Friday, September 30, 2005

Sleeping With The Past

Our local bowling association collected $700 for hurricane relief. Instead of giving it to the Red Cross and helping pay their overhead, we decided to find a family that would be settling in our local area and sponsor them. Representatives from Operation Heart (a local Dyersburg charity organization) located a family for us. This family has 38 members, ranging from grandparents to their grandchildren. They have been staying in eight rooms at a local hotel. We will be presenting them with the check tomorrow night. Plans are in the work to also provide this family with Thanksgiving dinner. One of the local churches has volunteered their banquet hall for us to use for serving them.

I also found out that more clothing was needed for these people, so tonight I cleared out the last two clothes closets in our house. These closets were special to me because they contained a lot of clothing that I wore in my college years and during my entry to corporate America. As I sorted through them, I remembered wearing the outfits to weddings, family reunions, band concerts, and various sales presentations. I even found some of my old business cards from my Tandy Corporation days. Sweet memories. It doesn't seem like it was even all that long ago.

I also found some hunting clothes that I had worn that, the pockets containing my shotgun shells and a Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge hunting permit for deer dated 1993. I still remember that trip. It was the one where I got lost in the woods at the refuge in Brownsville, TN. Marlin (my ex-husband) and I got to the refuge around 4pm. He went one way and I went the other way. I did not carry my compass that day, big mistake! He told me to watch the river banks to determine my way in and out. The river was on my left on the way in, and on my right on the way out. Easy enough for this blonde to handle, right? Well, I got intrigued with watching the scenery and thinking about how nice it was to be walking in the woods, of course never seeing a deer, only a lot of squirrels that would be totally wiped out by my 20-gauge hollow point rifled slugs. I even sat down on the ground at the base of a tree and took a nap.

Around dusk, I decided that it was time to walk back out of the woods. Looking around, I had the river on the right...and the river on the left. This was not a matter of great concern, because I figured that eventually one of the streams would taper off and then I'd be on the right track. Yeah, right!

I noticed that I had walked in circles, but by this time I was so lost that everything looked familiar, and the woods was getting darker by the minute. This WAS a matter of great concern to this nature girl. I had not seem my husband in hours, and he had mysteriously disappeared into thin air. I tried yelling a little, with no success. So, what's a girl to do? This girl just kept walking, in hopes of finding her way back to the main road. Every noise startled me. I just hoped that none of those noises was some critter that decided to make supper out of me. Finally, I spotted some headlights from a truck driving down the road. I fired my Marlin shotgun in the air for three shots (which I thought would be interpreted as a distress signal) and prayed that the truck would stop. I saw it stop, and heard my husband's voice in the distance. I walked a little further and reloaded and fired three more shots. I was never more glad to see another human in my life. My instincts had led me about 1/2 mile from the highway, but this was no where near the point that I started out. Marlin had just about given up on finding me, and was headed to contact the rescue squad when he heard my shots. A close call, and another lesson to chalk up to experience. I now never leave home without a compass when going for walks in the woods.

This was just one of many memories that was brought on by looking at my clothes. I am glad that these clothes will be worn by others who truly need them now, and helping others to make new memories as they rebuild their lives.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bonerama--Keeping Up the New Orleans Music Tradition

Bonerama Hits The Road

Bonerama is a critically acclaimed New Orleans funk rock and jazz band comprised of five trombones (Steve Suter, Mark Mullins, Craig Klein, Brian O'Neil, and Matt Perrine), electric guitar (Bert Cotton), and drums (Chad Gilmore). They got their start performing at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, and have been touring coast to coast ever since.

They are back on the road again, this time to benefit their great city of New Orleans. Here is the copy of a letter sent to their mailing list:

Greetings to all,

First and foremost, we would like to say "Thank You" on behalf of the
band.Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts during this very
difficult time.Your generosity and thoughtfulness had provided
incredible comfort to everyone in the band.It is something we will
never forget.

Initially, we had intended to send out a fun-loving "welcome aboard"
message to all of Bonerama's fan club members and anyone who made the
wise decision to sign up on the mailing list at one of our many gigs
this past summer. And, until our lists have been fully merged
together, some of you may receive this message twice. Needless to say,
with so much going on, it's been difficult to stay on top of
everything. However, we recognize the urgency in reaching out and
asking everyone to rise up, get dancing and help us keep the music

While this month's turn-of-events have left us feeling deeply
saddened, we realize how fortunate we all are to be safe.Our city
once known for it's music, nightlife, southern hospitality and good
home cooking is now broken.So, we have no choice but to hit the
road.Stronger than ever is the passion to play music for our
fans.Please be there to join us.Bring all of your friends.Bring a
smile, good vibes and don't forget those dancing shoes.

