Monday, September 29, 2008

In The Land of Plenty

My son left me a visual hint this morning - a reminder that I needed to add grocery shopping to my to do list for the day.

Since Ike we've only gone to the store a couple of times - first time two weeks ago when we got back in town and discovered we still had power. We were pleased to find milk, especially considering the sign on the door said "non-perishable items only". We've gone one other time, probably last week - I can't remember, and found lunch meat and butter - what a luxury as we've been eating out of our storm prep rations. Never knew that I missed butter so (smile). Toast just tastes better with butter.

So after lunch today, 16 days after Ike, I went to the local Super Target (I generally shop at Kroger's but needed something from the "other" non-food side so wanted to conserve gas and make a one stop shop, ya'know how that goes). Well, I have to admit I wasn't prepared for what I saw on the frozen food isle - or should I say, what I didn't see. ..

My grocery list was rather short, because as I stated, we've been eating all those non-perishables since that's where our monthly grocery budget was invested. Limited funds means limited variety - who would have ever thought storm prep and evacuation was sooo expensive! But I have to say, we haven't gone hungry so I'm not complaining! So anyway, I thought it would be nice to get a frozen dinner - a nice change from our ration of Spam (never knew Spam could taste soooo good!) and those boxed dinners that you just add water to , and since I'm not known for my cooking on a good day...well, let's just say a frozen lasagna or one of those frozen chicken stir fry family dinners would probably go a long way in pleasing my fellows tonight ...(aren't I a thoughtful wife and mother - grin)...not to mention easier on the budget than eating out (but oh weren't we thankful when the fast food establishments opened back up! even more thankful when the boil water ordinance was lifted so they could serve us fountain drinks!! Ice was an issue as was dishwashing, but that's another story entirely!)

Back to the grocery shopping.

What a shock to turn the corner on the frozen food isle, or any of the refrigerated isles for that matter - the inventory was 2/3 less than normal. Wow. I'd never thought about the loss that the grocery stores had - they too had to throw out food due to no power but on a much larger scale. I did ask my cashier on the way out about it - he said that they had to do a pen and paper inventory before discarding the ruined products to account for their losses for insurance. And I'm guessing that since all these items have to be trucked in AND that all the area grocery stores that feed the millions of people in this gulf coast area are re-ordering at the same time (depending upon their power being restored of course) that it's just going to take a while to have that variety that we are all so accustomed to. Wow. Guess I've taken my selection for granted.

Ever met an exchange student or someone coming to America from a foreign country? Seems the majority that I've visited with always comment about our grocery stores, how they are just overwhelmed with the choices. One friend of mine was a missionary to Russia for several years - she described the vast difference in our "freedom of choice" at the grocery store. Hum. Things we don't think about to be appreciative of. Kinda like the children of Israel grumbling about their daily manna from heaven. Never mind it was nutritionally sound and kept them alive, they wanted variety and wanted to "go back to Egypt" to the "land of plenty". Hum...makes me think that perhaps today we should all be thankful that we do indeed live in the land of plenty, the land that offers us choices, the land where neighbors help neighbors, where power companies come from many states away to assist in times of need, when truckers work long hours to get the products to our stores so we have those choices. Makes me hang my head in shame for my lack of gratefulness. I'm repenting and hope to be more grateful in the future of my many blessings.

I did find a frozen lasagna for dinner tonight. By the way, on the way out of the grocery, I did thank my cashier for the store being open and offering so many choices other than Spam! (grin)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When Life Gives You Scraps -- Make a Vest!!

My dad used to quote the old saying, ‘when life gives you lemons make lemonade’. Someone once gave me a refrigerator magnet that switched that saying around to ‘when life gives you scraps make a quilt’ – well I took it a little farther this weekend and took my scraps from Starry Starry Night and made a vest!


Quilt Market and Quilt Festival will soon be heading to H-town (end of Oct/first of Nov) and I don’t have a thing to wear (smile). Why not put all my restless energy to good use, use up some scraps and just do something plain weird, yet therapeutic. And that I did!


No piecing pattern to speak of. I had an orphan block I had made from my leftovers years ago when I pieced Starry Starry Night tucked safely in the UFO bag along with all the extra fabric and trimmings from when I changed the border on this particular quilt, so why not jumble it all together on a muslin base to foundation piece a vest? Why not indeed!


I just finished the quilting and will later figure out how to finish off the raw edges, but for now, I have a quilted almost-finished vest to show for my “day off.” Now all I have to do is figure out if I want it to button to the left or to the right. Sigh.





Funny I should mention “joy” last night – you’d think my pastor spies on me or something (smile) – the sermon today revolved around the life of Paul and how even bound in chains in prison he remained joyful.


It was a good reminder that happiness is based on happenings. Happiness comes and goes, humanly speaking it’s something we can’t really control because we don’t control our circumstances; where on the other hand, joy is a choice and a state of mind – something which we can control. In other words, happiness is what happens around me and to me, but joy is what happens inside of me, totally my decision to experience joy even if I'm not happy in my circumstances.


Pastor Ron also reminded us that many times God works through adversity – such as the storm we have just experienced, or it could be other “storms” and trials in life. Yet we can manifest joy, by choice, in the midst of adversity and be a testimony in our response to circumstances by letting Christ shine in our lives through this choice of being joyful. By His design the “chains” of our lives can be a launching pad to share the Word of God. In the case of Paul, others were encouraged by Paul’s response to be joyful in his suffering, his joy was contagious and gave others courage and through this the church was strengthen. Pastor Ron encouraged us to choose joy in the mist of the aftermath of Ike - it is our prayer that people come to know the Lord and that the church be strengthened and our joy be contagious.


Hum, perhaps when I look at this vest, and hopefully wear it to festival, I’ll be reminded to be joyfully contagious in my coat of many colors as my husband just dubbed my creation (smile).


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Time For A Good Quilt Shop Sale

We were surprised to have our cable and internet services restored last night, only to blink off for the rest of the evening, back on again today. Our power has done that too - several times we've heard transformers blown as others are being added back online...things just ain't too normal down here in the gulf coast...

But today I tried to find a little normality at one of the local quilt shops! Cactus Quilts in Texas City did not have damages from Ike and today was celebrating the 6th anniversary with a sale - what a wonderful opportunity to be out and about among quilting friends and playing in fabric! I even won a door prize!A 5 1/2 inch square up ruler from Omigrip - one of the few rulers I don't already own (smile) Thank you Carla!

It was good to be among friends, to hug necks, to hear first hand experiences of how folks fared Ike. One of the ladies had heart wrenching photos from Galveston, another had the opportunity to be on the island and aide in the clean up of our other local quilt shop, Quilts By the Bay - which had over 2 feet of water in the shop. Learned that one of the other local quilt shops in La Porte, Painted Pony N Quilts, lost their roof and had water damage. Neither of these shops have reopened yet - both are regular vendors at the Houston International Quilt Show, which is just 5 weeks away. It's unreal to even try to image the work they have ahead of them.

I really hate to admit this, but I'm struggling in this transition of trying to find a new normal. Please don't think I've lost faith or am ungrateful for my blessings, but there is something to be said about survivor guilt - I've heard others struggle with feeling guilty over having power when their neighbors did not and such. There's just so much that's unsettled around here that it's hard to really wrap your brain around it. And it doesn't go away after a good night's sleep. I'm not depressed or distraught, can't even say I'm discouraged, but something's just not right. The world around me has crashed and everyone is trying to find a new normal. Life as we've known it has changed. Change is inevitable - change happens all the time whether we want it to or not - simple changes like kids growing up, getting older, having loved ones pass from this life to the next...there are so many changes in life that are simply a part of life. But this happened suddenly, drastically.

