Monday, September 26, 2005
My husband and I have moved to my uncle D's and aunt M's house. D&M had given their king sized bed over to my parents. My husband and I were going to be relegated to the living room, one of us on the sofa and one of us on the floor. I saved one of us from the floor by declaring there was room for one more body in the king sized bed. We still had no electricity but we had the generator and that was the room where the room sized air conditioner was. We used fans to funnel the cool air out to the other bedroom and the living room. It worked out pretty well at night, especially if you were on the AC end of the arrangement. So yes, people, I slept with my parents. I am not so ashamed of that as I am the fact that I guilted my mom into taking the middle because "she was the mama" and that is what mamas do. We all survived, the three of us, all laid out flat on our backs like we were "laid out on the cooling board". I told them on the second night that I was sure glad they were normal sized people so that there was still room left for me to join them. I am nearing fifty and yet, I am still such a blessed child!
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
My oldest turned 22 today. She was in Houston and I was in exile somewhere near Six Mile Creek, close to Dido Community, in rural Louisiana. We have found out from my niece that our houses are still standing, though it looks like every tree in my parents' yard is down. My son spent the night at our house Tuesday night, coming in past curfew from Arkansas, and being escorted to the house by someone in the DA's office. They were not playing around with having people loose and out on the streets. He had the presence of mind to snap a few photos with his phone and sent them to my daughter, who sent them to my nephew and sister.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
My husband and my uncle D were usually in charge of going into town to get supplies-- water, ice and MREs (military meals ready to eat). Opening an MRE is like digging into a Christmas stocking. It's full of little surprises. There is a plastic bag with a white thing in it that heats up when you add water to it. But first you have to put the food pouch in there. You add the water and then lean it on a "rock or something" (I kid you not, that is an exact quote from the instructions) so it can heat up. The water actually boils! And the steam coming out the top of the bag stinks, which was a bit of a deterrent to the enjoyment of my meal. I eventually learned not to hold the bag where I could smell that smell.
The food was generally good and I am a picky eater. As St. Casserole mentioned in one of her comments, the poppy seed pound cake was delicious. Well, maybe not "delicious", but tasty for something so flat that came out of a vacuum sealed tinfoil pouch. I also like the flattened (and dry) snack wheat bread and peanut butter. I have also heard the pumpkin pound cake was good, but I never got a meal that had that for desert.
Every package has a smaller plastic bag that usually contains coffee or tea mix and always has two little pieces of gum, a wet wipe, paper folded into a brown band that says Lighthouse. We first thought this was a paper dinner napkin but it is toilet tissue. We laughed, saying this must have been imported by someone who did not have a good grasp of the English language, and they meant to label the package Outhouse rather than Lighthouse. You have to get your humor where you can in situations like this. There were always a pack of matches included too--redneck air freshener for the "Lighthouse", I suppose.
(Now that I am back home, some of my fellow workers said they never chewed the gum because they heard it contained a laxative. I chewed the gum and can report no ill effects from the chewing of the gum.)
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Today a cool front came through. It was nice to be relieved of the heat for a while. My other uncle D came by to visit with us and I noticed that when he says "to make a long story short", it is done too late. We all sat around talking and visiting on the porch in near total darkness (there was an oil lamp burning inside the house). He left about an hour after our regular bedtime. When there are no lights there is pretty much nothing to do but go to bed when it gets dark.
While I was waiting in line to buy gas, I finally got in touch with my friend A, from New Orleans. It felt good to finally know that she and her family were all right after Katrina. It also felt good to talk to someone who had so recently been through much the same thing I was now going through (being exiled near Six Mile Creek, close to Dido Community! Her mother-in-law lives there).
Being here definitely brings on a case of culture shock. Where else could you go and hear a local redneck telling a deputy about how he was going to cut 20 power poles down and then maybe that'll get their attention. The deputy never batted an eye. He was local, and without electricity too. I could not tell if he was considering helping the guy cut the poles down or just knew the heat had momentarily gone to the guy's head. I guess the man was venting and the deputy was wise to just listen.
I got out and walked a lot during my stay at uncle D's house. And I took a few of my afternoon naps on one of the swings on their porch. I really wanted to sleep out on the porch, but I was too afraid of critters that might join me during the night. The best swing was on the far end of the porch. You can't imagine how dark it is when there is no electricity for miles around. I could have kept a candle going, but in the end, I was just too chicken to stay out there and sleep.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Today has been declared Calcasieu Parish Look and Leave Day. We are going to go home tomorrow, and we are not going to leave. We have the generator and room ACs at my parents' house, we have our MREs, and the water system is running (so we can flush the toilets, though they still say the water is not yet safe to drink, but we have lots of bottled water). What more do we need?
I was in danger of being thrown out of the tribe several times, or at least in danger of not being allowed to listen to the radio news conference every day around 2:00 p.m. It made me so angry to hear the radio people (God bless 'em) insisting that we did not need to come home when they themselves were home. Of course, I know they were sleeping on floors and working hard and roughing it to bring me the tidbits of information they were delivering, but it still did not make me happy to hear them saying don't come home. And it did not make my fellow shelter dwellers happy to hear me complain about it! I felt like an old person who had been put involuntarily into a nursing home. All I wanted to do was come home.