This is a simple story of a simple family trying to slow down this crazy life and enjoy the "moments"...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rabbit Holes

This was a very busy few weeks.
You know those times when you are stretched in LITERALLY 8 or 9 different directions?  And each of those directions are important enough that you truly canNOT ignore them?


So....some of those "pathways" I was traveling came to happy destinations.
Some seem to be leading to strange rabbit holes that I am deciding if I should follow.
More of them are ongoing....
And others are just part of life.

This weekend my friend missed her flight because she thought her arrival time was her departure time.
Then...she realized she had not yet made the flight reservations she needed for the following weekend....even though she was SURE she had done it months earlier.

Another friend went back to the cleared-off lot where her house had stood to gather a few splinters pieces of her home for a project. 
She found one of the favorite outfits her son had worn as an infant half-buried under dead weeds and told me she remembered why she had stopped going back there.

Ethan's hermit crab was crawling UP the walls of his cage.  He was having a serious crab party.  This was possibly the 2nd time ever we have actually SEEN this crab in the year we've had it....he is honestly the most un-interactive doofus pet we have ever owned.  When I pointed it out to Ethan he started laughing and asked me what the crab was doing.  I replied that that I thought maybe the crab was just happy...and then totally flashed-back to grabbing the cage and crab food that night when we were fleeing the house and started crying because I was so happy that the stupid crab was happy (and I don't even know if Spider-Crab actuallyWAS happy).

I ran into a Wal-Mart employee I have gotten to know over the years.  I knew he had been "displaced" (which is the new PC way of saying your house was smashed on May 22nd and you are currently living somewhere you had probably never planned on being) so I asked him how he was currently doing.
He told me his brother --who had refused to leave his mold infested half-smashed house due to fear of looters --- had passed away last weekend.  Apparently the doctors said it was due to the large amount of mold he had been breathing over the past 3 1/2 months.

I went to a Dr. appointment and the tech ---while I was trapped cooperating nicely on the table -- told me how he and his entire extended family rode out the storm in a restaurant just north of the DZ* and upon exiting saw mass amounts of emergency vehicles rushing southward so he knew something bad had happened.

I went back to the warehouse and hauled the very last load of salvaged stuff (that's not holiday decorations because there is no where to put them in this new home).  
The "load" consisted mainly of extra lightbulbs and batteries from a drawer in the laundry room and loads of nails/screws/washers/anchors that somehow remained rust-less.
There was also an under-bed Tupperware box of wrapping paper.  
In the bottom of a really pretty drawer that made me remember how much I had loved my old-newly remodeled kitchen I found a little lamp.
It's just one of those "accent" lamps that stays on all of the time.
It had been in the white shelves next to the bay window that blew across the house....and I had NO idea how it had ended up in the tool-drawer.
We salvaged THREE lamps from my old house: Carolyn's beside lamp and the two bedside lamps from the basement guest room.
Since there was still an unbroken lightbulb I wiped off some of the drywall and plugged it in.
It worked.
And I cried again.

I guess I may be traveling on this particular pathway for quite a while.

*DZ= Disaster Zone

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Random Memories III

We're moving on.
Things are changing.

But every so often....

there's a certain sound....
there's a certain smell....
somebody asks "do you remember when...."
I do some silly little every day thing .....
a kid asks where one of their "lost" things are...
something gets rebuilt...
I have a dream.....
we pull into the driveway of our old home and feel that specific "bump"....
a tuft of insulation (or glass or dry crispy leaves) falls out of a "not-yet-worn PT" piece of clothing...

And a memory comes back.

I don't want to forget these things.

I want to move past them.....
But I don't want to forget them.

Some of you may think I'm crazy morbid sadistic mart-ish attention-seeking a little nuts....
but too many people have lost too much to lose these memories too.'s my blog and my prerogative.

I remember when 2nd St was closed from Main to Murphy because FEMA had set up its' headquarters there.  All you could see where huge antennae from satellite trucks and tons of trailers.  So surreal.

I remember standing in line for over an hour at the only post office left to get my mail from the 2 weeks PT.  Everyone was so nice and polite.  There was a police officer --fully armed--handing out water and post-it notes to write our names on.  It was hot and everyone felt the need to share their "story" in the echoing area of PO boxes.  When I finally got my name called I received a huge armload of nothing but catalogs.

Our luggage had been lost the way home from our trip.  On Wednesday (or Thursday?  I remember it was actually sunny.....) as we were trying to get our belongings out of the old house a random car pulled up in the driveway.  A older man got out and just kind of stared at us...then went to the trunk of his sedan and pulled out one of our suitcases.  "I have your luggage you have your claim tickets?"
I just stared back at HIM, and then pointed in the direction of where my kitchen USED to be.
"They might be in there," I answered, "Or 17 miles east of here."
"Oh,"  he said slowly.  "I think that will be ok."
And he got back in his car, and drove away.
Late Sunday night after we got to my sister-in-law's house my best friend from Atlanta called me on the land line.  I took the phone outside and couldn't hear her because the sound of the helicopters going over and the sirens wailing were too loud.  I went back inside to talk.  She says that I just kept repeating, "It didn't sound like a train.  I didn't believe it because it just didn't sound like a train."

