Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's in my state of mind.

Evidently, because I am currently a Texan, I am agreeable, conscientious, extroverted and open to new ideas. I'm also a middle of the road neurotic. I'm not sure that my geographical location really influences my psyche this much, but it is interesting that I lived the longest in states that mirror these scores - Oklahoma and Missouri. I didn't stay long in Oregon - maybe it was not neurotic enough, or too open? Whatever I think, the research begs to differ.

You can see your state of mind at the link below:


Authors note: Don't get used to this many blog entries. Once I get my life back you'll be lucky to hear from me once a month.

8 Things about Kim

I was tagged awhile back by Rebecca, but then Ike hit and it fell by the wayside. I find the 8 things much easier than the original tag, so I think I'll complete this one.

8 TV SHOWS I like to watch:
I'm not big on watching TV. That said, I hate to miss:
1. Bones
2. Boston Legal
3. 24
4. Oklahoma State basketball
If I am stuck at home with nothing else to do, then I'll watch:
5. old movies
6. PBS
8. The Weather Channel (I know...but I got hooked during college when I had to watch it for a meteorology course).

8 Favorite Restaurants

1. Shiva's (indian)
2. Chuy's (tex-mex)
3. Niko Niko (greek)
4. Cavatore (italian)
5. Cafe Rita (Middle Eastern)
6. Mission Burrito
7. The Red Lion Pub (british)
8. Pappa's BBQ

8 Things that happened in the past 24 hours.
1. Ben's friend Walt came over and drove me crazy.
2. We had chicken pesto pasta with homemade bread for supper.
3. Nate's friend John dropped off a load of firewood for winter (one good thing about Ike!)
4. I defended my decision to NOT have Walt spend the night.
5. I watched the final season premiere of Boston Legal.
6. I read 3 chapters of Stiff. And 2 chapters of Annals of the Former World. (When, oh, when will the library reopen?)
7. I went to school to see how much damage my classroom sustained. (Not much thanks to a fabulous custodial staff who dried up the 9 inches of water in my room. We'll see more when the electric is restored - hopefully by Friday).
8. I observed the growth of my bean plants (11 inches!) the recent sprouting of the lettuce and radishes.

8 Things I look forward to

1. Getting back to school
2. Trip to NSTA (i hope!).
3. OSU Basketball season - is the new coach any good?
4. A working foot.
5. SUMMER - I need a vacation!
6. Hosting another Catan night
7. Our next family fun day
8. Thursday - Ben goes back to school and I don't!

8 Things I love about fall

1. In other places, the leaves turn colors.
2. In Houston, the temperatures begin to break out of the 90s.
3. Basketball season begins.
4. Our garden grows.
5. Hurricane season ends November 1.
6. We begin to enjoy spending time outside.
7. Earth science rotation begins and I get to play with dirt and rocks.
8. The hummingbirds and monarchs make their way our direction during their migrations.

8 Things I worry about

1. That I am not a good: mom, wife, servant of Christ, teacher, daughter, sister, friend.
2. That the little pieces of my DNA that go down the drain are morphing into weird things down in the sewer system.
3. My foot will never heal and I will never get back to my normal range of activities.
4. City living is killing my senses and soul.
5. Our society is headed for destruction because of people's greed and lack of ethics.
6. Cockroaches are secretly living in my house.
7. Ben will grow up and still live at home with his only ambition to beat every video game ever made.
8. I'm really mentally handicapped and people are just being nice to me.

8 Things on my wish list

1. A home in West Yellowstone, Montana
2. A trip to see the northern lights.
3. No arthritis & a healed foot.
4. Remodeling projects completed.
5. A 4 day work week.
6. A dog
7. A camper trailer
8. 80% of my students pass the science TAKS.

8 Blessings I currently enjoy

1. Wonderful husband, Nate. He is patient, kind, a good cook, a hard worker, and fun to talk to.
2. A fabulous son, Ben. He is caring, helpful, generous, funny, and makes me proud.
3. No major damage or sacrifices from Hurricane Ike.
4. Good friends and family who care about me and like me despite my quirks.
5. To work in a job that I love and with people I like.
6. I know that Christ is my Savior and I have the freedom to worship.
7. I have a home and the means necessary to live a life of comfort that allows me to help others.
8. I live in America.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

72 hour kits, dependencies, and other musings.

It was great to come home from church and see green blinking lights that indicated our internet and cable were back on.

