Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trouble the Water

I've been thinking about posting something about this movie for awhile, but I just haven't had the right words, and I've been thinking that with the upcoming 4 year anniversary of Katrina, now is a perfect time to ask you to do what you need to do to obtain and watch this movie.

And then yesterday I picked up the August 2009 edition of Where Y'at ( a local NOLA monthly mag), and there is a great review of the movie by Drew Platt. Y'all know how I'm not one to reinvent the wheel, so some of his comments:

"The first thing that attracted me to this documentary was obviously seeing the storm through another’s eyes. However, when I watched the film I realized it was about much more than that. It’s about the moral obligations one deals with when a disaster occurs. You realize you must help yourself but it’s also important to help those around you. The courage and determination shown by the film’s leading lady, Kimberly, is nothing short of astounding. With her supportive husband Scott at her side, Kimberly sees a chance to start again. In a scene where she raps with one of her recordings, she totally vents all the feelings she has kept inside in order to help the people around her. This scene starts innocently enough but it will sneak up on you. . . and when it hits, it hits hard.

Trouble the Water is a film that will truly stand the test of time not only for its historic importance but also for how it beautifully captures the human condition and what we can adapt to when it comes to our home and our families. "
No, I'm not making excuses for people who looted big-screen TV's. Those of you that know me know that I'm much more on the "get a damn job" end of the social responsibility spectrum. But existing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina changed me. It made me find some empathy that I didn't know I had. And this movie sort of congealed that empathy into something I can define and hold onto better.

Please watch this movie. And when you do, open your mind and think not only the events in this movie, but the world-view in general from the perspective of someone like Kim. Crack-addict mother dead when she was 13, everyone around her dropping out of school, no one in her known world "getting out" of the poverty cycle, so it doesn't even necessarily occur to her as an option.

Can you assume how YOU would react if you had no education, no support system, and no resources? I mean REALLY no resources. What if you weren't only taking care of yourself, but little kids, old people, people who are sick, people who are scared? Do you know what fear is? Yeah, you've slept a few nights with no electricity, and it sucked big-time, but have you slept a few nights with no electricity, in a city you've never been out of, with no idea how you were going to get food, medicine, or basics like TOILET PAPER, SOAP.....or even clean water, hearing shots in the night that's unimaginably dark? Would you get angry and perhaps lose your composure if you saw that someone, especially someone charged with the duty of protecting citizens, had the resources to literally pull you out of the water and wouldn't? Would you worry about property destruction, or would you break out the windows of the third story classroom of a high school you found your way into to get some relief from the 100+ degree heat and NO air movement at all? What would you do about a bathroom for those kids, elderly, and sick who hadn't had proper nutrition or hydration, and maybe medication for days when there's no running water? How would you set up that classroom to get away from the rats, snakes, ants, and spiders that were also trying to find dry spots?

No these aren't pretty questions, but they are questions that I think many, many people don't think about. And I understand that. I was flooded in my apartment in New Orleans for 3 days in 1995. I had seen a million floods on the TV News, but until then, it never OCCURRED to me how FILTHY that water is, and that every rodent and insect that lives in the ground or under the ground is scrambling for safety too.

So this post is long enough. But really. Watch it. Think about it. K?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

and now for these messages...

I promise I'll finish blogging the vacay, but I'm taking a break to talk about the fun evening I had with Andree and her whiz kids. They came over to my hotel in NOLA, took me out to dinner at Superior Grill, and then we went swimming in the very cool little courtyard pool here.

The kids told me all about school, they started last week. They are both thrilled that they will be getting to do "real" science experiments this year. Zachary said he even may get to dissect a frog (ugh). Lainey has added Chinese to her French classes, and of course all of their regular classes are taught in Spanish. So I guess that will make her quad-lingual? I don't even know the right word for it.

Lucy is taking her first steps, knows what an elephant says (there was a picture of one in the elevator), and can tell you how old she is.

