Monday, September 29, 2008

We have power!

Yes! We have power! While I was at work on Friday, I got a phone call from the nanny saying that the lights were working. I wasn't sure whether or not to believe her, but Fellan got on the phone and said, "We have bright power!" and Marxo told me that the fans were "going really fast!"

I still hated to get my hopes up, but after I had put in my time for the day, I hurried home to see if it could possibly be true. When I drove up, I pushed the garage door opener and it opened. I just about started crying.

We spent the rest of the weekend trying to get things put back together. It took me two full days to finish all the laundry and we're still not completely "there", but we did retrieve our salvaged food from the in-laws' apartment and have stocked up again with the normal essentials: milk, cottage cheese, jelly, grapes, and parmesan.

Tonight, we have to head over to the inlaws' place to help them get their TV up and running again. They returned last night to find their place just as we and the apartment management had described it (livable, but not really completely put together) and were horrified that their TV wasn't working. Oh for geez...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday - Happy Birthday, Mom!

It's also my husband and mine's wedding anniversary. We got married on my mom's birthday, which also happened to be her father's birthday. It's a special day. :)

One of my friends here at work was pregnant and I was really hoping she would end up having the baby on the 25th, too. But, the baby just couldn't wait - she was born yesterday. I mean, that's good and all, because my friend had been hoping the baby would come for the last 2 weeks and she was really ready to get it over-with, but still, it would have been cool to have yet another special event on the 25th. I guess you can't get everything you want.

Including power. Our area is now a small black hole in a sea of light and normalcy. I called Centerpoint yesterday just to make sure they know they missed us. I really don't know what their excuse was because Marxo was trying to talk to me and I couldn't hear the lady, but at least we're in their system now.

Last night was much cooler and we didn't have to sleep with the generator on. That meant we got nearly a full-night's sleep without having to empty the AC unit. (Except for the fact that my husband stayed up until 1am working on his laptop and I got up at 4:45am to get to work early...)

Anyway, as much as I complain, I keep telling myself that there are people who are a lot worse off than we are. We have many offers from friends and many other options available to us. And we've worked ourselves into kind of a routine. So, we're thinking even when we do get power, we might just boycott electricity out of spite! Har, har, har...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another thing I've learned...

A cold shower in Houston is really not that bad.

(no power yet)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Beer for Centerpoint

I've seen many make-shift signs in the last couple of weeks, all over town, made out of pieces of board that say "Line Down" and an arrow to where ever Centerpoint would need to make the repair.

One house down the street from us tried to kick it up a notch, though. They have the typical "Line Down" sign, plus they added another in big red letters "Free Beer for Centerpoint".

I guess it might be doing a little bit of good - last night was the first night in a week that we saw Centerpoint trucks in our neighborhood and they actually seemed to be doing something.

I feel something strange. I think it might be a glimmer of hope.

Monday, September 22, 2008

If it's not one thing, it's two.

I just got a text message from my husband. He tells me that there's a car accident at the intersection a block away from our house. The stoplight is not working - no power, remember? - and people have been doing a pretty good job of treating it as a four-way stop. However, it seems that a couple of vehicles have become entangled.

A car and a Centerpoint Energy Truck. (you know, the people who are supposed to be restoring our power?!)

How's that for irony?

(not to mention that's the first sighting of a Centerpoint Truck in our neighborhood for a week...)

Day 10

Today is Day #10 with no power. Some friends of ours got their power restored last Friday, so they offered us their generator. We've used it for the past two nights and it makes sleeping a little more bearable, but it's not nearly as great as we thought it would be. On Saturday night, the generator ran out of gas at 4:30am and the portable A/C unit had to be emptied of water twice, plus, at one point, we were both convinced that there was someone trying to either steal the generator, or at least break into our back yard.

Last night, we tried to turn on the generator later (we made the kids go to sleep without A/C!) and my husband only had to empty the water from the A/C unit once. When I left at 5:15 this morning, the generator was still running. My husband is going to try to get some work done at home this morning while using the generator to power the TV and computer. Computer for him, TV for the kids.

One thing we have noticed, however, is that without TV, Fellan has turned into a completely different child! On Saturday, at lunchtime, he spent the entire time coloring a picture. It's the first time he's ever sat still long enough to color an entire picture! We framed it.

And yesterday, he was helping Marxo with one of her 100-piece puzzles. We're thinking that we may have to ban TV from the house from now on.

Yeah, right, let's see how long that lasts...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hurricane Ike

We're all safe after Hurricane Ike! Our house doesn't seem to have sustained any damage, but we still don't have power, so we're not actually sure that the electrical system is OK. I assume so, but you never know...

We recently bought a little house across the street to serve as my husband's office and it took a bit of a beating. There's a cupola-thing at the top of the roof that covers the "ridge vent" of the attic. A huge pine tree next to the house broke and sheared the cupola off, leaving a 1ft x 3ft hole in the roof. Of course, rain went throughout the house on Saturday morning as the hurricane made its way through and the roof was too wet all day Saturday to attempt any kind of semi-permanent fix.

