Monday, November 28, 2005

One Good Word

I like this poem. For one thing, it reminds me of how powerful something like a simple "thank you" can be, say, to an overworked waitress on any given Sunday after church. Many of our restaurants and businesses are still not up to speed on their services because they do not have enough people to work, and the ones who are working are often stretched pretty thin. My daughter has worked as a waitress, and we have often discussed how rude and arrogant "church people" can be when they do not get served as quickly as they think they ought to be.

This past Sunday's sermon title was "Jehovah-Fema?". The preacher reminded us that our support, our sustenance does not really come from the government and can't always be depended on to save us from our various troubles. In his own preacherly way, he reminded us that we as believers have something to share with those around us who are hurting. He challenged us to share our "one good word" with those around us who might be despairing from the mistaken belief that the only god they can depend on is "Jehovah-Fema".

We have so many people around us who are hurting, people who have strong faces that hide their pain. I bet you come across people like that every day as well. They are everywhere, and they are starving for one good word. In all the hustle and bustle of the season, and the joy, it is easy to forget that one good word can be so very powerful.

One good word can mean so much. Who could you offer one good word to?

(For more of David Whyte's poetry, click here. I am not real sure what the exact rules are for posting someone else's work on a blog like I have done. I think I am okay using it as a one-time post. I think for anything other than that, I'd have to have permission to use this poem.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Uncommon Images of a Common Thanksgiving Gathering

Thanksgiving at my sister's house, near Houston.
The dog, meditating in the pond.
My parents, snuggling on the couch, even after fifty-something years.
A good time was had by all, both man and beast.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Thanksgiving Blessings

I am grateful
for beauty that is found in broken places.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cameron Parish

This past Saturday, we met my father-in-law and his "significant other" for the first time after the hurricane. Her house was flooded in the storm and she has decided to sell the property. She will buy a trailer and put it on her daughter's land a mile away from where she previously lived. The house was her family home. I questioned her about making the decision so soon to walk away from it all. Her mind is made up. The job of restoring the house to liveable condition would be too much for her to take on at this stage in her life in her opinion. So she is moving on, getting land elevation reports, preparing to raise the land to the new required level, to have electricity and sewerage connected, to have a well dug-- starting over at the ripe old age of seventy something.

My father-in-law lost his boat and his truck was damaged by the water. He has since bought another boat and will soon get his repaired truck back. He is crabbing again and says the crabbing is better than he has ever seen before. The down side to that is that the price he can get for crabs has gone down because the market is flooded.

On Sunday afternoon my youngest daughter and I drove to the camp where my son was staying before the hurricane. We thought we would see if we could get some of his clothes that he had left behind. He had come home for what was planned to be a two day visit before the storm and then Rita decided to drop by and so he never got to go back to the camp to bring all his clothing home.

The camp was nothing like it was before. The salt water from the storm surge left the pond full of stagnant water and mud. The camp itself had gotten water in it from the storm surge and when the surge flowed back to the marsh it left behind a stiff coating of dark marsh mud. We were able to go in and retrieve most of his clothing and I think the smell will come out with the wash (or perhaps two or three washes).

When we got to the small community where my son had been staying there were people milling about and working to clean things up. One of the most heart-wrenching scenes as we passed on the highway was a family sitting together watching a fire burn away the remants of what had been their home.

Driving in Cameron parish is still limited to daytime hours. The man at the checkpoint going in told me the speed limit was 45 miles per hour and warned me "about a cop named Butch who will give you a ticket for going 46 miles an hour". I set my cruise control and took no chances.

We took a few pictures where we could, mostly stopping in the road and snapping photos from the car since there was hardly any traffic on the road. I did not want to get off the main road for fear of "catching a flat" (as the Cajuns would say) from a loose nail and I did not want to linger anywhere and take a chance on looking like I might be looting. I also wanted to be respectful of the tremendous losses of these people so if there were people around I took no pictures.

Anyway, here they are, if you can stand more hurricane devastation images. I keep saying I am going to quit writing about this, it's all old news, but for many of these people, these hurricanes will forever be a dividing line in their lives -- life before the storm and a completely different life after the storm. It isn't over for them. It takes a while to rebuild a life.

Here are a couple of the before and after photos. I posted this one of the old house with a new roof not long ago. Now the roof is swaying, the windows are all out and the green shutters were blown off. Also note in the after photo the water in the background. I am not sure if it is water that is still standing from the storm surge or if their is a body of water back there that has surpassed its banks. Whatever it is, the water is not supposed to be there.

