Saturday, September 24, 2005

On the Road...well, in the air again!

I'm off! Dh has a conference in L.A. and my Dad is staying with the kiddos!
I'll be back Wednesday night and will catch up with you later in the week!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Please Pray II

I'm repeating my request from last month, with a few changes.

Please just pray. I was so worried a few weeks ago about what Katrina could do if it hit New Orleans. Then it hit. Things were torn up but it turned out so much better than I'd feared. All of those prayers worked! Then the levees could not hold out any longer.........and all hell broke loose.

My family (on my husband's side) all got out OK. Some homes are fine and others are destroyed. Those family members were able to get out and stay with our other family members---in Beaumont, TX and San Antonio, TX.

So please pray again. These cities aren't "bowls" but this is an enormous storm.
So many of my very dear friends from New Orleans moved a few years after I did. They all live in Houston now. Please keep them in your prayers.

For those friends who may read this: Come on up!!!! (I have lost touch with a few of you but y'all keep in touch with each other and one or two of you read this blog---come on up!!) My house, almost smack-dab in the middle of Kansas may not be the most exciting place you've seen in your life but I will promise you that no hurricane will hit central Kansas!!!! Come on up!!! I'll have a hurricane waiting for you---but it will be in a big glass with lots of rum!!! ; )

Just take a deep breath and hang in there. Last year, my family dealt with many hurricanes hitting Florida. This year, my in-laws and friends are dealing with the hurricanes hitting the Gulf. Next year, they've got to just head straight up to Greenland, right?

The Rewards of Being a SAHM

I am very lucky to be able to be a stay-at-home-mom (though we actually stay home less and less these days). I am honored to be able to assist my daughter with her homework, remind the children to actually use the bathroom and make sure all the little nooks and crannies get soaped and rinsed each night.

When my son did his impression of Linda Blair in The Exorcist last night, I was there to comfort him as well as clean him, the floor and in between all of the cushions of our leather couch. When he had a bad dream in the middle of the night, he came to get me, begged me to sleep in his bed and I did. Until my daughter called me five minutes later. Then he cried when he woke and realized I was in her room. I thought I was even handling the “double-duty” just fine until I literally ran into my husband in the dark hallway (he was trying to help but he scared the living daylights out of me in the process)!

So as my son piped up in the car again this morning “When will Daddy be home?” I gave the usual answer: “dinnertime.”

“When can Daddy stay home?”
(Hubbie leaves town twice a month for an executive MBA class so I thought this had something to do with the question.)

“Daddy will stay home all night tonight. He has another trip soon but he won’t be gone too long.”

“NO! When can Daddy STAY home? Like you?”

“Oh! Well, Daddy still goes to work each day. He works hard to make money so Mommy can stay home with you and we can have our nice house and good food to eat. Aren’t we lucky?”

“It isn’t fair for Daddy.”

“No, it isn’t. Boy, I sure am lucky to be able to stay with you two great kids though, huh?”

"Yes. It isn’t fair for Daddy. I want Daddy to stay home all day with us.”

“Maybe one day, kiddo. Maybe in a few years. But it isn’t so bad with Mom, right?”

“I am sick of you.”


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Things that make you go hmmmm.....

I saw this at Miss New Orleans' blog.

My Favorite Quote from this Week

I have so much that I should be reading but I took some time to peruse the Sunday paper today. In the Books & Writing section of The Manhattan Mercury, where I always find a review of at least one book that I want to read, there was a review for the book New Orleans Stories. I’ve got a book or two about folktales and legends from the Crescent City but this is one I am certainly adding to my “must read” list.

If you’ve been reading this blog—you know I love that city. New Orleans is where I went to college, where I had my first taste of real freedom, where I met my future husband and where I had my first real, full-time job but those are a few of the thousands of reasons I love that city. Having said that, I spent a fair amount of time living there in fear (the city has a high crime rate) and anger (there is so much poverty and inherent racism in the city). If it is a love/hate relationship that I have with New Orleans however, the love outweighs everything else! There are so many characters that live there that just embody optimism, faith, love, caring and fun! I used to roll my eyes occasionally at the laissez-faire attitude of some of the people. So many of the problems affecting the city and its citizens seemed and seem to have real solutions. However, I’ve learned that taking a deep breath and going on with life is not necessarily giving up. That’s just another method of dealing with daily life. (Of course, daily life is always easier with frozen daiquiris in hand!)

