Saturday, September 20, 2008

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

Tomorrow marks the last day of Team Trockle's first whirlwind tour of the Internet. While there are only TWO more Trockle Totes to be given away (Sept. 21: Karen L. Syed and Joyce Anthony), you can still visit the previous stops and enjoy interviews with Trockle's illustrator, Jordan M. Vinyard, characters Trockle and Stephen, and the author - me! - Holly Jahangiri. Here's where we've been, so far:

Sept. 13: Vivian Zabel
Sept. 14: Elysabeth Eldering
Sept. 15: Aidana WillowRaven
Sept. 16: Steph Cardin and Miguel de Luis Espinosa
Sept. 17: Ian Williamson and Lea Schizas
Sept. 18: Susan Thompson and Joyce Anthony - First of four days!!
Sept. 19: Beverly Stowe McClure (and Beverly's 2nd Blog) and Joyce Anthony
Sept. 20: Joyce Anthony

And here's where we'll be, tomorrow:
Sept. 21: Karen L. Syed and Joyce Anthony

This has been so much fun - I can't wait to do it again (and I just might, if I can find a few moms, dads, or kids who would be interested in reading and reviewing the book)!

On October 26, I have the honor of kicking off the blog tour for Midnight Hours, Vivian Gilbert Zabel's newest mystery/suspense novel. You won't want to miss that one!

Hungry Bob

"Right now, we have a green anole named Bob and a whole slew of tiny crickets that ultimately belong to the lizard."

The only reason we have a pet at all is because my son's a Boy Scout and the Reptile Study Merit Badge requires him to care for a reptile or amphibian for a month. Bob has been with us almost three months: a $6.99 lizard who has cost us over $100 in habitat, supplies, and food. Keeping Bob alive during Hurricane Ike proved to be an interesting experience.

Thursday, the day before the hurricane hit, Bob was out of food. I drove to several stores, but all claimed to be out of the small crickets. One admitted to having an emergency supply, but it was reserved for the store animals. Which would have been fine, understandable, perfectly reasonable, had this not been the same store that sold us the anole in the first place. I see where this is going: we're left to choose between releasing Bob just before a hurricane, in which case he'll probably drown or blow away to the Land of Oz, or letting Bob starve to death while the store crickets are kept alive on emergency rations - with the expectation that they will become the replacement pets for devastated kids next week.

Now, remember: These are the folks who will sell you - for $6.99 - a lizard that is plentiful and easy to catch here in Houston. They rightfully think we're stupid.

I gave up, drove home, resolved not to waste any more gas on Bob, and hoped he could hang in there through the storm. I could release him Saturday or Sunday, once the rain and wind died down. Insects should be out in full force then, too.

"They said what?" Katie asked, incredulous. "Oh, no they didn't! Give me three dollars. I will get you those crickets. They may throw me in jail, but Bob is not going to starve on my watch!"

I always knew that stubborn force of will would come in handy, one day, when the force of Nature known as my daughter grew up and learned to harness and use it. I debated, then drew out a handful of dollars. "Don't get arrested. It's not worth it."

"Yes it is. I'll be right back. With Bob's crickets."

I wish I'd been a fly on the wall at Petco. Apparently, faced with my daughter's wrath, the store manager discovered a shipment of small crickets that had arrived in the fifteen minutes between my leaving and her arriving. "It's no problem, ma'am! We have plenty!" She handed me a bag with two dozen tiny crickets. Bob would later "hunker down" in the shower stall next to my son, while Hurricane Ike roared outside. He dined well and probably slept, sated and satisfied, through the storm.

And they say I'm "intimidating."

Fast forward to last week, though: Most of the pet stores are closed. Dogs and cats, birds and ferrets - those are a priority. Those get attention on the news. Nobody gives a rat's patootie about a $6.99 anole whose cousins are happily fending for themselves on the remnants of mangled wooden fences all across the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area. Bob's hungry again, and he's starting to sport brown speckles and an unhappy expression. I called and called - no pet store answered. But then, on Thursday, I was volunteering at the Tomball POD, which had moved around the corner and down the road, and just happened to be in the parking lot of a PetSmart. Worth a try.

