Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Resting in Peace

Excuse the lack of new posts here. We're doing fine. But Bane has passed away, and I'm too sad to talk much yet.

Please send his family your condolences, and your prayers if you pray, or your good thoughts and positive energies if you do that as well. Prayer meant a lot to Bane; he often called upon his *Prayer Warriors* when someone else asked for them, or if he thought they needed them. His family needs all the support they can get.

Whatever you thought of Bane, however you felt about him as a human being, he was a man with a family he loved who needs help. His wife will now raise little Nate and Johnny alone. They're small children, and Johnny is disabled with tremendous medical costs still to come. Bane's final medical expenses are upon them too.

If you can donate anything at all, please go here.

Bane died after long months of illness. He was terribly sick and in a great deal of pain. He suffered. After you die you feel no pain any more. Whatever happens after that, we'll know when we get there ourselves.

Al I can hope for is that he's resting peacefully, and knows how much he was loved and admired. How much we miss him now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurricane Aftermath is a Butt Busting Budget Buster

Yup. Once you start climbing out of your battened-down homes and shelters, you look around and see what the winds blew down and blew away.

Hurricane preps cost some money. But usually you can space those out over time. During winter you buy your extra batteries and flashlights, canned goods, water, bit by bit. You rotate your stock and keep it fresh. That way, almost none of the preps are big, unplanned, unexpected hits on the budget.

When a storm approaches, you might scramble a bit for certain other items. Make sure your vehicles are all topped off with gasoline. Get your meds refilled as far as you can, circumvent insurance company time limits and so forth. And maybe this was the week you had charcoal on the shopping list simply because you'd run out.

Oh! And cash. You want some cash on hand, because you'll probably need to buy things afterwards, and debit and credit cards don't work if the electricity and/or phone lines are down.

Okay. So the bank account maybe got cleaned out, but you're ready. Take a deep breath. Getting ready for landfall takes an amazing amount of work, putting up shutters or plywood, moving outside things inside, picking up anything that could be a projectile. By the time the winds pick up and you have to stop fussing around, you're absolutely exhausted. If you already have physical limitations like both Nancy and her husband do, that goes up by several orders of magnitude. This time, 'Pup had a staph infection too. Lord, those things are sickening under the most ideal circumstances. Just imagine facing a hurricane feeling like that.

And then? After the storm, you emerge blinking into the sunlight of the Day After. Walk around the yard and the neighborhood, take stock of the results. Count your chickens like a mama hen. Oh, my. You were already exhausted before it hit.

Suddenly you realize that along with the fences and trees and maybe broken windows and roof bits and gutters and cars and plants and outside hot tubs and furniture you couldn't fit in the house that got messed up or lost who knows where -

after you've tried hard to figure out who actually owns the porch furniture and plants and hot tubs and things that mysteriously showed up in your front yard -

you look in your wallet and discover the storm also blew away every last red cent you thought you had.

Huh? How? Why?

Because there was no way to predict just what you'd need for cleanup.

Unusual rakes. Shovels. Saws. Lots of strong black garbage bags. 150' outdoor extension cords. Special drill bits. Extra bleach for your water. Fuel for the generators. No one knows how long it'll be before power is returned. These are things you don't necessarily stock up on, because the type and amount of damage simply can't be predicted. You end up needing items you'll never use again for any other purpose.

After several days without, Nancy finally has her power back on. She's online. She's even working! Her crazy bossman opened the tutoring center, and here I was convinced no students would come...and eight of them showed up to get taught. There's something really inspiring about that dedication. 'Pup is on salary, so he's still getting paid too.

But lots of people are out of work until their workplace is usable once again. And that can take a long, long time. Weeks, months. Some never will. That happened to my old primary doctor after his office was destroyed by Wilma. He threw in the towel and retired in his mid-50's. Just couldn't face it any more.

Several days after the power went out, Nancy's neighbor to the west - she calls them the Wests - borrowed a generator from a friend, and kindly offered Nancy and 'Pup a chance to plug in an extension cord for their house. They were finally able to run the fridge again. This isn't just important because of food needs for these two diabetics. 'Pup has medications that must be refrigerated.

