Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mama Mia!

Mama mia.

My kids are seriously lacking in culture.

Well. Honestly, so am I.

But it's probably too late for me...but not too late for my kids.

With this in mind, I've created a new tradition at our house, where on random weekends, we will have a night that is devoted to another country's culture.

This past weekend, we celebrated Italian night, with an emphasis on Rome, the Eternal City.

After stuffing our tummies with some delectable lasagna, it was time for a movie, and what better movie to celebrate Rome than the classic, "Roman Holiday" with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck?

I. Love. This. Movie.

To begin with, you have the always-beautiful and always- classy Ms. Hepburn, paired up with the handsome and charming Mr. Peck.


Add in some beautiful scenery, snappy dialogue, and a story as old as time - and you have a CLASSIC movie that withstands the test of time.

Prior to the movie, my kids did the usual grumbling, "We can't believe you're going to make us watch this dumb old movie."

I patiently said, "Well. It's either watch this 'dumb old movie' with us, or you can be grounded for a week."

Hey. Drastic times require drastic measures....

"You WILL be cultured - OR ELSE!" was basically the message I was sending.

After the movie, the kids were exclaiming, "That was pretty awesome! We can't believe you never showed us this movie before! You're the best Mom EVER!"

Okay. Maybe they weren't THAT effusive in their praises of me, their ever-patient-but-all-knowing mother, but they WERE pretty satisfied with the movie.

Just wait until we have Greek night, where we'll be watching, "Mamma Mia."

Won't that be fun?!



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Ode to the Pillsbury Dough Boy

In my ongoing quest to become better at certain things - including cooking - I had enrolled Dear Daughter and myself in a homemade cinnamon roll class last Saturday at our local culinary school.

Prior to the class, visions of hot, gooey delicious cinnamon rolls kept dancing in my head, and I couldn't wait to learn how to create these culinary delights in my own kitchen.

I'm not sure that, after completing the class, I can claim to be better at baking homemade cinnamon rolls.

Let's just say cinnamon rolls take a LOT of work. A LOT.

"Work" and "breakfast" are just two words I don't normally associate together.

I prefer "easy" and "breakfast"...or "quick" and "breakfast" together - because pretty much being half-dead and zombified after waking up, it's all I can do to shuffle into the kitchen and sleepily eat whatever I stumble across first in order to begin the slow & painful process of waking up.

During the class last week, Daughter and I carefully measured, dutifully mixed, patiently waited (forever) for our dough to rise, rolled it out, waited (impatiently) for it to "rest", and finally slathered it with a generous helping of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

We then gently and firmly rolled up the dough into a jelly-roll, which took four hands, and finally, began slicing, using the oh-so-clever dental floss method. Cool.

Oh, we're smiling here - on the OUTSIDE...grrr....

Only to take the rolls home to allow them to sit overnight in the refrigerator, so they could "rest" some more. I'm not really sure why the dough needed all this rest - all it was doing was sitting around, while WE did all of the work. By this time, it was WE who needed rest, but I digress.

Enough smiling...back to work...

Early Sunday morning, I drug myself out of bed before anyone else, in order to get the rolls out of the cold refrigerator and set them on the counter for 30 minutes, so they could drop to a nice "room temperature" before baking. Argh.

And then. FINALLY. I could put them into the oven.

After 25 minutes, they were ready to come out and be coated in a sugary glaze of delight.

Were they delicious?

You betcha'.

However, I couldn't help but comment to Hubby, "I think opening a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls is a heck of a lot easier - and just as tasty."


The Pillsbury dough boy is welcome in my kitchen, ANY TIME.



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Testosterone and Gossip

There's certain things that will never change.

Such as, the day after you wash your car, it will rain.

Or, the day you are scheduled to get your hair cut, your hair will never look better.

And, when two men get together, you can be sure they're gossiping.


Haven't heard that one before?

Well. It's true.

Case in point...last Friday night, Hubby and I headed over to our neighborhood Yacht Club, which is really nothing more than a glorified neighborhood clubhouse.

It's the hot spot gathering place on Friday nights, with live music, drinks, food, and lots of neighborhood friends to sit and chew the fat with.

I found myself sitting with Vicki, and finding out that she knows how to sail, we spent the next hour engaging in a delightful discussion of sail boats, butterfly sailboats, and the ins-and-outs of sailing.

At one point, I did a quick "Hubby Check", my eyes scanning the crowded patio, and saw that Hubby was engaged in a conversation with our next-door neighbor, Dave. Those two had their heads buried together, and I wondered what delightful things they were discussing....

