Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hi!

My goodness it feels funny logging in after all this time!

BigandMean has lots of great stories stored up in his head. Now if I can just get him to commit to writing them here!

:)

I hope you all had wonderful holidays. Doesn't it stink to have to go back to work? Blah!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Signing Off

I've been participating in this obstentatious display called a blog for about a year now. In the beginning, I endeavored to expatiate on a variety of subjects, such as politics and religion as though it were a devine imparting by me of knowledge to the unknowing yet venial masses. I couldn't sustain what to me became a venture into a tenebrous webb of point/counter-point with no end in sight to the endless cavils of some of my correspondents. In other words, politics, religion and other serious subjects got boring and I encountered a few real nut cases. I had to move on to a more jocund, mirthful approach because that's who I am.

Gradually, the people who disagreed with my opinions on more serious matters began to take on an evanescent nature, then their comments completely disappeared. That was fine, because some of them were obviously certifiable while others were destined to be that way if they couldn't put the 2000 election behind them. I even received some threats of physical harm from of the less enlightened on the left who, of all things fancied themselves to be defenders of free speech. They reminded me of the nuts who murdered abortion doctors because they were pro-life.

On the plus side, I've had a lot of fun. Writing something totally self-serving and whimsical, then checking to see what your online friends and family had to say about it has been a real hoot. Also on the plus side, I've met two Philadelphia bloggers, Ala and Justrose and Ala's father, 92alpha. They are some of the finest people you could ever hope to know and I feel as though they have become lifelong friends.

I've also "met" online, my buddies Riceburner, McWizard, Jensun_Clemike, 91ghost, Kat, Alix, AFsister, Tesco, Desultory Butterfly and her sis Bonnie and the ever smiley Ben and many others. One day, I expect to get the chance to meet many of them in person. Their comments and interest in what I had to say sustained me.

Again on the plus side, my commentators (not the taters of royalty, mind you but the common ones) included my two children, plus three nephews, a niece, my wife, brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law and a couple of cousins. Their comments, especially on my blogger's birthday card were priceless to me.

That having been said, the real purpose of this post is to announce my signing off and marching off into the sunset, sans blog. This has been like staring at the Grand Canyon before moving on to see what's on the other side - quite a sight to be sure but so etched in the memory that you no longer have to look at it.

I don't want any of you to waste your time by coming here expecting me to be lurking around with a dose of my usual BS. I'll be doing that alright, just not here, pecking it out on a keyboard. I'll be checking my yahoo email address on occasion though, and if any of you out-of-towners ever anticipate being in Houston, let me know.

Adios and God bless.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rita Is A Big Fat Sissy

That's just one of the memorable things overheard during storm week. But I think my favorite was "there's a category 5 storm headed right for us and he's asleep on the couch."

The announcements to evacuate the Houston area started Wednesday afternoon. A category 5 storm with winds of up to 175 mph was headed straight for Galveston and we were told to "get out or die". The storm was due to arrive sometime after midnight on Friday so we had lots of time but you wouldn't know it from the panic of some. My neighbor left pulling his travel trailer behind with its' door still open and steps dragging the pavement. Many left town without packing and others had little or no cash or gas.

The freeways were immediately at gridlock - no movement whatsoever. People were trapped, unable to get off the freeways and quickly running out of gas and food. The temperature was 98 degrees with temperatures in the midst of all the idling engines running around 110. It obviously was best not to try to leave town for awhile.

Our plan was to get up at 4:00 AM on Thursday and beat the next exodus, but the traffic was even worse. That's when I decided to continue to wait it out and take a nap.

Thursday afternoon the announcement came that all lanes on a section of I-45 would be open to outbound traffic. We still had a day and a half before Rita hit us, if she did at all, and our household vote totals were still holding at one to one - one vote to wait until the traffic cleared before leaving and one vote to get the hell out of town yesterday. We left about 2:15 PM.

The freeway was clear the 20 or so miles to downtown Houston. So far so good. It continued to move at a fast pace for 17 more miles but shut down completely just 13 miles from our destination at Scott and Jen's house.

Traffic didn't move at all for 4 hours. We were behind a couple who we found out lived near us but had left their home 11 and one half hours before we left ours. Cars were stalled everywhere. Babies were crying, dogs were barking and people were getting sick. The diesel and gas fumes burned the eyes and hurt the throat. We had plenty of ice and water and kept ourselves and our 15 year old mutt Petey hydrated.

People were using cups to relieve themselves, then getting out of their cars and emptying the contents on the freeway. The pavement was so hot that the urine seemed to evaporate right away but the smell lingered.

After almost six hours, we made it to Scott and Jen's house in Spring, a distance of 50 miles. We stayed until after the storm passed and came home on Saturday morning, beating most of the crowd back into town.

We had no damage to our house at all. For us, Rita was a big fat sissy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Caleb Takes a Header

Doug's 4 year nephew, Caleb is in town with his mom and little brother while his dad is making his third and final tour with the Marine Corps in Iraq.

Although he's not really related to us, we love him just like he was one of our own. He has blond hair and big blue eyes and usually has a mischievious grin that makes you wonder what he's up to. He's all boy - into "weaponry" as his dad calls it and anything else that shoots, salutes, triumps over evil, goes fast, runs, leaps, wears a costume, flies or looks "scawy". He calls us uncle and aunt and, of course, we eat that up.

When the whole extended family made it back into town from our "premature evacuation" Doug and Caleb's Grandfather Jim came over to help take the plywood off the windows of our house. Caleb came along too, as did his mom, brother, Jim's wife Meloney and Doug's wife Melodye.