Deep down I know things will be on an even kilter once again, but things will never be the same, it will be new and hopefully better, just not the same. And the hard part-- there's a long road between here and there.

My favorite "escape" from reality has always been a nice visit to Galveston to walk on the seawall, have lunch with my husband at one of our favorite establishments, visiting the quilt shop, going to quilt guild meetings...all that is on temporary hold right now - and I don't know for how long. I guess I'm missing having an escape - I don't know where to go to find my refreshment, my shot in the arm to keep me going...even the quilt sale didn't chase away my blues...I want to cry but the tears don't come - just a waste of energy if the truth be told.

This too shall pass. I've heard that all my life, been through many trials and storms to know it's true. My trust is in my Lord, that hasn't changed - for although things in life do change, He never does. His love is amazing. I'm just hoping He'll help me work through this and restore my joy. I know this is not a time to quit or give up. Maybe this is a time to just rest and refuel. There will be a new normal, there always is. It just the transition part that I've finding long and tiring (smile).

Maybe I should just go play in my fabric (double grin). Festival will be here soon, that's something to look forward to. Always good to have something to look forward too! Even if it's just a nice dinner out - my husband called at lunch today to say he noticed our favorite Mexican place had power as he drove to work - I betcha anything he takes me out tonight! A great way to chase away the blues!!

This is truly a time for friends and neighbors. One of my customers just left and had said how Texans were true neighbors lending a helping hand to one another. There are hundreds of these stories all around...yet it sure felt good to get a hug and know that I'm not the only one all tensed up with the stress of what has happened to our area. Everyone is feeling it I guess. Wish I could just crawl under a rock, sleep like Rip Van Winkle, and awaken to that new normal without having to struggle to get there...but that's not reality is it? That's a selfish attitude and doesn't show much faith...

Too much thinkin' goin' on - it's past time to go play in my fabric. Maybe I can focus and work on something that not only makes me smile but gives me something cheerful to write about.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time To Quilt

Gosh darn it. I'd written out a nice story for my blog on my home computer and thought I saved it to my flash drive so I could cut and paste to upload on my son's computer where he has internet access that I'm borrowing (we are still without internet and cable due to Ike). But alas and sigh...the prewritten document isn't on my flash drive - must have saved it somewhere else.. oh well....but I do have photos of some of the things I've been working on...I guess I'll save the fancy words for another time (smile).

Last week was my grandmother's 96th birthday. I'm late. Mailed this home-made pillow case to her today. She likes flags. Pixxie decided it was time to get back to her modeling job, and even though it's not a quilt, work is work, and the pay is the same (giggle).


I've also made some progress on my Dangling Carrot quilt...you'll have to check earlier posts concerning the story behind this. I will have a 5 x 7 layout when the blocks are complete (I'm about half way on adding the sashings to the side of the lime green square in the squares) then I'll grow it with more borders to make it queen size. Wild huh?!?


The final border will be from the fabrics my online friends and local friends have shared with me - these are photographed  below - I put out a request for carrot fabric to legally name this "my dangling carrot" quilt -  and this was my bountiful blessings!

  

 


As you can see my carrot was broaden to include other veggies - why not?

Then I decided to purchase these fat quarters that included  fruits as well as veggies. The banana fabric had me singing "Yes, we have no bananas" - and that's all I could remember of that old old song... anyone out there know the tune I'm referring too?



My sister, who was with me during my fabric acquisition,  questioned my sanity when I purchased jelly bean fabric - my answer - life is short, eat dessert first! She then pointed out some cute fabric with cows on it and another with pigs - told me I needed some meat to complete my meal (grin). I'm still thinking on that one - who knows, may have to go shopping again!

Don't you just love this fabric? I can't wait to get to the final border to use these!! Thanks to my friends who shared, it was so much fun opening up the mail and finding such wonderful surprises. Who would have thought there was such a variety of prints available!

Stay tuned to see how this quilt changes as it is truly a work in progress, I'm making it up as I go along (grin)

And for the record, I'm "back to work" - having done a couple of customer quilts already and eager to do more. Slowly life is returning to normal for our household...but will be a new normal for all of us in this area effected by Ike.

more later!

Chapter 6 and 7

Chapter 6

God’s Grace

 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 0930 CST

 

I’m listening to the local radio station KSBJ 89.3 FM and a lady just called in – she said that her 10 year old son was the first causality of Hurricane Ike and that she just wanted to report in that God’s grace was giving her strength during this time. She said it was just “a change or residency” for her son.  Truly this is God’s grace in action. He is our Comforter.

 

Chapter 7

A Laborer is Worthy His Hire 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 1715 CST

 

  

On our morning walk today we noticed that the recently vacated RV park next to the bay is now occupied by tent campers – the workers who have come into our area to help restore our services, haul off debris, etc. It’s exciting to see trucks from all across the nation. We are truly grateful for their assistance.

Thought you might enjoy seeing how my quilts are enjoyed on a daily basis at my house!  

 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chapter 5


Chapter 5

God is our Refuge Psalm 46

Sunday, September 21, 2008 1400 CST

It felt good to be in the Lord’s house today, among His people. One of the praise songs we sang included these words “so remember your people, remember your children, remember your promise oh God…His grace is enough, his grace is enough, his grace is enough for me”

Truly God has remembered His people and given us His grace. When I drove up to the church parking lot. Calvary Chapel Houston, I was pleased to see a disaster relief center set up with Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team




Here's the video they showed at church today - if the link doesn't work go to Smaritan's Purse then click on the videos for Hurricane Ike. There are also photos and videos on our church website Calvary Chapel Houston.


Pastor Ron Hindt shared how these ministries had come along side volunteers from our fellowship to minister to the surrounding community of Friendswood. They have served over 6000 hot meals, provided tree removal services and repairs, and more importantly provided prayer and words of comfort to the people. It was exciting to hear Pastor Ron share how lives had been changed by Ike – not just physical lives due to the damage and destruction of property but how people’s lives have been transformed for eternity as the gospel of Jesus Christ has been shared and lives changed forever. Those volunteers have undertaken the responsibility to be the hands and feet of hope through their service but greater than that, they have counted it a privilege to share the hope of salvation to a hurting world.

This morning’s sermon was the 46th Psalm. I made note of a few thoughts concerning the first part of the chapter. Verse 1 God is OUR refuge and strength – this makes it personal, He is here for all of us. Refuge is a place of shelter and comfort in the midst of the storm. A very PRESENT help in TROUBLE – present denotes here and now, trouble means in a tight place, imagine squeezing in a closet or bathtub during the storm – God is there. Verse 2 therefore we WILL NOT fear – This is confidence – we can have confidence that God is with us and that He offers us a refuge. Which He surly did during Ike. Yes, He could have stopped the storm, but He has other plans. Who knows, He may have been trying to get our attention that we either need to accept Him as Lord and Savior, or to return to Him as our first love. Verse 10 says be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.

My friends, if you are reading this and have been following the ramblings of this quilter, I pray that your eyes will be opened to the truth of His love, that Christ died in your place that you might have eternal life and live with Him if only you believe and trust Him. It’s that simple. If you need to talk to someone I suggest that you contact Billy Graham or Calvary Houston. I am currently without internet and continue to borrow time to connect – don’t wait until my services are up so we can speak, today is the day of salvation, dear reader, find your way to Jesus and then leave a message so I can rejoice with you. Hurricane Ike may be a pivotal point in your life too by leading you to the One who calms the storms and offers salvation to all who will receive Him. I am praying for you. Earnestly pleading that those who read these ramblings will know that Jesus is the Answer. He loves you so.

