Monday, December 26, 2005

Chrisrtmas Day, the Christmas Cactus

Quite frankly this picture doesn't do this plant justice while it's in all its splendid glory.

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Princess Diana

I have a dear friend in England who sent me this book as she knows how much I adore the late Princess Diana. What was unique about receiving this book is that in the mail, on the same day, I received another gift, a bookmark, from a dear friend in Kansas. Don't they look wonderful together???

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

My Christmas present to you

I just snapped this one today. It's still not in full bloom, but it's almost there. And it's just a mere 3 days until Christmas.

I've been busy tracking down packages, baking Christmas goodies and the like. My husband and I are going to Busch Gardens on Christmas Eve. Why not? And since it's in Tampa we'll be joined by my husband's sister, Susan. Afterwards we're going to stop by my Tio and Tia's home and say hello. Then off to the house.

I'm not cooking on Christmas Day. Nope. We're all going to Sam Seltzer's at 1PM in order to accommodate my son, Matt's, schedule. He's working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the Ritz Carlton and this gives him a chance to join us for a short while.

We're all off on the Monday after Christmas and I throw the spiral baked ham in the oven then. Gotta have those leftovers!

Merry Christmas! God bless!

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My Christmas Cactus is really starting to look beautiful

Wow! And it's still not in full bloom.

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Christmas Cactus is waking up

I'm in awe of this beautiful plant.
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The beginnning of my Christmas Cactus

This is my Christmas Cactus on December 10th. It sits outside on my dining table out on the lanai and it is loaded with buds. I will be posting pictures of it as it progresses.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Quincy and Clara

My grandkids!
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Jake and Leah

My grandbabies.

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My parents along with myself and all my siblings

This was taken this past 4th of July. Meet all of us. My mom, dad, two sister's and a brother. We're in order of age. I'm the oldest and Patty, on the far left, is the youngest. Joni and Larry are in the middle.

But that isn't the reason I put this picture in. I wanted you to meet my mom. Her and I stopped smoking six years ago this January. She has had emphysema since, but is a noncompliant, I don't want to take that, it isn't helping anyway, type of gal and although she had bouts of pursed lip breathing and wasn't able to walk too far, she was able to manage.

Until my father's diagnosis.

Since my dad was diagnosed with the prostate cancer less than a month ago, she's had two 911 runs to the hospital as she was unable to breathe. Her O2 sat? 80%. That's critical. Now she's on oxygen and nebulizers and is managing so far. She's been off the prednisone now for about a week, this time, with no problems, finally.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

DAD will always be known for his champion dahlias

Meet my very active father who is 82 years old. When I was a kid, living in Michigan, he would shovel the snow for all the neighbors and he also did the whole street for about 3-4 houses long. He raked everyone's leaves and went and buried them in his multiple flower beds, and then in the spring, after nurturing hundreds of dahlia bulbs all winter long, he'd plant them all in small tubs and start toting them in and out of the garage on the sporadic warms days a Michigan spring brings. As soon as he felt it warmed up enough with a low risk of frost he'd start planting them. This took a few weeks as he didn't just plunk them in the soil. And he would watch the weather like a hawk and if there was a chance of a frost that night all the planted dahlias had to be covered.

But look at those dahlias will you? He has 3 acres of land stuck in the middle of the Detroit area with a small creek running along the back of it. When he first bought that property he laboriously dug those beds out and replaced the dirt with compost and rich soil. And you can see by the picture above the rewards of his labor.

And then the developers have been hounding my parents for years wanting their land so they can build mini mansions on lots not even a 1/4 acre in size. All house and no land, that's what you're going to be getting. And they've bought the property to my father's left and built a road and houses along it. And then they bought the property to my parents right and are renting it out -- waiting. Vultures!

Now my father was recently diagnosed with late stage prostate cancer. Unfortunately for him, he had Polymyalgia Rheumatica back in the 70's and when he started getting all this leg pain and having such a difficult time it was thought that the PR had come out of remission. And after being treated with prednisone and then it wasn't helping, the rheumatogist started looking in a different direction.