"Do you have any of the small crickets?"

"Oh, yes, we do. Lots of them."

"How late are you open?" They closed at 6 PM; the POD line wouldn't close until 7 PM or 8 PM. That could be a problem; the crickets shouldn't be kept in an airtight bag more than about an hour, and they needed to be kept cool, too - out of direct sunlight. It was warming up again, in Houston, after a welcome cold front. It was in the upper 80s.

"We can ring them up now, and bag them up after the store closes - when we leave. That'll be after 6 PM." Okay, for $2.50, I was going to trust them to remember. And it was nice of them to offer. The businesses nearby have been very nice to the volunteers, offering free meals and small kindnesses like cricket-sitting. The girl brought them to me not too long before the line closed, and I was able to get live crickets - three dozen or so - home to Bob Thursday night. The store clerk asked for one small favor: did we have any MREs left? We did. She, too, would eat dinner Thursday night. And it wouldn't be crickets.

Funny aside: I left the crickets at the incident command center in the middle of the parking lot, while I continued to work. When we closed the POD, I walked over to the IC and said, "Do you have my crickets?"

A police officer overheard me and got a puzzled look on her face. "What are 'crickets'?" she asked.

"Crickets," I repeated, thinking she'd misheard me.

She shook her head. "What's that? Crickets?"

What the hell? This is starting to remind me of the night my mother lovingly asked my dad, "How does it feel to be adored?"

He took offense. "A dord?" he cried. "What's a dord?" My mother looked at him like he'd sprouted a second head, but I realized he'd just been watching too much "Happy Days" and "Welcome Back, Kotter." He thought it was some new cross between "dork" and "nerd."

"Adored, Dad. You know...LOVED?"

I spotted the bag, pulled it out of the box that kept it from blowing across the parking lot, and showed her. "Small insects?" I offered, trying to be helpful. "They jump?"

"Oh! Crickets - that kind - you really did mean crickets?  Why do you have crickets?"

"They're...dinner, for my son's lizard."

I should have told her it was a popular new street drug. Wonder how long I could've dragged that out?

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Whole New Look, A Whole New Blog!

You may have noticed a new, simpler look on the blog this morning - and maybe, if you've had your coffee or logged in later in the day, you noticed there's a new address, as well:

I have heard from many readers, including my own dad, that registration and leaving comments was just too off-putting. Family and friends would sometimes call or email their comments, but that makes for disjointed conversations, here, at best.

I can't spend all my time policing bogus registrations and ads for frivolous pharmaceuticals guaranteed to grow me body parts I don't have. But I'm willing to consider alternatives. I had moved away from Blogger a few years ago, when my host and Blogger failed to reach agreement on the best FTP method to use, and refused to talk to one another. I completely forgot about it when I switched hosts, and I installed WordPress. WordPress is great, but Blogger is ubiquitous, familiar, and offers an easier balance between gatekeeping and allowing real readers to comment easily.

I need you to do your part, though. Leave comments. Show me it was worth the move, or I'll redesign the blog to be black on black and require a 16-character Captcha code in Cyrillic.

Today's Trockle Tour Blogs!

Today, Joyce Anthony interviews both the little monster under the bed, Trockle, and his human nemesis, Stephen - the big, scary boy who lives OVER the bed. Beverly Stowe McClure interviews the author, Holly Jahangiri, and the illustrator, Jordan M. Vinyard.

Daily Winners

Remember that one person who comments on each day's entries during the blog tour will win a canvas tote bag (11 x 8.5″) with the book’s front cover on one side and the back cover on the other. 4RV Publishing will provide the bag and mail it to anyone in the U.S. or Canada. These bags are adorable!

