, probably spoil him a little too.  Thanks for taking care of us!

It's great to have A/C, Cable, Internet, and an oven (I already baked cookies today)!  It will nice to be able to go home, but for now, we have all the comforts and are fortunate.  Admiral has the pool to swim in, which he LOVES.  He is going to be very spoiled this week with daily swimming.  I know he won't want to go home.

Thanks to all for keeping us in your thoughts and for checking up on us.  As I've said, we are very lucky to have fared as we did in this storm, and very lucky to have such wonderful friends and family.  Please keep Houston and Galveston in your thoughts and prayers as many, many, many people rebuild their lives.  I know that with the current economic and political headlines, this storm is not getting much attention, but the devastation in parts of this great city and surrounding areas is substantial.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

After Ike: Day 7

We have started Day 7 without power. We SHOULD have it back on today but I am not holding my breath. Ryan's parents have power, no cable as of 7pm last night, but we might go there tonight as we are both really tired of flashlights. I am about to run out of clean underwear (too much information????) so I at least have to go wash clothes!!! :)

This will probably be a long post as I ramble on about the past 7 days... I have lots of pictures to post so you can at least scroll through them and ignore my rambling!

This is the house pre-storm. We brought all the patio furniture in. We also brought Admiral inside which he really enjoyed. This is from Friday afternoon, he was very much unfazed by the activity and was happy to be inside with his tire.

The power went out about 2am, just after my last post from Friday. We had decided we would stay up all night so we started putting together this crossword puzzle - puzzle. It was not easy to start with, and doing it by candlelight made it harder. We are champs at putting together puzzles in the dark... something we started during the Jackson Tornado.

The actual crossword was too hard, we knew NONE of the answers so we just crumbled it back up and put in the box. We have a Sodoku one as well, might try it soon.

We seemed to stay in the middle of the heavy west side winds and rains most of the day on saturday. The really heavy stuff got to us at about 4am and lasted several hours. We weren't on the "dirty" east side but our area stayed in the heaviest west side bands. Again, Admiral was pretty unfazed by all this, he just slept. He would not go out and use the potty which caused us to get really nervous as the day went on. It finally slacked up enough around noon for me to venture out to the yard with him. We both got soaked.

If you enlarge this first picture (just click it), you can see the rain. It wasn't coming down sideways but was definitely at a good angle. We passed the time with more board games, this on a favorite of mine from middle school... Mancala. I beat Ryan in our best of 3.

When we finally were able to go out with getting rained on, I got some pictures of our neighborhood.
Just a few saggy branches on our treeBoth the neighbor's trees are knocked over.
He was able to get them standing back up.
Tree on neighbor's house.
Tree on different neighbor's house.

And another. This one had 3 on the back,
lots of rain got in.
Trees down in culdesac by mailboxes
Our backyard after the storm.
Notice missing pine in left from pre-storm pictures.

Since Saturday, there has been lots of grilling, candlelit dinners, board games and puzzles. Ryan made me play Stratego... I lost horribly! Payback for Mancala. Admiral is still unfazed... just sleeping inside, a lot. He got very spoiled with us being home all day everyday. We also played a game of Rummicube. I don't know who won. I do know I kept falling asleep while we played. I think Ryan won.

It took a while, but I was able to get the side burner on the grill working. We did get to have bacon and eggs for breakfast which was fantastic!

On Sunday morning, I heard that they were giving out Ice and Water so I headed up to city hall. As I got there, the lines were SOOO long that I wasn't going to stay. I parked at a nearby business and walked up to see what was going on. About that time the trucks were pulling away and I was scared that they were all out. Another man was walking back his car as well and heard that they were moving locations for better traffic flow. Because I was not in the long line of traffic I was able to get over to the stadium before the lines got long and got my two bags of ice.

All in all, Admiral has thoroughly enjoyed Hurricane Ike. He got to spend lots of time inside for several days, and he LOVES all the little branches and sticks in the yard. He loves to fetch sticks, but he doesn't bring them back. He lays down and chews on them.

I guess on Monday we went out looking for more puzzles. This is the best we could find... Photo Mosaic Mickey (we got Winnie the Pooh as well). Mickey is complete and Pooh is in progress.

I guess that is the update for now. Ryan said as of noon today, still no power. It's definitely starting to get old, but we are very lucky to have water, cool weather, and an undamaged house so I try not to complain too much. I have emailed The Woodlands Associations to see if they can give us an update on power... hopefully I get some answers!! I do feel very disconnected from the outside world as all we hear is local Ike news. Isn't there an election going on or did I miss it?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

After Ike!

I forgot to bring the camera to work so no pictures yet. Sorry.

We still don't have power so this is the first time I am able to get a real post in. I tried the mobile blog thing and couldn't get it fully posted until I got to work today.

