Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ike and The Craigs



This last week I was selected to play a part in a movie of the week. At first, I refused to accept this so-called role. Surely, the Director, (AKA, Mother Nature) would come to Her senses and realize I didn’t have the personality to play such a serious part in her natural disaster movie. If she’d read just a page of one of my books, she’d know my personality and life lends itself better to comedy. “Call me when You have a different role,” I replied. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn’t listening. Ready or not, Ike was coming.



I wasn’t ready. So I went into this blissful state called . . . denial. Ike was not coming to Houston. It couldn’t. Because I had . . . deadlines. Deadlines encourage denial of anything that might try to pull your attention away from the task. So, on that Wednesday night when the news said we needed three days’ provisions of water and food, I looked at hubby who had no reason for his state of denial and asked, “Do we have provisions?”



He just shrugs. “We can get them later.”



“Later?” I panicked. So, at eleven o’clock on Wednesday night, we’re in a local grocery store. It’s here I become totally submersed in the surreal-Ike script.



Hordes of people, resembling zombies, push their carts along the aisles, grabbing hurricane rations. We headed straight for the water. There, on aisle four, are two women playing tug a war over the last six pack of H2-0.



I look at my husband, at the empty store shelves, at our empty basket, and ask the obvious. “Should I jump in and see if I could win?”



He sighs, “They’re bigger than you are.”



We moved past the screaming women. As we got to their carts, I saw dozens of cans of tuna filling their baskets. Feeling desperate, I snag a couple of cans and dropped them in our cart. (Hey, this is life or death.) And we run away.



We found most of the shelves empty, but we did get the last four cans of chicken, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and some crackers. As we’re about to leave, water arrives, and we, with the Zombies wait in aisle four. We snagged two cases, and got out before more fighting broke out.



Thursday morning, the air conditioner flowed, coffee perked. Life was normal. Hubby went to work, I went into my office and back into my blissful state of denial. I sent in my book. Thank gawd! When son got up, he stormed into the study screaming, “Mom, why aren’t you watching the news?”



The television was turned on and I’m thrown back into the script of Ike. The mayor was speaking to Houstonians. I can’t relate word for word, but it translates to something like this: “Put your head between your legs and kiss your arses goodbye.”



Okay, he didn’t exactly say that, but with lines of, “100 to 150 mile winds” “freeways jammed. Don’t try to escape.” “Leave work and go home to take care of your family” he might as well have said it.



I called my hubby and calmly informed him that the freaking sky was falling and he needed to come home. NOW!



Never one to enjoy panic, I turned off the TV, chased my son out of my office and returned to my blissful state of denial.



I enjoyed my bliss, until the phone calls started coming from out-of-state family. I can’t relate to you word for word what they said, but it went something like this: “I hear you need to put your head between your legs and kiss…” Seriously, my cousin asked if we had burial plots.



I practiced deep breathing, ignored my four felines who bounced off the walls acting as if the world was ending, (did they know something I didn’t?) and I waited for hubby --my hubby, the safety engineer. How lucky am I to have a safety engineer to keep me safe? (You know where this is leading, don’t you?)



Hubby arrived, armed with only a book on the Roman Empire, which by the way, didn’t they end in disaster? He plops down in his chair and begins to read.



I stared at him. “Baby, how much wind can our windows sustain?” Hey, he’s smart, this is what he does for a living.



“Probably 70.”



“Baby, how much wind do they say we’ll get?”



“Probably 100 to 110.”



“Baby, why the freaking-frack, in gawd’s name aren’t you covering our windows?”



So we covered our windows. Okay, Hubby and son covered windows. I went back to my computer and backed up some of my files. Then I grabbed my backup drive and wondered where the safest place was to keep it is. Which one of the ten pine trees in our yard would hit the house, meaning which room would be destroyed? I even tried to fit it into my bra. Didn’t work. It went into my purse.



Meanwhile, stray cats are showing up in our backyard. Hey, they know we’re suckers. Hubby and son catch them and put them in the garage.



Hubby and son also pick up any loose objects that could be snatched up the 150 to 170 mile wind gusts and used as missals on the Craig home. Loose objects like one of our eight land turtles. (Hey, I’m not gonna be the one written up in the paper about being killed by a turtle.) What do you do with 8 turtles during a hurricane, when you have stray cats in the garage? You put them in the back of your car. (Oh, did I mention that Floppy Skivies, the family rabbit, was upstairs in my son’s bedroom, sharing space with his rats.)



