Monday, October 31, 2005

Regular posting will resume when I finish reading Pullman's THE GOLDEN COMPASS unless I begin the second book of the trilogy which will delay bloggage further. Please direct all correspondence to Whistle or Fish, the kittens.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

2 Months Tomorrow

* When I stood outside in the early morning light this morning, I looked at the sky and thought "how beautiful". I did not see a tree-less backyard. I saw a beautiful sky.

*The grocery stores down here get their supplies from the big city of New Orleans. Many stores seem empty, with a few items on the shelves. I went to a clothing store late this afternoon. The racks were empty. I asked a sales person why there were so few things for sale. She said, "We load the racks at night. People buy everything in the mornings and we don't have enough employees to keep the racks filled all day long." I'll be glad when things look normal again.

*A gracious Presbytery, north of here, offered to pay the difference between our insurance check and the costs of re-building the church. They want to paint the interior of our building AND provide two Sundays of supply preachers for my Fall Pilgrimage to NYC and Thanksgiving Weekend with LD home. I am doing the happy dance!
We will be able to do things at the church that we dreamed of doing.

*The LH is off to see LD. I miss him but am delighted he's gone to the Aunts Spa Respite House for a break. He'll enjoy being with his LD and seeing Assumpta and Dibley.

*I expect a house full of relief workers from the Carolinas and three Missionaries from Brazil this weekend. I like this.

*I am eating dark chocolate Hershey's kisses to celebrate the help of the Presbytery for my congregation AND to comfort my loneliness with LH away. (Note to Self: everyone sees through your rationalizations. Everyone)

St. C

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

RevGalBlogPals Advent Devotions

I am so proud of all of you!



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Guest Blogger Whistle the Kitten

Hey!

I'm a kitten and my brother, Fish, is a kitten and we are kittens.

We were born on August 28, 2005 which everyone knows was the day before Katrina the hurricane. We were born in Picayune, Mississippi which we thought was a big city until we came South to live here.

We are ginger cats and both of us are orange. I am better looking than my brother but he disagrees. I am bigger, which is true, and I make noises like growls, hisses and meows. Fish is quiet but he purrs. Go figure.

Our new human is nice to us. You'd think she'd name us something like, "John" or "Matthew" but she said she was getting a bit tired of dealing with Matthew each week. What does that mean? When Mr. C. suggested "Mark", she said she had recovered from dealing with him last year.

Mr. C named us after a John Prine song. We have no clue what that sentence means. Not. A. Clue. We are kittens whose world view is Mrs. C's study where we keep our litter box, food dishes and furry mice toys.

Mrs. C told someone on the phone (we hear lots because there is a phone on her study desk) that this was the year that Rusty the Greatest Ginger Cat in the World Died and then Assumpta and Dibley (cousins in NC with LD now) came, a dog named "Governor" then the two of us. She said she is running a boarding house for Hurricane Animals. Assumpta and Dibley were from the Humane Society right before Hurricane Dennis.

Anyway, we like it here and Mrs. C gets all sappy and kissy with us. She must like cats. As my brother and I say, "if you don't like cats, what's with you???"

We have to go sit on her lap. She says we are a "comfort" to her and that means we have to pay attention to her. Fine with us. The food is good here and we each have a fur mouse toy.

Gotta go. We have a new cardboard box to jump in and out of. Really.

Regards,
Whistle


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Biloxi and Gulfport Before and After Katrina

This is the site for WLOX news in Biloxi. Look for the Biloxi Before and After along with Gulfport Before and After videos.

WLOX-TV - The News for South Mississippi: Katrina Video Coverage

Into your good care, O Lord, we commend our lives and futures. Amen.


Why pay insurance premiums if the insurance industry ducks it's policy holders on a quibble? I was told that I didn't need flood insurance by my agent. What's going on here? Why isn't there an outcry over the insurance industry's lack of fairness?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Send Out Some Love

This guy needs some comments to keep him going. Could you stop by his blog and say something encouraging? Thanks.

