Monday, November 20, 2017

Stories of Thanksgiving Melee

The latest man accused of molesting young girls is Charlie Rose. I bet every man in America who has ever groped a young girl is shaking in his boots tonight.

Every woman who was ever assaulted/groped/molested/raped is now coming forward to NAME her Perp. It’s a new day in America and God only knows what comes next. I can visualize how it will go around many Thanksgiving tables this year:

Everyone is seated around an oval table. There’s turkey, dressing, cranberries and mashed potatoes. Things seem to be going well, but Angie is on her third glass of wine. All of a sudden, she throws down her fork and yells, “Uncle Brad molested me when I was 15!”

Uncle Brad is stunned. “No I didn’t! She said she wanted to learn about love from someone she trusted so I was just helping her out.”

Angie’s dad pushes his plate back. I’m going to get my ’45 Smith and Wesson and we’ll get to the bottom of this pretty fast.”

The whole dinner goes to hell in a handbasket as police are called when the family moves their fight out onto the front lawn.

Across town, in another nice, but drab tract housing neighborhood, a family is just placing the turkey in the middle of the table. Dad has his trusty electric knife and is ready to start carving. His daughter, 12-year old Emily, innocently says, “Dad, what is French kissing?”

Dad is stunned. He turns off the knife. “Where did you hear about that?”

She sheepishly grins. “Mr. Arnold from next door was trying to show me what it is the other day when I went over to return his hedge trimmers.”

Dad throws the knife down. “Arnold? That man is at least 50 years old! He’s got grandkids for God’s sake!”

“He said that French kissing would come in handy in just a few years so he wanted to teach me how to do it correctly.” She pauses to stare down at the floor. “He was just trying to be helpful, dad.”

Dad grabs his electric knife, making sure it’s fully charged and heads to Mr. Arnold’s house. The news that night reports that two men got into a Thanksgiving altercation where one of them tried to carve the penis of the other one.

I imagine we’ve all got a story we could tell if we wanted to and these types of events seem to go in phases. For the next couple of years, people will come out with their stories of sexual abuse. Then all of a sudden, nobody will care anymore. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Struggle for Free Speech in America

Recently, I attended a monthly ladies prayer meeting. I’ve been a member of this group for 11 years and know most of the ladies well. Toward the end, 3 of them called me out about my Facebook posts.

The 3 ladies are very well known at Covenant Church and one of them works for the church. If I called their names, most of you would know them. These 3 ladies ganged up on me as if they were bullies on a playground and I was the skinny kid with big ears. They told me very plainly that my Facebook posts were too negative.

They told me to stop posting about disasters in Puerto Rico, the mass shootings, global warming, the Rohingya refugees, Trump and other negative news. I answered that I am a writer and I have to write what I feel in my heart needs to be written. No one has to read anything I write. We each have free will. Simply unfriend me if you don’t like what I say.

We have FREE speech in America. My right to say what I want is protected by the US Constitution. There’s another story in the news right now where the police stopped a man who had something negative written on his truck about Trump. The police threatened to arrest him if he didn’t take it down.

This is becoming common behavior for Trump followers. They are doing exactly what they see their leader, Trump do each day. If a news agency says anything negative about him, he calls them “Fake News” and denounces them and tells Americans not to believe anything they write. Anyone who opposes him, immediately becomes his enemy.

Trump is gradually training many people to do, say and think the way he tells them to. You are rewarded if you obey him, but if you don’t, then you’re condemned for it. You fall into the “Fake” category. You are unacceptable and you’re a rebel who doesn’t support law and order.

I see this as a very alarming direction for our society. By the time Trump is president for 4 years, there’s no telling how the fundamental thinking of most Americans will have changed. With each passing day, Trump supporters become more militant in the way they handle people who oppose them.

I honestly don’t know what the answer to this dilemma is…maybe there is NO remedy. But at least we can be aware of what’s happening.

Don’t let any organization or political group tell you what to think, how to behave or what to write about. The whole reason people come to America is that it’s a free nation. If we are not very careful, we will wake up in a few years and live under a Dictatorship. America is heading in that direction. Those of us who believe in free speech may soon be the minority.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Close Your Eyes and Dream!

