Sunday, December 25, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
|The frog that looks like my Mom|
|Arayo at Mom's tree|
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
|Arayo visits family graves looking for ghosts|
|Bob & Janet Carpenter markers|
Thursday, October 6, 2011
|Apple Computer's Home Page, October 5 & 6, 2011|
Sunday, October 2, 2011
|Marian Hughes Shuff, PhD, Educator, Artist, beloved Aunt|
|Art by Marian Shuff, Port au Gard, 1987, intaglio|
Sunday, September 25, 2011
|The Carpenter House, 2011|
|The Carpenter House, Early 1900's|
Sunday, September 11, 2011
As the country observes the anniversary of the horrors that took place 10 years ago, I considered joining the many who listened to the radio or watched the tv coverage of memorial events. A quick 10 minutes of listening to Presidents, past and present, expound on those who murdered, those who died and those who continue to sacrifice to make sure this will never happen again - and I was finished. It was time to reflect in my own manner.
I vividly recall where I was the day the Twin Towers came down. It was early morning and I happened to get up and turn on the tv to watch the day's news. What I saw was the coverage of the events back east. The towers were still standing but it was obvious that what was taking place was an attack on this country. "Where will they strike next?" the country wondered, as reports continued to leak about planes striking the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania and rumors of more were bantered around.
Personally, this would be the day I knew that my 9 year marriage was over. I had been struggling to keep a relationship alive with a man who was fundamentally unhappy. As I sat with him and watched people jumping from windows and the towers eventually falling before our eyes, I realized that there was more broken than our marriage as he was totally unaffected to the day's horrors. If he could not hold compassion for the thousands of suffering people that day, then it was okay for me to stop trying to make this work. Major life events seem to do that to people. They re-evaluate. They work to draw family and friends to them or move to clean up what doesn't work in their lives.
So, today, rather than listen to Presidents tell me what I should think and feel about that September day so many years ago, I chose to look at old footage of the events. To watch interviews of people who's lives changed that day. To morn for the individuals lost, for their families and for the shift that took place in our country.
I contemplate the really amazing things that came out of 9/11. The individuals who came forward to offer shelter, food, clothing, friendship, and compassion to total strangers. I recall how the majority of the world reached out to America - how they joined with us in our pain. For those who saw the terrorists as heros, I ask "why?" and wonder what we as a nation may have done or are doing to produce such hate.
I contemplate the rights we Americans have lost in the past 10 years as our leaders scream messages of fear, and I morn for the wars we are now engaged in. For the innocent people and our youth who are dying for……. what?
There is no excuse for the events of 9/11 but as I watch the replaying of the towers falling, I realize that more than steel and the lives of 3,000 people were lost that day. With the crumbling of the towers and the crashing of the planes, the entire structure of America fell - or, perhaps was exposed - and we suffer our responses.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
"Were they born mentally challenged or did the men's extreme psychological shortcomings take place as a result of this sport?" I wondered as I watched the cowboys prepare for, then suffer, abuse after abuse?
I'm not a big rodeo fan. Okay, I'll be honest - I'd never been to a rodeo before in my life - but I've always been drawn to cowboy images. You know the ones - whips, spurs, chaps, cute butts……. There's something seductive about the life of a cowboy; a man living and working so close to the land. A man in love with his horse, hanging with those cute cuddly looking cows all the time…….
So, I figured going to a rodeo was about as close as I was going to get to a cattle-drive on an open Montana range.
The local paper arranged a press pass so I could get behind the scenes, and I spent 3 hours watching men preparing for what was to come. They wrapped their arms in tape, they explained, to give their arms support and to keep their muscles from being ripped off their bones when they were on the horse. (Ouch!) They strapped on chaps, donned padded vests, and tied a donut-like device around their necks to try to avoid whiplash.
I could see this was going to get really ugly. A few of the men seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time in prayer, and one sad-looking young cowboy, glancing towards an angry bucking horse in a narrow metal pen, was getting a jump on the pain by digging into a prescription drug bottle.