Hurricane Katrina - Mississippi Response

Setting the Mood

Fish And Whistle
©John Prine

I been thinking lately about the people I meet
The carwash on the corner and the hole in the street
The way my ankles hurt with shoes on my feet
And I'm wondering if I'm gonna see tomorrow.

Father forgive us for what we must do
You forgive us we'll forgive you
We'll forgive each other till we both turn blue
Then we'll whistle and go fishing in heaven.

I was in the army but I never dug a trench
I used to bust my knuckles on a monkey wrench
Then I'd go to town and drink and give the girls a pinch
But I don't think they ever even noticed me.

Fish and whistle, whistle and fish
Eat everything that they put on your dish
And when we get through we'll make a big wish
That we never have to do this again again? again????

On my very first job I said thank you and please
They made me scrub a parking lot down on my knees
Then I got fired for being scared of bees
And they only give me fifty cents an hour.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Shirt for Mr. C

Wireless Catalog - I'm Sick Of Being My Wife's Arm Candy Shirts

At this moment

At this moment, the National Weather Service shows Wilma pounding elsewhere.
Our local NOAA hazardous weather bulletin concerns the drought. Fire ban. No burning.
No rain.

Here in the Backwater, October is a dry month. How weird that the Largest National Disaster in the U.S.A where wind driven rain damaged just about everything that the flooding didn't ruint (please pronounce "ruin" with a "t" at the end. Gutteral grunt in a half-hearted fashion as you pronounce, y'all).

Dry here. Very dry. Hair does better with humidity as we have learned to look great in 95 % humidity. However, the World's Greatest Hairdresser tried out "a new color line" (hairdresserese for "new chemicals") on somebody around here. That somebody has nutmeg brown hair. She has taken to wearing her "Life is Good" cap pulled down to her ears. Brown hair? I doubt she'll adjust. She's a durn red-head.

Life is just tough here. You think you are working on your attitude and learning, as St. Paul urged, to be happy whatever because of who God is for us. Does that include the worst coloring fiasco one has ever seen?

(note to self: I thought you weren't going to blog about your hair. Isn't this blog supposed to be about uplifting numinous spiritual issues? Please go back and review your blog Mission Statement and Visioning Goals.---Ed.)

Busy Looking for Mission Statement...,

St. Casserole

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Light Blazes in the Darkness

A Light Blazes in the Darkness

Shout Outs!

*Love and sloppy kisses to the Angel up East who is sending boxes of books for our pastors!

*A big Quizzical Arched Eyebrow to the debris removal people WHO ARE BURNING THE DEBRIS SO THE AIR IS FILLED WITH SMOKE ALL DAY LONG as if we didn't have to cope with mold infested/rotting pork bellies, chicken parts and sewage odors while we clean-up. We are under a burn ban because Katrina was followed by a drought but the EPA is allowing debris burning.

*A big Shout Out to Aunts who understand the Power of Tinkerbell Costumes!

*Loud applause to the dreamers and visonaries who plan to start new congregations amidst the rubble on the Coast!

*Thanks be to God for the friendships Mr.C and I have with UMCOR workers!

*Growls and Hisses to the phone company who won't move their wires so our debris can be taken away AND to the debris removal people who won't pick up the debris because the phone wires aren't removed. Great tenacity of spirit thrives in this stand-off.

*The Get Out Your Cattle Prods and Find An Adjuster's Butt to all the insurance adjuters who are causing more damage by taking so durn long to get to homeowners and businesses. Take your vitamins! Get Moving!

*Shout Out to all those I love and all those who love me.

Love,
St. Casserole, More Herself Than She Was Last Week

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I wrote the post below after I got a phone call from a pastor who introduced himself, said his board asked him to make contact with a person down here then said, "I have one question for you. Is it good stewardship for us to give you money?"

