Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Longhorns kill Razorbacks

I haven't blogged in quite a while. I was on quite a streak with all the hurricane updates. I went back to work on Monday and the kids came back on Tuesday. Getting back to work was not as bad as it seemed the night before we started back. I feel relatively back in the swing of things. Houston is recovering. It was only a couple of days ago that the majority of the lights in my neighborhood came back on. Most street lights are working again, which makes traveling around a lot more quick and less painful.

I had a pretty full weekend. I went to some of my Young Life girls' volleyball games. I got confused and thought the JV game was at 6:30 but it turned out to be 5:30. I had come to watch the JV girls but I did get to watch the varsity lose. It was fun to watch my girls but it would have been more fun if they had won.

We have a staff volleyball game at school on Friday. I am ready to kick some butt! It should be fun. I can get a bit frustrated during non-competitive volleyball games, though. I worked as a volleyball referee in college and I know the rules pretty well. Non-competitive volleyball means that a lot of illegal moves are allowed and that can frustrate me. I have to keep the frustration inside, though, or I will look like an overcompetive jerk. With all that being said, it should be fun.

On Saturday, I helped my fellow teacher, Mr. Z pack up some things in his apt. His apt. suffered severe damage from the hurricane and was already growing mold. It's always interesting to go to some one's home for the first time. You get a whole new picture of them as a person. Mr. Z had at least 1000 DVDs and approximately 2000 CDs. Pretty crazy! He clearly loves movies and music.

In the afternoon, I watched UT annihilate Arkansas. I am sure my Razorback loving cousin, David was not happy. After the game, Sarah, John and I hit some golf balls at the driving range. I was better than I expected. The only other time I tried to hit a golf ball, it resulted in the ball somehow ending up behind me. This time I did hit some fairly terrible shots but there were some pretty good ones mixed in. I might have to try the real kind of golf one of these days.

Today I hung out with my rents for a bit. Then I tried a new church with a couple of my Young Life kids. I am not sure what I thought about the church overall. I wasn't too into the worship. I found it a bit slow and cheesy. The inside of the church was cool and kind of classy/trendy. The service had a lot of people around my age and is located near my house which are both pluses. I just don't know. It's like I am looking for some sort of perfect church and that's just not possible. I guess all ny time in YWAM has made me pretty picky.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not Back to Normal

Hurricane Ike’s effects are still obvious around town. The most telling reminder is the significant amount of people who are still without power. Tonight was the first time I had been out at night since the hurricane. I drove about 30 miles south on I45 to Sarah and John’s house in Pearland. Some people claim that the hurricane basically followed I45 from south to north. There was certainly a lot of damage to be seen along that route. There were many signs torn to shreds or knocked to the ground. The sign for “The Ritz,” a seedy strip club was almost completely destroyed. I wasn’t too upset about that one.

I got a different picture of the area as I drove home on the freeway. It seemed as if there was a mile of stores and homes with electricity followed by a mile of stores and homes without. There was almost a pattern formed by it. I can only imagine that from a bird’s eye view, the city must closely resemble a checkerboard at night. My own neighborhood seems to have more people without power than with power. The sections without power are eerily dark and give me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is crazy how dark it gets with no street lights.

I drove by my school and saw that it did have power. I am assuming that school will resume on Monday, though I won’t know for sure until Friday. My old school district, CCISD, which is further south sustained a lot of damage at several schools and won’t be opening for at least another week. I am not sure how I feel about going back to school. I barely got to know my students before this happened so I fear it will be like starting all over again. I found out today that the apartment complex where about 25% of my students live was significantly damaged during the storm. Even in the dark I could see pieces of the roof missing as I drove by. I hope my students didn’t lose possessions and weren’t traumatized by the whole thing. To be honest, I would guess a good number of them went to Mexico. Not a bad idea.

