Volunteering

You know how Facebook reads your posts and all of a sudden your feed is magically filled with content that is in some way related? I’m hoping you do, because if it’s just me that happens to that might creep me out.

Anyway, after I returned to Hurricane Michael ravaged Florida from Texas I posted on FB that I was looking for opportunities to volunteer in some way. Voila! Within mere minutes a post seeking volunteers for storm relief miraculously popped up. The group, Operation BBQ Relief, made it easy to sign up.

As soon as I’d answered a few simple questions their website told me I’d be contacted with a place and time to volunteer. I kept checking my email and text messages all Monday evening, but hadn’t heard anything by the time Studly Doright and I went to bed last night.

First thing on Tuesday morning, though, I saw that during the night I’d received three emails. The first one told me I’d been “deployed” to help on Monday morning the 15th. Hmm. That boat had sailed. I figured better late than never, though, and hurriedly dressed to drive into Tallahassee. The second email just told me what to wear and where to go, and the third told me I’d been okayed to help. I might’ve read them out of order, but I figured everything out.

When I arrived at the staging site around 7:30 a.m., things were already hopping. I signed in, got a hat and a name tag and tried to find my niche. I hadn’t been there long when a man with an official looking t-shirt on tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I knew of a laundromat in the area that would pick up and drop off clothes. I’d just been to the closest one a couple of days ago and knew they weren’t doing that at this time. One would think this would be THE time for such services, but what do I know? I volunteered to take the items and launder them. Soon, I had a large trash bag full of gloves, dish cloths, and aprons. I was cool with being the laundress. Once everything had finished drying I hurried back to see what other tasks were in store.

Basically, OBR prepares, cooks, and packages foods to be picked up by groups like the Salvation Army and local churches. These groups deliver to places without electricity and water. One of the team leaders told me that even yesterday they spoke with local folks who hadn’t had a meal since the hurricane hit last Wednesday.

I found myself packaging and labeling items such as red beans and rice, peas and carrots, and bbq beans. The meats were handled by a separate crew–those with food handling certification. As volunteers packed items, trailers pulled up to be loaded. Everything was well organized and efficient with permanent team members directing volunteers of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities. What an experience!

At lunch time, they fed us an amazing lunch. The country group, The Zac Brown Band donated the services of their huge kitchen trailer and a cook to feed volunteers. I got a quick tour of the trailer. It’s like a chef’s dream.

After working until two p.m. on Tuesday everything on my 62-year-old body hurts, but if I am able to walk on Wednesday morning I’ll go back to work again. It felt good to know we were there to help. Here are a few photos I took during some downtime.

One of the volunteers wrote little live notes on the box lids:

Pallets stacked with water bottles:

Peace, people.

Teachable Moments

Hurricane Michael wasn’t my first experience with a major storm. In the autumn of 2004, four hurricanes, beginning with Charley, and followed by Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, impacted one part of Florida or another. I was teaching 5th graders at Croton Elementary in Melbourne that year, and it seemed that through much of August and September my students and I were either prepping for a storm or cleaning up after one.

Prepping at school meant wrapping all of our electronics, computers, monitors, and books in heavy duty garbage bags, securing the openings with duct tape, and placing them as high as possible in the classroom. Then after the storms passed we had to take everything down, remove the tape, and put things back where they belonged. Networked computers had to be put back on line, and books matched with students.

The school was fortunate, and we never had any significant damage, but every time a storm’s predicted path indicated Melbourne might be hit, the drill to prepare was carried out to a “t.”

Since some of this prep and de-prep had to take place during the school day, we made learning games out of the process. I taught math and science, so my students measured the equipment to be stored during the storm and estimated the minimum amount of bags and tape we’d need to do the job. They measured shelves and cabinets to see where the equipment could be stored best. They learned to code tags for computer equipment in order to get everything running smoothly again as quickly as possible. We did job efficiency studies afterwards to see where we expended unnecessary energy and what we should do differently if there was a next time.

We didn’t realize when we prepped for Charley that we’d be doing it again for three more storms, but the students made charts and checklists just in case, so we’d be ready to go into action if another storm hit. By Hurricane Jeanne, we were operating like a well-oiled, if slightly weary, machine.

The team prep work seemed to take some of the anxiety out of waiting for storms to hit, and the games helped minimize the learning time lost to the storms. And when we came back together after the various storms had passed, students were engaged in problem solving and trouble shooting, instead of worrying about the lack of electricity at home, at least for a portion of the day.

That was a tough year for all of us, but I have only good memories of working with that group of children. Studly and I moved to Illinois at the end of the school year, and I’ve lost touch with those students, but I hope the ones who stayed in hurricane country remember those days of prepping for the storms as good ones.

Peace, people!

Home, Baby

On Saturday afternoon I arrived home to Doright Manor after having spent the past week in Dallas. While I was gone a guy named Michael blew through the Florida panhandle and redecorated without asking permission.