Hurt my feelings. I know how it feels to be a poor Southern slob who has to justify why my people need help.

Thanks, I wasn't completely sure how it felt to be humbled by someone offering a stingy gift.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ministry Down Here: Not for the Faint-Hearted

Churches around the US are pouring love, people, stuff and money into our area. I've gotten calls from several churches asking if they may adopt or partner with us as we rebuild. All of the distressed area churches have received calls offering help and money. Day after day, I get calls asking if we need help.

The answer is "yes".

Several of our churches won't get enough insurance money to repair their buildings. They'll be indebted for years unless they get help. Several of our pastors are traumatized to the point of being walking dead. Pastors are homeless. Furniture, books, electronics, household goods are gone along with their homes. Their families are split up so that children can go to school elsewhere. Their spouses may or may not have jobs.

Pastors are trying to figure out how to do ministry with congregations traumatized, exhausted and broke. Many churches have lost 20% or more of their people. Church records are destroyed. Buildings aren't useable.

Whatever we planned for Fall of 2005 is shelved because their aren't enough church school teachers, youth programs are messed up and no one has energy for much of anything.

I'm doing ok. Our church can re-roof and make the necessary repairs. None of our members are bolting from the area. All of my people survived the storm.

I'm doing ok but my colleagues are suffering. In pain. Exhausted. Stressed trying to meet the needs of their people.

If you want to do exciting ministry, come on down. Give one of our pastors a break by offering to preach for a Sunday or two. Come down and start congregational redevelopment in one of our congregations where members left for new lives elsewhere. Come hold our hands, listen and offer the Hope you have.

I'm trying to do this, I really am.

We need more help. We aren't giving up. We are thinking of new ways to do ministry. We are praying for guidance as we use the gifts we've received so that we strengthen congregations for future mission. We are doing what we can with what we have.
Thank you to whoever popped me into 15K visits. Perhaps my own visits to see if anyone is reading my Tale 'O Woe did the trick. Anyway, I'd send a pound of Community Dark Roast Coffee to "Visitor 15,000" if I knew you. Thanks for coming.

St. C

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Images from Duke University

Hurricane Katrina Images

Worth a look to see the devastation of Katrina. Thanks, Duke University, for helping me understand the extent of the storm.

St. Casserole

Bittersweet


Every Fall, or what passes for Fall in the Deep South, we pick up beautiful pinecones from the yard.


When the children were little, we practiced serving pinecones with a tennis raquet into the giant azalea bushes. If golf was the sport of the moment, we drove the pinecones with a nine iron. The azalea bushes never seemed to mind being the dump for dozens of large pinecones.

Today I picked up the last crop of pinecones. I used the old lady grabbing tool sold by my neighborhood hardware store. The grabber is the tool of choice of all my antique neighbors for picking up anything they don't want to bend over to grasp. It's fun to use.

My trees are gone with a few scrawny exceptions whose pine cone producing days may never come.

Arrgghhhhhhhhhh All I ever blog about is loss! Oh, rats and double rats! Oh, my dear messy pinetrees gone to the street for the debris trucks!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Movie Review, Sunday Preview and Harborview

The LH and I drove to another city to the movies this afternoon. We saw "Wallace and Grommet" and loved it. Except....the cleric in the movie is useless, superstitious and silly. All characters are silly but I sting when I see clergy portrayed as useless. We are not useless! I ate popcorn and contemplated sending LH down for chocolate to calm my pastoral nerves but controlled my emotions instead.

Tomorrow's Gospel lection is Matthew 22:15-22, the "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" passage. Besides telling people that the State is to be given it's due (taxes, etc.) as much as a Christian in conscience can, the text demands attention to be paid to God's authority in our lives as first, with all other loyaties a far second. I don't use this as a stewardship season text to raise money. Been there, done that and I don't think it is a fair reading of the text.

