Sunday, August 28, 2016

I Have No Pants!

I used to be a really good housekeeper. Everything in my home was clean, dusted and well-organized…even the closets and cupboards. But now that I live alone, it just doesn’t matter anymore if there are cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and dirty clothes in the floors.


The downside of this behavior is that nothing is where it should be. If you want a cup, look in the plate cabinet. If you need tea, look in the sugar jar. If you need pants to wear…it turns into a peculiar Scavenger Hunt. You go around looking on doorknobs, hat racks, clothes trees etc.

Since I do live alone, it is acceptable to go around the house with no pants on, but what if Fed-Ex comes to the door? This has really happened and trust me when I say that the Fed-Ex guy would prefer if I wore pants at all times.


So I’m taking another stab at cleaning and organizing this place. First of all, what are all my blouses doing hanging on doorknobs? What happened to hanging things on a clothes hanger? It’s not rocket science. Secondly, where are all my pants? I used to have quite a nice assortment of summer pajamas, shorts and capri pants, but now, I can’t find anything.


At the moment, I’m wearing a light blue top and the bottoms to an orange pajama set. If I had to go to the door, it would be incredibly embarrassing. If there were a fire and I had to evacuate, imagine my embarrassment when the 5’Oclock news cameras came out to interview me. They would take one look at my blue shirt and orange pajama bottoms and immediately assume I was crazy or on drugs.

This is just wrong! I have shirts and pants that match, but can’t find them in all this mess. So this is a cautionary tale. Even if you live alone, it’s important to clean your house regularly, vacuum the floors, do the dishes and wash your clothes.


Now, I need to go either find shorts that match this blouse or the tops to these orange pjs. I just got a notice that Fed-Ex IS making a delivery today and I promised him I would NOT come to the door again with no pants on!! For your enjoyment, I’ve written this clever limerick on the topic of … you guessed it …PANTS:

There was a young man from Chance
Who could not find his pants
His shirt was all covered
With ketchup and smothered
In onions, tomatoes and Red Ants!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Nails

My nails and hair always grow real fast. I've taken calcium and vitamins my whole life so that's probably why. They will finally get so long that it slows down my typing speed. When you read and write thousands of words every week, one thing you gotta have is fast typing skills. But long nails make it really challenging.


So I always have this conflict. Long nails are pretty but do you want to type 50 wpm or 70 wpm? Usually, speed wins out over pretty. It might be different if I had a rich husband or big bank account, but like most Americans, I live just above my means AND from week to week.


If anything weird happens, like you get sick or work is slow, then you start to panic. I think life would be much more fun if I were wealthy. 

Money gives you choices. You can live where and how you want to. You can be eccentric. I have always been just naturally eccentric, but when you’re poor, they call it “difficult” instead. It’s not pretty or cool or anything if you’re poor.




But often wealthy people are self-centered. They’re jerks. They only do things to make themselves feel good and rarely care about others. At least that’s the way rich people are always portrayed on TV. But what if that stereo-type is not true? What if rich people are really nice and thoughtful?

Nah…that’s probably not true. They’re probably selfish jerks, just like we all thought.


Anyway, I’m thinking about cutting my nails. Yeah, that’s all this post is about…whether or not to cut my nails. It’s nothing profound about how poor people are noble, always suffering in silence. It’s not about how the rich get richer, etc. It’s just about nails and whether or not to risk reducing my typing speed simply to have pretty nails. Boring stuff. I apologize for this post. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Carrier of the Memories, Keeper of the Secrets

Most of my family is buried near my grandmother’s farm in Kaufman Texas. There are tall oak trees everywhere and rich sandy loam soil. It’s always warm with bees buzzing around your head. That’s the way I remember it anyway. Miles and miles of aromatic pastures with tall weeds growing against a barb wire fence. Cows and horses grazing in the background. Big grasshoppers jumping up from time to time to startle you.



I roamed those woods when I was a kid and dreamed of being a fairy princess with all the animals as my friends. The world was so pure, clean and simple them. Common sense and righteousness always won out over evil. You could leave your doors and your car unlocked and nobody would bother them. Your kids could play ball in the streets and be safe.

The world has changed so much since those days. But maybe it wasn’t the world that changed; maybe it was me. But maybe it was the world. Yes, I’m pretty sure both me and the world changed, but that’s what life is all about. Every day, we move forward. Every day we grow older, we learn something new, we meet new people. Life is sort of an evolution where things are always morphing.



Like wildflowers that come alive in the springtime but then die out by fall, so are the days of our lives. We’re here on the planet for a very brief period of time – about 80 years which is nothing compared to eternity or even the age of our planet. The bible says our lives are like a vapor of smoke. Now you see me, now you don’t.

I’ve watched my own loved ones over the years, observing this to be true. One moment I was laughing and talking on the phone with my precious sister, and the next I was planning her funeral. One moment I was at McDonalds eating breakfast with my mother and the next I was in a hospital holding her hand while she died.



