Katrina

I wrote this post on August 29, 2006

So, last year, on August 28 – it was a Sunday evening I believe – I was watching the news and heard about this storm that was supposed to hit the Gulf Coast on the 29th. Katrina.

Well, I didn’t pay much attention until the newscaster said that perhaps we in the Jackson metro area would lose power for a couple of hours (we’re about 3.5 hours north of the coast). I’d just put Lovegirl in the bed and I decided to run to the store (W_l*Mart) to get Lovegirl some formula. She was 11 months old and I’d just weaned her and was new to keeping the right amount of formula in the house. Anyhoo, all we had was the liquid stuff (has to be refrigerated) and I decided I’d get some powder so that if the power went out my child would have something to drink.

So I went downstairs and mentioned to Smoochy that I was going to run to the store – did he need anything? He didn’t, so off I went. Well, to my surprise, there was no freaking formula on the shelves. I (stupidly) thought it was just because it was a weekend night and the stockers hadn’t re-stocked the shelves. So I bought a few more bottles of the liquid stuff, figuring at least she’d have something for the few hours we might be powerless. I also decided to pick up some more water, a few snacks and a couple of flashlights. I noticed – but somehow still kind of ignored – that there were a lot of folks in the store picking up the same type items.

I finally got checked out and decided to buy gas – I was on a 1/2 tank, and I generally fill up when I get to that point. Gas station #1 – no gas. Gas station #2 – no gas. Gas station #3 – we have a winner. I filled up and headed home. I had no idea what we were in for – as a family, as a state, as a nation.

Monday morning, I got up and went to work. Of course, no one was working. Everyone had a television or radio on and was monitoring the storm. I called my Mom in California and my brother in Houston and told them some kind of big storm was coming, and that I would be in touch. That I’d decided to go home at 11:30 regardless of whether or not we were “officially” released from work. At around 11:15, they told us all to go home and to check the internet in the morning to determine whether or not we needed to report to work. School was canceled Sunday night, so Smoochy and Lovegirl were already home chilling. I stopped by a restaurant and picked up something to eat because I’d finally (kind of) figured out that something was going on and it might be our last hot meal for a while. As soon as I got home, the skies opened up.

It rained. And rained. And rained. And the wind blew. And the tree limbs swayed. And I, who grew up in California and have always been fascinated by storms, stayed up very late watching the amazing storm that Katrina was. It was hypnotically beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much water come out of the sky in such a period of time. I prayed that the trees would stand the storm and that we wouldn’t end up with a hole in our roof. I think the lights had gone out at around 5 that evening. We decided to camp downstairs. It was August in Mississippi after all, and we had no power – no air.

When we got up on Tuesday morning, we surveyed the damage and were happy to discover that we really didn’t have any. There were a few trees down in the neighborhood, but on our little circle, everyone had fared relatively well. We could hear the chainsaws and smell the gasoline but that was it. Smoochy remarked that he was surprised that we still didn’t have any power.

Around noon I finally decided to sit in the car and listen to the radio. Most stations were off the air, but our NPR affiliate somehow had power and was broadcasting. We wouldn’t have power for days. Emergency workers were tapped. The storm had been devastating on the Gulf Coast and in New Orleans. People were being urged to take care of their neighbors, to pool resources. Keep in mind, we had no power. While the rest of the country was watching the devastation occurring in New Orleans, we just knew that we were without electricity. We had no idea the scope of things.

I’d been trying to call my family in California and Texas all day, but no phone lines were working, and I couldn’t get a line out. I finally got through late that night using Smoochy’s phone and my Mom’s voice was cracking and she said she was just glad to hear from me. I told her that we were fine. She said she thought she’d call some family friends in Lake Village, AR to see if we could stay with them if we needed to. I was like, whatever, we’ll be fine. Smoochy decided later on that evening that Lovegirl and I would indeed drive to AR and stay there in comfort until the power came back on. He didn’t want us there. Among rumors of looting, lawlessness, and extended power outages.

We left our home – very much against my will – on Wednesday morning and got to Lake Village 3 hours later. When I turned on the television, I was sick.

