30 August 2007

OK, that's a wrap-I am truly fifty-one years old. It feels pretty good, actually.

Thanks Mum and Dad!

On a much heavier note, two years ago today Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf of Mexico destroying life as they knew from Northwest Florida to just west of The Big Easy.

Scouting the online TV guide for birthday fare to watch as I spend the first evening of my fifty-first year, the only thing on is CNN and a group of teen-age video diarists. I missed 'The Prisoner of Zenda' (Ronald Coleman version) 'coz I worked late tonight; the other good stuff on is after my bed-time. So I listen as I key to the kids.

Richard Jewell has passed due to diabetes complications.

I was driving through Atlanta as the bomb was going off ten years ago-that night I didn't know the husband who would lose his beloved wife to Eric Rudolph's hatred, not yet, and as I drove us back to South East Alabama after another miserable visit to Crusty's deliberately negative family I told myself I would never go there again and so would probably never see Atlanta again; never say never:).

I gasped when I saw the banner on CNN.com that Mr. Jewell has died. It just does not seem fair that he went through so damn much and just died at only 44 years of age! I'm praying for his wife, and his mother. (Did the FBI ever replace her Tupperware?)

I'm hoping that Mrs. Hawthorne was one of his greeting party. He tried so hard to save her life that night ten years ago in Centennial Park. From what I learned of her from her husband John when he was one of my storage tenants in Alabama, she is the sort of lady who would want to say thank-you for trying.

The world abounds with the great, the quietly great and heroic-God has blessed us with heroes.

The Children of the Storm, they are my heroes because they went through so much horror and most emerged with dreams intact, with the courage to adjust, to dream newer, different, bolder dreams.

Richard Jewell, a guy who was treated like a nutter wannabe after being finally 'cleared' by the FBI; he kept hoping right up to the end. My hero.

Thank-you Father!

28 August 2007

I thought about blogging today. What would I say? Happy birthday to me? Naaaaaaaa.

I wasn't going to until I clicked on my profile to see if the ticker had rolled over to 51; it had, so I had to comment.

But first I clicked on my blog from last year on my State of California minted BD, nice one, and how the heck does Me top that one?

So I am not even going to try.

Happy birthday to me.

One of my neighbours, who has something of a mad crush (poor guy) on me, brought over two birthday cards with the warning one of the cards is very mushy (oh swell); my co-workers gave me a card and brownies-not the '70's kind, sigh.

I think back, ten toes-ALL TEN (take that slag, and you know who I am talking about you bloody identity thief!), still attached after fifty-one years, although that blasted arthritis makes me wonder how much longer, hehe.

Ten fingers, damned arthritis again, but I've had that in my hands most of my life. It's kept me from my one true love-the violin. Oh yeah, I can drag a bow across the strings-for a few minutes that descend into the inevitable screech/caterwaul. For that I should take up the pipes, eh?

Hey Fox, do you remember how we used to torment Crusty by getting out the tape of the 'screaming cats'? (The screaming cats being the fine Frasier lads on bagpipes...)

Any road, I think back-did my mother count those now achy fingers and toes in the nearly universal moment of awe?

The way I marvelled at Fox on his first day? His sister, but not on her first day-I really did almost die giving birth to her, and wasn't able to even lift my head from the ICU bed until she was nearly a week old, much less marvel and coo over my newborn daughter. But I did, finally. She, like her younger brother 4 and one half years later, was amazing!

Did my mum think the same about me? Before she left and went home to Britain? Did she come out to see us when we'd holiday in Bolton?

(dear God, who in their right mind packs a load of children across the ocean to holiday in Bolton, Lancashire, for crying out loud-I refused to go once I was old enough, everyone acted so completely odd on those wretched trips!)

Her children she could peep at through a hedge but never speak to, touch, hold, rescue?

(For that matter, who raises their children in the middle of the California desert completely surrounded by fellow ex-pat Brits and East Indian exchange students, educates those poor children in a Roman Catholic private school run by German nuns, who I swear to you, brothers and sisters WERE the exiled daughters of hunted SS officers? Zounds, no wonder I'm 'strange')

I was raised by my dad and his second wife; I didn't know #2 was not my mother until I was around 16, although no-one knocked themselves out to confirm my older sisters angry tirade on the back porch until shortly before my dad died.

But in my heart, I knew the woman we called Alice Capone was not, no waaaaaay, my real, live, mom.

For all the lost years, I've wondered, did my real mother, who left me with my father in her heartbreak at his adultery with the aforementioned Alice Capone, get to spend a few awe filled and joyous moments with me that morning fifty-one years ago?

Any road, where ever you are, Mummy, I want to say:

Thank-you. My life has been the epitome of the Chinese curse-lived in interesting times; it has not been easy; I've never known much of any real love but God's. But I'm so glad to have the chance to run the race.

BTW, Pop wanted me to tell you something-

He never stopped loving you or hoping he would look up and see you crossing the threshold again, he always completely regretted his stupidity; he did his best to teach me to be a good person,and not a burden on society.

He tried to teach me to never ever give up hope.

So thank-you for that, too, that you gave me a Dad like that.

I wish I knew you.

Happy birthday to me.

Oh yeah. I know about the dates. See you Wednesday.

Hey, hope floats! Fox could show up, too:)

Happy birthday to me, and many more.

25 August 2007

I Googled it.

"Define:" I typed, "Climate Refugee" and I deliberately depressed the 'enter' key...

And got the response that no definition existed. However, a link to the following was posted, so I clicked:

Climate refugee
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A Climate refugee is a displaced person caused by climate change induced environmental disasters. Such disasters result from both incremental and rapid ecological change and disruption that include increased droughts, desertification, sea level rise, and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, flooding and tornadoes

I've been thinking about that term 'climate refugee' for the past week. The plain fact is the term applies to me and many others here in the Metro; we were displaced by climate related concerns.

