Godless Mom in the Bible Belt

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My Ugly Little Secret

Alright, I admit it, I watch TV.

"Reality" TV has never done anything for me, I quit watching reality shows after the second Survivor. I've never really been interested in dramas like ER or Law and Order. Sitcoms have never really done much for me either, although I will occasionally watch a re-run of Friends I can honestly say I've never seen an episode of Seinfeld.

I like my TV with a bit of a supernatural twist, add in a side order of sci-fi and I'm hooked! Star Trek had me from and early age and I was weaned on Twilight Zone. As I grew older I continued to follow the Star Trek spin-offs and I loved X-Files. One of my deepest TV loves was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know, I know...the movie sucked but the series was prime GodlessMom viewing!

This last year has seen some seriously great supernatural/sci-fi type stuff on the tube. The new Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi channel is awesome (Sci-Fi also shows Stargate...Another great one!) , ABC's Lost is fabulous, Smallville on the WB can be counted on for a Thursday night diversion and we have the new offerings of Invasion and Supernatural on ABC and WB respectively which may prove to be worth a look-see. I'm in sci-fi geek heaven!

Now the biggest problem is deciding which programs are actually worth devoting my limited TV time to. I have TiVo, so I don't have to watch them when they are actually broadcast but I don't want to spend my days watching sci-fi the way some women spend their days with soap operas! Decisions, decisions.

Incidentally, if you are a Buffy fan you may be interested to know that today Joss Whedon's new feature film Serenity will premiere in theaters. Also, James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) is playing a supervillian on Smallville this season. The bleach blonde curls are gone but the chiseled jawline remains! Also, David Boreanaz (Angel) has a new series called Bones...Basic FBI/forensic scientist stuff (no supernatural or sci-fi) but it might be worth checking out too.

I'll be back on Monday, happy weekend everyone!
posted by GodlessMom, 10:24 AM | link | 16 comments |

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Telling it like it is

I have something I'd like you to read, I'd be interested in your thoughts.

This is the transcript of a speech given by a gentleman named Etan Thomas at last weeks anti-war rally in Washington DC. Mr. Thomas is an NBA basketball player, he plays Center and Power Forward for the Washington Wizards. He is also an author and outspoken critic of the Iraq war and the Bush administration. His words really struck a chord with me.

"Giving all honor, thanks and praises to God for courage and wisdom, this is a very important rally. I'd like to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts, feelings and concerns regarding a tremendous problem that we are currently facing. This problem is universal, transcending race, economic background, religion, and culture, and this problem is none other than the current administration which has set up shop in the White House.

In fact, I'd like to take some of these cats on a field trip. I want to get big yellow buses with no air conditioner and no seatbelts and round up Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Trent Lott, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Bush Jr. and Bush Sr., John Ashcroft, Giuliani, Ed Gillespie, Katherine Harris, that little bow-tied Tucker Carlson and any other right-wing conservative Republicans I can think of, and take them all on a trip to the 'hood. Not to do no 30-minute documentary. I mean, I want to drop them off and leave them there, let them become one with the other side of the tracks, get them four mouths to feed and no welfare, have scare tactics run through them like a laxative, criticizing them for needing assistance.

I'd show them working families that make too much to receive welfare but not enough to make ends meet. I'd employ them with jobs with little security, let them know how it feels to be an employee at will, able to be fired at the drop of a hat. I'd take away their opportunities, then try their children as adults, sending their 13-year-old babies to life in prison. I'd sell them dreams of hopelessness while spoon-feeding their young with a daily dose of inferior education. I'd tell them no child shall be left behind, then take more money out of their schools, tell them to show and prove themselves on standardized exams testing their knowledge on things that they haven't been taught, and then I'd call them inferior.

I'd soak into their interior notions of endless possibilities. I'd paint pictures of assisted productivity if they only agreed to be all they can be, dress them up with fatigues and boots with promises of pots of gold at the end of rainbows, free education to waste terrain on those who finish their bid. Then I'd close the lid on that barrel of fool's gold by starting a war, sending their children into the midst of a hostile situation, and while they're worried about their babies being murdered and slain in foreign lands, I'd grace them with the pain of being sick and unable to get medicine.

