Thursday, November 25, 2004

Still okay, despite intermittent storms.

We haven't had more flooding, which is a-okay in my books. We had some high wind last night, which screwed a lot of people's roofs and trees, but not ours. My county ended up having 22 inches of rain this past Sunday, which would have been disruptive for me if my parents didn't always have enough food and bottled water on hand to sustain them for several days, if not a week or two.

Almost everyone at the little farm is okay, though they did have the only tree they've had to plant in the last five years twisted out by the winds last night,and they had one baby goat die and one goat break his leg during the "goat evacuation" Sunday afternoon. The broken-legged goat looks to do okay, though he might loose the bottom half of the broken (back) leg, and the baby goat died after being brought to shelter inside the house shortly after the rains began. If I haven't mentioned it before, the farm is open to donations, and if you e-mail me about it, I'll turn you over to the proprietors' computer-savvy son. He'll help them accept any donation (no matter how small or large--$5 buys enough produce or feed to satisfy any of their animals for a day or more) to subsidize their farm of mini and pygmy animals for petting-zoo and hospice uses. They lost their llamas to the heat (as I think I mentioned in the summer) and aren't planning to adopt more for that reason, but have pygmy goats, miniature donkeys, pygmy cattle (you haven't lived till you've stood next to a brama bull that stands shorter than your shoulder at his head) and several head of abandoned pot-bellied pigs they've adopted, all of which they use for petting zoos for schools and therapy for hospice (the farm mommy is a hospice nurse) and nursing homes. They've also got two (soon to be three!) head of Gigantos (I think is how you spell it?) Donkeys, which look just like regular or miniature donkeys (down to the cross-mark on their back) but whose adult withers stand above my head at 5'2". I love it. Everything at this farm is either smaller or larger than you expect (except their Fallow Deer, which are exactly the right size except one of them is snow white), and it is the perfect therapy for a hard day. You just need to pet a donkey, and you don't even know it. They stood in two-foot high water for three days, and their only reaction when it went down was to rejoice in dry ground!

The next saddest thing after having all your personal possessions ruined by rainwater is being dry but knowing which of your fellow townspeople are home from evacuation shelters by seeing who has a fresh pile of sodden carpet and furniture in front of their house, and guessing how high the water went in their homes by looking at the watermarks on the bookcases. Lots of businesses and homes had water inside, and some people didn't get back to their property until today, when the sun came out and it stopped raining upstream long enough for our creeks and rivers to drain downcountry and uncover the roads. About 3,000 people lost power for 1 to 8 hours, and there was plenty of intermittent power loss from Sunday to Tuesday. My dad's a Cable Technician who worked 13 hours on Sunday, first fixing cable, then after the local answering service lost power, answering emergency calls for electric or phone customers or people who needed evacuation.

Lots of cars got ruined in the engine or interior or both, and Highway 59 was closed for quite a while because people's vehicles (even big trucks) were stalling out whilst driving on it, and having to be towed to safety. In fact, a lot of buildings that got water inside them wouldn't have, except for vehicles driving past too fast on their streets and causing wakes that forced the water over their foundations and thresholds, most of which was caused by townspeople driving past as looky-loos or rescue personnel. That sucks, in case you didn't know. The only thing worse than having to have your stalled car towed to safety is having the tow truck swamp a small business driving too fast on the way to you.

The lucky part is that, being a small rural community near the coast, there were plenty of huge tractors and boats of all descriptions to rescue everyone who needed rescuing, so there were really no casualties. There were lots of Weather Channel videos of the rescues playing on yesterday, but my link from the previous post doesn't go to them now, and I don't know enough about internet stuff to link them independently, but rest assured that huge cultivators whose tires have hubs higher than a man's head were used to rescue flood victims and we had plenty of motor- and air-boats, too. And in case I didn't mention it, our entirely Volunteer Fire Department rocks, and saved everyone who needed it.

Because our town is quartered by 59 and 71, and because everyone who got kicked off 59 had to go up 71 to get back on track, and because I live right on 71 (71 Business or "Mechanic Street" in town), I got to watch most of the boats go back and forth down our street from the point where they pick up the refugees and drop them off for distribution to shelters to the point where they put the boats back in, so I got to see a damn-huge lot of boats. I saw at least 3 Texas Wildlife boats (or three of the same one) and a hell of a lot (or several hells of the same lot) of local Volunteer Fire Station boats from all over the county, and plenty of local volunteer boats. And I wasn't on the porch the whole time, as I was also busy filling our tubs with water for flushing toilets and washing, and locating our kerosene lanterns, so I surely missed many boats. Plus I happened to be on the porch when the National Guard arrived. It wasn't as exciting as you might suppose, given that a number of people I personally knew were homeless and waiting to be evacuated.