I find my dependency on the internet a little disturbing. We don't get the newpaper because I'm allergic to newspapers and get really bad breakouts from touching them. Therefore, I read all my news online. I also rely on the internet for all bill-paying and banking. As well as phone numbers, maps and other information and a great deal of shopping and researching. Don't forget communicating. So when our link was out all week, I would call my parents in Utah and ask for them to go online and inform me of whatever pressing need I had. Like the football game scores and the school website to see if I need to be at work on Monday. Do I have enough money in my account to buy gas, and oh, yeah, I can't find the phone number for my VTeachee - could you go online and find it? Dad would offer to e-mail me whatever I needed and then just madly chuckle when I would explode "but I don't have e-mail right now!" I'm sure they were tired of hearing from me. I thank them for their time and assistance!

Our civic, church and government leaders have been counseling us for years to put together 72 hour kits to be prepared to support ourselves in time of emergency like Ike. We even received a hurricane preparedness pamphlet from the city government about 10 days before Ike hit. Don't people listen? don't they read? Don't they watch the news? I was understandably quite irate at all the people I heard complaining on tv and radio about not having water or food for the first few days while FEMA was getting situated. Perhaps we had better create a cartoon on Cartoon Network about prepping for hurricane season! We went to Lowe's to pick up some stakes to try to save some of my plants, and people would run in, scan the battery display, and run out saying..."no batteries...what are we going to do?" I felt sorrow for the suffering of these people that was avoidable - IF they had followed the direction of their leaders.

With all my judgements in mind, Nate and I sat down and evaluated our 72 hour kits to see what changes need to be made. We had good water supplies, adequate food supplies, and ready cash reserves. I discovered that although we did not suffer any tragedy, just going through the hurricane experience was trying and I mentally had a hard time planning a simple meal. So MREs might be a nice thing to have. We definitely need to add cranked radios and flashlights to our kits. We had radios, flashlights, and batteries, but we hadn't updated them since we arrived in Houston 10 years ago and the batteries had leaked and ruined several things. We should also add some bungee cords and parachute cord. A generator would be nice to keep the freezer cold and be able to charge our electronic communication equipment (phones, laptops, etc.). We also should add some rain gear in case of having to leave our house for some reason. Oh, and a couple of big rakes and a supply of yard bags for cleanup.

If I were grading our preparedness I would give us an A-. We had the basic things needed to get by, and the things we didn't have no one person could provide. As we get slowly back to normal, I hope people everywhere learned a lesson in self-reliance and being prepared.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Virtually Stranded

Early Monday morning, our cable & internet went out. We still have power, we still have water, we are still safe and still very, very blessed. But we are BORED! I had to call my parents in Utah to ask if there was a life outside of Houston and they informed me of the instability in Bolivia, the serial killer in Utah that looks like Sean Penn, and the stock market "crash"and of the many financial companies declaring bankruptcy or in dire straits. (sp? is that the band or the real way to spell it?)
I commented that I was glad I wasn't a stock market accountant anymore - teaching is a much more stable position these days. Although I'm beginning to wonder about that. We have not yet returned to school and only 1/3rd of schools have power as of this morning. I heard a rumor that there will be no school on Monday either. I'll either be losing a paycheck or teaching all summer long to make up the days. I'd rather lose the money, but state law requires a certain number of days. It's going to be a long year.
The good news is that my sister Heather has her power back and so I am able to get online a little.
Ben's court of honor was postponed, as is the merit badge fair on Saturday. No church activities, no school activities, and the library isn't open. Ben and some of the other kids at church volunteered at the Food Bank on Wednesday.
Many businesses are opening back up if they have power or generators. Getting gas is still a struggle with mile-long lines for the stations that have power. McDonald's, tree services, and lawn crews are in high cotton this week. Most intersections are a four-way stop and now that traffic numbers are approaching normal, it takes about 20 minutes to get through one intersection.
We hope all is well with you and your family. If you need to reach us, call our cell phones.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday aftermath

We are so fortunate to have power. My sister who lives 4 blocks away doesn't. She and some friends from church spent the night in our cold air last night. There were 2 huge water main breaks which we think is leading to our very low water pressure problem. The link that follows shows all the outage areas in red. http://www.centerpointenergy.com/staticfiles/CNP/Common/SiteAssets/doc/Ike%20outage%20map_9.14_noon.pdf

Around 5:30 this morning we had some big thunderstorms roll through. We got 5 inches of rain between 5:30 and 8 this morning. Our street was flooded sidewalk to sidewalk. When our friends left to return home, they came back because the water was splashing up through the floorboards of their SUV. All the work we did yesterday has washed back onto the driveway and street. Once it stops raining, we'll get started again.