Were they discussing sports? Boating? Tools? Or other manly pursuits?


They were discussing the neighbors.

Yep. They were engaged in a good old-fashioned gossip fest.

They were discussing the "Hubbard" family, who lives on the other side of Dave.

About six months ago, the Hubbards split up.

They have a butt-load of children (I lost count at one point), and Old Mother Hubbard had been left behind with all of the children while Daddy Hubbard moved out of the house.

Mother Hubbard couldn't keep up with the yardwork, what with raising the house full of kids, and so Dave had kindly stepped in to mow the lawn and spray the weeds for her.

Come to find out, Mother Hubbard has just recently moved out of the house with the kids, and Daddy Hubbard moved back in - with his new, young, hot girlfriend.


Well. Needless to say, this has just scandalized the neighborhood.

Scandalized, I'm tellin' ya'.

It's a regular Peyton Place.

THIS is what the two men were discussing. And the fact of whether Dave should continue to do the yard work at the Hubbard house...

...while Daddy Hubbard continues to have fun. With his new, young, hot girlfriend.

"THIS?" I asked, shocked. "THIS is what you were talking about??!!" I said to my Hubby on the way home.

"Hey," he says, somewhat defensively..."Dave needed my advice on whether he should still mow the yard. It was important stuff."

Uh huh. Important stuff, all right.

Sounded like gossip to me.



Friday, June 24, 2011

A Good Read

Ah, summer time is officially here...

...which means I am catching up on some much-needed & much-anticipated summer time reading.

The current book?

"Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer" by James L. Swanson.

In a word?


In two words?

Love it.

In three words?

I recommend it.

In four words?

Can't put it down.

Now. Excuse me, as I get back to my book...I'm about mid-way through, and although I know how "it ends", I still find myself engrossed by it.

Carry on.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Trust Issues

I am the oldest of 3 kids.

When I was 3 years and 9 months old, my baby brother, Bill, was born.

When Bill was 3 years and 9 months old, my baby sister, Traci, was born.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how my parents celebrated 3rd birthdays in our house.


Anyway, one of the advantages to being the oldest sister is conniving and scheming and plotting evil things to do to the younger siblings.

And yes, I'm flat-out admitting that I was an evil, conniving and scheming older sister.

When I was younger, of course. Now, I'm nothing but a perfect and delightful angel.


Way back when, I loved nothing more than to find the most awful, foul-tasting foods and feed them to my brother, all the while smiling and cooing, "Now, try's going to taste WONDERFUL..." I fed him a tablespoon of vanilla extract...or flour...or cocoa powder. Yum.

He would dutifully and trustingly take a bite, and to see the resulting look of pure horror on his face would be pure awesomeness, in an evil, big-sister way, of course.

So, imagine my delight on Sunday at my birthday party when my baby sister, Traci, gave me this card, which not only captured my Red Cross spirit, but also captured the big sister persuading the younger sibling that everything will just be better, after they eat a little dirt:

The inside of the card said simply, "Ahhhh....memories."

What a perfect card, huh?!

Strangely enough, my siblings have never learned to trust me when it comes to me saying, "Try this - it's SO good!"

I don't get it.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Hubby Is Great...Giving Me Chocolate Cake...

One of the best things about birthdays... the cake.

Isn't it a thing of beauty??? Almost too pretty to cut.


Second best thing about birthdays...blowing out the candle surrounded by the ones you love.

Life is good.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Best Birthday Ever

Hey, does this blog look zippier? Flashier? Fresher?


Well. I don't know why not.

I mean, after all, I'm typing it on my BRAND NEW & IMPROVED Mac Pro laptop that I got today...

And all I had to do to deserve this zippier, flashier, and fresher computer was have a birthday and turn the ripe old age of 49.

Today was seriously the best birthday, like, ever.

Breakfast of cinnamon rolls served while in bed.

A trip to the Apple store so I could pick out a new and improved laptop. Nothing against my old Mac, but it was 2 years old, which in computer years, is like 40 years old.

I did have a small moment of panic when I had to leave my old laptop at Apple so they could transfer all of my data to the new one. Yikes. They said it would take 24-48 hours, and I had a slight anxiety attack, thinking I would be without data and internet and Google and Facebook for possibly up to 2 days. OMG. What would I do??!!

I reluctantly left the old and the new Macs at the Apple store, and walked around the Country Club Plaza with Hubby, enjoying an almost-perfect Saturday morning.