Give them health benefits that barely cover the common cold. John Q. would become their reality as HMOs introduce them to the world of inferior care, filling their lungs with inadequate air, penny pinching at the expense of patients, doctors practicing medicine in an intricate web of rationing and regulations. Patients wander the maze of managed bureaucracy, costs rise and quality quickly deteriorates, but they say that managed care is cheaper. They'll say that free choice in medicine will defeat the overall productivity, and as co-payments are steadily rising, I'll make their grandparents have to choose between buying their medicine and paying their rent.

Then I'd feed them hypocritical lines of being pro-life as the only Christian way to be. Then very contradictingly, I'd fight for the spread of the death penalty, as if thou shall not kill applies to babies but not to criminals.

Then I'd introduce them to those sworn to protect and serve, creating a curb in their trust in the law. I'd show them the nightsticks and plungers, the pepper spray and stun guns, the mace and magnums that they'd soon become acquainted with, the shakedowns and illegal search and seizures, the planted evidence, being stopped for no reason. Harassment ain't even the half of it. Forty-one shots to two raised hands, cell phones and wallets that are confused with illegal contrabands. I'd introduce them to pigs who love making their guns click like wine glasses. Everlasting targets surrounded by bullets, making them a walking bull's eye, a living piƱata, held at the mercy of police brutality, and then we'll see if they finally weren't aware of the truth, if their eyes weren't finally open like a box of Pandora.

I'd show them how the other side of the tracks carries the weight of the world on our shoulders and how society seems to be holding us down with the force of a boulder. The bird of democracy flew the coop back in Florida. See, for some, and justice comes in packs like wolves in sheep's clothing. T.K.O.'d by the right hooks of life, many are left staggering under the weight of the day, leaning against the ropes of hope. When your dreams have fallen on barren ground, it becomes difficult to keep pushing yourself forward like a train, administering pain like a doctor with a needle, their sequels continue more lethal than injections.

They keep telling us all is equal. I'd tell them that instead of giving tax breaks to the rich, financing corporate mergers and leading us into unnecessary wars and under-table dealings with Enron and Halliburton, maybe they can work on making society more peaceful. Instead, they take more and more money out of inner city schools, give up on the idea of rehabilitation and build more prisons for poor people. With unemployment continuing to rise like a deficit, it's no wonder why so many think that crime pays.

Maybe this trip will make them see the error of their ways. Or maybe next time, we'll just all get out and vote. And as far as their stay in the White House, tell them that numbered are their days."
posted by GodlessMom, 7:39 PM | link | 7 comments |

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hurricane Rita

Sept 24, 2005

There is beauty in the power of nature. As I walked out onto my back porch this morning, coffee in hand, I looked into a crystal blue sky completely devoid of pollution. I breathed in air that was fresh with the smell of rain and wet vegetation and watched the doves lazily mill about my lawn looking for fallen seeds.

If I didn't know better I would think I was standing on top of a mountain in Montana or laying on my back in the red sands of my beloved desert, so clear was the air and so blue was the sky. But I'm not in Montana nor am I in Utah. I'm in Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in the United States.

Over the course of 72 hours the city had undergone a massive change. A huge percentage of the vehicles which normally crowd it's streets had been driven off to parts unknown and the winds and rain of Rita had come through like a freight train, blowing away the pollution, washing clean the stench and sending the human population scurrying into their closets. Mother nature had done in two days what the Department of transportation and the EPA have been trying to do for decades...Reduce the amount of traffic on the streets and clean up the air.

As hurricanes go, Houston was very lucky. Most of us had to deal with fallen branches and power outages, I'm going to have to replace the gate into my backyard, but these things are easy to deal with and seem less than trivial when compared to the massive damage done just east of our city. I've seen different maps breaking down the intensity of the storm, but it seems that my area of town had sustained winds between 50 and 75 mph. We had very little rain, a fact that truly surprised me.

