Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Mountains

Took the refugees to the mountains today. The weather couldn't have been more accommodating. Temperatures in the seventies and perfectly blue skies. We hiked to the bottom of Cedar Falls, a true shock and awe for flatlanders.

Cedar Falls

All were suitably impressed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Live Like A Refugee...

We still have guests and since they're saying that Beaumont won't be safe to return to for possibly weeks, we may have them for some time to come.

I'll have to say that we've been eating well. We're having gumbo tonight, and the larders have been pretty well stocked.

Since these are flatlanders, there's a definite interest in seeing the mountains. We're trying to find time, nestled with my work, to go to the Ouachitas and do some sight seeing.

At least we know their house is okay. God has been good to my family. (thanks!)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Man, what a night

Everyone is safe, sound and asleep at my house. Cheryl's plane came in at 10:30 just as scheduled and I picked her up without incident.

The brother in law, on the other hand, didn't make it in until 2:30 this morning. They left at 8:00 the day before. Nearly 20 hours to get here.

But at least they did.

And now I have to get ready and take son1 to work. I may just come home and go back to bed afterwards...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Texas Evacuation

As I posted earlier, my sister is flying in from Seattle tonight and her husband and children left at eight this morning to drive up here from Beaumont.

I spoke to the brother in law about nine this a.m. and he said the traffic was bad, but "I have a map of Texas and we're taking the back roads and zig zagging up your way!"

He called a little before six this evening and they have made it as far as Jasper, about sixty miles north of Beaumont. They've been on the road since eight and made it a little over sixty miles.

I know I would be really frustrated if I were in his position right now. My little bride has indicated that "you'd be throwin' a fit about now."

Probably would, probably would...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I can't get back to sleep. My sister that lives near Houston called me just a few minutes ago to tell me that they are heading this way to stay with us until the Hurricane passes.

While I wish that they were coming to visit under better circumstances, I am just too excited to see them again. I pray that their home will be protected and safe, but I intend to enjoy every minute of our visit.

I can't wait to see ya'll!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Helping Hands In Arkansas

I received this email this morning from a dear friend who really and truly writes emails like this all the time. She tells in great detail of all their family adventures and it's never a dull moment. But this is particularly touching to me and I wanted to share...

Dear folks --

Between our usual weekend adventures, we tried toput into effect some Golden Rules:

'Love Our Neighbors As Ourselves"

Between our Friday afternoon - Labor Day - Monday night into Tuesday afternoon, we added our encouragement, assistance and yes, our monies to easing the plight of our fellow citizens. Don't just read what we did - and will do again - join us.

Arkansas has become the second largest home for the displaced folks from The Gulf Coast and the tragedies of the Hurricane Katrina. We just received 22 thousand more people bussed in to Ft. Chaffee at Ft. Smith on the western side of the state. (Over by Okla.)

We have witnessed hundreds of people living at the State Fair Grounds in Little Rock. They are sleeping rows of cots, occasionally laden with a small pile of someone's cast-off / donated apparel - a few new / fresh items and a small box of toiletries. That is it - their entire worldly possessions. They sit downcast, numb - a form of shell-shock.

We took food to the State Fair Grounds and visited with a group of Indians from Louisiana. (Now don't ask me the name of their tribe as I had to ask 4 times for it to be pronounced. The talkative gentleman who-was-telling-the-tribe's-tale, had such a strong Cajun accent, I could not understand, let alone repeat the tongue-twister name!) They told of swiftly rising waters "only Moses could have divided." The history of their people - paper records and historic keepsakes - were surely gone. The group were sitting in a circle on the Earthen lawn outside the Fair Ground's buildings, talking amongst oneanother so softly it almost seemed like an odd hum.

Another group of black folks -- with several small children scampered nearby playing a game of nighttime tag -- sat in an assortment of chairs and atop overturned buckets inside a gazebo on the Fair Grounds property. The New Orleans grown-ups -- all relatives / cousins and sisters and aunts and nephews. They would start to discuss who was missing - look at oneanother and pause while their own personal waterworks turned on and a flood would roll down their faces. They could hardly speak of the-unknown-whereabouts of a Grandmother - a beloved elder named Nettie Mae. They had no idea where they were going - if they would go back when the brackish tides had been removed or if they would resettle elsewhere. Remarkably, it seemed as though the decision needed to be a 'joint family' choice as all they had left in this ole world, was each other. They did not want any distance between.