Calvary Houston 281.648.5800

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photos uploaded

I am on a borrowed computer and thankful to have internet access, however limited. I am uploading my photos to webshots as I upload here - its taking time so if the album doesn't appear to be updated check back in a little while. There are many many photos of the aftermath of this storm. It's too lenghthy of a process to add them to the blog and for that I appologize as that's the beauty of a blog, being able to illustrate the narriation. I'm sure I'll be forgiven for this oversite (smile). It is my goal the next time I update to share some fun quilting stories as this was designed to be that sort of site...but reality hit by the name of Ike and this blog took a turn in an unwelcomed direction. Thank you to those who have remained faithful readers. Thank you also for your prayers during this time. They have been more than welcomed and I'm here to testify, they are being answered. Don't slack up on us, we need a lot of prayer down here, and for weeks possibly months to come.  karen O

Chapter 1

Prologue

I began rambling about the upcoming threat of Hurricane Ike on my blog – the Quilt Rambler  - and posted daily as long as I had power and internet access. There were also several personal emails to friends as well as comments posted to my blog and conversations concerning the storm with friends in online chat boards. It is my hope to recapture some of those correspondences to add to my collection of thoughts. This “chapter” version is a continuation of that rambling as I am now without internet access. The intention is to post these chapters once that service is restored. Not knowing if anyone will really want to read all this or not, I am doing this as my own therapy of “handling the aftermath of Ike” 

Chapter 1

 

The Return of the Refugees

The First 24 hours

Monday: 9/15/08

 

We left our comfortable evacuation home this morning, uncertain of the condition of our traveling route of 75 miles south and even more uncertain of the conditions we would find upon arrival. Our caravan of three encountered other evacuees/refugees/general public on the roadways, but it wasn’t an overcrowded condition, certainly much less than the normal Houston traffic on a Monday morning.

The majority of our route was interstate or beltways. Thankfully the city has continued to waive the toll fares making travel much easier. Very few homes were along this route, but those that were we found to be spotted with tarps on some roofs, trees in the yards, and businesses still boarded up.

Our first stop, since it was “on the way” (our effort to conserve much valued fuel by avoiding a return trip) was to stop at my husband’s parents in Dickinson. We found that we had to traverse several detours due to downed trees or power lines to arrive at our destination. We were pleased to find all was well with our family and then we accessed their damage. (Our thoughts throughout this ordeal have been people first, property second). Their dwelling was intact, and they had a whole-house backup generator allowing them to have power and more importantly air conditioning. His parents are in their mid 70’s and are housing two widow ladies who are in their 80’s. Air conditioning is of extreme importance in Hot Humid Houston. I might add here, our combined thankfulness for the cold front that had pushed through to our area – we had awaken to 60 degrees which is unseasonably cool to an area that boasts high nineties up until October and sometimes November. We knew the temperature would rise as the day wore on, probably in the high 80’s, but with the promises of no humidity – hence the blessing of the cold front. 

Once our hugs were complete we went to the backyard to photo their tree damage. Many of their trees were totally uprooted and laying across the yard like pick up sticks. Pappaw’s yard has been a haven for many a child with his beautifully structured playhouse and giant swing – the swing is no more having been capsized by a fallen tree.

 We learned that my husband’s youngest brother (who is still out of the country on business and eagerly awaiting the airports to reopen so he can rejoin his family) had sustained a tree through our nephew’s window causing roof damage. They live in the country in nearby Santa Fe (also Galveston County) and reported about 80% of their trees were down. We were also told of the wonderful “neighbor helping neighbor” event that had already taken place, less than 24 hours of Ike’s strike on Texas. Seems the neighbors knew my brother-in-law was out of town and that his wife and teenage sons were in need. Several of these said neighbors are construction workers, so they quickly accessed the damage, made a plan and promptly removed the tree and repaired the roof. What a blessing!

We learned that my husband’s middle brother had evacuated his family to the San Antonio area to my husband’s one and only cousin’s home. They had returned earlier in the day with a generator and were settling back in. Their home was not flooded, and to my knowledge sustained no other damage. Not sure about trees, but more than likely their yard held the same debris of limbs we were seeing across the region.

Once we determined that our extended families were all more than survivors we were eager to get back on the road for our final 10 mile journey to our home. Going back through the neighborhoods as we wound our way to the main roads was so unreal – so many downed trees, big old trees that had offered much shade. I couldn’t help but notice there was more daylight than usual.

Many of the traffic lights were not functioning; it was encouraging to see everyone being patient in “taking turns” to proceed through the intersections. Finally we were on the main street of our community. For the most part it seemed to be the same, yet upon closer inspection there were businesses with twisted roofs, trees down, boards still covering windows, etc. Then I saw it, the pharmacy had its outside sign with the scrolling messages working. That gave me hope that at least some of the area may have power!

As we turned onto our street I held my breath – would it be as it had been reported to us? No flooding? Would our big trees that so gracefully embraced each other to offer shade to our deck in the backyard still be standing or would we find them on the roof of our home like so many homes we had just passed? Would our car port have been blown away? These were the million questions going through my mind as I strained ahead to see our home.

Being in a caravan of three I was the last to turn the corner. I couldn’t believe my eyes, no trees on our roof and it appeared that everything was fine. My youngest had already unlocked the door and made the loud proud announcement that WE HAVE POWER! Totally unbelievable! I was praising God that we’d been spared the worst of it.

We then begin our closer inspections. Indeed there were some shingles missing off the roof, we’d need to check the attic for leakage. There was the siding from the edge of the roof easement all over the ground among debris from the downed trees with singles sprinkled on top of the brush and limbs like they were the candy sprinkles added to a cupcake. Clean up would be no piece of cake, that’s for sure. We noticed the way the tall grass in the vacant lot next to us was laid as if it were a well traveled path; we assume that was the way the water flowed parallel to our ditches. Indeed had we been here we might have observed a rushing mighty flow of water. One can only imagine.

As we walked to the porch to make our way into the house (first priority to turn on the air conditioning) we noticed one of our middle support beams from the porch laying on the ground as if it were carefully placed there, yet the roof it was supporting had held. Amazing! Again, upon further inspection we could see the debris of small leaves and such plastered on our siding leaving evidence that our porch must have been a wind tunnel, hence the downed support pole. Interesting enough, it appears by the direction the pole was laying that the wind had blown from the opposite direction from the flow of the water. I was thankful we had evacuated and didn’t have to hear the wind or see the rising water. I’ve heard tell “run from water, hide from wind” – I guess if you have both you’d just better get out of there, or as I’m hearing several say “we bugged out” J

Once inside the house we made a quick inspection, no apparent entries of water, except the backdoor rug was a bit damp. In our haste to evacuate we neglected to put a towel at the threshold. It didn’t appear to go much further than the door area, so that was wonderful and nullified our concern of the washer and dryer, freezer and water heater being damaged by water. We did notice however that the wooden door has swollen making it very difficult to open and close. That may need to be replaced, but for now we can still secure it. Next inspection – the backyard.

The news media kept using the description of “war zone” which I believe accurately described our backyard. I was shocked, both on the positive side and well as just the shear disbelief of what I was viewing. I had no idea our two beautiful shade trees could have that many limbs! The amazing part was nothing was damaged by their fall – no limbs had hit the house and although the deck and railing was totally covered it was not damaged. The roots and trunk of the tree held strong. Again, I noticed the amount of additional sunlight – but the trees survived the storm. We had our work cut out for us.

Somehow in the course of the next few hours we managed to unload our car, fix a bowl of hot soup for lunch and map out our game plan.

