Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Hedge

When she was three or four, her dad

planted The Hedge, of honeysuckle

that for years gave her home's yard

an edge--Spring's nourishing showers

purplish-pink flowers would bring, and

in its branches robins and other birds

would build nests and sing--followed

by Summer's juicy-tasting red berries,

bright and gay--good for birds, not

little kids, mom would say--then, in

Winter, the bushes' naked branches

clothed in snow, sometimes ice, added

to the chill landscape's silvery glow--

for about ten years, the bushes grew,

their branches spreading wide, and she

found the spaces between them, as a

small girl, a splendid place to hide--

while other kids would grow up with

a friendly cat or dog, The Hedge was

her constant companion as she was

growing up--until she was 13 and

left her childhood home and moved

away--but t'was a short drive from

her new home so she could still see

it anyway--for The Hedge's existence

she'd never given much thought to

its reason, nor asked why something

so gorgeous was there to brighten the

landscape every season--it was just for

beauty, she'd assumed--decorative,

pleasing to the eye, perhaps an

improvement to increase the property's

value--which is why she was so

dumbfounded when 1990 thereabouts

she drove by the old house to see The

Hedge being torn down, then came

home and told her dad this, wearing a

big frown--(he was in the autumn of

his life--but she hadn't known at the

time)--dad considered its destruction

a most distressing crime--then went on

to tell her something about which she'd

never had a clue--something poignant

that for all those years since it had been

planted she now wished she knew--

as a wise, kindly and loving King would

build a moat around his palace--to

guard his precious little Princess against

any acts of malice--her father had

planted The Hedge to protect her from

the nasty boy next door--who'd bitten

her and done other bad things her

Father just could not ignore--so The

Hedge was no mere ornament--but

a sign of her Father's love--his caring--

something she feels very bad to

realize she never truly did see--

through all of those years as a

bratty young girl, then a rebellious

teen--at times she'd felt he didn't

really love her--and was really

being mean--and she didn't see

him as the treasure she should have;

him in her thoughts she'd curse--but

she truly loved him, misses him and

The Hedge and pleasant memories of

both she now nurses--she now likes to

imagine her Father's contented life

over on the Other Side--living in a

gorgeous, spacious home with The

Hedge blooming outside.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The MSM's Silence On Post-Katrina Louisiana

I wish I could say that Hurricane Gustav refocused more national attention on Louisiana's issues including vanishing barrier reefs and wetlands as well as the following, which I learned about this morning from a fellow Kossack living in the NOLA area who had evacuated when Gustav was on the way. Maybe it did--for only a few minutes.

For to put it bluntly, even in the New Orleans area even though the MSM gave out of state observers the impression that the area had escaped unscathed or was only lightly damaged, residents still have a major mess to contend with--and FEMA still doesn't seem to have learned from Katrina and the flood.

Here's the comment I posted on NBC's Daily Nightly If you can't find it, it's been censored.

Bear with me for being a bit picky about last night's coverage after Nightly's first-rate coverage of Gustav's hitting Louisiana last week, but I wish you'd aired more than just a headline about the suffering and devastation still prevailing in Houma and other areas of Louisiana.

As my NOLA-area friend has put it in an e-mail,

"Gustav and Katrina are forever intertwined. People were just starting to put K in perspective and at that moment we were on the run. The Gustav situation is not being covered. FEMA, again did not get the water, ice, tarps and MRE's to the disaster site. The supplies are starting to arrive TODAY. I have open sewerage on my lawn, spoiled food on the street, traffic congestion at the food stamp sites and on and on - same story. Those 10% insurance deductibles will not cover the type of damage that most received (shingles, fence, food, lodging). Nothing, absolutely nothing was learned from Katrina. All that money wasted on crony contractors instead of barrier island, wetlands and raised houses.

Also, I opened my paper this morning and discovered my neighbors were killed in MS during the evacuation. MS was just awful (blocked exits, guards with guns, accidents, no gas). Something needs to be done - I59 is a federal highway."
I just thought I'd pass the above on because amidst all of the Palindrone (which I call the incessant talk about and coverage of Sarah Palin) Gustav's aftermath is still major news because it shows that not too much has been learned in Katrina's wake.

Here's more from the Baton Rouge Advocate on FEMA's continuing to give Louisiana the shaft, which we haven't heard about from Brian Williams:
Shortages of food, water and ice Saturday in parishes hard hit by Hurricane Gustav prompted criticism of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from Gov. Bobby Jindal and promises of new truckloads of supplies from the agency.