We helped box food and bottled water for hauling away in trucks. Our friend Tom - who is the Labor Relations Director for the United Way - had asked if we would be flexible this weekend in the event he needed us to drive a bob-truck or three down to the stricken area. Instead, he got so much donated from the good folks in Arkansas, they had to rely on far, far larger trucks - big 18-wheel jobs. (We are not licensed to drive these - so the Stanleys were bystanders!)

Monday afternoon we went back to the State Fair Grounds and took more food - a trip to Sam's Club -- whadda marvelous place for delicious stuff. While delivering our goodies, a truck pulled up with the backend filled with laughing and singing people. They jumped out, each having held in their laps a cardboard box layered with wax-paper and warm fried catfish steaks ready-to-eat were offered to one and all.

Summer in Arkansas -- Wonderful Times Sharing with Friends -- Life is Good.

I am soooooooooooooo impressed with the people of our area.

This morn, Hubby had to be in Court in Pine Bluff. This is - 30 mi Southeast of Little Rock - one of the more economically depressed communities in the state; however, it is not as bad as the Delta in the Southeastern region of Arkansas - but Pine Bluff has evolved into a durge of woe.

While on our way down, Governor Mike Huckabee was on the radio doing a special Emergency Talk Show. He recounted the miseries he had witnessed and tried to alleviate. Calls came in from listeners offering assistance. The Governor ended the program telling of a woman he had sat beside on the steps of the old barracks at Ft. Chaffee. The gal and her Momma had come in on a bus from the stormy shoreland. That morning - at 7A.M., her Momma had died; the woman had no money, no way to contact anyone and was engulfed in sobs and sorrow.

As we drove along listening to the Arkansas Governor, I picked up my cell phone and called John Smith, owner of the North Little Rock Funeral Home. I explained to an assistant (John was helping with a funeral just then) the details of the radio program and this lady's plight. I asked for 'a little miracle from the angels working at the Funeral Home'.


The Jewish teenager Anne Frank wrote some thoughtful words in her little diary as WWII was festering around her hiding place. The young girl penned in her red plaid book:

"How wonderful it is
that nobody
need wait a single moment
before starting to improve
the world."

The Pine Bluff Convention Center has been transformed into a residence for several hundred Gulf Shores folks. Area churches have taken-in families -- individual families have taken in homeless people. Their outpouring of goodwill will surely cause a 'golden glow' on this part of Central Arkansas when outerspace pictures are taken and beamed back to Earth! The Governor (a former Baptist minister) has been there and walked, talked, provided needs and prayed amongst the downtrodden.

I pulled up to visit with a Fireman - who was manning the doors, providing security and to assist in collections. He advised they needed Baby Formula, underwear (in all sizes and for all people) and towels. The man said:

"We have plenty of clothing. Everyone is allowed to take 6 changes of clothes from the stockpiles. We just don't have enough new underwear. The towels help all to be able to bathe, stay clean and refreshed."

While pulling away from the Convention Center, I spotted in the roadway a businessperson's day-date book...pages flipping in the breeze. Someone had probably laid it on their car to write, forgotten it and the book had dropped as they motored on their way. I flipped on my flashers - jumped out and grabbed the flying pages and the book. It belonged to a man named Robert from Louisiana. He had just made a $2,000. deposit at his local bank as the paperwork was inside. The book was mostly addresses and numbers plus his upcoming business meetings calendar - a highly valuable book to the owner. It was real leather and had expensive fountain pens tucked inside. I figured I was going to have to mail it back to him.

Next, a return trip to the Courthouse to pick up Hubby -- the 'bread winner' who was -- after some sweet-talk'n -- going to hopefully cover-the-bill.

I also suggested he could turn in the Walmart receipt for a tax write-off.