I don’t remember exactly how it came to be or in the exact order of events, but I do remember our youngest wanted to drive down to the bay and check on his friend’s house (the one who had given us the first report that things were okay). My husband and I asked if we could tag along. I wanted to see how the boat dock held up and if the little pier that I photographed only days before was still there, doubting its existence, yet wanting to see an area first hand that the media had not covered.

We made our way through the streets, having to detour a bit due to dangling power lines or downed trees. Everywhere we looked we saw destruction and despair. Many homes had taken a hard hit. Trees through the roofs, siding pealed back, mobile homes that look uninhabitable and everywhere you looked limbs and limbs and more limbs. Many of the neighbors were obviously without power as they were sitting outside to get some sort of breeze. Some were still working in their yards.  As we neared the bay the road was impassable. As we turned the corner to be on the frontage road leading to the boat ramp we saw there was no road.

We got out to walk, or more correctly, to pick our way among the rubble. Big boulders that had once been a part of our “cliff”, the very cliff that battled the storm surge, appeared to have been casually thrown across the roadway on the opposite side. What was once a two lane road was now a half a lane with the asphalt chopped up like it had been in a blender.

We weren’t the only ones that found our way to the bay. Others in the neighborhood were also picking their way through what was once a very popular road leading to not only the boat dock but two or our local restaurants. Families with young children were taking note of the damage of the still remaining pier, a pier that many of them had previously spent many a happy hour either fishing from or throwing rocks from. The people looked almost as shell-shocked as the scenery we were all viewing, or at least must have felt it. Ike hit a hard punch to this area – yet much less to us than our near neighbors just 5 miles north in Kemah. From our boat dock we could see the Kemah Bridge, but could not tell if the water had receded from the Boardwalk – images of which I had viewed from our evacuation home on the TV just the day before. Our neighbors to the south in San Leon were also devastated. Even though we didn’t have the flood waters to the majority of our neighborhood there were still damages and power outages and hurting people. Reports confirmed that those near the “cliff” did indeed have rising water in their homes.

When my husband and I had gotten out to walk we told our son not to wait on us, that we’d walk the ½ mile back home. Again, seeing the familiar route with the unfamiliar damage was numbing and humbling. We continue to be amazed that we were so blessed to be spared. We encountered a couple of different folks on our walk home – each with a story to share. The first question I asked each individual was “how’s your people?” upon a positive response with the added “thank God” they would began to share their war story. None of them pretty – one gentleman lost all but his garage. Another told of families that lost everything. The one thing we had in common  - the sense of community. We are all in this together, each with a different and unique story, all very thankful to be alive.

When we came upon our home we saw our youngest son working in the back yard – he had almost totally cleared the larger limbs from our deck. With our arrival the focus was then shifted to tarping the roof over the damaged shingles in the event of any more rain. The fellows continued to work in the yard while I went inside to clear out the refrig. Even though we had power upon arrival we knew we had lost power sometime during the course of our departure – the tell-tale signs were the refrozen sorbets that had melted and left a colorful trail before refreezing. In our haste to evacuate we took only non-perishables, not knowing how long our journey would be due to northbound traffic we didn’t consider taking the refrigerated items. Our original plans were to “ride out the storm” and since we have a Coleman stove we were going to use the refrigerated items first before having to use our non-perishable items.. Our decision changed  the morning of 9/12 as news concerning the possible storm serge continued to worsen. Even if Ike continued to be “only” a Category Two hurricane, the storm surge was expected to mimic a Category Four, with waves expected to be in excess of 15-20 feet. That meant we needed to get out of town!

It was difficult to throw away so much food. We all are raised not to be wasteful, that there are starving children all over the world yada yada yada, and here I found it my duty to dispose of what appeared to be perfectly good food, but food that had reached room temperature and then been re-cooled…chances we couldn’t afford to take with our health and safety overrode the strong desire of ‘waste not want not”.

We learned that the local Kroger’s was open both for fuel and groceries. We decided we’d best take advantage of some restocking. We were good on fuel as our oldest had stood in line for over 2 hours to fill up a 5 gallon gas can for us as he filled other cans for his buddy (the one who helped us put up the boards on the windows on 9/11). This same friend was already at work repairing parts of downtown Houston, he’s with a company who specializes in this sort of thing – having worked in the aftermath of several hurricanes in Florida as well as Katrina. The extra gas cans were to keep him running and able to get to his assigned job site. With the additional fuel from my oldest we could avoid the long fuel lines at Kroger’s and concentrate on groceries.

The parking lot was crowded, as you might well imagine, but calm, what appeared to be “business as usual”. As we approached the door we noticed the sign “NO ICE” and “purchase of non-perishable items only” “Close at 5 PM” it was now 4:50 PM.  Providentially we had made it before closing.

People were very calm inside, many had large purchases and the lines were rather long, however, they appeared to be moving quickly. We didn’t need a lot and not wanting to hoard or take away from someone in need we made selected purchases of cereal (there was milk available!), crackers, Gatorade, a watermelon, and a few other items that would give variety to our pantry. Precisely at 5 PM someone came over the loud speakers and said to make our way to the registers; the front doors were locked to prevent anyone else from entering hoping to shop. As I was heading up one more isle to pick up a luxury bottle of Pepsi a uniformed officer was coming down the isle toward me. With an apologetic Texas draw he simply said “you need to head to the register m’am”  I thanked him and promptly turned towards the registers – then it dawned on me – since we were in the mandatory evacuation zones there was a curfew in effect, I remembered that from our TV views the day before. It became clear to me that they were doing their best to clear the store to comply with the curfew which was dusk to dawn, thus allowing them time to restock and still manage to get their employees home in time.  We thanked each of the workers we came in contact with for being there and allowing us an opportunity to purchase.

As mentioned, we were blessed to come home to power and therefore we enjoyed a home cooked meal composed of  one of those chicken-meal-in-a-box quick fix dinners, blueberry muffins made from a powder mix that just needed added milk, and a glass of my husband’s famous sweet tea! Certainly not the meal we expected as a returning refugee. Indeed, we continued to be thankful and praise God for our many blessings.

As we ate our meal we formulated our plans for the remainder of the evening as well as our plans for Tuesday, the following day.  By the way, my oldest son after bringing us the fuel went to his own apartment. He had power and would be reporting to work the next morning. The “we” in my narrations consists of three, not our immediate family of four. So the plans for the following day included my youngest son going to help his grandparents with their trees, my husband working in our yard, and I would be going to the community center to help serve a hot meal – a notice had been placed on the courthouse door that they would have a hot meal at 11 AM at the community center next door, so I knew that was where I would be needed. Since we had been spared I wanted to be available to assist our neighbors who weren’t.  Besides, I’m not much good at yard work and worst yet, I’m not known for my cooking (grin). But I figured I could lend a helping hand in serving.

With those plans settled in our minds we discussed our evening plans which consisted of a shower and a DVD movie complete with microwave popcorn then an early bedtime. A small escape from our new normal, recognizing we had it so much better than most and that we needed to look beyond our own needs and our comfort to help others as much as we were able.

So ended our first day home. It felt wonderful to snuggle in our own beds. Pixxie seemed pleased to be home too.

 

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

 The Distribution

 

Tuesday 9/16/08

 

Today was my grandmother’s 96th birthday, we had originally planned on being in East Texas to celebrate with her, but Ike sorta changed those plans. That area was our evacuation destination during Rita in 2005, but we knew from experience that the storm would probably just follow us up there and since the distance was so great we ran the risk of not having fuel to return. As it turned out, the storm did indeed go through my mom’s knocking down several big trees – some on the roof and one in particular taking out her power lines, which are still down. Seems I heard somewhere that Ike went from Galveston to Michigan in 24 hours leaving a nasty trail of destruction and interruption.