And a generator costs money to run. Fuel. The same fuel that was sky-high before the storm, then went worse sky-high after it.

I know how hard hit many of those people will be. That includes those who DID the smart, the adequate, the sensible preps they were supposed to do. These are not ignorant irresponsible idiots who expect everyone else to take care of them. NO.

They're you and me.

They are the same regular Americans who get hit by tornadoes all across the Midwest, or floods most anywhere, or avalanches, or mudslides, or earthquakes, or fires, or volcanoes, or tidal waves. There is no place we can live where we are somehow guaranteed safety from natural disasters. It's just that some take longer to occur, there's more time in between earthquakes than tornadoes and floods and fires.

I love reading Nancy's blog for lots of reasons. Her writing and her intelligence, her humor, her gardens, her perceptions of humanity and of animals, charm me. Dragonflies come sit on her hand the way butterflies and lizards do with me.

I believe she's way underappreciated as a blogger, maybe in part because she also does pay-posts. I read them too. Why? Because they're really good reads. That takes talent, to be given a phrase or subject to mention, and then write an interesting post around it. And I have absolutely NO problem with anyone doing honest work to keep their bills paid. Why in the world should that independent and responsible attitude be viewed as anything but a positive?

One thing that's been entrancing me after the hurricane is the heightened sense of sisterhood I feel with her, beyond what it already was. See, we've now both, personally, done that hunkered-down hurricane thing, and come out to see our beautiful yards trashed, no power, no potable water, no internet, no way of knowing when it'll come back on. Surrounded by destruction on all sides, huge heavy Things strewn about as if they were feathers in the breeze. Your sense of the stability of the physical world and of infrastructure, the order and permanence of society, is tilted on its axis. This sense of unreality marks you and changes you forever.

Way more than that? There's this wondrous unanticipated amazing joy among the people cleaning up and standing in line for ice.


Maybe you expect cranky bitchy rudeness out there. Instead, almost without exception, you hear people cracking jokes and telling stories and helping each other with information. The cleanup work is staggering - and people pitch in without even thinking about it. You take a little break from your own mess, go wander around, and when you see a neighbor struggling with a fence they're trying to prop, or a tree they're dragging to the roadside, you just walk up and start working with them. It's not even kindness. It's just what you do.

The vast majority of those people are extremely aware of the blessing of survival. Even if their roof is crashed in and all their precious, irreplaceable family photos destroyed, they look in wonder at themselves and say, My God, thank God, I'm alive, my kids are safe, my wife, my husband, my dog, my cats...

You have to belong inside an experience like that to appreciate it from within. And I feel that sense of wonder, of blessedness, pouring out between the words I read in Nancy's posts.

Nancy has asked folks to donate blood if we can, or send some funds to the Red Cross, food pantries, or the Houston Ike Relief Fund.

I had another thought. Nancy writes about those neighbors to the west who, in that spirit of unhesitating generosity, lent their electricity to her and her husband. They are among the people who are not on salary, who aren't reasonably secure while they wait for their workplaces to open up again.

So I asked Nancy if she could be a sort of central clearinghouse for donations for the Wests and for any others in her immediate area who could really benefit from a little extra help right now. Sometimes I like donating to specific people instead of a general fund. Nancy agreed to take on that role for her neighbors.


Me, I'm no good at fund-raising. I try, and I get some donations, but to do any serious collecting as in a real *drive?* Nope.

LL has an incredible talent that way. Recently, she wanted to collect some donations for an Arthritis Foundation fund-raising walk. In a few days she'd already exceeded her goal of $250. The others in her same group? They'd collected precisely...zero.

I'm happily bemused by this, watching her over the years. She puts on her Mama Bear hat and politely but very firmly kicks butt, and BOOM! All done. The votes are in, the donations topped off, the packs of cigars and beef jerky sealed up and mailed to the servicemen and women overseas...She dusts off her hands and gets back to crunching high-grade numbers at work.

I wish I had that talent. I don't. But since I don't, I figure I have nothing to lose by trying to imitate her.

HEY! YOU OUT THERE! Yeah, that means YOU. And you! And you off in the corner sneaking away, there.

