Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Days of My Life

I've been here in Florida for almost a week now, and my days have somewhat of a routine...

Smart Floridans do all outdoor work in the early mornings...before the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes escalate to unbearable proportions.

One of my (least) favorite projects each time I visit is to play the "Find the Sprinklers" game. I seriously, seriously hate this - but it's a necessary evil, as our "lovely" St. Augustine grass (and I call it "grass" in the loosest sense of the word, as it's really nothing more than a pretty weed) loves nothing more than to grow super-duper fast and choke off my sprinkler heads. Bleh.

I have about 20+ heads in the yard...and in order to find them, I must turn them on, let the water spray, get soaking wet, and hunt for buried treasure. Double bleh.

Here's an example...can you see the hidden sprinkler in this photo? Trust me. It's there.

After locating these hidden heads, I must dig them out of the choking grass so that they can perhaps, just perhaps, do their job that they were intended to do...

Ta da! See...? There it is!

I also spent some time weeding the flower which I've discovered that my left hand/fingers has some raging arthritis...painful, trust me. Aleve has become my bff.

Time has also been spent cleaning the garage went from looking like this:

Eww...fluid guts from my car... looking like this (with a bit of vinegar and elbow grease):

Mornings are also spent socializing with the neighbors, as just about EVERYONE is outside in the Florida sunshine. Whether they're doing yard work (like me), or walking their dog, or riding their bike - it's quite the social scene. Here's where you catch up on events and gossip - it's our own little Peyton Place, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Eventually, the heat and humidity chases me (and everyone else) indoors, where I might indulge myself with a bit of necessary television:

Love my football....! might chase me to the backyard, where I can lounge and relax:

My favorite place to read...

Here, I've been slogging my way through a book entitled, "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination" by Neal Gabler. I downloaded this on my Kindle a month ago, and I'm STILL READING IT. Holy smokes...that's the bad thing about a don't have ANY idea how long a book is, since you don't get a physical sense of it. I've only now discovered this book is a mere 912 pages long...YIKES. I hope to have it finished by Christmas...but we'll see.

This is what the view from my backyard normally looks like:

The Caloosahatchee River shimmering in the distance...

Yesterday afternoon, a "flash-boom" came of those sudden, very LOUD, Florida thunderstorms that are intense but short...and my backyard view took on a strange, Monet-like impressionism look:

If that's one thing I've learned about Southern living, it's never dull...

Between the plants...the wildlife...the weather...whatever - it's always an adventure.

Now...back to my Saturday afternoon college football games....



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Trans-Continental Ponderings

I just drove 1,386 miles.

By myself.

People always wondered if I was crazy, and this little adventure is pretty much proof-positive that yes, I am INSANE.

I was charged with bringing down my convertible Mustang from Kansas City to our home in Ft. Myers - where she'll be much happier, with the warmer weather and all. I loaded her up with stuff that is too big to pack on airline flights, and left early yesterday morning. A brief night spent in Chattanooga, so I could get some rest, and it was back on the road all day today.

Twenty-three hours in a car - solo - gives one lots of time to ponder, and I came up with the following observations:

1. There really is some AMAZING beautiful country out there...I've always loved Tennessee, and it didn't fail to deliver...what with the trees and rolling hills. Gorgeous.

2. Kentucky has the worst roads...ever. I used to think Missouri did, but the Show-Me State recently repaved I-70 between Kansas City and St. Louis, so now Kentucky gets top honors.

3. I hope there's a special place in heaven for Ivan Getting...the guy attributed with inventing GPS and the Garmin. My Garmin was my BFF the entire trip, and never led me astray.

4. I hope there's a special place in Hell for the engineers who designed the highways in downtown Atlanta...even at 9:00 am on a freakin' Sunday morning, it was a NIGHTMARE. I can't imagine what it's like during a regular rush hour. Yikes.

5. The drivers in Florida are Kamikaze maniacs who drive under the mistaken assumption that they're at Daytona....the minute I crossed the state line into the Sunshine State, the speeds of my fellow drivers ramped up to a knuckle-clenching 90 mph. Holy Heart Attack, was scary.

