Monday, September 29, 2008

Violation of Article 5

Dappled sunlight played across the sand. Turquoise waves flecked with foamy white gently surged to shore in the distance. Deep in the tropical forest a bird called out his mating song, “I’m cuckoo for Coco Pops! Cuckoo for Coco Pops!”

Mmmmmmmmm, Coco Popsssssss! Drifting back to sleep I vaguely recalled the chocolate mousse I had ordered for lunch.

My reverie was broken by the sound of little bells. I looked up and Gizelle was gliding across the sand with my order in hand. She was radiant, as usual.

She placed the small bowl and a spoon on the table adjacent to my lounge chair and cooed, “Your mouse, sir. Will there be anything else?”

I looked up at Gizelle’s tanned face framed by golden hair, limpid pool blue eyes, totally vacant.

“Gizelle,” I chided gently like an old professor deciding whether the hot, nubile young student standing before him deserved an ‘A’ or perhaps a ‘B+’, “enunciate, sweetie, enunciate. That’s moooooooooooose like the animal, not mouse like the, uh, like the, er, well, not mouse.”

Gizelle averted her eyes and pouted. “Mouse,” she said.

Patiently, I pressed further. “Moooooooooooooooose. Mooooooooooooose, not mouse. Say moooooooooooooose.”

This time Gizelle looked directly at me, put her hands on her hips and said, clearly, and a bit too loud, “Mouse!”

Then, drawing closer to me, she raised her voice, shouting, “Mouse!!!!”

She began to scream as her face, pulled into a horrifying grimace, her teeth glistening in the sun and her eyes bugging out of her head as she shrieked, “Mouse!! MOUSE !!! M O U S E ! ! ! !”

M O U S E ! ! ! ! !


I opened my eyes. The ceiling fan was turning slowly. The beach was gone. The trees were gone. Gizelle was gone. I was lying on the couch. All was well.

Well, not quite.

From the direction of the kitchen I heard shouting.

“Mouse! Mouse in the house! Come deal with the mouse! Four Legs!!”

Ah, rats, so to speak. “Four Legs.” That code phrase invoked Article 5: Dealing with Creatures in the House.

I was called into action; there was no getting around it. I got up off the couch and looked around for my shoes.

Article 5

This Article was written early in our marriage to define clearly the roles and responsibilities for catching, cleaning up and disposing of uninvited or unexpected pests and vermin including but not exclusively snakes, mice, roaches, wasps, scorpions, centipedes, bugs and spiders. Article 5 was amended to include rabbits and dogs, except for Bichon Frises which are covered by the Volvo Accord of 1997.

My responsibility entails all creatures with four legs or less, and her responsibility is the rest of the animal kingdom also known as the Creepy Side.

You see, I don’t mind our vertebrate friends and am quite comfortable with rats, cats, mice, rabbits, bats, snakes, possums, birds, bobcats and, if the occasion presented itself, moose.

She, on the other hand, and I’ll never understand this, is at home with spiders and bugs to the point of actually practicing “catch and release.”

Not me! I am an adherent of the Garfield Doctrine. Give me a can of Raid and a blowtorch any day!

Article 5 has several amendments the most important of which is the “Original Leg Rule” which states that individual responsibility is a function of the original number of legs possessed by a creature, not the number of legs present at the call to action. Thus, for example, I could not be called to deal with a 4-legged spider.

The astute reader will recognize that this particular amendment was written following just such an occurrence after the party of the first part gleefully and willingly with malice aforethought took advantage of the party of the second part, who didn’t find the situation funny at all.

Pulling on my shoes I heard a more strident, “Four Legs!” and replied that I was on my way.

Walking into the kitchen all seemed calm. “Where’s the mouse?” I asked.

“There.” Pointing.

I looked down. Kink was crouched on the floor. His tail twitched slightly as he looked up at me and inquired, “Purrrr-yowww?”

In front of Kink was what looked like one of Sandy’s hair-balls, except that it sported a tiny tail. The hair-ball was breathing rapidly but otherwise not moving. It would be a fair observation that it was not a very happy hair-ball.

“Man, that’s one tiny mouse,” I said to Kink, “where’d you find this little guy?”

There was a shuffling behind me and a sheepish admission, “I let him in.”

“What do you mean you let him in? Who did you let in, Kink or the mouse?”

“Both. Kink was at the door and I didn’t notice that he had a mouthful of mouse, so I just let him in, he dropped the mouse and there they both are. So, be a dear, sweetie pie, and escort Mickey out, OK?”