After several tests it was off to the urologist, and after further testing it was determined that yes, indeed, he had prostate cancer and what a shame he'd had the PR because it delayed his diagnosis. Sorry.

Four years ago my dad had a PSA test and it was slightly elevated and they were told they were just going to keep on eye on it. Four years, and four changes of primary care physicians later it was found that they never ran another one and when my father was getting blood work done on his annual visits my mother assumed they were also running the PSA test. But they weren't. Here is a prime example of getting lost in the shuffle of the health care system.

But that's another story.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Jiminy Christmas

Christmas is right around the corner and my last post was on Thanksgiving. Can you spell b u s y??? As in, swamped??? If it isn't my parents getting the family in an uproar, then it's my darling 17 year old daughter, Katie (her age says it all).

But I will tell these stories. I promise.

And I have something extra special for everyone for Christmas!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven and I'm caught up on everything -- for the time being. I made my own cranberry relish this year. It's GREAT and beats that canned stuff any day.

Cranberry Relish

1 orange
1 bag cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Quarter oranges and stick in food processor until you get it to the size and texture you want. Remove and add cranberries, and then add all into a pot and on med/low heat and bring to boil and boil for about 10-15 minutes. Refrigerate until you use it. What's nice about this is you can make it a few days ahead of time.

My pies? I've never found anything better than Libby's recipe on the side of their pumpkin can. Awesome. I usually add an extra egg or so, but that's about it. And always toss out the old spices every couple of years and get new ones. Fresh spices make a HUGE difference in the taste! The only short cut I use here is I usually use Pillsbury's refrigerated dough found in the dairy section. It's almost as good as my home made crust and there's not all the fuss. You just sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then spread it over the pie plate. For the first time this year I added a layer of mini marshmallows on the bottom. They float to the top while baking and add a delish topping to your pie. YUMMY!!!

My sweet potatoes are made with fresh sweet potatoes. I add some brown sugar, stick of butter, dash of vanilla and bring to boil and then drizzle over my peeled and cooked sweet potatoes. Those will go in the oven along with the extra stuffing after I pull my bird out.

Speaking of my bird, he's a free range tom turkey and I, for the first time ever, bought a baking bag to put him in. I was in a Super Target yesterday evening and this lady was so excited about finding the bags that I questioned her about it. She said she's never cooked her turkey any other way and it absolutely makes a gorgeous turkey. Hmmmm ... I tossed a box in my cart and said, you ought to do a commercial for Reynolds. Ha ha ha ...

My dressing is Pepperidge Farms and I like whole grains, but could only find one that was half ww and half white. Darn it! But I melted a stick of butter and chopped up some celery and onions and cooked until tender. Then I poured over the dressing mixture and tossed. I added three cans of mushrooms and tossing until blended.

Of course we're going to have mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus and a loaf of Publix' white mountain bread to finish the trimmings. My hubby likes the asparagus steamed mushy and I like them steamed crisp tender, so no matter how they come out one of us gets our way. I get mad at myself though when I over cook them.

That is my menu. It's an awesome, hearty dinner which I'm sure we'll all enjoy. I have much to give thanks to this year.

*Harold and I survived our first year of marriage unscathed.
*Jesse, Harold's son, is something to be proud of. He moved in with us this past July and has made great strides in improving his life. He's working hard to get ahead and it's a great thing for his father to watch as he prevails.
*My son's ex girlfriend, Sarah, brought a beautiful little girl into the world this past September.
*My son, Matt, is humbled and respectful again.
*My daughter, Missi, is preggers with her third baby.
*Her husband, John, has graduated from college and now working at UPS. Go Brown!
*Katie is ... well, Katie is. What can I say about a 17 year old that is driving me crazy? Okay. Lets say what's she's not. She's not pregnant, nor does she drink or use drugs.
*My mom and dad are really getting old now and it's so apparent how one can't get along with out the other. Who'd have figured?
*I have a great new job working with a lot of Hispanic and Haitian patients and it looks like I'm finally going to be fluent in my first language, Spanish, soon.
*We all have our health!