 

This morning each of us went our separate ways, The youngest (who is 20 by the way) went once again to assist his grandparents with their tree removal, my husband stayed at our home to do the same – with priority one being the clearing of the ditches so they would continue to flow. He said he could already see mosquito larva in the standing water. We have vacant lots near us so he made sure those ditches were flowing too – never know when it’s going to rain again. Then he continued to work in our yard. A several day process at the least.

 

Me, I went to the community center to see if I could be of assistance in whatever services they were going to offer the community. Upon arrival I noticed a huddle of “like t-shirts,” a group from the Catholic Charities Disaster Support. I went up to someone and said I was here to help - who should I report to? I was directed to the lady in the red hat and told her I was a local that was blessed beyond measure and wanted to help with their services to my community. I learned that they were awaiting their truck with supplies and that they would welcome the help. I then noticed my neighbors beginning to form the line by the center’s doors patiently waiting for whatever assistance would be available.

 

Moments later the big truck arrived laden with pallets and pallets of groceries. The load had shifted during transit and was a bit of a mess. First thing off  the truck were multiple white 8 foot tables. This group had a well orchestrated plan, they’d done this before. Tables were lined up and the unloading of the truck began. Two men were inside the truck breaking open the shrink wrap around the pallets and dispersing the contents to a line of willing hands who then took things to the tables. Others were at the tables organizing the different items. Due to the load shift it wasn’t necessary “in order” of like kinds – boxes full of individual cereal servings came off the truck the same time as boxes of baby wet wipes and peanut butter. The assembly of unloaders had to be directed to which tables for which wares. We worked at a fast almost urgent yet excitedly upbeat pace. Once some of the food items, diapers and water were off the truck several of the unloaders moved to different jobs preparing for the disbursements of the much needed items.. By now the line of waiting locals had grown and a few of the men from the community asked if they could help with the unloading also. I talked to one man from San Leon, the community just to our south that took a hard hit, who said all that was left was his garage. His trailer was totally destroyed, yet here he was with a smile on his face and willing hands to work for whatever assistance he would later receive. Again, I was overcome with the sense of community.

 

I need to add to the narration here a tad bit of my background. For almost 3 ½ years my family worked national special events vending ice cream  traveling to a new location weekly– we were used to unloading pallets of inventory, but in a “reefer” truck not a normal unrefrigerated truck. I knew to bring my gloves – and because of this I volunteered to be the one to handle and haul off the oak pallets once they were emptied and lowered down from the truck. Later, throughout the process of unloading one of the men got over heated inside the truck and was told to take a break. I shared that I had worked a truck before and asked if I could jump up and work inside the truck. Which I did. By that time we were to the back end where the cases of water and two or three remaining pallets of food had totally shifted being broken open and scattered. Quite a mess actually, slowing down the process of handing out complete units. It seems funny to say that this was right up my alley since many of my friends know me as a quilter, but this reminded me of my ice cream days – what was surprising to me was the realization of the difference that 9 years makes to my once young body as well as the difference of working in a truck that wasn’t negative 32 degrees (grin). Thankfully I got in on the last bit and not the beginning or I too would have had to take a break to keep from passing out. Our cool front was helping, but it was still in the high 80’s today.

 

Once the truck was unloaded I asked for a new assignment and was directed to the table where the assembly line started. Several of us were to double bag the plastic bag like the ones you get from the grocery - which isn’t an easy task; you know how hard it is to open those bags! it was kinda a slow start to an otherwise fast assembly line bagging process, hence the reason for multiple volunteers at that table. One the bags were double we then places inside two cans of soup then passed the bag on to the next table where two large cans of Spam were included, next came the two cans of Bush beans, then peanut butter. That’s about as far down the row as I worked. We tended to drift a bit as others came and went along this path of the process. Other items included canned chicken, pop tarts, peanut butter crackers, little boxes of cereal (great for kids to snack on), individual packages of pretzels, saltine crackers (each bag receiving two sleeves from the otherwise box of four) and cans of corn and green beans. I know there were also those kid drinks you puncture with a straw – I think they gave them out to the children as they came through the line, but I’m not sure. For those that needed it, there were diapers and wet wipes. But as I said, I was primarily between the soup and the spam. The lady working beside me from the Catholic Charities didn’t know my name and laughingly called me The Spam Lady – I told her I’d been called a lot of things in my life but never the Spam Lady! But that I would take that as a complement. Of course, when I shared the story with my family later I laughed and added ‘most folks either love or hate Spam’ so I’m not sure that was a good handle after all.

 

As we were bagging (literally for hours) the Red Cross arrived with hot meal service. I never got down the line to see what they were serving, but hot lunches were placed inside those Styrofoam to go boxes and bagged for families to take home. Each person was given an ice cold water bottle! And later the Red Cross volunteers made their way down through the grocery volunteers making sure each had a cold bottle of water. One man working next to me didn’t want to take it, as if he felt he would be taking away from someone else in need, but the Red Cross insisted that we all drink as to not get dehydrated or over heated. I heeded his instructions as I was already feeling the sunburn on my face and arms. That ice cold water sure hit the spot!

 

So began the process of serving our neighbors. First they would go through the hot food line and then continue the line going around the truck, checking in with a volunteer who made a list of last names and the number in the family, they were then able to pick up a bag of food (or more I guess if they had a large family, I’m not sure of the end of the line process as I was still working the Spam), those that needed baby items were given a box and then each family received a double bagged plastic bag of bottled water. I’m not sure how many bottles were in there, but I know everything was very heavy laden, and people were walking away with their arms full and smiles on their faces.

 

I saw two people from the neighborhood that I knew (we haven’t been here that long and since I stay inside most of the time quilting I really haven’t met my neighbors). One was a fellow quilter three streets up from me. She looked shell-shocked. I later learned her place was okay but her son lost everything; he lived in a trailer in San Leon. I also saw one of my favorite waitresses from the nearby Mexican Restaurant we frequent. I didn’t know her name, and I don’t speak Spanish although she’s bi-lingual. She recognized me from the restaurant and I did learn that her family was okay as well as she thought the majority of her co-workers were alright. We usually eat there once (sometimes twice) a week and “know” many of the workers, not by name but by their kind service and beautiful smiles. I guess you could say I was seeing my neighborhood with new eyes as I looked around to the people in need. So many children, so many elderly. These were my neighbors and shame on me for not meeting them before hand.

 

The people were so grateful. Everyone was kind, willing to wait in line, appreciative of the help. This was the first “outside” assistance our community had received, now 4 days after the storm. I’d heard the local Noah’s Ark restaurant was serving meals, I think there were some meals served at the Volunteer Fire Station and that the F.O.E (Eagles) were also serving dinners. The radio had said one of the FEMA PODS was in nearby Kemah, but the majority of our locals didn’t have the mode of transportation and with the majority without power they probably didn’t know of the distribution point anyway. It was basically up to our Constable Pam to post information on the Court House doors and then the neighbors to pass along word of mouth. It was wonderful to see her working along side the volunteer organizations and not just directing the efforts. A real true leader and concerned guardian of the neighborhood.

 

The process was over in about 4 hours. I walked home happy and blessed, but very very tired. I had worked muscles that hadn’t been worked in almost 9 years doing work that I did with a younger body. I knew I’d be sore the next day! Inwardly I smiled and told myself, it was worth it.