“Not so fast,” I countered alerted by the ‘dear’ and the ‘sweetie pie’ in a single sentence, “This is a clear violation of Article 5 as specified by sub-paragraphs B and C which document that individual responsibilities covered by Article 5 are Null and Void if a party of the first or second part intentionally admits a pest into the domicile. You opened the door. You admitted Kink and Mickey. Your problem.”

“You’re going to stand there and tell me that I have to deal with Four Legs just because I failed to notice a wee little brown furry mouse hiding in Kink’s big brown furry mouth?”

“Yep, I think you got the picture,” I called back, giving myself a High Five. Cause work for me will you, we’ll see about that. I kicked off my shoes, settled back on the couch soon to be back on my tropical island.

Drifting, drifting ...

“Oh, just look at the size of that spider out there, Kink.”

I opened one eye and turned my head to hear more clearly.

“Yep, that’s a big old spider out there. What do you say we let it in the house. Maybe it would like to rest on the couch for a while. It must be tired carrying that big old spider body around.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” I called out, “That would be a violation of Article 5 and you’d have to deal with it ...”

I trailed off realizing the gravity of what I had just said.

From the kitchen I heard, “You deal with Mickey and maybe Shelob can stay outside and weave a web for Barky Dog, or something.”

“That’s blackmail!” I said, putting my shoes back on.

“No it’s not. It’s extortion. Get a move on before I change my mind.”

Back in the kitchen Mickey hadn’t moved a muscle. I picked him up by the tail.

“Come on, little guy, let’s go over so I can introduce you to the neighbor’s flower bed.”

As I went out the front door to take Mickey to his new home I noticed that Kink jumped up on the couch and settled down for a nap.

“Rats.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cleaning Up - Ike Day Eight

Ike made a mess.

Outside mess.

Inside mess.

The outside mess is trees and stuff blown off of houses. Gutters, chimneys, shingles, tiles, glass and outside furniture.

The inside mess is stuff that you swear you’ll clean up “in the morning” but don’t. There’s nothing worse than trying to clean up after dinner in the dark which is a strange thing for me to say since I clean up in the dark every time I camp.

So, what’s different between camping and living the post-Ike lifestyle?

I think it has to do with the notion that any minute now power will be restored and we can go on with our lives just as before Ike, whereas in camping we know we are out in the woods.

Anyway, here’s before ...



... and after ...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Power Up!

Ike - Day Seven

An early shift at the store got me out of bed at 6 AM, in the dark and another morning of taking a shower in the dark, making coffee in the dark, eating breakfast in the dark and going to work in the not-quite-but-mostly dark.

I was out of milk, out of ice and out of clean clothes. I figured I could do some washing in the sink and rig up a line across the patio. In the humidity the clothes would dry, eventually, like in October. Or, I might start a Wet Look trend.

At noon I took time off for lunch and decided to drive home to check on Kink and Sandy and maybe, just maybe, the power would be on. Turns out I was right.

As I drove through the neighborhood the first thing I noticed was that the traffic lights were working. No more temporary Stop Signs in the middle of the intersections. The second thing I noticed were porch lights. Some were on. As I got closer to home there were still some lights on giving me encouragement that at long last we had power.

Arriving home when I opened the back door I was blasted by cool air. The AC was running. Kink ran up to me and jabbered on about beeping noises, cool air and lights. After calming Kink I went through the house and got things in order. According to the oven clock we had been powered up for over two hours.

A good sign.

Returning to work I told Kink to hang tight and I’d pick up a feast on the way home from work.

Unfortunately, I forgot about the snare I set for Barky Dog, but that’s another story.




(tree damage near Kroger's)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Power to the People

Ike Day 6 - Thursday evening

Kink and I sat in the gathering gloom enjoying a bowl of Cat Chow and a glass of wine, respectively, and listening to the sounds of the night: the incessant drone of the generator across the street, Barky Dog going nuts for no apparent reason, the lone cicada trying to mate with anything with wings and the thumpa-thumpa of helicopters in the distance which for some strange reason drove cicada into a frenzy. Ambition, I guess.

It might have been an optical illusion but it appeared that the familiar pink glow to the northeast that defines the Houston light pollution halo was becoming more prominent. Or it could be that my eyes were becoming more accustomed to the darkness. There were rumors that CenterPoint was getting more and more people on-line every day.

There were rumors of Elvis sightings, too.

Whatever.

Kink chomped. I slurped.

It was a quiet and calm night when suddenly a shot rang out!