And these guys were just riding ticked off ponies. The men taking rides on bulls (and these bulls had some real unaddressed childhood issues which was now coming out in major rage, I assure you) - were strapping metal cages to their heads!
So, this is the romance behind the rodeo cowboys….. behind the men who week after week crawl up on animals that take no delight in having 180 pounds of human on their backs in 110 degree temperatures. I can't say I blame the animals for being enraged and working like hell to toss the pests from their backs.
But I'd still love to see the IQ scores of the men before they took up this hobby and then again after they'd been doing it for a year.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
"Say," I commented to the group of women seated around the tables, "let's go picket! Maybe we could throw ourselves in front of some big equipment. Since the police department is just next door, I bet they'd come over and take us off to the pokey! Lori, would you deliver pie to the jail if we all got tossed in the clink?"
Lori was up for making a jail-house delivery for a good cause, but still the mostly gray haired ladies at the table nodded with a bit of - well, reluctance. I wasn't sure if the nods signified an agreement to my comments or if it was a way of signaling each other "Karyn seems to have lost it. Don't antagonize her….."
"We've got the local newspaper editor here - she could get us coverage," I continued. "We'd really get some attention if the entire Thursday Pie Day group went to jail for the cause." (Besides, I'm thinking, most of us are well into our retirement years or getting close. Grandmothers, great-grandmothers - women with a mission! It would play well to the media. I was liking this idea better all the time.)
The cause, of course, was the destruction of the little 100 year old brick building that was being torn down to benefit one of the churches in town. Seemed that most everyone had a lump in their throat over the sacrificing of this little building, but the dismantling continued piece by piece.
My friend, Pat, was psychologically, if not physically, trying to move from my side to the other end of the table. As the only Methodist in the group, it was her church that was gaining a breezeway over the murder of the small defenseless building. While I didn't blame her - she didn't even know about the issue until walking into our Thursday noon Pie Day gathering - she still felt a bit on the spot over my rantings and the concerns being expressed by others at the table. But, I knew she could shoulder it. She was, after all, an open Democrat in an extremely Republican state.
In the end, the women headed for home; my attempts at organizing a vigilante picketing group having met the same fate as the small building. It was just me playing to a conservative audience, and truth be told, we probably couldn't have stopped the destruction of the little building anyway.
Though, had I gone out and laid down in front of the trucks and sledgehammers and managed to get a night or two in jail - I did have a couple women offer to bring me a home cooked meal. If only they could have snuck in Arayo, too.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The little brick building is simple but has a special kind of character. Set on a corner at the edge of our downtown district, it has housed various small companies through the years. The smell of baking goodies has filtered through its cracks when it held bakeries. People insured their homes and families within its walls. Originally, it was the office for a lumber yard, and at one time, if memory serves, it may have been home to a phone company. Or maybe not. The walls hold tight some of the secrets of its past.
This town was once beautiful, with old brick buildings lining its main streets, and stately homes gracing her neighborhoods. It used to be a town that people were proud to call home.
But, slowly it has lost its charm. Sheet metal covers many of the downtown building facades, and when you start to look closely, you notice that the roofs of many of the stores have simply caved in from neglect. Business signs are tattered. If a town could speak, you would hear it whispering, "what happened? Why does no one care any more?"
"What is to become of this town?" I ask person after person in power and in the know. "In five more years, there will be no town left to preserve. What of the buildings that are falling in?"
"We'll probably wait a while, then knock 'em over," is the standard reply.
My heart skips a beat. While I haven't lived here for years, this is still home and every time I return to see a little bit more of it covered in metal or caving in - - every time I talk to someone who can't see beyond the end of a bulldozer, a piece of me dies.
We live in a throw-away society. I know that. Not being much of a consumer myself, I don't understand it, but I know that it is true. Everything Americans buy is made to quickly be outdated and no longer of use, or replaced by something bigger and better. So, the bulk of our society revolves around our need to consume, and consume some more.