I started cooking our last meal. With extras in case the mayor and my family was wrong and we accidentally lived.



While cooking, I noticed our hurricane rations have been depleted. I suspected the ladies I stole the tuna from, but then son confesses. Can anyone tell me how one eighteen-year-old boy can eat an entire jar of crunchy peanut butter in less than 24 hours?



We ate our last meal and I wrapped up the leftovers. We brought down our mattresses. My dad made me promise we’d bring down an extra mattress. So when the roof was being ripped off and debris flew inside, we could cover ourselves with the third mattress. Let me tell you, hearing things like that doesn’t make you feel better. But you bet your boots I had the third mattress.



Darkness strikes the Craig house around midnight. Son asks if he can now eat the hurricane rations. Something about hurricanes makes an eighteen year old hungry.



We curled up on the mattresses, and I saw it. Not Ike. Son was eating the leftovers from the fridge. “You’re eating our lunch,” I said.



“Yeah, but we might not live, so I don’t want to waste the pasta.”



Wind, the eerie sound of trees being delimbed and decapitated, filled our ears. We woke up off and on during the seven-hour storm. Morning arrived, no power, no air conditioner, no coffee, Ike still blowed. We braved a peek outside. Our yard was a mass of tree limbs and debris, and we’d been blessed with gifts from Ike, several new trashcans. Hey, we needed some new ones.



Many houses on our block brought a whole new meaning to tree houses. Thank God, no one is hurt. And our street was a river. Could anything induce one to brave that river? Yup. The water had backed up our neighbor’s sewage. Don’t get between a woman and a toilet when she has to go.



We ate crackers for breakfast, minus peanut butter, and snarled at son. Around noon, son asked, “What’s for lunch?”



I reminded him that he ate our lunch. He reminded me that it’s my maternal duty is to feed my young. I reminded him that some mammals are known to eat their young. Ike brought out the best in me.



Hubby dragged out the grill. Big man-- with grill-- about to make fire. A grill that hadn’t been used in two years, but he’d sworn we had propane. I emptied fridge of anything that might cook. Because of grills unclean state, I wrapped everything in foil and cooked hobo style.
We all stood around the grill, as hubby lit it. Hey, with no TV, this was the best entertainment there was. We had no idea how good the show would be.



Hubby discovered we have no propane. I sent him . . . The Look. “No, problem.” Hubby assured us. He found wood in garage, doused it with kerosene and struck a match. The explosion sent part of the bottom of the grill flying. Hubby’s eyebrows were singed. But fire was burning. Fire continued to burn. Grill suddenly caught on fire. Yup, the entire grill. Hubby became slightly concerned because the propane can was still attached to burning grill. Me, I became slightly concerned that the fire was spreading to the back of my house.



Hubby, safety engineer that he is, used our water rations to put out fire. House was fine with exception of bubbled paint and smoke damage. Lucky for hubby, the food came out great. Hey, son was about to die of hunger.



24 hours later, no air, low food (due to son) low water rations (due to fire) we decided to brave the freeways and escape Houston for Alabama.



Just one small issue. No gas stations. Just one big issue. No bathrooms. Hubby and son said, “We’ll just hang our lizards out for air.”



Oh, but no way was I baring my lizardette on the side of the freeway. (Hey, you need to maintain some dignity. Besides, Ike victims had suffered enough, they didn’ t need to see my arse.) Hours later, the need for a restroom was crucial. We stopped at several places, operated without power, but they’d locked bathrooms due to the lack of water.



Finally in an east Texas town we found a generator-operated hole-in-the-wall fish restaurant. No lights, but they were serving food. More importantly, they had water, they had a BATHROOM. I moved between the tables, to the back of the restaurant, blackness invaded the dark hall. The bathroom is where they said it was, but they hadn’t informed me where the toilet was. I shut the door and moved around the pitch darkness like a blind woman, a blind woman who really needed to pee, reaching out and thinking, “gross”, who knows what I’ll touch in a public bathroom. I found the toilet. With my foot, thank gawd. I unzipped, stripped and sat down in record time. I just got a healthy stream going when I hear . . . breathing. And I’m not talking about my own.



I had company and yes, this was a one seater. “Hello,” I suddenly wondered if I’d gotten in the women’s or men’s restroom.



A female voice answers. “So you found the toilet?”



“I hope it’s the toilet.” I laughed.



We shared Ike war stories while I peed. Hey, in really desperate times, modesty is thrown out the window. Who knows in a few more miles my lizardette might have been bared on the freeway.



