Friday, September 26, 2008

Fun at School!

My kids love listening to this! I am singing it in my sleep now!

Dum diddy dum dum!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This Is the End My Friend!

Enough of being lazy! We (the teachers that is) go back to school Monday and the kids go Tuesday. Yeah! I think most of the kids are actually looking forward to it as well. They are pretty bored, not much is open. Gas stations are getting gas now, so there are little to no lines. Fast food places up and down Hwy 6, though, remain closed, mostly because they have not been able to restock food. Slowly we creep back towards life B.I. If someone will just come and pick up the bags of debris we all have neatly lined up next to our driveways.

Fred, the fence guy, started working on the Bertoli side of the fence Thursday, and is working on the Clinton's fence yesterday and Monday. As soon as we hear from our other neighbors with their OK, we will get the other sides of the yard done and then the dogs can run the yard again. Yeah!

As of Friday, my school (Watkins) still did not have power (one of 5 in the district without), but it did come on early in the afternoon only to go out once more. Hopefully it is on again and we will be able to forge ahead Monday. If not, the district has a plan in place to deal with the kids to minimize interruption to their learning. So nice of them! Probably bus them to Berry Center and use their meeting rooms.

I have not been up to check on Mitch and Goliath (the animals). I fed Goliath 10 fat mealworms Thursday before we left and Mitch had a nice fat rat earlier in the week, so they should be OK, just maybe out of water, but OK. Whoever cleans out the freezer in the lounge is in for a nice little suprise however! I did have one more large frozen rat in there. I am sure it is well thawed and probably more fit for a turkey vulture than a snake by now! I know I will have to get more mealworms too. With the power off, my supply in my little fridge probably pupated and hatched into nice little brown beetles. Petco did not have any yesterday, so I may have to put up with crickets for a while. (No Buddy Holly though)

I decided to put together a "Stormy" playlist on my iPod for the next storm. I am open to suggestions. I am going through our CDs and my playlists looking for appropriate music. I figure I have some time before I need it again!

And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This Just Keeps Going and Going and Going...

School is out for the rest of the week. Power still out in many places in the district, damage to some of the facilities, the inability to get gas for the buses and for employees, the inability to restock the cafeterias in the schools just yet since they do not all have power, not to mention damage to any students or employees own homes...It looks like we will go to school until July! There will be another announcement Friday to tell us IF we will be able to start next Monday.

Seriously, I wonder how we will make these days up. We missed 4 days with Rita in '05. We had 2 weather days, used those up, and then took two inservice days and made them into classroom days for the kids and the teachers had to get time equivalency to make them up. This year we have 2 weather days, but we don't have any extra inservice days to use like last time.

I wonder if I can find really cheap airfare to Chicago. Maybe Chris and I will just take in a Cubs game! It's only 3:00 PM but I think I need a beer!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tastes Great, Less Filling!

I never thought a cold beer would taste so good! And power has been on for more than 24 hours!

Worked on the front and back yards all day today. Got almost everything cut, sawn, raked, bagged and bundled! Just a few more piles in the back yard to finish bagging and then I will almost officially close the book on Ike.

One of the oaks in the back yard has been slowly dying. It lost a big limb about 2-3 months ago in a storm. A few other large limbs have since lost all their leaves, and appeared threatening to fall at any minute. We knew we would have to cut the tree down eventually. Ike brought down a couple more limbs from the oak, so today I pulled them all out and started trimming and lopping them. When I got all the side stuff off, I started to saw them into 4 foot pieces with a hack saw. Anyone want some good oak firewood? Next I look for someone to take the whole tree down.

Raked all the little branch bits and the leaves and pine needles and all the junk into piles around the yard. Got a total of 15 bags of stuff, including the little stuff I clipped off the limbs to start with. Chris went around helping neighbors finish their yard work earning a total of $30, as well.

While I was working in the yard, our neighbor appears at the fence with someone and they are measuring the fence discussing if they can save the pickets and replace the posts. (That part of the fence was replaced about a year ago.) Turns out he is a friend of theirs and has done other work for them, so after asking if he has a bit of time, he comes by and measures our yard for fence replacement and that is one more thing I can check off my list! Yeah me! We want to get it replaced quickly because Abbey has figured out that she has openings that lead to places she has yet explored! Dukie tends to stay close by now that his eyesight and hearing are going.