(MEN -- this is how their minds work -- ha!)

This is also a powerful incentive FOR EVERYONE to make donations...

We drove to the Pine Bluff WALMART
and bought almost every package of underwear they had.
We had some many briefs - shorts - undies and pants,
we looked like NUDIST COLONY REFORMERS...hahahaaaaaaaa!

As an experienced expert at spending Hubby's bucks, this tour 'd force style of buying is called:


For those of you who are untutored regarding this technique, it is when you stand and point to a bargain and start yelp'n:

"I want 6 of those, 9 of those; I"ll take 3 of these and 14 of that."
Then you smile at your Hubby
who is possibly sweating
or lean'n next to a nearby wall
or occasionally prone on the floor beside you
allllllllllllllllll the while staring inside his hollow billfold.

(Hubby - who does NOT enjoy accompanying me on many of these excursions -
has confided the mysterious experience of:

'Cartoon Shopping Syndrome'.

This is when he peels back the edges of his wallet
and can literally see the dollar bills flutter out with wings
like in-the-Warner-Brothers-cartoons and float away.)

(Who would have thought a name-brand like 'FRUIT OF THE LOOM' was cheaper than some off-the-wall undies named 'INTERSTATE 40' -- huh?? Six pairs of briefs for $4.98 ain't a bad deal! Forget those 'Road Warrior' name-brand goofus undies at 3 pair for $4.00 - duh. I got this situation - along with a bunch 'o nekkid arses - COVERED! Heeeeeeehehehehee!! )

Then we got sox...mostly white sox and some black ones...
Then we did boys sox...and girls panties and socks.

(What kinda Momma is buying 'low-riding bikini style' drawers for their little girl? They're not go'n on the fanny of any liddle kiddle I'm dress'n!!!!!!!! I want full-blown, cover-yo-sef-up pants across their keesters!

This shopping style is weary business.

I didn't even try on ladies underwear....
nor did I buy any.
(There is a JOKE hidden in that last line somewhere...)

I bought every can of liquid Infant Formula that was one the shelf (I'm buy'n the WALMART name-brand -- much less expensive than the rest -- and what I would have purchased for myself too!). Hubby had to go up on a ladder to get the flats of canned formula down from the top of the shelf as the entire display had been almost bought out by the Pine Bluff locals and taken to the Convention Center!

As I was standing in line to check out -- I talked to ladies pushing their shopping baskets nearby or standing in line behind me.

(Ahhhh yes, the power of big-hearted women!)

I explained the Convention Center officials were begging for towels. One gal said her Sunday School Class would join in 'the towel effort'...another mentioned she would get one towel from every person representing her neighborhood / street...and a last lady said she could help too. It seems her daughter's Pine Bluff school had adopted one item per classroom -- like buying toothbrushes - as many as you could afford. One class had yet to get an assigned 'need.' I exclaimed:

'Its' towels - needed NOW - not tomorrow or next week!'
It was a done deal!

(Ahhhh -- all ya need is a talkative female and a positive attitude. A gaggle of gals can make minor miracles!)

We had 3 1/2 shopping carts full. A volunteer Walmart Department Head assisted wheel'n the stuff out to the truck.

When we wheeled the loot out across the parking was a hot, noontime sun bearing down. An elderly woman was pushing a cart with many plastic bags. She seemed lost - mumbling to herself as she passed me. I asked if she was having trouble finding her car and she admitted 'Yes'. This dear old woman - who probably should have not been out driving but to the nearby grocery and straight home - had spent (her term) 'a Widow's Mite' to buy 'lady's needs - Kotex and Tampons' and was making a drive to the Center to provide help. We located her old flivver-of-a-car and got her on the way... God Bless this dear, darling woman.

As we were putting the Walmart purchases in the back of our truckbed to haul back across town to the Convention Center, a black Lexus was slowly driving up and down the Walmart parking lot rows. It had a tag from Louisiana. A single man was driving, looking back and forth -- perhaps searching for someone or something. I took a hunch and stepped out into the line of traffic causing him to have to stop. I walked up to the window and asked:

"Is your name Robert?...(and said the last name).
He never spoke, just nodded his head with a dazed, quizzical expression.
"Did you loose something?"
"Yes -- I did..."
"Stay here -- I'll be right back."