6. Peanut butter M&M's and Diet Dr. Pepper provide enough sugar and energy to fuel me for a 24-hour trip...I wonder...because it's "diet" - would that be considered "unleaded"?!

7. It's my scientific observation that 40% of the population does not know what the passing lane is...and 30% of the population is too stupid to be driving. Seriously. How do some of these people have licenses??!!

8. The world's rubber shortage could be solved if all the discarded tire treads were picked up off the highways and recycled.

9. Re-connecting with a ton of CD's that I hadn't listened to in FOREVER made for a fun trip...oldies, new stuff, country - even an audio book in the mix - and I was jammin'.

10. I am exhausted. For doing nothing but sitting on my butt for two days - I am really, really tired.

The good news...I am flying back to Kansas City. Never again will I make this drive.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Candles!!!

So...I gave Hubby a good laugh this morning....

It seems I do that alot...amuse him, that is. Certainly not intentionally...but every now and then I'll say or do something that he finds hysterically funny.

It began innocently enough....

Hubby participates in our local Investment Club, a monthly gathering in our neighborhood of men who like to dabble in the stock market. They gather in someone's home to discuss the ups and downs of all things NASDAQ and Dow, which sounds SO thrilling and exciting. Not. Oh, and they eat desserts, as well, as Hubby quickly reminds me. If he thinks that makes it sound any better, it does not. It still sounds dull.

Anywho, it's Hubby's turn to host this little soiree, and he's been in a tither trying to make sure that we have the house clean, the desserts and drinks bought, and the beer iced down. And when I say "we" - I mean me. As in moi.

I don't mind setting up for a party, as I LOVE to entertain, in all honesty. This passion began way back in college when I was tricked into becoming the Social Chairman of my sorority my freshman year - and it was either learn how to swim or sink. I learned. And it's paid off, as I love to throw little bashes all year long. I love to plan all aspects of the gathering...the food, the drinks, the decorations, the music, the's a stage that I get to direct...and it's a passion to do it right and to do it well. I have a reputation to uphold, after all.

Tonight, though, I'm in a bit of a I have ANOTHER bash I'm throwing. Tonight's the annual picnic that our local American Red Cross chapter holds for our volunteers, and I'm kinda', sorta', in charge of getting it all set up. For fifty people. Hmmm...can't be in two places at once, so I did the best I could.

I tried to do as much as possible at home this morning, before leaving to come into the ARC office, where I'll be for the rest of the evening, getting THIS bash set up.

I called Hubby at his office this morning to lay out the plan:

"Okay...I've got the house cleaned...the ice cooler and beer cooler are set out...plates and napkins for the pies are set's all ready to go," I said.

"AWESOME!" Hubby said.

I then added, "All you have to do when you get home is set the drinks out, and then light the candles."

Complete silence on Hubby's part.


I thought he was going to have a coronary, he was laughing so hard.

Oh. Silly me.

Stock Market Investor Guys don't NEED no stinkin' candles at their monthly gathering.

An innocent "Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus" moment, in my defense.

So. No candles at the party tonight. Duly noted.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On My Soapbox: Facebook

Image from HERE...

Never has a topic been so passionately discussed...debated...defended...derided....

Supporters will vehemently offer up myriads of reasons of why it is so beneficial...while detractors will sneer and throw out all the reasons of why it is the bane of our society...

...of what am I referring to?

Why, Facebook, of course.

I'm actually in the supporter camp, myself.

Well. I USED to be, anyway. Times are a'changing, and I'll explain why...(stepping up on my soapbox)

Over the last few years, I have enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, as well as making new ones...

...I have enjoyed learning of the myriad of causes that my friends and coworkers are passionate, over the years, I've expanded my awareness of autism, March of Dimes, cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, disabilities, and pet adoptions - just to name a few....

...I have traveled around the world vicariously through the photos and postings of my friends, with special note taken of places I know that I, personally, will never have the opportunity to visit "in real life"....

...I have enjoyed photos shared of children, pets, possessions, activities, and food... reveling in the fact that, although I wasn't there in person, I can still celebrate life's joyous occasions such as Homecoming, birthdays, prom, births of grandchildren, etc....

...I have been tickled with numerous jokes and funny photos, getting daily chuckles from the clever witticisms and humor that is so pervasive online....