We had a delicious lunch on a little sidewalk cafe, watching the people and the puppies and the Porsches.

After lunch, we walked some more, enjoying the ambiance of the shops and the restaurants, and ducking into a bookstore where I picked up some books for an upcoming trip.

We then drove to a local bakery, Andre's, where we picked up a chocolate-raspberry birthday cake that will be enjoyed and devoured at my "family" birthday party, which is tomorrow afternoon.

This evening, I put on my best dress and heels, and we went to a delightful restaurant in downtown Kansas City, called "Michael Smith." We've eaten there once before and it was to die for...and so was tonight...

We nibbled and noshed on the 6-course Chef's Choice, where I had duck, rabbit, whitefish, and honeysuckle-orange flavored ice cream for dessert. Among other nameless, but tasteful, offerings.


And to top it off...the guys from the Apple store called and said I could pick up both of my computers tonight...they were ready to go home. I clapped with glee.

I didn't even have to go 12 hours without them. I'm such a nerd.

Life is good.

Turning 49 is even better.

Especially when celebrated with family and friends.

Me at my birthday fun!



Friday, June 17, 2011

How Clowns Were Born

These are two of my make-up pencils.

This brownish-black thingy goes on my eyebrows...

This turquoise thingy goes on my eyes, as an eye-liner...

That's the way it's supposed to work, anyway...

...but this morning, I inadvertently grabbed the turquoise one and used it on my eyebrows.


I had a turquoise eyebrow before I realized the error of my ways.

Do I have a photo of THAT?


I may be color-blind, but I'm not stupid. I will not post photographic evidence of my turquoise eyebrow for everyone to delight in.

I can either blame this mistake on advancing old age (I'm having a birthday tomorrow), or I can blame it on a dark, stormy morning which made the bathroom really, really dark.

I'm going to go with the dark stormy morning.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Fighter

The call came about an hour after I had arrived in Joplin on May 25th.

It was my Mom, with the devastating news that my sister's cancer has been reclassified from Stage 1 to a more ominous Stage 3.

I was already in a bit of shock after seeing the devastation in Joplin firsthand - and my Mom's tearful phone call just added more anxiety to a very stressful situation.

I quickly gave a pep talk to my Mom, telling her that it didn't matter what "stage" it was - Traci's a fighter and she's going to kick the cancer's a$$; she also has the love and support of our family, who will be there beside her every step of the way.

The next two weeks were spent on an adrenaline-rush, with my focus and concentration on doing the job in Joplin - I couldn't really reflect on what Traci was going through until the late hours of the evening as I'd lie in my bed in my quiet, darkened dorm room.

I didn't cry when my Mom called me on May 25th - but I sobbed like crazy about 3 nights later...delayed reaction, I guess.

Anyway, I know some of my Dear Readers have asked about Traci's prognosis, and I just wanted to update everyone.

She has opted to do chemotherapy and radiation simultaneously, and her treatments should begin in the next week. She's in good spirits - and has been able to maintain her good sense of humor about the whole thing.

I'm not sure what the future is going to bring...but, as I said before, we're in this fight together and we'll get through it.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Kindred Spirits

The weekend is over, and now I can relax.


Friday night was "Tacos and a Movie" night in our house, and after wolfing down some delicious south-of-the-border delicacies, we settled in to watch "True Grit". We decided we liked the movie, but didn't love it - for some reason, the dialogue was a little difficult for us to comprehend sometimes...and we were hoping for a little less talk and a lot more action...but overall, a pretty good movie.

Saturday morning was spent driving my daughter back and forth to art classes she's now taking, mixed in with errands, chores and yard work. The weather was near-perfect, and it was nice to be outside for once and not have to worry about heatstroke.

That evening, Hubby and I headed to our favorite restaurant, The Grand Street Cafe, where we had a delightful dinner and conversation with Robert, a "regular" at Grand Street since it's opening. After a delectable dessert of orange-almond creme brulee (yum), we headed down to a local theater to watch "The 39 Steps."

I was expecting a drama, based on the movie that Alfred Hitchcock did back in 1935. What I didn't expect was Hitchcock done to Monty Python, because that's what was presented, and I'm tellin' ya', at one point I complained that my mouth hurt due to too much laughing!

Sunday afternoon, we headed to the Kansas City Zoo, as they were having a special event for members only after normal closing hours.

The temperatures were much cooler than normal, and the animals were loving it. I've never seen so many animals be so active - even the lions (who normally just sit and sleep) were up and about and roaring. A leopard walked over our heads; the monkeys were right up to the glass; and the turtles were munching away on delicious lettuce. I truly don't remember seeing not a single animal sleeping. Not one. Amazing.