But, when this town is gone, when its history is knocked over "just because it is easier than preserving it" - then what? People bemoan the fact that "things aren't like they used to be!" "No one wants to live in a small Kansas town anymore," people say. But, I have to ask, "What is the draw? A town is judged first by what people see when they drive into it. Who wants to stop and stay in a tin-can town? If what people see sends the message that no one cares anymore, then why would someone stop for a cup of coffee, a burger? Why would someone look at starting a business here, or buying a home for their family?"
My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, all rest at the local cemetery. And, even there, what was once a charming place to rest for eternity is now marred by the erection of a metal building. The long history of Carpenters in this town ends with the passing of my mom, but for a while I thought I might take up the mantle, try to inject some life into the town. I think outside the box, perhaps I could make a contribution towards saving this place. But, these are foolish thoughts.
And today that spark died in me. As I photographed the charming little brick building in its last moments, a man saw me and asked how I was doing. I told him I was shocked and saddened because the little building was being destroyed. "Oh, that!" he chuckled, "we want the bricks for the church!" he said, and off he went - a happy look on his face. A piece of our history will be gone, but the church will have its new covered breezeway, or whatever…..
As I drive away from the senseless destruction of another piece of history, there is a catch in my throat. A tear slips down my face…………
Sunday, July 31, 2011
"Excuse me, ma'am. I'll have to ask you to keep out of this area. We've got explosives set up over here."
Oh, be still my heart! This has to be one of those phrases that just makes my heart skip a beat. Kind of like "A tornado was just spotted a mile away. Jump in my tank and let's go chase it!" Personally, I'm just living to hear someone whisper THOSE words to me.
For some people, its "Come on over - I just bought a cheesecake (or a puppy)." For others it might be "Hey, fella - I gotta hooker in the car and she is disease free!"
I wasn't looking for a charge when I approached the man at the park. I knew they were going to shoot fireworks off from the end of the bluff later in the evening, and I wanted to know how close I could get so I would have the best view for photographing them. I just had never considered the fact that they might be considered explosives.
Interesting the things that get some people all excited. Who'd a thought I'd go all gushy over tractors until I got to drive one? And this thing about storms….. I always wanted to ride out a hurricane until my mom and I were in hurricane Earl a few years ago in Texas. We slept right through it . Now that continues to be on my bucket list, with the stipulation that I stay wake through the thing! (And for those of you know know me - yes, I'm still terrified of freeways, tall bridges, setting foot on airplanes and snakes. There is no logic to one's list of thrills and terrors.)
So, last night, I took Arayo with me to a little campground that rests on the side of the Neosho river. As a child I recall seeing lots of water moccasins along this river, so you know I wanted to photograph the fireworks in the worst way! It was a straight shot over to the point where the "explosives" were set up so the view was sure to be spectacular. As we waited, Arayo and I sat under the stars and marveled at how there could be lightening flashes all around us and not a cloud in the sky. We relished the cool breezes playing on skin and fur. (It was still 90 degrees -- but after weeks of over 100, it felt cool at the time.)
As the fireworks display began, I put Arayo back in the car to protect her. I'd rather have held her, she is so terrified of loud noises any more, but I knew I couldn't photograph and hug her, too. At the end of the display, I opened the back of my Subaru to put tripod and cameras away, and noticed………. Nothing. No 100 pound black dog. I called to her. No movement or sound. I began to panic. I'd left the windows open about 8 inches each - was it possible she could have squeezed herself through one of them?
Finally, I found her. She'd moved to the front passenger seat and attempted to crawl under the car by way of the footwell. Poor Arayo. She does not understand why we have come to this place called Kansas. All spring it was thunderstorm after thunderstorm, and this July there have been 3 nights of fireworks. The world has simply gone mad.
Photos: A fireworks display marked the end of the 100th Annual Labette County fair.
(Note - For those of you who question why I took Arayo to watch the fireworks rather than leaving her home - it was a judgement call. The noise would be as loud at the house as at the park - I figured she would be alone much less time if I had her with me. Why did I put her in the car when the fireworks began? Outside the car she would have been tied to a picnic table - which she would have dragged through a corn field when the explosives began. The car is a place where she feels secure - like a big dog crate - and because I'd been running the air conditioner earlier, it was cooler in the car than out.)