God Bless!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


What a day today was. The weather was nice. Warm and sunny and I decided to finish grouting the hot tub. That didn't take that long. Hubby and I drained the hot tub last week after pressure washing it and one day this past week I scrubbed it with bleach water, so I needed to get it finished so we could fill it up and enjoy it this coming Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

We then read the paper and had a short snooze when I conned hubby into playing Monopoly. Now this isn't just any Monopoly board game, let me tell you. I was in Sam's Club yesterday and saw this most AWESOME Monopoly game. For $79.99 and tax it is a phenomenal game. The game board is built into a drawer and the pieces are exquisitely made. No plastic houses and motels in this game. They're made of metal and the hotels have a gold hue to it that makes them resemble Las Vegas glitz.

And Jesse won the game. Katie took off with the lead and was grinning from ear to ear and then my spouse gave Jesse the third red property. I yelled, HAROLD ARE YOU FLIPPING NUTS, but to no avail. They made the deal. And even though I handed Harold over a thousand dollars by over paying him for some chump properties (the 3rd in the orange, St. James Place) Jesse won. Katie lost with a flourish also. Ha ha ha ... And the competition heated up between father and son.

Okay Bones, you did it. This time. Wait until next time though!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The New Clinic

Hello all,
I know I've been gone a while. Starting a new job isn't easy. As a matter of fact, it's exhausting. The one thing about nursing is there are so many different types of jobs that starting a new one is like you never did it before. Almost. And I've never worked in a clinic before, so this is all brand new to me. And take the fact that everything is on paper and not computerized. Okay, so I've been spoiled, or they're way behind times, whatever the case may be, but I'm seeing first hand how much computers have helped in the medical field. Everything on paper is so cumbersome. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The clinic has bought a program and one of the offices are up and running on it right now. The bad thing is that my office is the largest and is going to be the last one to get with things. But on the good side? By then all the bugs will be worked out.

But getting back to learning a new job here, lets take in the fact that 69% of the clients speak Spanish and 19% speak Creole. Oh boy. And I speak English. Ha ha ha ... That makes things even more difficult with this new job. But I'm here to tell you that I truly believe I'll be walking and talking Spanish fluently within a year. I really want to learn the language badly. Why wouldn't I? It's the first language I spoke until I was three or so years old. It is in my roots. Roots that I'm proud of.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for my 'walking' legs to come back. Pretty please, please! My goodness my legs are killing me. I know it's good for me to be active like I am, but please come back oh walking legs of mine. My friend, Deb, attributes it to age. I'm not so sure I agree with her. I never had a problem when I worked at the hospital and that wasn't all that long ago.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

And Jake does, he really does love his baby sister!

Although Jake is sometimes a little rough with his baby sister, Leah, he does enjoy her also. Just wait a couple of years Jake and you'll have your very own playmate! I know. Just from watching my other set of grandchildren in Ohio.

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Tigger is a tiger!

This little guy absolutely would not let me have anything to do with putting whiskers on his face. Nor his mom or his grandpa. Sheesh. This is the best we could do. Of course we did a better job with mama while trying to cajole him into cooperating -- to no avail.

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Dear Tio Dodi

He has lung cancer and had his lung removed a couple of months ago. We went to visit him this past Sunday and I have to admit I was tickled at his appearance. My nurses eyes assessed him and although he looked peaked, he didn't look like he was on the downward spiral of life -- yet. I love this man deeply and am thrilled to have some more time with him.
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My hero!

Meet Jean, my hero! When I was so hot and tired of shrink wrapping the skids for my truck, he would come over and work with me. I was grateful and showed him with a HUGE bag of candy. Then I became his heroine! Ha ha ha!