Harbor views are difficult as Highway 90 is closed except to licensed contractors with ID and residents with ID. We don't see the Gulf waters anymore. So disconcerting to lose the view of the beautiful Gulf. When the highway is repaired, the residents property secured and when the governments feel darn ready, we will be allowed to see the water.

Everything is a mess here. Debris piles, plastic bags hanging from tree branches, trash on the highways and roads, businesses looking torn up and blue tarps on too many roofs.

Oh, by the way, I spent Wednesday night on Highway 61 going toward the Delta. For you Blues enthusiasts, this makes my blues creds top notch. Just call me "Blind Lemon Casserole."

Love,
Blueswoman St. Casserole Herself

Friday, October 14, 2005

RevGal Friday Meme

Thank you, Quotidian Grace who followed Songbird's lead with this week's meme:

1. The weather in your location: High today of 86; cooler here tonight. Clear bright blue skies!

2. Where are you typing this?: In my study at home. The room is filled with family history, bunches of papers, three bookcases and detritus.

3. Where you might like to be sitting if you could be anywhere: I miss LD. I'd be sitting with here with my arm around her.

4. A chore you have to do this weekend: Wash my car (can't take the dirt anymore!), clean up more of the debris pile in the front yard.

5. Something delightful you will do or would like to do this weekend: Go to the movies Saturday afternoon with my LH. One theater is open on the Coast. One.

RevGalBlogPals-sy yours,
St. Casserole

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Positive Thoughts

I don't know how to title this post. Good grief! Please ignore the gallows humor, sarcasm and crabbiness.

*I am thrilled to leave for an upstate Presbytery meeting because I can get at least 200 miles from here. I want to take my LH so he can get a break but he's busy.

*Anderson Cooper, the CNN reporter, impressed me with his Katrina coverage. His anger matched mine although I didn't see his blow-up with Mary Landrieu, D-LA, who I respect.

*I can see the sky and all the stars at night because our backyard tree canopy is gone.

*It's getting cooler here. It was 88 yesterday as a high.

*I received my Sept.5 PRESBYTERIAN OUTLOOK and my early September CHRISTIAN CENTURY yesterday. Our mail is coming in bits and torrents. I read through the CC while getting a pedicure yesterday afternoon.

*The second Sally Lockhart mystery arrived from Amazon yesterday. Yippee! The Golden Compass trilogy, called His Dark Materials?, is now MINE!

*Our house is starting to look as if I live here. Laundry is up-to-date. Refrigerator has food and condiments. (when the power goes off, the refrigerator gets emptied to the bare walls. you loose your horseradish, garlic spreads, fancy pickles and raspberry preserves)

*Going to the grocery store is like a family reunion because I see everyone I know and I'm glad to see EVERYBODY.

*I saw a hummingbird in the courtyard yesterday. Saw a squirrel earlier and a cardinal...

*I have a new appreciation for the Central NC Baptist Men's group Medical Clinic in a church parking lot near our home. God bless them! They've treated all sorts of post-hurricane accidents and miseries for my friends. I'll be sorry when they take down the tent, roll away the RV and go home.

*The pine cones are beautiful this year.

Yours,

St. Casserole

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Thank you, God

Gracious God, thank you for the gift of the Psalms. Thank you for the comfort I find in Your word. Like the people long ago who sought you through song and poetry, I cry out to you. Their words, by the hands of many messengers, come to me today and comfort me in my fear, frustration, anger, joy and longing for an end to suffering.
In Christ's name I pray, Amen.

The Embodiment of Evil in Our Time

I think the insurance industry in the USA is the incarnation of evil. Why should evil wear horns when it can mask disregard for human life with paperwork?

Example: I toured a home in my neighborhood yesterday. The home belongs to an older woman who moved away to live with her daughter. The home has mold watermarks up about four feet inside. This home, like a many in my neighborhood is not in a Flood Zone, therefore, no coverage will help the woman rebuild.