We have been totally amazed by the news video of our area. Without cable or power, we could only appreciate what we could see around us and now we are more humbled and grateful for the protection we enjoyed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Neighborhood News

The rain and wind lasted until around 1 p.m. We got outside and started to clean up. (Yes, I mostly sat and watched everyone - dumb foot). All the neighbors were out and most of them had big limbs down as well. Mr. Jerry's pecan tree (next to our garage) was snapped into little pieces. A tree fell on some cars down the street.
Ben and Nate started piling up all the branches and shredded leaves for the trucks to start picking up next week.

Around 3:00, there was a huge explosion and then a woman came flying out into the street yelling "We have lights!" Sure enough, the power was back on. But no internet or cable service yet. And the water pressure is still very, very low.

At 4:00, we headed over to Heather's to check on her and some other ward members. As we turned the corner, I could not believe my eyes. Earlier, Mr. Jerry had commented that "God must like you better than he likes us." I didn't have any idea what he was talking about, but now I could see what he meant. All streets around our block were totally trashed. The new townhouses had big holes in the sides. Roofs had come off, fences were down, it looked like a hurricane had been through (go figure). Nearly every block had a tree that came down on cars and houses. Trees were across the roads and we found it quite difficult to drive the 4 blocks to Heather's.
Heather was outside cleaning up. One of her pine trees lost its top. I could not believe the destruction I saw in her neighborhood and mine. Compared to that, we did look blessed by God. Thanks for all of your prayers - they worked!
Church has been cancelled for tomorrow. We will spend the day cleaning up the backyard and helping neighbors.
School has been cancelled for Monday as well.

After the power went out...

Please disregard the spookiness of all previous posts. They don't hold a candle to what happened after the storm really hit. I'm not sure I can even explain what it feels like to know that you are totally isolated from the outside world and that you have no control over your life. I guess storms like this really test whether you trust the Lord or not. I think I mostly do - or else I wouldn't have slept.

We lost power just before midnight. We all bedded down in the living room because that is the room that is safest from falling trees.
I woke up at 2:30 when something hit the roof and side of the house. As I peered outside the wind was really blowing and making the trees dance. The rain was coming down in sheets.
At 4:00 I woke again because I kept hearing dripping. The wind was unlike anything I've ever heard - different than the straight-line winds and tornados we used to have in Oklahoma. As I looked at the trees, the tops seemed to be swirling around and around. The dripping was from water being blown horizontally against the north side of the house. All the windows, doors and vents were leaking water. I placed towels against all areas of weakness and tried to sleep through all the cracks and thumps and wind.

I woke again at 6:30 and it was still going strong.

When we awoke at 7:50, this is what we saw: lots of plant debris, lots of downed limbs, and my poor bean plants were shredded. My garden plants were mostly uprooted and the trellis on the corner is lying flat - bent over at ground level. The house to the east had 5-6 HUGE branches down. We'll have to get the chainsaw out for those. It was still raining and blowing so we ate breakfast and turned on the radio to hear the news. Evidently 4 million are without power and one of 3 pumping stations is out so water pressure is minimal. Reports indicate that full functionality may take 4 weeks. But we are safe and our home and vehicles were not damaged, so we feel very blessed.

Friday, September 12, 2008


The wind is crazy. It gusts and then just stops. We can hear things blowing down the street - grills, plant pots, branches.

Reports are that the southern half of Houston is experiencing power outages so I expect we've only got a little while til we are in the dark too.

They expect that by noon tomorrow it will all be off to the north. Power may not be restored for up to 2 weeks.

Good news is that the storm surge will not affect the drainage for our area of town. So possibly no flooding.

We love you!


I've spent the last half hour outside trying to get pictures of the storm, but there just isn't enough light to make anything out.

Winds are upwards of 40 mph and gusting to 50. The 100 ft. pines are swaying and something just fell down on my neighbors roof. Still no rain. But it's coming along with double the winds. I don't think I'll be sleeping much tonight.


The sunset was absolutely gorgeous. All dark purple clouds and orange light.

It is dark now. The streetlights did not come on. I wonder if the power company turned them off. The wind is moaning around the eaves. Things are starting to go bump out in the night. Our lights are flickering.

Maybe I could write a mystery novel with that opening. I don't mean to sound sinister - but it is kind of creepy.

I think I'll go have some birthday cake (thanks, Heather!).

7:00 light fading, winds strong, Ike on the way.

The wind is very gusty. Still no rain.
I've been laughing at the squirrels that are running across the roof of Mr. Jerry's house (one on the top). Usually they run and then jump over the corner where the 2 sides of the house come together. Today when they tried it, the wind blew them off the roof. So now they run full out to the corner and then just drop spreadeagle flat on the corner and kind of scritch across on their fingernails. Glad they are having a good time.
Recent reports are that Ike is a category 2 with the storm surge of a category 4. Water is expected to cover parts of I-10 which is 50 miles from the coast.
Tune in at 9ish to see what happens next. I'll keep posting every couple of hours until the power goes out & I lose my internet connection.