This is the last day of work at the LeeSar, the warehouse I was working in. I didn't stay there but 4 months, but it was difficult leaving there.

Or so I thought.

I was called today and asked if I could do the local run tomorrow night. I said I would be glad too. So I guess I didn't go too far after all.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

As Wilma comes barreling across the gulf

I'm just sitting here chilled. No stress here. Don't get me wrong though, for I am watching the news and wanting to be in the know of things, but no stress going on here because I'm prepared and have been prepared -- for days.

I'm so prepared that today was a day of shopping, or so I thought. My husband and I decided to go check out the new Super Target and I wanted to get my two grandkids some shoes to go with their Christmas outfits (HEY! It's not that I'm anal about things, but the outfits have to get together so pictures can be taken and received in time for Christmas!). So we arrived at Super Target at 11:45 this morning and were told the store was closing in 15 minutes.


So I went to the shoe department and got the kids their shoes and went to the hair department and there is not one red hair thingy for my grandaughter's hair except for a regular, plain red headband in a generic package with all the other colors, nor was there a shirt or sweater in red for my grandson.


But those are the only two things left to find after Wilma blows through.

And then we went to Home Depot. NO!!! Not for plywood!!! Just a drain for the bathtub and a cord protector for my cable cord going to my computer.

But oh how I wished I had carried my camera with me (I can't keep it in the car because of Florida heat) because I'd have LOVED to have taken pictures of the many, many people stacking plywood into pickup trucks and stacking it on top of cars. Now that one was funny. They had the windows down and were using a roll of shrink wrap to tie it down. Wrap around plywood on roof, bring in through window on passenger side and over and across and then out the driver's window and back again. Over and over again. Yep. Your windows will be good, but how about the top of your car???

I have to say that I was surprised Home Depot had the plywood. When Charlie blew through here last year there was not a piece of wood of any kind to be found anywhere. Perhaps it's because we've been PRACTICED??? Ha ha ha ... that sure isn't a lie, or perhaps it's because Wilma decided to hang around Cancun for a couple of days and dumped 64 inches of rain giving us more time?

Can you imagine that? Sixty four inches of rain. As in 5'4" of rain. I've never heard of such a thing before. Fortunately for us here in Southwest Florida the weather forecasters (shoot the lying buggers!) are saying that Wilma doesn't plan on staying for lunch when she blows through here tomorrow morning.

Anyways, Harold and I came home and he went to work fixing things and I went to work fixing food in the kitchen. I made M&M cookies and put a pork roast in the oven. Speaking of the roast ... it bears going to check on it. Lord knows I don't want to do to it what I did to the last pan of cookies.

We'll catch you all on the flip side of Wilma!

Love and peace,

Saturday, October 22, 2005

And here comes Hurricane Wilma

And I'm still talking about Hurricane Katrina. Sheesh. Here are some of the cabinets that were filed with over-the-counter medications and prescription medications. There was so much!!!

But I now need to talk about the waste I saw. In my humble opinion if the Red Cross was a business it would be out of business. But they're getting so much money in donations and they have to spend it somewhere. Let me list all the waste I saw with my own eyes.

First and foremost was the fact that we were told this would be a hardship case and be prepared to sleep on the floor. Okay. So I bought an air mattress because my old bones don't do floors anymore. It's still in the box. We stayed in a motel and were also given a rental car to travel back and forth to the shelter. HUH??? They flew us in and one way from Fort Myers to Pensacola was $550.00. I don't know what the trip home cost. We were also given checks for $900.00 for expenses. And now if this isn't bad enough, there weren't many people left at the shelter but there were always 4 nurses on duty splitting the 12 hour shift with another 3 or 4 nurses. WE COULD HAVE STAFFED A WHOLE UNIT AT A HOSPITAL!!! But keep in mind that they were paying all the above expenses FOR ALL OF US. Sheesh. And about 4-6 people would come in for medical assistance a day. Period.