Mothers, babies, grown men. Begging, crying, pleading. Bodies floating. I really couldn’t watch it. I just held Lovegirl and cried. Cried to God, thanking him that it wasn’t us. That we’d just been a little inconvenienced. Cried to God for those who it was. I could not imagine being stranded – in a house, on a rooftop, on a freeway overpass – with my child, my baby. I thought my heart would break in two. After the first few hours in AR, I didn’t turn the TV on again until Saturday when Smoochy called and told us we could come back home – we had electricity again.

We were – and are – blessed. All we lost were a few days together. A couple hundred dollars worth of groceries. A few hours out of our lives because of the gasoline shortage.

As the day of Katrina’s anniversary neared and every news program began to air their specials, I started thinking about Katrina’s profound effect on people’s lives. I cried again. It still hurts. And we didn’t lose anything really. Some people’s lives will never resemble what they were 366 days ago. Never. And in a country this wealth, this resourceful, this great – politics aside – that is a damn shame.

I remember. I remember the panic I felt when I couldn’t get a phone line out to talk to my loved ones. I remember Lovegirl’s innocence and the innocence so many children lost that day. I remember worshiping in the “white” church around the corner for the first time (and being nervous about it) because I was scared to drive across town to the church I usually attend because I didn’t know when we’d have gasoline again. I remember this metro area coming together to help people who had nothing. I remember kindness. I remember smiles. I remember thinking that God is always, always in control, no matter how bad things are. I remember an evacuee in church in clothes that clearly were not his own smiling and being thankful that he had his life and his family had theirs. I remember GB telling Brownie that he was doing a great job. I remember the joy I felt when a former coworker finally responded to my email and let me know that she and her husband and two babies were okay – they’d just relocated to NO.

So today, if only for a moment or two, remember the devastation that occurred. The people’s whose lives were changed forever. The people who lost their lives. Take a look around you. Be thankful for what you have. For who you love. Remember and help take care of those who cannot, for whatever reason, take care of themselves.

Peace.

F*@$ Tha Police!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the police a lot.  The man, one time, the po po, 5-0.

And I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I don’t like them.  Yeah, that’s a broad sweeping statement and I’m sure if I’m ever in a pinch, my tune will change.  Maybe.

I thought back over all of the experiences I’ve had with police and pretty much all of them have been negative.

There was the time I had a blow out on the interstate in Little Rock and crept slowly off the freeway and then two officers tried to write me a ticket for operating an unsafe vehicle.  Really?  I was supposed to try and change a driver’s side flat on the side of the freeway?  (There was no shoulder). Yeah, no.  If it were your wife would you advise her to change a tire with cars whizzing by at 70 mph with little or no wiggle room?  I thought not. 

Then there was the time dude pulled me over in LA just to check and make sure I was legal.  WTH?  He kept me  pulled over for about 30 minutes.  Checked everything he could check and then let me go.  Uh, what?

My mom and I went to AL one summer just for the heck of it.  We were in Mobile and couldn’t figure out what to do/where to go.  So we saw an officer in a park and asked him for some suggestions.  That ass told us if we didn’t know what to do we could go back where we came from.  Niiice.

I won’t go into how Smoochy was stopped almost daily when we first bought our home.  Daily.  Dudes would pull him over, ask him where he was going, check all his stuff and then let him go.  After a week, Smoochy was like “just call the dude who pulled me over yesterday.  Then pass the info on to the dude who’s gonna pull me over tomorrow.”  Oh wait, I said I wasn’t going to go into that…..

And I absolutely HATE the roadblocks that officers here in MS  happen to be so damn fond of.  I get that they are checking for drunk drivers or whatever, and I can’t argue that’s not a good thing, but I still just hate being stopped and asked for proof that I’m a good, law abiding citizen.  Just rubs me the wrong way.

I could go on and on about my experiences with the police and those of my friends and family, but I guess I’ll stop here. 

Anyhoo, the reason this has all been on my mind (I guess) is because of the new law in Arizona that (to me) gave officers the “right” to determine whether or not someone was in the country legally/illegally.  Just seemed like another way to allow police to harass people of color.  I believe they’ve since amended the portion that allowed officers to “reasonably suspect” folks.

Mmmkay, so I rambled a bit.  I’d like to know what your feelings are toward officers of the law.  Have your encounters been mostly positive?  Negative?  Neutral? 

Please know that if any of you are officers or come from a family of officers this is not meant to offend you or them.  Like I said, I realize this is a pretty generalized statement.  Some of my best friends are police officers.

