Monday, February 20, 2006

Are You From Bogalusa? Did You Leave After Hurricane Katrina?

If so, and you left, it's time to come home. :-)

I get at least a couple of messages a week from people who have found my blog or site and want to know if it's okay to come home yet, if things are still as bad as they were when they left, ect....

If you are one of those who left here before or after Hurricane Katrina, like I said above, it's time to come home to Bogalusa, Louisiana. It's safe to come home. It's been months since Katrina, and since then, lots of people have been hard at work.

I’ve posted updates here on my blog, but I think many people aren’t used to reading blogs and get here from a search that takes them to an older post and that’s the only one they read, so they miss the updates. I made sure to put both Bogalusa and Katrina in the title of this post, so search engines would pick up on it and maybe direct people here instead of to an older post.

I want people from here who left to be assured that it is okay to come back now. Has been okay to come back for a while. The roads are clear…mostly. They are still trimming trees and taking damaged ones down, but it’s no big deal and they are only working in a section or two at a time. So you might find one or two roads blocked for part of the day, but you just go a street over and go on your way. The newspaper comes three days a week -- I don’t know if or when it will go back to six. The mail runs six days a week…and yes it seems to take two weeks or longer for mail to get through sometimes, just a few things, and some of my magazines don’t show up every month like they should, but most mail, at least 97%, is coming right on time. It seems all bills are, so that’s not a problem. (You knew those bills were going to get through.) (Smile)

The grocery stores, dollar stores, and even Wal-Mart, are all back open and now seem well stocked. The same for gas stations and drug stores, and all of the odds and ends. Some do close a little earlier or open a little later than they used to, but not by much. Some few things aren’t open and probably won’t be. But like I said, it’s few things. Even the fast food places are open. They close a little earlier too, and sometimes they don’t have enough workers to run both the drive through and lobby, so they close one or the other, but even that problem is getting less often. You can go to your doctor, your vet, and the hospital. The phone, lights, cable, and even the cell phones work fine. (Okay, the cell phones still break up or drop calls more than normal, but not much more.)

So, again, it really is fine to come home to Bogalusa. And hurry! We are even going to have our normal Mardi Gras parade -- it’s this Saturday, the 25th in the evening. You don’t want to miss that, do you? (Smile.) We are also having the 5K run a few hours before the parade. My husband’s gonna be runnin' in it. So wish him luck.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Update on My Sister’s Grandbaby

Thanks so much for all of the e-mails y’all sent filled with prayers and good thoughts for this darling little baby boy. His name is Travis. It breaks my heart to report that things haven’t gotten any better for little Travis. In fact, the doctors have taken away all hope. It’s doubtful he will live to see his first birthday. They do know what’s wrong with him now. He was born with something called Autosomal Recessive Cutis Laxa Type One. There are only a couple of hundred people in the whole world with Cutis Laxa, and his is the very worse kind. There is no cure and no treatment for it. It simply keeps on until the last of the fight is gone from the body it’s destroying. All the doctors can do is try to treat the symptoms and the damage and buy Travis, and his mother, more time.

I wrote in my blog a short while ago about how sad I was over losing one of my dogs. I can’t even guess at the amount of pain my niece is dealing with! Comparing the pain of losing a dog, even as much as I loved Red, to the loss of a child, seems like comparing a drop of water to the ocean. I know my brother died when I was ten. My mother died twenty years later, and she hadn’t gotten over his loss even then.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Protect Your Family Pictures By Sharing Them

We’ve gotten so much fixed on the house now, I’ve kind of moved on from what was lost, accepted it as is--all but for my family pictures and keepsakes. There’s nothing I can do to bring them back, and that hurts most of all. I have the first few years of my children’s life, and then nothing until now. I’m a picture nut….have always taken tons of them of my children, of family, friends, pets, places, ect…. Now years’ worth of them are just gone, completely gone, forever gone.

