My brother, his wife, and toddler, are in the evacuation zone so they are packing up, to drive further inland and to higher ground: my parents' house. My brother told me, "We'll bring a few gas generators and movies, and make a nice weekend out of it!" He is clearly the "glass is half-full" representative in the family.
We often use humor in our family to get through stressful situations. Hurricanes are no joke ~ even if your home can withstand the 80-120 mph winds, as you huddle inside in total darkness, plywood boards providing a thin layer of safety against shattering glass ~ they whip up tornadoes, deadly storm surges at the coastline, and flash flooding. Every time my parent's house has flooded, they watch from upstairs, candles and flashlights in hand, waiting for the storm to pass. A few days later, the sun is out, the lights are back on, you step outside and avoid the snakes that have washed up into your yard, and you begin the clean-up ~ my parents always joke that it's as good a time as any to remodel.
But, watching the news, I begin to worry because this one is pretty massive ~ and they predict it will only strengthen before landfall. So, I call my mom to check in.
I ask her how the emergency prep is going. She sounds so calm, as if she is fitting in the hurricane between breakfast and dinner. My dad is out getting the generator and the windows have been boarded up. She will wait for my brother and his family. I ask her if she has plenty of food and if she knows what she will cook before the lights go out. "Oh yes ~ but they're vegetarians ~ can you believe it?!" In Spanish it was much, much funnier. Then she mumbled, "Yo no tengo tantos vegetales." She's right, aside from green bell peppers for chiles rellenos, there are rarely many vegetables in the house (except for all the canned ones in the pantry). Did you know that before I moved to California, I had never seen fresh eggplant, or an artichoke, or fresh green beans?! ~ But that is another story....
So, I asked mami what vegetarian dish she planned to prepare. "Chicken Salad." . . . . .
Yes, in Texas, "vegetarian" simply means you don't eat blood-read meat ~ this is nearly a sin in Texas! She added, though, that she will make her delicious ensalada de papa and arroz. "But what else will they eat?!" I ask. Then I add, "how about scrambled eggs?" ~ "Ai, si! Con weeneetos!" ~ Yes, she means eggs with little weenies, I mean sausages. Love. Her.
I ask her if she can make her famous entomatadas or simply cheese enchiladas, but she says she doesn't have the ingredients. So, I tell her to hurry up and get out to Food Town!
"But the stores are empty!" she explains. "I can't even find bread! I'm going to have to buy wheat bread!" Love. Her. And it was funnier in Spanish.
So, I will call them throughout the weekend to see how they are holding up ~ with the family lockdown and the hurricane!
Now I will go home to light a candle for Texas, my family, and friends, and to reminisce about my Wonder Bread childhood. ~ :)
P.S. ~ I just found out that my brother's family started eating chicken last month, so everything will be A-OK ! ~ :-)