Every time I think about those damn roadblocks, I can’t help but think of Bob Marley’s song “Rebel Music.” Okay, so Bob was a little p.o.’d at having to throw away his “stash,” but still – he didn’t have his papers and I certainly don’t ride around with mine….

“Take my soul (oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
and suss – and suss me out (suss me out). Oh-ooh!
Check my life (oh-oh-oh-oh-oh),
if I am in doubt (I’m in doubt); I’m tellin’:
3 o’clock roadblock – roadblock – roadblock,
And “Hey, Mr. Cop! Ain’t got no – (hey) hey! (hey, Mr Cop) -
(What ya sayin’ down there?) – (hey) hey! (hey, Mr Cop) -
Ain’t got no birth certificate on me now.”

I’m Alive!!!!

And glad about it!  I hope that this past week’s allergy/sinus attack was it for the year.  I’ve felt like death walking for the last few days and am glad to finally feel as though I’m alive and well better.

Since I’ve spent the past few days in a NyQuil/Zyrtec induced coma, I don’t have much to blog about.  Which, of course, isn’t gonna stop me from blogging.  Enter, the beloved bullets.

  • One positive about feeling less than?  I’ve been sleeping like a baby ~ I hope it sticks now that I’m feeling better!
  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – mean people suck.  It really doesn’t take a whole lot to be kind to people.  Try it, you might like it.
  • Lovegirl spent the better part of Friday night grooving to the silky soul sounds of Al Green on her CD player.  I don’t know what to say about that kid of mine except that I really, really love her!
  • Smoochy is downstairs cooking turkey necks and is going to truly be insulted when I don’t want to try them.   He should know better by know.
  • I have fallen off a bit with the Insanity workouts….time to get back on the saddle and dig deeper once again!  I think I’m going to have to add in some weight training – Insanity is all about the cardio and I need to firm up these arms before I dare put on a sleeveless top this summer.
  • Did you know that a little shaving cream spread on a kitchen table can keep a kid occupied for hours?  You can thank  me later.
  • I just told Lovegirl to turn off the TV in the guest room.  Her reply?  “If you insist.”  What?!?
  • Why is everybody in my family mad because I keep telling them that we should have a birthday party for my grandmother this year and not wait until next year when she turns 90?  Am I the only person who thinks planning a bday party for an 88 year old almost two years out is stupid not-so-bright?  I’m just saying…..
  • Hmmm, those turkey necks are starting to smell pretty good…
  • Are maxidresses gonna be in again this summer?  I sure hope so.  If not, anybody want to sell me theirs from last summer?  I realized too late how much I heart them.
  • Mmkay, I’m rambling – I think that last dose of Nyquil has kicked in.  Good night.  God bless.
  • I wrote this Saturday night and forgot to post it.  Oops!

Happy Monday!!!

Won’t You Smile A While For Me?

This weekend, I had plenty of opportunities to smile….

Saturday – I check my mail and there was a package addressed to yours truly with no return address.  My curiosity outweighed my suspicion and I ripped it open to find that Kelly sent me a mascara and some shoe insoles.  I kid you not – I’d just put mascara on my list of things to buy and mentioned to Smoochy that I needed some insoles for my summer sandals.  Right on time!  I smiled.

Saturday night – Smoochy and I headed out for a rare date night – we went to see Ge.orge W.ilborn, D.C. C.urry,B.ruce B.ruce and S.ommore.  Honestly?  I was a little disappointed.  The show was not as great as I’d anticipated, but there were definitely funny moments.  The best comedian of the night?  We decided D. C. C.urry made the show.  I couldn’t believe my boy B.ruce B.ruce didn’t bring it!  But, it was a great night out, we did share some chuckles.  And the fashion show that inevitably occurs when there are more than 5 black folks in a room?  Priceless!  We saw more leather, pleather, moisturized jheri curls and size 30s wearing size 6 than the law should allow.  And that was just on our row.  I smiled.

Sunday – I was trifling and didn’t go to church.  When I finally got up around 9:30 I headed to the grocery store and bought up some stuff to cook for Smoochy this week.  After knocking out sausage and onions, green curry chicken, bean and rice burritos, smothered cabbage, green peas and a veggie medley I was tired.  And happy that I was able to send Smoochy off with another week’s worth of healthy meals.  Lovegirl and I bummed around the rest of the day.  A great way to spend a cool, drizzly Sunday.  I smiled.