Click! Whirrrrrr! Whump! BuZzZzzzzZz!

And there was ...

L I G H T ! ! !

Beautiful, glorious, photon drenched LIGHT!

Kink jumped. I gulped. Neither of us could believe it. We heard voices in the den as the TV came to life. We saw hundreds of billions of photons pouring out of the open refrigerator in the kitchen. Clocks were screaming in their little beepy voices, "Reset Me! Reset Me!" Fans were whirring and the alarm system was going nuts shouting "There's someone at the front door."

In an instant Kink and I were transformed from a Pleistocene existence gnawing on raw bones to the 21st Century complete with anti-gravity belts and warp drive. Nurse Chapel, report to my private quarters.

"Kink!" I shouted, "we're back!"

Kink looked up and we did the power dance. Put your left paw in, take your left paw out. Put your right paw in and shake your tail about. Do the Kilowatt Boogie like nobody's watching and that's what it's all about!

I checked my iPhone and by Jove I had Wi-Fi. I punched in Google and queried the Magic 8 Ball site: Is this real?

"Only Time Will Tell"

Our calm, quiet, dark, peaceful evening had been transformed into a carnival of photons, beeping and crazy noises and we were loving every microsecond.

Every. Microsecond.

But (why is there always a "but?")

900,000,000 microseconds into our party Fate gatecrashed.

"Who's the goth guy at the door with the sickle and bony hand?" Kink asked.

"Hey, unless he's carrying a six-pack of Corona tell him to drop dead," I replied.

And then the lights went out. Flicker, flicker, fump. Silence. No beeping. No whirr. No nothing.

That was it. Fifteen minutes of joy. The gathering gloom wrapped around us and we knew that was it for the night.

"Oh, well," I told Kink as I relit the candles on the patio table, "we're no worse off than we were earlier today. At least we were planning to eat outside and we still can. I chopped up a bit of the hamburger I cooked, scraped it on a small plate and pushed it to where Kink sat.

Kink sniffed the hamburger, cocked an eye and asked, "This isn't Barky Dog, is it?"

"No," I replied, "that's on the menu for tomorrow if we don't get power."

After dinner I surveyed the neighbor's yard figuring out where I'd set my snare. Yes, I thought, tomorrow we feast.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike - Day Five

Still in the dark blogging by iPhone.

Crews were out in the neighborhood piling up storm debris. Lots of tree limbs and quite a number of trees down, especially pecan and Bradford pear.

Schools are out until Monday and lots of kids were out and about.

Tonight there was a flurry of activity in the street as some street lights turned on. Almost a party. I wonder if we'll continue to celebrate street lights a month from now.

Kudos for the day to to AM radio for providing continuous news coverage as opposed to their usual format of baseball games and UFO talk shows.

BTW there ARE strange lights in the sky! Hopefully they'll to away after we get our light pollution back.

( posted from my iPhone 3G)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Salute!

To the unknown marketing geniuses who put CoffeeMate coffee creamer in a yellow container with a red lid, and garlic powder in a yellow container with a red lid I say:

Very. Funny.

Ha.

Ha.





(posted from my iPhone 3G)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike-iku


Fluffy white rice my
Zojirushi can not make.
Is so powerless.

Ike - Day Three

Still no power. AT&T service sporatic at best. Land phone line dead. Have water but fresh food is gone. Freezer finally thawed last night. Will forage for food today and maybe gas.

With cool weather Kink enjoys the doors and windows open and is running in and out gleefully. He might not be so happy when we start eating his food tonight.

Posted from my iPhone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike LIVE!

Sept 14, Sat, 9:45 pm, cst

No power. No Internet! Got food n water.

Dark here. Very dark.


1:24 am, cst

Power is out. This via iPhone. Wind steady.

Rain abated. Eye of storm moving on shore.

More later. So far Ike not so bad.

Good night.

12:55 AM, CST, Sugar Land, Texas, Saturday morning

We're in a quiet band according to the radar image. Winds have slowed with the occasional gust and the rain has subsided. However, it won't last. A new band of wind and rain is heading our way before the eye of the storm reaches us. The eye is just about to Galveston and I'm sure they could use the relief!


12:30 AM, CST, Sugar Land, Texas, Saturday morning

The wind is pretty steady and the rain is coming in sheets, pillow cases and blankets. Power has flickered a few times but the iMac is hanging in there and so is the Internet connection.

Not much debris blowing around outside. Just small stuff. No Volvos or Bichon Frises'. How pitiful is that?