My oldest son works at the Zoo, and we just happened to run into him at one point at an exhibit. We walked with us awhile, giving us a private tour of the exhibits, and I was a proud Mama to watch my son at work.

Going to the Zoo always leads us to the question of, "If you were to die and come back as an animal, what would you be?"

Daughter quickly chimed in with "cheetah", as she likes the fact that they can run really fast. We had just watched 3 of the cheetahs play a game of hide-and-seek in their pen, which was really amusing.

Hubby pondered and went into deep thoughts and finally answered "Tortoise." He likes their deliberateness and the fact that they live for a hundred years. I pointed out that I wouldn't want to live to 116 if all I did was sit in the same place, chewing lettuce. Blah.

Anyway, I've always known that for myself, I want to come back as a tiger. They're regal, they're beautiful, and they eat a small person with one gulp.

I didn't take a single picture at the Zoo with the exception of one, because it's almost as if these two are POSING for me.

The big guy up on top made eye contact with me for a full five minutes. I'm sure he was saying, "I like her. She's a kindred spirit."

Either that, or he was saying, "I like her. She looks tasty and would go good with ketchup."

So, what would YOU come back as?



Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Condition Called Karma

A serious affliction seems to have descended into my household, striking my two sons with a most-horrible condition that has left me with a huge headache.

Yes, this affliction seems to have rendered both of my sons mute.

Well...I should clarify that.

They're only mute with me, their mother.

Weird, huh? This strange, and as yet, unnamed condition, renders them powerless to communicate their plans and their comings-and-goings with me, which is Driving. Me. Crazy.

Yesterday evening, I was cooking up a HUGE batch of tacos in the kitchen, but really had no idea of the whereabouts of my sons.

Where were they? Who knows.

Would they be back in time to eat the hundreds of pounds of taco meat I had cooked? I had no idea.

They both seem to disappear at random from the house, and can't seem to tell me:

1. That they're leaving in the first place.

2. Where they're going.

3. And, when they'll be back.


Granted, one son is almost 22-years old and is just home for the summer from college, so I'll cut him some slack. He's just not used to having to report in to a worried and concerned mother.

My younger son very recently turned 18 years old, and graduated from high school. And NOW he can't communicate with his mother.

Coincidence? I think not.

My own mother has a name for this condition.

She calls it Karma.

All I know is, this condition has a chance of being fatal...

...because it's very likely that I'm going to kill my sons before it's all over if they don't start COMMUNICATING.




Thursday, June 9, 2011

A New Normal

I'd like to say my life returned to "normal" today, but I realize that I've been forever changed by my time spent in Joplin.

I baked a chocolate cake this morning, and I couldn't help but think of the people still staying in shelters or motels tonight, with their homes in ruins, and wondered when the next time they'll be able to bake a cake in their own oven.

I seriously considered baking a thousand chocolate cakes today and delivering them to the people of Joplin, just so they could have homemade chocolate cake tonight.

I took my car to the car wash this afternoon, and I thought about the 18,000 cars lost...with thousands of people still without any means of transportation.

I played a little bit more with my dog tonight, as I thought about the 500 pets still unclaimed after the storm...waiting to be reunited with their owners.

My oldest son is driving home tonight, and a tornado warning was issued in the area where he was anxiety shot through the roof, as I called him on his cell phone to reassure myself that he was okay....I guess this comes after seeing firsthand what a tornado can do.

I'm loving my family just that much more...I'm cuddling the pets just that much longer...and I'm going through my routine with a new appreciation for the blessings that God has given me in my life...knowing how much can change in the blink of an eye.



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Alive After 16 Days

And some good news from Joplin:

The woman in this photo lost her family home in the tornado on May 22, 2011.

She and her family returned to their home yesterday (June 7th) one last time to take a look at what used to be their house.

They heard a cat crying, and began digging like crazy.

The homeowner moved a board and wedged under it was her 13-year old cat, Lavern.

Alive after 16 days.

Doesn't her expression say it all?



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Joplin: Day 14 Last Day Thoughts

My last day in Joplin today, and my emotions are bittersweet.

I spent the last two days driving in an area near St. John's Hospital, doing what we call "Search & Feed." Drive slowly up and down the debris-laden streets, dodging branches, nails, and other unidentifiable objects, and seek out volunteers, workers, and residents who could benefit from a hot meal and ice-cold drink.