Hurricane Ike "Off Topic"

It's true; while Hurricane Ike continues to consume the daily lives of so many of us on the Gulf Coast, even those who came through the storm relatively unscathed, it is "off topic" on many forums and mailing lists.

Appropriate as that is - I mean, life does go on, particularly for people who have never experienced a hurricane - it's hard to remember when you're still handing out ice, food, and MREs to people who were severely impacted by the storm. When 1.9 million people across the state are still without power. When friends and colleagues have lost everything.

It is so hard to focus on the mundane, sometimes; disasters of this magnitude tend to bring priorities into sharp focus and harsh light. Some of us can't make small talk at the best of times; right now, we can't imagine how anyone else can, either. Little luxuries, like a hot shower or fresh fruit, once taken for granted, become signs of normalcy and are met with disproportionate gratitude. A stranger, trapped in a car for hours, waiting for rationed ice, water, and food offers a piece of chewing gum to volunteers directing traffic - a reminder that people can be extraordinarily kind and caring even at the worst of times. A nearby restaurant gives free food to volunteers, just to say thank you for letting their suppliers and customers through the POD lines.

But life goes on. In some parts of the U.S., it goes on blissfully oblivious. My brother-in-law called on Saturday or Sunday, from Minnesota: "I just heard you all had a nasty storm down there - is everything okay?" He hadn't heard a word about it until it was all over - and headed north. "A hurricane? Really?" Relatives overseas were more keenly aware of what was going on here, and expressed more concern.

The Short But Eventful Life of Hurricane Ike (from

Hurricane Ike has been blamed for thirty-some deaths from the Gulf Coast as far north as Canada. God only knows how many are missing, simply washed out to sea or buried under rubble on Crystal Beach or Bolivar Peninsula. Beaumont and parts of Louisiana were hard hit, as were parts of Arkansas and Ohio. Some in the north don't even realize their freakish weather related problems all stemmed from the same monstrous storm; they don't realize that Ike stretched 600 miles across when it hit land.

As the hurricane closed in, authorities in three counties alone estimated 90,000 people ignored evacuation orders. Post-storm rescuers in Galveston and the peninsula removed about 3,500 people, but another 6,000 refused to leave.

Nobody is suggesting that tens of thousands died, but determining what happened to those unaccounted for is a painstaking task that could leave survivors wondering for months or years to come.


The search echoes the chaos following Katrina in 2005, when bodies were turning up more than a year after the storm as ruined homes were dismantled and families returned after months away. Katrina killed more than 1,600 people.

Source: The Associated Press

Those outside Ike's destructive path will wonder why the price of gas has risen sharply. Already, they are quick to point fingers at suppliers, but here's a sobering fact:

Of the roughly 3,800 oil production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, Ike destroyed at least 10 when it blew through the region over the weekend.

In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita toppled a combined 108 platforms and damaged about 150 pipelines that gather and transport oil and natural gas from offshore wells.

The eye of the storm barely skirted the biggest concentration of oil and gas refineries near Houston.


It could have been worse. It could always be worse.

In fact, if dragging the Tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004 is "off topic" here, I could point out that it's not the first time Galveston has faced devastation:

Things are slowly returning to normal here. Many grocery stores are open again. Many have limited offerings in the way of fresh produce or frozen goods, and ice is at a premium. But we can get basic staples: bread, milk, juice...

Imagine, for a second, that you live in the greater Houston area. You don't want to waste gas, you don't want to sit in line for hours, only to be told that supplies and food have run out. You need information - you don't know if school is close or if your doctor's office is open. You don't know when power or water will be restored. You need refrigeration for your insulin. Your boss says "Come to work, we're open," but you have to drive treacherous, busy streets that now have no traffic lights. (One of the U.S.'s deadliest intersections is just a few miles from my home, and has no traffic lights, last I checked.) If you're lucky, you have Internet access; you can check here:

Imagine you've been without power for days, and haven't seen the news, yourself.