I picked us killer cupcakes from Sucre for desert, and before we went into a sugar coma Andree cut out a pattern to make me a slip so that I don't continue to scandalize the accounting world with my see-through brown skirt.

I'm so lucky to have Andree. There have been various years of me being reclusive and not keeping in touch, but she's always made the effort to be a good friend. Plus, she's brilliant and hilarious. My favorite things ;)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day #4, Meijer Gardens

So I was excited about this day for a couple of reasons. #1, GARDENS. #2, MANDI (Jason's little sis), and #3, there was a good chance that Sarah, our sister-in-law, was going to able to come over and bring our niece and nephew. Jason's brother, Chris, and Sarah live in Cadillac, about an hour and a half (I think) from Grand Rapids.

Why only a chance? Well....because Sarah is 9.999 months pregnant with Pickens baby #3 and had her last o.b. appointed this morning. BUT good for us - nothing was going on with P3 so she was able to make the drive over. Unfortunately, Chris had to work.

Jason and I got a lazy start, took the dogs to the SPA, picked up Mandi, and got to the gardens right at lunchtime. Sarah drove up about 10 minutes after we got there, and then we had lunch in the cafe.

Those kids are too darn cute. Alex was cracking us up because he has learned to fake burp and then say "excuse me". Emelyn is feeling all of her 2-years-old and was letting us know exactly what she DID and DID NOT want. It was funny.

Lunch was fun and the kids were good, and then it was off to see the flowers!

The Gardens are actually pretty new, built in the early 2000's. I think the place has great potential. The established areas are really beautiful, and there's lots of room for expansion.

The children's area is huge and amazing. Sarah said she'd definitely come back with the kids. They could spend all day there with all the different water features, sand play, and other activities. Emelyn was interested in the statues of the animals, especially the dragons. Alex was interested in the animal tracks they have on the ground that are part of a game for the older children, and he spent the rest of the day looking for tracks.

By the late afternoon, we saw pretty much all there was to see. The kids were great, but it was hot and time for a break. They missed their afternoon naps, and I think Sarah keeps them in a pretty regular routine. We all decided that ice cream was in order. By the time we drove to the ice cream place down the street, the kiddos were zonked out and we couldn't bring ourselves to wake them, so Sarah went on home. She said Alex woke up as soon as they drove in the drive-way at home wanting ice cream!

So Mandi, Jason and I got ice cream anyway (hey it's vacation and we did a lot of walking and sweating), then went and picked up the dogs. They did great and the people were so nice. On our way out of the SPA, one of the staff noticed our Louisiana tags. Turns out she was down after Katrina to volunteer at the coliseum @ LSU that was set up as a pet evacuation shelter - same place Jason and I volunteered! We probably saw her there several times. SMALL WORLD, huh?

The main things I learned today were: Michigan can occasionally get hot, and Jason and I need to make more of an effort to spend time with Mandi, Chris, Sarah and the kids. It was so great to visit with them and just watch the kids run and play and explore.

Now we are back at the hotel about to get dinner. Tomorrow it's on to Gaylord!

P.S. Lots of vacay pics linked on the right ---------->

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day #3

On to Grand Rapids. Nothing too exciting today, just riding. Singing with the radio. Made it to Grand Rapids about 6pm ish? The hotel is fine - Country Inns and Suites. Greta and Schaffer got to take their first ride in an elevator. Greta was like WHhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaattt! And then she was fine.
She feels that the beds @ the Country Inns and Suites are quite adequate. (Note that we brought her sheet for her to lay on because we knew we weren't going to be able to keep her off the bed. We are weak.)

Called Mandy and Bobby and they came over for dinner. When we opened the door of the hotel room to let them in Schaffer high-tailed it and was all the way down the hall when Jason caught him. He acts deaf and half the time blind and when he wants to jet, he is GONE.

We just ordered pizza and hung out and talked. Tomorrow Meijer Gardens!