Grilled some T-bones for dinner tonight, with a nice green salad, some sauteed mushrooms and onions, and some seasoned fries. Mmmmmm! Sitting here now with a nice cold beer, in my air-conditioned living room, blogging away. (Smelly, but you can't tell that!) Actually today it was really nice for doing yard work. I don't think the temperature got over 85 and the humidity is uncharacteristically low because of the cold front that came through.

Drove around a bit last night to see what other damage might have occurred. Over at the Green Meadows Apts, one wall of brick from one of the front apt buildings fell away from the building. The Loch Katrine Apartments, behind the old K-Mart on Hwy 6 look like they sustained quite a bit of damage as well. Many houses in the new subdivisions along West Little York had extensive roof damage - seeing a lot of blue tarps over rooves there. One of the storage facilities nearby was extensively damaged as well. But it looks like it was pretty poorly constructed, corrugated tin sheets and some 2x4's. I did not have my camera with last night, so I did not get pics. Sorry about that.

Have not heard any more about school. I know some of the buildings in the district sustained damage, and not all areas in our district have power yet. So we shall see if we do indeed go back Wednesday or not. I will use that time to find someone to take the tree down and make an appt to get my car looked at. (Chris plugged something in on the way to Luling and blew fuses. I have no radio or data screens now.) Also need to get papers graded and the house cleaned inside.

I think I need another beer! Oh and BTW, additional pic loaded to the Ike file with todays trash heap and better pics ofour fence damage. Going for that beer now and a nice hot shower! Oh, and Marie - thanks for the loan of the clippers! ;-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

After the Deluge, the Dishwasher is Good for Something

2:10 PM Sunday
Power has been on here for a little over an hour now. I think it is safe to disconnect and the generator and put the cords away. We had three false starts with the power - once last night around midnight, on and off within a minute, and again twice this morning. It came once more about 12:40 and has stayed on. So we are ready to start getting back to normal.

A cold front came through about 5AM this morning and dumped a ton more rain on us. In fact the streets flooded worse today than yesterday. Water was about half way up our yard today. Yesterday it was only over the curb. I took some early morning pics, not too great, as I did not pay attention to the settings. But you can see some trash bags of tree debris floating around on the street.

Once the rain stopped, we got out and cleaned up the front yard. Raked all the pine needles, leaves, and twigs; cut the larger branches into small pieces; swept the front walk a bit; cleaned off the cars. we haved a few larger branches that will need to be sawed into pieces for the trash service to pick up. Not sure about the fence, will look into that Monday I guess. Got to get my car in to get looked at as well. On the way to Luling, Chris plugged in the converter for the little car TV and some circuit blew. There is no radio or data screens working. The A/C has been making noises anyway, so it is a good time to get it in.

Since the storm this morning dumped more rain on us, there are tons of roads and intersections under water and lots of people still without power out on this side. Cy Fair is keeping schools closed till Thursday. So I have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to get stuff done. And I know Glencairn (where Watkins is) still is without power. Even if all schools had gotten power today, it would have been hard to open on Monday. All the cafeterias have been without power for 48 hours at least, so that means no food. There are so many ancillary things that need to be in place just to have school. And all buildings have to be checked for damage, and then repaired if necessary.

Thirty six hours is the longest I can remember ever going without power. It is utterly amazing how much you find yourself paralyzed because so many things you do are tied electricity. I found myself digging stuff out of the garbage disposal a couple times, can't use it without power! I was happy I had a stovetop coffee pot and remembered how my mom used to make coffee, the old-fashioned way! I tried to boil water first and just pour it through grounds in the coffee filter in the coffee maker. That took way too much time and got grounds in the coffee. So I made it in the stovetop pot and just strained it through a big strainer I have. I broke down last night, too, and did dishes by hand. They were kind of piling up in the sink, in hopes that the power would come on sooner. So the useless dishwasher was not so useless, serving as a great drying rack for the dishes.