And then it rained about 3 more inches on Sunday morning, so we had even more water in the house. The hardwood floors are warped along the edges of each board and we spent Monday afternoon ripping the carpeting out. (or was that Sunday afternoon? I don't know - the days are all running into each other. I think it was Sunday. Whatever.)

As far as the actual hurricane went, it wasn't all that scary. We spent the night in our downstairs bedroom, which is fairly well-protected. We lost power at about 9:30pm - way before the storm actually hit. And we spent most of the night dozing and being awakened by big BOOM's of transformers blowing throughout the neighborhood. When we got up the next morning (at 5:30, because Fellan woke up and excitedly began asking every two minutes if we could turn on the camping lantern yet?!), we went upstairs to find our street completely covered with water, and rising.

During Tropical Storm Allison when all of Houston was flooded, our house came within just a couple of inches of being flooded. And considering the fact that there has been more suburban development, the storm surge was supposed to be 20 feet (meaning no place for the water to run off), and they were predicting 6 to 12 more inches of rain to fall upstream of us, we began to worry and started moving things out of the downstairs room to the 2nd floor - just in case.

Shortly after we moved almost everything, the water began receding. (of course!) We still breathed a sigh of relief, because that also meant that the little house across the street wouldn't be flooded (little did we know that there was already water damage throughout the house).

We spent the day Saturday listening to the emergency radio, trying to find out the extent of the damage to Houston, in general, and trying to prevent Fellan from turning on the camping lantern during daylight hours.

That evening, we decided to go check out my in-laws' apartment which is only a couple of miles away from our house. We drove up and were amazed to find out that it had power! Back we went to our house to get some clothes and PJ's so that we could spend the night at their place. The only problem was that almost all the carpeting was soaking wet. Every step made a squishing sound and it was beginning to smell. We didn't care. It was a place with air conditioning and we could get a good nights' sleep! Due to the worsening smell, however, we haven't stayed there since, but it has been nice to have a place to store some food in a working refrigerator.

For some reason, on Sunday, I fully expected to have power back. I was disappointed on Monday when we still didn't have power. And then I called my company hotline, which informed me that I was supposed to go to work on Tuesday! So then, I was really mad. I barely slept all night, carefully choosing the words that I would use in a scathing e-mail to my manager the next day.

So, on Monday, when we still didn't have power, we decided we'd better get some cordless drills so that we could start some repairs on the little house. Part of the wooden fence around it had also fallen and we needed to get it uprighted and screwed back in place. Of course, the tools needed to be charged for 9 hours before first use, so we headed back to my husband's parents' apartment to plug them in.

The one good thing about Monday was that a cool front blew through town. It has been unseasonable cool and nice since sometime Sunday night (?) - that has been the one thing that has kept us semi-sane, I think, this week.

On Tuesday, I grudgingly went to work - very early so that I could get some hours in before leaving early. I went home at lunchtime and helped my husband as he crawled up onto the roof of the little house and reattached the cupola. We spent the rest of Tuesday afternoon taking the boards off the windows of the little house.

Yesterday, again, I came to work, but I got here at about 5:45am. On a normal day, that would then mean that I could leave work at 4:30pm (10-hour day, 45-minute lunch). However, I basically worked through lunch and left at 4:00pm. I got home just in time to begin helping my husband put the fence back together. We had tried on Tuesday to just lift the section of fence back up in place, but it was tweaked somehow and it wouldn't fit. So, the husband and kids had spent the day removing it, taking it apart, getting all the old nails out of it, and they were finally ready to put it back together. At 7:00pm last night the little house finally looked (at least from the outside) like its old self. Of course, then we had to go find some food - we went to one of the two restaurants that are open in our neighborhood - and finally made it home at almost 9:00.

Marxo is completely exhausted by this point. She hasn't had a nap since Sunday, I think. She could barely stay awake thru dinner last night and I poured her into bed (which is a Thermarest pad on the floor of our bedroom) when we got home.

I guess the good thing about not having power is that it's forcing us to go to bed early. We've been going to bed every night at around 9:00 and I've been getting up at 5:00 so that I can come to work early and leave early. We've discovered that when you go to bed with the sun, there are really not very many hours after normal "work hours" to get anything done. I was actually hoping to wash some dishes by daylight when I got home from work yesterday, but still haven't gotten that accomplished.

Everyone else in my group at work has power back and yesterday I was realizing that they've completely gone back to life as normal. They can cook, they can shower, they have a working refrigerator. It's amazing to realize what a difference it makes to your mental state when those seemingly simple conveniences are taken away from you.

I desperately need to find a laundromat tomorrow and we need to find a good source of ice. The ice maker at my in-laws' apartment only makes about 20 cubes per day, so we begged some ice off the restaurant last night as we were leaving.

I checked the Centerpoint Energy website this morning and discovered that we are in the zone of Houston that is expected to have power sometime after Monday, September 22. Yesterday, I had finally gotten myself used to the idea that we would probably not have power for another week, but I thought I was over-estimating. I guess I'm going to have to resign myself to every-other-day showers at the inlaws' smelly apartment for awhile longer.

Left to their own devices this morning while my husband was downstairs eating breakfast, the kids seem to be coping well...