And the town already had planned a Community Thanksgiving to accommodate several thousand, since the one last year went off so well. We're going. Last year (no disaster) they had something like 3,000 people in our community of 11,000, and this year they were planning for quite a bit more, which is likely good. Several religious and benevolent organizations are also feeding for free anyone who feels thankful tomorrow, and accepting any donations toward their likely larger audience, which is also very likely going to be useful. We've donated to several just driving around town on errands that got put off till today.

Several even smaller towns near here were totally incapacitated by the flood, with almost total city populations being evacuated and no people being re-admitted to their houses until today. I hate that this had to happen the weekend before Thanksgiving. I really do feel for my local fellow-residents and hope they all come to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. I hope you're all sending kind thoughts to this general area, as the whole thing pretty much got slammed.

In my own news, I didn't get to work for two days starting Sunday, but I was only scheduled for the one, and I got to make it up yesterday on a scheduled day off, which puts me at a personal even keel. I was really incredibly lucky both in my home staying dry and in losing no real days of work. And since I started drinking mass amounts of beer every time it started raining, I was happy to have a couple days off unexpectedly. I was planning for total evacuation, and hoping to pass off my inebriation as anxiety. It completly backfired Monday evening, in case you were wondering. It started raining at 7pm, stopped at around 10pm and left me totally hungover but committed to a demo at noon on Tuesday. It went great. I do my best customer-interface whilst hanging on to my "Basic Decent Composure" with both hands and one foot.

And, despite my aversion to organized religion, I have got to give props to our local churches who turned out to house the 250+ members of the community who found themselves temporarily(?) de-homed. They rocked (as I've mentioned before). I got a chance to thank some of them, and some of the Red Cross workers, at my job today. The Red Cross workers were at the grocery store to pick up general supplies (mostly donated by the grocery company and local organizations and charities) and required pharmaceuticals for our refugees. Amongst the religious, I only got to thank the local Mennonites, because the Methodists and etc. don't wear a uniform. I think next time I do a demo (this weekend) I'll just thank everyone for pitching in, since I'm as likely to hit an aid-worker as I am a victim, and I think everyone should to be thanked for their composure.

In other news, our area is trying to get declared a disaster area, since you can't get flood insurance very easily when you live below sea-level in a flood plain near the coast (or when everything in your house is demolished by huge, unexpected rainstorms totally unprecedented in your area), but FIMA is saying the total loss isn't a high enough dollar amount. So I'm urging all my neighbors to photo and inventory their huge piles of discarded flood-damaged property and submit them to the total. I know if this community pulls together, we can have ourselves declared a Total Disaster Area and get the government to help us recoup. For possibly the last time ever, if this administration gets its way. This is the worst flood this area has sustained in living memory, and it might be a lot longer than that under the Bushies...ya know?

Anyway, Happy Turkey day, think of something you're thankful for. I'm thankful for not getting flooded out of my house or car, for having a loving family and friends that care about me, for having a job, and for moving back to Austin soon...Even though I know at least one of my friends in Austin had 1-3 inches of water in her home day before yesterday. The only upside is that Arizona and New Mexico got a lot of rain, too, and they actually needed it...

Monday, November 22, 2004

Flood update...

We're still okay here. Every time the news runs someone else of our family or friends calls to see if we're okay or evacuated or what. It's funny, when the phone rings there's a very good chance it will be someone saying, "I saw El Campo on the news! Are you drowned?" It ended up raining about 18 inches yesterday, or as they said charmingly on The Weather Channel, "About an inch an hour." For what it's worth, you can go here to watch some videos of the flooding. When I was a kid we lived in the part of town the videos mostly show, and there's an older lady in the "Residents forced to flee" report who was our next-door-but-one neighbor back then. It hasn't ever rained this bad in living memory around here. We've had floods before, but this is ridiculous. There were a couple of articles about the whole deal in the Houston Chronicle yesterday and today, but you have to have a subsription to look at their archives, so I guess the cheap bastards won't be getting any additional hits from me.

I wish I'd taken pictures. They closed highway 59 because it was so far underwater cars kept stalling out and having to be towed to safety. Three different churches (including the local Mennonite community, who have enough sense to live on what passes for high ground around here) are sheltering more than 250 people until the water goes down enough for them to get back to their homes, and god knows how many more people are staying with family or friends.

We went out to the mini farm today to try to help, but the water hadn't drained off enough to start cleanup and they'd already assessed what damage they could and made sure all the animals were accounted for, so we made coffee and commisserated. Flooding sucks. In case you didn't know. But, it could have been so much worse. Hell, it still could. Send dry thoughts.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Yayyy! Boats!!!

