Feeling helpless

The past two days I have felt so helpless. We evacuated from the area that Hurricane Ian made landfall. I can only imagine what it was like for those who stayed. The storm was so big that it took HOURS for it to pass over Charlotte County and neighboring North Port.

Phone screen shot of Hurricane Ian on the Windy app.

I can’t believe how draining this whole experience has been. Almost a week of watching the storm. Then fleeing my home. Watching the news as the storm raged. And now, not being able to get any information has been mentally draining.

I’m so glad we left. I really am but I’m also having “survivors guilt” knowing that I didn’t go through what my friends went through. I didn’t have to hold my frightened children or pet(s) while the wind whipped parts of my home away or knocked trees down onto them. I didn’t watch as my entire neighborhood washed past my house in the waves like the Fort Myers, Naples area. I didn’t have to listen to 155 mile per hour winds.

I received a text from a friend at 8pm last night saying she, her husband and two kids are alive but their house is destroyed. That was the last I heard from her.

I have friends who manned the County shelter’s that I haven’t heard from since yesterday morning.

My Facebook and NextDoor feeds are filled with requests for welfare checks.

We did find out that our house is standing. It has some damage but, since cell service is so spotty, we haven’t been able to get photos yet. We are planning to try to head home tomorrow.

If you are able to, please consider donating to help my state. From the hardest hit communities on the West coast to the inland areas that have major flooding, we need help. There are many ways to donate but please be aware that there are some people who aren’t above scamming good hearted people who want to help.

If you want to donate, please investigate the charity. Here are some that were listed on the Miami Herald web page.

Florida Disaster Fund – http://www.volunteerflorida.org – 850-414-7400

Catholic Charities – http://www.catholiccharitiesdov.org

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation – http://www.jewishmiami.org

American Red Cross – http://www.RedCross.org

I’m sure there are more. I’m sure there are GoFundMe pages being set up as we speak. Thank you for your desire to help, but please check the charity out. I’d hate to see people who want to help get scammed.

Please pray for those in South Carolina, who are now in Ian’s path.

I hope you are all ok. I hope all of your loved ones are ok. Please, keep those prayers coming.

Books, crafts, and dieting will have to wait

Hurricane Ian

Until yesterday around 10am, when Ian decided he wanted to visit Southwest Florida, we had planned to ride out the storm at home.

When Charlotte County Emergency Management called for mandatory evacuation of our zone (B-orange), we looked on Expedia again and by some miracle, we found a hotel room up near Orlando. We decided to get out of Dodge. Run from the water (storm surge) hide from the wind. Even though Orlando is under the hurricane warning as well, a Cat 1 or 2 inland is better than a direct hit/landfall of a Cat3 or 4. We live right where the big M is on the picture above.

An almost 5 hour drive (normally 2 1/2 hours) without stopping for food or drink and we arrived tired and hungry. We stashed the cat in our hotel room and headed to Publix for some fried chicken and cat food, which we forgot in the rush to leave.

We’ve slept a bit and now are resting and praying for everyone.

When I woke up a few minutes ago, I looked at the weather and my stomach dropped. It looks like the worst possible scenario. The storm moved South and East and looks like a direct hit of a Cat 4, just like Charley in 2004.

I have friend that have stayed and I’m extremely worried for them. My coworkers, whom I have grown to love like a big family, are in danger.

I’ve been humbled by the friends who have reached out to offer shelter and money. You all are my angels. After all is said and done, we may need that help.

I ask for prayers for everyone dealing with this. I want to thank meteorologist Denis Phillips and Mike from Mike’s Weather Page for your calm, straightforward info. I want to thank Charlotte County Emergency Management for their guidance. Thank you in advance to the first responders. Thank you to the regular Charlotte County employees that have volunteered or been assigned to work the storm shelters. You are truly heroes.

Stay safe and PRAY!

Creator God, we ask you to calm the wind and the waves of the approaching hurricane, and spare those in its path from harm. Help those who are in its way to reach safety. Open our hearts in generosity to all who need help in the coming days. Amen.

Be kind. Check on your neighbors. Hug your family.

Somebody’s mother

If you go online or turn on your TV, you can’t avoid the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death this past week. After a 70 year reign, it will take some getting used to someone else in her seat.