This does some of our neighbors no good, of course. Across the street from us, power has yet to be restored. Some neighborhoods have well water; without power, there's no way to pump the water up from the well. Some neighbors have gas stoves, but without power, they have no refrigeration. That's nothing, though. Some neighbors' homes and cars were crushed by falling trees and high winds - even as far north as this.

Our schools are still closed. Even my middle-schooler is starting to grow bored with video games; school is looking good right now. But his school was undergoing renovations and may take even longer to reopen, once power is restored. We just take it day by day...

No orthodontist appointment today; the office - within walking distance of our house - is still without power.

Big @#$% deal.

Remember thinking, "I will never get these images out of my head" after 9/11? After Hurricane Katrina? Barely sparing a nanosecond of brain power on them these days, right?

We tend to write off those who stayed in the hardest hit areas, despite mandatory evacuation orders. We call them stupid, and worse - angry with them for putting first responders' lives at unnecessary risk. But a few were trying to help others evacuate, and simply let time and circumstances get away from them. Like Frank and Dee Ann Sherman, who survived the storm at Crystal Beach.

The Shermans are...frustrated with news reports showing people complaining about no power or relatively minor damage.

"We see all of these people that are crying and moaning because they got some mud on their floor or their lights are out in Houston," Sherman said. "We don't see anything about our friends that died in Crystal Beach and about the fact that our world is totally devastated. I'm 60 years old and I have to start my life all over again."

Source: KHOU.COM

So, let's not whine about the little stuff. For the most part, it's all little stuff. Some of us had some inconvenience and a bit of an adventure. For others, it's a matter of life and death and total loss. It's not healthy to dwell on disaster and pain, destruction and death - and it's far easier not to, when it doesn't touch us with its icy finger directly.

Can we get back "on topic," now? I wish. The day I consider this "off topic" is the day Texas is truly back to "normal." Me? My life's about as normal as it gets, except for the ridiculous stash of survival-Pop-Tarts in my cupboard. That might've been just a tiny bit excessive. But spare a kind thought, a prayer, and maybe a contribution to the relief efforts, if you can. We all share this tiny bluish marble that floats around the Sun; it is good to remember that, sometimes.

Trockle on Tour!

Trockle left for a whirlwind blog tour on Saturday, while all of Houston was "hunkered down," getting smacked by Hurricane Ike! I almost missed the party; five minutes after I read my publisher Vivian Zabel's kick-off entry, we lost power. It was dark and eerily quiet, with only the sound of the rising wind outside. It's amazing how loud electricity is; we don't notice until it's gone. I had a reply all written and ready to go - and BAM! Off go the lights.

But Monday, I went in to work - and we had power and Internet. And A/C. Oh, the things we take for granted. Driving was hazardous; most of the traffic lights are still out. Even at the intersections that had lights, people were hesitant - they'd come to expect a four-way stop, and were unsure whether to trust the lights. Where they had lights, they sometimes forgot to stop. It was confusing, at best.

By noon, we had power at home, too.

We're still using up food from the freezer; most of it's still good, but partly thawed, and won't keep. We have enough Pop-Tarts to last through the school year, though.

Come See Team Trockle on Tour!

Be sure to save the following dates and bookmark these great blogs, so you don't miss out on the Trockle Tour! There will be interviews with the author, Holly Jahangiri, and the illustrator, Jordan M. Vinyard. You won't want to miss a reading from the book, interviews with Trockle and Stephen, or guest posts from Holly and Jordan.

Sept. 13: Vivian Zabel

Sept. 14: Elysabeth Eldering

Sept. 15: Aidana WillowRaven

Sept. 16: Steph Cardin and Miguel de Luis Espinosa

Sept. 17: Ian Williamson and Lea Schizas

Sept. 18: Susan Thompson and Joyce Anthony - First of four days!!