I’ve been going through some type of Life Upheaval for weeks…really more like years. I have some flawed thinking and ideologies but I can’t see exactly what they are, so I don’t know how to deal with it.

I work in marketing and advertising so I can tell you for 100% REAL that advertisers have greatly shaped the way we view the world. As a mass of consumers, we ALL believe that if someone is nice, good, having fun, doing everything right, etc. that he or she will be happy and successful.

That mindset is also propagated by authors and since I am one, I’m going to just apologize right now. We paint our portraits of “bad men” the same way each time. They are dirty with bad hair and scars/bumps/pimples. They have a crappy life and no one loves or respects them. They curse and hate stuff for no reason.

On the other hand, the good people all live in lovely homes with green grass and nice flowerbeds. They have nice cars and wear nice jewelry and clothes. They do, think and say nice things. They always wear a loving smile. People can’t say enough “nice” things about them.

So tell the truth: which group do you want to be associated with?

Something is fundamentally wrong with our society. We are not seeing the world the way it truly is—we are seeing what we want to see. We are seeing only the good things. We are shutting our eyes to anything ugly.

Bad, ugly stuff has no place in our lives. When we close our eyes and wish away the evil, then that changes everything, but only for a moment and only for one person. In the meantime, someone shot a very nice old lady today and stole her purse with $22 in it.

Hundreds more kids were sold into sexual slavery. Can’t say too much about WHY mankind has tolerated this level of evil for so long. No denying that it’s true but also no explanation that makes any sense.

Maybe it helps to note that:
Over the course of 87 days, the damaged Macondo wellhead, located around 5,000 feet beneath the ocean's surface, leaked an estimated 3.19 million barrels (over 130 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico—making the spill the largest accidental ocean spill in history. - CNN

This should be alarming to at least a few people. God gave us the oceans all over the world for plants, fish, mammals, coral reefs. There’s a huge amount of important Life trying to live in an ocean increasingly filled with oil sludge, plastic, chemicals and whatever toxic waste anyone wants to throw in there. We need the oceans to survive, for God’s sake! We need the rain forests. We can’t keep paving over everything and abusing our planet if we want to live here long-term.

When I close my eyes, I see so many things like that wrong with the world and so many people with their eyes closed too. They can’t hear the earth groaning under the weight of so much sin and pollution. They don’t want to know about the injustices, the evil, the hatred that has become an epidemic across the world.

It’s so much nicer if you just close your eyes and hum Amazing Grace and pretend that none of these awful things exist. But will our civilization survive another hundred years if we do that?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Surviving! Do You Have What It Takes?

My husband and I were long-haired hippie freaks in the 80’s and we were also survivalists. This movement has been revived and is very BIG nowadays. Many Americans believe Trump will drag us all into a third world war, which seems to be unfolding right now. The biggest thing about surviving is being able to feed yourself and provide drinking water each day.

Imagine a terrorist attack on the local water purification plants. Flint, MI still doesn’t have decent drinking water. There’s still not clean drinking water for Puerto Rico’s 3 million inhabitants. So how can you provide food and water for your family over an extended period of time?

These are things that all of us should be thinking about as World War 3 nears. At any moment, Kim Jung Un could launch a nuclear weapon on America and life as we know it would be severely compromised. Humans can go without eating for weeks but can only go for a few days without water.
For the last 20 years I’ve been allergic to bleach. That means I cannot drink tap water-It has bleach in it. I need a filter for the shower also. My skin breaks out in a rash if I shower with unfiltered water. So I have a filter on my shower that will filter out about 95 percent of the impurities.

I also have a countertop water distiller. You place a gallon of tap water in it at night and then turn it on and the water is heated to where it produces a vapor of 100 percent pure water that drips into a gallon jug. It takes about 6 hours to distill one gallon. I’m told that you can place any type of water in the distiller and still get 100% pure water but have never tried anything but tap water.