The lines for gas are finally gone. I am so glad I was able to hold out until today to get gas. What a waste it would have been to wait in one of those four hour + lines! I am still finding humor in the things that the stores are running low on after the hurricane. Frozen foods tend to be popular as many people are restocking their refrigerators to replace the food that spoiled without electricity. Board games have been cleared out at the Target near my house. I think that’s because young hipsters like myself, turn to board games when they have extra time and limited electronics. Snack food also seems to be a hot item, though the “hot” versions of chips are the only ones left on the shelves. I guess hot cheetos aren’t as popular post-hurricane.

People are doing fairly well at driving with all the broken, fallen or displaced traffic signals. Every intersection is pretty much a four way stop. This can be very tedious at times. My roommate’s twenty minute drive to work has turned into an hour drive much to her dismay. I am starting to have problems with the lights that are fixed. When I see a red light, I feel compelled to stop and then go. Luckily common sense has overcome this urge but it can be difficult to get used to the normal way of driving. I am sure it will take a while for all the traffic signals to get fixed. Some seem to simply lack power but others have been blown over, knocked down, spun in the opposite direction or tilted.

I have heard plenty of stories about people dramatically affected by this hurricane. Andrew Thompson, a friend from college, has lost his whole house. Apparently he lost all the shingles on his roof, which caused the roof to link and then to fully cave in. He and his wife just had their second baby this summer and also have a two-year old. I can’t imagine what this must be like. Please pray for his family. My parents know of a family that had eight feet of water in their home. This is true of several of the coastal neighborhoods. I can’t even imagine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurricane Aftermath

I don't have internet at my house right now but I can't get too annoyed by that since I do have power, water and sewer unlike a lot of people around here. My parents' internet works so I am trying to come over here to check my email. I plan to try to write in this blog more for the people who might be interested in how Houston is doing after Hurricane Ike.

Things are a lot crazier than I could have anticipated. Though I was fortunate to get power back within about 24 hours, more than a million people in this area are still in the dark. This includes some people in my neighborhood, the Heights. It is clear that the power company is trying their best to restore power as quickly as possible, though the media is giving them nothing but grief. Apparently it depends on why your power is out as to when you will get it back. I feel very bad for the areas in my neighborhood where a tree wider than I am tall is resting on their power lines. It will be a long time before that can be fixed. All over my neighborhood, there are pockets of people without power. I almost feel guilty for having it already.

Stores that have power are open but more than half seem to be without power. I drove by my old work, Soundwaves and was surprised to see it closed. That place never closes but I guess without power, there are not a lot of options. I feel so bad for all the hourly workers that cannot work right now all across the city. I really don't know how they will be able to make up this financial loss. I am very thankful that I am on salary and don't suffer any sort of financial detriment. HISD is closed until at least Monday. Apparently a lot of their schools still do not have power. I heard that mine doesn't seem to be damaged but I don't know if they have power. It's weird to have this pseudo-vacation right now. I really don't know what to do with myself.

As for other Houston news, Allen Parkway where it goes under Studemont is still completely underwater. It's hard to believe that it hasn't drained like the nearby bayous. Gas is a precious commodity right now and I am doing my best to conserve it. The day after the storm, the lines were 40 cars long and could take more than 4 hours to get through the line. Now, the lines are about ten cars long. There are a lot of gas stations that are not operational due to storm damage or power outage. I am trying to hold off on getting gas until the lines end.

I went to Border's today and it was like a make-shift shelter. There was a sign in front that said people could use internet and charge cell phones. They had set up tables and chairs and people were everywhere getting their electronic fix. I would probably be camped out there too if I had no power or water. All the open restaurants are full of people, though I think many went out of town. The grocery stores have been ransacked of certain goods but have plenty of others. Apparently people primarily need chips and coke in these trying times.

Again, I will try to update this blog more regularly so that people can get a feel for Houston during these crazy time. Thanks for the concerned emails and phone calls. Cell phone service is very spotty right now so don't be offended if I don't return your call.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Tales

So, unless you've been without internet or TV, you have probably heard about Hurricane Ike. Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday night and it's been chaos ever since. Hurricanes have hit here before but none since I have become a semi-responsible adult.

