Friday, May 27, 2011

Back Home

Taken Monday or Tuesday in Joplin, Mo.
That's one of the guys I work with, on duty in Joplin with our department's Heavy Rescue Team.  They're back home now, after going without sleep for almost 48 hours while they checked neighborhoods in Joplin for survivors.  It's difficult work, both physically and emotionally.  Please keep in your prayers the emergency service workers in the tornado-devastated areas.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Very Small Thing

I want you to know right away, because I think it's important to say at the start, that what I'm going to tell you about is really a very small thing in light of what's happened in Joplin and other places that had tornadoes.  It's a very small thing indeed when you consider that people have lost their lives and their homes and all their possessions.  But small as it is in comparison to that, on any other day it would have been somewhat big news, so I decided to tell you anyway.

Sunday afternoon I was standing in my front parlor when a giant flash of lightning lit up the sky.  Immediately afterwards, there was a huge CRACK and then what sounded like a small explosion, and two minutes or so after that I heard the wail of a fire truck siren.  I grabbed my camera and drove in the direction of the siren.  One block north of me and two blocks west, I found the fire truck.  At my church.  Lightning had struck the church, but it didn't catch fire.

The lightning completely demolished the masonry cross atop the front parapet.

And sent big chunks of stone tumbling down the front steps of the church.
But left the rest of the parapet undamaged.

The force of the lightning sent pieces of stone into the side yard,

out into the streets to the south and east, and into the yard of a house halfway down the next block. 

We found pieces of the cross in the church's front yard.
And even though it's a very small thing, because no one was hurt and the church didn't catch fire or have interior damage, it still hurts my heart a little to see that broken cross in the grass.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Joplin Tornado

By now y'all have heard about the tornado in Joplin, Missouri.  That's a few hours away from me, and my loved ones and I are all okay.  A lot of people in Joplin aren't able to say that.  My heart goes out to those folks.  If you're inclined to pray, please say some prayers for the folks affected by these tornadoes, and for some very special people who are often forgotten when disasters happen:  emergency services personnel.  These men and women are maintaining calm and professional demeanors in the face of devastation.  I have all the respect in the world for them.  If you want to hear just how bad things are down there, give a listen to Jasper County law enforcement radio traffic.  It's heartbreaking.  (Warning:  It's a live radio feed, unedited, and some of the things you might hear are disturbing.)  The fire department I work for sent our Heavy Rescue Team down there Sunday evening to rescue and recover victims of the tornado who are in collapsed buildings.  From what I'm hearing, my boys are walking into hell on earth.  Please say a prayer for them, too.

If you live in the Joplin area and want to let your family know you're safe, or if you have loved ones there that you're checking on, please go to the Safe And Well page of the Red Cross website.

If you are a medical professional and want to help the victims of the Joplin tornado, please register at Show Me Response and they will contact you if you're needed.  Jasper County officials are asking people not to self-deploy.  Please wait to be contacted before responding. 

Want to donate money to the Red Cross for victims of the Joplin tornado and others?  Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 or donate online at

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jumping Off

When I was a little kid, I loved the feeling I got on Fridays, that sense of being about to jump off the ledge of the long, boring week and land smack at the beginning of the weekend.  Back then, I suffered through the rules and the tedium of the school week, enlivened only a little by cinnamon rolls on the lunch tray or Stamp Club on Wednesdays, counting down the days and then the hours until I could be free to do whatever I wanted until school reined me in again on Mondays.  Whatever I wanted usually consisted of playing outside until dark, running to the curb every time I heard the fire truck, and reading a good book while eating cereal straight out of the box.

Not so much has changed since I was a little kid.  I've traded a five-day school week for a three- or four-night work week at a job where I not only get to stay up all night (only my grandma ever let me do that when I was little) but I get to see and hear fire trucks every day.  In between the 911 calls and the paperwork and the firefighters coming in to gripe about getting banged out on a call in the middle of the night, there's enough downtime for me to wish sometimes that I was somewhere else, just like I did when I was little.  And Fridays (at least every other one, nowadays) still mean that I'm on the verge of being able to do whatever I want.  The best part of being a grown-up is that now my weekends last for three or four days. 

So here I am, with a little over three hours left on this shift and 12 more hours tonight, and I already have that jumping-off feeling.  Tuesday I tilled up the front yard where the icky vinca used to be and spread out mushroom compost, hoping it would rain this week so the compost would soak into the dirt.  And it did.  I love it when things work out like I planned.  (Possibly because it so rarely happens.)  If the weather cooperates, I'll transplant some hostas from my mom's yard into my yard and buy some coral bells to plant there, too.  Eighteen chicks are peeping in their nesting boxes at the farm and seven more are due to hatch by today, so I'll go see them and then take a walk through the woods with my friend.  After some cautious wheeling of my left arm, I've determined that my shoulder is feeling good enough to maybe hang a strip or two of wallpaper in the front parlor.  The book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is even better than the movie version and deserves a few hours of my attention sometime in the next four days, most likely while sitting on the front porch with a dog and a cat or two.  I'll try my best to convince my son and three or four of his friends to bring home the clawfoot tub that Hildy's donating to me.  And speaking of Hildy, if he's in town we'll no doubt sit on the tufted settee at the Franklin Hole, drink a beer or two, and solve the problems of the world. 

I can't wait for the weekend to get here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Flowers Inside and Out

Last week I tried to hang wallpaper, but it didn't go so well.  My shoulder protested mightily, so I gave up after only one strip.  It looks like this in the front parlor now:
Here's a close-up so you can see the pattern better:
The piece on top with the trellis pattern is just stuck up there with painter's tape.  After the trouble I had wrestling the big flowered strip into place using pretty much only one arm, I wasn't about to reach way up there next to the ceiling.  Ouch.  (The doctor said, "If it hurts, don't do it," when I asked him what I was allowed to do, so I'm taking his advice.)  Anyway, you get an idea of what the two papers will look like together.  Keep in mind that picture rail will cover the seam between the two papers.  The top edge of the picture rail will be even with the top of the trim around the door.  (The horizontal top piece, that is, not the bullseye corner piece with the other trim above it.)   I agonized over this wallpaper something terrible last fall, and now that one strip is up, I can't imagine why I worried so much.  I think it looks pretty good.  So far.  A whole room of it might be a different story....There I go, agonizing again.
Since I couldn't put up any more paper, I decided to clean up the yard this week.  I trimmed back the daffodils that were done blooming, planted a few containers, and weeded the fence row.  This morning when I got home from work, I saw that Esther's great big iris are blooming along the fence.
Esther is the tiny little old lady who lived (and died) in the Kelly House just before I bought it.  She planted these iris all along the fence, and lots and lots of daffodils around the patio, and that dratted vinca that I dug up from the front yard, too.  When I was chopping away at the vinca, I found a 1970s-era necklace with an enamel owl pendant in the overgrowth.  I like to think that losing that necklace there was some sort of karmic retribution to Esther for planting the dang stuff.

So I have flowers, inside and out, at the Kelly House.  I love Spring.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cuter Than Paper

Not to infringe upon the territory of Christine, the Chicken Whisperer, but I just gotta show you this:

That little lump in the hands of my friend Doug is a baby chick, who was about two hours old when I snapped its photo with my phone.  I know I promised you a photo of the front parlor wallpaper, but this lil chick is way cuter than wallpaper.