Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guardian Angels

Do you believe in guardian angels? Do you think a dead relative hovers over you to protect you from harm? Do you pray to this person? If you do believe in this what proof do you have that this is true, or is it wishful thinking?

According to an an article from USA Today "a new survey of the USA's religious beliefs and practices finds 55% of all adults — including one in five of those who say they have no religion — believe they have been protected from harm by a guardian angel."

What's interesting is the poll that accompanies this article where most people responding to it claim that they in fact do believe this!

Are you as dumbfounded as I am? In the 21st century in the age of computers and iPhones people still believe they have a spirit protecting them from harm. Wow.

Funny thing is we have just experienced a horrific hurricane in our area and I have been hearing stories about people being "blessed" and "watched over" by dead relatives. One neighbor revealed to me that her dead father-in-law watches over the whole family and she prays to him every night. I was speechless, which was a good thing, because responding to something as crazy as how this sounded would not have been very neighborly or positive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

We finally got phone service so I'm able to write about our hurricane experience.

It started last Friday night with the wind picking up. Thick clouds rolled around with little spits of rain. I took the dog for a walk that night wondering if we were going to get any rain out of this system at all.

We fell asleep late as the wind continued to howl and the rain beginning to fall. The power grid was tested by the winds several times before it completely failed. Each interruption lasted anywhere from a few seconds to perhaps 2 minutes, the final one at around 3 am. Plunged into darkness with flashes from lightening or transformers exploding as our only light we knew it was going to be bad.

As one can imagine, sleep didn't come easily. Our alarm system finally let us know around 5 am that it didn't like being on the battery that long. It beeped continuously until we disconnected it from it's power source. That's when we heard another sound: the whine of the water detector in the attic. Sure enough we had water trickling in from wind blown rain which landed in the AC pan. This detector was very loud and had to be disconnected from it's power source too.

By this time it's past 6 am and the wind has switched directions. The eye of the storm had passed us. Unfortunately the tall cedar tree in the front yard couldn't handle the new direction of the wind and was about to be ripped from the ground. In the driving rain my husband and I tied the tree in place from 3 different directions and hopefully saved it. It was just beginning to get light around that time and we could see the amount of abuse the trees were taking from the wind. It was both awesome and terrifying!

With all the rain we had taken in we decided to start the sump pump to prevent the backyard from flooding. Fortunately we bought a generator a couple of years ago just for this reason. We did get water up to the house but nothing inside. The pump helped.

As the storm was fading from our area we started cleaning up. I wanted to get as much out of the driveway as possible so the water from the yard could drain to the street. I next moved to the pool and scooped out over 50 pounds of leaves and branches. It was gross. I hoped that we would get power soon so the pool wouldn't get to far out of control.

So we spent most of the day cleaning the yard and talking to neighbors. My husband helped a few of our neighbors clear out large branches and broken trees from yards and streets. I offered our freezer space to some friends and ended up storing a few things for them. Everyone had minor damage, mostly trees, branches and fences, but nothing major.

The next day we woke up to another storm which dropped over 5 inches of rain in less than 3 hours. As it turned out, as Ike made it's way north through the country, a stray feeder band came back around to trouble us some more. This was worse than the storm itself and we had to man the sump pump again and keep the drains in the backyard free of debris. It was scary to have to live through it again so soon!

After that storm left the area, we resumed cleaning up the yard. We had hopes that the power in our neighborhood would be restore that day but as the day went on it looked like our chances were receding. Even in the mists of a wild rumor circulating throughout our neighborhood that the power company was there our hopes became dashed as the day wore on. Perhaps on Monday we'd have power again we all hoped.

As the day progressed and as people came out to help, several of us organized a party at the club house to get rid of food that wouldn't make it another day without power. I showed up around 5:30 and was immediately given a cup of wine. It was great sharing horror stories with friends and finding out just how much damage there was and how we mostly escaped unharmed. I wasn't there long when we discovered the power had been restored! It was as if we all had been given the greatest Christmas gift all at the same time. It was such a relief to all of us and we celebrated with a song. It was one of the nicest experiences I've ever had.

The total amount of time without power was about 40 hours. Much of Houston is still without so we are fortunate.

Today I finished cleaning out the pool. Right now it's a beautiful blue color with no debris. I knew it wouldn't take long. I'm also sweeping out the house of the leaves we brought in from the yard, and also sweeping the decking around the pool. I've called many of my friends and everyone got though with minimal damage. Many of my friends have property in Galveston, which was hardest hit. It doesn't look good for them.

Anyway, it's hard getting around the city since there isn't power everywhere. There's very little gas and few grocery stories are open. Tomorrow will be a better day and things will progress as the week goes by. My tennis leagues have all been canceled which is good. We all need to stay home and not be a burden on the infrastructure of the city.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike and Sarah Palin

Here's a hurricane update from the west side of Houston. We are currently preparing the house for lots of rain and wind. All patio furniture is either in the house or secured outside. The husband is getting the sump pump and generator ready just in case we get downpours that our drainage system can't handle. I had the opportunity to talk to many of my neighbors as I walked the dog this morning and most are staying at home or with other neighbors/family.

The evacuation of the low lying areas in and near Galveston has been going smoothly, mostly because of lessons learned three years ago from Rita and Katrina. Even though this storm will be a major impact on property the city governments have been doing a great job protecting people and keeping them out of harm's way. It's up to those individuals to do what they feel is right for them.

Now back to politics. The more I read about Sarah Palin and John McCain the more I feel they must not be voted into office. She stated in a recent interview with Charles Gibson:

"They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."

So that makes her qualified to be an expert on foreign policy? I understand that Republican standards are pretty low, but this is absurdly bottom of the barrel. I still haven't read anywhere that she's actually been to Russia or met their leaders in any capacity.

Another thing that worries me about McCain's choice for VP is how she feels about sex education. While I know that education is a state issue, the fact that she advocates for abstinence only sex education and at the same time her 17 year old daughter becomes pregnant on her watch should inform her that this way of teaching doesn't work. She is letting her religious dogma cloud her reason and her ability to think this problem though. This is not a quality I want a leader of this country to have. We need a leader that can think out of the box. She has proven incapable of doing so.

Her position on her particular brand of Christian dogmatic morality on women is not in our (women's) best interest. It is not reasonable to criminalize abortion and burden our overtaxed justice system with the job of sending poor women to prison for taking control of their lives. Abortions are a terrible thing but making it a crime will not solve this problem. Responsible sex-ed for teenagers is the answer and not the kind Palin thinks we should have. Sex happens and we should be teaching our children responsibility, not religious dogma.

And what's this about a possibility of a war with Russia? Is she insane? We can't even afford the wars we're in right now. We owe so much money to China they practically own us. Do we want to further cripple our country and our economy? I believe McCain feels that war is the answer. Our involvement in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. (I can't name them all) should be enough evidence to prove that it isn't always the answer. (WWII was an exception.)

Please, please think about these issues and the long range consequences they have for our children and grandchildren. I cannot vote for 4 more years of business as usual. I hope you can't either.

Constructive comments are encouraged and welcome.