I can ramble on all night about my observations and feelings about the city. However, I mentioned a quote and I know you are waiting with baited breath. I think it sums up New Orleans perfectly.

At the end of the review, the writer included this quote from Andre Codrescu:
The city can drive a sober-minded person insane, but it feeds the dreamer. It feeds the dreamer stories, music and food. Really great food.

There you have it. I have a dream. In it, New Orleans has risen again, the people all have not just shelter but homes, gumbo and po-boys and I am there.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I just had a great idea. I know it's here somewhere.

I would have thought that early Alzheimer's would be a little more fun, what with the whole forget all your worries aspect.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reason #32 for Being a Vegetarian

Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fishburger and I realize, Oh my God. I could be eating a slow learner. ~ Lynda Montgomery

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Friday, September 09, 2005

Daily Affirmations with Opehlia (Katrina’s little sister)

Katrina, Katrina, Katrina!
Everyone always paid attention to Katrina. I can do anything that she can do!

At least, I think I can. Here I come, Florida! Watch out!

Okay, wait. Let’s think…think…where do I want to go first? My cousins visited Cape Canaveral last year. Jacksonville is good but you hear things about Daytona…I think I’d like to see Daytona.

It is so hard to decide. I guess that’s why Katrina always gets all the attention. She didn’t waste time like me. She just started going and hit Florida right in the bottom! After that, she didn’t want to slow down so she just sped up and ran! My big sister could really get moving when she wanted to!

I know I am not that fast. I never did have the windspeeds that my sister did. Once you slow down a bit though, it gives you a chance to think about things. I like to consider my options. It’s nice here off of the coast of Florida. What if I just go ahead on in and hit Flagler Beach? Sure—it’s pretty, it’s historical—but once I get there, will I be sorry I did not head straight for Fernandina?

I’m just not ready yet. I had better head back out east for now. There is nothing wrong with that. There is no use rushing these things. I’ll just come back when I feel ready.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

God bless them, every one!

God bless both Mr. Stronach and the good people of south Florida!

In a previous post today, Mary commented and provided a link to the "simply put" blog. Within this blog, Q provided this link to the Globe and Mail. You should read both the blog and the link to the Globe and Mail.

Mr. Stronach knows what it is like to be poor and be without. Now he is neither and he is sharing generously with the people of Louisiana. Floridians know what it is like to deal with both hurricanes and relief agencies. They too are sharing their clothing and their time.

While it almost makes me wish I were Canadian, then I'd have to deal with those winters. (A few years in Alaska was quite enough, thank you very much!) So I feel very lucky to be able to say that I was born in south Florida!

Kudos to them all!

Gone with the Wind and Water

Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect.
~Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell was a wise woman. I wonder what Ms. Mitchell would say about the tragedies unfolding in the South. She was always interested in survivor stories and there will be many more that we have not heard yet.
(After all, tomorrow is another day. ~ Margaret Mitchell)

I should not compare General Sherman's march on Georgia to Katrina's sweep through the Gulf coast but the fires in New Orleans this week had me recalling some of the fiery scenes from Selznick's version. While Americans are no longer embroiled in a war with each other, our country is certainly divided over whether or not we should be involved in the war in Iraq.
What most people don't seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one. ~ Margaret Mitchell

I have no idea which individuals within the Army Corps of Engineers have worked on the New Orleans levee systems over the years so I don't know if some comments have turned out to be truly prophetic. The engineers that constructed the levees did a fine job of protecting the city as long as no really big storms came along.
The south produced statesmen and soldiers, planters and doctors and lawyers and poets, but certainly no engineers and mechanics. Let Yankees adopt such low callings. ~ Margaret Mitchell

I have tried to apply some of Ms. Mitchell's quotes to current events. However, some very sage advice that is even more applicable today was given to Ms. Mitchell by her mother:
“It’s happened before and it will happen again,” Maybelle sternly lectured the girl. “And when it does happen, everyone loses everything and everyone is equal. They all start again with nothing at all except the cunning of their brain and the strength of their hands.” ~ Mary Isabelle “Maybelle” Stephens Mitchell

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

I am not a good planner. I rarely have a plan. Knowing this however, I will not run for public office.