Here's the link to her blog. Find her button - it's in the top righthand section. Hit it. Even $5 is truly appreciated. If I can do it, you can too. I just did it. $10 whole bucks. So GO. Your turn!


I WILL be checking back.

I'm like Santa. I see EVERYTHING you're doing. So BE GOOD, boys and girls.


Okay. Let's see if that works.


Well, this technolame-o has found it impossible to make Nancy's donation button link work here in my post. So I changed the *donate* links above. Now they just go straight to her blog. HER Donate button works just FINE. It's located in the top right section.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

They Made It Through

I just woke up around 8 pm Central. This puts me way behind, hurricane news-wise.

But Pretty Lady let me know that Houston still had power and traffic was moving smoothly. Walter told me earlier, when I woke up just long enough to take my meds, that the damage wasn't as bad as they'd feared.

And just now I checked Nancy's blog, not expecting to see anything new...and found she'd posted! Pix and everything! Wheeeeee!!!

I was pretty sure her power was still off. It went out last night as we were IM'g. It seems it's still off, although she says it tried to come on once. That's an incredibly exciting feeling when you're sitting there with hurricane mess all around, and not sure if it'll be days or weeks before you have power again. It's a tiny but very sweet flicker of hope.

She posted pix of her yard, too. Of course, HOW she did all this is beyond me, your friendly neighborhood technolame-o. Cell phone or something.

Much of her fencing is down, and she's got a huge mess of downed branches and debris that flew in. But an ash tree that a tree-whacker had way over trimmed a few months ago stayed up. She said she's not mad at them any more. heh!

In her neighborhood there are lots of downed trees, lots of debris around. But she only knows of one house that took major damage.

And it's not hers.

Not that I wish it on some innocent bystander, of course. But I'm so very glad it's not hers.

And that Nancy and her husband came through all right.

I am so intensely relieved.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hey! People! Come ON!

Listen to me. Listen up good.

I've been through...I think it's now 22 hurricanes. I've driven between the trails as I moved from Gainesville to Orlando. Got hurricanes twice in one week in Louisiana. Drove through the eye of Katrina. Live-blogged Wilma as it brought two trees down on the roof and nearly decapitated me with flying glass.

And I'm telling you, Nancy is facing up to a very serious, huge, dangerous hurricane headed straight for Houston tonight. They have complications with water surge that will make things even worse.

Please send her all the prayers, good thoughts, positive energies, and anything and everything else you've got, all right?

This is going to be a long hard night for a lot of people out there. And despite the compassion fatigue and post-Katrina irritation that a lot of Americans have come to feel, no one deserves getting hit with a natural disaster.

No one.


I almost forgot. Nancy's husband 'Pup just came down with an infection, probably staph. Luckily, he was able to get a good shot of antibiotics, and fill a prescription for more, just as they were hunkering down.

Dealing with hurricane preps when you're the kind of sick an infection like that makes a person? Boy, that's really not any fun at all.

I've been IM'ing with her since I got back from taking a little drive. As of around midnight Central time, she started getting off-and-on power outages as the storm approached, and getting knocked offline each time. Last time it happened she said she'd probably power down the computer next time it happened. She went offline again, and it looks like that's the last update we'll have for a while.

She's tired out, but seemed to be in good spirits, all things considered.

Now for the hurry-up-and-wait. Ike will make landfall in another hour or two. After that, it'll take more time for the eye to approach Nancy's area; she's about 100 miles inland.

That sound pretty safe? It isn't.

I'm hoping they makes it through will relatively little damage. Only time will tell.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, My Love

Today is Walter's birthday.

Running through my head is an old song, being an earworm today:
It's my party and I'll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to
Cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you!
Ah, youth! In the song the singer is betrayed by her boyfriend, who brazenly gives his ring to another girl right at the first girl's birthday party.

Which isn't, of course, why Walter's birthday triggered that earworm.

It's having the anniversary of his birth turn into something far different from the day of innocent happiness it used to be. He's better now than early on, but it's still depressing, I think. It looks to me like he's working hard to stay reasonably cheerful today. You see, though, he's working at it. Because it's impossible to forget what happened in 2001.

Some people say that those who died on 9/11 *gave* their lives that day.