FEMA officials said millions of meals-ready-to-eat, bottles of water and bags of ice were on the way, and they were shuffling supplies among the more than four dozen distribution sites around Louisiana to keep handing out provisions to the lines of people without power.

So we can't say this is due to Louisiana's having a Democratic governor this time.

And that's not all--storm-weary residents of NOLA are stressed out
As hurricane season has hit high gear with the passing of Gustav and the approach of Ike, doctors say they’ve seen a large increase in the number of prescription anti-depressant and anxiety medications as locals deal with the stress of strong storms that have tracked our way. has lots of good advice at dealing with disasters during the recovery including
devote some time to getting your stress level under control. Start by being patient with yourself and others. Don’t expect things to restore themselves instantly. Focus on the big picture instead of the little details. Determine what’s really important, and keep in mind that different people, even in your own household, will have different priorities.

Be tolerant of mood swings and expressions of disbelief, anger, sadness, anxiety and depression. Don’t overlook the feelings of children.

It also lists some surprising physical signs that an adult is under post-disaster stress as

Headaches or stomach problems.

Tunnel vision or muffled hearing.

Colds or flu-like symptoms.

as well as the usual symptoms such as depression, difficulty concentrating, feeling of hopelessness, etc.

Then there's power--indispensable to modern life--however, according to the Alexandria/Pineville Town Talk the power is still off for hundreds.

I hope that the Palindrone will soon fade and the MSM will take note of what really matters.

Last but not least, here are a couple of places to donate towards hurricane relief:
Network for Good. Or, as Barack Obama suggests, donate to the
Red Cross. Give what you can--but give. No amount will be too small. Thanks!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stuffed Animals

Now she's on waiting lists

for three apartment houses

one where she knows for

sure her cat won't be

allowed--the others, she

doubts he'll be allowed--

which means the only

animals she'll be able to

have will be

stuffed animals.

When this time comes she

worries about what will

become of her "baby"--

which has owned her (you

don't own a cat--a cat owns

you) for nine years and is

14 years old--she knows it's

hard to find good homes

for older cats--the way it's

hard to find good jobs for

older people and disabled

ones like herself. So she

dreads the day she'll need

to take him to the pound

where no wonder how

much she wishes she were

able to keep him and what

a lovable pet he'd make for

someone else, they'll tell

her he'll have to be "put

down." Were she not so

shy she'd ask, "Yeah, and

do we put people down

when they're older than a

certain age? I mean, even

criminals on death row are

treated better than--until

the order comes to execute

them or they die naturally."

But she's not good enough

at thinking on her feet--as

well as too shy--to make

such a speech--and even

if she's lucky enough to

find a good home for the

little guy on her own--she

knows how traumatic it'll

be for him, being torn from

her that way and maybe

never seeing her again--

figuring since he's so old

he's set in his ways--as

well as the fact that she

herself will miss the comfort

of his soothing purr as he

curls up in her lap while

she pets his soft furr as

she relaxes over a good

book. So the prospect of

giving her "baby" up makes

her very sad--she's been

giving him all the love and

attention she can--for who

knows when an apartment

will open up--and to prepare

for the a petless life

she's started collecting

stuffed animals--

Small, inexpensive ones like

the Beanie Babies she found

on sale at the neighborhood

grocery store two/$10.00--she

bought a pug and another dog

gray all over except for a

brown left ear, area around

the right eye, and tail--not a

breed she can recognize, but

cute--oddly though she'd

much rather have a cat as a

companion animal because

it'll purr and cuddle and

snuggle in her bed and in

her lap, she prefers dogs as

stuffed animals--

because of all the different

distinctive breeds she thinks

they look more interesting--

thinking about only being

allowed to have

stuffed animals--

takes her back to her

childhood up to the time

she was nine--when her

family got their first cat--

before that, all she had were

stuffed animals--

And then she was away in

college in the western part of

the state--pets weren't

allowed in the dorms--

she could only have

stuffed animals.

Now she hopes there's

plenty of time before all

the pets she can have are

stuffed animals.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin Should Have Mentioned Gustav......

and its survivors across the wide swath of Louisiana which has been tortured by the devastation he left behind. Saying in last night's speech that she stands behind our fellow citizens in the area would only have been right--especially were she to have called upon other Americans to donate to the Red Cross as has Obama. (Link below the fold).