One of my great sorrows is that I am the last surviving member of the family I grew up with. My sister, brothers, parents and grandparents are all dead. I’ve felt the weight of this for some time now. I’ve realized that, once I pass from this earth, there will not be one single person left who remembers my grandmother’s farm. Maybe that’s why I write about it so much…because it was just too beautiful to ever forget.



I write about my sister a lot too and talk about my childhood. Though it wasn’t perfect, I want there to at least be a record of it all. I want someone to remember my mom’s cornbread dressing and giblet gravy. I want someone to read about what a summer day in East Texas feels like. I want you to see those tall oak trees and smell the herbal grasses and feel the grasshoppers jumping on you.

There are so many amazing people and places I’ve visited and gotten to know. I want there to be stories written that tell you what the world was like back then. Once I’ve completed all my stories, perhaps I will be able to go gently into that great good night, as Dylan Thomas says. Though he was an exceptional poet, he only lived to be 39 years old and wasn’t able to get all his stories written, but I’ve been here a bit longer so maybe I will.

Whatever happens, I want to be buried there in that lovely old graveyard where all my people are, under a graceful oak tree, where bees buzz around all day and a cool breeze occasionally blows through the trees, rustling the leaves.



Of course, I’ve asked my daughter to wait till I’m dead to bury me. People are just so crazy nowadays, that I feel it’s necessary to give them thorough instructions about the important stuff. You can’t just take for granted that they’ll wait till I’m dead to bury me…haha. It ain’t like the olden days at all anymore!

I’m about to publish my autobiography. I’ve worked on it for many years but now it’s finally ready and it tells the honest story of my life. I did NOT ice over the dicey parts and make myself sound like Mary Poppins! I told the truth, but even now, I’m apprehensive about releasing it. 

Maybe you’ll love the stories, maybe you’ll gasp and wonder how someone could do such a thing. Maybe you’ll come away thinking poorly of me, but as a wise man once told me, “Sometimes the only way we get to experience something is through someone else.”


So get ready for a wild ride!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Questions of a Child

Where are you today, Father?

Are you riding the wind
Across the Night Sky?
Having tea on clouds
Of blue with Angels?

 

Are you warring against
The Enemies of Heaven?
Making grave decisions
That will affect us all?

Are you rescuing people
From alien worlds
We know not of?
Solving their daily problems?
Barely escaping disaster?

 

Do you take much time off
For Yourself?
Or have a girlfriend?

Do you have
A Favorite Song?
And can You sing it?

 

Could I hear you singing,
As I hear your Voice
Call out to me at times?

How is it you have
Such time to come and listen
As I cry out for your help?

Will You be there always,
For all mankind?


What is ‘Forever’?
And what does ‘Eternal’ mean?

Will I know these things
Once I pass from this life into yours?


Carolyn L. Sorrell – Copyright 2005 – All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

On Board a Sinking Vessel: Hurricane Gustav 2008

The 2008 hurricane season began to gear up in late August. A tropical storm formed several hundred miles east of Haiti. After damaging parts of Haiti, it moved on to Jamaica, then Cuba and then into the Gulf of Mexico. Once a tropical storm gets into the Gulf, it has no choice except to make a landfall somewhere, usually along the U.S. coastline. With hundreds of miles of warm Gulf waters to travel over, the experts were predicting that Gustav could eventually make landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.




Imagine everyone’s fear when the hurricane center predicted a landfall near New Orleans. New Orleans and the entire Gulf coast was only three years out from Katrina. Though some rebuilding had been done, it was far from restored to its pre-Katrina state. I was put on standby on August 28th, said good-bye to everyone and started packing my bags.

The Gulf Coast was spared another Katrina-like disaster when wind shear caused Gustav to lose momentum. It finally made landfall on September 1st as a Category 2 hurricane. I’d been wanting to return to New Orleans and see how the rebuilding was going. It felt good to go back there. Though there was quite a bit of flooding, it was nothing like Katrina. There were no cars and boats on people’s roof tops. There was no toxic sludge to wade through.


A bunch of us found a hotel right across the highway from the Superdome. The hotel where we stayed was fairly new and had been built where there were once slums and projects.


As I would drive past boarded up office buildings and hospitals, I wondered what the mayor/governor had done with the billions of dollars the federal government had provided for the rebuilding. They had certainly not spent it wisely but Louisiana was one of those places that was well-known for political corruption.


Most of my inspections were in neighborhoods that backed right up to the Gulf of Mexico. One man had a really beautiful two-story home that he had custom designed. Behind the house, there was sturdy pier and dock for his boat. He was a real estate agent and had put some time and work into getting this amazing house perfect. He showed me the whole house up and down, then took me out back to the pier. We walked way out back till we were 200 feet from the house.


The Gulf of Mexico was beautiful. He had a boat house and dock and all of it had been damaged. I told him I’d do what I could but boat docks, piers and the like are never covered unless you can prove you lived full time in the boat and needed access to it. I didn’t think he could do that since he had a large beautiful home on the same property.

