22 September 2005

Calm before the storm

From my east-facing computer room window, Thursday morning looks ... normal. It's sunny, warm and humid. Life is normal, too. I make coffee and boot the computer. The only change: The dog senses that something is up. She was barking at air at 8 this morning. And now she won't go outside without me.

Rita has made a turn. She is toying with us. First, she teases us with her dirty side. Then she turns to show us her back-side. Yesterday, the National Hurricane Center had her aiming at Matagorda. Today, she is giving the eye to Bolivar. More than 1 million people are trying to get out of town.

My neighbors are leaving. He came by last night to ask if I needed any help carrying the lawn furniture out of the back yard. His wife ordered a mandatory evacuation of him & their adorable little girls. They will go stay with friends in Austin. He, like me, was here for Alicia, and he thinks Rita is likely to be no big deal for us. He does not look forward to sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 290. I reminded him that hurricanes and loud and scary, and even if his wife was OK with it all, his little girls probably would find it very scary. He hadn't thought of that. He also had not thought about shutting off the gas when he left town, but we all remind each other of these things because we don't want our own houses to explode if anything leaks next door.

Otherwise, it's just too normal here. Sun, no clouds, chirping birds, barking dog. Someone is out cutting their grass with a push-mower. I vacuumed yesterday and did laundry after reading a "hurricane preparations tips" list: "It might be your last chance to do laundry for several days." And we don't want the rescuers to find us with dirty underpants, now, do we? I washed & dried everything; I figure I can fold it while I'm trying to ignore the storm.

I felt silly vacuuming, thinking about the pictures I have seen of what was left of homes in New Orleans after Katrina. If mom comes over and sees that I cleaned only downstairs, I'm going to blame the upstairs mess on the hurricane.