Now for the "meat"--following is a poem I've written to commemorate the third anniversary of Katrina and the federal flood. It is in the voice of the mother of 8-year-old and 9-year-old boys who have a disabled grandmother. While it is fiction, it's based on things people actually went through during Katrina and flood and in the aftermath.

8/29/05 And 8/29/08

Now we're on a bus heading who knows where

anxiously awaiting Gustav--nervously

wondering what will be there when

we get back--and when we can--memories of

the flood--wounds still raw--tearing us apart.

Those who weren't here would say about us--

we'd been warned Katrina'd come--so what

happened was our fault--but we couldn't

leave--no car, no bus--and besides we'd

thought we'd known for years our levees

would keep us safe--but they didn't--I

woke early that morning--sensed something

wasn't right--smelled shit, piss, vomit,

gas--other bad things I couldn't name--

maybe even death itself--I heard the

rushing water--got out of bed--it was

already up to my knees--and still

quickly rising--shook Noah, Jonah

awake shouting "Get upstairs--NOW!"--

Saw to Grandma 'Becca--their daddy's

mother--diabetes had robbed her of her

legs--we couldn't afford to buy her

new ones--I thanked the Lord I had

the strength to carry her--then

brought up her chair, insulin and

other meds--started going back for

food--but foul water was coming close

to the attic--found the ax I'd kept

there--cut a hole in the roof as the

boys made a flag--then each of them

and I took turns going out to wave

it--minutes turned to hours--we saw

helicopters but they didn't see us--

I'd check on 'Becca and give her her

shots and pills--it was sweltering and

I could tell that she wasn't doing

very well--and silently prayed the

Lord would see her through and that

we all be rescued--we were all hungry

and thirsty--rescue finally arrived--

asked me who all was there--"My sons

and their grandma--she's in a bad way,

you see--here's her insulin and all

the other stuff she needs."--they

took her and the boys--but not

enough room with others abroad so

they had to leave me--at first I

thanked the Lord 'Becca had been

rescued--and didn't worry thinking

the helicopter would be back soon

and that 'Becca and the boys were

going to be cared for--but it got to

be two long days before anyone came--

my city was gone--this brought tears

to my eyes--I just couldn't stop crying--

my neighborhood and much more under

water--wondering what had become of my

Mom, Dad, and sisters--had they gotten

out OK or drowned--and what about other

family, my friends, my church, the boy's

school, stores, my beauty shop--everyone

and everything else I'd known?--I just

couldn't believe what had happened to

my city, my home--where I've lived all

my life--I think I cried the whole trip

but then put myself together--they were

dropping me off on the overpass and

now I had to find 'Becca and the boys--

I first went to the Dome--but a guard

there told me it I couldn't go in.

"Well, do you remember a sick elderly

lady without legs, in a wheelchair--and

two boys--they're eight and nine?"--"No,

Ma'am," he said--"I'm sure I'd have seen 'em

had they got here on my watch."--then I

asked for food and water 'cause I hadn't

eaten for at least a week--he said they

didn't have any I could have--then said

I should go to the Convention Center--so

I did--on the way there was a store

where folks were taking what they needed

to survive--and I went in to see what I

could find--slim pickin's--hardly any

food left--but I was grateful for what

I could find--and at the same time

felt badly for having done what I'd

needed to do--so I left a note by the

register saying sometime I'd come back

and pay for what I took--finally I got

to the Convention Center where I was

turned off by the funk--in the crowds

I asked almost everyone I saw--"Have

you seen a sick older lady without

legs in a wheelchair and two school-

age boys?"--finally one man said, "I

think I seen 'em"--then took me to the

front wall of the Center where I saw

Noah and Jonah looking rather well--

aside from what they'd gone through--

but 'Becca's slumped over in her chair

covered in a blanket--each boy gives

me a silent hug--and Noah, on the

verge of tears, said, "She's gone--she

passed last night--nobody would give

her her shots or anything."--for the

second time I broke down--now only

had she been a wonderful grandma to

Noah and Jonah, she'd been like another

mother to me--soon after that was our

exile to Houston--now it's three years

later--I wish I could say our life is

cool--but both Noah and Jonah have

been having trouble in school--we've

all had nightmares, flashbacks--I've

nerves, low energy, feel very down--

overwhelmed--if I didn't know I need

to stay strong for the boys, I don't

know what I'd do--but I don't mean to

totally cry the blues--the good thing

in our life is we're back in NOLA--and

we've a home--now, it's with one of my

sisters and her remaining kids and gets

crowded--but I'm grateful we're not in

Houston where we just couldn't fit in

and got homesick rather fast--or

homeless--and though I'm saddened by

some things I see in this city--there

are other signs we're keepin' on

keepin' on in spite of everything--

those small baby steps NOLA's making

to come back--and today I pray

that we'll be able to return home

soon as now we're on the bus heading

who knows where anxiously awaiting

Gustav--nervously wondering what will be

there when we get back--and when we can....