Thursday, July 28, 2011
"Here is where my classmate lived. She shot herself the night before our prom - but no one in our class believed it. There were always other theories, but suicide was the official story.
"On the left is a new bank. There was once a beautiful old two story building there that held a grocery store. One evening, just as the owner locked up and got in his car, the entire outer wall crumbled and fell. No one was killed, but that was the end of that building!"
Friends had called to say they were driving from Florida to Seattle and were planning to visit me in my home town in southeast Kansas. Now, anyone who has grown up on a small community knows that part of your heritage is knowing the ins and outs of what has gone before, and without realizing it - the tour my friends got was - well, perhaps, somewhat macabre.
"One day I was going to school and I heard a horrible sound on the highway a block away. I rushed over to the road and found friends there with shocked looks on their faces. They pointed to an 18-wheeler stopped half a block away and said 'our next door neighbor……. He came out of his house and jumped in front of that truck and it ran over him!' I walked to the truck and, sure enough, there were legs sticking out from under the tires. It happened right here, a block from my house!"
"When I was young, one night my mom came in it and woke me up. It was pouring down rain, but she insisted there was something I needed to see. She drove us the 3 blocks to downtown and, there was the town, all lit up! Lightening had struck one of the buildings and a third of a block in the downtown core was on fire. As firemen worked to control the blaze, half the town showed up in their pajamas to stand on the other side of the street to watch the town burn. I remember people praying the donut shop didn't catch on fire, and finally, the water stopped pumping. Someone had forgotten to turn the water on at the pump house to refill the water tower and they ran out of water. Fortunately, we only lost 3 buildings that night.
"That three story brown building was once the home of the largest mortgage company west of the Mississippi. I don't know what happened to the company, but the building has been kind of neglected in the past few years. Story goes that it sold at auction for $1,000 a few years ago. Someone put in a starting bid and when no-one bid against them, they found themselves owner of a prominent piece of main street. Rumor has it that they finally sold the building on eBay to someone from out of state for something like $8,000. Last year, the entire back of the building caved in. Now, it just sits there. Half rubble."
"Gee," said my friend. "This is a fascinating tour, I'm going to call it the Disaster Tour!"
Hum….. Sometimes you can know almost too much about a place.
Photo: The Deming Building sold for $1,000 to someone who bought it by "mistake". It later sold for $8,000 on the internet.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Can it really have been a year ago that Arayo and I set out on this journey together? This trip to see the country and meet new people? What an amazing experience it has been - and I'm still feeling like The Ride continues.
It began as a need to break cycles. Sometimes when you are in a rut, you don't even realize how deeply entrenched you are. You exist, but that existence is meaningless. How often do we sense we need a change, but find reasons not to? The house payments need to be made, the dog likes her yard, the doctor is nearby and, while not sick, who knows when he'll be needed…… You know the drill - I think we've all had these conversations with ourselves from time to time.
Years ago I recall someone talking about making change. How we so often stick with the norm for fear of the unknown. He likened it to flying on a trapeze. If you are going to grab the next trapeze and move forward, you have to let go of the one you are on and TRUST that another one will come your way.
So, Arayo and I packed up our lives (mine more than hers since her's just involved a brush, some nail clippers, a toy and a few cans of food), and we headed east. We let fate guide us. Strangers e-mailed and invited us to visit. The heat directed us north to Newfoundland and Newfoundland captured my soul and kept a piece there.
After six months of travel, fate brought me to Kansas where I was blessed to spend what turned out to be my Mom's final two months of life with her and to be at her side when she took her last breath.
How much of life we would have missed had we found more reasons to stay home than to go.
So, while Arayo and I sit in my mother's home in the town I was raised in - our Ride continues. With temperatures near 100 nearly every day for the past 6 weeks and no break in sight, we probably won't be jumping back into the tent again soon - but our adventures will continue, so please don't leave us yet!