Besides the tributes I’ve seen online, I’ve also seen people making cruel comments about the royal family. I guess these people are from perfect families. While I am not pro-royal and realize that there are problems among the family, I do have sympathy for them because, after all, somebody’s mother, grandmother, great grandmother, etc. has died.

I lost my own mother in 2021 and know that, rich or poor, royal or peasant, the death of your mother is not an easy time. Whether you are the black sheep of the family or the perfect prince or princess, the loss hurts. I, for one, will keep them in my prayers.

If you have lost a loved one, know that I am saying prayers for you as well.

Thanks for reading.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens

I have been a fan of Chevy Stevens’ psychological thrillers ever since I read That Night. She has a way of keeping you guessing who did it right up until the end. Dark Roads has the added distinction of being based on a true and tragic mystery, The Highway of Tears. Since the 1970s, a stretch of isolated highway in British Columbia has been rife with missing and murdered women. Most of these women have been indigenous people also known as First Nations. The author chose to highlight the Highway of Tears to bring attention to these tragedies. For more information on the 725 km/467 mile stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, read Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by Jessica McDiarmid or visit https://highwayoftears.org.

After the death of her father, 17-year-old Hailey goes to live with her Aunt and her cruel, controlling Uncle, Vaughn. While trying to process the loss of her father, Hailey also has to deal with Vaughn controlling who she sees, where she goes, and even if she can get a job. He says it is to keep her safe from the kidnappers/murderers who have been victimizing young girls/women along desolate Highway 16. When Hailey discovers information implicating her uncle in some of the nefarious happenings in town, she is in fear for her life and decides to disappear into the wilderness. With the help of her friends Johnny and Amber, she gathers supplies and prepares to flee. When she does it is assumed to be the latest victim of the Highway of Tears but Hailey is living in a cabin deep in the woods with a stray dog she calls Wolf.

When Amber is murdered in the same manner as many other women along Highway 16, her sister Beth comes to town to try and figure out what happened. Her reliance on alcohol and drugs to deal with Amber’s death puts her in danger from bad cops and predators alike.

This edge-of-your-seat conclusion is very effective and when the actual killer is revealed I was surprised.

Another great thriller by this author.

Thanks for reading.

Said goodbye today

The day my husband, Mike, brought home this little guy was the second best day ever. (Our wedding day was #1). Buddy was about a year and a half old when his previous owners moved. He came in the house like he owned the place and never looked back. He was, we believe, part Jack Russell, part Pug, and part Dachshund. He got the best of all of those breeds. Bouncy, happy, wiggly, and always sniffing. He moved in and wrapped our hearts around his little curly tail.

Buddy loved to rough house with his Daddy. Mike would get on the bed with him and Bud would pretend attach, never really biting but always getting into the action. With me, Buddy was a lover. He always waited outside the shower so he could “dry off” my ankles by slurping the water off of them. His enthusiastic arm and leg humping was as comical as it sounds. If it were possible, we would have many arm and leg puppies running around now.

The past few years, Buddy has had some health issues but nothing too serious. This year he started to lose his eyesight and his hearing. Nothing like trying to get the attention of a blind and deaf dog. Earlier this year he had some issues with his kidneys and his liver. He was on some medications and was set to go back for a recheck. Bud hadn’t been able to get comfortable, so we know something was up. We went to Charlotte Animal Hospital this morning, fully aware that this might be it. It turns out there was a mass in his abdomen. If Buddy was much younger, we would probably gone ahead with the surgery but it wouldn’t be fair to put him through surgery at his advanced age. We chose to let him go in comfort.

I’m going to miss that sweet little dog. Keep wagging Buddy.

Let it begin with me

Those who know me are aware how I feel about politics and politicians. For those who don’t know me, I am not a fan of either. I don’t like to talk about politics, politicians, lobbyists, etc. I am not perfect. I never claimed to be. As I get older I have tried to show my beliefs by how I treat other people, with dignity and respect. I don’t often speak up but I feel I should at this time.

I am a fat, white, imperfect, Catholic woman that has had very little adversity to overcome. With that being said, I need to address what is going on in our country. I am not as eloquent as some of the wonderful write ups I have seen but here it goes.