When you buy a home, the mortgage company requires insurance to protect your/their investment. You are made to buy what is needed to protect your home. You pay your premiums whose costs are added to your mortgage payment or billed to you directly.
You live on the Coast but are far from the Gulf, bayou, river, whatever so you do not have flood insurance. You have wind damage insurance but somehow, this covers wind driven rain but not wind driven flood water. You out of luck. You lose.

We have flood insurance at our home which did not receive any water. I called up the insurance gal and bought flood insurance several years ago after a tropical storm overwhelmed city drainage and we received about four inches of water. The water came entered then receded quickly but damaged my carpet, wood floors and nerves. We paid for repairs because we didn't have flood insurance. After this, I called the insurance gal and asked to buy flood coverage. "You don't need it," she said, "You aren't in a flood zone." I asked her if she'd forgotten that I called to ask for an adjuster when my home was filled with water. I proceeded to get flood insurance for $317 a year. She attempted to talk me out of buying the insurance.

Do you get it? Insurance people sell insurance. That's their business. If they think there is even a glimmer of misery in your future, they sell you a policy. Every. Single. Time.

Down here, behind the Razor Wire of our new lives, people are losing their homes because an adjustor comes by eventually and tells the shell-shocked sunburned people, "we don't cover flood, you don't have a policy for this."

Who decided the perimeter of the Flood Zone? The Army Corp of engineers and the insurance industry.

The insurance industry is attempting to do two things with us: limit their losses, save their own bonuses. We don't matter. Using ambiguous language they developed 30 years ago, insurance people are crushing the policy holders whose annual payments funded the giant growth of the industry.

Get out the garlic! Go get the crucifixes! Go get the silver bullets, stakes and townspeople! The Insurance Industry Vampires, Devils, Demons and Golems are inside our gates!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Inscrutable 8-Ball Revealed

The Inscrutable 8-Ball Revealed

I thought this might give you a break from Katrina Aftermath...

Your Brain's Pattern

You have a tempered, reasonable way of thinking.
You tend to take every new idea in, and meld it with your world view.
For you, everything is always changing. Each moment is different.
Your thinking process tends to be very natural - with no beginnings or endings.
You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You'd make a talented professor or writer.

Things are getting better...

Life is moving toward "new normal" here. Restaurants re-open with crowds waiting to have a meal fixed in a kitchen and served at a clean table. It's a treat to have a break away from the clean-up.

Those who have homes are taking out the carpet and pad, tearing out the sheet rock so the walls are wood studs to be treated with chemicals. Wet studs dry to harbor mold which has to be coated, soaked and made safe for sheetrock WHEN the contractor arrives. With so many homes to be re-built there aren't enough contractors or laborers to do the work. How do you pick a contractor? Local and known builders are busy until next year or after with jobs and the out-of-state builders are unknowns.

Much of the debris is gone carried off by huge trucks. Piles of ruined carpet and sheetrock are piled on the street these days but this is progress as the tree debris is gone. We have tree debris at our house because the cleaners won't take the debris until the telephone wires are moved. The telephone company won't fix the wires until the tree debris is moved. The standstill continues. Our phones work great, regardless.

People around me look tired, aged, tanned from all the outside work and shell-shocked. Not much eye sparkle. Tense about money. Will the insurance company pay? Is my damage covered? How much will materials cost when I do get insurance money?

FEMA jokes are rampant as are fresh curses on the insurance industry.

The weather has turned a tad cooler.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gulf Views





I saw the Gulf for the first time in over a month Friday. The Gulf road is closed to everyone but emergency personnel, debris removal trucks and property owners who can prove residence (or former residence since the homes are destroyed). The area is blocked off with razor wire and military check points. I viewed the hurricane damage from Waveland to Gulfport with a UMCOR worker with credentials. When I finally got to sleep last night, I had nightmares. Here are more photos.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Here Is My Yard






First, understand that I show these photos to give you an idea of what the aftermath of a Cat 4 Hurricane looks like several miles inland. Second, I have a home which is habitable; most lost their homes. We are fortunate and know it. These are views of my backyard, the shed is held together with dirt dauber spit and cobwebs. How the shed remains standing is a mystery of the universe. The debris piles are tiny when compared to what they were at first.