Tuesday morning at 5ish RH called me at my mom's.  He said his cousin (who's a realtor) had just told him that FEMA had called to get a list of all the vacant properties in Joplin and that I HAD TO GO LOOK AT HOUSES THAT MORNING AT 8.  Then at 7 my father-in-law called and said he'd gone with the realtor to look at the few available houses and narrowed it down to 2 of them and I had to go ASAP.  I got the kids out of bed and we showed up....with the dog (who is HUGE) and me in the same clothes I'd worn since the tornado.  The kids and the dog on her leash and I (and another adult....but I just can't remember who....) went through the two houses in about 10 to 15 minutes each.  One needed work, the other didn't.  We chose the latter, and got it that next week.  I couldn't even remember what the inside of it looked like...

For a while we weren't able to go into the DZ (disaster zone) without a permit.  To get the permit you had to wait in a 2 hour line and show your ID that said you had business in there.  The permit thing lasted almost 12 hours....and wasted alot of people's mornings.
I got a text from my friend Kerry saying that the K9 unit was in her backyard "sniffing" her pool for fatalities.  Praise God they found none there.
People kept showing up at our doorstep with amazing gifts.  We got bottled water 2 or 3 times an hour.  Some people brought moving boxes, some brought trash bags, some brought pizza, some brought bratwurst. Some people offered us their storage units, and some offered us coats.   A group of people from a church asked if we wanted our trees moved, and then 13 men with heavy moving equipment chainsawed the trees and pulled out the stumps and sawed off branches and made a beautiful ugly neat pile by our curb.  Then they disappeared down the road.

We had a curfew and a boil order.  Then some wonderful people at Starbucks stayed up all night boiling billions of gallons of water and my sister in law heard about it and drove up there but (because of the lack of cell towers) they couldn't take her credit card so they just gave her a whole bunch of lattes for free.  That was the very best coffee I'd ever had in my entire life.

I was standing in my driveway looking through where there used to be a wall into my kitchen area where my "cookbook cupboard" was still intact.  A police car pulled up with 2 cops from Kansas City who were assigned to patrol our neighborhood.  I explained that I was trying to determine if those possibly sopping wet cookbooks were worth going back in to retrieve.  The 2 men found 2 big plastic flowerpots and marched into the remnants of my kitchen and filled them with (pretty darn wet) books.  They they went down into the basement and brought up the last load of stuff I had piled there and put that into my car too.  Then they thanked me for letting them help.  Then they drove off.

My friend Louise came over to help me get serial numbers off of some damaged things in our basement. It started to rain pretty hard, so we made the extremely intelligent decision that we should get out of the leaky falling apart basement and house.  We climbed into the back of my car and sat, with the hatchback open, watching the hail and lightning and rain and shared a big back of Krunchers potato chips we'd found unopened in the kitchen.  I remember telling her that it was the most relaxed I'd been since the storm.

Our friends who lived just down the road had come over to (as she put it) "Escape their disaster for a minute by looking at ours."  We were in the basement and Catherine had to take a phone call.  Jason and I were talking and heard a loud noise to our left.  We looked over and watched all of the paint and drywall crash down onto the bar.  Then we looked at each other and simply continued our conversation.
Bennett got strep throat that week.  He had to lay in my mom's living room with my step mom (who was also sick) and watch movies all day.  Luckily my father had one prescription sheet left from Atlanta and I was able to get an antibiotic.

My friend Brandie, who packed up both of our kitchen areas, informed me that I was the owner of 7 springform pans.  Who knew?  I owe her a cheesecake.  Or 7.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eat More Chicken!

So....this evening I walked into Chick-Fil-A and cried.

Not a normal thing.

I know.

(I may have issues....I know that too.)

Today Chick-Fil-A opened its' new store.

It was completely smashed in the tornado, you see.  Luckily it was a Sunday evening, so nobody was there during the storm. was smashed none-the-less, and then bulldozed, and then the lot was cleared, and then it was rebuilt from the dirt ground up.

Now don't get me wrong.
I like Chick-Fil-A.
I like it a lot.
My kids (and RH) like it a lot too.
We have spent MUCH time at Chick-Fil-A in the past.
We eat the yellow Chick-Fil-A sauce with a straw.

But do I have an emotional attachment to
Not really.

But....when I walked into the store tonight with Carolyn and Ethan....
and they ran through the huge crowd to the inside play-area....
and I looked around the restaurant....


It was unbelievable.
Totally unbelievable.


Same tables,
same booths,
same counter,
same registers,
same play area,
same condiment counter,
same roses outside,
same gi-normous cow walking around,
same faces behind the counter saying, "My pleasure!"

It was like nothing had changed....
nothing had happened.

I ordered an obscene amount of nuggets dinner for the family and made eye contact with the manager.

He smiled in recognition and I asked him how it felt to be back in the new/old/new store.

"You know," he answered, "It feels like we never nothing ever happened."

I knew.
I know. I asked for 10 packages of the Chick-Fil-A sauce, I admit...I got pretty teary-eyed.
Part of the "old life" had returned.
It was like someone had pressed "Play" on a paused movie-life....and it had just started where it had left off.

But good.
Really really really good.

And you know what?
I counted LITERALLY 17 people in red Chick-Fil-A shirts behind the counter....
and that doesn't include all of the cooks in the back
OR the people outside personally taking drive-thru orders
OR the cow
OR the cow's handler.

Chick-Fil-A had COMPLETELY prepared for the huge number of people that were going to come into their restaurant on opening day and try and order some nuggets, waffle fries and a slice of "life as we remember it."

Hooray for Chick-Fil-A.
What an awesome gift.

And hooray for happy tears.
Just adds a little salt to the fries.