Dear People of Color,

I am sorry. I’m sorry that you and your families can’t leave your homes without fearing being judged and attacked for the color of your skin. I’m sorry that sometimes people walk to the other side of the road to avoid you due to their prejudices. I’m sorry that the color of your skin makes you a target for hatred and violence from ignorant and evil people.

I want you all to know I see you and I hear you. I see your pain. While I have not experienced your fear and pain, I can empathize.

I will continue to be kind to everyone, to speak up when I see injustice and abuse, to strive to be an example to others in how to treat people, to pray for everyone to do the same.

Please know that this white woman sees you and hears you. Please know that, when I see your children I see how precious and beautiful they are. Please know that when I see you on the street or in the store, I will always have a kind word and a smile for you (Due to the pandemic, if I’m wearing a mask, I AM smiling underneath).

I wish you all peace, love, and justice.

A whole new world.

As I sit here on the couch at the end of a day that saw me working from home AND using Telehealth services to have a doctors appointment, I think about how different thing are from just a month ago.

A month ago, I was working regular hours helping library patrons check out books and return materials. I was teaching craft and technology programs. I was laughing and chatting with library patrons and co-workers.

A month ago, I was suffering with terrible allergies, just like others. I sneezed and no one looked at me like a plague carrier. My sore throat from my head draining didn’t have me worried that I had this horrible virus that is wreaking such havoc on the world.

A month ago, I would have gone to my doctors office and sat in the waiting room not concerned that the person next to me was infected with Covid-19. Now I hop on my computer and video chat with a doctor I’ve never met before. Convenient? Yes. As thorough as a face to face appointment, not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, the doctor listened to me and I was satisfied with his conclusion and think I will be feeling better soon.

A month ago, I could sit next to my friend and chat without worrying that we would transmit a virus. Now I have to be at least 6 feet from everyone. I miss hugs and shaking hands. I miss high fives.

A month ago, Mike and I would be thinking where we could go to watch the sunset and have dinner on date night. Now we either cook at home, have food delivered, or go through a drive thru for food.

A month ago, I wouldn’t think twice about running out to Publix, Walmart, or Target. Now I have to think about gloves and a mask and whether the store will have what we need. I make sure that I thank all of the people working at the store because I have seen customers be very nasty to them. How is it the checker’s fault that there is no toilet paper? It isn’t their fault that they have no (insert what you are looking for)! Be kind always.

A month ago, many people went to work not knowing that they were considered essential during a pandemic. They went to work and did their jobs without thinking they might be called on to put their lives (and their families) on the line to make sure your cell phone worked, the shelves were stocked at the store (as much as they can), or provide you with entertainment (books, movies, liquor). Now most are working crazy hours, dealing with angry people, and still getting paid exactly the same as they were doing their regular jobs. There are some lucky ones who are getting a little more per hour, but there are just as many killing themselves for the same pay. Make sure you say thank you. Make sure you remember them when this is all over.

A month ago, doctors and nurses, first responders, healthcare workers were taking care of all of us without the thinking they might catch something from us and die. They have not stopped taking care of us now that this horrible virus is threatening them. They are doing this, in many cases, without protective gear. The fact that a nurse doesn’t have the correct mask to protect herself while caring for the sickest Covid-19 patients is so shameful. I hope the people in charge of purchasing for all the hospitals and medical offices can get some protection for their staff.

A month ago, students and teachers were looking forward to the end of the school year. There were graduation parties being planned and end of year teacher gifts being made. Now teachers are reworking their lessons so they can teach online. Parents are scrambling to make sure someone is home all day to take care of the children and help with the home schooling.

I know there is more that is changed in this whole new world but these are the ones that strike me today. I know we will all come through this completely changed. I hope it is for the better. I pray we don’t forget the lessons learned during this time and fall back into our hateful, hurtful ways.

World death toll from Covid-19 as of right now is 88,433.

Covid-19 stats can be found https://ncov2019.live/data.

This is going to be difficult for me

On Monday, I had a follow-up doctors appointment that I was NOT looking forward to. When I saw my doctor in January, he told me to lose weight. I lost 9 pounds, started yoga, and was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then, work started getting stressful. I was trying so hard to deal with it cheerfully and just keep on keeping on. Then it got even MORE stressful and things started to happen to me. In the past month, even though I was eating ok, I gained that 9 pounds back PLUS 5 more. My blood pressure was up. My weight was up. The doctor said I had to COMMIT to do something about both. I could not agree with him more.