Now for more about Gustav and related issues: dizzydean has posted an excellent, informative series on what Houma and the Chitimacha tribes have been going through in the wake of Gustav--a story which, with 24/7 coverage of Sarah Palin and the convention, the MSM have missed entirely.

Last but not least, here are a couple of places to donate towards hurricane relief:
Network for Good. Or, as Barack Obama suggests, donate to the
Red Cross. Give what you can--but give. No amount will be too small. Thanks!

Why The Obsession With Palin When Louisiana Is Hurting? (With Donation Info)

As duplicative, repetitive diaries keep being posted on other sites about Sarah Palin, the agonizing aftermath of Gustav in Louisiana is being ignored, if it hasn't been forgotten already.

Don't get me wrong--but there's plenty of time to go into Palin's issues between now and the election (though as Obama has said, we shouldn't go into Bristol's pregnancy because that's a family problem of the Palins.) And those having to do with her work as a leader are important. But we should not lose sight of what's going on in Louisiana as we focus on them. Because the disaster and anguish continue in Gustav's aftermath.

Perhaps many are relieved that Gustav missed landfall at New Orleans. But according to this report,
other parts of Cajun country were not as lucky.

In low-lying parishes across Louisiana's southeastern and central coast, homes were destroyed and towns flooded.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he has received reports of widespread damage across three parishes — Terrebonne, Lafourche and St. Mary — near where the eye of the storm hit.

This low-lying Cajun country is an area with a distinctive, fascinating culture which is now seriously endangered due to the vanishing of the wetlands which have been occuring at a rate of a football per half-hour.

In fact, dizzydean has posted an excellent series of diaries on the effect of Gustav on the Chitimacha tribes in the Houma area, who he says in effect are virtually being ignored in light of 24/7 Sarah Palin coverage.

While it is good news that New Orleans has been spared much of Gustav's fury due to being 75 miles away (according to one report I heard) from landfall, that doesn't mean Kossacks should out of relief go back to forgetting about Louisiana, which, still suffering after Katrina, now must endure new wounds. And even New Orleans herself waited until today to allow residents other than recovery and other essential workers to come back. In fact, regarding NOLA, it ain't over yet. In this diary Nightprowlkitty tells of evacuees who are anxious to go back home and see what became of their property.

In fact, the damage is widespread. This article adds,
there were unconfirmed reports of significant damage in northern Louisiana. "The storm was expected to head more west. Instead it went through Louisiana and so literally now you have a storm that has caused widespread damage through a wide geographic part of our state," Mr Jindal told a news conference.

It is not limited to southern Louisiana--it can be found as far north as Alexandria. While the blogger was lucky not to lose her house, she did lose a car and truck. According to the Alexandria-Pineville Town Talk, those cities experienced serious storm damage and the water situation there is critical. On top of this, flooding from Gustav's remnants is becoming serious.

Lafayette's newspaper reports two deaths from Gustav's storm system.

Not only Americans were affected by Gustav--its effects were tragically felt in Haiti, a country which previously been hit by several other storms and is so poor that the people have already been reduced to eating dirt.

And, as Gustav evacuees want to return home, Nightprowlkitty reminds those of us who may have forgotten that three years after Katrina and flood, people in New Orleans and evacuees who haven't been able to come back still need the compassion of their fellow Americans. Also, bear with me for linking a diary on John McCain, but because this is on his disaster relief record following Katrina and the flood, it's germane to this Blogathon. I'm sure that if he's elected he'll prove all of his election-year Gustav pronouncements to be a sham as well as further neglecting the post-Katrina recovery which still has a long way to go.

Here's more information from Tom Head on the post-Katrina situation in Mississippi in the Mississippi Human Rights Report.

Last but not least, here are a couple of places to donate towards hurricane relief:
Network for Good. Or, as Barack Obama suggests, donate to the
Red Cross. Give what you can--but give. Thanks!

About Me

My photo
Midwest lover of New Orleans and of all things having to do with Louisiana.