Sunday, August 31, 2008

This may be my last post...

...I'm getting sleepy, and who knows when the power will go off.

Pray for us down here, especially for the people who were just finishing their rebuilding process who may lose everything again.

For those of you who are Catholic, Our Lady of Prompt Succor is the patron of those in the path of a hurricane.


The sustained rain is on its way. We are supposed to get 8-15 inches. The ground is already saturated because it has been pouring for the past two weeks.

Should be interesting.

Oh, and college students are weird. They're all over the place outside right now. Granted, nothing is happening at the moment, but if it were me (and it is), I would be hunkered down and waiting.

Did I ever tell you...

...about the house I lived in for four of my five years of college?

Go read this post that Amy wrote a while back. That's her perspective. Someday, when I'm not waiting to find out if my city will be blown away in the next 24 hours, I'll share the student view.

I'm freezing...

...but it's on purpose.
I have the A/c down really low so that it will be cool when the power goes out, and it'll take longer for it to become unbearable.

It's weird... see news from elsewhere or read blogs from elsewhere and realize that not everyone is obsessed with Gustav.


test. i'll delete this later.

Part of me...

...wants to get in the car, dive north, and not stop till I get to Pittsburgh.

The rest of me knows that would be a bad idea.


My internet connection is shaky. If I vanish, don't worry.

Rain is here

and a little wind.

Just thought you should know.

Great... there are tornados.

For my fellow English majors...

...Sylvia Plath reading "Daddy"

(the video is just stock footage - the audio is her, though)

Outer Bands

We've been seeing the clouds from the outer bands all afternoon.

If you've never been waiting for a hurricane before (and I know that most of the people who read this who "knew me when" haven't), it is hard to describe what the outer band clouds look like. Basically, the whole sky is overcast, but the sun still shines through that. Then, layered on top of that overcast, are long, thin, horizontal clouds.

The weird part about them is that they don't really move like you would expect them to. If you look at satellite footage of a hurricane, you would expect them to be moving pretty rapidly. But really, they just kind of sit there. There is not much wind. It truly is the calm before the storm.

I'll probably be going silent sometime tomorrow morning, when the power goes. You probably won't hear from me Tuesday, and maybe not Wednesday. If you haven't seen me put something up by Thursday evening, though, click through to Amy's blog on my sidebar and leave her a comment or e-mail her asking her to call my cell (Amy, I hope you still have the number!). I'll tell her how to post to my blog via e-mail so that she can let you know that I'm alive.

Churchy stuff

It was weird to have a completely mundane conversation about youth ministry today after services, when the whole area is preparing for...who knows.

But I did, and it was good. I talked with a parent who has been trying to get things working, and was unsuccessful. The more I find out about what has been going on the parish over the past few years, the guiltier I feel. It turns out that the pastor kept everything youth-related pretty close to the vest. He didn't even report to council about youth activities. I feel guilty about that because when I first started to explore the possibility of becoming Lutheran, he asked me if I would be willing to work with youth ministry. At that point, I was still so raw from my experiences at the CCC that I still wasn't sure I could tolerate participating in in organized religion, let alone doing any kind of formal ministry (meaning beyond the ministry all should be doing every day as followers of Christ). I couldn't bring myself to say yes.

So, because the pastor didn't have enough time to devote to it, youth ministry in our parish kinda died. Now, we don't have a whole lot of high school students, but the exciting thing is that seven out of the eight we do have are active in the congregation in some way. The deserve to have someone acknowlege that they have needs that are different from the 60 year olds who are the ones who are active in most of our ministries.

So, the parents I talked with are really excited, as are the young people I had a chance to meet (next week is Rally Day - the kick-off of the Christian Formation "year"). They are really psyched about the chance to go to the ELCA youth gathering in New Orleans. I really like what they are doing with it this year. The young people (and the adults who are with them) will be going out into the city and actually doing service the whole weekend. There will be talks and stuff too, but the core of the weekend is service.

It's almost a year away, but I worry what kind of impact Gustav could have on plans.


Laundromat was packed. All the early-week regulars were coming in today. All the TV's had the Weather Channel on.

The ELCA TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod has a website with information about the storm both for those who are affected and those who want to help. Here it is.

In a few minutes (as soon as I'm done being too sticky to actually change clothes), I'm going to go wash my deck chair, then I'm as ready as I'm going to get, I think. I need to take out some trash from my refrigerator (might as well get rid of the stuff that I know will go bad almost instantly - or that already has!).