Thank you for coming along on the Ride with us. Thank you for your support. To all of you who offered us shelter from the heat, the cold, the rain - who shared with us a piece of your world and a bite at your table - you remain in our hearts. Thank you, thank you all. To open your homes to a stranger and her Newf, was itself a great risk. You enriched our lives - thank you.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Dark clouds threatened as my group drove to set up for my mother's memorial. As we reached the park entrance, the sight of multiple American flags flying from lamp posts greeted us and a lump raised to my throat. I knew they were flying to honor my mom - a woman who, in her quiet way, worked 60 years to better little pieces of this community. Her true passion was this park, sitting atop a bluff overlooking a river and the farmland below, where, today, we were going to pay final tribute to her life.
It was kind of a freaky idea - not something these traditional, conservative Kansan's were used to - but I wanted to hold off to say these public goodbyes to my mother. 4 months would give me time to plan something fitting and to get some distance from the pain of her loss. It also gave family and friends time to learn about her passing and to plan a trip home. Best of all, it gave the park time to rise from the dead of winter. For leaves to grace the trees and flowers to shine from their beds.
I planned the event for morning to beat the ghastly Kansas summer heat - the seating area dictated by the shade of trees. My crazy friend, Sondra Torchia, who does one-woman historical performances, mc'd the event and others joined to tell their stories of the woman I called Mom. Our family created the "Missing Janet Chorus" and sang one of Mom's favorite songs - made popular by the Muppets called "Something's Missing", and by the time the hour-long program was over, people were saying "when I die, I want a send-off just like Janet had!"
Because I've had people ask for some of the details of the event, I'm listing them below and later I'll add the stories I shared - more of the funny light-hearted stories about Mom that most people probably didn't know.
Today marks 4 months that Mom has been gone. It seems like yesterday and the hole in my life isn't getting smaller with time, but she died on her terms without pain and suffering. I have no regrets.
Janet Carpenter Memorial - June 22, 2011
Arrival music - Glenn Miller
Opening song - Gandhi/Buddha, by Cheryl Wheeler
Opening remarks - A Good Life, Sondra Torchia
Reading of Editorial - Heather Brown
Janet Gets a Chainsaw - Dan Turner
Something's Missing - The Missing Janet Family Chorus
Remembering My Mother - Karyn Carpenter
The Red Studebaker - Steve Christy
Janet Made you Feel Appreicated - Annie Stromquist (Janet's favorite niece)
Missing Janet - Megan Hughes (Janet's other favorite niece)
Closing Prayer - Pete Hughes
Closing Song - Over The Rainbow, by Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole
Photo presentation of Janet - to Hero, by Mariah Carey
Monday, May 30, 2011
Her contented smile contradicted the story which her face told the world; the tale of a recent encounter with a chimney, a dump truck, a tree or a stranger's boot. Not only was her face many shades of purple and black, she had lost everything or she would not be here - sleeping in a gymnasium, surrounded by strangers. My friend reached out to her. "You were really hurt. How are you?" No complaints, no words of suffering. The woman's "I'm fine" said more. "I'll get through this. I'm alive," was the unspoken message.
The man on the radio - the one who made his living talking - was nearly speechless. His family home had sustained tornado damage. He must have mentioned how his boots were constantly wet from working on his house in the rain, so a listener drove from out of town, visited the station and handed the announcer cash, asking him to buy himself a new pair of boots.
When he found his voice he replied, "so many people need this more than I. Let me find a place where this can do more good. Thank you, so much."
More times than not, it seems we've become a country of whiners. A people interested more in taking than giving. Individuals who will climb the backs of our closest friends to advance our own interests and monetary goals.
It seems that the slightest inconvenience is met with a roar. When a windstorm knocks down trees, sending people into the dark for a few days the letters fly to the papers and airwaves fill with voices of woe. "I pay my taxes! How dare I be inconvenienced my morning latte, my big screen tv, my internet!" In the old days, rather than wait for someone else, citizens pulled together and canvased the town with chainsaws so power crews could more easily get their work done. The old days seem to be slipping away.