By far the most disastrous thing to happen to Houston was the evacuation. I live less than a mile from one of the main highways out of Houston, Interstate 290. It was a parking lot from Wednesday at 3:00 pm until Friday afternoon. During the peak of the exodus it was taking almost 30 hours to drive from Houston to Austin, normally a 3-4 hour trip.

We had originally planned on sheltering a family of five in our home. However, as it became apparent that many people wouldn't be able to get out of town before the storm hit the population in our house grew, we directed family and friends to our house and made up beds on couches and floors. By the time the storm hit we had thirteen people in our home, all of us waiting and watching. Each time a new report would surface regarding the projected path of the storm it became more and more apparent that our decision to stay put had been a good one and by midnight everyone had gone to sleep.

Everyone but me that is. I knew the storm wasn't going to hit hurricane levels near our home, but the wind was incredible. It was coming from all directions, battering our trees and whistling around the roof and between the house and garage. I stayed awake all night, ready to raise the alarm should the storm grow to dangerous levels. (truth be told, I'm a really light sleeper and couldn't have slept through the noise anyway.) Fortunately I didn't need to awaken anyone and as the sun came up on Saturday morning I breathed a sigh of relief, made a pot of coffee for my guests and went to bed.

The stores are still closed, the gas stations are still out of gas and Liz won't go back to school until Tuesday. Other than that, all is well and Interstate 290 is once again crowded with people coming back into town. I'm sure the pollution will be back by this evening.
posted by GodlessMom, 8:07 PM | link | 15 comments |

We are well

We survived! My internet connection is down so I'm borrowing a dial-up for this post. We have power and water, at this point we are just staying in our home and out of the way of people who are trying to get back into Houston. Once my internet service is restored I'll post about my experience. Take care everyone! I'll be back ASAP.
posted by GodlessMom, 10:00 AM | link | 5 comments |

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The calm before the storm

I thought I'd be running around like a wild woman tonight but as it happens all is calm here on the home front. We are as ready as we are ever going to be. Food, water, radio, batteries...We've got it all.

We have five people who are staying with us, they have evacuated from an area closer to the coast. It took them over 12 hours to drive the 40 miles between their house and ours. The mass evacuation from the Houston area has been very difficult but things are starting to look much better, most of the areas near the coast are ghost towns now.

I know a few people who are being stubbornly stupid and refusing to evacuate from areas that are in danger. Hopefully they will be the exception and not the rule. As of now it looks like the eye of the hurricane will be passing east of us which puts us on the clean side and in less danger of tornados and horrible flooding. Unfortunately all of that damage will be happening in our ship channel near our refineries...Not a good thing for the price of gas over the next few months.

I'll post when I get a chance. Thank you all for your kind thoughts, I'll let you know how things go! Meanwhile, check out this article.
posted by GodlessMom, 7:48 PM | link | 10 comments |

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Allison and Rita

June 6, 2001

We had been warned that a tropical storm was headed toward Houston but the winds were well below hurricane strength and no one was particularly worried about it. Houston gets a lot of rain on a regular basis so we don't really get our panties in a bunch when rain is in the forecast. Tropical Storm Allison really looked like just a big rain storm and so it was business as usual in Houston.

She came, she went, we had a little bit of flooding but nothing unusual, life went on.

Then Allison pulled a fast one. On June 8, 2001 she made an unexpected turn and headed back toward Houston. Then, rather than moving on she decided to stay a while. The storm stalled out over the city and in a 24 hour period there were parts of Houston that received almost 38 inches of rain.

It was unbelievable. Scott was stuck downtown, he and a couple of co-workers had managed to find a hotel room but the roads were flooded and he was unable to come home. I sat alone in the dark with my 10 week old baby wondering if I'd ever see my husband again. I live on a cul de sac and the circle out in front of my house was a lake. I have to give credit to the engineers who designed the drainage for my neighborhood though, when the sun came up on June 9 there wasn't even a standing puddle in my yard. Scott managed to get home late that afternoon.