Sept. 19: Beverly Stowe McClure (and Beverly's 2nd Blog) and Joyce Anthony

Sept. 20: Joyce Anthony

Sept. 21: Karen L. Syed and Joyce Anthony

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurricane Ike, Before and After

September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike (NW Houston, 11:30 AM)

If this thing does what they're saying it will, anyone staying on Galveston Island is likely to drown. They're not kidding. I've never seen an official notice like this one, and neither has anyone else:

The latest Hurricane Local Statement from the Galveston National Weather Service office puts things in pretty stark perspective:

All neighborhoods... and possibly entire coastal communities... will be inundated during high tide. Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes will face certain death. Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed. Widespread and devastating personal property damage is likely elsewhere. Vehicles left behind will likely be swept away. Numerous roads will be swamped... some may be washed away by the water. Entire flood prone coastal communities will be cutoff. Water levels may exceed 9 feet for more than a mile inland. Coastal residents in multi-story facilities risk being cutoff. Conditions will be worsened by battering waves. Such waves will exacerbate property damage... with massive destruction of homes... including those of block construction. Damage from beach erosion could take years to repair."


This is NOT a risk for me and mine - we are way far from the evacuation zones and any risk of this kind of flooding. But spare a prayer for those who refuse to heed the evacuation warnings if (when) Galveston Island finds itself under water. They might get lucky, in which case they're almost certain to face death next time - because they'll point to this and say, "See? You cried wolf during Rita, you cried wolf during Ike, and what happened? NOTHING." But as one commenter pointed out, we could make Cuba and Haiti look good by tomorrow.

Failure to heed a mandatory evacuation means you're on your own - nobody is going to come help you, period, until this thing's over, and even then, only if it's safe. You don't get to put our first responders' lives at risk just because you're determined to exercise your Constitutional right to act like a stubborn old fool.

You can see what our max sustained winds are supposed to be, by neighborhood, here:

Click here and you'll know if CERT has been activated or volunteers requested:

killer-pine-tree1I am really hoping this pine tree can withstand whatever Ike dishes out. Much as I'd like a skylight in the family room or the master bedroom, this really isn't how I'd like to get it!

This is the same tree that lost a huge branch during Rita - a branch that had to be professionally removed from the branches it was hanging on so that it wouldn't fall on some poor unsuspecting bystander's head. It's a healthy, well-cared-for tree, though, and adds a bit of shade and interest to the back yard. I'd hate to lose it.

Of course, losing it would be better than finding it next to the bed tomorrow morning. ;)

(Photo taken on 9/12/08, 10:15 AM CDT)

Hurricane Ike (NW Houston, 1:00 PM)

"We asked them to write their Social Security numbers on their arms for us."
-- Police Chief Randy Smith, talking about evacuation hold-outs in Surfside Beach, TX, where the water is already topping mailboxes.

If that doesn't drive the point home, nothing will. My neighbors are getting prepared, cutting and nailing up plywood. I just hope they haven't gotten too complacent and left anything out in their yards to fly through my unboarded windows tonight!


It looks like J.J. will have to work through the night. I could have predicted this yesterday (there's my sense of Hurricane Rita déjà vu), but hope springs eternal.

I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I looked around earlier and thought, "I really should clean up some of this clutter." That thought was immediately followed by, "Why? If a tornado hits, it'll get scattered across three counties no matter how neat you make it now, and if it doesn't - why bother?"

I had to concede that the lazy side of my brain had a point.

Am I ready for a hurricane? Bet your bippy I am. I have an envelope of Pat O'Brien's Hurricane mix and a half bottle of 151 to wash down a lifetime supply of Pop-Tarts. That, and five cases of bottled water, canned meats, fruits, pasta, pasta sauce, frozen fruits and veggies, lots of ice, a five-day cooler - yeah, I joke, but I'm prepared.