There was also the problems with them handing out the money to the people who needed it. I couldn't believe that they were so strict with these people looking for any reason to turn them down. For two days I worked at headquarters doing case work. It had been swamped initially and when the people called their names and numbers were taken. My job was calling them back (three weeks later) and finding out if they'd gone another avenue to get help from the Red Cross. My conversation went something like this:

Hello, this is Alicia from the American Red Cross. I was wondering if you'd received a check from us yet? If the answer was no, I'd ask if they'd been given an amount. Since the amounts varied by the size of the family it would mean they'd been processed. But if no amount was given then I would ask if I could take a few minutes and get them processed.

A lot of them had left the Pensacola area and headed back to their homes in Mississippi or Louisiana. Or what was left of them. I'd ask how their homes were and some were camping on one side of their home, some had to leave as their homes were inhabitable, some were camping outside the homes, etc. No problem, I'll have the check sent to your house.

Or so I thought.

On my second day, a meeting was called around 4 pm and it was explained that all the people who were getting checks sent back to Mississippi and Louisiana would be voided. Those people would have to go to their local Red Cross chapters to get assistance. I was stunned by this turn of events. These people needed help DESPERATELY and I HAD PROMISED them a check in a week to ten days and now they're going to void them??? I spoke up and said, but it's normal for these people to head back to their homes now. They're trying to put the pieces back together along with getting on with their lives, but they still need help. It was now THREE WEEKS after Katrina and they'd received nothing from the Red Cross, the first responders. HELLO??? Well, being a nurse was advantageous as I knew how to get what my patients needed so I continued on with my phone calls the rest of that day and asked for a Florida address to send it too. I was successful with all.

And the next day I requested to get out of there as I couldn't handle the restrictions put upon me to help the people and that was how I ended up in the Molino shelter.

Meanwhile here comes Hurricane Wilma and I've been called by the Red Cross asking if I'd be available to assist with Wilma.

Hmmm ... I believe I can do more on my own thankyouverymuch.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And here is PJ and her three boys

I sit here now and wonder about her and how she's doing. She was from Slidell, LA. She was contemplating relocating to Fort Myers, FL and the weekend I left, she was leaving also to go back and look at her home and find closure. I had given her my phone number and told her to call me if she came to the Fort Myers area. I'd call all my friends and find whatever that girl needed. I will continue to pray for her and wish her the best.

In the background is the elementary school that was being used for a shelter in Molino, FL. I felt very guilty having a rental car and an AC hotel room when I'd been told to expect hardship and had brought an air mattress to sleep on. Why did I deserve any better? *I* had a home to go back to!

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Meet Ms. Judy Cook

This is one phenomenal woman, a local of Pensacola, Florida who was relentless and tiredless in her battle to help the evacuees. She performed miracles by finding stoves, refrigerators, and the like to the evacuees that had decided to stay in the Pensacola, Florida area.
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Friday, October 14, 2005

I'm baaaaaacccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!

And it hasn't been easy either. Sheesh! Besides being gone for so long and having a TON of stuff to do when I got home, my computer was fried. FRIED! It didn't even hum when attempting to start it up. Not a noise of any sort was detected. So a quick call to my daughter and she had a computer bought and paid for and being shipped to my door. Which then brings me to the fun of installing everything and bringing it up to snuff. Sheesh! The most difficult part was trying to get online. What a pain in the butt to get the computer to read my cable modem! ARGHHHH!!! But finally, they united.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of my handsome boy. He missed me so while I was gone. He's going to be 10 years old this December. I believe, for being such a huge dog, he's looking pretty good. Even if he does need reading glasses now.

I'll be back with more details of all. For now? What a gift just to get to my blog again.
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Friday, September 16, 2005

Meet Anna

She's from St. Bernard Parrish and had a tale to tell me that brought this smile to her face. She has a collie, a Lassie dog, and she knows where he's at. Fortunately for her she had a tag on him that even had her cell phone number on it and she received a call one day from a female rescue worker who stated she had her dog. After a lengthy discussion it was revealed that this awesome dog had to have swam 14 miles to get to dry land, worked with the police for three days and finally went with the rescue worker who stated the police didn't want to give him up, but did, reluctantly. The rescue worker has bathed the dog and her son went to pick him up.