We had our electricity restored on Sunday evening. Studly Doright said it had been out since Tuesday afternoon. We have a generator that kept lights on in parts of the house, but neither our hot water heater nor our stove were hooked up to it. Apparently they require too much amperage or wattage or something electricity based to be powered by the generator. At least the air conditioning worked! Soon after the power came on I enjoyed a hot shower. Best feeling ever.

Here are a few photos I’ve taken of the damage just in our neighborhood. And, we got off easy compared to folks on the coast. These were taken after a crew came through and cleaned up! We still have a lot of work ahead of us.

Peace, people.

Hopefully Homeward Bound

Hurricane Michael has been a total ass. He’s destroyed lives and homes and businesses all along the gulf coast of Florida, and Michael has kept on wreaking havoc as he’s slammed inland through Florida’s panhandle, into Georgia, and beyond. See, a total ass.

My home near Tallahassee seems to have weathered the storm fairly well. I happened to be in Dallas with my son and his family while my husband, Studly Doright, and our cats rode out the Category 4 hurricane at Doright Manor.

Studly’s job as an area director for a public utility company calls for him to make sure resources and people are in the right places at the right times. When I spoke with him last night before bed he’d just ended one conference call and was preparing for the next one. It’s non-stop.

Originally, I was booked on a Thursday flight from Dallas to Panama City Beach via Houston on Southwest Airlines. When Hurricane Michael, the ass, came in so quickly I changed the flight to Friday (today as I write this). It seems I might’ve been a little optimistic. Yesterday afternoon I received a text from the airline saying the flight from Houston to Panama City Beach was cancelled.

I knew I had other options, but I wanted to check with Studly before changing airports, since he’d need to meet me there. Of course when I called him he was on a conference call and just told me to do whatever I needed to do, and he’d make arrangements to pick me up at the airport I chose. It was an easy change to make with Southwest (bless them) and I am now scheduled to land in Jacksonville around nine this evening.

Studly, however, called me back when he got my flight information, and he won’t be able to meet me. I’d anticipated that, knowing what’s going on in his world right now. So, I’m renting a car at the airport and we’ll return it on Saturday to our local airport. (It just occurred to me that the Tallahassee airport might not be functioning right now. That could be problematic. I’ll check after I publish.)

Studly warned me to be careful coming home. He says I’m going to be shocked by the amount and size of the debris around Doright Manor. For safety’s sake I might end up staying overnight in Jacksonville so I can make the drive in daylight. I’m ready to be home, though.

Thanks to all of you who’ve expressed concern for us during this storm. We appreciate the positive vibes and prayers. Keep those in the gulf coast towns in your thoughts. The damage there looks devastating.

Peace, people.

Stormy Weather

As many of you reading this know, my husband, aka Studly Doright, and I live in the Florida panhandle just west of Tallahassee. On Wednesday a category 4 hurricane named Michael blew right through our neighborhood and caused some excitement. I happened to be visiting my son and his family in Dallas, so I’ve only gotten second hand reports from Studly as to how our home, Doright Manor, fared.

First things first–he and the cats are fine. We have several trees down, but that was to be expected. He didn’t think there was any damage to the house, but the road in front of Doright Manor is blocked with trees. I’m sure he’ll be out there with his chain saw and axe as soon as the weather allows. The power went out fairly quickly, but we’d bought a huge generator after last year’s storms, and he’ll be able to enjoy his creature comforts.

Studly is an area director for a public utility, so he’s working from home during the storm. He sent me a text early this morning:

Scout is an incredibly helpful cat, especially during conference calls. She thinks Studly is talking to her.

I was supposed to have flown into Panama City Beach today (Thursday), but we changed the flight to Friday. Studly wasn’t sure he could get out of our neighborhood to pick me up in PCB which is a two hour drive on a normal day.

So I’m hanging out with granddog Toby. We had a good walk in his Dallas neighborhood this morning. Now he’s taking it easy and I’m going to read my book. I sure am ready to be home, though.

Peace, people.

A Distant Storm

Here in Dallas, Texas, on this October Wednesday morning, the sun is just barely up. I’m getting ready to walk Toby, my granddog, under the promise of a clear sky.

Back home at Doright Manor near Tallahassee, Florida, my husband, Studly Doright, is hunkered down, as the locals say, while Hurricane Michael drops buckets of rain and rattles the rafters. I’ve weathered more than one hurricane, but they each have their own personalities, and none are to be taken lightly.

I didn’t evacuate for the storm. It just happened to hit while I was visiting my family in Texas. Studly Doright left Dallas on Sunday morning and drove 12.5 hours to be home ahead of the storm. We’d already planned for him to leave on Sunday, but the approaching storm made everything seem more urgent.

Tonight I’ll be attending a concert with my granddaughter while Studly makes sure all of the hatches remain battened down back home. Tomorrow I’m supposed to fly home. Fingers crossed that the local airports aren’t impacted by Michael’s wrath.

In the meantime, I’ll be listening to this beautiful instrumental piece by Robert Linton. I found it when I googled the phrase “A Distant Storm.” And praying. A lot of praying.

https://youtu.be/tVReCkhyCxA

Peace, people!