End of Day #2

So now we are hanging out in the cabin under the ceiling fans reading. I'm reading Lamb, by Christopher Moore, and Jason's reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It's hot, but tolerable.

Earlier I went up to the parking lot to see if I could get an internet signal, and I saw a girl walking around in front of the hotel entrance with headphones, a big sound collector thingy, and some other cool equipment. Of course I couldn't resist asking what she was doing.

She was recording insect calls, and she let me wear the headphones and wield the sound collector thingy. It was amazing what I could hear! She's working on her Ph.D, and they are collecting and comparing insect calls to try to determine what is random and what is call-and-answer. Sounded pretty neat-o!

Other random tid-bits from the day.....the housekeeper was out around the cabins when we came back from the tour and took the dogs out for a walk, and she looked at Greta and said "that's the oddest looking dog I've ever seen." Poor Poo.

Some of the people in other cabins had already met Greta and Schaffer and made comments about her size and such. She tends to garner attention. Jason and I rode into town for some Mexican food for dinner and when we came back, some of the people from the other cabins were hanging around outside. As soon as I beeped the car alarm, Greta started WIGGING OUT in the cabin (barking like a lunatic) and we said OMG I hope she wasn't doing that the whole time we were gone, and one of the guys who had been amazed by her laughed and said "Nah - but while yall were gone she jumped out the window, ran into the woods, took down a deer, and has it all grilled up waiting for yall."...

Cave Tour

Our tour guide, Michael, was just goofy enough to be perfect for my vintage-y, camp-y vacation theme. He led us all through the caves with silly stories and lots of great information and history. Jason and I, being the nerds that we are, eventually made our way to the front of the line so that we wouldn't miss any tidbits of info.

We got to see lots of the cave. The Star Chamber, the old tuberculosis hospital, evidence of ancient people from like 4000 years ago...on and on. The lantern light made it especially great (even though we couldn't take photos). The walls really just seemed to disappear in some places. That darn cave is HUGE....MAMMOTH even!!

Towards the end, the path was TOUGH. I'd say VERTICAL in a couple of spots. Jason and I did fine, but wow we were tired at the end. And walking out of a 54 degree cave after 3 hours was like walking into a wall of steam.

OH! And at the very end of the tour was saw one little Teeny Tiny bat hanging from the ceiling. He was too cute.

My favorite parts were definitely the star chamber and the stories about how they did tours during the late 1800's. We could still see the paths they built way back then in a lot of places, and considering they DRESSED UP to go on these vacation tours, in heels and dresses and suits and such, I don't know how in the world they walked on those paths. They were just big rocks placed pretty precariously.

This was the perfect start to this vacation. Exactly what I had in mind. Good fun, a little silly, and just overall a good experience that Jason and I BOTH really enjoyed.

Campy Vacation Day #2

So last night was the most AMAZING lightening and thunder storm that I think I have ever experienced. As deaf as he is, Schaffer climbed ONTO my head he was so scared. It was wicked, but wow it cooled things off at least 10 degrees or so.

Jason and I are both enjoying the quiet reading time, but it's still hot, so we got up early, took cool showers, and went and got breakfast @ the hotel cafe. Yummy breakfast. Back to the cabin, walked the dogs, then set out on a hike around the park with the schnauzers.

It was supposed to be a very easy, short hike, but I think we took a wrong turn. The last 1/2 of the hike was almost vertical and it was HOT and humid. I got a little worried about Schaffer and thought maybe I needed to carry him, but we took a short break and he was ok.

It was a beautiful hike, though. The trails in the park are really well marked and maintained. We saw several deer and even a little baby fawn. We got to see where the River Styx runs out of Mammoth Cave, which was cool.

Now Jason and the doggies are taking a nap under the ceiling fan. For the afternoon, Jason and I have signed up for the Violet City Lantern tour. This is a 3-hour tour using only lantern-light, so it's supposed to be like is was back in the 1800's. Should be exciting!!