City officials knew the predicament New Orleans was and is in. This was not “news” for anyone in New Orleans.

However, as Katrina spun closer to the Crescent City, Mayor Nagin told everyone to leave town and that they would open the Superdome as a shelter of “last resort.” They would send buses around the city to pick up those who relied on public transportation and take them to the Superdome.

The term “last resort” should be used when all other strategies have been exhausted. I do not understand why part of the planning and evacuation strategies did not include a way to actually evacuate the people who had no other way out. There could have been a plan to put thousands of people on trains and buses and send them to Baton Rouge, Shreveport—ANYWHERE ELSE—before having to resort to the Superdome for a very last resort.

Storms turn at the last minute—often—which is a big reason so many people stayed. They were tired after evacuating several times within the past year, spending hours and hours in traffic, spending money on hotel rooms and gas, only to have storms turn and miss New Orleans.
So I understand why there were still so many people in their homes when the storm hit. Many waited to see if it would really come. Then it was either too late to leave (electricity would have been out so they could not fill their tanks at the pumps or get cash from an ATM). Some people even made it through the storm and were glad that they did not waste the time and money to evacuate—until the levees burst. They could not leave as fast as the water was rising.

I really do not blame government officials at any level for what happened to the people who made the decision to stay. My heart aches for those unfortunate people but their situation is not the fault of the president, the governor nor the mayor.

However, in the future, officials need to have plans in place to give people the information and options to get out when they have no other resources.

As my mother mentioned, when Andrew hit south Florida, people only had one way to go—north. When Katrina was heading for New Orleans, people could have gone west or north. Even heading east, which still would have taken them into Katrina’s path, would have gotten them out of the sinking city.

Now I have a plan. I will write the Great American novel. You all buy it. I’ll take the proceeds and buy a fleet of buses and maybe buy out Amtrak too. I’m gonna park ‘em all out in Elysian Fields and the next time there is a storm on the radar, I will personally go down and make sure they load each one with as many people as they can fit into each one.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Mea Culpa II

I apologize.

I should learn to keep my mouth shut. I am not in New Orleans helping right now (though I am trying to find a good way to finagle that one) and I was not living there for the past few years so I did not have a chance to vote for the mayor. Or not.

So I have no right to criticize Mr. Nagin. I have done it anyway but I really don’t have the right.

To those I’ve angered, I must insist that I do not blame the mayor for what happened to New Orleans. I just think that as an elected LEADER, he could have shown a little more leadership and a little less finger-pointing. Telling stranded, hungry, dirty, sick people that they are not getting the help that they need because someone else is taking too long is not going to help them. Whether he believes it or not, it is not hard to get in front of those same cameras and say something like, “People of New Orleans, I am with you. We are strong people and this is a strong city. We will get through this.”

Maybe the crowds would not have believed it. Would it have hurt to try?
I am sure that they do believe the mayor when he says that he is “pissed.” Does that help them? Does it really rush the aid there any sooner?

However, I also do understand that he was in the same situation as his citizens. He had no power, no sleep, probably no clean water to take a shower and he desperately wants to get out of there too. He is the voice of the masses. That message needed to get out.

As far as the stranded citizens, having no power and few radios, they were likely not aware of what was being said anyway.

I understand he did not have the official, legal power to declare martial law as soon as he wanted to do it. However, I did not understand that until the issue was brought forth on the news so I doubt the crowds affected by the order would have understood whether or not it was valid.