His building, one of the main highrise office buildings in downtown Houston, was closed for two months due to flood damage. The total damage exceeded 5 billion dollars. Allison has the dubious honor of being the only tropical storm to ever have her name retired without ever hitting hurricane strength.

No one expects Rita to drop anywhere near as much rain as Allison. However, we will have hurricane force winds to contend with. They are already evacuating Galveston, as of tomorrow morning it will be mandatory, the areas near the bay and shipping areas will be evacuated tomorrow and several school districts have announced school closures for tomorrow through the end of the week.

I've got a family of five who will be staying with me for the duration (starting tomorrow night.) A man, his wife, their two children and their 96 year old grandmother. I'm concerned about keeping grandma cool enough if the power goes out. My parents will be leaving the city tomorrow morning, Daddy has to sleep with a C-PAP machine so he HAS to have power available to him. This ought to be interesting!

I probably won't post until after this is over. Fellow Houstonians, please let me know if I can help in any way. I hope everyone has a great weekend with minimal storm damage.
posted by GodlessMom, 9:40 PM | link | 15 comments |

Monday, September 19, 2005

Thar she blows! (done in my best Mr. Krabs voice)

Well it looks like Rita might be headed this way. It will be a couple of days before we know for certain but I'll be watching it closely.

My posts are going to be very sporadic and lame this week (as they have been for most of September.) Life is pulling me in multiple directions right now! Hopefully I can get back to regular blogging by next week (providing my house hasn't been blown down.)
posted by GodlessMom, 2:08 PM | link | 8 comments |

Friday, September 16, 2005

Those who share my DNA

The first week of kindergarten went very well for Liz. She seems to be adapting well and has made a few new friends. Her teachers enjoy her and she seems to really like the school campus. She did have a bit of an emotional melt-down on Thursday morning, I think it was sinking in that she would have to do the school thing every day. She recovered nicely though and has been happy and positive since. Overall I'd say that it has been a rousing success.

My sister was with me for the better part of the week, visiting from Denver. She has leukemia/lymphoma and is in remission. However, she has to do maintainence chemo every 6 months. I was amazed at how it drained all the energy from her body. She would go to bed by 9:00 in the evening, sleep until 7:30 or 8:00 and then take a 3 or 4 hour nap during the day. She seemed to really enjoy her visit though. We just played the veggie game, talking, reading and watching Lord of the Rings. It was nice and relaxing and it was really good to see her.

My father's mind seems to be slipping a little more each day. My mom has made him do the dishes since she had surgery on her shoulder in July (Mom is still in a sling.) Daddy will wash and dry the dishes but he can't remember where the clean dishes go, even though he puts them away two times a day. He keeps trying and has a good attitude about the whole thing but it is difficult to see him fading like this.

My family is wonderful. I'm very, very lucky to be surrounded by so much love.

I'll be back Monday. Have a great weekend!
posted by GodlessMom, 9:05 PM | link | 6 comments |

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Feeling Helpless.

I have a very dear friend in Utah who is one of the finest human beings I have ever met. He is super intelligent and has a phenomenal sense of humor, he is interesting and compassionate and has a deep love for the world around him. He is dedicated to his family and is one of those people you know you can count on to help in a pinch.

I've known him since we were eleven years old, so I've watched him grow from a boy into the man he is today and I can honestly say I've never seen him do anything that would ever put his good character into question. He is a teacher and he is wonderful with children and animals, he's attractive too, not in a GQ sort of way but in a solid, masculine, accessable way.

The tragedy of my friend is that he is alone. He wants to marry and have children, he wants to share his life with someone. Unfortunately my friend suffers from terrible depression and it has severely handicapped him. He is incapable of mustering the energy it takes to socialize and when he does manage the energy his thoughts saboutage all his encounters before they ever occur.

Medication and therapy haven't helped him at all. In fact his body reacts to medications in a very negative way. It breaks my heart.