For some of us, it was Ivan-although it took another year for me to leave the Gulf Coast region, I left it because of what I went through in Ivan. 18 hours of full-on terror will do that for a person.

For others it was Katrina.

But careful consideration in regards to myself brings me to the realization that it was actually the '71 Quake in L.A.

I've blogged here before about the quake. Briefly, for new readers (HI!) I was around 14 and knocked off of the couch by the waves emanating from Slymar that morning. The quake was my introduction to organized disaster relief-I was part of the group from Orange County that loaded a rental truck and drove it to San Fernando to bring relief supplies. What I saw on those truck runs led me to join the Coast Guard, the Red Cross, and grass-roots relief organizations; to try to take some sort of control by learning all that I could about natural disasters-surviving and triumphing...

30+ years later all of that training did little more than make it possible for me to hear over 80 simultaneous tornado warnings on the battery powered AM-FM and NOAA weather radio sets blaring as the dog and I took shelter in the bathroom, in the tub under a mattress at times. Crammed in the tub with us were the weather proof small evac bags with food, clothing (for me), first aid supplies, maps, compass...I clutched the dog's collar in one hand and the bag straps with the other, hoping the dog and the bags and I would somehow land in the same place if the place blew around and took us for the ride of our lives.

And when we emerged from the tub, the bathroom, the apartment, the landscape around us was relatively intact (compared to the places that took direct hits), but I was ruined inside. So was the dog, I think. Gator was never the same after Ivan, and so far, neither am I.

I lived in Florida during Hurricane Andrew. Friends brought their boats to our huge Lake Washington (Melbourne) yard, their cars, their children. We braced, but never saw so much as a cloud.

I was working for a landscape maintenance company at the time as a contract administrator; my boss and some of the crews went south with chain saws and other tools. They weren't gone more than a week and they brought back stories and photos that left them shaking visibly, and me shaking inside.

I started my personal plans to get the hell out of Dodge at that point, and I got my family out, back to Alabama where we owned a little place that Crusty hated.

We were in Guatemala when Opal knocked out the power for nearly two weeks. We heard from the neighbours that a mini-tornado came up our driveway; from the furrow left in the drive, I had to believe. They said at the very last second before it hit the little house it veered off to the right and went harmlessly out into the pastures.

I ramped up my training upon return from Central America. I became a certified Red Cross Disaster Relief Provider. I created a store of emergency supplies for my family.

I was OK. Until Ivan.

Now I am a Climate Refugee.

All my labels. Mom. Survivor. Ex-wife. Divorcee. Depression sufferer. Full time employee. Administrative Assistant. Christian. Optimist. Survivalist. Resilient. All my labels now refined, distilled down to one single description.

Climate Refugee.

11 August 2007

I've just come from gratefulness.org, where I lit a candle for Michael Rainer and his family, child, and friends. The candle is marked "!Year" Please go there and click on 'Groups' to find it. I ask you to add your voice by lighting a candle for them, and while you are there, you may find yourself lighting another for someone you know, or know of...

One year ago today Michael Rainer's family made the awful, difficult, soul shattering decision to turn off the machines keeping him alive.

How did they stand the horror of having to make that 'choice' for the son they loved so deeply? They'd stood by him through every loving parents nightmares-rebellion squared, drug abuse that put him into rehab, unplanned and unmarried parenthood.

He was doing so well, they said in an interview given to the local paper in hopes of keeping some one else's son from dying the way he did. He was doing so well, why did he go back to the drugs that night?


When I read the obituary and read who acted as one of the pall bearers, I nearly threw up.

One of the pall bearers was a little worm who'd encouraged my Fox to blow-off his 'successful' rehab. The day before Fox came home from rehab I'd begged this dirtball to keep his own drug use separate from his friendship with Fox. Within two hours of Fox getting out of the car he and the dirtball were smoking a joint.

So far my son is still alive.

Mr and Mrs Rainer had to bury their son.


03 August 2007

I've lived up here on the side of a North Georgia almost mountain for one year. I moved into the tin shack 31st July 2006. Today is 2nd August 2007.

Wow! That really was one of the fastest years I've spent in a long time!

A year ago Gator and I were trying to settle in; he was feeling so good to finally have kitchen rights again, and a yard. He didn't seem to mind that he still had to be on the lead as I had no fence, he was just happy to have a kitchen floor to flop on, a couch to flop on, freedom to roam the house again. I was worried, a bit scared, OK, aghast at finding myself living in a tin shack clinging to the side of a North Georgia mountain; I was saddened by the events that led to my moving out of the roomie's place, but thrilled to know that I would actually be able to count on my groceries being exactly where I'd left them, and my room not being pillaged...

(Roomie, where ever you are, know this-the oxen are slow, but the wheel does grind. I'm not looking for 'revenge' but if you don't get into rehab soon, and learn to tell the truth, well, you know-what goes around comes back when you least expect or need it to.)

Two years ago we were (OK, I was, Gator wasn't big on TV after the Rosie show went off the air) nervously watching the tropics and the Gulf for the next wicked little hurricane to crop up.

One year, two years, all the years. I miss Gator, I miss Fox, and 'Bas-who does not miss their first grandchild?

Gator I know I will see again when I cross from this life to the next; Fox and 'Bas are a scant 250 miles south; I check Fox's blog for updates on him and 'Bas, and shamelessly beg Fox's friends (who call regularly to check up on me) for pictures...

But I'm OK. Mozart and me, we're OK, thank-you Lord!