...I have been inspired by daily inspirational messages from people from all walks of faith, from all over the world, which has sometimes led me to examine my own faith more closely....

...I have kept up on news, pop culture, and trends as fast as the messages of social media can well as keeping up on the activities and news of my numerous friends, family and coworkers....

With all that said, however, there is ONE area that I passionately dislike about Facebook...and that, my dear readers, is...politics.


Every day, especially now that our country's election is getting ever-closer, my Facebook wall is bombarded with political messages, cartoons, links, etc., by perhaps well-intentioned friends...but has me shaking my head in bewilderment.

When it comes to politics, my theory is as follows:

You have your opinion, and I have mine.

Nothing you can say will ever change my opinion, as nothing I can say will ever change yours.

Add in the fact that our country is so divided at this time, it amazes me that people will post the slams, the diatribes, the insults, the negativity, knowing (or perhaps not knowing??) that they're upsetting about 50% of their Facebook audience....

Why would they do that?

Why would they post something that's going to alienate half of their audience?

I realized the other day that I was not even ON Facebook during the 2008 elections, so perhaps this is why this is driving me a bit's still all a bit new to me, I guess.

And until the elections are over, I've somewhat distanced myself from Facebook... pardon me if I miss pictures of your grandchildren...or your recent trip to Costa Rica...or your latest joke.

It's not that I don't care. I DO, actually.

It's that I just can't take the negativity that's also out there at this time.

November can't come soon enough in my little world.

That is all. I'm off my soapbox now.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend in Review: The Pioneer Edition

For a weekend that began on a somewhat sour note, it turned out to be better than expected...

Friday morning, my daughter had an 8:30 appointment with an orthopedic doctor...since she decided to break her foot while baking chocolate chip cookies.

Don't ask.

Anyway, I was pretty steamed when we didn't actually see the doctor until 9:20. With no apology. And no explanation.


She'll be wearing a lovely boot for the next 10 weeks now, which is quite the fashion statement when you're 13 years old and in 7th grade. She's thrilled about it. Not. I think the boot looks like something a Stormtrooper would wear (from "Star Wars"), so I can't help but call her 'Darth Vader' when I see her approaching.

Friday evening, Hubby was working late, so I spent a quiet evening at home, engrossed in a genealogy project that I began a few weeks back. My oldest son had requested any and all information I had on our family history, and I've been passionately pursuing this, as I have found some really interesting stuff from way-back-when. Every day, I can't wait to share another story of another ancestor, and I can't wait to put it all together in a book form to give to my kids later. I've been able to trace both my parents' sides back to our first ancestors who came over from Europe...and I've found some huge surprises in the history that have me a little stunned. Such as - my family has strong roots with Kansas and Jayhawkers.


Being an avid Missouri supporter my whole life, and having grown up with a huge disdain for anything Jayhawk-related, imagine my chagrin to find this in our family tree. I'm still coming to grips with it, trust me.

Saturday, Hubby and I attended a wedding of the daughter of a former co-worker of mine. The wedding was held in a small town nearby, and I LOVED it when I saw the groomsmen wearing blue jeans, with vests in a camouflaged theme. The bridesmaids wore cowboy boots. Yee haw. This was MY kind of wedding, trust me.

I sat with my former boss, and it was amazing how much better we get along when I don't work for her anymore. I caught myself laughing several times, which was unexpected. But awesome, all the same.

Because of daughter's Confirmation classes, we are now attending Sunday morning church, rather than Saturday night services. There's an awesome singer on Sunday mornings who reminds me of Sting. Last week, he had us singing The Beatles, "With A Little Help From My Friends." This week, he had us singing Sting's "Message In A Bottle." Apparently, even HE knows that he sounds just like Sting. Go figure.

It was pretty cool...and as much as I enjoy praise music, I like this music even better.

Sunday afternoon, I watched the first two quarters of the Chiefs game...and when it became pretty evident that it was going to be a debacle of mass proportions, I turned it off and got out my brand-new bread maker. Daughter and I baked our very first loaf - which turned out amazing - and we are now going to become baking fools, as we try out bunches of new recipes.

Our first attempt...delicious!