He frequently talks of killing himself and I don't know what to say to him. I try to help him see the positive things in life and I let him know that I love him and my life is richer because I know him. Unfortunately, the longer we go the less weight these arguments hold for him.

I so want him to be happy and fulfilled. I so want for him to experience the joys of life. I love him so much and I want to keep him safe from himself. I just don't see any way that I can do it.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:49 AM | link | 12 comments |

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

To Liz on her first day of Kindergarten

My Dearest Liz,

Yesterday I sent you off into the world. I watched you wipe silent tears from your eyes then straighten your back and bravely march off into the unknown. I felt such a swelling of pride as I watched that beautiful head of blonde hair disappear through the doorway. I also felt a tiny bit of sorrow as I realized that my baby is truly gone, she has been replaced by a bright, vivacious, sweet-natured little girl.

I feel confident that you possess the skills necessary to take this next step. You have always made friends so easily and your curiosity serves you well. I won't lie to you, there are some painful times ahead. School can be a lot of fun but it is also a place where you will inevitably learn a few tough lessons.

There are a few things I'd like you to try and remember as you enter this new phase of your life.

First, always try to be friends with the kid who needs friends. The popularity game is vicious and pointless, please try to rise above it. Look for the children who fade into the woodwork and do your best to include them and make them feel loved.

Second, listen to your teachers and they will open the door to a whole new level of understanding, be polite and considerate and don't be afraid to ask questions. Aside from your family, these are the adults who will influence you most. Give them the opportunity to earn your respect and you will earn their respect in return.

Third, always perform to the best of your ability. Like your mother, you have a tendency to let things slide on occasion. I have some good qualities, please don't emulate my bad ones!

Fourth, (I can't say it any better than Shakespeare) "This above all, to thine own self be true." I know that you are a kind hearted and generous person. I also know that you have a keen sense of justice and a healthy amount of pride, these qualities will serve you well if you listen to your heart and always take the noble path.

Fifth, while most people you meet will be kind and decent folks, you will occasionally run across an asshole. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and don't be afraid to come to the defense of someone who is being bullied. Seek out the assistance of an adult if necessary but do not tolerate unkindness. You have my permission to tell the assholes of the world to go to hell.

Lastly and by far the most important, please remember that Daddy and I are always, ALWAYS here for you. When you are sad, we will dry your tears and help you through your tough times. When you are afraid we will be there to help you confront your problems. When you are happy we will share your joy and when you are angry we will work together to come to terms with life's frustrations. Occasionally you will make mistakes and we will be here to help you learn from them. Whenever you need us we will be here.

I love you very much,
posted by GodlessMom, 5:20 AM | link | 10 comments |

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I see your true colors shining through

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't be back until Wednesday but I found these two articles which I think speak volumes about the priorities of the Bush administration.

Firms with White House ties get Katrina contracts.

Bush lifts wage rules for Katrina.

So, Haliburton subsidiaries get the big contracts and then Bush makes certain that the federal money stays in the pockets of the suits rather than being passed on to the people who actually do the work. Can someone explain to me how he can possibly justify this action to himself, let alone to the American public?
posted by GodlessMom, 7:09 PM | link | 15 comments |

I'll be back on Wednesday

I've been experiencing technical difficulties. My internet connection has been very unreliable for the last few days and out completely for the last 24 hours. Hopefully they will get things fixed soon.

I've got guests in my house until Tuesday and Liz will be starting Kindergarten at her new school on Monday so things are a bit hectic around here. I'm going to take a blogging break until Wednesday. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
posted by GodlessMom, 3:30 PM | link | 1 comments |

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Welcome to Houston, now go away!

I've noticed a rather alarming trend here in Houston regarding the Katrina survivors who have joined our population. I don't know if it is just my area of town (Cypress/Copperfield) but I'd sure be interested in the thoughts of other Houstonians on this one.