I also have a dehumidifier. You turn it on and it pulls water out of the air. With 85% humidity, there’s quite a bit of water in the air we breathe. A dehumidifier pulls the moisture out of the air—it drips down into a bucket in the bottom of the unit. I’m not sure if you could safely drink this water. But I know that if you boiled it first, it would probably be okay to drink. So with a water distiller and a dehumidifier, you would probably be able to produce your own water with no problems.

Food is another matter entirely. The best answer is to move to a rural area and begin growing your own. But that takes time. Many websites now offer those big 20 gallon buckets of freeze dried food. For me, I like MRE’s. We had to eat to those in New Orleans after Katrina. The army has been using MRE’s for many years and they’ve come a long way.

In this one package is everything you need to make a full meal including dessert. It uses some type of chemical reaction to heat the food right in the package. You can buy MRE’s online and of course, you could eat them every day if you wanted to. Our soldiers often eat them for months on end while in places like Afghanistan.

The biggest thing about “surviving” is your mindset. If you go to someplace like New Orleans right after Katrina, you’ll understand what I mean. There was no gasoline, no restaurants, no hotels…nothing at all. Just broken, dirty pieces of the city lying everywhere. Most people have not come to a place in their lives where they had to face life with none of the conveniences we all enjoy today.

Changing the way you think is probably going to be hardest thing for most people if the worst happens. You get used to driving to Wendy’s if you’re hungry or driving up and filling the tank with gas anytime you like. You can stop by the grocery store on the way home and pick up something from the deli.

At the moment, we have endless choices. But what if all those places are closed? Think about a world with no restaurants, grocery stores or gas stations. I don’t know how other people feel, but for me, it would be irresponsible not to consider these things and prepare for what may come. Though we haven’t had a war on American soil in many years, it is possible that it could happen. America has many enemies all over the world. I think it’s a good idea to pray, prepare and be ready for whatever may come.

The Bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. I've seen many sweet Christian people get into bad accidents, get awful diseases, and even pass away before their time. I don't understand this but I DO know that it's prudent to be prepared!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Raised By Wolves

Usually, people use the expression “raised by wolves” to indicate that they had a bad upbringing. Maybe the parents were involved in drugs and alcohol or were just not fit parents. They didn’t provide sound guidelines to their children about what behaviors are and are not acceptable. Some parents really don’t want their children at all so they’re mean to them. In extreme cases of neglect and abuse, the police are called in.

But in most cases, these children simply aren’t taught properly, don’t get regular meals, a good education, good medical care, nice clothes and the other things we associate with a healthy childhood. They grow up confused about what LOVE is and what it means to care for someone.
What does being raised by wolves really mean?

Well, it turns out that wolves travel in nuclear families. There’s a husband, a wife and their children. They travel in packs of about 15 animals in order to better protect themselves against aggressors. Mated pairs remain together and faithful to each other throughout their lifetime. They produce pups every spring and they provide for the pups until they are old enough to take care of themselves. This is usually a period of 1 to 4 years.

Wolf parents teach their pups to hunt and defend themselves. Mother wolves don’t leave the den for at least a month after the pups are born. They’re very protective of their young. They communicate well with each other using behaviors like facial licking, jaw wrestling, nose pushing and cheek rubbing.

Unlike humans, a wolf mother or father would never be cruel to one of their pups. They are always loving, making it a priority to teach pups everything they will need to know in order to survive out in the world.

So in essence, if you had been raised by wolves, you would now be an even-tempered person who knows the value of working hard and taking care of your own needs. If you were raised by wolves, you’d be looking for a long-term relationship with someone of the opposite sex who could help you better manage all the dangers and difficulties of life.

You would not shy away from responsibilities or be looking for someone else to meet all your needs. You’d be a basically good person with a level head and a loving heart.

I think it’s time we change that expression from “raised by wolves” to “raised by humans”. For human beings are often unfair, mean, abusive or cruel to their kids. Maybe they had a bad day or maybe they just weren’t taught how to be good parents. The result is all the same. We have so many millions of children around the world that no one wants. They’re everywhere.

Even in our technologically advanced western world, we still have not figured out how to prevent monsters who would severely abuse their children, from becoming parents. We just let everyone who wants to, get pregnant and no thought is given to what will become of their offspring. Maybe somebody will love and take care of them and maybe not. Who knows?