"Is this your book and can you tell me the amount of your last bank deposit?"
He had all the answers; Then, he had his book.
"I drove up here to help. But, how'd you know to help me?"

How did I know?
I don't know;
These things just happen
'to' me
'for' me
and on this day,
for someone else.

My Great 'n Good Guardian Angel
works overtime
all the time.

It just the movie line in 'SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE"
'Its' a mystery!'

(Hubby asked:
'How'd you know that?"
I always leave him a tad rattled 'n in a daze.

Poor man has a mantra after 25 yrs --
"No one ever told me it was going to be like this!"

All the 'stuff' was in the truckbed as we pulled back within a 2 block area of the Convention Center. An old black man was walking down the street with two large bags of items. I rolled down the window and asked if he needed a lift.

(He was too old to be afraid of;
it was too hot for him to be out walking.
The gentleman was carrying waaaaaay to heavy a pair of burdens
for him to have to wag any distance.
I -Hubby too -

He was a storm-tossed soul from Louisiana.
He needed a lift downtown to Simmons Bank.
The man had fallen in love with the people of Pine Bluff.
He had just finished getting papers straight from the Social Security Office
and was headed to the bank to have his account transferred to Arkansas.
He promised: "Pine Bluff, Arkansas is where I plan to live out my days now."
The waters had washed away his former residence and belongings;
and, after some tears 'n fears,
he was going to start anew
with a welcoming home
amongst new friends
in Arkansas.

This will not be over next week nor next month nor a half-year from now.
Illness is going to take hold...both in body and mind...for many of the people involved -

the people in need and those witnessing 'n helping.
Reflect on our small work here...
follow us.

Make a donation to ease the way for a stranger.

A concluding quote from Anne Frank's diary,
(one of my favorite quotable authors as you can tell...)

" We all live with the objective
of being happy;
our lives are all different
and yet
the same. "

-- Audrey in Arkansas

Friday, September 02, 2005

Harbinger of things to come?

Wake Up Zombies makes a good point with this article about the New Madrid Fault line and the impending earthquake that will make this week's New Orleans look mild. It is going to happen, when is the only question. In our lifetime? Most likely.

I remember some years back when an expert had made dire predictions of a major event along the fault and everyone was talking about it. I remember going a little faster when I drove across the Mississippi River bridge at Memphis. But you hear little about it these days and that is lulling us into a false sense of security.

We need to be prepared for "the big one". Much more so than New Orleans was prepared for theirs. To give you an idea of what we're really talking about, I want to quote a letter written in 1816 by an eyewitness to the earthquake of 1811-12. Her memories of it are vivid and graphic and the best account I have found so far.

New Madrid, Territory of Miss.
March 22, 1816

Dear Sir:

In compliance with your request, I will now give you a history, as full in detail as the limits of a letter will permit, of the late awful visitation of Providence in this vicinity. On the 16th of December, 1811, about two o’clock A.M., we were visited by a violent shock of an earthquake, accompanied by a very awful noise, resembling loud, but distant thunder, but more hoarse and vibrating, which was followed in a few moments by the complete saturation of the atmosphere with sulphurous vapor, causing total darkness.
The screams of the affrighted inhabitants, running to and fro, not knowing where to go or what to do, cries of the fowls and beasts of every species, the cracking of falling trees and the roaring of the Mississippi, the current of which was retrograde for a few moments, owing, as is supposed, to an eruption in its bed, formed a scene truly horrible.
From that time until about sunrise, a number of slight shocks occurred, at which time one, still more violent than the first, took place with the same accompaniments as the first, and the terror which had been excited in every one, and, indeed, in all animal nature, was, now, if possible, doubled. The inhabitants fled in every direction to the country, supposing, if it can be admitted that their minds were exercised at all, that there was less danger at a distance from, than near the river. In one person, a female, the alarm was so great that she fainted and could not be recovered.
There were several shocks in a day, but lighter, until the 23rd of January, 1812, when one occurred as violent as the severest of the former ones, accompanied by the same phenomena as the former. From this time until the 4th of February, the earth was in constant agitation, visibly waving as a gentle sea. On that day there was another shock, nearly as hard as the preceding ones. Next day, four shocks and on the 7th at about four o’clock A.M., a concussion took place, so much more violent than those that had preceded it, that it was the hard shock. The awful darkness of the atmosphere, which, as formerly, was saturated with sulphurous vapor, and the violence of the tempestuous, thundering noise that accompanied it, together with all other phenomena mentioned as attending the former ones, formed a scene the description of which will require the most sublimely fanciful imagination. At first, the Mississippi seemed to recede from its banks and its waters gathered up like a mountain, leaving for a moment, many boats, which were here on their way to New Orleans, on the bare sand, in which time the poor sailors made their escape from them. It then, rising fifteen or twenty feet perpendicularly, and expanding, as it were, at the same moment, the banks were overflowed with a retrograde current. The boats, which before had been left on the sand, were now torn from their moorings and suddenly driven up a little creek at the mouth of which they lay, to the distance in some instances, of nearly a quarter of a mile. The river, falling immediately, as rapidly as it had risen, receded within its banks again with such violence that it took whole groves of young cotton-wood trees, which hedged its borders. They were broken off with such regularity, in some instances, that persons who had not witnessed the fact, could be, with difficulty, persuaded that it had not been the work of art. A great many fish were left on the banks living, unable to keep pace with the water. The river was literally covered with the wreck of boats and it seemed that one was wrecked in which there were a lady and six children, all of whom were lost.
In all the hard shocks mentioned, the earth was horribly torn to pieces. The surface of hundreds of acres was, from time to time, covered over of various depths by the sand which issued from the fissures, which were made in great numbers all over the country, some of which closed up immediately after they had vomited forth their sand and water, which it must be remembered, was the matter generally thrown up. In some places, however, there was a substance somewhat resembling coal or impure stone coal, thrown up with the sand. It is impossible to say what the depth of the fissures or irregular breaks was. We have reason to believe that some of them were very deep.
The site of this town was evidently settled down at the least fifteen feet, and not more than half a mile below the town, there does not appear to be any alteration in the bank of the river, but back from the river a small distance, the numerous large ponds or lakes as they were called, which covered a great part of the country, wer nearly dried up. The beds of some of them are elevated above their former banks several feet, producing an alteration of ten, fifteen or twenty feet from their original state. And, lately, it has been discovered that a lake was formed on the opposited side of the Mississippi, in the Indian country, upwards of one hundred miles in length and from one to six miles in width, of a depth of from ten to fifty feet. It has communication with the river at both ends and it is conjectured that it will not be many years before the principal part, if not the whole of the Mississippi will pass that way.
We were constrained, by the fear of our house falling, to live twelve or eighteen months after the first shock, in little light camps made of boards but we gradually became callous and returned to our house again. Most of those who fled from the country in the time of the hard shocks, have since returned home.
We have, since their commencement in 1811, continued to feel slight shocks occasionally. It is seldom, indeed, that we are more than a week without feeling one and sometimes three or four in a day. There were two this winter past, much harder than we have felt them for two years before, but since then they appear to be lighter than they have ever been, and we begin to hope that ere long, they will entirely cease.
I have now, sir, finished my promised description of the earth quake, imperfect, it is true, but just as it occurred to my memory, many of and most of the truly awful scenes having occurred three or four years ago. They, of course, are not related with that precision which would entitle it to the charactoer of a full and correct picture, but such as it is, it is given with pleasure, in the full confidence that it is given to a friend.
And now, sir, wishing you all good, I must bid you adieu.

Eliza Bryan

The Rev. Lorenzo Dow.

P.S. There is one circumstance which I think worthy of remark. This country was formerly subject to very hard thunder, but, for more that a twelvemonth before the commencement of the great earthquake, there was none at all and but very little since, a great part of which resembles subterraneous thunder. The shocks still continue, but are growing more light and less frequent.