I just upgraded my trial version of Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9.0 so that I could edit weather video until the power goes out or the storm forces me to stay indoors. I am still fascinated by these "bands" that swirl overhead, alternating between gray and menacing and sunny with blue skies. It's just...weird. I'm beginning to understand why animals behave strangely in advance of a hurricane. I have a slight headache an itchy sort of restlessness in anticipation of being cooped up here for hours while the wind howls outside. The whine of my neighbor's saw is becoming a real irritation as it hints at things to come.

Hurricane Ike (NW Houston, 3:00 PM)

Just a small reminder that the sun is, in fact, still out there.

Latest max. sustained wind speed projections for my neighborhood, courtesy of, are 85 mph. Of course, my dad put that into perspective for me, yesterday. "You've driven down the Interstate at 85-90 miles an hour, right?"

"Yeah..." Well, where do you think I inherited the lead in my toes, anyway? There's no point in lying to the man.

"That's 85-90 mph winds, right there. Did anything happen to the car?"

"No." The bugs on the windshield didn't fare too well, though.

"Nothing's going to happen to the windows, or the house."

"Unless a stop sign goes flying through one of the windows."

"Or a neighbor's trash can. You know, our trash can never moved during Gustav." There was a momentary pause. "We did have a couple of big trees fall down, though."

Well, gee, Dad - thanks for that happy thought.

Hurricane Ike (NW Houston, 5:00 PM)

Hurricane Ike, as seen from the International Space Station:

Some who had thought they would stick it out instead made a last-minute exit from Galveston. The city was hit by a hurricane in 1900 that was the deadliest weather disaster in U.S. history, with a death toll of at least 8,000.

"The water got to coming over the sea wall, we were scared," said Charlotte Pines, who was fuelling up an SUV filled with relatives. "It's going to be bad."


Just to put it in perspective for those who have never been to the Gulf Coast and don't really understand the significance of waves crashing over the seawall, the following video was uploaded over four hours ago to YouTube:

Now, compare that to our visit to Galveston Island during Labor Day weekend, just before Gustav was due to land in Louisiana. These stairs lead down to the beach from the seawall:


I was sitting on a bench atop the seawall when I shot the following video of the seawall, Flagship Pier, and beach:

I'm tempted to start singing, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

They have already announced that there will be no emergency services response in Galveston after 9 PM tonight. I haven't seen an update on the poor folks stranded out there on the freighter, but spare a prayer for them if you can.
Although Ike is weaker than 2005's Hurricane Katrina, the last storm to pummel a U.S. urban area and a major disaster, its large scope gives it more water-moving power.


Keep an eye on Jeff Masters' blog for updates, if you like detailed (if somewhat frightening) information and meteorological predictions.

Hurricane Ike (NW Houston, 6:00 PM)

Galveston just can't catch a break this weekend:


GALVESTON, TX -- A Galveston boat and yacht repair warehouse has been destroyed by flames because the streets were too flooded by Hurricane Ike for fire trucks to reach it.


Winds are picking up significantly here. I'm going to go fix dinner before we risk losing power. I'll be back in a bit.

Hurricane Ike (NW Houston, 8:30 PM)

Sunset at the edge of Hurricane Ike:

ike-sunset2 ike-sunset6 ike-sunset7

Galveston Island has gone dark.

"Aftermath" is the New "Paradigm"

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike...

Did we not get enough "aftermath" with Hurricane Katrina, back in 2005? Isn't three years time enough to invent a whole new word?? The word "aftermath," a perfectly good word four years ago, now sounds like such a cliché.

Anyway, just before midnight, someone in the media made the remark that they'd joked about taking a shot of caffeine every time someone spoke the words "hunker down." They were going to show photos of "hunkering down." I thought it might be fun to take one of William and me, "hunkering down" before the storm:


Hey, Cy-Fair CERT members - see the phone tree? The CERT bag was on the counter, right behind it!