After Hurricane Earl the radio broadcasted hours of whining. Even though they had a week or more to prepare, the demands of people were immediate and many. "The government should be getting us water and ice to keep the steaks we bought yesterday from going bad." (Wondering to myself why they didn't actually put up water and buy provisions that weren't perishable, my mind screams in reply "you can't fix stupid.")
But something about Joplin is different. The shelters seem to be underutilized, which means hundreds of people have opened their homes and are sharing what they have with victims.
Strangers have come to search in the rain, humidity, heat, and cold for the missing. They climb under the ruins of homes, slosh through waste-deep water, turn over boards and pieces of junk in hopes of not finding a body. They tell stories of strangers coming along, handing out bags of sandwiches and bottles of water. The outlook is more of "together we'll pull through this," rather than "why me?" or other complaints.
It seems that every other corner in Joplin is host to a cookout. "If you are hungry, please, stop and have a hot meal on us."
The word goes out "you have been so generous. Today we have all the blood, all the clothing we can use. But, please, remember us next week."
People appear to be patient with each other and when an impractical move is imposed - like trying to protect people from looting by enacting a pass system - the city quickly sees they can't effectively manage such a program and cancels it, admitting the idea had merit but wasn't practical. (Government actually seeing and then admitting an error? That alone is astonishing.)
The EF5 tornado which ripped its way through this small Missouri town failed to take with it the soul of Joplin. Instead, it opened the hearts of millions around the world. Hundreds have arrived and thousands more are making their way to this little known part of the country. And, with the help of millions who've given their money, their time, their prayers - the community will rebuild.
If only there was a way to bottle this spirit; to pull it out once a year. To inflict a booster shot to everyone in the world, we'd be a peaceful and much more powerful force in the universe.
Photos: Flag flies at half-mast at the Missouri Southern State University campus which has become the central location for volunteer opportunities, a Red Cross Shelter, and Humane Society local in Joplin. The clean up and rebuilding following the devastating EF5 tornado which ripped through Joplin a week ago will continue for months.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The man before me was like any other - middle-aged, graying hair, a little thick around the middle. There was a tiredness about him from a day of searching for what he prayed not to find - someone's loved one, buried under mounds of rubble or floating in a creek.
"I drove in from Montana. I just had to help. Figured I'd sleep in my car, but I'd sure appreciate a shower if you know of a place I can clean up."
He was not alone. Hundreds of people have arrived in Joplin, touched by the destruction that an EF5 tornado had brought to this town, and offering to play a small part in helping total strangers rebuild their lives.
A nurse called the day after the tornado struck and was told they no longer needed medical personnel. She drove down anyway and once in Joplin was asked to set up and run a small clinic in one of the shelters. When her patients were attended to, she was joined by her daughter from Texas and teamed with others who were spending long hours combing sections of the town in search of survivors.
"My father lost his home so I drove in from central Nebraska to help," a gentleman said. "I have 15 people joining me this weekend. What can we do?"
Arayo and I met a Newfoundland friend and spent the day in Joplin. I hoped to track down an old buddy I'd been unable to reach to insure his safety, then we planned to take the Newfs to offer a little dog therapy to victims and responders. Spotting the volunteer registration center, we asked how else we could help and were assigned to the front desk where we registered new volunteers, visited with search and rescue crews returning from the rubble, and directed others to showers and shelter.
As we heard story after story, I was truly touched by the outpouring of love and care which was expressed. I was amazed at the willingness of people to leave their lives behind and to drive into a disaster area to help others with whom they had no connection. The uncertainty of "Where will I eat? Where will I sleep? What will I be asked to endure?" paled as they focused on the bigger question, "How can I make a difference?"
The flood of compassion is astounding. Housewives, military men, bankers, fugitives, teachers, blue collar workers, families with children, teens with tattoos, bikers and clergy; all work side by side. The common need meets uncommon compassion. At the end of the day, the outer trappings are peeled away and each knows that where it matters, they are all the same. They've experienced the good in each other.