I went on to my next appointment. It was a boat. It’s not uncommon in coastal regions for people to live on boats. I drove out onto a wide dirt parking area with a few large old buildings sprinkled here and there. The owner of the boat I had come to inspect was sitting in an old rusted out pick-up truck.


He got out when he saw me pull up. “Hey, are you the lady from FEMA?”

I got out too, gathering all my equipment. “Yep, I’m her. Where’s your houseboat?”

He put his hand up to shade his face from the steamy Gulf sunlight. “That’s it over there.”

I turned to look where he was pointing and was disappointed to see that it was quite a crappy looking vessel … not a bit seaworthy. I also couldn’t see any type of dock leading out to the boat.


“There’s one small thing I forgot to tell you,” he says.

I sighed. I always hated when people said things like that to me. It always meant something horrible, like, the whole house was full of fleas, sand, sea creatures, toxic mud and the like. 

“Okay, well what is it?” I wearily replied.

“The boat is sinking,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Well, that’s a new one,” I answered back.

He chuckled. “I’m sorry. I was afraid if I told you on the phone, you wouldn’t come. Besides, I’ve got a generator on board pumping the water out of the hull. You can hear it running.”

So I walked over closer to the man. “So … is it safe to go on board?”

He ducked his head, staring at the ground. This was never a good sign. “Well … I wouldn’t exactly call it ‘safe’ but, I mean … you know.”

“Yep, I do know.”

“What I was thinking, is that I could just tell you what all is on board the boat and stuff like that, then you could fill out your paperwork, and FEMA would pay me and then I could just let it sink. It’s got a pretty big hole in the hull.”

The guy had his plan all worked out. “Can you prove to me that you lived on the boat?”

“Well … I get all my mail at a PO Box, but my ex-wife will vouch for me. I do really live on the boat. I’ve got a bed, a TV, a microwave and stuff like that on there. And I’ve got papers that show that I own the boat. Is that good enough?”

I turned around again to stare at the leaky vessel. It was a sunny day in September; a perfect day to go sailing … but not on a sinking boat. “The only way I can approve you for federal assistance is if I go on the boat and see for myself that you really do live there. Now how do you get on board? I don’t see a dock.”

He sighed and scratched his head. “Well … that’s another thing.” I didn’t like the direction any of this was going. “I don’t really have a pier or a dock per se. I made a little plank that leads from the shore to the boat. See? That’s it over there.”

I walked toward the boat and could see a narrow handmade plank or sorts, that led from the ground to the boat but it didn’t look wide or sturdy enough for a human to walk across. It reminded me of that time me and Gomez had to cross that handmade bridge in Ai Bonito, Puerto Rico. It was precarious, but the only way to cross from one steep hill to the other. There was an 80 foot drop-off just below us. I was sure we were going to die that day.









I started laying my computer, phone and other equipment down on the ground. The only thing I would really need is the camera. “Okay, well, let’s do this! The boat is, after all, sinking, so there’s a bit of urgency to get this done.”

“Oh my gosh! Really? Thanks so much! I really appreciate this! I’ll help you cross the plank. It’s not as bad as it looks.”

 

He was lying. All my applicants lied to me. He held my arm as I slowly put one foot in front of the other, trying not to think about falling into the filthy water. Finally, I made it to the other side with a big sigh of relief. He quickly joined me.

“It’s noisy with the generator running,” he yelled to me. “As soon as you inspect the boat though, I’m just gonna let it sink. I’m spending $100 bucks a day on fuel for the generator.”

I nodded, then started looking around. I took a bunch of photos, then went below. Sure enough, the guy had a bed, TV, microwave and a few other personal possessions. You could easily tell that he had indeed been living on the boat. He talked the whole time while I took pictures. Finally, we went back up on deck.


I handed him my camera. “Here, take some pictures of me. I’ve never been on a sinking boat before. Usually, the boat has already sunk by the time I get there.”

He laughed and took the camera, taking a few photos of me in the bright Gulf sunlight with miles and miles of ocean in the background. I said my good-byes and took off to the next appointment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Take Your Breath Away






Another lifetime ago
When I was younger
And life was sweeter
And times were simpler
My heart was purer
My vision clear
My dreams vivid
My heart filled with wonder.

Another lifetime ago
When the world was seen
Thru crystal blue goggles
No trouble could find me.
Only music, lovely and sweet,
Played in my head
And misfortune fell on others…
But not me.

 

I soaked up warm sunshine
While lying on white sand
And gave my life to folly and fun
Without regret.
But now my days are slower
Melancholy comes and brings me tears
Of regret? Perhaps, and maybe longing
For those simpler times


When the fragrance of my life
Reeked of spring flowers
May showers, gentle breezes
Laughter and so much love
As to take your breath away.

 
Carolyn L. Sorrell Copyright© 2005 – All Rights Reserved