What brought a smile to your face this weekend?

She Loves Me….Not

Lately Lovegirl has been obsessed with death.  More specifically, my death. 

Oh, before you go and get all worried about the wee precious one and her psyche, let me assure you – she’s good.

Lovegirl:  Mama, are you going to be dying anytime soon?
Nerd Girl:  Uh, no.  I hope not, but really, only God knows.  Why?  What’s up?
Lovegirl:  Well, I’ve just been thinking that if you die, I sure hope they have cell phones in heaven.  You’re going to need to call Daddy every day and tell him what to do.  The only store he knows how to go to is the gas station to buy Cheetos.  That’s not going to work.  Oh, and when you get there can you tell Jesus that I do not like marshmallows and don’t want any when I get to heaven?
Nerd Girl:  Ooookayyyy……

Somehow I should’ve known her concern about my demise had absolutely nothing to do with her love for me or how much she’d miss me!

******

Lovegirl:  Yeah, so I think my mom’s going to be dying soon.
Aidan:  Why?
Lovegirl:  Well, she’s through growing and eats her vegetables because she likes them.  There’s nothing left for her to do.
Aidan:  So you think she’s dying huh?
Lovegirl:  Yeah.  I just hope she goes to heaven and not Hades.  If she goes to Hades she’ll be with the devil and just die over, and over, and over again.  And it’s hot down there.
Nerd Girl:  Alright y’all!  That’s enough.  Where are you getting this?
Lovegirl & Aidan:  Ms. J at school.

Dear God.  Perhaps a secular preschool would’ve been a wiser decision…..

******

Lovegirl:  Mom, when are you going to die?
Nerd Girl:  Honey, I told you, I don’t know.  Only God knows when we die. 
Lovegirl:  Well, if you died today, Daddy could come home off the road.  I sure do miss Daddy.

I will be sleeping with one eye open!!!

Mi Familia Loca

A pic of all of us at my cousin’s wedding last weekend:

mi familia

 

L-R:  Hermano #1, Yo, Mamacita, Padre, Lovegirl, Hermano #2′s novia, Hermano #2, Hermano#3, Hermano #3′s esposa

Speaking of crazy family – somebody save me!  My child is the proud new owner of a harmonica.  Need I say more?  I now live with the world’s shortest blues musician.  Ay dios mio!

Soups On!

Oh snap!  We had a cold one come through the ‘Sip this weekend.  I knew cooler weather was coming, but I wasn’t prepared for how cold it actually was.  Let’s just say I’m surprised that Child Protective Services didn’t pick me up at the fair this weekend – Lovegirl was definitely not properly dressed.  She needed a hat, a heavier jacket, gloves….I’ll stop before I further incriminate myself!

Anyhoo, one of my favorite things about cooler weather is cooking and eating soups and stews.  I love the way a pot of soup simmering on the stove makes the house smell and I feel all domestic and thangs.   I bought a soup cookbook about two years ago with the intention of cooking my way through the book.  Well, I’ve only made one recipe so far – I like it so much that I have yet to venture into any other recipes.  I first tried it when I was fasting from meat – ate this stuff almost every day for nearly a month.  Without any further ado…

Borlotti Bean and Pasta Soup (my adjustments in blue)

Serves 4 (I think it serves way more!)

1 onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

5 T olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 glass white wine (I haven’t tried it w/wine yet)

4 C vegetable stock

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 1/4 cups passata (never been able to find this, I just use a can of stewed tomatoes)

1 1/2 cups pasta (I’ve used mini-bowtie and mini-penne)

14 oz can of borlotti beans (can’t find these either – I use cannellini or great northern)

9 0z fresh spinach (I use a whole bag of baby spinach leaves)

2/3 C Parmesan cheese

* Place the onion, celery and carrots in a large pan w/the olive oil.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften.  Stir occasionally.

* Add the bay leaf, wine, stock, tomatoes and passata, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.

* Add the pasta and beans and bring the soup back to a boil.  (I usually just add the beans and let the soup simmer for a while to develop the flavors and then add the pasta) Simmer for 8 minutes until the pasta is al dente.  Stir frequently.

* Season to taste w/salt and pepper.  Add spinach.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Garnish w/Parmesan.

So easy and so good!

I’ve never added meat, but the recipe book suggests adding cooked spicy sausage or bacon for variety.