I'm nervous as all get out, but I know the Big Guy will provide. I wore my necklace with this symbol, which means "By God's Grace, All Will Be Well." By the way, you should patronize this artist. She is fantastic!


After church this morning, I need to go to the laundromat, wash my Adirondak chair so I can bring it inside (one of the cats likes to sleep there, and I'm not having cat in my apartment if I'm going to be stuck here for a couple days), buy some crackers (to go with the sardines), and...I guess that's it.

The really cool thing about watching preparations around the state is knowing that my company had a lot to with the fact that things are moving so much more smoothly this time around. I know the people who helped develop the post-Katrina plans at a lot of the agencies involved. It's an honor, and it's humbling.

You know it's going to be a big one...

...the Shrimp and Petroleum festival is cancelled.

Hurricane Update

I have a really bad feeling about Gustav. I know that we here in BR will pretty much be fine. I have food and water, and batteries. Still, I'm nervous. Call it the Katrina Effect, I guess.

Everyone in BR seems really tense, and is really going nuts to buy batteries, canned goods, etc. There is not a can of tuna to be had anywhere. I had to settle for sardines (which is fine - I like sardines).

Our brand new interim pastor was planning on driving down here from Arkansas on Monday. I would guess that isn't happening.

Just wanted everyone to know that I'm fine here. I'll continue to blog every now and then while I have power.

I don't need anything but prayers. Although, if you want to send me an iTunes gift certificate, that wouldn't go amiss. I'm trying to download as much as I can onto my laptop so that I can be entertained when the power goes (now that I have an iPod, and since I'll likely be back to work on Wednesday). I've already spent way too much money.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav Update

Well, projections right now have it hitting the coast around Lafayette at around 2 a.m. on Tuesday. Based on experiences with Katrina and Rita last year, that means we here in BR will get a heck of a lot of rain and some wind, but not as bad as we got from Katrina. But, I think the wind will be worse than it was for Rita, which hit a little further west.

Of course, all of this could change considerably once Gustav actually makes it into the Gulf.

You know, I always say Katrina didn't affect me much, but I'm actually pretty anxious about this storm.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

You know you've been watching too much Doctor Who when...

...the air conditioning system in your building starts to sound exactly like the TARDIS. And you find yourself looking around for a bright blue police call box. And you actually kind of hope to see it, because being the Doctor's companion for a while sounds like great fun, ostly because you are kind of tired of your job because you've been working on very boring things for over a week, and a hurricane is approaching anyway.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gustav is coming...

...everyone look busy.

This is my first hurricane working in the wonderful world of emergency managment. It definitely gives you a different perspective on things.

I'll write more as the week progresses. Right, now, I'm off to the laundromat.

Good times.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I've spent the past several hours watching clips of British talk shows on YouTube.

Why does American TV suck so much?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Go read this.

It is simple, but profound, and a message I always try to communicate whenever I'm asked to speak to young people.

Friday, August 15, 2008

This makes me sad.

Jenny Lee was an institution in Pittsburgh. Even for families where most baked goods were baked at home. There was a store in the Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center when I was growing up. We bought cinnamon bread all the time, and pies on occassion (though my mom's were better), and doughnuts and cookies, and in a pinch, cakes (Karns's on Route 60 was our place for cakes, though. They aren't there anymore, either.).

The Walmartization of the country needs to stop. Big box stores have their place, and Lord knows I love Target and Circuit City. But we are rapidly losing all those little local hardware stores where Bill (they all have a guy named bill) knows exactly what you need even though you are tool-illiterate, and those local bakeries where Teresa (they all have a lady named Teresa) always slips an extra cookie or two into the dozen you just picked up.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a city girl, through and through. But I always loved living in a city that had distinct neighborhoods, with their little shops and real character. Baton Rouge doesn't have any of that (except for Spanish Town, and maybe the Garden District and parts of Mid-City). Everything is just...homogenous. And I could tell during my last visit to Pittsburgh that it is getting like that, too.

I can't tell you how despondent that makes me. Even more than the fact that I feel like I'm back in my junior year of high school with all the talk about icy relationships with Russia again, and the threat of nuclear war being bandied about. I thought we got past that when the Berlin wall came down, and Glastnost reigned during my freshman year of college.