Bladder happy, the Craigs hit the road again, our only concern was finding gas. We got lucky about an hour later. I went in to get a drink. When I get outside, hubby was waving in a panic and I’m told to get in the car NOW.



I jumped inside. “What is it?” I asked as he frantically drove away.



“That guy was smoking a cigar and filling up a gas can. That idiot is going to start a fire and blow something up.”



“Sort of like you did, huh,” my son said. We all started laughing.



I realize then how lucky we really were, we braved the storm, had no serious damage to our home, and survived with even our senses of humor intact. I think my son even gained a little weight.



Thank you, Mother Nature.

33 comments:

stacey purcell said...

What a great story, told only as you can tell it! It brought a smile to my face which is a good thing as we continue the cleanup. Glad you guys are OK. Stacey

Linda C said...

Christie, So glad the Craig family survived IKE and everyone is OK. You had me laughing so hard with tears in my eyes. We only get Tornados here in Michigan. However, we got tons of rain that weekend from IKE with major flooding. Our basement is still damp

Linda

Keri Ford said...

Glad you made it through the storm. I was thinking about you when my house when dark. and stayed dark. And I thought, surely she got out. :O)

Keri Ford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christie Craig said...

Stacey,

I'm glad I put a smile on your face. Hey, we need all the smiles we can get as we try to get our lives back to normal.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Linda C,

Agg, on your basement. Mother Nature has a weird sense of humor, doesn't She?

Take care and dry out quickly.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Keri,

I don't mind the dark so much, well, unless, I'm trying to find the john, it's the lack of power and coffee that did me in.

Thanks for stopping by.

CC

Colleen Thompson said...

Bwa ha ha! Thanks for sharing!

terrio said...

First off, I'm so glad to hear you all survived the storm with as little damage as possible. At least from Mother Nature. Thanks for the smiles and the laughs. The grill and the bathroom parts cracked me up but I'm almost more amazed about the kiddo eating all that peanut butter.

I hope things are getting back to normal.

Ruth said...

Oh Christie, I always like your adventures. I don't know how you slept through IKE, I stayed up the entire night, running up and down the stairs. We had the kids ( my wonderful grandchildren on a pallet in front of the TV, yes I still had power) We had boarded up the bottom windows on the back side of my house as I have giant Pecan trees with large branches, but not the windows up stairs. So I ran back and forth to watch the limbs, trees and what ever else dance to IKE's tune. The storm raged and about the time they said it was hitting my area, and the winds were at thier worst my power went, so we dug out the flashlights and I again was running up and down the stairs. Now my Pecan trees look like they have anorexia and the flood waters didn't make it to my door and I have power, at least until they have to restring the main line, as I am one of three houses on my side of the street with power.

With the TV out, I watched a shadow play on my front window, the tree branches looked like alien stick figures in a battle for life.
So glad you are sage Christie.
Ruth

bookmobiler said...

Glad you folks are OK, but I'm curious,
did the land turtles end up in Alabama too? You said you'd put them in the car.
And did you remember to let the cats out of the garage?

Gemma Halliday said...

Oh. My. God. You are one brave woman. I'd have peed my pants way before getting to that dark toilet. Glad everyone in the Craig clan is okay!

~Gemma

Christie Craig said...

Colleen,

Thanks for stopping by. And I loved the humorous photos you posted at your blog. http://www.boxingoctopus.blogspot.com/

We gotta laugh through this.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Terrio,

You'd think my son would have been sick. But nope, he just kept on eating. I can seriously say, "He ate his way through Ike."

Thanks for stopping in.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Ruth,

Oh goodness, girl. Those wind sounds were bad here, too. It sounded as if the trees were crying. And I guess I'd cry if the wind were ripping me apart too.

Thanks for sharing. And I'm so glad you and all your babies are okay.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Bookmobiler,

No, the turtles were released, but the car did small funny. :-)

And yes, the cats were let out. One of them didn't want to leave the garage, I think it scared the poor things to death.

Thanks for dropping in.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Gemma,

You would done fine girl. And what's more, you would have done it wearing heels.

I'm just glad it's over.

CC

Tessy said...

Too funny, Christi!!!!

We were blessed not to have any damage and we got power back quicker than most!

Christie Craig said...

Tessy,

Thanks for stopping in. Good thing most of us has power now, or we might have all shown up your house. :-)

Didn't it seriously feel as if we all took part in a crazy movie? Normal life really does stop and this whole new way of life seems to take over.

I like the old way much better.

CC

Tori Lennox said...