I woke up yesterday morning and put on the local news (Channel 2) while I made my coffee. The first story was regarding rumors that are spreading around the city concerning a dramatic increase in crime in the area surrounding the Astrodome since the evacuees arrived. The police actually had to hold a press conference to tell everyone that it isn't true. There has been no increase in criminal activity at all since these folks arrived, yet the rumors persist.

There seems to be a fear of what the survivors represent. I'm continually hearing about how this is the criminal element, the welfare/social leach element from New Orleans. The general consensus seems to be that while what happened is unfortunate and these Americans who have lost everything are to be pitied, the fact that they are now in Houston will only tax our social welfare system. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that along with the elderly and disabled there are also entrepreneurs and skilled workers, educated professionals and artists. I'm not saying there aren't lazy people in the group, of course there will be. I'm just floored by the attitude that ALL of these people are like that.

I first noticed this attitude in my social group last Thursday when the first of the survivors arrived in our city. A few of the ladies in my neighborhood expressed their shock at the situation and their dismay at the fact that these people would be joining our population. I even witnessed outright verbal hostility regarding the fact that the children from Louisiana will be joining our schools. One lady went so far as to suggest that these children will bring disease into our schools and infect our children, as if Louisiana doesn't require the same childhood immunizations as Texas. Ironically enough, these same ladies are out busting their butts getting donations for their church and school water/food drives. They will pile tons of donations together and go out of their way to make certain the donations reach those in need, yet the don't really seem to want to actually welcome these people.

It's easy to assume this is a racial issue, and I'm sure that race plays a significant role in this attitude. However, I think the more insidious cause of this hostility is social class difference. For some reason I cannot fathom, these folks I've been listening to seem to equate poverty with laziness and criminality. It seems that this attitude is extremely pervasive, enough so that the police force felt it was necessary to hold a press conference in regards to the issue.

Have you guys noticed the same attitude in your various parts of town? Is there any solution to this inherent distrust? Does this type of attitude turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, the pre-conceived ideas working to fuel prejudice which in turn fuel the racism and poverty?

In the immortal words of Barbara Bush, "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. This is working very well for them."

I don't mean to say that all of Houston feels this way. There has been an amazing and heartwarming outpouring of kindness and generosity here that I feel is truly genuine. It's the undercurrent of distrust that worries me.
posted by GodlessMom, 6:13 AM | link | 20 comments |

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

One man's story.

Eric bought a new house two weeks ago. A beautiful thing, almost 160 years old. The quality of the construction was remarkable, it was framed out of hardwoods which were salvaged from old ships. Eric and his wife Lynn were out shopping for a new stove for their new home when he received a call on his cell from his mom. She was wondering if they were going to evacuate the city. Eric's new home sat on some high ground at the edge of New Orleans, it was Saturday morning.

By Sunday morning it was evident that Katrina (which had become a category 5) was going to hit New Orleans. Anyone with half a brain knows that a category 5 hitting New Orleans IS the worse case scenario and by mid day Sunday Eric had packed up his pickup and sent Lynn, their son and their dogs to Houston. Eric chose to stay in their new home and try to protect their investment.

The storm hit Monday morning and the old house weathered it beautifully. By Monday evening Eric's power was still out but his water and gas still worked without problem, he even took a bath and cooked some dinner. Tuesday morning came and he went out into his neighborhood to help begin clearing some of the fallen trees and talk to the neighbors, they were able to listen to the news on a battery powered radio and it was evident that the nightmare scenario had taken place overnight. Unable to contain the water from the hurricane the levees had broken and New Orleans had flooded.

Tuesday night the looting started, Eric slept in front of the main door into the house and watched all night as people came onto his porch and shined flashlights into his house, looking for houses that were unoccupied. Once they realized that there was someone on the premises they would quickly move on to the next house. By Wednesday their good manners had passed. People were hungry and thirsty and were looking for shelter and things were getting very ugly. Gangs roamed the streets carrying guns and shots rang out all over the city. Erik hooked up with two of his neighbors, two strong and healthy men, and ventured out of the neighborhood for supplies. They heard rumors that Walmart was being looted so they walked over to take a look. There were police there but they weren't acting like police, they were beating the crap out of everyone who ventured into Walmart, including little kids.