Sheriff Harry Lee, in Jefferson Parish—in the suburbs of New Orleans, did declare martial law earlier and the violence was not even close to what it was in the city of New Orleans. I doubt he had the legal power either but he said it anyway and people listened.
(To be fair however, I only lived there for seven years but it seemed people always listened to Mr. Lee.)

I am not saying that martial law was needed simply because there was looting. With regard to the whole “looting” versus “finding” debate, the wording was unfortunate. Regardless of race, ethnicity or anything else—if I were stuck in the situation that these people were and I had to break a store window to get food or water for my kids, I would have done it with no hesitation whatsoever. I can even understand the stolen Cadillacs from an abandoned dealership—if those people thought those cars could get them out of the city.

I will stop rambling now. To Mr. Nagin and your supporters, I apologize if I have unfairly criticized the city government in New Orleans. It took MUCH too long for aid to arrive and the measures that should have been in place in such an event were not even close. If it makes anyone feel better—I am more than ready to continue to criticize state and federal agencies for this debacle too. There have been many opportunities in the last 40 years to work to prevent something like this. However, that’s for another post…

For now, I will stop looking back and I hope others can too. It is time to look forward and do what we can to help our families, friends and neighbors in the Gulf Coast states to recover and rebuild.

Theme and Variations

One of my favorite songs is titled, Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

If you change one word, it's also an article written by New Orleans native, Anne Rice. I've included the link below if you're interested in her article on losing her hometown.

You can view the song lyrics here.

Hear a portion of the song, as recorded by Harry Connick Jr., here.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Happy News

Seems like uplifting stories are few and far between these days, so I had to share!

Timely tip

God forbid you need to evacuate your home. I'm still having trouble fathoming the list of trials awaiting our friends, relatives and everyone else in the the Gulf coast states right now.

However, in case another disaster ever encroaches upon your hometown--I thought this was helpful advice. When we moved (from Alaska to Kansas) last year and more recently, for just weekend stays, we have booked all of our hotel stays online. Perfectly fine when everything else falls into line. You can even get great discounts.

However, reading this article from a newsman in New Orleans who was trying to get accomodations for his grandmother--looks like nothing beats good 'ol Ma Bell. After striking out a few times, more than once, he was able to find lodging online. He called to confirm though (good Boy Scout: be prepared) only to find out that the hotel's computers had been down for days and they had NO rooms even though the internet said they did! You could arrive, confirmation number in hand and be out of luck!

If any disaster causes you to seek shelter at higher ground in your future---call ahead to see if there really is room at the inn!

Then again--THIS is REALLY different!

You've got to check this out!
(Kris, thank you for sharing this)!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

And now for something completely different...

I outlined the WHOLE thing! The WIP is moving along!

I have always wanted to be one of those writers who could outline the thing first, include plot twists, etc. then follow it to write each chapter.
I'm just not one of those people. I get an idea, write part of it out and can't figure out where it'll end up or I know the ending but filling in that middle stuff just doesn't work out right.

I've been playing around with this one now for well over a year and keep writing parts and pieces, planning to fit them in somewhere, somehow. Yesterday, however, I sat down to try to outline it again and I got the whole thing down! With details! For 13 chapters!!! Some people fall in love, some don't...a murder even popped up while I was typing! I had NO IDEA that was even coming!!

So it isn't ready to go out just yet but yesterday saw more progress than so many months before it, I just had to do a little dance!

In case you were looking for any evidence of a Higher Being--here you go! The good Lord finally decided this book should get written and I'm just so glad he's letting me help!

Thank you! Don't stop.

Thank you all for both your prayers and your kind comments. I know you've been seeing too much of this coverage on tv and internet already, so I don't mean to beat this into the ground but wanted to thank you for thinking of those in Louisiana as well as Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

We heard that my brother-in-law and his grandmother got out. However, no one has heard from them since. I know that communications are down, cell phones aren't working so no contact is not an indication of safety or lack thereof. However, please pray that these displaced families can reach other friends or family members soon.