This was partly inspired by reading all of our family history, and getting into that true "pioneer" spirit of my ancestors. Of course, baking bread in the 21st century is a little different than baking bread in the 18th century....

Sunday evening was spent at our local Mexican restaurant, as is our family tradition. For the last several years, it's our go-to place on Sunday evenings...the wait staff know us and expect us, and we enjoy not only their company, but the food, as well.

A great weekend...spent with food, family and friends...and coming to grips with my Jayhawker roots.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Miracle in Florida

So...I have a story to share.

Shocking, I know. Of course, if you're a regular reader, then you'll be saying to yourself, "Well, duh! When have you NOT had a story to share??!!"


THIS story is something a little different than the ones I normally share....In fact, this story is so different, that it's taken me two weeks to process it somewhat in my mind...come to terms with it...and eventually decide to share it.

Because...this story is about my faith. And the power of prayer. And if you're a regular reader, you know that I don't share stories of my faith very often...I consider my faith to be very private, and I hold it pretty close to my chest. It's not something I talk about often, and it's even a little difficult today to write this post....and yet, I had to share this.

It begins with me in Tampa, Florida a few weeks ago...where I was waiting further instructions from the American Red Cross on where I would be deployed next, in lieu of Hurricane Isaac's projected landfall.

On the evening of Tuesday, August 28th, I received my instructions: Drive immediately to Hattiesburg, MS - by way of Pensacola, Florida.

Well. These instructions were most unsettling, as Hurricane Isaac was making landfall that very same evening... it was causing havoc in Pensacola, as well as the rest of the southern Gulf coast. The LAST thing I wanted to do was to jump in a vehicle and drive INTO a hurricane - in the middle of the night.


This is what was known: The four of us in our vehicle knew we had a long drive ahead of's 465 miles between Tampa and Pensacola, and it was now 8:00 p.m. Pretty darned late to begin a road trip, especially when that road trip was taking us into the eye of the storm....

We knew there was a hurricane swirling around us, which could possibly bring flooding, road closures, and wind damage...

And...we knew we were scared.

As we packed into our vehicle to begin the long, dark journey into the unknown, I sent up a message on Facebook:

"Driving to Pensacola now... Won't arrive until very late...we need prayers for safety on the road..."

Soon, twenty-four friends had hit the "Like" button...and twenty-four friends had commented on my status, offering up prayers.

I also began texting a few friends and family, especially those whom I knew had deep faith...and the messages of support and prayers were immediately returned.

Our journey began.

We drove...and we drove...and we drove...465 miles...on the darkened roads of Florida...stopping occasionally at a rest stop or a gas station...or to change drivers...and eventually rolling into a motel in Pensacola at 3:30 a.m. EST in the morning...

...and incredibly...not ONCE did we encounter ANY evidence of a hurricane.

Not a single wind gust.

Not a single rain drop.

Zip. Nada. Nothing.

And yet...not more than 30 minutes behind us were several other American Red Cross vehicles, with other volunteers, who reported to me later that their journey was indeed harrowing...with wind, rain and debris following them the entire trip.

We had nothing.

They had everything.

What was the difference???

As I tried to process this information later, I could come up with only two explanations....

The 'scientific' explanation would say that our car was in a bubble between the spiral bands of the storm...of course, this meant that we had INCREDIBLE timing, as well as luck, to stay within this "bubble" the ENTIRE 465 mile journey...even with our occasional stops along the way.

The 'faith' explanation would say that our car was in a bubble of protection from a higher power...with the power of prayer surrounding us and keeping us safe on our journey.

So...what was it? Were we just incredibly lucky, managing to avoid a 350-mile wide hurricane? Or was it the power of prayer?

I'll let the readers make up their own minds, but I know what I believe....



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Running Down A Dream

I'm not sure when I took up running...

...more than a few years ago, I guess.

It's easy enough to slip on a pair of tennis shoes and pound the pavement...although in my case, it's more like plodding, as I am probably THE slowest runner EVER in the whole world. Really. Truth.

Here at the lake, I have the perfect running trail...a moderately easy 3.5-mile course that is quiet...peaceful... and always full of interesting surprises....let me take you along for today's run, which is pretty typical....