Sigh. Don't mind me. I'm just in a depressed kind of place for no good reason today. I blame hormones.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I just spent the past half hour or so at work arraning my Beanie Baby teddy bears in slightly naughty poses.

I should feel guilty about that, but I don't.

Sigh. I'm tired, hormonal, and slightly sick.

I want to go home!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Church Chat

I'm not 100% sure how it happened. Maybe my defenses were down after this vacation. Maybe my hormones were out of control. Maybe I was suffering from some vague, baseless guilt over past failure.

I don't know how it happened, but I somehow or another volunteered to work on redeveloping my congregation's youth program.

Sigh. I swore I wouldn't do youth ministry again. I had been burned one too many times. My congregation in Pittsburgh decided that I could handle the whole youth program completely on my own, with no support from anyone. You all know about my experiences at the CCC.

And I was totally off the hook. I had already said that I would teach the 5th and 6th grade Sunday school class (all 3 of them). Then the council president (who is also handling the Christian Formation committee because...well...let's just say that you can't escape congregational politics no matter where you are) started reading the names of our post-confirmation students. There were about 8 of them, all currently active and regularly attending. And then she said that she didn't know if she would be able to find someone to teach them, and they might have to go into the adult class (where the youngest regular is about 50).

And then I heard myself saying, "You know...I have more experience with older kids than I do with younger. Why don't I take the high school class?" I'm still not sure exactly how those words came out of my mouth.

Oh, but it gets better. I was driving home from the movies (Swing Vote - not bad, but not great either...though I do have to say that Kevin Costner has found his niche with playing trailer trash-types). And I started wondering if the Sunday school class I said I would teach was part of a larger youth ministry of if it just stood by itself. So when I got home, I e-mailed the council president and asked her, and without really thinking about it, I told her that if a program didn't exist, I would be willing to help organize or ressurect one.

Yeah...nothing exists. The reality is that we have been in a transition phase for a whole lot longer than the 8 months or so ago that the pastor announced his retirement. Youth ministry got lost in the shuffle. And yes, that makes me sad. We already have so few young people, I don't want to see us lose the ones we have. And I really do remember what it felt like as a teenager to think that I didn't have a place in the Church (captial intentional). I hate it when anyone feels like that.

So, yes, I am doing youth ministry again. It can only be the Holy Spirit, because I don't think I would have made this choice on my own.

It's funny that the first reading today was about Elijah looking for God, and not finding Him in the wind or earthquake, but in the silence (in the NRSV version...the NAB says "tiny whispering sound" and the KJV says "still, small voice", which is one fo the few instances I prefer that translation). I wonder if being invited to speak to the youth group from the church where I used to teach - and the fact that I accepted, which I didn't think I would do - was just preparing me for this.

In a completely unrelated thought, Michael Phelps has an incredible body. God does really, really good work.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I think I'm ready to go back to work...

I just took this quiz...

Your result for The Harry Potter Husband Test...

Mrs. Longbottom

Your perfect HP man is Neville Longbottom.

You like the nice guy. You don't need the best looking guy, or the most talented, or the most popular, or the most powerful. You want a guy who'll be there when you need him, who knows how to stick through the hard times, and who stands up to even his friends when necessary. You can't go wrong with a guy like this. Sure, you may not have the most exciting life with him, but it'll be a good one.

Take The Harry Potter Husband Test at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I'm going to say something that could lose me my "Mega Dorky Nerd Queen" status (see badge of honor on the sidebar if you are curious).

I didn't like The Dark Knight at all.

I didn't hate it, and I thought the acting was good, but it was boring, boring, boring. It was about half an hour too long, I think. I kept wantint it to just end already. Even the violence (and there was a TON of it) and action scenes weren't all that exciting.

Sigh. Am I getting old?

I'll tell you all about the pedicure (and why I didn't get a manicure) later.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Vacation, Day 1

Well, I didn't sleep at all last night. I think it was a combination of caffiene (3 glasses of iced tea at the Chinese place and an iced tea and a chai latte at CC's) and the three hour nap I took yesterday afternoon. The 9:30 service time has that affect on me.

Anyway, I got a ton of work done last night. I can easily see and get to my craft stuff now, so I'll stop buying yarn that I already have. I filled the two carts I bought last night, and went to buy a third today. I also bought a spatula (because I'm making scallops tonight - that's my thing outside my comfort zone for today), an exfoliation thingy, a headband, nail clippers (because I can't find the 15 I already own), some lily of the valley sachets, shampoo, foot lotion, and peanut butter bars.