 

Our evening consisted of the blessings of a hot shower, warming up leftovers from the night before and another pick of DVD’s from my son’s vast collection. Our touch of normality. Again blessed sleep in a comfortable bed with a roof over our head. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

 

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 

The Need for a Sabbath Rest

 

Wednesday 9/17/08

 

My husband had made the decision to leave the windows boarded up on the back of the house, removing only the bathroom board to allow light. His thoughts were that hurricane season isn’t over until November 1st. With the windows to our bedroom still darkened by the boards we slept soundly until 8 AM. No alarms this week – that begins tomorrow when my husband’s returns to work. What a blessing that he was off for a week during this time of need  (we’d planned on being out of town, just not on evacuation!).

 

As is my morning habit, I turned the page on my daily scripture calendar in the bathroom. Today’s verse was encouraging:

 

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…and ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God that hath dealt wondrously with you.” Joel 2:25-26

 

We had already determined last night that we should get up and take a morning walk to stretch our sore muscles. The first stop was the court house to see what had been posted. We learned that we shouldn’t be using the local water service, which we weren’t -  we were drinking bottled water, but we were shocked to continue reading and realized we’d not taken into consideration that we’d been using ice from our ice maker that consisted of local water. Oops. We later learned that we should not be washing our dishes either - that the hot water wasn’t hot enough, but that it should be boiled. Double oops – we’d just hand washed a big counter top full that had been left from prior to evacuation. Back to paper products! Bathing and laundry use of water was okay, but not the other. Okay. Wonderful thing we have these posted communications from our officials. 

 

We then proceeded on our ½ mile walk to the bay. What a difference another 24 hours makes! Everywhere you could hear the buzz of chain saws and the yards were beginning to look like yards again. Folks had certainly been busy! We also noticed some of the wildlife returning. Oh that reminds me! I neglected to share a story yesterday concerning our squirrels.

 

Yesterday afternoon after my son returned from his grandparents he was working on a limb in our backyard as his dad and I were enjoying a bottle of water on the deck. I might add that we don’t have a chain saw and are “on the list” with his family to borrow theirs once they are complete with their yard work. My son was using a hand saw and working on this limb that stretched the entire length of the backyard touching the neighbor’s fence. We heard a noise and looked toward the fence to see a squirrel scampering our direction. He ran the length of that limb, bouncing off the handle of the hand saw and catapulting to safety in the trunk of our tree! We were startled, surprised, and pleased. The evacuated squirrel had returned home! Pixxie was delighted and proceeded to bark out a welcome for several minutes while we just laughed and enjoyed the moment.

 

Today along our walk we noticed more critters, but instead of birds in the air we heard helicopters. Searching the coast no doubt, perhaps heading to Galveston, perhaps with cameramen for the local news, who knows – just hopefully not medical emergencies.

 

Along our walk we talked to those who were working outside. One woman’s mobile home had a tree through the roof; her husband was on top with a chain saw. They rode out the storm. We told her of the announcement at the court house concerning hot meals.. Another lady shared of the different locations that the locals were running to provide breakfast and other meals. She asked if we would spread the word to those we saw. She said she had people unaccounted for in San Leon. It was heartbreaking.

 

My intentions were to help out again at the community center but I realized that I just needed a day of rest. Our bodies and minds have been on high alert for over a week now and today was going to be my Sabbath rest. I hated to do this, but I knew I must. This event isn’t going to be over in a week or two, it’s going to take awhile and I needed to pace myself. By mid morning my son had returned from his grandparents and he and my husband agreed we all needed a time to rest. We did venture out to the community center to get our two allotted bags of ice since we now knew we could not use the ice in our ice maker.

 

We needed to mail a bill so decided this was a good time to drive down to the post office in Kemah and see if the bridge to Seabrook was passable. We noticed a lot of debris that had been moved to the side of the road. There was still a boat misplaced on the bank of the water near the bridge – the news had previously shown all sorts of boats blocking 146 after the furry of Ike. These had now been moved. We made notice of several power trucks doing their jobs of reconnecting traffic signals, replacing poles, reconnecting lines. The area was busy! My husband used to be in the outdoor advertising industry so we particularly noticed the billboards that were missing their faces as well as the three that were totally twisted – instead of being perpendicular to the road for readability they were now parallel, a full 90 degree or more twist. Unbelievable. I can only image the wind force that took!

 

We then went back to our Kroger’s because we realized we would soon be without sugar, and you just can’t have sweet tea without sugar! We were pleased to find that they were now carrying some refrigerator items so we picked up lunch meat and hot dogs. They also had a lot of ice. Had we known that we would have purchased our own instead of taking the ones given out at the community center. Something to watch for in the future.

 

When we returned home I noticed my neighbor’s front door open and decided to walk over and visit with them. They had ridden out the storm and she said “never again”. We learned through an old newspaper that the eye of the storm had gone right over our community. She said it felt like the house was breathing, with the expansion one would normally feel when sucking in a deep breath. They lost power at 11:30 PM Friday 9/12/08. I neglected to find out when it was restored. She then told me that the water came in the next day with that cold front’s rain – a good six inches. They are just across the street from me; I guess our lot is just higher. Another praise for our protection. I was saddened to hear of their damages. Even more saddened to learn they do not have insurance. He is a self-employed auto repairman working out of his home and has had to seek other employment. The aftermath of this storm is causing wide spread unemployment – especially to those who work in the nearby restaurants at Kemah Boardwalk, a major local employer. I can’t begin to speculate on what will happen to our community’s economy in the future. For now I can just focus on today and trust for tomorrow.

 

At dusk, before the curfew, I walked down to the court house to share my photos with Constable Pam and ask if I could help out tomorrow – I apologized for bugging out on her today and she said no problem she’d use me tomorrow. The community center needs to be made ready for 30 military personal on Friday, I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, but inside the center were lots of donated clothing that she needed moved down to San Leon. I don’t even know what was going on there today, but the line was ending for the hot food and inside I know there were M.R.E.s and water. I’m guessing that I just need to get a good night’s rest and be ready for whatever is needed tomorrow.

 

I learned that my son has internet access and sometime tomorrow, before curfew, I hope to go upload my stories and my photos.

 

For the remainder of my evening I want to pretend things are normal. I’d like to work some in my studio to get things back in order. I have no idea the effects this storm will have on my quilting business, time will tell. But I know the Lord is in control. He has guarded and guided my path thus far, I’m not about to give up on Him now! One day at a time. I can’t overstate enough how my faith in Him has given me peace throughout this storm. He is faithful. His mercy is new every morning.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4

 One Week After Mandatory Evacuation

 Thursday, 9/18/08  0800 CST

 I’ve awaken to another cool morning after a peaceful rest determined to try to do something normal today or at least productive. Last night after placing all my “chapters” on the flash drive with the hopes of getting to connect to the internet today I called my best friend Pam in Tennessee to visit while I started straightening my studio. Pam is not only my longtime friend of over 20 years, but she’s also a fellow longarm quilter – for the record, I got her into this (smile). Typically, prior to our mandatory evacuation last week, she and I would spend hours on the phone together. We have this rule; we only talk if it doesn’t interrupt our work. She has a headset for her phone and I have a blue tooth for my cell or a head set for my landline (which is a cable modem connection and is down right now). We’d talk about issues with our machines, problem quilts, quilts that we had lined up in the future, design ideas and just life in general. It wouldn’t be unusual for moments of silence while one or the other of us would be concentrating on something we were working on, hearing only the hum of our machines. Then moments later the chatter would began again.. Many a pleasant hour has been spend on the phone with my friend Pam – and again, for the record, I work better when I’m talking to her as I tend to stay focused on the quilt and not distracted with other things in the house such as the computer and my need to connect with my online friends (smile). Can I help it I’m such a social creature (double grin)

 

During our conversation last night I caught her up on the latest concerning our journey through Ike. I also shared the good news that one of my local quilt shops in Texas City contacted me yesterday to see how we faired and informing me that she had power at the shop as of that day and would be reopening. That’s good news as I have a class scheduled to teach on Saturday – which she inquired about, did I want to teach? You betcha! Any of the students that were able to come I’d be more than willing to offer them an opportunity for distraction from the storm recovery and to any students unable to come I’d be more than willing to reschedule and teach the class again in the future. I have to admit, as much as I love teaching new quilt piecing techniques, especially Square in a Square, I am truly looking forward to this selfishly as it will be a nice distraction for me too, a touch of normality so to speak.