When people approach the Red Cross truck to get that hot meal and drink, it's not about the food. A lot of time is spent listening while they share their stories, of which most of them are very eager to share.

Me and my partner, Bob...

Each story is unique...a father tells me of his son taking shelter in a convenience store that ended up being on a Youtube video... a woman tells me of her cat being in the back yard during the tornado, and after being presumed dead, saunters up to their front door four hours after the storm...a young man tells of his harrowing ordeal of search-and-rescue immediately after the storm and what he was finding.

We listen...we empathize...and we assure them that we care. That they've not been forgotten. That it WILL get better, with time.

I'm heading home tomorrow. I'm bruised...sunburnt...exhausted...and hot. Although I'm happy to be heading home to see my family and my pets, part of me will be left behind in the streets of Joplin, worrying about "my people" and hoping they're doing okay.

My Joplin tornado experience ends tomorrow, but for the people here, their experience is going to last a lot longer...months, if not years, of recovery lie before them.

I implore anyone who's reading this to not forget the city of Joplin and it's people. Keep them in your prayers; consider coming here on a mission team; or consider making a donation to a charity of your choice that's doing work here.

It's the only way we can send a message that we care, and that they have not been forgotten.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Joplin: Day 12 Celebrating Life

The human spirit is a resilient can be kicked around, battered and pushed to its limits - but it takes a lot to break it. The human spirit also knows when its time to set aside the mourning and the grief and celebrate - at least for a little bit.

Not too far south of Joplin, I was fortunate enough to attend a cousin's wedding last night with my family.

For one night, at least, it was a blessing to be surrounded with the people I love, and celebrate the beginning of something new - a marriage between two young people who are committed to spending the rest of their lives together.

My own family made the drive down from Kansas City - about 2 1/2 hours - picked me up - and then drove the rest of the way to a small Missouri town called Nixa. There, we met up with extended family and friends to witness the marriage between my cousin, Tyler, and his beautiful bride, Kristen.

The simple, yet beautiful wedding was held outdoors, and it was a beautiful backdrop.

Kristen's mother walked her down the aisle, as Tyler looks on...

I may be prejudiced, but I think Kristen is one of the most beautiful brides EVER. :)

After the ceremony, we celebrated with food and dancing, and then watched as the happy couple cut the cake:

My 5-year old nephew, Robert, was celebrating as he ate his cheese in a rather unique way:

It was a wonderful evening, and as I felt a tiny twinge of guilt at one point as I thought about what the people of Joplin are going through, I quickly chased that thought away, knowing that we NEED to celebrate life.

LIFE wins.

Cheers to you, Tyler and Kristen!

May you have a long and happy life together!



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Joplin: Just the Facts

Wonder what the American Red Cross has done so far in Joplin, MO?

Here are some statistics, as of Friday evening:

Total number of ERV (Emergency Response Trucks) here: 19 (I've seen Ohio, South Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia - and numerous other states who are here)

Total meals served: 44,337 (and every one of them has been delicious, believe me!)

Total snacks served: 81,184 (I think I've eaten about 40,252 of these....)

Bulk clean-up & recovery items distributed: 27,831

Total people who've spent the night in a Red Cross shelter: 2,342

Total number of Red Cross workers/volunteers here: 555

Total number of bruises, scrapes and cuts on the Drama Queen's body: 14 (and rising - got a new one today on my middle finger. BANGED it into something and I've got a pretty good black & blue bump.)

Total number of hours before my family is here to see me on my day off: 4 (jumping up and down with excitement!)

Total number of days before I get to go home: Who knows?



Friday, June 3, 2011

Joplin: Day 11 Paradise Found

A very long and very hot day in Joplin...

...after my work was done, I found a little bit of heaven:

Some people may say I'm a bit of a diva, but when it's all said and done, it doesn't really take much to make me happy.

An ICE-cold Diet Coke and a chocolate pie.

Life is good.



Joplin: Day 10 A Bruised Banana

To date, the American Red Cross has served over 31,000 meals here in Joplin, and over 45,000 snacks.

I think I feel every one of those in my battered and bruised body.

Bruises that I obtain on disaster sites I like to call "souvenirs", and I have plenty of them on this trip...unfortunately, the number is growing by the day. Legs, arms, knees - even my elbow has a bruise. How does an elbow even get a bruise, anyway?

The last two nights have been very uncomfortable, as my Erythromelalgia has reared up, leaving me with burning hands while I try to sleep. It's so painful at night that I'm losing sleep, as I just can't get my hands to stop from hurting.