There were graves that were lifted up in at least one of the cemeteries. You can see the brown rubble the surge left behind. The salt water burned the vegetation. In a few other spots I could see the grass growing back already. I don't know how this statue withstoood the force of the water.
I have no idea what this is nor do I have any idea how it managed to get so neatly dropped over this tree.

There was a house here before the storm. Now all that is left are the beautiful old oak trees. The chimney remains and a bird sings from its perch, oblivious to the pain.
Steps leading nowhere.The Catholic Church and the Baptist Church.
These were the two things I looked for and did not find: This quaint little post office building and the cows that were in this pasture. We could not get our bearings straight to even see where the building had originally been located, could not even find the slab the it stood on.

You can see the cracked and dried up marsh mud in the foreground of the pasture picture. The salt water has killed all the vegetation. They may have been able to evacuate their cattle to higher ground but many of the cattle farmers lost all their cattle.

Word has it that the hunters are marveling over the number of ducks and gearing up for a good duck hunting season. I don't know how true it is, but someone said that the salt water has blinded the snakes and the turtles. Blind turtles may not cause too many problems, but the snakes are plentiful and unable to see. They will be a hazard to hunters who are out in the marsh preparing their duck blinds for hunting season.

Ya know, Dorothy, I just don't think we are in Kansas anymore. Obviously this house does not belong this close to the highway. I did not stop to examine whether the wicked witch's shoes were sticking out from underneath the house.

And here is the shadow of our car on the marsh grass as we are leaving Cameron parish. Such destruction. Such strong and determined people. So much work to do.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


ru·mi·na·tionPronunciation: "rĂ¼-m&-'nA-sh&n Function: noun: the act or process of ruminating:
a : the act or process of regurgitating and chewing again previously swallowed food
b : obsessive or abnormal reflection upon an idea or deliberation over a choice

This is me, metaphorically speaking --

Annie Oddflower

Outstanding In Her Field
Heifer Division
World Class Ruminator

(That’s what the trophy would say, if they gave trophies for such a thing.)

I took two cow portraits on my photo excursion to Pecan Island before the storm, and I love them both. But thanks to Rita, Pecan Island is not the same as it was when I took these photos (no one lives there anymore). I don’t know if this heifer survived the storm. And that makes me sad.

I’ve been ruminating too much lately, contemplating dead cows, wayward children, going back to school, running away, loss, and, to quote the definition above, I’ve just been “generally obsessive” and guilty of too much “abnormal reflection upon an idea or deliberation over a choice”.

It’s tough, being a person who thinks too much and does too little.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Front Door

(with the addition of a quote by Plato)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Creative Day

I've been working on a journal for a friend. Maybe I'll change the name of the journals from "Butt-Ugly Journals" to "Annie's Oddflower Journals".

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Chip Off the Old Block

Looks like an owl? Or a really cool person wearing a pair of glasses?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I've Been Thinking

I can explain the crabby haiku, really I can. I’ve been thinking about all the trees that have fallen, thinking about the light that will be let in as a result of those trees being down, and feeling a little guilty for not being grateful for the sunshine.

And I’ve been thinking about myself, and how pleased I am to see these shadow portraits of myself, how that is just enough of me to be revealed, and how afraid I am of allowing myself to be clearly seen.

I’ve been thinking about how things of beauty can be hidden behind crusty and hardened exteriors, and you can never even know it.

I’ve been thinking how it feels to be busted wide open, to have a hidden beauty exposed in such a violent way.

I’ve been thinking about the beauty that sometimes comes from the storms we weather.

I’ve been thinking of the need to be grateful, both in sunshine and in shadow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Befores and Afters

These are photos taken around the area where we evacuated, in rural Louisiana, near Six Mile Creek, close to Dido Community.

I spent some time Friday evening before the storm came walking around and taking pictures of my grandparent's house. I had no thoughts that the old house would be any different after the storm. I was just playing around with the patterns of light and enjoying fond memories.

This is what we always called the water shelf. Back in the day, a galvanized bucket filled with drinking water was kept here. There was a ladle in the bucket to drink from.

The tree hit the roof of the porch in about the same place I was standing the day before while taking pictures.

Notice the door? It is the one I have on my blog profile.

This is the breaking point of the tree that fell on the porch of my grandparent's house. It really didn't get uprooted. The top of the tree was twisted away from the bottom of the tree.

If a tree falls in the front yard and no one is awake to hear it, does it still make a noise? Apparently not. We all slept through the fall.

When the winds died down Saturday afternoon and we went out to see the sights, this crazy dog (his name is Junior, Senor) walked right up the trunk of this tree like he had been doing it all his life. It is hard to tell, but he is about ten feet off the ground.

I kid you not, I do not make these names up!

Ah well, life does go on.