School was canceled on Friday though the hurricane didn't hit until late at night. It was good to give us time to get prepared. We moved stuff away from windows and readied my prayer room as a safe place to ride out the storm, if necessary.

I was already running a fever on Thursday at school so I welcomed the break from teaching. I spent most of Friday resting and pretty much slept through the hurricane. The noise and chaos of the hurricane scared my roommates into my prayer room as I slept through the maelstorm.

Millions of people lost power. We lost power for only about 24 hours. My parents didn't lose it at all. They were one of very few that didn't lose it at all. Other people in their small little town home neighborhood are without power. Some of them have stretched extension cords across the street from their powerless houses to a giving neighbor's who had power. It's kinda funny. I have been staying with my parents so I don't have to go without internet and cable TV.

I rode my bike around my neighborhood and was astounded at the damage done to trees and plants. Thankfully, most trees fell onto streets and yards and not houses. There were definitely some that did land on houses, though. It doesn't sound like many people were injured or killed, which is something to be thankful for.

In my neighborhood, you can only go a couple of blocks before you have to detour to avoid fallen tree limbs or an actual fallen tree. Some of the trees have fallen across power lines, which is why many people in my neighborhood don't have power.

Many major roads are still underwater and I haven't really ventured beyond a five mile radius. People are walking and riding bikes to inspect the damage. There is definitely a community feel. There are lines and lines of cars at every gas statsion. There are also really long lines at any store or restaurant that has enough power to be open. It's crazy to think that people really need something from Walgreen's badly enough to stand in a four hour line one day after the storm. We have known that Ike was coming for the almost a week and we all had plenty of time to prepare. And I thought I was a procrastinator....

Tonight there was a ruckus outside my parents' place. The street in front of their place is narrow and parking is only allowed on one side for good reason. We heard a commotion outside and decided to join the other gawkers. Two giant fire trucks were trying to get down the little street but having trouble because some yahoo had parked on the wrong side directly in front of a no parking sign. There was a large group of people crowded around bad-mouthing the parking offender. The coward didn't come out and the fire engine was forced to do a 46 point turn. It turns out that someone's candle had caught their shower curtain on fire. Luckily it wasn't too serious since it took the fire truck ten minutes to navigate a simple turn with the illegal parker.

We watched the spectacle for a bit and then went inside. About half an hour later we heard more commotion and of course, we went outside again. This time there were three cop cars. Apparently someone called the cops on the illegal parker. Now that the cops were involved, one of the neighbors suddenly realized whose car it was and knocked on their door. A few minutes later the law breaker slinked out to his car. I made sure to point him out. I am surprised he didn't get stoned.

It reminded me a lot of the episode of Seinfeld where George parks in the handicapped spot and an angry mob trashes his car. He's too embarassed/scared to admit that its his car. Unfortunately we didn't get to trash it. That would have been fun after all this hurricane stress.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting Ready for Hurricane Ike

My school was canceled today. Hurricane Ike is on its way so everything is closing. I am watching the news right now and they keep showing Galveston. I love Galveston and I have spent a lot of time there. It's crazy to see the waves crashing over the seawall. The seawall is 17 feet above sea level. These are some huge waves and the storm has not even arrived. This could be pretty bad for Galveston, not Katrina bad but bad nevertheless.

I would be enjoying this free day off from school but I am sick. I guess chillin' at home sick is better than teaching a class sick. I had to miss a day when Hurricane Gustav canceled my flight and I can't afford to take a sick day anytime soon. I am annoyed that I am sick. I thought that my sinus surgery this summer would prevent this from happening to me. I have a fever and I blow my nose every few minutes. Good times! I am hoping that by resting this weekend, I will be all better on Monday.

