Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Down, but not out....

Over the last couple of days, we have been blessed to hear that most of my friends from the Gulf are alive and well. Still waiting to hear from a couple, but the reports on their own personal safety is cause for rejoicing.

But so much devastation that it makes me sad. I am especially heartbroken for the folks in Gulfport-Biloxi. Last summer ('04), I took part in a girls' weekend in Biloxi, and had one of the best times of my life. LOTS and lots of friendships were cemented that weekend, and I loved the area. Yesterday, I read a report from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that Beauvoir (the Jefferson Davis home) was destroyed, and that the President Casino was lifted off its moorings and deposited onto a nearby Holiday Inn. We stayed at the President! While the hotel portion was across US90 from the casino itself, this just freaks me out to no end.

As some friends of mine (known as the Room 248 Girls) noted, "NO! Room 248 is gone! No more!" I noted to them that yes, the physical Room 248 is gone, but they have kept Room 248 alive in their friendships and their memories.

Louisiana's governor has declared today, Wednesday, August 31 a day of prayer. And pray I shall for the people of Louisiana, the people of Mississippi, the people of Alabama and portions of Florida (including those still reeling from Katrina's first impact, near Ft. Lauderdale).

Monday, August 29, 2005

No words, just prayers

I am blessed to have many friends and acquaintances all over the US. I have some who have been in the path of Hurricane Katrina, from its initial landfall in southern Florida through its current trek through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and on through Tennessee and Kentucky and onward.

And I pray for every single one of them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Thank God for SC DOT....

I will praise their SHEP program to high heaven. SHEP is (I think) State Highway Emergency Program. Okay, I just found out that they're no longer SHEP -- it's the DOT Incident Response Team. Whatever, they're SHEP to me.

Anyway, for TWO straight days, they have come to my rescue on I-85. Yesterday morning, I blew my right front tire. It was not a fun feeling at all -- until it actually happened, my car was shaking so badly, that I thought my car just might explode or implode (wasn't sure which). Luckily, the SHEP vehicle arrived -- without me calling -- in about 2 minutes. He happened to be patrolling, and there I was. He changed my tire (put on my spare), and away I went.

Today, I was coming back from running errands, when WHAMMO-BLAMMO!! out went the back right tire. And I don't just mean, oops it's flat, or oh-no-there-went-a-chunk. I mean the entire TREAD came off and left just the sidewalls. Again, there was SHEP in a fairly reasonable time. I didn't call, but that doesn't mean another person didn't alert the Highway Patrol (who then alerted SHEP). The guy says he happened upon my car. I sat there for about 10-15 minutes before he arrived, so that's possible. I'm just glad he showed!

I shan't complain, ever again, about our DOT. Instead, I'll be grateful for them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Picture

Forgive this other trip down memory lane.... I wrote this during my senior year of college (1991) when I found a picture of me and my brother. The sentiment remains the same -- I just updated the # of years since. Enjoy -- A.

I found a picture the other day. It was an old 8 x 10 of two children. The edges were yellowed, but the central picture was still intact. One of the children was a girl no more than seven and the other was a little boy no older than two. Those kids represented every kid in America.

The girl had chin-length hair with bangs closely cropped just above the eyebrows. She had sparkling blue eyes, and a snaggled-toothed smile. Her eyes showed a certain look that said, "I'm seven, and I'm taking on the world." It was obvious that she had just lost an upper tooth, and her smile showed her pride in losing that tooth. She wore a white shirt with puffy short sleeves and a denim jumper. On the bottom of the jumper, there was a rainbow and clouds that had been silkscreened on the material. Her knees were scraped, but not badly. What little girl, out having fun with her friends, wouldn't have scraped knees?

The boy was wearing a white shirt with the Liberty Bell embroidered on it and a pair of blue shorts. He had just gotten in a few teeth and it too was obvious that they were on display for the world. He had the same honey-colored hair as the girl in the picture and the same sparkling blue eyes. His eyes showed a world of promise before him. His tennis shoes were slightly dirty on the bottom. But what young growing boy, out discovering that great big wide world we call home, wouldn't have dirty tennis shoes?

Their parents were rather chagrined by the scraped knees and dirty shoes and tried to reschedule the appointment for another time. The photographer stopped them, saying that the children were charming and that he wouldn't change a thing. Only partially convinced, the parents chose to trust him and the essence of the moment was captured on film and paper. The sweet smiles, the big blue eyes, the charm -- all of it there for the world to see.

I stare at the picture more closely and notice a date: April 1977. Over 28 years have passed since that moment was frozen in time. I often sit and wonder what happened to the two children. Are they alive or did they die? Do they still have that innocent sparkle in their eyes, or has the world and all its problems taken that shine out? Are they successful by our society's standards, or are they just existing day-to-day? I think I know the answers to those questions. The children are dead, in a sense. Although the people in the picture are very much alive, those children died long ago. But that one moment of childhood innocence now hangs on my wall as a testament to what was, and still can be. I still believe that those childlike faces are special and are still miraculous.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Photographs and Memories

In my genealogy program, where I have stored all the information I have gathered, I also have the capability to do slide shows of scanned photos. I have several of my parents and a few here and there of other ancestors (but not many).

There's a picture of my dad that just sets me crying every single time. It's the only "baby" picture there is of him -- and he was around 18-24 months at the time. Granted, his parents were very poor, and Grandma had 3 children in less than 3 calendar years (my dad being in the middle). In this picture, he has on the cutest little pair of overalls -- they look to be corduroy -- with a little teddy bear applique on the pocket in the middle of the chest. He also has on a Peter-Pan collar shirt.

I cry because it makes me so sad to see. I wonder if the clothes were hand-me-downs from older brothers (or sisters even) or perhaps a cousin. I cry because I can picture the hardscrabble life they had, often through no fault of their own. I often wonder what that little boy in the picture must have been thinking, wondering, feeling, doing at the time.

And yet the picture makes me so proud too -- I bet no one at the time who would have seen him could have imagined that the little boy would have grown up to be a college graduate, with a productive, steady job, and a great family (not bragging, mind you). In fact, all my dad's brothers and sisters not only survived but thrived. Believe me, no "victim" mentality at all in this family.... their hard-knock life only served to drive them even more.

And that same drive has gone on to their children. We grew up with creature comforts that they only dreamed of as children -- and worked their rears off to provide as adults. Because they never got to complete their education, we were told we had to -- and 9 of the 14 grandchildren have some level of college education or completed degrees. (My father does have an associate's degree, even though he did not complete high school, which makes me all the prouder).

All things that I bet that little boy in the overalls never imagined......

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Joys of the Backside of Thirty

Once upon a time, I dreaded my 30th birthday with a horror. I grew up where 30 was the age where you had to "grow up" and the fun ended. And as tough as my 20s had been, I could only imagine the god-awful things that lay in wait after I turned the big 3-0. I couldn't have been more mistaken.

The 30s have been FAR better and kinder than my 20s ever were. My 20s were frought with navel-gazing and self-absorption. My 30s have been filled with great fun, lots of love and laughter, and amazing self-knowledge. I found strength, joy, wisdom, courage -- sometimes to a degree I didn't know I had within me.

Go back and relive those old days? NEVER!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Just some random thoughts on life.

Life is weird, wild, short, long, wide, and every other thing. And what a coaster ride the last year of my life has been -- great highs and horrid lows. If you had said to me a year ago how different my life would be.... well, I might have believed you but I sure wouldn't have bet the farm on it. But here I am, self-confidence back up, and loving what has come to be.