They made their way to the Convention Center because they heard it was being used as a shelter. They took turns guarding their shopping cart full of possessions and looking for water. Erik helped an old man who was sitting on the sidewalk in a folding chair, after he returned from a water finding trip he went to give the man some water and found that he had died. Someone had put a blanket over him and left him there. The bathrooms were unbelievable, the water had quit working on Monday night yet people continued to try and use the facilities, there was a dead body sitting in the corner of the room.

After a few hours at the Convention Center it became obvious that no help was coming. Erik and his two neighbors decided that if they were going to survive they had better start walking. They had heard of a way out of the city, toward Hammond, Louisiana around the western edge of Lake Ponchartrain. They managed to find fresh water in an office building water cooler and managed to disguise it by filling up several coffee cans. Chances were good at this point that if you had water you would be killed for it. The three men walked from New Orleans to Hammond, hundreds of people passed them by in vehicles fleeing the city and the forest pressed right up against the edge of the road, leaving them very little room to walk. There were several close calls where they were almost hit by the traffic but by the early morning hours on Thursday they had managed to make it to I-12. They bribed a man with 200 dollars and a tank full of gas to bring them into Houston in the back of his pickup. Eric was reunited with his family on Thursday.

Eric broke down several times while relaying this story to my husband, Scott. He said he saw things that were too horrible to speak of but the images run through his head at night in his dreams. Eric's son has been sent to New Mexico to live with his grandparents and go to school for the time being but Erik and Lynn are determined to return home to New Orleans when circumstances allow.

He fully acknowledges that he was stupid to stay in the city when he had the opportunity to leave, good ol' 20/20 hindsight. Eric isn't a rich man but he had the financial resources to buy a house out of the flood zone and to bribe his way out of Louisiana. He had the health and stamina to find supplies and walk out of harms way and he didn't have to worry about caring for sick, old or young family members. Many were not so lucky.
posted by GodlessMom, 3:07 AM | link | 14 comments |

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

To do without.

American gluttony is a well established fact. The average middle class American has two cars in the driveway, air-conditioning, three square meals and simple luxuries like washers and dryers and microwave ovens. A large percentage of our population also depends daily on cell phones and internet connections, satellite dishes and Xbox machines. All of these cool contraptions need energy and while we possess only 5% of the world's population we consume 26% of it's energy resources.

As I sit here typing this, my 3400 sqare foot house is cooled to a comfortable 74 degrees (even though the outside temperature exceeds 98 degrees), I'm watching an old Marlon Brando film (The Ugly American), the dishwasher and clothes dryer are running and I accidently left the light on in the bathroom. (GodlessMom gets up to turn off the light.)

I like the cool house, the internet connection and the Marlon Brando films. I enjoy the fact that if I'm hungry I can pop a frozen dinner in the microwave and fill my belly with very little effort. I'm as guilty as the next guy when it comes to using more than my fair share of our planet's resources and while I try to do the right thing I find that I'm always running into the conflict of my sense of environmental obligation versus my lack of time and desire for convenience.

So, I've been doing some soul searching. I've been thinking about what luxuries I could do without. I could live with a smaller house and a slightly higher indoor temperature. I could be happy with a hybrid car. I could deal with only one television and only one computer (although there would have to be serious time-share going on.) I don't need the hair-dryer and I could almost be persuaded to forego my clothes dryer (although I'm not keen on giving up the clothes washer.) Truth be told I could live without my dishwasher too, although I wouldn't be happy about it. I draw the line at indoor plumbing though, I have to be able to flush the toilet.

