Or How I Learned That I Can Survive If I Miss A Few Baseball Games
By Joe Morgan’s Birthday (Sept 19), it was clear that Hurricane Rita was gonna head into the gulf and by the next day, looked like Texas was gonna get hit somewhere. I was keeping in mind what had happened to Mississippi and Louisiana and some of our relatives who had lost their homes and a few others who had lost their lives.
So Monday, I went out and got plenty of batteries (it’s too freaking hot for candles) and water and diapers and an extra can opener and started working on plans to evict Husband from his Chair and get him thinkin of movin on out. By Tuesday, they were showing a 175 MPH monster storm headed right for Freeport which would wipe out Galveston, Texas City, League City and destroy a LOT of Houston, including Hobby Airport and flood out the Ships Channel, Sims Bayou, all the Trinity flood plains and most likely even worse.
Mama and a few of her friends and siblings left for Dallas, and Mama wanted me to come with her, but I wasn’t going ANYWHERE without my dogs and finding family who will agree to take you plus 3 little kids AND 3 large dogs (and 1 small yapper with an attitude – a 10 pound terrier cross who couldn’t seem to learn that picking fights with a dog 10 times his size ain’t real too smart) ain’t real too easy. People are more tolerant AFTER you are homeless…
I knew things were bad because the cell phones weren’t working real too well because of overloading, but I called relatives who didn’t have OTHER family from Katrina with them and Husband’s mother’s oldest sister and her husband agreed to let ALL of us stay with them as long as we kept the dogs tied up. (I was hoping they had forgot how noisy 3 little kids are…)
But there was one large problem – Husband. Getting that boy to go anywhere is tough enough, but getting him to go somewhere when he ain’t gonna be sleeping in his own bed at the end of the day is near to impossible and I knew I had to outmanage him. They had been talking about evacuating Galveston and I mentioned it to Husband who yawns and says, well, it NEVER floods this part of Houston. Yeah, well, all KINDS of places flooded in Allison 3 years ago where it never flooded because the storm quit moving and dumped like 3 feet of rain downtown, and power goes out and how we gonna deal with the heat for like a few weeks and what if the sewers don’t work and… Now Baby he sez, let’s not worry about it, the storm might could just go back to New Orleans or something, youneverknow.
Time for a pinch hitter. So Wednesday morning, I pack up everything I think we might could want/need in the car trunk, get an extra bag of dog food, get toys and books ready and wait for him to get home. I look upset. After all, the phones haven’t been working all day, Sisterwoman dragged Brotherman off to Austin and even my brothers Playa and the Deuce have flown out to stay with girls they know and of course, the dogs are crazy – they ALWAYS know when something up and they been whining and upset all day. Da Bull, our youngest, he KNOW something up, too, and he already been through plenty with all the people we had taken in and who left from Katrina and he clinging to me all day, wanting to be carried all the time (and he’s 31 pounds of solid kid, too) and throwing more fits than usual, even for him, and Husband stressed from work – says he has to go in tomorrow.
Neither one of us sleeps real too good. I tell him in the morning that I’m going to have to go – don’t know WHAT I’m gonna do, not even knowing maybe for weeks if he alive or dead and maybe he won’t know if something happened to us, and I look like I’m trying not to cry (hidden ball trick, hehhehheh).
I tell him I’m very worried, cuz I have NO idea how I’m gonna fit 3 large dogs and one yapping dog in his box and 3 little kids and dog food and a cooler full of food and papers and diapers and books and toys in the car. This, of course, is sending in the lefty pitcher to face a lefty, knowing the other guys will call in a righty, forgetting that THIS lefty can get righties out (hehhehheh.)
Husband, being a male, will “come up” with the brilliant suggestion that I take Da Bull and the 3 big dogs in the car and he take the twins and the 1 small yapping dog in the truck, but he again says, weakly, that maybe the storm won’t come close and what if the roof falls in during the hurricane and he needs to fix it. Or something. I just look at him, and say something like I don’t even know if the Mc Donalds gonna have power and what will he eat if the power goes out and I’ll be worrying he gonna starve (it would take that boy MONTHS to starve, but he don’t think so) and I KNOW he gonna be thinking about it all day and I’m planning on having everything ready so as we can leave RIGHT after dinner.