No. They did not.

Their lives were stolen, because they were murdered in cold blood. Soldiers and sailors and cops and such, those men and women give their lives if they die while serving a country and its people. They make a conscious choice to assume that risk when they sign up for whatever service they join.

We all die in the end. If we're very lucky, we live long and healthy lives. But most of us have to grapple with the mundane pain and ordinary terrifying risk of life-threatening illnesses some time along the way.

When Walter had his near-fatal heart attack, he didn't know, at first, what was happening. He called me on his cell phone, and it was only by luck that I answered. By the time it was all over, my father and I had both overstepped our strong family beliefs in self-governance. We'd harassed and bothered the poor man until he finally agreed to call 911.

If he had not, he would have died there in his truck. As it was, it took many months for him to understand and accept how very close he'd come to dying.

And how precarious his remaining life had become.

Me, I want to live forever. When my time comes they'll probably have to drag me kicking and screaming through the door. I don't much care, in the final analysis, how sick I am or how bad things hurt. If I know I still have a chance to get out and see some beautiful flowers and birds and lizards and neighbors, to listen to music, the sounds of the outdoors or the music of the spheres, whatever it may be - if life still holds any pleasures at all for me, I want to hang on and enjoy them.

We're all different. I learned some time ago, and rather to my shock back then, that not everyone feels that way about life.

I've always understood that in extreme pain or loss, or in the face of terminal illness, a person may choose not to continue. My beliefs in our right of sovereignty over our bodies have always held: we have an absolute right to choose when to live and when to die. Choosing the manner of our death - should we be so fortunate to have the opportunity - may be one of the greatest freedoms we have in life.

What startled me was realizing the number of people who simply don't mind dying when the time comes. I wasn't expecting that.

I guess up until then, I'd pretty much grouped people in either the *terrified to die* or *embracing death* camps. I love life. That's one starting point. I hate death. So between those two, you could toss me into the *terrified* camp. It's not really terror, it's more abhorrence, but that's close enough.

Walter always told me he doesn't care. When it's time to go, it's time. My grandmother Helen was the same way; she had a *do not resuscitate* order for years towards the end of her life. I'm not saying I wouldn't do that too, given the right circumstances; but I'd sure wait until I was way far gone first.

When Walter had his heart attack, then learned his remaining life was easily forfeit, he had decisions to make. Want to live on? Quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more. All those happy-talk *Heart Healthy!* things people are supposed to do if they want to live far longer than heart attack patients did in the past.

He didn't care. He said it wasn't worth it to him to give up so many things he enjoyed. He'd rather keep on living as before, and go early.

I gave this a long hard think.

Because, you see, I don't much want to live without him.

And after I'd thought and thought about it, I made a decision not so very different from the one that got Walter to call 911.

I explained how I didn't want to live without him. That if he didn't care about his life, I did. And I laid on every motivator I had at hand.

His daughters in Europe, who have never *met* their father as grown women; haven't seen him since they were 7 and 4 years old. I explained that even though he's truly back in their lives now, still they need to see their father, talk to him in person, spend time with him. Watch his face as he tells them his stories of their childhood.

I told him what my life would be like without him. I used images and language and phrases and concepts I usually keep out of our conversations, even the most serious ones. I was graphic.

Essentially, this was a very selfish thing to do. Pure self-interest. I love him. I want him. I need him.

Meaning I want him to stay alive. For my sake.

I knew what telling him all this would do to him. It would take away his comfort level with his own death. This is not a particularly nice thing to do, when you think about it.

It worked. Now he's conscious of his mortality, and does not want to die.

That hurt him.

His capitulation has given me the greatest gift he can. Every single birthday he sees means he's survived another year, which means I've been able to indulge in the joy of his company for another year, too.

So. Happy Birthday, my love. It's your birthday, the day we usually think about what we want to give you. Instead?

Thank you for the gift you gave me.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What If Someone Gave a Hurricane, and Nobody Came?

After being about 90% convinced we'd have to rush back home in a hurry for Ike, he's moved away and to the west. It looks like we're more or less in the clear.