 

I told my husband that this saga of preparing and recovering from Ike was getting to be an old story. Oh I realize it’s not over yet and won’t be for a long time, but the play by play drama needs to fade as we try to rejoin the real world. Even though we have power I haven’t seen or heard the local or world news, when I have been around music I have chosen to listen to my iPod full of praise and worship music. But that’s typical for me, I tend to just surround myself with upbeat positive music and remain sheltered in my own little happy world of quilting and my church family. Speaking of which, I really hated to miss services Sunday – I know they met but don’t know any details whether it was in the parking lot or inside. We also knew they were having services last night but again, were unable to go. Our church is 12-15 miles north in Friendswood, not only are we trying to conserve our fuel, but we are still under a curfew in our community whereas that area is not. So Wednesday night services weren’t an option for us. But oh how I eagerly look forward to Sunday! What a day of rejoicing that will be!

 

So my plans for today is to work at the community center as needed and then fill the other hours working in my studio. There is a lot of stuff here to put back before I can ever touch either my sewing machine or my longarm quilting machine….something to look forward to! Then perhaps when I’m able to connect again later in the week I’ll add to this saga quilt related stories. Won’t that be wonderful good!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Heading South

One of the things I brought with me was my daily scripture calendar. Here's today's verse:

Nowthe God of peace...make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever Amen Hebrews 1:20-21

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reunited

My nucleus is complete, my oldest returned from his evacuation near Austin to join us here in Cypress. He brought us a gas can with gas for his brother's car so we can convoy back to our area in the morning. He got word that his appartment has power, he's in the Clear Lake Shores area that was hard hit - but he lives on the 4th floor - our concern was the flooded parking lot which probably isn't an issue now. We have not had an update on our home, but still holding out for the best.

I am probably repeating myself, and for that dear friends, I appologize. Everything is such a brain overload it's hard to realize that there's a whole world out there carrying on with other interesting tid bits of news that don't include Ike.

I am eager to be home, to get to work on whatever we have to do - for ourselves, our family and our friends. It's going to be a long row to hoe and it's going to get old, tiring, and draining. I would ask for continued prayers for strenghth and encouragement.

Once we travel south we will be without power and internet. The Quilt Rambler will be silent but not gone. When we regain communications I hope to be back to rambling about quilts! If we are without power for a lenghtly period I may have to take up hand quilting for therapy (smile)

thanks for listening!

Able to share photos

Evacuation Puppy: Pixxie in route

We figured out how to upload my photos on this borrowed computer. What I'm going to show you is the retaining lake behind my sister's house, how it was before, after Ike, and after the additional rain.



Before - My sister's backyard

the evening before Ike




During the storm - poor puppy





The water level after Ike, no sidewalks



Looking out after Sunday morning rain





Just heard that Galveston missed the latest rain bands - praise the Lord! Heard that an HEB near our home area is open with generators and limited supplies. My sis just came in and the water behind her house is receiding. One of my quilting friends who works at the shop in Galveston confirmed that most of our friends on the island did evacuate - except one elderly lady who went to stay at the San Lois hotel (where the media stays). We are on information overload - but thankful that the news media is keeping us informed. Things change hourly - again and again we are hearing praises of lives spared.
PS in response to Connie's comment - Kemah, our near neighbor of 5 miles north is underwater - the entire bay area there is pretty wiped out, I'm afraid your friends' house probably suffered. I'm sorry.
PPS the photos above are in an area virtually untouched by the storm, this is where we evacuated. We do not have photos of our home and surrounding area but we are seeing photos on the TV and there's lots of water. We still don't know when we can go home and see things for ourselves.

Rain Rain GO AWAY!

It's not great news. Overnight thunderstorms from our cool front have caused wide spread flooding in Houston, and the rain is moving south to the already saturated coast and bay area.

My brother-in-law, who so graceously is housing us, is high level management with Comcast - our cable, internet, and digital phone provider. He has been on constant conference calls for the past several days. This morning he was to meet his team at work but could not get out of the subdivision due to street flooding. The neighborhood in which they live has a retainer lake (I have photos of all this but no way to upload). On Friday we took multiple "walks" along the sidewalk on the lake. It was really nice to help relieve stress and to exercise Pixxie before the rain...well, the sidewalks were covered due to Ike and this morning due to the cold front rain it has risen even more. The drainage is doing what it's suppose to be doing, and that is to overflow to the streets and then to the bayou thus preventing the homes from taking on water. The negative is you can't get out of the neighborhood.

We are among 10% of the power grid that has power. Truly blessed. It went off again for a few hours yesterday, about dinner time, and we thought "it was fun while it lasted!" We were thankful to have power during the heat of the day (AC) and to be able to get the visuals the TV news offered, as well as my major thanks of conecting to the internet (smile). We were pleased when it came back on after dinner - this morning it felt good to take advantage of a hot shower and the use of a hair dryer!

The rains are just now hitting the area of our home - reports haven't come in yet as to any further rising water. My husband is concerned about the report that we had "a few shingles blown off" - we suspect that with this rain we will get some water damage. My only regret, if I can play the 'if only' pity party briefly, my thoughts are I wish I'd thought to throw a tarp over the longarm.

We are disappointed that we are unable to travel home this morning. Have no idea if things will change enough this afternoon to allow our 75 mile journey south.

As I mention, my brother-in-law is with my interent service provider and during his calls yesterday to the various hubs the Kemah office reported that between there and Galveston the poles and cables were down and many of them washed out to the ocean...Kemah is 5 miles north of us...so if we do go home this rambler will be silent for a while.

Again, we praise God for our safety.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Confirmation

It's 5:45 PM CST Our neighbor was able to get a call out to us - PRAISE GOD we did not have flooding!!! Not even in the yard - my neighbor is across the street and his yard always fills up when mine doesn't. He said he got about an inch inside but it receided pretty quickly. He reported that we have a few shingles missing and he did not walk around to the backyard where we have two large trees over a deck that could have hit the roof - but the trees are large enough to be seen from the front so I'm sure if there was anything to worry about he would have checked.

As I'm composing this I just got a text from my girlfriend that had to move across the street due to water...said they got 2-3 inches in all the rooms but the quilt room! God must be truly answering the prayers of all the quilters out there praying for us quilters here in the storm.

I know soooo many quilters in this affected area - I am eager to hear from my friends.

Since we now have power here we are glued to the TV. Right now they are showing "my stomping grounds" I can't begin to discribe what I'm seeing. Many of the areas I know people that live there. I know many of you are watching on national TV, but when you see the local mall you shop at with it's roof off, or you see the resturants just 5 miles north where you frequent still under water and with massive structural damage...it's just indescribable and then to realize that for some unknown reason God has spared my little home when all around us is still underwater. It's more than humbling.

One of my friends says I sometimes over spiritualize things, but I don't know...I find it hard not to recognize the miracelous around me. The biggest miracle is the answered prayers for God to spare lives!

In the days ahead you are going to see and hear stories of neighbors helping neighbors, it's going to be amazing, I know I'm a "proud" Texan - but we are a hard working caring folk and the nation will see witness to this. I can't help but recognize that since we won't be focused on ourselves since our home didn't suffer that we will be able to help others and do our part.