So when I woke up this morning at 9, it had rained 16 inches since I went to bed. And I'm not going to work today, because most of town is underwater and my boss figures, probably correctly, that anyone who makes it into the grocery store might be less than concerned about being handed an attractive two-oz. food sample. And we're currently in no danger of being flooded because our house is on relitively high ground and is on two-foot pilings anyway. And it isn't really going to stop raining for at least 36 more hours. So the upside is, that if the water gets up to the front door, beefy firemen in boats will come save me. The other upside is that I get to stay at home all day, knitting and watching the Weather Channel. The downside is that the only book in the house I haven't read is one I snatched off the shelf at the library the other day while there with the kiddo, and it turns out it's a Reconstruction-era wholesome Christian romance novel that takes place in Montana. So it looks like I'm re-reading "Me Talk Pretty One Day" again. Please bear with me if I call you and perform an entire essay. David Sedaris is just so fucking funny.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The saddest thing that has happened to me in days.

So, the light in the breakroom where I work is on a motion sensor that turns the light off when the room is empty and turns it back on when someone walks in. So I go in there today to eat lunch and I'm sitting on the couch trying to ignore the other six people in there, all eating and vapidly watching Fear Factor. You know, since H.R. 666 went through, requiring that there be an episode of Fear Factor playing on at least one channel in every market at any given time, so that I am always in danger of seeing some dude eat an elephant cock while jumping out of a helicopter with his head in a box of rats. On fire. Or whatever. God, I hate that show.

Anyway, so everyone's watching it and drooling onto their sippy cups and I'm hunched over my food like a guy doing 15-25 upstate for pedophilia, trying to will myself deaf and blind, when suddenly the lights go out. There's 7 people in the room, and the stultifying effects of that damn show convinced the motion detector that the room was empty. Then we all kind of looked back and forth at each other, and the lights came back on, and some chick changed the channel.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Total Bemusement Now Achieved

I wonder what I should do next. Last night as I drifted off to sleep I had this great idea for (another)ancilliary blog; title, format, skin, content, everything. I remember having the idea and thinking what a phenomenal lot of cool funness it would be, and now I can't remember any of the specifics. Oh, well. Here are some pictures of my cat wearing a tutu:

I'll get you for this, humanoid!

You have to sleep sometime, hairless thumb-user!

If you knew her, you'd understand why I've been locking my bedroom door, nights, since I took these. I made the tutu for the munchkin I sit on, but she won't wear it, so I'm reduced to putting it on the cat to satisfy my crafty needs. Maybe I'll send it to Bella, that might be cool. Everybody likes to see a pink pittbull in a tutu.

Still having a hard time with this whole, "Apparently a majority of Americans think that having Duck-face remain our religio-dynastic monarch is a really good idea" thing. I'm thinking of turning to pharmaceuticals to dull my pain, except that would make me a terrorist or something, so I guess I'll just stick to beer. I've been working a lot and haven't really had the time to get it up to blog, but I'll be better soon, I promise. Maybe in the next few days I'll even be able to wind myself up to a huge juggernaut of a linked-up photo-intensive post about all the cool stuff I've been neglecting to mention to you, my adoring public. I could never have done all this without you!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Cuteness Therapy

I'm so sick and disgusted over the whole election. I'm dissapointed, I'm disillusioned, I'm disgruntled, and I'm totally shocked that I let myself get as hopeful and excited as I did. I totally thought everything was going to be okay, which, as my friends will tell you, is totally unlike me. Anyway, I can't talk about this anymore today, but here's a picture that includes: my mom (awwww!), the munchkin I sit for (awwwwwwwwww!) and a baby miniature donkey (awwwwwwwwwwww!).

That kid is only 2 1/2 years old!  The scale is off because my mom is 4 ft. 9 and the donkey is miniature, but she's still huge for her age!

Try to enjoy the cuteness, and if you get too upset about the 100% probability that we're all about to be anally raped by the new old regime, put a cold towel on your head and look at the picture again.

P.S. Look how high that kid climbed up on the gate! She's got no fear at all. There were fallow deer on the other side of the fence that she wanted to pet, and she wasn't buying that they were shy. I guess she thought they maybe just couldn't hear her yelling "C'mere, Deeeeeeeeer! C'oh here Wight Now!" for half an hour at the top of her voice. Deer are crazy, I don't know why they wouldn't come to her.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I Did It!

At least, I think I did!

Did you? Now it's just anxiously awaiting intelligence of whether it even counted. Or rather, whether they counted it. There was a rumor going around in town that if you vote straight Democratic ticket in Texas, your ballot mysteriously counts as a vote for every Democrat except Kerry and that Bush gets your vote for pres, but I doubt that that's really true. Or at least I don't want to think about it if it is. Anyway, I had to vote each section individually because I wanted to make a pretty pattern on the scantron...not really, I really thought about it, and I even read about the candidates and voted my consience. Like I said, now we see if they use the input we citizens so kindly gave them, or just have a kegger at the Skull and Bones and decide by spinning the bottle.

Oh, p.s. my job is great, and everyone is nice, and the second day was better than the first, and I only freaked out a little tiny bit and my boss saved me and rubbed my back.