Watching cable TV now with footage of the devastation on Galveston Island. Bolivar and Crystal Beach look horrible. A flyover of the west end of the island is painful. Some houses still standing on their pylons, others with the pylons still there but no house. And water EVERYWHERE. A marina in LaPorte has boats in the parking lot. Boats in the middle of the road in Seabrook. Reports of boats on the causeway (I45) going into Galveston. The boardwalk at Kemah is no longer.

I added the bad pics from the flooded street this morning. Apologies for the poor settings. I was a little sleepy. More in the coming days! Thanks for all the positive thoughts and prayers. All is well with the Ostermans today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pioneer Days

Doing dishes by hand, only 3 stations on TV to watch, no air conditioning...this is how mom and dad lived long ago and far away!

9:20PM Saturday night - we are still without power but we had nothing better to do today (well we could have started cleaning up the yard, but...) so I called up my brother in Wimberly and we met him in Luling to borrow his generator. Back home by 7:00PM.

So right now we have the deep freeze and the two fridges back online and cold. Beer, white wine and other assorted beverages!!! Saved the meat in the freezers, too. Only lost 2 cartons of Blue Bell and ice. Got the TV on the generator as well, but cable is still out. So we watch the little analog TV right now. Router and modem are on a battery pack, charging on the generator.

Should have stopped at Walmart along I-10 to buy a couple box fans, though, but did not think of it till we were back here. We were lucky here. Seems like the most damage here in far west Houston is uprooted trees and downed limbs. They all seemed to miss going through windows around here too, falling to the side instead. As much as I hate making the days up, I really hope school is cancelled Monday.

I added some more photos to the slideshow as well. We drove around the subdivision earlier this afternoon. More tomorrow if there is anything to talk about.

Saturday Morning Coffee

9:30 AM Saturday morning. God Bless Gas Stoves!!! Houston, we have coffee!

Power went out around 1 or 2 AM last night and then the wind and rain started. Got up around 4AM to see what was going on, lots of branches everywhere.

Up and about by 7:00 AM, with the blinds open there is some light. We are using one of the battery packs to power the router and modem so we can get internet access. We have a TV/radio/lantern and we are listening to AM radio broadcasts. Seems the eye passed to the east of us. That is good because the heaviest rains and strongest winds are on the north east side of the eye.

I will upload some pics as soon as I finish the post here. Fences down on all three sides of our yard. Turbine tops from people's garage or house are in a few yards out front. About an inch of standing water in the back yard. Abbey does seems to mind going out but Duke will have none of it! He runs right back to the door. We will have to take him out during a lull and make him stay until he does his thing.

Wind seems to be subsiding quite a bit. Power flickered once about 5AM, we are hoping that is a good sign. The house seems to have come through very well. I remember, during Alilcia in '83, hearing lots of house noises and howling wind in the chimney. The eye also passed right over us that day. We heard very few house noises last night and no wind echos in the chimney. Chris slept right through till about 5:30 or so.

Reports are Galveston and Port Arthur look bad. We have not seen anything yet. More later today!

Friday, September 12, 2008

What To Do, What To Do?

7:45 PM- Ike we are patiently waiting for you. We have some fermented hops and barley, and a lovely concoction of Bacardi, lime, and mint, tons of food, and no party! Where are you? I know, I know, you are taking your time getting here, gathering strength, making some great displays of waves hitting the seawall in Galveston.

I do wish you would hurry and get here, though. Dump your rain and move on. Oh and thanks for dumping Geraldo on his keister!

Is Ike One of the Lehman Brothers?

I added some links over to the side. I'll add more as I find them.
  • Storm Pulse so you can track the hurricane.
  • Gary's Buoy is a buoy out in the gulf that is over a pipeline platform he installed last year - fun to watch the wave height as long possible.
  • Houston Wind by Zip Code allows you to see what the different areas around town are expecting.

And of course I'll take pics and post as I can.

The grocery store was stocked back up again this morning. Some water and some bread, etc. No ice though. I went back because all I needed was oregano - forgot it last night so we can make Italian Beef. Picked up a large package of bolio rolls (kind of like hoagie rolls but crustier), a loaf of fresh white bread (smelled so good it called my name!) and an additional case of water.