Okay, I've now set the thermostats one degree higher and the hair dryer has been put on the top shelf at the back of the closet. It's a start. What about you guys? What are you willing to do without?
posted by GodlessMom, 4:56 PM | link | 11 comments |

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Update from Houston

Scott rolled in late last night after a trip to Baton Rouge to set up a temporary office for his firm's employees in New Orleans. He said there is a massive, very visible police force on the streets and that order is being maintained very well so if you've heard any rumors to the contrary (CNN) they aren't true.

He had a reservation in Lake Charles and the hotel called and asked if his trip was for business or pleasure. I guess the Governor has told all hotels that they are to take hurricane survivors only, business and pleasure reservations have all been cancelled. On the road home he inched along in the huge amounts of traffic still leaving the area and passed a huge convoy of private vehicles all loaded with supplies headed toward the Houston Astrodome, they had massive police escort. All of the electronic freeway signs here tell the hurricane evacuees that the Houston shelters are full and they must continue on to San Antonio or Dallas.

If you live within 500 miles of the areas affected by the hurricane and have space available in your home please consider opening your doors to some of these folks. They cannot begin to put their lives back in order until they can find a little stability for their children and some decent facilities for their elderly. This website is putting homes together with families in need.

I've got a lot going on around here. I will most likely be away from blogging until Tuesday.
posted by GodlessMom, 7:38 AM | link | 9 comments |

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Holy S***t, Now what?

With a title like that I bet you think I'm going to talk about the hurricane. Believe me, there is a lot to be said about the situation. Friday is a huge food drive day in Houston. If you live near an HEB grocery store you can drop off any food/personal hygiene products there. They will be distributed to the hurricane victims who are currently being sheltered in the Houston area.

My Holy S**t moment has to do with my daughter. Liz is a bright kid. I've always known that she is a bit smarter than the average bear but I've never really given much thought to the issue. Basically, if she had a question I've always made certain that she had the answer. Sometimes this meant hours of research on my part and in depth explanations for someone with very limited life experience but how can you deny knowledge to such a thirsty mind?

She said her first word at nine months and was speaking in full sentences by the time she was a year old. By the time she was two she was talking circles around her friends and frequently asked me to explain things to them. She recognized her first letter (R) before she was 13 months old and had the whole alphabet down before she was 15 months old (except for M and W...Those were confusing.) Life has just progressed from there and her knowledge and curiosity have increased every day.

Well, about a year ago I started to realize that by the time Liz hit kindergarten age (one year from now) she just might be beyond what public school could offer her. I began to look around at various private schools in our area. There are the snooty "My child is better than your child" schools, the overly religious "God before education" type places, the militaristic "We will discipline your child until she bleeds" schools, and the hearts and flowers "Let the child's interests determine the direction of her education" places. Now, all of these types of education may have their place. I'm sure there are individuals who thrive in each of the situations but none of them seemed right for my Liz.

Then, I found a place that seemed perfect. The teacher/student ratio never exceeds one to twelve. They specialize in teaching "gifted" kids and frequently take REALLY cool field trips in order to provide the children with serious hands-on education. The environment is friendly and relaxed but still structured enough to teach the kids that they have to follow certain rules and play the game in certain ways.

The problem? In order to gain admittance the kids have to take an IQ test and pass the social tests. I hate the thought of putting my child in a situation where she has to prove herself against something as weird as an IQ test. And frankly I was worried that I was seeing something in my child that wasn't there. I was afraid that the child who I considered to be brilliant was actually quite average.

Well, that fear was unfounded. Today we took Liz for her interview and she hit it out of the park. Her vocabulary especially was off the charts, the tester was literally floored by her abilities. They also identified some problems that may be developing because of her big brain. Issues with her knowledge outpacing her ability to put it to good use.

Now, I'm nervous. How do I make certain that I provide her with all she needs? How do I help that brain develop without it becoming a liability? How do I make sure that she enjoys not only advanced physics but also throwing a ball for the dog? How in the hell am I going to afford all this education?

I know there are some moms out there with smart kids, how have you handled your child's gifts? I know there are some teachers out there. What would you recommend? Help me! I'm lost!
posted by GodlessMom, 4:16 PM | link | 21 comments |