We've got our tub full of water for flushing, our sleeping bags, extra blankets, lots of bottled water, Gatorade, fully-charged Nintendo DS, cell phone, laptop, first-aid supplies, etc. We're set!

About ten minutes later, just as I hit "Submit" on the first comment of the Trockle Blog Book Tour, the power went down hard. And came up, only to crash loudly again - twice. My UPS system, upstairs, began an incessant beeping that continued, on and off, until the battery backup died. (I tried to kill it, but it wouldn't die until it ran out of juice.) In utter boredom, we went to sleep. I reminded William that he might want to save a little battery life in his video game for the next day, when we'd be without power and have nowhere to go.

Around 5:21 AM, the wind picked up. Things hit the side of the house with a sharp crack, like rocks against concrete. There was a low rumbling. I wondered, "Is this the 'freight train' sound of a tornado?" It didn't seem loud enough. The ground vibrated. It felt like a small earthquake - nothing alarming, just a humming vibration. It stopped. 1...2... It started again. Only a few seconds. I sent a text message to my husband, who was working through the storm at the hotel. I forwarded it to friends. I told them that the worst of it had finally reached us, but we were okay. I hoped that would still be true in a few hours. Like an idiot, I left our little "shelter" in the master bathroom and made the rounds. My father in law was sleeping soundly, comfortably. No windows broken. The "Killer Pine" was standing tall, swaying slightly in the wind. I couldn't see much through the rain falling on the windowpanes. Even what I could hear was not as scary as I'd expected - I'd expected to hear the wind howling like a banshee as it assaulted the house and the trees. It was just wind and rain.

But what a wind...

I wish I'd had an anemometer. This is what I woke up to:


Later, we laughed with our "new" neighbors in these townhomes; this is the kind of neighborhood I grew up in, one with no fences. I think we all felt a small twinge of reluctance at the thought of rebuilding. While it may be true that "good fences make good neighbors," I think it's also true that too many fences lead to isolation. Everyone I talked to Saturday and Sunday agreed that disasters have one good consequence - we all talk to each other, we all express concern for our neighbors' well-being. Two doors down, our neighbors had a generator and were kind enough to offer to charge everyone's cell phones. We were able to charge ours in the car, but they generously allowed William to charge his Nintendo DS.

I walked the length of our street, checking to be sure everyone was okay. I stopped to talk for a while with Wil, a kind, older man who lives alone, whose biggest problem was loneliness and boredom. Sunday, William went down there with his magnetic Chess and Checkers set, and challenged him to a couple of games. We got his cell phone charged for him, too, so that he could call his friends and relatives.

One house was pelted with oranges and grapefruit during the storm. A couple of homes had trees resting across their roofs, but the roof damage looked minimal. All in all, we were lucky. And as of about noon today, our power was restored.

Traffic lights are still out all over town. It's not safe to drive, especially after dark. Katie stayed with a friend. I texted her today and reminded her not to try to come home after dark. "Curfew is 9 PM," I wrote. "Not MY rules, this time, but the State's, for once." (We'd argued, when she was younger, that the State curfew for minors was midnight. Ours was more restrictive.) I got this reply: "LOL - I know about the curfew. Now all of Houston knows my struggle!"

Funny kid.

College classes - for her - resume Wednesday. William's out until Thursday, at least. I'm in no rush - supplies are still hard to come by, lines for gas are unbelievable, and it's not safe to be on the roads if you don't have to be. It's a matter of priorities. I mean, I was glad to go to work this morning - my fingers were twitching from lack of Internet, and I craved a little air conditioning. But part of me feels it's terribly irresponsible to be out driving at all, unless there's a critical NEED to do so. Ironically, if I'd had power this morning, I'd have been all set to work from home. I may do that tomorrow.


My husband deserves major props for getting up before dawn this morning to cook us a hot breakfast - coffee and biscuits cooked on a two-burner camp stove. He took today off, having worked around the clock during the hurricane.

This is the sunrise that greeted us this morning.