I've been running around all day. It is approximately 900 degrees outside. I'm exhausted. I should go to the grocery store and Whole Foods, but I'm too tired, I think.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


I'm coming to you live from CC's Coffee House on Coursey, though I suppose that it is actully officially Community Coffee House, now. CC's is a local coffee house chain. They have a higher market share here than Starbucks, which is a rarity. The are so dominant around here, that Starbucks is actually closing all but two of their freestanding stores in Baton Rouge (9 total) because they can't compete with CC's. Just thought you should know all that.

In other news, I made an appointment for a manicure and pedicure. That's about as adventurous as I could get. But it is a step outside my comfort zone, and it is something totally frivolous and just for me.

I've also decided to buy a new bed. I've been putting it off because of the looming "they're-tearing-down-my-building-to-build-more-overpriced-condos", but it seems like the guy who owns the property is giving up on that plan since the existing overpriced condos aren't selling very fast. I've been sleeping on the sofa for three years because my mattress (a hand-me-down) kept giving me staph infections, despite having several layers between me an the mattress (a fitted sheet, a mattress cover, a comforter, and another fitted sheet) and repeated sprayings with Lysol. So it's time.

The only problem with the plan is that I have been using the bed as storage for the past three years, so I have to find a place for all that crap. That is my big adventure this week.

Tonight, for my stepping-outside-my-comfort-zone adventure, I went someplace to eat all by myself - and it wasn't a drive through window. Granted, it was only the local Chinese buffet, but I still went all alone. Also, I never want to eat again.

What else...made it to church for the third week in a row. It was a close call, though, because I woke up at 9 a.m. (service is at 9:30). I honestly probably would have skipped this week, if it weren't for the fact that I had school supplies to drop off. My church sponsors a local public elementary school. That is pretty common around here because the public schools are horribly underfunded. They need churches and businesses to make up the slack. We buy school supplies for their students (98% at that school receive free or reduced price lunches), make repairs to the school, tutor students in reading and math, and generally do what we can to make the school a better place.

We had a supply pastor again this week. We still haven't hired an interim. It's hard to get a Lutheran pastor to move to south Louisiana to be with a small congregation for a year or so. Go figure. There are three Lutheran pastors in South LA who don't currently have congregations. Two are special assistants to the bishop who are working with Katrina/Rita recovery, and the other is CEO of a hospice organization here. Between them, they provide supply pastor serivces for ever congregation from the Mississippi border to the Texas boarder. Granted, that is only about...1o congregations total, but still. The woman who presided today (one of the special assistants) is a good preacher, but a little weak liturgically. The woman we had the previous two weeks (the hospice CEO) is a fantastic preacher and and pretty good liturgically. I've enjoyed the change of pace they have provided.

The only other people currently in the coffee house are a group of teenage girls. They are really loud, really giggly, and flirting like mad with the barista. I'm pretty sure he is gay, but as we have established, my gaydar sucks. Just thought you all should know.

Anyway, I wonder where I congregation will be going in the future. We don't have that many kids. I may find myself teaching middle school Sunday School this fall, and in grades 6 and 7 (8th grade is confirmation which is traditionally taught by the pastor) there are a total of 8 kids. That makes me sad for a lot of reasons. I really wish more people around here knew what the Lutheran denomination is about. There are a lot of non-practicing Catholics around here who I think could find a home with us (the big issues around here are women not having a big enough role and the overly political role the Church takes around here). But down here, a lot of people have never heard of Lutherans. You are either Catholic, Baptist, or (maybe) Methodist. I've kind of spread the word, but I don't know if it has meant anything.

Oh, and I learned how to make a motif in crochet this weekend. That is a major victory for me. I've been avoiding them because of some bad experiences with granny squares, but I learned how to make a simple, really pretty hexagon this weekend. it's exciting.

Well, I'm going to get kicked out of the coffee house in about 5 minutes as it is close to 10 p.m. I will, however, be sitting in my car for about 30 minutes because I am downloading the second to last episode of Torchwood.

This has been the official report for the first day of my vacation. Tune in tomorrow for the laundromat report. We now return you to your regularly scheduled internet, already in progress.