Before heading out, I put on my favorite shoes...I like these because they're not only bright, but they're super comfortable. Ever have a pair of shoes that make you feel like you're flying? These are it...

Soon, I'm sailing along...when...wait? Is that a SNAKE???!!!

Upon closer investigation, I realize it's a false alarm. Whew. I hate snakes.

Soon, I pass the dam along the lake...always worth a stop for a second to take in the view...

Then, I enter the "dark and scary forest" - but I always laugh when I see this sign:

That's why I'm running, I don't end up at 6 tons....

The "dark and scary forest" is just that - a stretch that can get dark, especially in the twilight. Sometimes, I'll come across a cop sitting in his patrol car in this little hideout:

That always comforts me a bit...I'll wave at him, and he'll be all cool and cop-like, with just a nod of his head to me...'s the hills. Ugh. I don't like the hills, but they're a necessary evil along this road...

It's along this stretch that I usually encounter wildlife. Once, I thought I saw a wolf...but Hubby convinced me that I was crazy. I DO see deer through here all the time...or perhaps it's the same deer...either way, it can be a little startling...

There's usually a bunch of cows on the other side of the road...every time I run by, they'll stop munching the grass and me, as I slowly plod on by. They absolutely DO NOT take their eyes off of me, ever. It's somewhat creepy....being stared at by a hundred cows.

Soon, I'll see the half-way point up ahead...which is always a bit encouraging....where the road appears to "end" is my turn-around point.

Running back now, I laugh when I come across this sign:

Trust me. My speed is greatly reduced by this point.

This time of year, I get the added bonus of the sunflowers, that are sprouting up everywhere:

Wait. Is that a SNAKE???!!

No. False alarm. Again. Speaking of snakes, I've always called THESE "Sky Snakes":

As I get closer back to my house, I always encounter this house down the street from me. We call it the "double-wide" - for obvious reasons:

As fancy-schmancy as the house is, this is the mailbox out front:

We DO live at the lake, after all. today...I encounter the buzzards that are circling overhead:

I realize that they're probably waiting for me to keel over, so they can feast on my flesh...but I shoo them away, telling them I have a few years left in me, so move on to their next meal.

Wait. Is that a SNAKE??!!

YES! It is!!! See...I'm not crazy in imagining every little squiggly thing along the road is a at the lake, you're bound to see a "real" snake sooner than later. Ugh.

Soon, I see the BEST SIGHT EVER.

My house. Which means my run is done. Yay.

I'm not the best runner. I'm certainly not the fastest runner.

However, whenever I get discouraged, I just remember the following:

Whether it's a 14-minute mile...or a 7-minute's still a mile.

Running is running.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Anyone else a fan of "The Twilight Zone"?

One episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," starred William Shatner as a nervous airline passenger who sees a gremlin out the window...and for someone who hates flying as much as I do, that particular segment has haunted me ever since.

And yesterday...coming home from my deployment in Hattiesburg, MS...I felt like I was re-living a scene out of my own "Twilight Zone" series.

It began innocently enough...I drove the 80+ miles north from Hattiesburg to Jackson, that I could catch a 2:30 American Airlines flight that would connect in Dallas, eventually getting me back home around 6:30 pm. I arrived at Jackson really early, and so I settled into a chair at my gate with some water, chips and a good book on my Kindle. Life was good...the airport was relatively small, and extremely empty, so it was quiet, peaceful and relaxing.

Shortly before the 18 or so of us were to begin boarding...a man approached and sat down in the empty chair right beside me.

Well. This got my attention - as there were HUNDREDS of other empty chairs in this airport, so why did this guy feel it was necessary to sit right beside ME??!! I looked up from my book, and there was a guy - looking exactly like Richard Dreyfuss - dressed in a pilot uniform and staring right at me with a big smile on his face. Uh. Okay.

"Hi!" he says, exuberantly. "Where are you headed?"

"Uh....Dallas," I said.

"I KNOW that," he said...."I mean, after Dallas?"

"Uh...Kansas City," I answered.

"Is that where you're from?" he asked.


"So...what were you here in Mississippi for?" he asked.

Persistent little guy, wasn't he?

"Uh...Red Cross. I was here for the hurricane."