But to my surprise, he walks thru the door at 2:30 and says, grimly, the gas stations are closing, there’s a long line of traffic on the Eastex and the Katy and we need to get out NOW and I better get packing. Now, I’ve been packed and ready for HOURS, and of course, he tells me I ain’t thought things out, how am I gonna fit 3 little kids and 3 large dogs and 1 small yapping dog in his box and a cooler and dog food and toys and food and papers and diapers in 1 car and that’s the trouble with me, I don’t think things out and good thing he’s around cuz what makes more sense is for him to take the twins and the 1 small yapping dog in his box in the truck along with the coolers and the water and the dog food and besides, he knows all the county roads to get out cuz all the main ones gonna be all clogged. Well, at LEAST he gonna be going and that’s ONE male I don’t hafta be all worried about…
So off we go and (to make a VERY long and hot trip short) it’s late when we pull up at his Aunties place. We’ve never met them, and they are a little surprised when they see how Big the big Dogs are. Dogs have never in their lives been tied up outside and Barry Lamar Dog complains about it in loud Dog swear words and pretty soon Babe Ruth Dog and Phat Stuff Dog joinin in and it IS pretty late and I have to work pretty hard to get dogs to lie down on their beds (yes I DID remember them) and shut UP before neighbors with shotguns show up.
Meanwhile, Husband trying to get tired wired kids to lie down and go to sleep and Auntie and Uncle fixing to try to go back to bed. So we put kevin F. Dog (the yapper) in his box in the kitchen – he the ONLY one interested in sleep, FINALLY get the kids to lie down and then Husband and I lie down on the small uncomfortable bed. I KNOW he thinkin bout his OWN bed and how he should have been man enough to calm hysterical me down, but he smartly don’t say nothin because the bed bettern the floor. So I put my arm over him and tell him how GLAD I am he’s here with me and now I don’t hafta worry. I can feel him smiling in the dark. He sez – do you REALLY think I can’t take care of myself? (HECK no – I remember how things was before I got hold of him). So I just say, sure – it’s just that I do a better job of it. And besides, I KNOW he be going crazy if the phones not working and he can’t talk to me and I don’t want him there with no food and no AC living the nag-free life. He chuckles and pulls me close. Guys like to be all macho and stuff but they worry worse than us girls and he know I know it…
Let’s say that keepin the dogs tied up outside didn’t work real too good because there’s things called cats, which they HATE, so I had to get up a few times to shut them up and finally I had to put them in the kitchen.
It’s really tough to live in someone else’s home. I KNOW the relatives we took in after Katrina were counting the seconds until they got out, and we got along pretty well and in fact, only kevin F. Dog was the only evacuee we still hadn’t found a home for…
But anyway, Uncle stayed in front of the TV watching CNN and the Weather Channel except for going to the bathroom and so NO baseball. (And no cartoon network or videos…) And they didn’t have a computer, neither, so I couldn’t check out the games. But it was more than a little tough keeping 3 little kids pretty quiet and we watched the Weather Channel and played games.
Pretty soon, it was obvious that Rita was gonna hit Beaumont, 100 miles east of Houston and that we’d just get some tropical storm force winds and some rain. Husband was TRYING not to say I told you so, but he was already VERY uncomfortable on that bed and didn’t want to be on the couch after we got home, so he managed to keep mouth SHUT although of course I KNEW what he thinking. In fact, Friday after dinner, he keeping his mouth SO shut I KNOW something up.
And I think it’s more than Uncle refusing to take eyes off Weather Channel (and how WEIRD is it to see downtown Houston completely empty,) more than Auntie taking a liking to kevin F. Dog and wanting us to tie up dogs in 100 degree garage, more than Auntie and Uncle, um, surprised at how much food 5 people eat (and believe me, we brought a LOT of food with us), more than Auntie and Uncle, um, surprised at how much, um, energy 3 small kids have and me saying NO they NOT bad. It’s he wants to be in his own bed in his own house, heat or no heat, electricity or no electricity, gas or no gas.