I then explained that I get home from work and I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to clean. I don’t want to craft. I told him I hurt everywhere and that I wanted to get happy Kathy back. So…we went through the PHQ-9 screening and bingo…Kathy is severely depressed. So, between the stress (causes weight gain due to high cortisol – the stress hormone), pain (stress and depression can cause physical pain), and my lack of desire to do anything much less get up and move – I’ve gained all that weight back and then some. Working with the doctor on the depression, pain, and stress part since Monday, and so far I’m feeling a lot better. Now, I have to work on the weight. The doctor told me to join Weight Watchers.

When I got home from the doctors appointment, I joined Weight Watchers online. I’m fully invested in getting healthy again. I have never done the before and after photo or posted my starting weight, current weight, and goal weight. EVER. I was always to embarrassed. I’m posting this to make myself accountable and to help me stay on track. This is my BEFORE photo and weight.

Starting weight: 315. Current weight: 310.3. Goal weight: 280

So there it is. Me in all my chunky monkey glory. Yes, I have lost 4.7 pounds since Monday. I’m darned proud of that. I’m feeling so much better and I really think I can do this.

Thanks for putting up with my long, involved, and overly personal story.

The Public

Today I took a break from reading children’s books and, instead, watched The Public. I will read two books tomorrow. Today I need to address this fabulous and moving movie and MY experiences working in a library.

It took Emilio Esteves 10 years to get this movie made. It is the story of Stuart, a librarian at an urban Cincinnati library, and the homeless patrons who decide to occupy the library during a vicious cold spell that is leaving frozen homeless people all over the city. The film touches on the causes of homelessness, the opioid crisis, mental illness, sleazy politicians, and the importance of libraries and their staff. I don’t want to give away the whole movie, so I will just say that it is really worth watching.

In 2009, I lost my administrative assistant position during the economic downturn. Like thousands, I was laid off. An angel named Angie Patterson, swooped in and saved me. She was the Library Manager and I knew her through my administrative assistant job. She offered me a part-time Library Technician position and kept me employed. I owe her so much.

Everyone thinks that people who work in libraries sit around reading all day. This is FAR from the truth. Let me tell you about my experience.

First, it is a non-stop, physical job. After my first part-time shift at the library, I slept for two days and could barely walk. Between standing for hours on end, bending to pick things up, emptying book drops, and reaching to shelve materials, I didn’t stop the whole time.

Second, every day is different. You never know what each day will bring. From odd objects found in the book drop to backed up plumbing, every day is an adventure. Since I don’t work in a large urban library like Stuart, my experiences haven’t been quite as news worthy. Some of my experiences in the past 10 years:

  • During the recession spent many hours helping patrons, who have never used a computer, to file for unemployment or assistance which had gone totally online.
  • Provided first aid to a patron that overdosed in the library and then later in the same day had a patron drive her car into a wall at the library.
  • Cleaned up poop left strategically in the middle of the floor in the men’s room.
  • Taught patrons how to get eBooks, stream our movie services, learn languages, and listen to audiobooks, on their electronic devices.
  • Entertained patrons with craft and food programs.
  • Helped a library school student with her homework (keeping in mind that I did not go to library school).
  • Found some interesting things in the book drop (partially eaten food, disgusting porn magazines, a tree branch, empty drink cups, beer bottles).
  • Found interesting things when cleaning up the library at closing (box of melted ice pops in the shelf in the children’s room, underwear, marajuana leaves in books, toys, papers with personal information, cell phones, power cords, purses, bags of change, shoes, library cards, drivers licenses left in the copier).
  • Helped newly diagnosed patrons research their diseases.
  • Met some amazing authors and read many wonderful and not so wonderful books.
  • Provided comfort and shelter for patrons after Hurricane Irma left people without electricity.

This is just what I could remember after watching the movie. My point here is that working in a library is not what people think it is.

Watch The Public and next time you visit your local library, share your appreciation with the staff. It will mean the world to them.

Thanks for reading.