After finishing the chores followed by a visit to the only mexican food restaurant that had re-opened, we brought Caleb back to our house for the afternoon.

First up was a ride in the back yard on the 4 wheelers. Then a round of playing "good guy-bad guy" with Aunt Susie, who spent an hour or so in a make believe jail.

Then it was outside with me to feed the goldfish and koi. Caleb leaned over, then leaned a little more so "El Guapo" would eat from his hand. As I turned to put the goldfish food away, I heard a splash. Caleb had managed to take a header into the pond and was thrashing around like some giant fish in a small pond while trying to get out before I noticed. I grabbed one arm and pulled him out, and quickly checked to make sure he was OK. He looked up at me with big sad looking eyes and said "we're not in trouble are we?"

I lost control completely. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. Caleb laughed as hard as I did once he realized that no one would be mad at him. He said "If I fall in again will you laugh at me again"? "No little fella, one time is enough." He was impressed by the fact that the fish didn't bite him. I'm sure they wanted too.

With his clothes in the washer, then the dryer and Caleb in one of Aunt Susie's tee shirts, he and I finished off the afternoon with an improptu fight with duelling water hoses.

Once into his dry clothes and into his car seat, one very tired little boy fell asleep on the way to be delivered to his grandparents.

When we got home, we passed out and slept like babies too. Entertaining little ones can be hard work.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pre-Evacuation Conversation

Prior to getting on the road and joining what was to become the single largest traffic jam in American history, I stopped by the local drug store to pick up a few things we might need. The place had been cleaned out; no batteries, bottled water or Little Debbie Snack Cakes. Not a Ding Dong in the house. Another desperate person told me if you had to have some Twinkies or a Moon Pie she'd heard you'd have to go all the way to Dallas. There's something about the possibility of impending death that causes you to temporarily go off your diet of bark and roots and be willing to stuff yourself with toxic nirvana.

I remained strong and turned down a shot at outmuscling an old lady for a box of creme-filled cup cakes. It would have been easy - a piece of cake. Several pieces actually. All I ended up with at the check out counter was one bottle of aspirin and a hunger for real food that would rival any found in a buffet line at an old folks home.

There was a line forming behind me at the check out counter but the lady working there avoided me like poison ivy. She was on the phone, dealing with what was obviously personal business - something that was much more important to her than selling me a bottle of aspirin.

As I waited along with everyone else, I heard her philosophy about the approaching storm. "I think we should just git as far away as we can", she said. "You don't know what these things is gonna do. You better pack up and just git the hell out'n da way, you know what I'm saying"?

I'm thinking, "no, I honestly don't know what you're saying because you butcher the english language worse than Attila the Hun on a march through Mongolia you ignoramus but I would like to buy this bottle of aspirin if you don't mind."

Back to Ms. Take This Job and Shove It: "Yeah, I got all I need. I'm all packed and ready. You got gas?" I saw my opening. In the loudest voice I could muster I answered her: "NO, I DON'T. JUST A LITTLE HEADACHE".

She hung up. I got out. Sometimes you just do what you gotta do. Know what I'm saying?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Headlines The Day After Rita

"Rains Hit Houston; None Hurt But 12 Drown In New Orleans"

"2.7 Million Evacuate When Wind Reaches 7 MPH"

"No Damage From Rita But Thousands Hospitalized From Breathing Gas Fumes During Evacuation"

"Premature Evacuation Ruins Mayor's Political Career"

"Motorists Stalled In Cars On Freeway For 12 Hours; Celebration Breaks Out As Commute Is Quicker Than Usual"

"Porta Potty Blown Over; TV Weather Girl Trapped"

"Hurricane Reporter Shot Dead By Program Director; Said 'Hunker Down' One Time Too Many. DA Rules Justifiable Homicide"

"Weather Channel Babe Lands 70 Miles Away While Reporting On Rita"

Feel free to add your own.

All's well

In fact, it is so "well" that Dad is already packing up his car. LOL!

He is determined to get on the road and beat the traffic home.

Yes, it is still windy.

Yes, it is still raining.

But he is GOING TO BEAT THAT TRAFFIC BY GOD!

Aye carumba.

Thanks again for all your prayers and well wishes. We are absolutely fine!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Got Gas?

Make a note to yourself. Keep your tank topped off if you might have to get out of town in a hurry. Many people in the Houston area didn't and are stuck beside a freeway somewhere right now.

We waited for some of the traffic to clear before we left home at 2:15 on Thursday. Still we were trapped on the High Occupancy Lane of I-45 for about 4 and a half hours of our almost 6 hour trip to Jen and Scott's house 50 miles to the north. Some people trapped on the freeway in front of us live in the same town we do but had left their home almost 12 hours before we left ours - yet there we were - in the same spot.

After about 5 and a half hours in 100 plus degree temperatures we managed to get off the freeway and park near an elementary school. There was plenty of grass to walk the dog and stretch our legs but the best thing was escaping the stalled cars, noise, hot pavement and the smell of diesel fumes from all the buses and 18 wheelers.

We called our son-in-law, Scott for directions to his and Jen's house, maybe using some little known back roads no one else knew about so we could escape the traffic. He told us he knew where we were and to just stay there - that he would come and get us. He was there in a matter of minutes and led us on the back roads back to his and Jen's house.

Remember what the Drew Barrymore character in the movie ET said about the movie's main character? We feel the same way about Scott. "We're keeping him."