Pee Pee Puppie Debuts



Here's the youngest Casserole pet. He's in the courtyard chewing on debris.

No Land Line

Family, the land line went out yesterday morning because the debris trucks messed with the lines. Call me on my cell.

The phone company won't fix the line because the debris is in the way. The debris removal trucks won't move the debris because the phone lines are in the way.

Still able to laugh,
St. Casserole

Preacher's Coffee Group

The Preacher's Coffee group met yesterday in a new location. Our previous location, a brew pub where they fixed us coffee as they cleaned up the bar, blew away in the storm. The group met at the hospital for two weeks then moved to our new location at the Mexican restaurant. Seven of us met Wednesday morning; six are homeless. I mean homeless as in either a)home blown away with only slab for evidence that home existed, b) three or fewer walls remain of house, or c)structure remains but is gutted and even spiders won't go inside. Lord, have mercy. These are the caregivers for over 1600 people and they have no familar place to rest their heads at night.

Still, despite the losses and wearing either donated clothing or storm damaged-then-bleached senseless stuff, they gathered to laugh and talk. Some senior UMC officials met with us and spent the time on their cell phones. No criticism here, just giving the sense of urgency/workload of everyone who is trying to help us.

President Bill Clinton came to my community. He met with the Turnkey Community first and made the instant personal connection he is known for. How I wish that he was my president during this disaster. When Pres.Bush spoke in New Orleans at Jackson Square, I heard his words (well-written speech) but saw in him the monitor reading un-connected affect. Clinton comes and hugs people, talks with them about what they want to talk about and makes the human connection. We need Clinton, not Bush now. Sorry if you don't like this but when people are in trouble, they need a person not a robot. I knew Bill was down here but couldn't get to him. I'm so glad he came to see all this. God bless him. A woman asked him, "Will you come back to check on us?" and he said he would.

Coming out of the grocery store parking lot Wednesday, the traffic backed up as it does all over the Coast these days. As we waited in traffic, the woman in front of me jumped out of the driver's seat, pulled open the back door of the car and began slapping a girl in the backseat. Tempers are very frayed here. You can't go many places. The traffic stalls constantly. People don't have enough money. People don't have homes. People are frightened. We have a curfew at night because the streetlights are gone.

Mr. C's pastor lost his home, too. His wife moved to Georgia because the mold and air quality here makes her sick.

Here's what the UMC's did for their pastors: sent each pastor a helper to handle all the relief effort phone calls and work and to make sure the pastor has what she/he needs.

I don't know what the PCUSA pastors have for support here. I wasn't notified of the meeting last week of our pastors. I found out about some aid when I contacted our EP.

I'm just telling you. If you are upset that I mention politics here, think about who you would want to comfort you when your world is destroyed, a person who will listen or a person who has to be told how to respond to your pain?

I'm going to rant about the insurance industry soon. You may want to ignore me for a few days.

Love,
St. Casserole

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wednesday Morning

For another perspective on Katrina, go to: http://homepage.mac.com/reillymorse/iblog/index.html

We laughed at Geraldine Granger, the Vicar of Dibley on a Neflix of "Vicar of Dibley: 10th Anniversary Christmas" dvd. I had to spell check "laughed" as I have not known the word for several weeks. I'm serious.

I cried with my LLS late yesterday afternoon. She helps me. LD is doing great in school and happy with new friends and in the loving company of the Aunts. LS spoke roughly to me so that I felt depressed although I understand that he is letting out his upset by blasting me. Oh well. Life is life and life, according to God, is good.