I'm sorry to miss all the excitement. Sorry, too, that our good luck means someone else's bad luck. Unfortunately it looks like Nancy may be smack dab in his path. I don't want to wish a Cat 3 hurricane on anyone, especially not Nancy.

But, human that I am, I'll also look on what's the bright side for us. Missing Ike means we'll have at least another week or two in Missouri, and some interesting things have come up here.

When I told my dad the name of the town we're staying in, he said, --Did you know your grandmother Helen said she was born there? Her birth certificate lists a little place in Kansas, not far away from you, but she always said she was born in your Missouri town.--

Well. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I knew she was originally from Missouri, then as a child, moved with her family to Ft. Worth, Texas. I'd been wondering where in Missouri she lived...and now I know.

I've been on an Ancestor Chase ever since.

Our first American immigrant forebears arrived in 1635. They were among the group of 25 early settlers who bought the land for the town of Greenwich, CT from the Indians. If I remember right it cost 24 coats, and I think a few other things thrown in.

So we're listed in all these uber-fancy genealogy documents like "300 Colonial Ancestors and War Service", all over the "Index of the Rolls of Honor (Ancestor's Index) in the Lineage Books of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution," and pretty much every other such outfit there is. A large number of us fought in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, the Civil War - both sides - and so forth. We were among the original settlers of New York's Hudson and Mohawk Valleys, Long Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington State, and California.

The thing is, though, I've always looked on people concerning themselves with most of this as a rather pitiful pursuit. To feel one's self-esteem or merit should be increased by membership in the DAR or a listing in the Blue Book, for instance, tells me something is fundamentally wrong with that person. They seem to me to completely miss the point of the value of each of us as human beings.

That's why, one fine day when my grandmother Helen was approached and courted by one or both of those organizations - in fact, as I heard it, simply listed in one without her application or permission - she told them, basically, to stuff it. In no uncertain terms, and possibly not in the most ladylike soft voice, either.

I've always been way proud of Helen for that one. And when I tell that story, sometimes I get a shocked reaction. --But why?-- people ask me, bewildered.

Because, essentially, it's tacky behavior. True ladies and gentlemen don't need some high-society patrons and matrons to tell them whether they're good and valuable people. That doesn't come from your ancestry. It comes from your character, what you do in your life and how you treat others.

I got one and only one thing of monetary value from that ancestry: the highest dollar scholarship I got in college was from the Colonial Dames of America. And if I'd needed more than two years to get my BSBA, or if I'd continued on in graduate school, it would have been renewed every single year until I was done. That is a very good scholarship.

Joining the DAR, which along with its *good works* has a rather vicious and nasty history of racism, doesn't make you a better person. If you embrace the sort of snobbery that goes along with that mentality, if you think it makes you a Better or More Important Person than others, I'd argue you probably weren't of good character to begin with, and tanked even more by seeking out acceptance by members of those groups. Have you ever known someone who sucked up to those folks, trying to get in their good graces? It's disgusting. Pathetic.

But the history of that ancestry is fascinating.

Grandmother Helen was a pistol. And in his way, her dad was even more so. I have a picture of him in his cowboy boots. I have the boots, too. So I'll call Great Grandad *Boots.*

Boots was born in Missouri. He ran away from home when he was in 4th grade. We don't know why, but his dad's experiences on the Confederate side of the Civil War may have some bearing on that. Veterans of bloody conflicts aren't always easy to live with, especially if they're on the losing side.

So ol' Boots, with a good dollop of the family wanderlust, worked in a coal mine for a while - and quit when he was the last one to leave a mine just before it exploded. He was in the Spanish-American War. He went on cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail to Dodge City.

He also apparently participated in something called the Cherokee Strip Land Run in 1893. This was a rather amazing and much-storied incident in American pioneer history. There's a wonderful little museum about it in Arkansas City, a couple hours' drive from our hotel.

We went there Saturday, and we had a blast. Took lots of nice pix. Talked to the genealogy researcher on staff about Boots.

I want to do more of that. I've been surfing and surfing, using places like ancestry.com, looking up our name in all the old US Federal Census rolls and so forth. Graveyard name lists. Marriage and birth records.

But some of these documents are best unearthed by visits to places like the county seat of wherever your relative or ancestor once lived.