This is one of the greatest failures of mankind. We should, by now, be able to identify those people who are not suitable for parenting and stop them from procreating. Instead, we allow things to just keep moving forward however it will, and then maybe down the road somewhere, these kids will figure life out on their own.

Or maybe they will have their own kids and raise them exactly the way they were raised and the whole cycle will continue on and on. That’s what has been happening for centuries.

A recent study finds that 45 percent of today’s pregnancies are unplanned. How can this be true in our day and age? Birth control is abundantly available. We’re teaching fifth graders about sex. Somewhere, somehow, what we’re doing isn’t working.

But the only thing we can think to do is to create more government funded social programs hoping that at least these kids will get a decent meal from time to time.

Of course, there’s abortion. But how many of the already 60 million aborted babies would have actually been loved and raised properly? A lot of stuff can happen in nine months. There’s no way to know. Just because a woman’s pregnancy comes at an inconvenient time in her life, is no reason to end the child’s life. People’s lives change. Their needs, wants and desires change. Ending someone’s life is pretty final.

The bible says that, if we will allow it, becoming a parent will actually force the parents to mature and become better humans. That was true in my life. I was a silly girl with no life experience, but once I got pregnant, the whole world changed. Life wasn’t just about me anymore. I had a child coming so I had to become more responsible.

This might not happen with every young girl who gets pregnant but I still think the unborn should have a right to see daylight. They are humans after all and all of us have inalienable rights according to our constitution.

So we have this perplexing dilemma. How do we resolve it? Can our society actually find a way to control who does and doesn’t have a baby? Can we somehow make sure that parents are ready to be parents way before conception begins? Maybe mankind will never be that evolved.

We see so many movies about space ships and traveling all over the galaxy but we can’t get this one thing right. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. My parents were not ready to be parents at all. They weren’t ready financially, emotionally, mentally or in any way. How many people in the world can say the same thing?

So I have a question for all those people:
If you knew how your life would unfold … how you’d make so many bad choices simply because no one ever taught you HOW to make good ones … If you knew about all the suffering and sadness you would endure … would you still choose to be born?

In my case, the answer is a resounding YES! But at times, I do wish with all my heart, that I’d been raised by wolves.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Would Jesus Do?

I continue to be embarrassed by things we see in the papers everyday put out by well-known preachers and evangelists. Rick Joyner says that God will “Destroy” anyone who opposes Trump. Is he insane? He should be relieved of duty immediately!

Now Robt Jeffress pastor of First Baptist in Dallas is saying that God has given Trump the mandate to murder Kim Jong Un. I think that all Christians need to take a look inside their bible and maybe into their own hearts. Christians should NOT stand for murder, strife, division or hatred.

Many Christians support Trump’s ban on people from the middle east. But Jesus was from the middle east. He spoke Hebrew, Latin and Arabic. His skin was darker. He ate lamb and fish. Imagine him at customs, trying to get into America but the customs agent says, “NO! You’re from the Middle East! You’re an immigrant. We don’t want you in our country. Get out!”

Most of the things we are seeing and hearing now are very disturbing. The world is in trouble. There’s political unrest and you’ve given power to a childish madman who could easily start World War 3. But no one seems to care. They just keep supporting trump and all these preachers who are spewing murder and hatred. Everyone seems to be pretending that it’s okay for Christians to hate someone with dark skin or different customs or people we don’t really understand.

Are we going to evangelize them? Or murder them in our own hearts?

It’s disgraceful! What has happened to the Christian church in America? If we ARE severely persecuted during the end of days, it won’t be for the reason that we are preaching the love of God. Instead, it will be because Christians supported policies that divide and encourage hatred.

To date, Trump followers – mostly young men with no purpose in life – have gone out and beaten and murdered people as Trump has encouraged them to do so.

They are empowered by his message of murdering anyone who looks or acts different than mainstream America. It feels like I need to apologize to people nowadays for being a Christian. Jesus would never do the things that many of them are doing. He would never support shutting people out because of skin color, race or religion.

