The 40th Birthday I’ll Never Forget

If you weren’t already aware, E.J. and I live and work in the north part of Houston. Which means the last 2 weeks have been nothing short of crazy.  First there was the massive run on food, fuel and supplies at the grocery stores getting ready for Harvey to arrive, then the “Hunker Down” part when the storm actually hit.  This is the part of the process when you’re glued to the Weather Channel and/or our local news networks (one of which even went off air for nearly 2 days when their studio flooded) and the massive worry…  “Did I buy enough food?  Will the retention ponds hold?  What about my pets?  Do I know how to get help if I need it?  What if my cell phone stops working?”

We were lucky and had no damage from the storm, but one of my really good friends wasn’t so lucky.  She and about 500 other homes in her neighborhood started flooding early on day 2 and eventually ended up with 6 1/2 feet of the San Jacinto River in her home.  Fortunately, she and her family along with some neighbors escaped by boat and drove through shallow flood waters down to where we live, and we hosted her neighbors for the next day and a half until the rain finally stopped.  On the same day that our house guests arrived, E.J. was activated with the National Guard.  My 40th birthday was Tuesday – the morning I got the text from one of my users that our entire network had gone down in one of the floods and that no one had email or connectivity to any of the rest of our systems.  The remainder of that day was a fire drill trying to acquire another emergency Internet connection to our systems via phone and then getting everything back up and running.

E.J. has remained active since then, but fortunately he’s been assigned to work from his home armory which is just down the road from us, so he’s been able to come home for a few hours every other day or so, if just to grab supplies, drop off/pick up clothes, and have a meal with us.  On my birthday, he even managed to acquire flowers, steak, and a fabulous port, and proceeded to cook me a fantastic meal after a horrendous day.   If that’s not PaleoMarine superhero stuff, I don’t know what is!!

This weekend, once the water had receded, I helped my friend clean and move her stuff to her temporary living arrangements while I watched wave after wave of volunteers come through to gut every house on her street.  It was heart-wrenching and heart-warming, all at the same time.  Golf carts were coming through every 10-15 minutes with meals, drinks, and snacks for anyone that needed it.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it, but I can say it made me proud to be part of this community of people who sweat and cleaned, and did anything they could to help a fellow human in need.  Some of these people came from hundreds of miles away just to help wherever they could.  On Saturday, a bunch of my friends surprised me with a belated birthday party at one of my favorite restaurants that had reopened.  It was definitely good to step out of the crazy for awhile and enjoy some normal.  By yesterday, Labor Day, most of the city near me had returned to business as usual, and I was able to enjoy some shopping and a badly-needed pedicure.

Needless to say, clean eating wasn’t exactly first priority through all of this.  There were definitely a few evenings that ended in a bottle of cider or a couple of glasses of wine, if just to calm my nerves.  But all in all, we did what we could to stick to our routines.  While everyone else was clearing the shelves of bread, peanut butter, jelly, pop tarts, and all of the other comfort foods, I was stocked with 5 lbs of bacon, 5 dozen eggs,  smoked pulled pork, cooked sausage, Hungarian meatballs, some fresh fruit and veggies, and lots of sweet potatoes.  I also had ice chests standing by in case I lost power and needed to transition anything out.  I cooked out of our freezer for most of the meals during the storm just so I could reduce our exposure to a power outage.  Fortunately, we never lost any utilities, other than a few short brown/blackouts during the height of the storm.  I’m up about 3 lbs, but all things considered, I’m ok with it.  There’s a #Harvey15 that’s circulating down here to reference the weight everyone put on while cooped up in their homes with ample junk food and high-strung nerves.

E.J. is still on active duty, helping with operations in Beaumont.  He’s thinking it might be a month before they stand down again.  Until then, I’m still cooking, just smaller portions.  I’m back to running now that the weather has cleared up too.  I’ll do my best to stay on track until our world settles back to normal again.

 

 

 

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