Erythromelalgia has triggers, and I seem to be hitting on a lot of them right now...caffeine (I'm sucking down diet soda for energy), sugar (lots of junk food here), excessive physical exercise (duh), and stress (double-duh.)

The work continues, however, and it's 6:15 am in the morning as I write this, getting ready to head out the door for another long, hot, physical day.

I have Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday off - and my family will be driving down to come pick me up for a family wedding that's in a small town about an hour from here. I'm SO looking forward to seeing Hubby and the kids, as well as my parents, siblings and cousins.

That brief visit should be enough to jump start the batteries and let me keep going.

I'm going to look like one sunburnt, bruised banana at the wedding - but hey. I think everyone will cut me some slack, right?!



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joplin: Day 8 Kitchen Chronicles

When you become a volunteer for the American Red Cross, you get an opportunity to pick your specialty. We have many specialties that we do during a disaster: sheltering, feeding, damage assessment, staffing, and casework, among others.

You can pick one specialty - or you can multi-train, like I have. Multi-training allows you to have more of an opportunity to deploy during a disaster, if that's what you're looking for.

Here in Joplin, I'm classified as "Feeding." However, I've taken it a step further and many years ago, I became ERV-certified. An ERV is our Emergency Response Vehicle, and a volunteer must go through training on how to drive and operate an ERV.

I love ERV driving. I think it's my favorite activity to do.

Here in Joplin, we have ERV's from all over the country stationed at what is known as a "Kitchen."

Just some of the ERVs we have here in Joplin - with my truck, the Little Rock, AR truck, up front. Am I from Little Rock? No...but it just happens to be the truck I'm assigned to.

Our Kitchen is located at a small Baptist church in Joplin, where a group of Southern Baptist volunteers prepare two delicious hot meals a day.

A typical day in a Kitchen goes as follows:

The Baptists (always in bright yellow shirts) get up super-duper early and begin cooking the food...a meal usually consists of a main course (such as spaghetti), a vegetable (green beans are popular), and a dessert/fruit (pudding or peaches, usually).

The Kitchen is outside and under tents, and it's quite an operation to watch if you ever get an opportunity.

Once the food is cooked, it's placed in these large red containers called "cambros." Each ERV is assigned a number of meals to take on their my case, I'm loading up 125 meals, which could mean up to 6 cambros on my truck.

A stack of cambros waiting to be filled...with the Kitchen visible in the background. That guy in the Blue Hat is the head boss of the Baptist crew.

While the Baptists are cooking, the ERVs all assemble in the parking lot, where we line up and begin loading other supplies.

Rolling the ice across the parking lot to the ERV

My partner, Bob, bringing clean drink cambros to our ERV. We'll load this up with coffee.

Besides ice and water, we're all grabbing boxes of snacks, silverware, napkins, etc off of giant semi-trucks and loading the ERV's up. The semis may have cookies, potato chips, and other snacks - and each ERV crew grabs what they think they'll need for the day to distribute to the clients.

If we get done before the food is ready, we can grab a few minutes, sit on the back of our trucks, and shoot the breeze, like Gary and Walt are doing here:

Around 10:00 am, the head honcho of the Baptist group, known as the Blue Hat, will announce that we're ready to line up the ERVs and load the hot food. All ERV crews jump in their rigs and form a straight line so we can load - assembly-line style:

Each rig's food is on a pallet; the pallet is wheeled over to the back of the ERV and everyone jumps in to help, loading as quickly as possible:

Once you're loaded, you take off and go to your pre-arranged may be a zone in a neighborhood, where you cruise the streets and serve anyone and everyone you find...this is known as Mobile Feeding. Or - you may go to a location, such as Joplin High School, park in the parking lot, and serve from there. This is known as Fixed Feeding. Sometimes, an ERV will take food to a shelter or police station and leave the food behind - known as a "drop."

In Galveston, for Hurricane Ike, I did mobile feeding. Here in Joplin, I'm doing fixed feeding at Red Cross Headquarters.

Once lunch is served, all ERVs head back to the kitchen - throw away trash, clean out their rigs, and begin the process all over again, only THIS time, for dinner.

Long days. Physical work. In the sun on hot asphalt.

But many friendships formed and many stories told as we labor to serve others.

That, my dear readers, is what it's like to work on a disaster for the Red Cross - when you're an ERV crew assigned to feeding.

Not sure why I love it like I do, but I do. Something about being a truck driver - we're a little crazy, but we have big hearts.