The earth is weighed down by our sins, by violence, and by our incessant pollution (which trump does not believe in – he even refuses to believe hard cold scientific data.)

If these truly are the end times, then I can understand because a great deal of war and violence takes place right before the end comes. But I CANNOT understand Christians being the SOURCE of so much of this violence and evil. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Queen of Random Skills

I've discovered my secret identity: I'm the Queen of Random Skills. How this happened, I have no idea. I was just like ... hanging around and then I was trying to figure out how to get great Christmas presents on a budget.

So I learned to make things. The first year, I learned to quilt. Oh my gosh! You would absolutely LOVE quilting if you would take the time to learn it. You take some scraps of fabric, cut them into clever shapes, then sew them together. You can do this at night while watching TV. You can be methodical and draw out shapes and colors on paper before beginning but old-timey quilts were just throw together out of whatever scraps of fabric were lying about. Flour sacks were used, along with pieces of old shirts and jeans. The result is a multi-dimensional, but soft and cozy work of art.

My first year, I made about 6 lap quilts and everyone LOVED their Christmas present that year! YAY! Can't ask for more than that!

The second year I painted everyone's gift. I had taken oil painting lessons in my early 20's. Me and my girlfriend wanted to do something fun together so we chose art lessons. And we had so much fun! Every week, we'd look forward to Tuesday nights. We were such open and eager students. My friend, Bev, didn't stick with it though. But I did. I bought canvases and painted everything from white daisies to puppies in a basket. It was sooooo much fun. I really enjoyed every single painting I did and I learned so much about me and life from painting.

We all sometimes over-work the area. When you overwork an area on your canvas, everything gets muddy. The colors turn to gray. You lose perspective and contrast. The colors and shapes don't pop anymore...everything is bland.

I once painted a dense green forest with a small stream nearby but I couldn't get my trees right so I kept painting over them. They disappeared into greenish-gray nothingness. My life did that very thing 17 years ago. I was going along thinking things were good, then a bomb went off and destroyed everything I cherished.

The third year I learned how to build small tables and shelves. Woodworking...I could talk all day about that topic. I love creating beautiful things, so woodworking is perfect. You take a raw piece of wood that's flat and long and looks like nothing, then you transform it into a cute 12 inch by 24 inch table that stands 18 inches off the floor. You can use it as a night stand or end table.

If you combine your painting skills with your woodworking skills, then you wind up with a one-of-a-kind, hand painted table or shelf. We finally amassed enough of my homemade stuff that we started setting up a booth in local flea markets. I loved those years. My husband is a talker so he'd spend the whole day talking to strangers about everything from the moon to Christmas. Me? I'd show them all our cute items for sale.

We usually had a great day and made a little money, but went home exhausted. Those were good years.

Year 4 -- Must be left for another time. Suffice to say that, after all these years, there's almost nothing I haven't done. In my heart, guess I'm an explorer. I wanted to go everywhere and do everything during my brief visit to earth. And so I did.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I Dreamed of An Endless Highway


I dreamed of an endless highway. Daddy was driving. There was a long bayou on the right of our car, like a ditch. It ran for miles.

The day was bleak and dreary; the trees were barren. Momma was humming a song about mockingbirds.

I have to travel that highway again soon. It takes me somewhere I’ve never been. Somewhere I’ve been destined to go since birth.

That road is lonely but it feels familiar and I’m not afraid of the adventure. We’re old friends.

I weep as I begin this journey. The tears are for all the wasted years and yet I know they weren’t wasted at all. They brought me here…here to this place. The end of one journey; the beginning of another. The cycle of life continues.

The tears are also for the faces I leave behind me. God! I loved them so! They were my whole world. I woke up each day just for them. But now they’re gone…a distant memory.

The tears are for all the new places and people I’ll come to know and love. Places and people who will burrow into my heart like red hot lines of coal.

I’ll move on from them too one foggy morning, always searching for something. Knowing in my heart that the journey is the only thing that truly matters.

Sojourners are like that. They come into this world knowing that it’s not their real home. They’re like explorers who go out to seek what they can find. But at the end of the day, their heart belongs somewhere else…a heavenly realm that exists just beyond this one.