I'm sure the Pee Pee Puppie will be photographed today. I can just feel it.

St. C

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I was a full-service blogger before Katrina. Now I blog about the Storm. Big Hurricanes are marker events for those who live through them or with the aftermath causing the world/life to be divided between before and after. Marker events are the big moments of one's life where life shifts into a new reality after a change like marriage, birth of children, injury, illness, death of a loved one, new job, etc.

For me, the marker events are typical: graduations, marriage, arrival of children, illness, miscarriages, death of parents, job changes. Marker events, in retropsect, pushed me into deeper maturity as a Believer. Sounds pious, doesn't it? Taking St. Paul's idea that whatever befalls a believer (and he used himself as the example) one hangs on to God and comes through with God's grace.

Katrina is a marker event and not just for me.

Believe me when I tell you that I am stunned at the number of people who went through hours of pitch black darkness with little children, old people and pets who held onto this life by sitting in a Boston Whaler they swam to in rising water then held onto the gutters of a neighbor's two storey home to wait out the storm. Jean, my young bankteller, swam out the second floor window of her apartment with her seven year old son. She broke the window and swam with her child to the safety of the roof. She climbed out the window into cold rising water with her child to try to stay alive. Rachel got into her attic with her two young children, husband, mother and dog to try to stay alive. People I know and strangers I meet did dramatic things to stay alive in all the water. We don't even live in a flood area. The water came up so high that Catfish let out his lines on his shrimp boat in the Back Bay 40 feet by swimming to the lines in the hurricane winds to save his boat. Strangers tell me remarkable stories of swimming to a neighbor's home for safety. I am stunned. These aren't young athletic kids. These are regular people who wanted to stay alive in a situation no one could predict. It is extraordinary that more people didn't drown.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Monday Morning

Thank you for sending money for our Humane Society of South Mississippi. I visited with Larry Ray yesterday to see how he fared and to greet his fabulous dogs. He and the dogs are doing well. He was writing notes to thank those who sent money to help the animals. The Storm came when the old shelter was on it's last gasp and the new shelter not quite ready to take care of animals. Assumpta and Dibley thank you for your kindness to them.

Andy is recovering from his post-hurricane injury. The vet didn't know what happened to him after checking for a break in his front leg, cuts, punctures, etc. Andy gets antibiotics everyday just in case. I think he sprained his wrist/ankle. He ate a big breakfast this morning and told me all his troubles. He says that the puppy (oh yeah, a puppy came to live with Mr. C and Junior C while I was gone) is worse than the kittens and that life has gone to the litterbox since Big Rusty left. I sympathized and reminded him that he is the Alpha Cat/Alpha Animal now. This perked Andy up and he sauntered off to check for squirrels.

Mr. C. and I sat on the back porch surveying what used to be our immaculate back yard while we drank coffee and read the newspaper. We started laughing thinking about the Martin House (for birds) which resided over the back back yard. The tall pole holding the house is gone and the house is on the ground. We were hooting that the Martins are trying to contact FEMA for their 2K for rebuilding and wondering how to find the Red Cross help. The Red Cross is doing a great job, I'm sure but durn! they move around so much that people can't find them.

Here's the best part: Ruby didn't move to Chicago and I'm going to see her today. Oh, thank you, Lord! I'll take her around to see what kind of aid is available to her. She doesn't drive so she can't get out to get her errands done. I spoke with her yesterday. She's fine but has no work, no income coming in and needs all the services the good people of the US have to offer. I can't wait to see her.

There is a great deal for me to do here at my amazing-still-standing home after two men, 2-4 relief workers and a pee pee puppie lived here for a month. However, my day is for Ruby and for our dear pal whose church was destroyed and his people gone.

Yours,
St. Casserole

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Elation!