"Awesome!" he exclaimed.

Well...then began a torrent of further questions, while he asked a bazillion questions about all-things Red Cross related.

He then reached over and touched my neck.

"What are those scars from on your neck?" he asked.

Um, that's rather personal, I wanted to reply...but being the nice girl that I am, I replied, "Skin cancer."

"WOW!" he exclaimed. "Those are BIG! Did they hurt?"

"Uh...yes, actually," I answered. And I KNOW they're big. He didn't have to point that out to me. Thanks for that.

He then reached over and touched a bracelet I had on my wrist that reads, "Living For Something Greater."

"What's this mean?" he asked.

"It means that when I get frustrated when I'm deployed, I read it to remind myself why I do what I do," I explained.

"That's awesome!" he said.

About that time, they were calling for the 18 or so of us to begin boarding - THANK GOD - so I stood up and began collecting my things.

"Oh - you're on this flight?" he asked.


"Awesome! I am, too!"

"Are you the pilot?" I asked, thinking, "Surely not...they wouldn't let a fruit loop like this pilot a plane."

"Yup! This is MY plane!" he replied.

Great. " a good job," I said. "I hate flying."

"I hate flying, too," he replied.


I admonished, "Don't SAY that!!! That's not funny!" as he just smiled at me.

So...I went on and boarded the plane, and as I buckled into my seat (Row 2A), I look up to see the cockpit door open...and sure enough, there was Richard Dreyfuss, turned around in the pilot seat, staring at me with the biggest grin on his face. He sees me and gives me a big thumbs-up.

At this point, the other passengers see this little exchange, and look at me for some sort of explanation. All I can do is shrug, and say, "I think he likes me."


I do have to say, though, to his credit, that it was one of the smoothest flights I've ever been on. He may be excessively touchy-feely, as well as excessively talky, but he knows how to pilot a plane.

Anyway, after landing in Dallas, I quickly scurry off the plane so I can avoid Richard Dreyfuss, and hurry on to my connecting flight. Here, it was a much larger plane, and I was seated in Seat the window. I had chosen this seat purposefully, as there was supposed to be no one in Seat 9B.

However, when I sat down, I noticed a dark black suitcase jammed under the seat in front of 9B...and one was sitting there.

"Odd," I thought to myself. "Maybe someone left it from the previous flight???"

As the plane filled with people, I thought I would mention it to one of the flight an "unattended" bag makes me a bit nervous in today's terrorism-filled world. What if that bag had dynamite or something in it??!! My mind was racing with all sorts of weird thoughts on why a bag would be sitting...all by its lonesome...jammed up under an empty seat.

Soon, the doors to the plane were shut and the flight attendants were going down the aisle, shutting all of the overhead bins. When one of them got close to me, he leaned down and indicating the black briefcase, said, "That's my bag. I was going to sit by you, but I have to move to the back row." He then picked up the bag.

I said, "Whew. I was worried. You know...'unattended bag' and all that," rolling my eyes a bit.

Misinterpreting me, he said, "What?! Were you going to go through my bag? Here - you can look now...there's nothing in there!"

WHAT?! He thinks I'm a bag thief???!!

NOOOOO! That's not what I meant!!!

Before I could explain, he walks off...clutching his bag ever close to his chest...clearly assuming that the lady in Seat 9A is not to be trusted. This certainly made for an uncomfortable flight, believe me.

Geesh. First, I get hit on by a pilot...then I get mistaken for a bag thief... was clearly very strange yesterday at 20,000 feet.

Home never felt so good as it did last night.



Sunday, September 2, 2012

And The Beat Goes On....


...If I were home, I'd be spending the day with family, perhaps taking a boat ride out on the lake...or celebrating someone's birthday...or just hanging out and dining at our local Mexican restaurant. Fun times.'s now Day #9 on my deployment with the storm known as I'm not home. I'm in a motel in the town of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, relaxing after finally getting a day off. My day was spent washing my clothes at a local laundromat, giving myself a long-overdue mani/pedi, and giving my very-neglected Kindle some much-needed attention. Fun times.

Tomorrow, it's back to work...and a typical day here has consisted of the following:

I'll head to Headquarters around 7:15 am, being grateful that I'm not a manager on this deployment, as managers must arrive at 6:30 am. Ugh.