So, since I'm finally up and about, I wanted to drive around and look, in person, at those places.

And walking where you know one of your ancestors walked 100 or 150 or 200 years ago is quite a feeling. I've always been interested in our historical family doings that way. I had no idea how moving it would be to walk in their footsteps.

I keep wondering: Did they see this old building, do business there? Even work there? Did they like the view from here? What would they think if they saw it now?

I'm glad we'll have a little more time here so I can do that. Join the DAR? Just like Helen I'd rather curl up and die. Walk and look around where those ancestors lived? Priceless.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Worker's Comp Update

We have a diagnosis.

Walter's inflammation condition is called *chondocondritis.* It's a chronic inflammation of the cartilage all over one's chest - where the ribs connect with the sternum, at the side of the ribs, and other areas almost up to the neck. It can be triggered by an accident, especially the kind Walter had.

The doctor says it may get better in a year or so. But probably not.

He said Walter could try a special cortisone shot treatment, which requires several hours in the hospital, but it probably won't help.

Considering the circumstances, Walter felt he more or less had to agree to try it. *Not Cooperating With Treatment* is a big no-no in a workers' comp claim.

They scheduled the treatment for Tuesday, 9/2, the day after Labor Day. That morning the doctor's office called to cancel. The poor doc had to get some sort of emergency surgery himself. They didn't say why. They did say they had no idea when the doc would be better and seeing his patients again.

Meanwhile, the employer's one and only Worker's Comp person took vacation this week. He didn't tell Walter though.

They do have a nurse on staff. She said they'd schedule up that shot with another doctor.

When we told our attorney what the diagnosis was, he said there was almost certainly no settlement claim.


He said it was a medical claim only - they'd pay to treat his condition as long as needed, to the end of Walter's life if necessary, but that's all. No damages for the permanent condition the injury triggered.

Of course, since the attorney's fee is 25% of any monetary settlement, he's no longer interested in representing us.

We think he's probably right about the claim. Worker's Comp laws are very limited. Another situation that most Americans don't know. Politicians - and their kith and kin - love to pose outrage at *ridiculous* huge Worker's Comp settlements, just like medical malpractice. Most, or maybe all, states have this formal Worker's Comp formula for settlements, and they're almost never more than several thousand dollars.

In Walter's case?

Pain is not a disabling condition.

Not here. Not anywhere, probably.

Even if the pain is such that it prevents him from doing his job. And believe me, none of us want a person driving a big rig with a chronic pain problem in their chest, right where that big seat belt goes. Let's say there's an accident, or something suddenly appears in the roadway, as a big rig is tooling down the road. The big rig driver reacts to avoid causing another accident. When you get a jolt of pain, say from a sudden movement to steer away or so forth, it slows reaction time considerably. That's not safe.

Me, I think this *no monetary claim* business is outrageous. Walter's permanently disabled now, and in such a way that he's lost his livelihood forever. But there's nothing we can do, except argue our case with the employer through the state mediator. He's a decent guy, and he said he finds these particular cases outrageous too.

He also says there's almost no chance of any settlement for Walter's claim.

Meanwhile, here comes Ike...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Still Holed Up in Missouri, Watching the Hurricanes

One thing about being a lover of reality is, it's incumbent on us to truly understand what we're like inside. Who we really are.

That's hard to do. Harder to do it without flinching, of course. But just like a technique from our high school creative writing class, it helps if one starts with the positive critiques before heading to the negative ones. There's nothing wrong with knowing what you're good at, and what's good about your own character. In fact, I'd argue there's plenty wrong with being deliberately blind to any of one's attributes.

Another? If we think about it, most observations about ourselves are, or should be, neutral. Who cares if I love broccoli and someone else hates it? I hate it when everyone is all alike. How boring! But it's surprising how often people take differences of taste or opinion as judgmental - whether they're the ones saying *I don't like broccoli,* or hearing *I don't like broccoli.*

This happens to me more than I wish. I choose my words with care, but people are sensitive, and words are too easily misunderstood. In mentioning some difference between us, it makes me sad when it's misinterpreted as criticism, as words or thoughts I never said or intended.