Our area (home not here where I'm an evacuee) is without power and no telling when it will come back on. They are asking folks not to come back to the evacuated areas until the "all clear" we are hoping to go home tomorrow. My husband's parents have a built in generator that runs off natural gas when the power kicks off so we would have a cool place to sleep at least. Of course that means I give up the computer here (sigh) but that's okay. OH! we are suppose to have a cool front in a day or two - those of you in other parts of the country will laugh at this, the news media is calling 80 degrees with no humidity a cool front! But believe me, to us it will be!!

I don't take it for granted that we were spared. I don't want to minimize the massive damage done to this area. It is wide spread. So many are displaced and will be suffering through the clean up and rebuilding process. I know "seeing" things on TV won't be the same as when I'll see things in person. I'm trying to prepare myself for the shock of reality, but I don't know if you ever are truly prepared. I'm just trying to remain optomistic, and I want to be of service to my extended family and neighbors during this time. Its not going to be a fun easy journey, but with God all things are possible. He still hasn't left us, even those who have no home to go home to - He is still on His throne. My desire is to share His love to those hurting around me.

We are Surviving Ike!

3:30 PM CST

Unbelievable that we have regained power after 12 hours of outage. Can't explain it, but very thankful!

We watched the news report up until 11 PM or so last night and then just had to go sleep. I slept soundly! Didn't hear the wind and rain until I was awaken to a text message at 3:30 AM...my friend whose patriotic quilt I posted just the other day was texting me that they had water and had to go across the street to her brother-in-laws since they had a 2 story house...at the time of the text that house had over a foot and the storm was just getting started. They live on a bayou in Dickinson. Haven't heard any more from them in 12 hours.

I meant to "take notes" so I could journal things, but I think I was in hybernation mode. Perhaps some of the details will come back to memory, but right now while I have connection I want to give the praise reports that we have heard.

My brother-in-law who is out of the country on business had 80% of his trees downed in his yard. My nephews (19,17) sheltered in place with my sister-in-law and reported one of the trees did go through the oldest's bedroom window. They are all okay and had no water damage as of the 9:30 AM report

My son received a text message from his friend in our little town. Said our little area did not flood, lots of trees down and "your house is okay". We find this miracelous since the surrounding cities 5 miles north are still underwater. We have not heard from our neighbor to confirm this, but we are hopeful, how-be-it cautiously. With the power back on we are getting visuals of the areas hit by this storm and it's not pretty. Where we are right now is still in the outer bands and it's still raining. Flood watches are in effect until tomorrow morning for almost all of Texas from Galveston to Livingston to Beaumont - a huge area. I keep thinking of all my quilting friends I know in the little towns I keep hearing on the radio/TV...

One of my quilting friends lives in a beautiful double wide mobile home in the country - heard from them they had a small roof leak - that the downed tree hit the tractor and horses are okay. They are raising their 5 & 6 year old grandchildren so I was pleased to hear all was well - they too sheltered in place in Santa Fe (TX not NM)

It was hours before we finally heard from my in-laws. They sheltered in place and did not get water - they are in the same town as the friend who got over a foot of water, so we were pleased to get their report. The other brother-in-law lives in that before mentioned neighborhood on the bayou, they evacuated but have heard that they were not flooded. My in-laws did have trees downed. The described it as a domino effect - a tree in their neighbors hit a tree in their yard which fell and knocked a tree over in the next door neighbor on the other side which in turn hit the neighbor behind them knocking into their garage. Still, nothing major by any means.

The damages in Galveston are unreal. We've been listening to the local news broadcasting on the radio (check out http://www.khou.com)/ prior to the power coming back on and some of our favorite places to go on the island are just plainly no longer there. Many of my guild members live there and I can only imagine the suffering they are going through.

Ike took a bite out of Texas and it's still pounding on us. The rain is just now reaching my mother in East Texas some 250 miles north of us. This was a powerful storm.

Right now all I can focus on is our family is safe. My sister's husband's family (whom we are staying with) has all be accounted for. Some have minor damage but all are safe.

The power is flickering. Need to go. Not sure when we can return home, not sure of the roads. more later. thanks for the prayers, keep praying!! There's still a lot of needs.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Something I just remembered

I have a daily flip calendar in my bathroom that has scriptures on it. It's a morning ritual to flip to the new day first thing in the morning to read the verse for the day. Here's the one for 9/12

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way; then will I hear from heaven,and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

I thought this a rather good verse for Evacuation Day (smile) especially the "will heal their land" part. There's going to be a lot of healing going on in my area the next few weeks. Many are without power right now, and they say may be weeks before they get it back -- and Ike hasn't even hit yet! Many are already flooded...

Right now I am praising God that the prayers of righteous folk have been answered for the protection of my family and at the moment that protection has extended to my personal property. Ike hasn't hit yet, I know things can change - but they can change as easily to TOTAL protection as just as easily as total devestation -- and that's okay, God is still in the business of answering prayers. He still cares about us, He is still on His throne - doesn't matter if we have a house to come back to or not. He never changes.

And right now this good news has energized me and given me courage and hope. What a miracle. Everyone around us has flooded, yet this small community has not. I'm sure the residents that are sheltered in place are facing this long night just a tad bit relieved. Please pray for the ones that are facing the night with continued rising water in their neighborhoods.

I'm holding on waiting for more miracles! Keep praying and seeking His face.

PS I'm always tempted to read ahead the verse for tomorrow - but I resist (smile) I like to be encouraged first thing in the morning...His Mercy Is New Every Morning!!!

65 miles from Galveston 10 PM report

My husband just got a phone call from our neighbor - he's still there and said we have power and no water in our houses, the ditches aren't even full. PRAISE GOD! Areas just up the road near NASA have 8 to 12 inches. The storm is still 65 miles off the coast so it's still early - but by not having flooding now means we may continue to have less than our neighbors or none at all. Right now I see this as God answering the prayers of my dear and faithful friends asking for His protection on our home. The outer bands are just hitting. We hear the wind inland. Continue to pray, thank you! Pray that our dear neighbor will be safe as they shelter in. We are praying that we continue to have power here, it's a blessing that I have a computer to borrow (smile)

A Small Ray of Encouragement

My youngest son has a friend who in still in our home area - they have a "hurricane proof" house and assist the local volunteer fire department and other officials, so it's okay for them to still be there...we were just in contact with him and he gave us this report as of 6:45 PM

He was sitting at the boat dock where we took photos the other morning - the pier is under water but the waves are just splashing on the cliff, still about 5 feet before it goes over the road. If you look at the photo of Noah's Ark his location would be just beyond that on the bay - That is good news, the streets haven't flooded yet. We know that it will eventually, but if it's not flooded yet there is hope of minimal flooding instead of total to the roof top flooding or at least that's what I'm beliving right now.

The young man then drove to our house while still on the phone with my son and gave us a report - he walked around the house, checked the locks, said everything was as we left it.

The sad news is that he reported that very few of the residents evacuated. This breaks my heart as we are a little community that ranges from trailer homes to mansions - Billy Gibens of ZZ Top has a home just down the road a little ways south- the roads there are flooded, don't know about his home...there are many many young familes - on any given "normal" day kids would be riding bikes, skateboarding, young moms with the "baby buggy bregade" walking. It's really a nice little community - no gated neighborhoods, just a sprinkling of all sorts of folks (the good the bad and the ugly).

So it does appear that the areas just north of us a few miles and just south of us a few miles are experencing at least street flooding. Our "cliff" in conjunction with our being on a "hill" between these other communities are keeping us dryer at the moment.

We still haven't experienced the outer bands yet. Seems Ike is getting a little stronger. Time to be praying harder "peace be still"