Ike at Five. Wind is picking up.

All the people in our neighborhood that boarded up their windows are now sitting outside on their porches. Maybe because its dark inside.

The wind is picking up and the squirrels have started a full frontal assault on our home. They climb on the back of our bench and peer in the den window. Then they jump on the window and scrabble at it until gravity drops them to the ground. The snakes are rather anxious as well and testing their cage tops.
Community leaders are visibly and vocally concerned and that worries me some. When our mayor asked us to pray to whichever God we worshipped in whichever language we use for divine assistance, it caught my attention. They told us it was safe to stay, and I wonder if they are having second thoughts.

Observations at 3:00

Ben is ready with his rain gear, water supply and chainsaw.

We have a tree next to our driveway that the squirrels nest in. One squirrel is in his hole with his head sticking out calling and calling mournfully. Kinda creepy.

The hummingbirds and songbirds that were flooding our yard this morning have flown away.

Still overcast and a little breezy, but no rain yet.

IKE 1:00 P.M.

Clouds are getting more ominous. We have been having wind gusts about 25 mph and then complete stillness for 30 minutes.
There is no ice to be found in our area. We decided maybe we should pick up a couple of bags and drove over to the store. People are panicky - the store shelves are bare for items like bread, canned chili, bottled water and ice. The liquor stores have lines snaking out the doors. I haven't seen drivers with that glazed expression since the opening weekend of deer season. It's more risky to be on the road right now than home watching the storm blow in.
Preparations in our neighborhood range from bringing in planters and furniture by the people who have lived here since 1955 to asterisk-shaped taping of windows by people who have lived here since 1995, to boarding windows by people who have lived here since 2005, to a family on the next block who ordered a U-Haul and are in the process of loading up all their belongings. They were relocated here by Katrina.

Hurricane Ike

As one of my friends so nicely explained: Mother Nature wasn't sure what to give a science teacher for her 40th birthday... maybe a hurricane? Welcome Hurricane Ike. Ike has already made it possible for me to have the day off (that's a nice gift!).

I am fighting the urge to drive down to the coast to see the waves and high tide.

Despite what you may be hearing, our officials have asked us to shelter in place. The dire, life-or-death warnings are intended for Galveston Island which has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Thursday morning.

We expect to get winds of 70 mph during the night tonight or early on Saturday morning. Structural damage does not occur until winds reach 95 mph. We will have some tree damage and although we only have 1 tree, our neighbors have lots of big ones. Our biggest concern will be power outages (no ac) and torrential rains causing flooding. Our home sits in a relatively high area, so we should be dry, but may not be able to go anywhere.

Keep checking back and I'll post pix so you can see the changes.

9:00 a.m. September 12, 2008.

No wind yet and just some very high, thin clouds.

We are picking up things that might get caught in the wind and blow around. Patio furniture, planters, etc. in the garage. Firewood tarped down. Basketball goal laying down. I'm worried about my beans. they are 12" tall and may get stripped by the wind.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Note to world....you have to be direct - I don't take hints.

That doesn't indicate that you have to be mean - just plain speaking.

I went back to the doctor yesterday with high hopes he would let me out of the cast. I'm not sure why I had hopes for that since my foot has been swollen and very painful for the past few days. He was concerned that I was still having so much pain and wanted me to consider getting a bone scan that would pinpoint where the injury was: bone, ligament or joint. The scan cost $1200 and the treatment for all 3 is the same: 5 more weeks in the boot. I politely turned him down and asked him what he meant when he said "take it easy". He gave me a funny look and said that meant only be on your feet 10 minutes out of every hour. AHHH....there's the problem....I thought taking it easy was to elevate your foot for 10 minutes every hour. I'm sure many of you are rolling your eyes and shaking your head, but for me that IS taking it easy.

With tears of frustration, I drove to work with the boot, crutches, and a strong anti-inflammatory. I didn't want to take 4 weeks off at this point and my principal agreed. So starting on Monday, I will set up the lab and be there, but the classroom teachers will be teaching. I am going to be soooo bored!

The kids have been the sweetest about it. "Ms. Ottosen! Why are you on crutches? Why do you still have the cast?"
me: "Well, I didn't follow directions so now I'm in time-out."
kids, after some thought. "I'm sorry about your leg".

If you see me walking around without my crutches, kindly ask me where they are. I'm getting older now and tend to forget things.