I drove my usual road to the Church watching for debris piles fallen onto the pavement. Trees down, houses with blue tarps covering ruined roofing and too much roadkill on an empty stomach provided the pictures for my drive.
The Little Town is damaged but, excuse me for saying this, not as badly as my area. The storm surge didn't reach that far but tornados, torrential rain and great wind did.

I was so glad to see the Church that I sat inside my car at the curb and stared. The roof damage is easy to see although the roof pitch is high like old-fashioned churches. The trees took heavy blows but the Carpenters for God in Orlando cleared the grounds. The Elders said of this fine work crew, "It would have taken us a year to do what they did in a few days!" Another church, way up North, sent boxes upon boxes of pump sprayers (to kill mildew/mold), toiletries, toothbrushes, underwear, socks, t-shirts and shoes. The congregation looked at the stuff. I told them it was for them and if they didn't need it, would they please give it out to their neighbors. With delight, they took most of the stuff saying, "I could use some new drawers...", and "Look!,these socks are MY size!" It's not easy for self-sufficent people to accept things they enjoyed going home from church with new, clean, never worn underwear,etc. All the toothbrushes left, too. Nothing like fresh socks, clean drawers and a new toothbrush to spruce up a hot October day after the Big Blow.

I stood in the pulpit and looked out at every single person on my roll, minus 2. Everyone was in worship! I felt as happy as I've felt since the Storm seeing my folks. We sang, prayed, had the Lord's Supper (note to self: keep looking for grape juice, you will find it. Thanks for not taking the grape fanta soda in for the service)and loved one another.

We got on a list to have the roof repaired. We updated our needs assessment for the congregations who have "adopted" us out of state and prepared for the next group who is coming to help us.

I am elated. Thanks be to God for allowing me to return to my people and find them well and able.

Thanks to you, too, for your prayers.

With Contentment,
St. Casserole

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Aftermath

After a damaging storm, I observe the following:

Survivors tell their stories even to strangers.

People try to make money from the misery.

People who never have to ask for help find themselves receiving help and feel uncomfortable.

The street lights are gone.

Debris makes driving on city roads difficult because it pokes out into the street.

Everyone's car is filthy inside and out.

People tell you sad stories then talk about how lucky they feel to be alive.

People think that other people have it worse than they do even if they are standing on the empty slab of their home or business.

People need community whether it be their neighbors or church or bar much more when the world is unrecognizable.

People make quick decisions, often bad decisions, because the stress level is high.

People get sick from the stress, the heat and bad food.

Old people die because they can't face re-building or living through these conditions.

Losing one's mementos hurts.

Either tempers are hair-trigger or kindness spills out.

Pets are stressed.

Fragile people become even more fragile. Strong people begin to lose it.

Religious nuts have a field day.

Children have nightmares, get sick, act out and stop feeling safe anywhere.

Concerned,
St. Casserole



Here are pictures of what was a lovely renovated gray two storey old home adapted as office space. The office was furnished with antiques from my family and treasures from estate sales. The firm used the new office for less than a year before it blew away.

The picture frame on the steps is a sweet story. As the LH walked around the property, he picked up pictures from the debris and placed them on the steps. As days went by, people took their pictures from the assortment. One picture remains. One of the bittersweet things about great loss from a hurricane is the loss of pictures. A flat screen tv can be replaced, for example, but a picture of your Mama taken by your Granddaddy can't be replaced.

I began to see bent over trees, broken off about a third of the way down, miles before I reached home. Then, advertising signs blown off, telephone poles tilted and further along blue tarps on roofs. I thought the ocean blue color of the tarps was pretty until I saw too many covering pitiful houses by the time I arrived home.

Our trees are gone. Our neighborhood, the pine grove, now looks like the ground was scraped clean of all vegetation and new homes built. Except that homes are piles of debris, or tilted, or turned around or God knows what.

Here are the pictures of LH's office. He drove me around to see the damage to our part of the world about 2 hours after I arrived home. He said I needed to see the damage and not wait any longer.