She is not the only one that came in and smiled when their beloved pets were brought up. Another gal told me that CNN rescued her riotweiler after she called and called and begged and begged.

Now I'm telling you, these people are stressed out to the maximum limits, but bring up their pets and they're smiling!!!

A couple here and there are rescued, but so many left to save. Poor babies!!!
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Red Cross -- Fort Myers

I have been working all week long at the United Methodist Church in Fort Myers for the Red Cross doing medical intake for people who need medications or physician referrals. Boy do I hear the tales.

I will be leaving this weekend for the disaster area. Tomorrow another class to take and then I'll be free to go. I haven't a clue where I'm going at this time. I just know that I will do what I can do to help the people that have lived through something so horrid that I just cannot imagine.
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

If I must ...

I'll give her a kiss, but I'm light on my feet and ready to get the heck out of here if the baby you keep calling sissy does anything I don't like.
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I don't want that noisemaker near me!

Body language says it all doesn't it? Jake didn't want his sister near him.
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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Who's nose?

I look at this picture and think, my son, Matt, has my nose. I've seen him when his nose looked like this. But enough about the nose.

Here is proud grandma holding Leah Elizabeth. Precious baby girl!
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Labor Day

And that's no pun intended. Ha ha ha! It just was, in more ways than one.

On Labor Day, September 5th, 2005, Leah Elizabeth was born. Sarah, her mom had a great labor and delivery. Awesome. Not much discomfort at all. She arrived at the hospital dilated to 7 and 5 hours later had the baby after about 5 good push contractions.

Leah Elizabeth is my 4th grandchild. She's so precious!!! She's such a sweet peanut and weighs 7 lbs. 11 ounces and is 19 1/2 inches long.

Welcome Leah Elizabeth!!!
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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Lee Sar, my employer, is good!

I went to the Red Cross training program today and let them know that I was unable to leave until next Saturday as my employer requested that time to get someone to cover for me while I was gone.

Oh, and while some companies can be cold hearted, some aren't. I was a LOT nervous about asking them for time off to go help in this disaster as I'd only been employed with them for 6 weeks. I was not only given THREE weeks off to go help, but IT'S WITH PAY!!! I am absolutely stunned.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend who works for a hospice in Wisconsin is crushed as she's as compelled as myself about going and helping out in our nations worst disaster in history, and her boss told her NO. When she tried to plead her case she was told they had a business to run.

Today she tells me that the Mississippi nursing board called her asking if there was anyway she could come down and help (they got her number because of a web site she'd visited and inquired about before the bad guys told her no) and the medical personnel working were exhausted and they were looking for relief. My friend has a 30 foot camper and wants to bring it down. They told her to bring it down along with any camping items she might have. She tells me that she is now preparing to leave for Mississippi regardless of what her company says although she'll speak to her boss's boss on Tuesday and try to get some cooperation with them.

My goodness! She doesn't want to be paid! She just wants the time off to go help some people that desperately need it!

HELLO??? Is anybody there? But for the grace of God it's not YOU needing the help!!!

My other girlfriend works for a large trucking company and she was told no also. There was nobody to cover for her.

Selfish, selfish people! But not Lee Sar, my employer. They are good. Real good. And generous.

Thanks Lee Sar for making it a lot easier for me to go help the people that need it so badly!!!

Wash board

This is how you wash your clothes in Colombia. It's a washboard built outside of the house. No washers or dryers here. You use elbow grease to get the clothes clean and then you hang them on the line to dry. I was trying to wash out a couple of things while I was there and I must admit, it would take some practice to get things done in a timely fashion.

Yeah, notice how time goes by and I just change the subject? What can I say?

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