More later. Gotta get caught up on the 78 emails I arrived to.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mobile Blog: after Ike

Looks like I can blog from Ryan's phone. We survived Ike but don't
have power. Entergy says this is the worst outage in their history and
means 2-3 weeks for some. Hope that's not us. I sat in line and got
free ice today... Always seen that on tv but never thought it would be
me. Ike was a Cat 2 but he sure packed a punch on the 4th largest city
in the US.
If this works, I'll try to post later.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike: Friday Night (part 3)

1am Update:
Winds are very strong. The power has gone off a few times but always comes right back on. Rain has finally started. Ryan and I are sitting on the patio. The wind direction keeps us very blocked from much of it and we feel okay sitting and watching the trees, for now.

Original Post
It's almost midnight. The radar maps look like The Woodlands should be getting rain, but we have not gotten any yet. The winds are definitly picking up and the tree tops are sort of swirling around. I think Admiral knows something is up. He just went out back with me and instead of running off into the yard to bark at the shadows (his normal evening routine) he stayed right next to me the whole time.

Not much more to update. We obviously still have power. Ryan is still playing XBox. I am watching the news. There have been a couple of little "flashes" of lights that make me think the power outage is likely coming soon.

Thanks to everyone that has checked in with us. We'll keep y'all updated however we can!

More later(??).

Ike: Friday Night (part 2)

Quick addition to the original post. The above picture shows the radar of Ike. We are in that little green box area, pretty much the one spot that is not getting any rain, yet.
The sky was beautiful right before dark. I hope that isn't too much "calm before the storm". The wind is picking up here. Probably getting winds 30 to 40mph.

We are still pretty bored but want to stay up so that we are aware of what's happening. So what do you do when you are bored? Well, I bake... then eat.

I just finished up one of my standard Cookie Cakes with Wilton Butter Cream Icing. I made a cross between the stiff and medium consistency, using 3/4 c shortening and 1/4 cup butter. I also only used 1tbsp milk because I like a little heavier icing, not so fluffy. It was and still is yummy. At least we will have some good comfort food if we are without power
Ryan is playing XBox while he can. I could watch the news all night because I am a hurricane nerd but he is very much tired of it. I might sneak to the bedroom soon!!!

I think we might have at least an hour before we start to get the nasty stuff. Hopefully I'll get one more post in tonight.

Ike: Friday Night

The winds are picking up here. Still haven't had a drop of rain. Galveston is reading close to 70mph winds according to the TV. The eyewall is still about 4 hours from hitting land.

We are already getting a little stir crazy. We don't want to pull out the books and bored games so that we aren't tired of them when we actually need them. But Friday night TV, when all the majors are on Ike, is pretty boring.

Whoa, big gusts of wind just now, it's coming down the chimney and really making a sound. I hate that its dark outside and I can't see the trees. We just went outside and looked around some. The taller trees are really swaying and if we get the 80mph sustained winds that are predicted, there will be lots of down trees in our area. We think our house is pretty safe as most of the tall trees have been cut down!

More later, I hope.

Ike: Beginning to Make Landfall

Ike is beginning to make landfall. The winds down in Galveston are sustaining at about 60mph from what I hear on the news. The eye is still 5-6 hours out.

We have still not felt much up in The Woodlands yet. The wind is definitely picking up in gusts, but no rain yet. It's actually a kind of pretty sky view from the back patio.

We have eaten dinner, what may be our last electricity cooked meal for a few days, lets hope not.

More later, I hope.

Ike: Friday 4pm

The 4pm model looks just about the same. I think the target is set and Galveston's likelihood of being spared as it was by Rita is getting slimmer and slimmer. There might be a slight shift to the south/west which does nothing positive for Houston or Galveston.

Everything here at home is about the same. The clouds are getting heavier. SciGuy said in his 2pm chat that the east side of 45 will likely get the worst wind. This is good news for us I guess, but not good for several of our friends that live on the east side of 45.
I have been talking with my friend Suzie today, her family has a house in Sea Isle. She is really sad and fearful and I worry with her. Please keep Suz's family in your prayers, along with the families of our friends Steve and Ashley (Jamaica Beach), and one of Ryan's close friends Ben. All 3 homes are definitely in danger.

Ben's family has a house on Bolivar Peninsula. Here is a shot from the Chronicle of Bolivar. The water is already getting high and again, its only 4pm. Ike is 130 miles out from Galveston.
This picture from the Chronicle only says its from Galveston Island. It looks to be on the west end of the Island somewhere. Two hard sights. Obviously the fire, and then the water. There is no beach, these houses now look like they are in the ocean.Watching all this unfold brings back the memories of the pictures after Hurricane Ivan in Pensacola. My mom's family had just had a big family vacation at a condo on Pensacola Beach. It was the last big family trip we had with Pop before he got sick and was just the best time for all there. Only a couple of months later, Ivan hit Mobile, putting Pensacola on the dirty side. It devastated Pensacola Beach and the condo's we stayed in were completely gone. There was nothing left of the front few units, the storm surge just washed the buildings away.

It was Ivan that got me so obsessed with watching hurricanes when they come in, and my mom is even worse!!! :) It became so much more personal because I was connected. And Katrina, too, fueled my awareness and interest of these storms. With Katrina, I just sat in my air conditioned apartment in Houston and cried because I felt so guilty and so helpless, seeing my home state suffer so much with damage so far inland.

All we can do is pray and hope the best for those with homes in Ike's path.

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