As the world's eyes and ears turn to the horrors and destruction wrought on Joplin last Sunday, we can choose to look at the atrocity or we can join together in a common goal of support and regrowth. Sometimes I just stand in awe of the good in our fellow man.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
They say it is mostly gone, the devastation indescribable. Joplin. The "city" near us. Its shopping malls, theaters and restaurants lure people from the surrounding area. Its hospitals care for our most critically ill.
Tonight the photos show a city in bits and splinters. People walk among the ruins like zombies, in a state of shock. The backdrop - one of the major hospitals which took a direct hit.
The silence of my small town some 40 miles away is broken by ambulances and police vehicles which rush by my house to help in the rescue efforts.
I suppose you have to be from the mid-west to understand, but there is a lure to the weather that creates these murderous phenomena.
This evening I got a call; "We're under a tornado warning. Take cover." I'm not one for watching tv or listening to the radio, so I depend on friends to let me know what is happening sometimes. I looked down the street. The skies above me were bright, but to the north it was black as night. People along the street were standing in their yards, looking towards the skies.
I grabbed Arayo and my camera and headed to the park which sits on a bluff overlooking the Neosho River and the farmlands beyond. The thought crossed my mind that the winds could blow down a tree or power line, trapping me alone, away from shelter.
But, the winds, the boiling black clouds and changing temperatures were luring me for a better look.
The scene on the bluff was a surprise. Cars jockeyed for a place to park, the elevated overlook was jammed. Parents, kids, dogs. Everyone's eyes were scanning the clouds, searching for the dip that signaled the beginning of a twister.
After a bit, the crowd began to clear. We Americans look for immediate gratification and watching the skies for hours was wearing thin. Three of us and a little white dog remained to watch the clouds which seemed angrier, and who's movement was making radical shifts.
As I returned home, the excitement seemed to have passed, though the radio announcer was interviewing the Joplin area Emergency Prepardness Director who was warning the people to take cover. A tornado had been sighted near there and was coming their way………
Usually, such warnings are fairly meaningless. "Conditions are right……. " "A funnel cloud was sighted……." "Go into a basement or interior room in your home….."
I've lived in the mid-west more than half my life and I've yet to see a tornado. My mother died at 86. Never saw a twister.
I love tornado season. There's a charge in the air, an energy and power that seduces you….. Until you live through one, that is.
Tonight Joplin lies in ruins. I worry for a nephew and friend who live there. I feel for all those dealing with loss, and worried for their loved ones. At least 30 are confirmed dead. The actual number may be much higher. Hundreds are homeless. Pleas are out for anyone with a medical background to respond……….
Monday, May 9, 2011
Like a game of ping-pong, the stories bounce. Arayo made the local newspaper two weeks ago for attending Pie Day and getting a cookie. So I blogged about her new fame, which was met with another notice by the Labette Avenue that we had blogged about them writing about this big event. Now, I'm writing to report that they reported that I reported that they reported that Arayo ate a cookie.
I can see that this really could continue until local readers respond by taking out their guns and stalking us down……
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Mother's Day. My first in 56 years without, though I sit at mom's home, surrounded by her good energies and what is left of her things. This weekend was the culmination of 2 months of work as strangers, friends and family came to pick over her rummage sale items. Some showed up in search of a new trinket - not realizing what an amazing woman had previously owned the bobble, but many came with the goal of purchasing something they could remember her by. Mom would have liked that - knowing her things would bring joy, or simply remembrance, to people she cared about. Most of her cherished items were things given to her by others.
Mom's shelves and closets, though not bare, have lots more breathing room today. Many of the things that represent her personality, her interests, her life, are now part of another's home, though the more irreplaceable items still remain. Not diamonds, gold or priceless heirlooms - she had no interest in things of that nature. The things that remain are those many might mistake for junk. How could I place a price on the wooden woman with big red lips, bangle earrings and arms and legs made of pop bottle caps? Or the rock man head with the big red nose and tufts of white fuzzy hair? Some things are best kept in the family.
Mom - Happy Mother's Day. And thanks for a good life.
Photos - Bargain hunters at Mom's rummage sale didn't get the really good stuff!!