11:30 PM, CST, Sugar Land, Texas



Starting to get some rain. Actual drops instead of mist are now falling and the gusts are still intermittent. The Weather Channel says that Ike is still about 40 miles out but picking up speed and should be over land in about an hour.

So far the wind is about the same as it has been all night, but the rain is intensifying.

Not much on TV except Ike news and weird-o's in funny orange and blue suits standing in the rain. Reporters, I guess.


10:30 PM, CST, Sugar Land, Texas



Ten thirty in the evening and nothing but lulls and wind gusts. I think some of the gusts are stronger than an hour ago but they are infrequent.

We are tossing a coin on whether to watch another DVD movie or go skinny dipping in the pool amongst the palm tree debris.

Hmmm, what to do, what to do?


9:15 PM, CST, Sugar Land, Texas



Nine PM and the wind gusts are coming and going. Right now it's very calm, not much wind. We had a nice dinner and are watching a couple of DVD's waiting for Ike to arrive.

Where are you Big Boy? Shy?



7:30 PM, CST, Sugar Land, Texas



It's around seven-thirty in the evening, now, and the winds are definitely stronger in gusts, but still going back and forth between gusting and still. Some small limbs are down and more leaves are blowing around, but no rain as yet.

We're getting ready for our first Ike Feast in about 30 minutes and will probably watch a movie to pass the time. Yep, hurricane watching is Dullsville.


5:50 PM, CST, Sugar Land, Texas



(View from upstairs window facing North Northeast.)

The wind has just picked up and I can hear the palm fronds flapping in the breeze. It's been calm and slightly breezy all day with just a few hints of rain but nothing more than a light mist, and only for a short while.

What is different about the wind is the gusting. There's a steady background of blowing punctuated by louder gusts. Then it gets quiet again before building to the next wave.

The main storm is still way out in the Gulf, about 6 hours away.

We have everything put away from the yard, did a backup of our computers and put those hard drives in a plastic bag away from windows. We have a stock of food and a stash of water and we are as ready as we're going to get. Nothing to do now but wait.

The back of our house is all glass, nearly a solid wall of glass, but the east side where most of the wind will originate is both protected and has only one window. So, hopefully, we won't have to contend with broken windows and rain inundation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ike’s Café

They say a hurricane’s coming. It’s in the news. Big white cinnamon roll floating in the Gulf.

Today, all was clam.

Clear skies, no wind, calm and peaceful. The clam before the chowder, so they say.

And speaking of clam chowder we have been advised to stock up on food and water in case society degenerates into Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in the next five days.

So, to address that little issue I put together a plan. I call it “Plan B” because my experience tells me that “Plan A” never works and that we always have to invoke “Plan B.” Why not start off with the correct plan in the first place. I always say that.

In honor of Hurricane Ike I’ve decided to rename Chez Guillaume. Until the “crisis” is over we will be known as Ike’s Café and here is the menu based on our current supplies.



Friday Breakfast

Eggs Benedict, Center cut Bacon, Sausage Links, Hash Browned Potatoes, Fruit Compote, Fresh squeezed Orange Juice, Fresh brewed Coffee (Sumatra)

Friday Lunch

Spinach salad with Smoked Salmon and goat Cheese, Farm House bread, Asian Stir Fry, Sushi Platter, Pinot Noir

Friday Dinner

Hickory smoked Pork Ribs, Cheese risotto, Grilled zucchini, Chocolate Soufflé, Cabernet Sauvignon (2003)

Saturday Breakfast

Farm house French Toast, left over Smoked Salmon, instant Coffee

Saturday Lunch

Hurricanes (ha ha), Farm house Bread spinach Sandwich, Tater Tots, Can of creamed corn

Saturday Dinner

(Assuming we have power)

Left over Pork Ribs, macaroni and cheese, can of onion bits, anchovies, bottled water

Sunday breakfast

Remaining egg, boiled and split. Salt and pepper. Ice cubes.

Sunday lunch

Skipped due to fasting for random religious holiday.

Sunday dinner

Pumpkin Pie filling, Garlic powder

Monday breakfast

Cat chow with pool water, ketchup

Monday lunch

Continuation of random religious fasting.

Monday dinner

(to be announced)



You know, I pity those poor people who go into these situations unprepared. Really, it's sad.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Missed it by That Much

Me: You know, T, if I had played basketball in high school and gotten the nickname "Bill Barracuda" I could be the Vice-Presidential nominee today.

T: Or a cartoon character.