Get Off My Lawn

Do we crankier as we get older, or could it be that we just do not care anymore what people think of us? Maybe that perceived crankiness is just a result of the wearing away of social constraints. Why am I even contemplating this?

I’ve been a fairly nice person most of my life, but I do have something of a temper. It’s something I try to work through, and I’ve gotten better at it through the years, but now as I approach my 62nd birthday I find that I’ve lost my ability to tolerate certain things.

Usually those things are large concepts, like racism and misogyny. I have zero tolerance for those who discriminate on the basis of race or gender, and I’ve been saddened to discover that some people I counted as friends over the years do both. I’ve gotten cranky with them, and in some cases they are no longer my friends.

Other times those things that make me cranky are little and local, like littering. One day last week I was behind a 40-something mother and her pre-teen son as they exited a convenience store in Tallahassee. Both of them had bought big gulp type sodas (huge cups) and were unwrapping their straws in the parking lot. I watched in horror as they tossed their straw wrappings on the ground.

Before they got into their car, I said, “Excuse me, I believe these belong here,” as I bent down and scooped up the wrappers, dramatically depositing them into a trash can that was literally two steps from them.

Now, the instant I said that I thought, “Oh crap, they’re both bigger than I am.” But I casually strolled to my car and drove away while they remained sitting in the parking lot. Who knows, maybe they learned something? Or maybe they took down my license plate and are plotting to take me down. But if they follow me to Doright Manor, I’ve got one thing to say, “Get off my lawn!”

Peace, people.

Rower’s Remorse Revisited

I’d forgotten about this piece! We haven’t been out in our kayak for awhile. Maybe it’s time to try it again. Maybe not.

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2015/02/13/rowers-remorse/

The photos below were taken well after the post was first published. Those adorable girls are two of our five grandkids, McKayla and Harper, near our little lake.

A Real Fungi

Monday is Labor Day here in the states, and Studly Doright has the day off work. Since he’d played golf on both Saturday and Sunday, Studly decided to do yard work on his holiday. I was drafted to assist. Oh joy.

My job was to drive the lawn mower around the yard and load fallen branches into the trailer while Studly used his manly skills to chop branches that were too big for me to lift. We’ve had two fairly severe thunderstorms this past week, so I filled my little trailer multiple times.

Once I’d finished my part I handed over the reins of the mower to Studly who insists that he’s better at the job than I am. Hey, I only almost backed over his foot twice today. That’s a real improvement over previous performances.

Doright Manor sits in the middle of a forest on a small lake. I grew up in the Texas panhandle where trees are few and far between, so I never get tired of exploring our woods. Today, while Studly was mowing I found this little party animal:

Yep, they tell me he’s a real fungi.

Peace, people!

What I Didn’t Ask

She was sitting alone on the beach under her umbrella, this pleasant looking middle-aged woman, reading her book and looking up occasionally at the brilliant blue Gulf. I watched her surreptitiously from my own chair for many minutes, imagining the scenarios that might have led to her being there.

I wondered if she, like me, has a husband who travels frequently leaving her to her own devices during the week. Perhaps she was a recent divorcée trying to find herself in the timeless rise and fall of the waves before moving on with her new single life. Maybe she was an international jewel thief, hiding out on Florida’s Forgotten Coast until she could find a place to offload her ill-gotten booty. Oh, the possibilities were endless.

Then, she spoke to me, “Come, share my umbrella.”

The temperature was 95°. I could hardly refuse an offer like that, even if she was an international jewel thief, so I picked up my chair and settled in beside her, instantly relieved to be out of the direct rays of the sun. I thanked her and for the next hour we chatted like old friends.

She was closer to my age than I’d thought when watching her from several yards away, and attractive in a gamine sort of way. Her name was Tammy or Tammie, maybe Tammi. I didn’t ask for a spelling, and she and her husband were spending the week camping near St. George Island. Her sister and brother-in-law were planning to join them later that day.

Tammy/Tammie/Tammi lives near Thomasville, Georgia, where they farm. They grow pecans among other crops. Her husband of 40 years had contracted skin cancer from spending many long hours working in the sun, so he stays in the camper during the day and comes to join her once the sun starts to set. It’s their routine.

She’s one of four children, three girls and one boy, and their father died when they were all very young. Her mother was a strong woman who kept their family together and raised good kids. Her husband’s family is very big and boisterous and fun.

I told her about Studly and me, our kids, and grandkids, and our many moves from state to state in our 42 years of marriage. How we hoped we could retire and live out the rest of our lives in Tallahassee, but how hard it is to be so far away from the rest of our family. I told her about my deceased parents and how much I miss them. I told her about my brothers and their families, and about Studly’s own boisterous family.

Soon it cane time for me to leave. I thanked her again for the shade and also for the conversation. As I walked away it occurred to me that she hadn’t mentioned children, and I hadn’t asked if she and her husband had any. Surely the existence of children would have come into the conversation at some point. Still I wish I’d asked. That, and about the jewel thief theory. That could still be a possibility.

Peace, people.