I will go home one day. Momma and daddy will meet me at the gates. Jesus will be there too, along with the faces of all those people I met along the way. My journey was bittersweet.

Life on this planet has a great potential for excellence, beauty, fun, joy…but it often disappoints us. Most of the time, the joy escapes us, overridden by worries about menial stuff, like paying the bills.
We never learn the art of enjoying a moment until the moments of our life are numbered and few. Oh, the irony of life! It can be so bitter and yet so sweet.

Moments can be so warm and familiar, while others can leave you cold and jaded.

People can leave you that way too. They leave their mark, whether meaning to or not. How I long for those people and those memories to be better than they truly are. I wished it so hard for so many years, but that dream never came true … only the nightmares.

So here I am, left with so many memories that trouble my sleep. So many faces I won’t see again in this life. So many people … good and bad. People you loved. People who let you down. Moments you pray you never forget mixed in with moments you can’t bear to remember.

Life has left me disappointed and sad. I’m sorry for the people like me. I wish God would suddenly shine a beam of light on our misery and turn it into joy. But that never happens. And yet we go on.

We put one foot in front of the other every day regardless of the pain involved. That will to survive … to keep moving forward … that will is so strong in us humans.

So … we see it through to the end. It’s like a bad movie we wasted a lot of time and money on and now, we can’t get up and leave the movie theater. We have to stay and get our money’s worth … even though staying is such misery.

With each new day and each new moment, there’s a sliver of hope that things might change and life might suddenly become wonderful. Perhaps that tiny sliver of hope is the fuel that pushes us forward through another weary day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What Time Is It?

I’ve noticed a trend toward advertisers running their ads before, during and after a holiday. In the old days, once Labor Day had passed, advertisers would take those ads down. Now they don’t. They just keep running them weeks after the holiday has passed.

It’s not uncommon to see Presidents Day sales running on TV a full two weeks after President’s Day has come and gone. The obvious problem with this is that older people, whose memory may be fading, get really confused.

It’s hard enough to know what day it is anyway when you work from home. I can work at 2am Sunday or at noon on Thursday. It doesn’t matter.

So I try to make finding out the day and date a purposeful activity. I remind myself to check. It’s pretty easy with computers, phones and even cable. If you flip to the channel guide, it tells you the exact time, day and date.

I still listen to the TV ads talking about the big Valentine’s Day sale at Kohl’s and think, “Hmmm … didn’t we already have Valentine’s Day?”

So then you have to google, “When is Valentine’s Day?”

Oh yeah! It’s February 14th!! So then, you have to pull up your calendar. Today is April 9th – So I have to assume that Valentine’s Day is over. But then you still wonder….
  • “Did I fall asleep and just dream all this?”
  • “Maybe I’m still sleeping.”
  • “How can I tell if I’m awake or not?
  • “OH GOD! I can’t tell if I’m awake or not!”

You want to just walk down the hall to the Lobby and casually say something like, “This weather is amazing for this time of year.”

Then they say, “Yeah, spring has really sprung. My petunias are blooming.”

“So Daylight Savings Time … glad that’s done!”

If they look surprised, then you must assume that Daylight Savings Time has not come and gone yet. Time to just walk away. Smile and walk away.

There aren’t very many people that you can just walk up to and ask point blank: “Hey, what day is it?” Especially once you get older. It’s like … everyone is just hanging around waiting for you to screw up so they can put you in a nursing home. So, you have to constantly pretend you know what’s going on.

When I was 35, I told my family this: “Please remember when I’m old, that my memory has always been bad, that I constantly misplace things and that I really don’t give a crap what day or time it is.”

They smiled a knowing grin and shook their heads, promising to remember and NOT think I was losing it just because my age was reaching triple digits. This plan would have worked better except that now, their memory is fading too, and they don’t recall that conversation at all.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Hurricane Gypsies - New Orleans 2005

October 27, 2005 - New Orleans - Hurricane Katrina

I wish I had words to tell you what it’s like in New Orleans and all outlying areas … places like Slidell and Chalmette.