Of course, if someone says *How can you EAT that stuff?!? that is SO disgusting!* - or even, in an irritated voice, *Why do you eat broccoli, anyway?,* I don't think we'd be in error to perceive that as judgmental. Yuck.

So I'm sitting here holed up in Missouri, sickness pinning me down in the room and mostly in the bed, watching our hurricanes go by back home. As much as I love to travel, I get homesick.

Now why in the world are these blasted hurricanes making me homesick?


I think I love hurricanes best when I'm there for them.

When they run around somewhere else, they aren't nearly as fun. They can even upset me. As blogson SeaPhoenix pointed out, it's the glorious power of nature I admire, not the harm it causes people. Seems like those furriner hurricanes make me notice the harm.

After Katrina, which did cause some damage in my little Ft. Lauderdale-area town, we didn't talk much about our own hurricane problems. Except among ourselves. The damage we took from Katrina, in context with New Orleans, was nothing; and we didn't want to hear ourselves complaining one tiny bit about what we experienced, except a little between ourselves. Privately, among family, if you will.

I drove through the eye of Katrina, coming home from ferrying supplies up to Walter when he'd parked his rig in Vero Beach, then was ordered out of Florida by his employer. Barreling home at 80 MPH, the hurricane picked up my car and put it halfway into the next lane - and me, I kept shooting pix out the windshield the whole way. Shooting blind. heh! Fun.

When Wilma dropped the trees on my roof I was still live-blogging the hurricane. The trees didn't come all the way through the roof, or through my home office window, so that was all right. But five minutes later I was nearly decapitated when the other home office window blew, and the glass flew right by my left ear. Lucky for me, the big ancient TV parked in front of the window stopped the glass that would have taken my head off. Saved by a TV.

I got some injuries, that one. And I've realized since then that there's some lingering PTSD in me from Wilma. That's life; I can deal with it. But like everyone else, I can't deal with it if I don't understand it's there.

Emails and comments arrive from folks saying how glad I must be to be out of Florida just now, out of the hurricanes' paths. So they must be people who feel that way themselves, see? Being away would be happier for them, that's how their taste or needs run. So I do appreciate those well-wishes; they're kind, and kindly meant.

But we're all different.

So here I am, stuck in this hotel room, watching these very interesting hurricanes pass me by...and Lord above, do I feel cheated!

TS Fay, making its record four landfalls, doing a twirly loop around Florida. I love the weird ones. Hurricanes have a mind of their own, they go where and how they want to. Forwards, backwards, sideways. Hah! Upside down.

Gustav. I'm so glad it did as little damage as it did. I'm so disappointed I didn't get to sit at home, safely far from the eye, but smack dab in its huge trails, watching the wind thrash my trees around. And now TS Hanna would be fun the same way, although it's not nearly as majestic.


This newest one, Ike, is still pretty far out. It's too early to pinpoint its path. But it's a big one, Cat 4 already, and Walter's been thinking it might come visit us at home.

As of tonight, late Thursday night, it's turned enough west to point the center of the cone right at Ft. Lauderdale, making landfall around a week from today.

If that's the case, we'll be heading home, whether Walter's worker's comp case is finalized or no.

So I'm going to make sure we have some fun here in the next few days. The pollen count is starting to drop. The leg infection is still getting better. And there's neat stuff to do out here before we leave.

There's a lot more to this Missouri business than you might think.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Please to Excuse Hurricane Moroseness

When I say I love hurricanes - which I do - I don't mean I love to see people hurt. There are times when the damage done to human beings overwhelms me, especially in a place where the sweetness of the people stands so strong in my memory.

But I need to set that aside now, and go on in my usual way.

And in case anyone wondered, I never ever forget when it's not about me.

Monday, September 01, 2008

More Louisiana Heartbreak

I lived in the New Orleans area for two and a half years, and around Shreveport for a year and a half. Because of my work, I developed some familiarity with most of Louisiana. And like I love to do, I've driven all over the state.

People from elsewhere often ask me what it was like, especially for someone who was raised in the North.

To answer that question takes hours upon hours, and I still can't seem to convey the flavor of it.

So I just give the short version: You fall in love with it, and then it breaks your heart.