Before I was officially sick, we had our first Young Life club of the year. It went pretty well. There were a lot more boys than girls which is a result of Andres and Bronson hanging out at the high school more than me. I definitely need to spend more time there. A couple of my favorite girls were there, though. We played a game where kids had to find specified things from among the people in the crowd like cell phone, chewed gum and Jordan shoes. At the end of the game, they were told to find a "Princess Diary" VHS tape. One of the other leaders held it up and the two contestants had to fight to bring it to the front. The contestants were an athletic girl and a small guy. The guy got the tape first but then the girl totally tackled him and took him to the ground. It was amazing!!!We all cheered. She won the prize hands down.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Busy Weekend

I have had two busy weekends in a row- so busy that I haven't watched a college football game yet. Now, that's a shame! I have had fun, though.

On Saturday my mom and I threw a baby shower for my sister-in-law, Shella. We had good food and good times. Unlike most parties thrown by my mom, this one did not have a watermelon theme. The baby's room will be done in Noah's Ark so that was also the theme of the shower. Shella and the baby got a lot of loot. I have decided that I am only giving the baby mini adult clothes. I just really like it when babies look like mini adults. I got the kid who is supposed to be a boy named Samuel, four humorous t-shirts. "I'd Rather be Naked," "Don't look at me. That smell is coming from Daddy," "My mom is hot" and my favorite "Mi papa es macho." I am doing my best to guarantee that the kid is cool. That's an aunt's job, right?

We played a few games. Shella's friends, Erin and Jill were almost alarmingly good at the Celebrity Baby Name game. They won by a landslide. The middle aged woman really had no chance though Marilu inexplicably knew the names of all the Jolie-Pitts. We also played a game where three people had to race to finish Sprite in baby bottles. My mom participated and it was hilarious. She did get frustrated and opened the bottle instead of finishing it the legitimate way. Don't worry. I did get photos.

Then today my dad and I rode in the Tour de Pink. This is a bike ride that raises money for breast cancer research. This is clearly a cause near and dear to my heart after Sarah's experience with it last year. It's so much easier to ride long distances in a ride like this. It's easier not to give up when there are a lot of other people riding alongside of you and people cheering you along the route. There are also some great free snacks. One stop had mini peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some exquisite chocolate chip cookies. We rode 63 miles. I didn't feel like this was too shabby since it has been months since I have ridden more than 20. It was nice ot finally have a road bike for one of these events. It makes me excited about the MS150 in April.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav, you little scamp!

It's Monday night and I am in Mississippi. I was not supposed to be in Mississippi tonight. I was supposed to be at home getting ready for tomorrow, my sixth day of this school year. But, my plans have been thwarted by Gustav (the hurricane, not my lanky, loveable YWAM friend from Sweden.)

Sarah Morgan O'Bryan and I came to Jackson this weekend to visit our dear friends, Emily and Van. We had a great time and even got to see Eudora Welty's house, something I had been hoping to do since I first read her stream of conciousness short stories back in high school. We didn't do much besides go out to eat and hang out. This was fine by me since other than visiting Ms. Welty's ancestual home, my main purpose for visiting was quality time with good friends.

Sarah lives in Savannah and works as a junior high art teacher. We were very afraid that she would get stranded as well. Tomorrow is her first day of school and missing it would be very difficult. Luckily Savannah is in the opposite direction of the hurricane so her flight was not canceled. I was not so lucky. One good thing is that I made sure my classroom was ready in case something like this happened. Also my students are taking a fake TAKS (Texas standardized test) all day tomorrow. My position as test administrator could easily be performed by some sort of trained chimp or possibly a well-bathed hobo.

Although I appreciate this extra time with Van and Emily, this whole unexpected absence is throwing me off. I really wish I could just be in class tomorrow but there's really nothing I could do about it. I looked at other flights and they were about $600. No freaking way! I also thought about renting a car and driving to HOuston. The rates were reasonable and I was seriously considering doing it when I realized that in order to get from Mississippi to Texas, you have to cross through Louisiana and that's where the hurricane is. Not a smart idea. So, again, I have to sit back and deal with those things God throws at you that you can't control. And I really like to be in control.
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