So I am NOT surprised like he think I’m gonna be when he shakes me awake at 5 AM and says, cmon baby, if we get up and get on the road by 6 we can be back home in just a few hours. I say – and WHAT are we gonna do for gas? He say he went out and filled up the car and the truck yesterday when the kids and I were taking a nap (he ain’t the only one can’t sleep on that bed). I was surprised – didn’t think there was any gas stations in the state of Texas had gas, but I guess Auntie and Uncle lookn forward to peace and quiet just as bad as Husband lookin forward to his own bed and Uncle knows some folks have gas generators and gas on their farms for tractors, so we full. So I said, and what we gonna do if we got no electricity? He ready for that. He sez, well, I got keys to Brotherman’s place, you got keys to your parents – SOMEONE gotta have electricity. (Yeah I know all the politicians telling us to stay put but you don’t see THEM doin it. Yeah, I DO notice that all the politicians finding time to complain about how there a traffic problem with 4 million people all trying to get out at the same time.) He not sure what we gonna do if there’s no electricity there neither and he know I know he ain’t got that part figgered out yet, but he wanna go home SO bad.
Well, I figger I’ll be fair – he left Houston with me when he didn’t wanna, so I’ll leave and go back with him even though I’m not sure it’s the best idea. So we get up and shower right quick – who knows if/when we get another one. Dogs just KNOW we gonna go home and they delighted – we quick take them outside before they can make noise (waking up kevin F. Dog who gonna yap and wake up Auntie and Uncle – he’s now sleeping in their room), get the car and truck repacked, get kids up, to bathroom, then into car and truck.
GO HOME? says Da Bull, hopefully. That’s right, I say to him. Shhhhhhhhhh we tell the twins, be quiet, we don’t wake up Auntie and Uncle. But it’s so hard for little kids to be quiet and Auntie and Uncle hear us and get up and we tell them we can go back to our own home now and they pretend they sorry to see us go and tell us we should wait until later when the rain and wind gone, but we hug them and thank them for their kindness. And believe me, it is REAL kindness. And so I tell them it real obvious to me they taken with kevin F. Dog and if they like to keep him, they welcome to. Maybe it ain’t right to make a thank you present of something you don’t want, but one person’s trash is another person’s treasure as my Mama always says and we been tryin to find a home for that dog since he come from Mississippi so I guess you might could say Rita did him a favor.
So we went back home. Ohmigawd don’t nothin feel better than getting back to your very own home. I tease Husband about it, but you know, I feel the same way… Of COURSE it took more than a few hours, with the wind and the rain and stopping (little kids) but good thing we had gas because I didn’t see NO open stations or even convenience stores.
Stuff had blown into the yard and a large branch had cracked offn one of the trees, but the roof was fine and so was the garage and the shutters were fine. No broken windows and no leaking anything. Electricity was on when we got home and if it had been off, the stuff in the fridge and freezer hadn’t had time to go bad before the power cut back on. Only thing didn’t work was the computer – not sure why. Cell phone circuits STILL busy.
So after dinner, I said to Husband I “needed” to check out my parents’ place and he grinned and said go ahead. I needed to write, to check scores, to get myself together. (And to call Mama and Daddy and tell them we OK and back home and to call my brothers and make sure they OK and to call Husband’s brothers and sisters and make sure they OK and to call my friends and make sure they OK. For starters…)
And here I am. The streets INCREDIBLY quiet – guess the highways were more crowded earlier, but it seems to me at least half the the folks in the city not here. Houston is the fourth largest city in America and we just had a real close escape from a death sentence. It’s really hard to believe the damage some wind and water can do. And in fact, it’s hard to even think about baseball right now.
I’m just more grateful than I have words for that I have a city and a home to go home to. But you know, it’s funny – I KNOW that like so many of our family and so many people I met who lost their city and their home, that I am first grateful that I didn’t lose my family, dogs or health, and that if we HAD lost our home and city, like our family and so many others made homeless by Katrina, we would have picked up and figgered SOME way to start over again…