It’s been almost 2 months now since Hurricane Katrina hit and there’s still no electricity, water or sewer in many areas. Certain areas seem to be recovering some…Metairie for example. A few restaurants opened, a few gas stations, a few hotels. Now some stores up at one mall have opened…and a Laundromat, thank God!

We could use a nail and hair salon though. Out in Chalmette, the parking lot of the old Walmart is being used by the Red Cross and others as a staging area. They offer free haircuts there in a little tent. I took some great photos yesterday. It’s like a 3-Ring circus out there. There are army jeeps and armed soldiers everywhere and thank God for them! It feels safer now to be out on the streets every day, from sun up till sun down.

Here in the French Quarter, a few restaurants have re-opened, many of the bars are up and running, a few hotels. It’s still not unusual to go into a place that is open and be told that you can only get a few things on the menu and they can only take cash.

Every store, gas station or restaurant that is operating right now is always packed. There are lines everywhere you go. It can be exasperating. Credit card machines often don’t work. Hard to find a working ATM machine, the crappy phone service will drive you nuts…imagine a city this big and you have to drive and drive just to mail a letter.

Raising Cane’s Fried Chicken on Independence opened a few days ago. Every time I go by there, the line is at least one block long. I just don’t have that kind of time to waste, so it’s no fried chicken for me.

We’ve all gotten used to seeing dead refrigerators lining all roads for 50 miles in every direction. None of us even notices if there’s a mattress in the middle of the freeway to dodge. Or a piece of aluminum, rubber cables, shoes, trash…sometimes there are boats, cars and parts of houses. Daily we run over all kinds of strange debris. You can’t tell what it is sometimes.

It seems to be getting worse instead of better. At lunch I go up to the Walmart and the Red Cross feeds me. While there I pick up an MRE and that’s what I eat for dinner. Most of us are taking all the inconveniences in stride and going about our day, but Hurricane Katrina is still the major topic of discussion, whether you’re in line at the store, at a gas station (I still carry 10 gallons in my trunk just to be on the safe side) or in a bar.

Too many people lost too much. It will be a long time before they forget…a long time before it stops hurting so badly. Even the men break down and cry at some point during the interview. It never stops bothering you to hear them talk about the homes and lives they used to have…before the hurricane tore it from them.

I sense a desperation in them now….some thoughts have settled in their minds. The realization that this is not going away. They won’t wake up tomorrow and find it’s a terrible dream…this is the way it will be from now on. No place to live, no furniture, moving around constantly.

The Hurricane Gypsies, I call them. I can’t imagine what their lives will be like this time next year. Will they all be living in FEMA trailer parks, raising their kids? Mowing tiny yards? Trying to forget the lovely homes and things they once owned?

This morning I did an inspection for a sweet old lady. She said, “Well, normally I’d invite you into my kitchen and we’d sit down at the table to sign these papers.”

I smiled. “I bet you’d have coffee and muffins or something.”

She smiled back and nodded. She was 78 and pretty spry. She told me that the things she missed the most were the pictures of her family…she said it nearly killed her when she realized they were all lost in the storm.

She also lost several quilts her mother made for her. She had a Shirley Temple doll from 1939 that was irreplaceable. I listened to her and tried to imagine what her kitchen would have looked like. It would have been a warm, nurturing place that smelled of cocoa and cinnamon.

It was cold here this morning, a sharp biting wind whipped thru me all day. This would have been a great morning to sit down at her kitchen table with coffee while we signed the government papers.

Instead, we stood outside beside her auto in a road still littered with large piles of debris … dead and broken things. We tried to ignore the awful stench of nearby rotting refrigerators. We climbed over parts of a couch and table to get up to her house but couldn’t go inside because of the snakes and deep mud mixed with oil and benzene…thank you Murphy Oil Company!

It was hard to stop thinking about the sweet 78 year old woman who had lost everything she saved and collected for a whole lifetime. Some nights, it’s so hard to sleep.

Say a prayer tonight for the Hurricane Gypsies.

NOTE: Recovery from Hurricane Katrina took many years and cost $108 billion dollars. Some of the residents never went back home.