Each night will be a special benefit show.Club and theater owners
along with local merchants and many volunteers will be joining
together with various charitable organizations to help rebuild,
restore and renew the city of New Orleans and the lives of those who
once called it home.

It's great to know that there are musicians out there who are donating their time and energy to keep the music of New Orleans alive through this troubled time in her history. No other city can claim the richness of diversity that she brings to the world of music...keeping the traditions alive...Thank You Bonerama!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

America, Roll Up Your Shirtsleeves!

America, the time has come to roll up your shirtsleeves! Hurricane Katrina didn't just happen to our Cajun neighbors in Louisiana, it happened to you and me as well. We are seeing her effects through increased gas prices, food shortages, and many unexpected things yet to come. Our local Wal-Mart ran out of sugar, coffee, and tea today, with no expected replenishment date for a while. New Orleans was a major entry port for coffee, so there is speculation that coffee prices may also increase. Our local Pepsi plant is currently out of Sierra Mist. Let's also think about what this crisis may do to financial markets. Think about what happened to money in New Orleans banks. We can only pray that records were backed up in a secure location, or some people may have a hard time proving how much money they had in their accounts. Our area in West Tennessee has welcomed hundreds of hurricane victims and tried to give our best Southern hospitality to these people.

As I was telling my Sunday school class yesterday, we've all got to pitch in to help, because what if the tables were turned and we needed assistance from damages due to earthquakes or tornadoes? I would only hope that someone would be there for me in that situation. Our lesson was about the early Christians and how they shared all of their assets while spreading the teachings of Jesus throughout the world. No one wanted for anything, because there was always someone to help them out. If the world still took this utopian view, there would be less crime and violence. People would have fewer reasons to be violent.

A week ago, I found out about fifty families who were being sponsored by American Greetings in a church campground near us. I remembered that we had four closets full of my mother-in-law's clothes just sitting at her house. That afternoon, my sister-in-law Jeannie, Marvin, and I spent time bagging up the clothes, bed linens, and towels for transportation to Covington, TN. By the time we were done, we had 12 large garbage bags full of clothing. It was tough giving away a part of someone who we loved so dearly, but she wouldn't have wanted us to do anything different. She would have been glad that we shared her possessions with others.

There is Operation Heart here in Dyersburg, and I have given clothing and food to this project. A truck is leaving every two days, taking supplies down to Biloxi for distribution. They are running out of food down there, and the lines are long. Last Tuesday night, I went through all of our closets at home and filled my GMC Jimmy full of clothing that we could spare. It's amazing that we actually had a truckload of things we weren't using. These are things that I will not even miss. It was so easy to do, and it is a comfort knowing that my clothes are being put to good use in the relief effort.

I hope that everyone can give what they can to get our brothers less fortunate back on track with just a few less worries. Life is too short not to help out where you can. So, give as much and give as often as you can. Your life will be blessed in ways that you cannot even begin to imagine. This whole tragedy is part of God's plan. We may never know the true purpose of why this happened, but I feel that it was God's way of making us care for each other a little more and bring a divided nation just a little closer.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My New Orleans

New Orleans is a place that captured my curiosity and imagination years before I ever visited. My good friend and neighbor Nell Crawford told me stories of N'awlins when I was just a child. She felt very lucky to live there during the '40s, walking through the French Quarter to her secretarial job across town. She told me about the great music and about the French-Creole cuisine at Antoine's Restaurant and other fine dining establishments. But, as I continue to mourn her passing at the age of 92 three years ago, I also mourn the passing of the New Orleans of her past (and mine).

Being a musician myself has made me appreciate the music of this magical city. The music has been under my skin before I ever attended the New Orleans Jazz Festival during my visits there. There is such a rich diversity not found anywhere else...jazz, zydeco, rap. The musicians of N'awlins are some of the most creative people on earth. The city's slogan of "Come as you are, leave differently" has touched the minds and hearts of millions around the world, this country mouse included. I have spent the past week in mourning and, as a tribute, listening to the sounds of New Orleans and Dixieland jazz, wondering how the music will be able to live on when the place has sunk to its lowest depths. These wonderful people have been to hell and back, somehow managing to keep going through the worst tragedy in United States history. 

The City of New Orleans will rise again like a phoenix out of the ashes. The generosity of those around me in this troubled time of our nation has been absolutely overwhelming. Everyone is pulling together with whatever help they can manage, and it's a wonderful thing. You couldn't ask for anything more. It's times like these that renew my faith in the goodness of human nature and the indomitable American spirit.

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