After arriving at HQ, I'll park in a MASSIVE parking lot, along with 300+ other rental cars, 86 ERV's, and numerous box and semi trucks. We've set up temporary headquarters at an empty office/warehouse complex, and it is HUGE.

Making my way through the 800+ people that are now arriving at HQ, I'll fight my way back to the back corner, which is where my area, Logistics, is located. I have a work area with a laptop and just enough space to spread my elbows before bumping into my co-workers next to me. It's already warm - the air conditioner is not working in this building, so we've set up about 50 box fans that are already humming and whirring, which creates some relief, but also creates a tremendous noise....

At 8:00 am, all 800+ of us head into what was probably once a cafeteria, to attend the All-Staff Meeting held every morning. Our Operations Manager, otherwise known as the Head Honcho, will give a brief update on what we accomplished the day before, and what today is expected to bring. It's standing-room only, with every conceivable inch of space taken, and one must strain to hear what the OM is saying, as 800+ people whisper and hum with anticipation of the day.

After the meeting, it's time to get to work...and work for me consists of receiving requisition requests and entering them into a special software program in my laptop. These requests come in from all over the state of Mississippi, and can consist of something as simple as a request for First-Aid kits - or as complicated as meals for 6,000 people. Once the request is entered into the software, I then need to get that request to the right person to honor it...and that will change, depending on the request. When I'm not doing this, I'm trying to get receipts for stuff received, and matching them up to the original request.

While I'm doing this, we have hundreds of volunteers doing other things...such as working in Staffing, to insure that all ARC volunteers have checked in, have lodging, and have assignments....There's Transportation, who issue rental cars to those who need them...There's Damage Assessment, who send out teams of volunteers across the state, who literally walk from home to home, assessing the storm's damage...There's our Computer Gurus, who insure that our laptops are not only working properly, but are connected to printers and such...There's Health Services, who send out teams of nurses and mental health nurses throughout the state to insure that Mississippi residents are getting the care they need after the storm...There's the Warehouse crew, who empty out semi-trucks and reload ERV's with supplies and food to be given to the people of Mississippi... There's the Sheltering people, who go out and open shelters so people have a roof over their heads...there's the Feeding teams, who go and make sure everyone has access to food...and there's Public Affairs, Government Liason, Fundraising, Security...the list goes on.

These are just but a few of the many areas that are at a Headquarters...all scurrying about, doing an intricate dance in tight spaces so as to not bump into each other while we rush, rush, rush.

Soon, whispers of "Lunch is here!" will be heard, and we'll fight our way to the Kitchen area, to grab a bite to eat...usually taking our plate right back to our work area, so as to not interrupt our progress.

Plunging ourselves back into work, the afternoon will rush by...I might be making phone calls, to clarify a particular request...or I might be visiting an area in person to get a required signature...or I might be hashing out an issue with several co-workers, as we try to come up with the best solution to a potential problem. Sometimes, I see an old friend whom I've not seen in a year ot two, and time will be spent with hugs and catching up. I've seen friends from Joplin, from Hurricane Ike, Hurricane's a running joke that the American Red Cross is a giant family and every disaster brings another family reunion.

Around 6:00 pm, whispers of, "Dinner is here!" will make their way back to my area, and I'll make my way back to the kitchen to grab a bite. And eat it at my table. Working yet some more.

At 7:00 pm, my boss will come in and chase us all out for the day....and we all stagger out into the massive parking lot, each of us trying to remember where we parked our cars some 11 hours previously...and we crawl back to our motel room...ready to get some rest and start it all over tomorrow.

And we're volunteers. We chose to do this. We chose to leave our homes and families behind, to come down here, possibly sleep on cots in a crowded staff shelter, working 11+ hour days, so that we can help others and make a difference after Mother Nature unleashed her fury on our neighbors. I'll be honest - there are certainly times when I ask myself, "Why do I continue to DO this??!!" And yet...I know why I do. Because I can. And because it's needed.

I come home beat...exhausted...and sometimes frustrated. But. I'll be right back at it. Tomorrow.

But today? I rest. In my own unique way.