The “if onlys” are enough to drive a person crazy, so I just fight the thoughts and sadness as best I can. You can’t go back in time, not to take more pictures or to make sure the ones you had are safe.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there were other copies, even of part of them, but there aren’t. I almost always got double prints of my pictures, and for years I gave copies to family and friends, mostly to my mother and my sister. But in ’95 my mother died, my father had already been sick for years, my sister moved far away, and other family members moved off or drifted out of touch without Mom to pull us together. In ’96 I got my first computer and the Internet. I had lots of pen pals back then, and often shared pictures with them and family members when I sent letters. But pretty soon letters became a thing of the past and we were all doing e-mail.

After Mom died, Dad was in really bad health and I had to take care of him, I also had two kids to raise, a husband, and I started working, doing full-time freelance writing. Suddenly those double-prints just stayed in those packs, both sets of them. I didn’t even put them in albums any more. It just seemed there was never enough time.

(Thank goodness my older pictures weren’t with them. Most of the older ones are safe and sound, though there were black & white pictures and family keepsakes in the same big box, but thankfully those didn’t include my wedding pictures some family pictures of my parents, and the first few years from my children.)

I just wish so badly that at least some pictures from all of those missing years could have been saved. I learned a really hard lesson from all of this and I hope it’s one I don’t need a second teaching of, and that it’s one that I can save some other people from having to face.

We all know there are hurricanes, tornados, floods, house fires, and yet some how most of us always think the worst won’t happen to us. Then it does. Losing your home and clothes and everything else might hurt, BADLY, but things are things. Pictures of your loved ones are so much more to you and to those who come after you, than simple things. Those pictures and keepsakes are your family history, the faces of those long dead, of your children when they were learning to skate, or leaving for a first date, the letters your mother wrote your father or a clipping of your grandmother’s hair when it was red instead of white. There is no way to replace those if there isn’t another copy of clipping of it.

There is at least something you can do to protect your precious family pictures, and it’s not that hard and it doesn’t cost that much.

Get double prints. It’s only a little more, and most of us get them anyway. If you can’t get them every time, get them at least every other time or two. Then put them somewhere else, with someone else. Share some with your mom, your dad, your grandmother, your brother, your sister, your aunt, or close friends. If nothing else, find a friend who is willing to trade and share with you. When she gets double prints she can send you the ones that are really important to her and you will safe keep them, in return, you send your important copies to her, and she will safe keep them. If any thing happens to one of your homes, the other person will at least be able to replace those important family pictures that were shared.

You can do the same thing with old family letters or really old family pictures. Copy them, share them, even scan the most important ones in to your computer and e-mail them to yourself and others.

Some things you can’t do that with, like a memory book, baby books, and such. At least, as my mom would say, don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket. Keep them in a safe place, but maybe in different places. If you can afford it, keep the most important keepsakes in a safety box at the bank, or maybe in the top drawer of a fireproof file cabinet. Get creative if you have to.

Think about things you don’t want to think of. I’ve lived in this house for over twenty years and never had an inch of water in it during that whole time until the day two feet came rushing through with Katrina. If your house caught on fire and you couldn’t get anything out, is there some place things would be safe or stand a better chance. Even if you don’t flood, a tree could crash into your home and allow the rain to pour in. You just never know.

No matter what. When it’s said and done, you can go to Wal-Marts and pick out another TV, more clothes, pots and pans. You can go to Sears and replace your stove or washer. Yes, it all takes money, but it’s just things and money. You can have all of the money in the world, but there are things you won’t be able to replace no matter what. Life being first, and your important family pictures and keepsakes being second.

Those things, once lost, are the things you never forget or forgive yourself for.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My Own Room!

It's taken five very long months, but last night I got to sleep in my own bedroom for the first time since hurricane Katrina!

Getting the use of that room back has made such a big difference in the rest of my home. We have so much more room now and things look so much more like they used to. Even better in some my bedroom is all fresh and new now. I even completely changed the color. I had a Coral Rose paint on the walls…but everyone who saw it said it was pink. (Smile) Now the room is a color called Sugar Blossom. In other words, it’s white. (Smile)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Prayers, good thoughts, white light, ect...

Hi everyone,

My sister's two-month old grandson is in Little Rock's Children Hospital in NICU. He is one very sick little boy. The doctors aren't offering a lot of long-term hope for him. If you could send any prayers, good thoughts, white light, or what ever you use to send love and healing, please do.