We put most of the water in the freezer so that when the power goes out we can keep the freezers and fridges cold still. I am also emptying the ice maker regularly, into ziploc bags and storing them in the freezer. Will most likely make one more Randall's run since we also forgot the most important thing for "hunkering down"! Corona! How could I forget that?

Anyway - 10:30 AM and the sun is still shining, it is hot and breezy here. Looks like a typical August day. Weird feeling though, remembering that everyone else is going about their daily routine wherever they are, while we are scurrying about making preps for the storm. Lehman Brothers is falling, Merril Lynch is down over 17 points, and the world keeps turning.

Gentlemen - Start Your Engines!

Let the hype begin! Twenty four hour coverage that actually began yesterday.

A reporter standing next to the beach where a large 4x8 was laying, looking rather weathered, saying "This was a art of someone's house." Then a few minutes later another reporter in a different location standing on a pier that has already been partly swept away by the increasing waves, pointing out the missing part that had 4x8's looking suspiciously like the one shown earlier.

Galveston is already getting flooded as water goes into the bay and can not get out, flooding from back to front. Looks like about 6-12 inches of water on the roads on the bayside of the island. Seawall Blvd still looks fine, waves are looking spectacular, crashing in. I could get some great photos! And if you are on the island at this point, you are there to stay.

Models have the track going right up I-45 as it makes landfall, so - Michelle - get ready for some rain!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Have You Ever Seen Rain?

I should make a play list of rain songs for this weekend. Suggestions? CCR - have You Ever Seen Rain, REO - Riding the Storm Out, Doors - Riders On the Storm, Jackson Browne - You Love the Thunder...I need suggestions. Just no (c)rap. I need something to do instead of lalundry or grading papers.

Most of the districts around the Houston area have cancelled school for tomorrow, heeding the request of Mayor White. It most likely will start raining fairly hard around the early afternoon, which could make getting kids home difficult. Not to mention, lots of parents will most likely just keep kids home anyway, and that is bad for us in terms of average daily attendance and federal money.

So now we sit and watch to see if Ike pulls a Rita. Three years ago, Hurricane Rita was threatening the area, and there was a mass exodus of EVERYONE in Galveston and Houston, and even some people in San Antonio and Austin. Schools were closed for 4 days - 2 days before the hurricane, 1 day of hurricane, and 1 day after hurricane. Rita did not even come close to Houston and we had to make up all 4 days of missed school. So far this year, however, most of the predictions about 24 hours out have been pretty much accurate. So we shall see what the 10PM update shows and go from there.

We really don't need to leave though. We are far enough inland and high enough above sea level that we won't see any storm surge flooding at all. We will get good hard rain, winds about 60-70 mph, most likely, and power outages. When Alicia hit in '83 power was out for about 10-12 hours. This time we have a gas stove and a gas grill, so we can still eat real food! Gary got an extra tank today for the grill, along with some batteries. Groceries are OK already, having just restocked from our return from Beijing, and we will put all the water bottles in the freezer so the freezers stay cold even if power goes out. Cars have full tanks of gas (I had to drive around a bit to find some,and the station started closing pumps just after I finished.) and all we need to do next is make sure the battery back ups for the TV's are OK.

So that is all for now. More later! Stay dry!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ike and Spaghetti Predictions

So we are changing the direction of this blog today!

Ike is not even here and President Bush has already declared all the coastal areas disaster areas.

Right now Ike is on track to hit land somewhere between Corpus and Houston. The more it turns North, the closer the dirty side is to us. While we will not get huge damage, we are expecting more and more rain if Ike moves more north, probably some good wind as well. Brazoria County has a mandatory evacuation starting tomorrow morning. The district has cancelled all classes and activities over the weekend, so I will not have to go to my ROPES update. Oh darn!

Here is a great website to track the hurricane.

Jet lag is officially a thing of the past. I now can only blame the fact that I am almost over 50 as the only reason I am sleepy sometimes. We have been enjoying BBQ and Mexican food the last 2 weeks. Maybe this weekend we will feel like getting Chinese food again. It will not be as good as Jenna's though. Sigh!

Time to get back to grading papers! Stay dry everyone!
Go Cubs Go!!!