Holy cow! I'm glad you guys are okay!

Christie Craig said...

Thanks Tori.

And holy cow is right. I think Ike probably picked a few those too.

Thanks for stopping in.

CC

Kimberly Frost said...

LOL Hard to tell which line was my favorite, but I think it was when your son ate the pasta salad so it wouldn't go to waste if you died.

I'll confess that I was in denial for a while, too. After Rita, I said I'd never wind myself up over a Hurricane again. "Ike's huge," they said. I believe that my ill-fated reply was something akin to, "Bring it on."

Lesson learned. Never mouth off to Mother Nature. Turns out she doesn't like it.

I was, however, well-stocked on nonperishable food. If I never see another granola bar in my life it'll be too soon.

Kim Lenox said...

Hey Christie!! YES! Your experience reflects my own, in so many ways! The denial! Hey, and I'm a tough Texan. What's a little hurricane? Ouch! I guess I didn't really take any of it seriously until our distant family members started to call us and say, "We just want you to know we love you." Eeek!

Christie Craig said...

Kimberly,

LOL! Mother Nature does get ticked when we mouth off at her, doesn't she?

And you're so right, the whole Rita hype was the reason I justified my denial. I swore I wouldn't get worked up like I did with Rita.

I guess we need to find a middle ground, huh?

Thanks for stopping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Kim,

And those callers really thought they were helping us. Between the, "Cover yourself with a mattress," and "Do you guys have burial plots?" I had to open a bottle of wine.

Thanks for stopping in.

CC

Jo Anne said...

Hey, Christie - we can all use a laugh around here, can't we? I'm an old hurricane hand, so I don't panic - or do denial - but I do all the water, batteries, non-perishables, fill the bathtub (to flush when the water goes), clear the yard and hunker down stuff.

No big damage here, still no broadband or cable (I'm on dial up). Although I've had power almost the entire time (and fed and bathed the masses last week), I'm now having rolling power surges from a line fuse down that fried a few small appliances (like my 32" Sony TV) before I started rationing power. Hey, I see a new LCD/HD flat screen in my future. :-) No air conditioner when the computers are on - and the fax and the copy machine are now on a schedule. :-)

Hard to complain when so many lost everything...

Laughter is the best healer around, Christie - so thanks for the chuckle.

Francyne said...

That's my Christie, even in the midst of a life-threatening situation, you're gathering story info. I laughed until I wheezed. Makes my "life without power for 5 days" seem like a walk in the park. What's the difference in an engineer and a feed store owner? A generator (regularly checked and deemed storm-worthy), plenty of fuel, and windows covered...AHEAD of time. That adorable son should have made his way to my house. I had 2 kinds of speghetti salad, plus, for some, the only food in the world--better known as macaroni and tomatoes. Also, 3 kinds of deli-luncheon meat, rolls for sandwiches, and cake. (Remember the aforementioned generator! Kept everything cool and edible.) We watched TV, including DirectTV, had two fans, microwave, toaster, and 'frig. Having said all that, I feel deprived of a single story-idea event.

Christie Craig said...

Jo Anne,

Thanks for posting girl.

I'm glad you are okay. But those power surges sound frustrating. I'm up with power and running pretty normal so far.

And yup, we gotta laugh. It's that are cry and I don't cry pretty.

Take care. And hey, get that big screen soon.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Francyne,

The boy would have eaten you out of house and home in no time.

I swear he eats enough for an army.

As for that story idea, you know what hubby said after he caught the grill on fire, don't you?

He said, "But hey, it will make a good blog."

He now thinks his doing stupid things is excusable because I use them.

Thanks for posting girl.

CC

nancykaybowden said...

Christie, you are so funny! I can HEAR you TELLING the tale! I was wondering how it happened you were here for Ike and gone afterward! :)

About the cats... It was you, wasn't it, who posted the sign on the corner of Champion Forest and Louetta directing ALL evacuating cats to the shelter at the Craigs' house the night before the storm??? :)

Christie Craig said...

Hey Nancy,

So I write like I talk, huh? Southern and sarcastic? I didn't post that notice. I think it was some Alpha cat who did it.

Thanks for stopping by girl. And I'm glad you got your power back.

CC

TJ Bennett said...

Oh my gawd, Christie. You are TOO funny. These things could only happen to you. :-)

TJB (still laughing)

Christie Craig said...

Thanks TJ.

But anytime anyone would like to take some of these obligated "could only happen to you" situations away from me, I'll be happy to hand them over.

Thanks for stopping by.

CC