Monday, September 22, 2008


Marooned here some six days now, amongst the storm's rubble. The Captain and Her Majesty are anchored in Mobile Bay at last word. I returned to Houston to assess the damage and salvage what I could on Wednesday the 17th. About half of the first floor had been soaked in water, with most items in the master bedroom still drenched (and pretty stinky). So much for the curled deck planks (kicking ourselves for not heeding the Captain's suggestion to use only teak). All the wet bedclothes, rugs, mattress, books, papers, blankets, throws, pillows, pictureframes, et cetera went into the yard to add some redneck appeal to the place. It was pretty swanky.

It was hard work under the infernal tropical sun, and I developed an ague which has plagued me ever since. On Saturday the Top Brass showed up and my dad even brought his big Stihl with the logging bar (that's [STEEL] for the lumberjack newbies out there). Mom swabbed the decking, which was pretty gross by that time, with loads of Pine Sol. Fun all around!

There was minimal damage to the second floor, apart from the shattered sheetrock from the impact of the pine. Thankfully Cap'n Jack's quarters are pristine. Boy, would he be cranky if that weren't the case (his Painter's Mate would probably be even moreso, since he just finished that room).

No insurance adjuster yet, and still no power. That flintlock with the one shot is looking pretty fine, now...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Most Polite Hurricane Ever

Jack's home port is Houston proper (travel to the sea is a major hassle during rush hour, let me tell you). That said, the weather report early last week saying Hurricane Ike was headed to Mexico or South Texas wasn't that earth shattering. But darn it if every time we checked the path the thing had moved north. By Wednesday evening, the track was locked in precisely to our back porch. There was talk of it strengthening to Cat-4. The crew was, well, concerned.

The Captain took immediate action: we set upon all the ship's stores we could find, loaded up the crew's chests in the Chevy longboat, and lashed everything down for riding out a storm. By Thursday mid-morning, we pulled anchor and set all sails before the wind in haste (after fighting light traffic to get to the seashore, of course). It was a right fine morning to be sure, although it was exceeding hot and sticky. We ran full sail until we neared the town of le baton rouge or "Red Stick" that the abominable French occupy. By that time, many others (probably French, by the salty look of them) were fleeing the coming storm with their pastries and cigarettes, and a voyage that should have taken 8 hours turned into a little over 12. The Captain had charted out to Mobile, and really held it together until about 15 minutes before we arrived. All heck broke loose as I guess the stress of the long passage finally got to him.

Back in Houston, the brunt of the storm ended up passing right over the house during the early morning hours on Saturday. We lost two large trees, one trashing the fence, the other of which now rests on the house itself. A few things here to note: First, and most important, everyone's safe. Secondly, from what we hear, the pine didn't slice through the roof. So it could be much, much worse. Many of our neighbors weren't as fortunate. Thanks to our neighbors Kay and Edwin for their eyewitness accounts. The power is still out from our latest information. We'll head back towards home when that's fixed.

One odd story, this from the neighbors - it seems dozens of "storm tourists" are very enamored with our house, driving by and taking pictures and video of the damage. Ah to be there to either extract a piece of eight or two (for the Captain's piggy bank) or brandish a cutlass, I can't decide. Gory pictures to come!

Also: I got a call late Friday night, and the voice on the other end wanted to know if we had evacuated. I explained that I had, and asked who was on the line.
"This is Ike."
"The Hurricane?" I asked.
"Yeah I just wanted to know if you had evacuated, I'm here in Montrose and wanted to check in with as many people as I can. I'm a little drunk, and we're all here having a good time here. Where are you?"
"That's funny, I was just running from you. But we're well out of your reach now, sorry."
"But where are you? Not in Houston?"
"Mobile, Alabama," I said.
"Oh, well yeah, that's good - and you're right, that's pretty far out of the way. OK, I need to check on some more people, be safe!"

For a hurricane that caused billions in damage, I do have so say that I didn't expect it to be that polite. Or for it to give courtesy calls. Or for it to party in Montrose. It goes to show that we have a long, long way to go in hurricane research.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Two Things

If you were raised in certain parts of Texas, there were two things: Church, and the Dallas Cowboys. Not to say that there weren't other subjects to dominate your time (my unnatural obsession with ice hockey comes to mind). But we're talking about institutions. Cultural touchstones. Things that everyone from bank presidents to 9 year-olds take part in equally, and with as much enthusiasm.

I'm proud to announce that Jack notched firsts in both, and all in one day. First he sailed over to church about five after ten, which isn't shabby for a four-week old. Mom got all his nice clothes on, about the baby equivalent of black-tie, and sensing this, Jack spit up all over them. We then strapped him in the car seat, a bit damp from the wet washcloth treatment from the spit up incident, and we were off to Memorial CofC. Getting a newborn into the car seat is fairly easy, you just pour them in, and strap their little NASCAR harness on. Getting them out is WAY more involved, and reminds me of handling a comatose octopus. Now I know what the rink operations dude for the Red Wings must feel like during playoff season.

Once in the pew, Jack immediately falls asleep, arms out rail-straight, and doesn't move for at least an hour. Not one whit. Insert humor about the effects of David's (very good) sermon here.

On to the secular part of our show, the Dallas Cowboys. I've been taking a lot of heat down here from Texans' fans for my particular football allegiance. This was a shock to me, since I was under the impression the Texans were an imaginary football team. I mean, who knew? Drawing particular ire has been the passing on of this affiliation to my son. Tough cookies, people, he's a Cowboys fan under Rule of Fandom #4, Inheritance of Team Affiliation from a Parent. Jack, although very pleased at the severe drumming of the Cleveland Browns, was pretty fussy during the game over a few dropped passes and an uncalled roughing the passer perpetrated upon Tony Romo, Jack's favorite Cowboy. Cowboys win 28-10, Romo with 320 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, Jack with 2 DD (Dirty Diapers), 2 SU (spit ups), 1 DF (duck fit).

This week Jack has ordered signal flags displayed thanking the following visitors on board: Nick and Teresa, Jason and Valerie, my work buddy Jim Konte and also Meredith and Rosemary. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone, as the Captain has threatened me with forty lashes if so.

Finishing out the week of firsts, Jack had his first bottle feeding (you shouldda heard THAT burp), and then hit the couch a lot with dad for first screenings of Star Wars, Dirty Harry, Apocalypse Now and Magnum Force, interspersed with speeches from the RNC. Hoo-ah!